The terrorist attack on Indian security forces killed scores of soldiers in Kashmir and raised the prospect of an Indian response in an election year. As widely expected Modi took the full advantage of the situation and staged an airstrike calling it a non-military operation.
It ought to be a hugely popular action in India and sure to boost election prospects. Indian air force in a predawn airstrike claimed to hit 'Jais-e-Mohammed' targets deep in Pakistan suffering the loss of jets in the process. The strikes were said to be highly precise without causing any civilian collateral damage. Pakistan air defence is said to scramble to defence but did not engage in combat or could not.
It is to be noted whenever an initiative happens to improve relations with India by the Pakistani civilian government a Kargil or Pulmawa occurs. Is this a coincidence? This terror attacks or cross border attacks demolished any chance of peaceful negotiation. In the process, peace loses.
Pakistan has come up with not retaliatory airstrike from within their airspace at non-military targets avoiding loss of human lives to demonstrate its right of retaliation. We hope both sides exercise utmost restraint. India claims to have done a preemptive airstrike deep in Pakistani territory in a non-military mission.
We are amused by this rhetoric without fully understanding what is a non-military airstrike and retaliation without the intention of escalation to demonstrate a mere capability of retaliation. Currently, the situation is very volatile and as expected Pakistan struck to appease its people who are aggressively anti-Indian and must have been inflamed by the Indian air strike.
There are reports of skirmishes at Pakistan Indian border. God willing we hope that does not escalate into a full-fledged war.India has now moved to isolate Pakistan diplomatically. It is possible for India to isolate any country with mighty diplomatic corps they have. We wish they use that might on our behalf against Myanmar in the Rohingya crisis. And Myanmar is isolated to create pressure on Myanmar to take the Rohingyas back.
Kashmir has been a thorn in the relationship between Pakistan and India right from the word go after the partition of the subcontinent. It is not only a problem between Pakistan and India but is a constant threat to the peace of the region and a hurdle in the process of development of the people because of all sorts of cooperation plan involving all the countries of the subcontinent stalls due to the tussle between Pakistan and India.
It is therefore pertinent that Kashmir issue is settled soon and we embark on the road to development of the region jointly and united in sharing our resources both technical and financial resources and experiences.
Kashmir an overwhelmingly Muslim region had a Hindu ruler who wished to join India on Partition but was still undecided while his subjects being Muslims tilted to Pakistan. Rebellion in poonch and Pakistani support to that prompted Hari Singh the Sikh ruler of Kashmir to sign a standstill pact with Pakistan. An internal revolt against oppressive taxation of the Maharaja began in poonch, a thinly populated area.
To disperse a demonstration by the people in favour of joining Pakistan Hari Sing's troops burned down villages and massacred innocent people. The Pooch people declared independence and temporarily established an independent Azad Kashmir in Oct. 1947. During this post-partition period, princely states were encouraged to accede to Pakistan or India as they desired. To delay the process Hari Singh signed a Standstill pact with Pakistan.
Following widespread riots in Jammu in Oct 1947 pooch rebels recruited Pashtun mercenaries who invaded Kashmir. The purpose was to frighten the Maharaja into submission. The Maharaja appealed to the government of India for help. Mountbatten agreed if he acceded to India. On accession, India sent troops in Kashmir and drove the rebels out of Kashmir except for a small area.
Pakistan contested the accession branding it fraudulent and maintained that the Maharaja has no right to sign an accession instrument while having a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan. India accepted the accession as provisional and took the case to UN in 1947 which vide resolution 47 sought to determine the will of the people through a plebiscite.
Both the countries agreed but India insisted on clearing all the irregulars from Kashmir before the plebiscite. The hurdle was in the interpretation of modalities on disbanding the Azad Kashmir forces before or after the plebiscite. Due to disagreements between them on nitty-gritty about a Truce Agreement the proposed plebiscite never happened and no punitive measures could be taken against India due to the nonbinding nature of the UN resolution.
Eventually, India and Pakistan fought three wars and hopefully, another is not brewing. A war between these two nuclear neighbours will not benefit anybody. And can be proven disastrous for the whole region. The fallout would be far-reaching and the common people will suffer the most. A full-scale escalation of the non-military and capability proving strikes should be contained immediately and diplomatic maneuvers must be intensified to find a solution to the lingering Kashmir problem.
It is encouraging that the world leaders started diplomatic activities to stop an escalation. Their effort must extend to finding a permanent solution to the Kashmir Problem. Kashmir has bled for an unnecessarily long time. We strongly urge all the parties to sincerely look for an amicable settlement for the benefit of the Kashmiris particularly and generally for the whole subcontinent. We hope earnestly Peace will prevail.
Mir Mahboob Ali is an author,
fiction writer and freelance
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