Lets talk Kashmir
India wants Kashmir, Pakistan wants Kashmir, Kashmiris want an independent nation. What should be done? Logic says whatever the people of the land want should happen – if they want an independent nation, lets give it to them. But is that feasible?
India wants Kashmir to salvage the national pride that the jingoistic politicos have fed the nation for past 50 years – “दूध मांगोगे तो खीर देंगे, कश्मीर मांगोगे तो चीर देंगे!” (If you ask for milk, we’ll give you kheer, if you ask for Kashmir we’ll tear you apart!)
There’s also a real danger in letting Kashmir become a separate nation. It will set a precedence. I will come to that in a while.
Pakistan wants Kashmir for the same jingoistic reasons but at the same time it doesn’t actually want Kashmir. Pakistani Army is the most important entity in Pakistan. They are everywhere and they own and operate virtually the entire nation. Pak army has been able to maintain its grip and its size by scare mongering based on an imminent attack from India over the Kashmir issue. Tomorrow if the Kashmir no longer remains a conflict between the two nations, Pakistani army will lose the alibi to maintain its clout and to continue to hog the national resources it is hogging today. So whether the Pak army will really allow a solution of the Kashmir issue is another matter.
Back to India. Letting Kashmir become an independent nation will set a precedence. If a set of people don’t want to be with the Union of India anymore, they know all they need to do is follow the Kashmir model and get your “independence” in a few years. Gujarat will say we want a separate nation, then Maharashtra will say the same then Andhra, then Assam, then Punjab. I am not saying it will happen. But if it does happen the Indian state will have to let them go. India may disintegrate.
There are two sides of this argument.
What’s wrong if a nation disintegrates? USSR disintegrated, today all of those nations are better off. We are seeing in India, carving out smaller states from larger ones actually improves administration and economy of both the old and new states. And lets say even if in future India is just left with say 5 states what harm will it do? Europe is a country of smaller nations and all of them are prospering (Irrespective of the current economic scenario). In fact bringing them all together like a single nation under the banner of Euro is doing more harm to them than good where better off economies like Germany are forced to feed weaker economies like Greece. So in a sense letting go a smaller part of the country is not such a bad idea.
Letting go of Kashmir is not such a bad idea considering the amount of resources and lives we are wasting there. What for? For a piece of land where the majority people don’t want to be with us?
But then there’s example of American civil war. Half the nation wanted out of the union but the northern states kept them in the union by force. It all ended well and today US is a strong country despite its size.
So what should India do? I am of the opinion that Jammu and Ladakh should be separated from Kashmir and integrated with India and Kashmiris should be allowed to decide their own fate. Why take out Jammu and Ladakh? Because apparently only the Kashmir valley has problem with India.
The bigger question is will making Kashmir an independent nation buy peace for India? Pakistan and Pakistani Army will claim a victory for they will achieve their goal of “liberating” Kashmir from the clutches of India. But what after that? Will ISI sponsored terrorism against India stop? Probably not. So what is the solution?