Inside Indian-held Kashmir

Published: February 25, 2015
The writer served as Executive Editor of The Express Tribune from 2009 to 2014

The writer served as Executive Editor of The Express Tribune from 2009 to 2014

Kashmir has always been an Indian problem, not Pakistan’s. Pakistan did go to war over Kashmir on at least three occasions against its larger neighbour, but it is New Delhi which has remained in a perpetual state of war with the people of Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) almost since independence. The huge presence of the Indian army and its security agencies in the IHK is a glaring manifestation of India’s seemingly never- ending war against a hapless people. That Pakistan, driven by its own self-serving reasons, has done everything in its powers and more to exacerbate the problem for India is irrefutable but it is also a fact that the world’s largest democracy, instead of using democratic means to settle its dispute with the people of IHK, seems to have made it ever more intractable by trying to militarily suppress a populace demanding their democratic right of self-determination.

India rules IHK through Article 370 of its constitution, according to which, save for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, the Indian parliament needs the concurrence of the state for applying all other laws. Even for the removal of this temporary provision from the constitution the concurrence of the state assembly is essential. But even the assemblies brought in through rigged elections had successively failed to help.

Instead, an indigenous intifada was launched in protest against what was seen by the people of IHK as induced deprivation and forced dispossession. The centre sent in the army to put down the peaceful protests. But the clashes between the army and the unarmed people did not take long to turn into a full-fledged freedom struggle. It was at about this time that Pakistan committed the historic blunder of sending in trained and fully-armed non-state actors — the remnants of jihadists from the first Afghan war — to speed up what it thought was the final round of the freedom struggle.

All through the Cold War, what was happening in the IHK was being recognised, in most world capitals, as a legitimate struggle for independence. Even a large part of influential Indian media was finding it increasingly difficult to support New Delhi’s high-handed policies vis-à-vis IHK. In fact, a number of national dailies were found carrying detailed reports of atrocities being perpetrated by the Indian security forces in the IHK. However, the bloody rampage that was let loose by our infiltrating ‘Mujahids’ in the valley and Jammu caused the support the intifada had mobilised within India as well as outside to fade away gradually. And after the Kargil misadventure when we publicly acknowledged involvement of our non-state actors in the on-going bloodshed in the IHK, we had seemingly succeeded in reducing a six-decade-long freedom struggle into a terrorist adventure in the eyes of the world.

With the freedom struggle inside the IHK having seemingly lost its lustre in the eyes of the world, the BJP, the Indian ruling party, seems to believe the time was ripe to try to do away with Article 370. Indeed, with 25 seats in a House of 67, the BJP perhaps believes it is but a few steps away from its cherished goal. But the five pre-conditions that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party leading with 28 seats, has put forward for accepting the BJP into a coalition government seem to have made what had looked so near almost impossible to reach: 1) dialogue with Pakistan 2) dialogue with the Hurriyat 3) that the BJP maintain the status quo on Article 370 4) withdrawal of the Armed Forced Special Powers Act from certain regions 5) and return of the power projects. The fifth precondition envisages re-establishment of Kashmir’s ownership over its rivers which have been divided up between India and Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty. Similarly, IHK wants India to hand over the power houses it had built on the Jhelum and the Chenab from which at the moment Kashmiris get only 12 per cent of royalties and no electricity. So, on the face of it, New Delhi seems to be still far away from resolving its Kashmir problem as it was in 1948. Both the PDP and the BJP are expected to continue to reach a compromise but the chances of consummation appear very remote.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • a_writer
    Feb 25, 2015 - 3:26AM


    India is not in perpetual war with Kashmiris. They are in perpetual war with terrorists infiltrating from Pakistan. I am not sure what is it that is unique in your column compared to what Pakistan has been harping since Independence.Recommend

  • Gulshan
    Feb 25, 2015 - 4:34AM

    I thought the article would be analytical, but the author has mixed a few events, like the recently held elections, the negotiations between BJP & PDP, something that you read online, with some fertile imagination and a large dose of Pakistani masala to bring out this khichadi of an article.Recommend

  • ModiFied
    Feb 25, 2015 - 5:19AM

    Thank God author did not mention plebiscite as one of the preconditions of the coalition government formation. Talking to Huriyyat by Pakistani officials is out of question and BJP will never agree to any such condition. It hardly matters who control rivers in Kashmir, Pakistan will get water share only via Indus water treat agreement. Recommend

  • S K Chadha
    Feb 25, 2015 - 5:39AM

    Democracy anywhere runs with usual push and pulls of national and regional politics in a federal structure. These push and pulls are also visible in governance of subjects under Union, State and Concurrent Lists. It is a dynamic equilibrium and fluctuates with changing situations. In this dynamics one should also be prepared to sacrifice his rights for common good of all. The citizenry of J&K has given fractured mandate and it is the duly of all parties to make and run government for next five years according to the wishes of the people.

    The maturity comes with time in democratic setup and time tested precedents make rational decision making. Democracy teaches us to live with differences and make compromises rather than crying for my rule is a thumb rule or picking of arms. In Republic of India we all moan, groan, fight and also sacrifice some of our personal rights for a good social order for all. These sacrifices are at all levels individual to family, family to neighborhood, neighborhood to community and community to State and so on, upto world order. Think, are we all not sacrificing some of our minor rights as a follower of our specific faith in the name of religious duties?

    The BJP and PDP now compromise on contentious issues and form the government at the earliest.Recommend

  • Feb 25, 2015 - 5:44AM

    “Kashmir has always been an Indian problem, not Pakistan’s.”

    But, it is Pakistan which had to see half its country seperating in 1971. Had Kashmir obsession was not there, India would not have broken Pakistan in 2.

    Only because of Kashmir, Pakistan has to dedicate around 40% of its budget on Defence.

    India on the other hand has access to all of Kashmir rivers, its people have a Tourist spot, Hindus get their places of pilgrimage.

    Compared to all this, the problematic part is inconsequential. Recommend

  • David Salmon
    Feb 25, 2015 - 6:00AM

    You contradict yourself in your first two sentences.Recommend

  • Rajiv Baruah
    Feb 25, 2015 - 6:20AM

    Sigh! The problem is that the Aazadi slogan resonates only with the Sunni Muslim population of Kashmir. And this segment of the population is a majority in only 5 districts out of 23 in Kashmir. Their voice is the loudest only because they are residents of the area in and around Srinagar. So I am afraid, Aazadi will remain a slogan for all time to come.Recommend

  • Vakil
    Feb 25, 2015 - 6:27AM

    This kind of an article coming from a Pakistani and that too of a well-respected publication only serves to highlight one more important fact — in J&K Pakistan (and its very existence) is the problem. As long as Pakistan continues to exist, India will always have some “issue” in J&K.It is also symbolic of the fact that at heart Pakistan has never and will never accept India’s existence either. The longer this state of affairs carry on, the more the ‘hapless’ people of the State esp the Valley will continue to suffer, come what may otherwise… Period.Recommend

  • vasan
    Feb 25, 2015 - 6:47AM

    Sorry to burst your bubble, PDP and BJP have reached a compromise and forming the govt in J&K.
    “It was at about this time that Pakistan committed the historic blunder of sending in trained and fully-armed non-state actors — the remnants of jihadists from the first Afghan war — to speed up what it thought was the final round of the freedom struggle.”
    How come you did not mention the Jihadists from NWFP(then) sent in by Jinnah, who looted and raped Kashmir in 1948, Wasnt from 1948 Pakistan got unnecessarily involved in KashmirRecommend

  • Ashwin
    Feb 25, 2015 - 9:42AM

    Why don’t Pakistan discuss entire truth even though it is just for intellectual honesty.For Pakistanis Kashmir is the only way they can relate to India and reason for all their strategic balance theories. Kashmiris use this only get more allocations from central govt. International powers need Pakistan to balance India which Pakistan readily agrees without realising any compromises between India and west either help India or west they are designed as such… If Pakistan see itself benefiting from it is unintended consequence….example Afghanistan war, nukes ,military coups….but for India it is real progress we have Technology of South aisa… Example GE research and design centre for Areo engines Recommend

  • Rakib
    Feb 25, 2015 - 10:32AM

    Implicit, even if unintentional, is the assertion in the opening sentence of the essay that Kashmir is an integral part of India and the issue is between Delhi & Srinagar. Delhi has & has had issues with Naxals, “Khalistan”, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and so on. Some are resolved, some shelved, some brewing. Delhi knows how to wear down those that are opposed to Union. Many States (at least 9) have articles similar to 370 defining their relationship with Center.Recommend

  • Dubya
    Feb 25, 2015 - 10:37AM

    What did u smoked before writing this ??? seems strong …Recommend

  • GKA
    Feb 25, 2015 - 1:38PM

    Interesting 5 points are mentioned. The author makes it sound that in the negotiations between PDP and BJP, BJP was forced to cede ground. Has the authour ever been in a long a protracted negotiation or is he just a pen pusher ? Both sides have to compromise in a long negotiation. Author needs to wake up and sense what is going on. The PDP’s concessions are not being talked about – they are being swept under the carpet. Clearly that means that spin doctors are at work.
    Firstly to realise that the elections have brought the issue of Jammu to forefront. Kashmiris are loath to break away with Jammu – and Jammu has voted BJP i.e anti article 370. So counting the BJP and Congress seats (which is the other national party in J&K) together, 40% of J&K has voted greater integration with India.
    Also Pakistan is the loser on the water issue – Kashmiris do not recognize the indus water treaty ! They feel that Pakistan has got too much ! So Kashmir is slowly developing interests opposed to that of Pakistan.
    This is the power of the democratic process.Recommend

  • rp
    Feb 25, 2015 - 2:32PM

    finally BJP will end article 370Recommend

  • Ashish
    Feb 25, 2015 - 2:39PM

    This read like a Sixth Standard Textbook essay on Kashmir in Pakistan’s national curiculaRecommend

  • Tony Singh
    Feb 25, 2015 - 3:36PM

    “Kashmir has always been an Indian problem, not Pakistan’s. Pakistan did go to war over Kashmir on at least three occasions against its larger neighbour”

    Since its not your problem, then why keep on interfering? You lost half (Perhaps more than half) because of it and are on verge of (if not already) economic meltdown. Its time Pakistan should reflect what it got out of meddling into it right from 1948 to Operation Gebralter to Kargil except death of brave soldiers on both sides.Recommend

  • Rakib
    Feb 25, 2015 - 4:01PM

    @GKA: a vote for BJP doesn’t automatically mean vote against 370, whatever spin its supporters may give it. Your attempt at separating Jammu from Valley has certain unpleasant connotations.. BJP did not win seat in Valley but didn’t it win any votes there? Those voters might not want that provision removed nor all Jammuites be in favour of its removal either. Many people like Exclusivity just as Himachalis and Nagas like it! Don’t convert this election in to a Referendum on 370. Secondly its dangerous to talk of International Treaties like Indus loosely. A State has no right to abrogate a treaty entered in to by Center. And pray what is “National” about corrupt Congress & communal BJP except for branches in more states? NC or PDP are as bad or as good!!Recommend

  • Globalmaster
    Feb 26, 2015 - 12:33AM

    @Tony Singh:

    Kashmir is a Monkey trap for Pakistan , they can’t have it , they can’t let go and they can’t move on to better way of life. author is cleverly trying to escape this jam but like the embrace of Crocodile, K issue wont let Pakistan escape and keep it in liquid Oxygen type conditions.
    Even if Pakistan escape this trap by letting go,Next hurdle will be Indian demands to Pakistan for accepting Crores of Muslims from interior India who could not migrate to the land of pure in 47. Recommend

  • woody
    Feb 26, 2015 - 4:53AM

    With the freedom struggle inside the IHK having seemingly lost its lustre in the eyes of the world,
    Unfortunately it’s Pakistan that bears the bulk of that responsibility. Pakistan’s association with terrorism and duplicitous behavior has made it probably the worst spokesperson for the Kashmir cause. If Pakistan had stayed neutral I suspect that Kashmir would be whole and independent by now.Recommend

  • Bolding
    Feb 26, 2015 - 10:22PM

    Over the last sixty five years Pakistan has practically destroyed itself over Kashmir. If M. Ziauddin does not consider that to be ‘Pakistan’s problem’ then we Pakistanis do not know what a problem is. Recommend

  • Aiyoji
    Mar 4, 2015 - 8:44AM

    And followed it up with a couple of glasses of something stronger than tea too?Recommend

  • Aiyoji
    Mar 4, 2015 - 9:19AM

    Extremely well stated. As a younger generation of Kashmiri, well exposed to the Internet I fully understand the machinations of articles such as this. This obsession has destroyed lives, broken up families, destroyed businesses and literally wasted the liife of a full generation of Kashmiris. We refuse to be swayed or fooled by the likes of Sartaj Aziz and his cronies. We hope that saner voices like yours prevail.Recommend

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