The Kashmir crisis is being debated in India and Pakistan as India scrapped the controversial articles 370 and 35A and went a step further by removing the status of Jammu and Kashmir as a State and making it a Union Territory to be governed from Delhi. Surely in doing so, India violated the international conventions of past seventy years as well as bilateral agreements between the two countries.
Pakistani leadership is engaged in criticising the move of the Indian government for which they have plenty of legal grounds. They are committing to continue to raise the issue at various international platforms including UN.
The BJP leadership in government in India is trying to sell the move as a positive step, a bold move to command their authority in the region and promising economic growth in future.
India has been telling the world for past many decades that Kashmir was an integral part of India and now the right-wing BJP Hindu nationalist government has enacted the bill in the parliament describing it as an internal matter of the country.
Unfortunately, more than 180 million Indian Muslims have never been consulted, though they are an important party who may have played a key role in finding a solution in Kashmir.
If Indian Muslim leadership was engaged in delivering a political dialogue with Kashmiri leadership over the past 70 years, the issue may have been resolved amicably and current crisis may have been avoided.
Most of the Indian Muslims are of the opinion that partition of India in 1947 was a mistake. It resulted in unifying the Hindu population in one country and divided Muslim population of pre-partitioned India in many parts viz Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indian Muslims and Kashmiri Muslims.
This division of Muslims made them very weak whereas Hindus united in India thereby gained strength now on a Hindu platform.
However, once the partition took place, the Muslim majority region of Kashmir should have gone to Pakistan based on the formula of the division. It did not happen due to the choice of the indecisiveness of the Hindu king and majority Muslim population in Kashmir and thus Kashmir became a contentious issue between the two countries.
Soon after the partition, Pakistan sent its army into Kashmir and somehow managed to liberate one third of greater Kashmir. Although this division of Kashmir separated a large number of families, people of ‘Azad Kashmir’ have enjoyed peace and although they have their own parliament, they found comfort in being with Muslim Pakistan.
On the other hand, people in ‘Indian occupied Kashmir’ rejected Indian rule as they found it unjustified that they had to stay with the Hindu majority despite the creation of a Muslim nation nest door.
Seventy years later, the fact is that India is too strong and Pakistan is relatively weak, militarily, financially, geographically and population wise.
The Hindu nationalist BJP party who enjoys great majority in the Parliament found a golden opportunity in implementing its agenda of unilateral annexation of Kashmir in India against the wishes of the Kashmiris.
International conventions have proven to be ineffective in all international disputes and the powerful nations have not agreed to any UN resolution against their own interests.
India also enjoys strong economic ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries who are therefore reluctant to take a stand against India, despite claiming to be the protectors of Muslim interests internationally.
Another very important fact is that as long as Kashmir remains tense, pressure on Muslims in India builds up. Over the past 5 years, since Narendra Modi came to power, Muslims have faced immense problems.
In a highly unlikely event of Kashmir parting away from India, more than 180 million Muslims of India will suffer a bloodbath.
Although it seems to be very late now, still engagement of Indian Muslim leadership in negotiations with Kashmiri leaders may have a calming effect.
The message that if 180 million Muslims are living in democratic India in a relatively peaceful manner over past 70 years, Kashmiri Muslims can do the same.
The truth is that there is no alternative to it. It is a huge challenge to undertake such negotiation in a respectful manner when extremist Hindus are in power yet floating such an idea may not be a bad choice.