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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 43 New Delhi October 15, 2016

We want Not War but Solution to the Kashmir Problem

Sunday 16 October 2016, by Sandeep Pandey

After the Uri attack at atmosphere of jingoism is being built which can lead the country to war. While war may be necessary for the rulers, no war is in the interest of common citizens. An India-Pakistan war has the added danger of being converted into a nuclear war. People who are talking about war should be asked if they are prepared for a number of cities on both sides turning into Hiroshimas and Nagasakis. India and Pakistan have already fought four wars. There was no solution, neither was any of them so conclusive that a next one was not needed. Hence the possibility of a solution emerging from war is slim. So, why should we even consider the option of war? The talk about war is sheer madness.

The reason behind the war, the Kashmir problem, needs to be solved so that in future no soldier or common citizen has to die. It is the government’s responsibility to normalise the situation in Kashmir and talk to Pakistan so that a solution, which is agreeable to all Kashmiris, can be arrived at. While it is admirable that our soldiers are brave and are prepared to lay down their lives performing their duty, their lives are precious, especially for their family members. Why should we let them die unnecessarily? The government policy will determine: how safe are our soldiers? The governments of India and Pakistan can instantly create friendship and in the next moment become treacherous enemies. The common citizens of the two countries meet with warm cordiality whenever they get a chance. Why should the soldiers have to pay with their lives for the whims and fancies of the leaders?

It has been hardly two years for the Narendra Modi Government and he has already faced two terrorist attacks. In addition to ruling the Centre, the Bharatiya Janata Party is also an alliance partner in Jammu and Kashmir. The situation has never been so bad in Kashmir. Why is it that with the BJP coming to power the situation inside the country and the threat from outside become worse? Has it got something to do with the ideo-logy and manner of functioning of the BJP? The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, its ideological parent organisation, must introspect about this.

So far it was the Indian Government which was trying to prevent the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue. But by raising the issue of Balochistan the Indian Government is now responsible for internationalising the issue. The Indian Government has every right to raise the issue of Balochistan but its priority should be Kashmir. If over 80 people are killed in J&K over two months and we’ve to use pellet guns against people in which children lose their lives and some people lose their eyesight, then it doesn’t send a very good message to the world. It is proof that people of Kashmir are not with Indian Govern-ment. India blames Pakistan for the happenings in J&K. While it is true that some Kashmiri youth have received training in terrorism in Pakistan, when the children and women pick up stones against the security forces then it is a failure of our policies there. Without putting one’s house in order, blaming outsiders for every wrong in Kashmir doesn’t build any credibility for India internationally.

India wants the international community to label Pakistan as a terrorist country. Why are no questions raised on the role of the United States? There was a US citizen involved in the planning for the attack on Mumbai, David Coleman Headley, about whom we don’t mention when we blame Paksitan for the attack. Why does the US continue to supply weapons to Pakistan in spite of the fact that Osama bin Laden, the perpetrator of the 9/11 attack on twin towers and its biggest enemy in recent times, got refuge there? If our response is to be dictated by our bias against Pakistan alone, we’ll never be able to stop these attacks on India.

We also need to secure our border against repeated infringements. It will be better that instead of investing in offensive armament we gave priority to modern equipment to make our borders secure. Leaders who play with the emotion of nationalism on such occasions must be asked: how is it that terrorists enter our territory so easily without our intelligence agencies getting a whiff of it? People responsible for these lapses must be held accountable.

If the BJP Government is hiding its failure in economic policies behind this jingoism, then it is utterly shameful. It is a fact that not much investment has come in, in spite of Narendra Modi’s appeal in almost every country that he has visited to ‘make in India’, the process of privatisation has accelerated with Modi’s friends like Ambani and Adani benefiting the most, there is no check on unemployment or price rise. In the middle of war-mongering, the decision about not to present a separate Rail Budget from next year and disinvestment in 17 loss-making public enterprises raise an alarm. Is the government trying to thrust important financial decisions on the country amidst war hysteria?

We expect the government to stop talking about war and instead focus on finding a solution to the Kashmir problem. As a matter of state policy it should declared that India will have peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan. This can happen by an instant decision like the one taken by Narendra Modi when he decided to stop-over in Pakistan on his way back from Afghanistan. India and Pakistan have a shared culture which provides a readymade basis for friendship. In any case, since Paksitan denies involvement in terrorist attacks over India, it should be convinced to join the peace effort. One thing which can help the process of normalisation is increased interaction among citizens. A closer relationship among the citizens of the two countries will also help resolve the Kashmir problem easily.

Noted social activist and Magsaysay awardee, Dr Sandeep Pandey was recently sacked this year from the IIT-BHU where he was a Visiting Professor on the charge of being a “Naxalite” engaging in “anti-national” activities. He was elected along with Prof Keshav Jadhav the Vice-President of the Socialist Party (India) at its founding conference at Hyderabad on May 28-29, 2011.

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