Jammu and Kashmir situation - Where do we go from here?

August 10th, 2010 - 3:36 pm ICT by ANI  

(Cont.)

Take for example Azaad Kashmir. Pakistan has sold the idea that Azaad Kashmir is really azaad i.e. independent.
Hence, the ordinary Kashmiri, shouting azaadi slogans thinks that he is going to be independent like Azaad Kashmir. 62 years on, the Government of India has not even tried to expose the myth that Azad Kashmir is a misnomer and that it is not only not independent, it does not even enjoy the powers of other provinces of Pakistan let alone the autonomy enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir.

That it is not the Prime Minister of Azaad Kashmir, but the Prime Minister of Pakistan who legally calls the shots through the Azaad Jammu and Kashmir Council.

Here are two trick questions for government officials. Can the Prime Minister of Azaad Kashmir transfer a tehsildar? Or, does a Kashmiri even figure in the census of Pakistan? Watch this space for the answers!

Take another example. How many know that it was Pakistan who had objected to the third option in the UN Resolutions? It was due to Pak objections that the plebiscite options were limited to accession to either India or Pakistan. And yet, Pakistan is seen as championing the cause of Kashmiri independence today and India is on the back foot.

Has the Indian government fully exposed the state of the people in Azaad Jammu and Kashmir or in Gilgit Baltistan? Should not Indian Kashmiris be exposed to what those hapless people have to say about Pakistan? Would they then still want an azaadi that means subservience to Pakistan?

The list could be multiplied many times over. But the moot point is that despite the vast resource of the Home and the Information and Broadcasting ministries, at best, paltry efforts have been made to educate the Kashmiri people about the reality of Pakistan. India has been so defensive about its position in Kashmir that it has always been on the back foot. Even now, it would not be too late to start a sophisticated programme that reaches out to the masses and informs them about the reality. In this day of the electronic media, developing smart programmes should not be difficult.

To conclude, for the last 60 years Indian policy-makers have thought and acted in terms of a coercion-package paradigm. The disastrous results are visible for all to see.

The time has come to think of out of the box and embark on a new track. Let us in India reciprocate the Kashmiri leap of faith and try and heal the wounds of the Kashmiris.

Let the emotional package be the first step in the long road that both India and Kashmir will need to travel together. It will only be the first step and not a ’solution’ but perhaps it will be the most important step.

It must be supplemented by educating the Kashmiri people about the reality of Pakistan and the situation of people in Azaad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

Once such groundwork has been successfully implemented and there is an emotional connect, attention could be turned towards ‘packages’ of other kinds.

Perhaps then, both India and Kashmir will be able to realize the shared dream of “If there is paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.” (ANI)

The views expressed in the above article are the author’s.

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