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Indian author moots confederation to settle Kashmir issue

Published Dec 29, 2016 06:47am


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NEW DELHI: Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari on Wednesday released a book that calls for a confederation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh but without undoing the partition as the only way to address poverty and resolve the Kashmir dispute.

“Regional cooperation with a focus on human security problems, on movement of people and on trade without unreasonable restrictions” was the need of the hour, Mr Ansari said at a function in Mumbai, apparently agreeing with the book’s argument.

“The common traits in cultural traditions and historical narratives need to be transmitted to younger generation through conscious promotion rather than prevention of cultural exchanges, films, and other cultural activities,” Mr Ansari said in his appeal to the governments and civil societies in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Mr Ansari made these comments while releasing August Voices, a new book by Indian peace activist Sudheendra Kulkarni, which calls for an India-Pakistan-Bangladesh confederation.

“Common action is easier on areas of convergence than of divergence,” Mr Ansari said. For convergence, there is a need to move “beyond the traditional paradigm of conventional security into those of human security and human wrong. Both are ignored by the governments and societies in our region. There is a crying need for the recognition and implementation of both. Only then would we develop the perception and capacity for correctives.”

Mr Kulkarni said his book sought to ‘harmonise’ the nationalism of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. “The people and governments of our three countries should refuse to remain prisoners of the past. We must create a better future for our coming generations, a future of peace, shared progress, eradication of poverty, justice and dignity for every human being in our subcontinent. To do so is our moral responsibility towards humanity. After all, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have the world’s largest number of poor, deprived and divided people with common civilisational ancestry. Besides, neither India nor Pakistan nor Bangladesh can develop to their full potential without transitioning from discord to concord, from hostility to cooperation.”

Mr Kulkarni claimed that the idea of a confederation was embedded in the movement for independence from British rule. “It was favoured by several principal actors of the freedom struggle, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammad Ali Jinnah.”

His book argues that the existence of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as three separate, independent and sovereign nations is a reality that cannot be altered. Partition cannot be undone.

However, its negative outcomes can — and must — be undone jointly by the peoples and governments of India and Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The continued hostility between India and Pakistan, in particular, has created many problems for the two countries. It is also the principal reason for the lack of movement in regional cooperation in South Asia, as is evident from the fate of Saarc.

The book calls for India and Pakistan to arrive at a just, amicable, peaceful and compromise-based solution to the long-pending Kashmir dispute. It suggests that a lasting solution to the dispute is possible only through a ‘confederal’ agreement between India and Pakistan, which recognises that Kashmir belongs simultaneously to the two countries and also to the people of Kashmir.

Mr Kulkarni said that the three-nation confederation should not be seen as an idea of Indian expansionism. “It is based on the principle of equality. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh should remain separate, and yet together on issues of common concern and common benefit.”

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2016


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Comments (76) Closed

Vivek Wani Dec 29, 2016 09:21am

Good suggestion.

JamShed Khan Dec 29, 2016 09:22am

This is a great idea. It will resolve our issues for ever. The confederation idea is particularly ideal for Pakistani common man. Pakistan has been a security state for a while and this will put an end to it.

Tahir Dec 29, 2016 09:26am

I wish we can let go of our prejudicies and stereotypes.. what world would that be where we can travel , collaborate and expand as brothers.. religion should be seen as a catalyst of mutual interaction rather then a base for division and feud.... May God almighty have mercy , for we have been victim of hatred for too long know... may be its time for us to come together.....

Imtiaz ali khan Dec 29, 2016 09:32am

Sane voices of intelligent people.

M M Alam Dec 29, 2016 09:41am

Thinking out of the box. I hope sanity prevails.

Raj Toronto Dec 29, 2016 09:43am

100 percent agree with the proposal to undo the harms of partition.

Ahsan Dec 29, 2016 09:48am

Advocating confederation while maintaining the present status as three separate nations is a very good idea. The aim will be alleviation of poverty and use of resources .

Baba Azam Dec 29, 2016 09:56am

This is the best solution that time demands!

Asif A. Shah Dec 29, 2016 10:03am

A good idealistic goal.

Aamir Dec 29, 2016 10:04am

Sensible and humanist argument. Agreed

ALI Dec 29, 2016 10:15am

The Cabinet Mission Plan called for such a union which was accepted by Jinnah and the League in 1946 - just one year before Partition. Nehru rejected it. There can be harmony if Bharat honours its pledges.

philosopher Dec 29, 2016 10:22am

great Idea for peace and economic prosperity in subcontinent

RIZ Dec 29, 2016 10:20am

I wish to see this happen one day,, I also want to include Afghanistan in this,, this will not only help to reduce poverty but also help trade and people to people interaction and cooperation in many ways.. also this will strengthen Muslims of all four countries again,, I don't see any harm in this,,

Ajay Maheshwari Dec 29, 2016 10:27am

if happens prosperity will prevail in entire subcontinent.

Mohammad Ali Khan Dec 29, 2016 10:26am

With the ever increasing level of religious enthusiasm in India and Pakistan,they are drifting further apart.Confederation is getting harder with time.

Hamde Ali Bogra Dec 29, 2016 10:45am

The three nations could be like a sub-continental fortress, a power in its own right in Asia.

an observer Dec 29, 2016 10:50am

A wishful thinking!!!!

Ali Dec 29, 2016 10:51am

I wish some sane yet powerful people read this article and implement it.

Robert Dec 29, 2016 10:50am

This is a very courageous statement. Sincere, honest, and truthful. The acceptance of such idea must begin with combined political and military leadership of Pakistan to make it easier to be supported by Bangladesh and India. Show your leadership, Pakistan, and provide health, education, and economic opportunity to your citizens.

S. A. M. Dec 29, 2016 11:00am

thanks Mr Kulkarni. your idea is excellent and hope we get to see this happens in our life time.

South Asia Dec 29, 2016 11:01am

@Mohammad Ali Khan Religiousness reduced in India, weird but true, majority muslim voters voted for Modi as many of them are into busineess and Modi has created a hood businedd environment..and now Muslim women right groups are happy with his work too. Regarding the article, such things must be promoted but will take time, India Pakistan, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Afghanistan have many things in common. Everytime some third country comes to benefit from us at our expense and then try to lecture us on rights, governance etc etc.

MYRESPONSE Dec 29, 2016 11:17am

What an excellent idea...three sovereign countries of the subcontinent under single umbrella of confedration.There can't be any better solution than this. Glad to know that at least one person among the millions has the strength and courage to stand up express his suggestion .

Seriously Dec 29, 2016 11:27am

Such wishful thinking is a total denial of ideology, Establishment and history of a nation.

Muhammad Khalil Dec 29, 2016 11:30am

Its great idea, I wish it happens. Poverty and illiteracy is a biggest problem of this region. By maintaining integrity of separate counties, we should be united on commons goals.

Nadeem_Kashimiri Dec 29, 2016 11:34am

A good idealistic goal but the western world will never let this succeed as they know that prosperity and growth in the subcontinent will hamper their arms business which they enjoy with both India and Pakistan.

malik humayoun Dec 29, 2016 11:38am

Excellent IDEA, Great people always discuss Idea's

Zalmay Dec 29, 2016 11:47am

Only viable solution

Friend Dec 29, 2016 11:49am

Let us hope that the government gives a sincere ear to the suggestions and come out with something. A lot of human sufferings have been seen by these nations. Let us put the hatred to the past, respect each other and grow together.

Niaz H. Jafri Dec 29, 2016 11:48am

Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni is a peace activist in a true sense of the word and his words always match his actions. He's been consistently striving for the great cause of peace for the people of the subcontinent despite having a lot of opposition from the hardliners in India. I wish we have people like him in Pakistan as well so that we have some chances of peace coming for the millions of people in our part of the world. Stay blessed Mr. Kulkarni.

amin Dec 29, 2016 11:48am

@JamShed Khan yes but unfortunately India will remain one.

Shaktiman Dec 29, 2016 11:48am

Wishfull thinking. I pity this kind of thought process

syed zafar kazmI U.S Dec 29, 2016 11:56am

Great idea. I'm all for it: Subcontinental Commonwealth- why not

Sam Dec 29, 2016 12:05pm

The idea is there already in the form of SAARC. It is supposed to lead to a common market by means of SAFTA, with free movement of goods and services and easier movement of labour. India Pakistan squabbling over Kashmir is the main obstacle to achieving this. We need some out-of-the box solution for the Kashmir conundrum that would be acceptable to both parties. Once you conquer this apple of discord, the sky is the limit in terms of cooperation. Good thinking nonetheless.

Jan Dec 29, 2016 12:08pm

Good suggestion but I am afraid that this will not appeal hard line political parties in India. In did not work in 1947 or earlier. New generation is again being poisoned by negative prapoganda against each other and does not encourage new generation to forget and forgo old hat sentiments. No doubt peace and property will only come when our three nations work togather for a common cause for the betterment of people. Let's be three in one. Jan

Isabhai Surat wala Dec 29, 2016 12:10pm

It can be a good idea or good imagination other then nothing. ....

mk Dec 29, 2016 12:16pm

@ALI Nehtu rejected it because the league rejected equality and demanded special status for muslims

@63392 Dec 29, 2016 12:23pm

My Indian friends kindly accept it, Pakistan is an independent state and will remain so. Geography will change in hundreds of years and not for one country but the whole region. Learn from the history and be brave to accept the truth.

Farouq Omaro Dec 29, 2016 12:27pm

Jinnah proposed this long ago but Nehru rejected. Hopefully this will materialise! Hindustan Zindabad! Pakistan Zindabad!

Umair Iqbal Dec 29, 2016 12:24pm

By God this idea of confederation crossed my mind last week. Wow!

SVK Dec 29, 2016 12:32pm


Partition has already happened. Instead of wasting time on such confederation I will devote all my energy to ensure that all people of my country irrespective of their Religions,sects etc remain together and any type of fundamentalism does not show its ugly face.

First let me keep my house in order and then I will go out to spend time with neighbours. Just now I don't see any need for Confederation.

Rizwan Dec 29, 2016 12:41pm

Smart idea in a long time from our big brother. Yes family should be together.

Third Opinion Dec 29, 2016 12:42pm

Just an idea - it will need peoples movement in all 3 countries to make a confederation. Until then it will just be a wishful thinking

Fiz Dec 29, 2016 01:09pm

@RIZ. You have defeated the whole idea by your statement of strengthening the 'one community' of four countries! This whole concept is based on plurality and equality otherwise its a waste of time.

Masoud Dec 29, 2016 01:20pm

A wishful suggestion in good esteem. First the three named players should cooperate in SARC forum, unfortunately India not only backed out but also made Bangladesh follow its commandment and refrain from attending the last SAARC meeting in Pakistan that resulted in cancellation.

Naeem Dec 29, 2016 01:25pm

Very good and timely suggestion. Confederation is the only option for resolving Kashmir issue and it will prosperous the region. Please expedite and implement this suggestion.

Rkhan Dec 29, 2016 01:24pm

history has it, writers/ thinkers/scholars have played pivotal role solve many problems---should be considered.

Sridhar Raghunatha Rao Dec 29, 2016 01:27pm

I fully endorse this idea - 200%

Fiz Dec 29, 2016 01:28pm

@Masoud. What you've stated is a very simplistic view of what happened at SAARC. Remember every action has a reaction. Though fully agree for such a confederation to take place all 3 countries will have to leave their baggage at the door. Its possible, Europe is an example how, albeit With its own issues.

IhTESham ali shah Dec 29, 2016 01:29pm

I love this idea from the core of my heart. Hats off to this man by bringing such Plural idea to the surface through his book.

Dv Dec 29, 2016 01:41pm

Excellent idea but impractical.

Nehru Dec 29, 2016 01:54pm

@Farouq Omaro could you provide some evidence please

Acer Dec 29, 2016 01:52pm

In order to have this dream realized, first India would have to resolve the Kashmir issue as per the wishes of Kashmiri people. Without a fair and just solution to Kashmir problem, this South Asian confederation would remain a pipe dream.

So is India ready for the final settlement of Kashmir?

Mahesh Dec 29, 2016 02:02pm

An excellent idea. Hope people of all three countries launch a movement for this.

DIL DIL PAKISTAN, toronto, canada Dec 29, 2016 02:05pm

A good, and a great idea. However, India will not agree to this, and comedown from his high horse, till it sees CPEC in action. Pakistan should speed up the action on CPEC to the maximum possible.

Zafar Rasool Dec 29, 2016 02:15pm

The confederation idea is a non starter. We can come up with a variant of it: all countries of SAARC can work to become a union like the European Union. In that there can be free movement of people and goods. The Northern Ireland problem was solved by negotiations. India and Pakistan have to negotiate Kashmir problem. I see nothing wrong in accepting mediation offers. We must show maturity. If USA and Japan can be friends after Pearl Harbour, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, if Germany and former Allied Countries can be friends after the WW2, why not us? Travelling between SAARC countries should be without visa. Current restrictions make it difficult for genuine visitors. Terrorists and other miscreants do not apply for visas.

Zak Dec 29, 2016 02:18pm

This idea looks similar to EU. Anyways we have CPEC once it is fully functional we will become the richest country in the world.

Z Ahmed Dec 29, 2016 02:18pm

A great idea in the long run. However, to make it success, start with Kashmir. Once it is settled, a confederation between Bangladesh and Pakistan. Then it could be a sub-continent confederation, expanded to other countries like Afghanistan. Everything cannot be achieved in one go. Good Luck.

nooneabovelaw Dec 29, 2016 02:29pm

sensible thinking

Sohaila Dec 29, 2016 02:31pm

This will only benefit India. Bangladesh is already under the influence of India. Pakistan will soon lose its sovereignty. What happened to Hyderabad, Junagarh, and occupied Kashmir, is enough to learn a lesson from history.

Anir Dec 29, 2016 02:43pm

The confederation will make each of the countries more strong, and powerful. Together there will be 1. 7 billion people, 1/3rd of humanity. Misunderstandings due to border will go away. People will understand and accept each other's problems easily. Unfortunately there are many powerful people who will not allow such things raising several problems in such situation.

M.Saeed Dec 29, 2016 02:55pm

@an observer: What is wrong in wishing?

Law of jungle Dec 29, 2016 03:11pm

SAARC was supposed to be stepping stone for that. What happened?

DAWN READER Dec 29, 2016 03:10pm

@Vivek Wani Yes it's a very good idea if not used to push back the Kashmir issue and dispute by not giving the right of self determination to the oppressed Kashmiris in the IHK according to the UN resolutions.

Hyderabadi Dec 29, 2016 03:25pm

Good suggestion, if implemented, what will happen to our politicians and armed forces apart from all those countries selling their arms? I don't think this will ever be implemented as our rulers can not loot us anymore if implemented. AMAN KI AASHA, still a distant dream sadly.

ahmad Dec 29, 2016 03:44pm

@Seriously I disagree. We share common history and we lived together for more time than living separately. All this separated time has resulted in development of extremism, bigotry and so on.

Fardad Ali Shah Dec 29, 2016 04:18pm

The fact that 99 percent readers (who are supposed to be enlightened compared to the masses) approve this idea, is enough reason that it should be implemented. Even referendum in all three countries will approve it with 90 percent majority.

Alba Dec 29, 2016 04:33pm

Easier said than done. Anyone can say that but no one can make it happen.

Alba Dec 29, 2016 04:39pm

@Tahir ... Stereotypes. You hit the nail on the head there.

Sana Dec 29, 2016 04:38pm

Yeha why shouldn't we expand it to include Afghanistan as well which has more cultural similarity with our Western provinces.

Muhammad Dec 29, 2016 04:40pm

@mk cabinet mission failed because pandit Nehru gave a statement that congress is not under any compulsion to continue with this plan post independence plus congress was never comfortable in sharing power with Muslim league

Fareed N Dec 29, 2016 04:51pm

Diagonally opposed , Muslims and Hindus in everywhich way you can imagine . Muslims separated from Hindu dominance hoping to live together peacefully both as separate nations. Crust of tension was and is ,Kashmir. Resolve this issue , let Kashmiris decide their future - Both countries can live in peace. End of the discussion.

Atticus from india Dec 29, 2016 06:30pm

Excellent sugggestion which will be opposed by 1) Anyone who disagrees with current LOC being accepted as border, 2)Those who depend on Indo-Pak tensions to get power or money. Both these groups are destroying the future of our subcontinent.

Baldev Singh Dec 29, 2016 07:04pm

It is indeed a good idea ! I fully support it.

Tariq, Lahore Dec 30, 2016 01:46am

Great idea! Which leader will take the initiative? Imagine, if all those billions spent on defence were spent on the betterment of our countries and the common man!

dk pamnani Dec 30, 2016 09:52am

It is very good idea if India, Pakistan, Bangladesh are united again as one country. No problem of terrorism, Kashmir issue and will progress well in entire world.

Iftikhar Husain Dec 30, 2016 05:26pm

It is a very sensible proposal we welcome it.