Friday, November 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


Ifs and buts of Kashmir problem

HARI JAISINGH has exhaustively listed the mistakes made by Nehru in dealing with the Kashmir issue even though he has left out Nehru’s crowning blunder, Article 370. Nehru, however, made these mistakes because of an unwarranted idealism and lack of experience in running the matters of state. His integrity and patriotism were never in doubt. Shastri and Indira Gandhi tried to solve the problem and almost succeeded, but they flattered at the negotiating tables. The defeats they inflicted on Pakistan would have been their crowning glories; inexperience and lack of proper advice from the President and their colleagues reduced these victories to exercises in futility. Those who came after Ms Gandhi have only complicated the issue. “They have rather been apologetic,” as the author says, weak, even though commanding a superior force. Instead of correcting Nehru’s mistakes, they have been openly living as his shadows, drawing upon Nehru’s image and fame for the sake of votes.

If we are to wait for “appropriate governance, clean and transparent administration,” and a “time-bound development strategy”, and also to “ensure that the funds do not go into the pockets of corrupt politicians”, before attempting a solution to the Kashmir problem, I think we shall wait indefinitely. Which of India’s states has all that? Lack of a job cannot be accepted as a genuine reason for turning to murder or terror for a living.



Past experience (1948, 1965 and 1971) should convince anyone that force is the only way out. Afghanistan, Chechnya and Tibet confirm the conclusion. That for the next some decades India will not have MPs capable of redeeming the pledge to get Azad Kashmir liberated may be taken for granted. So let us declare LoC as the international border after forcing a few strategically important changes here and there. J&K will cease to be a problem the day we announce and enforce this decision with firm conviction. The objections will come from the people who shout “Pakistan zindabad” on Indian soil and take to gun on such pretexts. Terrorists, we must remember, are psychopaths and they ought to be in jails and lunatic asylums, not in governments. Which law permits an MP to burn copies of the Constitution and then to swear by the same for a seat in the House? “This can happen only in India,” as Govinda sings!

L.R. SHARMA, Jalandhar

Healing touch: Elections are not a panacea to cure the ills of the body politics. But they are excellent scanning tools and that is why the polls in J&K have offered us a better diagnosis of the situation. Evidently, Hari Jaisingh’s highly valuable suggestions for tackling the Kashmir problem are based on this diagnosis (Frankly Speaking, Nov 8).

No doubt, this was a critical election, seen worldwide as a harbinger of better times for Kashmir, for India’s own stakes and the encouraging signs that emerged, including a high voter turnout and a rejection of the National Conference, the selection of new players such as the DPD and the Congress suggests a new opportunity to apply a healing touch to the agony of the Kashmiris. If it is accepted that Kashmir’s alienation came about because local sensitivities were brutally over thrown, then what better way to address these sensitivities than through the medium of an especially sympathetic government? Yes, there will be some problems between the Congress and the PDP but the same can be sorted out by treating Kashmir bigger than both.


Transparent administration: Hari Jaisingh clearly lays out a comprehensive and detailed roadmap for the newly elected PDP-Congress government in J&K. The sound and prudent advice that “historical blunders can only be set right by learning from the past mistakes so that these are not repeated” is most appropriate and timely. The new government must immediately get down to providing a just, fair and transparent administration so that it can win over the hearts and minds of the people. Rising above narrow political considerations, the new government must provide a healing-touch to those who suffered most due to militancy.

An early and honourable return of the Kashmiri Pandits will help in expediting the peace process. As correctly suggested, the Centre must help generously in providing gainful employment to youth and in promoting developmental activities. Time is ripe now to tackle the proxy war unleashed by Pakistan. Militants must be isolated and eliminated. For this, there is a need for greater cooperation between the Ministries of Defence and Home. There are a large number of para-military forces in J&K who are neither trained nor adequately equipped to fight the militants armed with sophisticated weapons. Security and peace must be restored to the state at the earliest.


Nehru’s role

With great respect regarding your criticism of Nehru (a) signing of the instrument of accession as a pre-condition for Indian help to Maharaja Hari Singh (b) having taken the plunge after the formation, there was no justification for stopping the Indian troops from finishing the task of throwing out the aggressors from across the border and (c) taking the matter of Pakistani aggression to the UNO Security Council without properly grasping the then prevailing Cold War politics, I fear it is wrong, without any tilt or soft corner for the ideal Prime Minister on my part. All is well that ends well, but sometimes, that also is well that does not end well.



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