Mehbooba Mufti, the beleaguered chief minister of the Indian-held Kashmir, has recently reposed full confidence in the ability, capacity and capability of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the resolution of the longstanding Kashmir issue. She also claimed that it was the only opportunity to resolve the dispute and if it was not resolved under Modi, it won’t be resolved ever.
There is no point to disagree with her notion that Modi, as a strong prime minister with people’s mandate, has the opportunity to resolve the issue. And her diatribe against Pakistan will also not work as everyone in India knows that the current wave of uprising in Kashmir is indigenous. Any effort by the Indian government to involve Pakistan in the mess will worsen not only the bilateral relations but will also send wrong signals to the world about the situation on the ground.
The dispute has been lingering on for the last 70 years due to inability of the leadership of the two countries to resolve the issue. India is especially following the path of self-deception and self-denial and is not ready to budge from its hardened stance. As a matter of fact, India has more urgency and responsibility to resolve the issue than Pakistan as the trouble is in the Indian occupied Kashmir. New Delhi has to listen to the desires of the Kashmiris and good news for them that chilli pepper grenades will be used against them instead of pellet guns will not bring any respite for Kashmiris.
The international community is watching the developments in Kashmir where the people have been dumped in their own houses for the last two months. The life has come to a grinding halt in every part of the valley and the apparent hobnobbing of the Indian officials with the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the European Union will not tell you behind-the-scene diplomatic concerns. India is under pressure from the international community over violations of human rights and it has to take face-saving measures to maintain its image as the largest democracy in the world. But the Indian media and leadership are concentrating on Pakistan-bashing instead of taking concrete political steps in the Valley. Trouble in Kashmir is also not good for the Indian economy.
Pakistanis want friendly relations with India, soft borders and business. Pakistanis want to visit New Delhi and Kashmir as Indians want to visit Lahore and Islamabad. The voices of the two governments are not necessarily the voices of the peoples. The people on both sides of the borders want friendship and interaction, but India as a big country will have to take initiatives and shun the policy of offering handshake with iron hand in velvet glove. It has to renounce the policy of Akhand Bharat and discourage the elements who openly spread hatred against Pakistan in films and media.
It cannot win Pakistan by force which has over 700,000 strong well-equipped army with nukes and modern missile system. But it is also impossible if India offers a flower and Pakistan gives it a bullet in return. India must renounce its policy to break Pakistan or turn it into Somalia.
Unfortunately, there is a specific mindset within the Hindu leadership which wants everything without offering anything to the other side. This is the mindset which disappointed and forced Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was once called the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim friendship, to part ways with Indian National Congress. It was the mindset which labeled the Lahore resolution as the Pakistan resolution and the All India Muslim League adopted it as the official nomenclature of the resolution. It is the mindset which wants to punish Pakistan and keep Kashmir against the wishes of the Kashmiris. It is the mindset which killed Mohandas Gandhi without any fault of him in the division of the sub-continent. It is the mindset which is proud of its majority and is terrorising minorities, especially Muslims and Dalits in India. It is the mindset which blocked the resolution of Kashmir issue when the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were close to sign a deal.
The solution to Kashmir issue is very simple — respect the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. Modi is the strongest prime minister but is held hostage to a handful of hardline jingoists. Win the Kashmiris’ hearts by respecting their choice of living. Extremists in both Pakistan and India will die their own death and a new era of friendship, stability and peace will dawn in this region.
The time is running out and it seems India is also running out of its options. Modi’s failure in finding a long-lasting solution to the Kashmir problem will be the failure of the Indian establishment, political leadership and intelligentsia all together. The silence of the United Nations is also a slap in the face of humanity.