AT Partition, India faced insurgencies in many states and New Delhi agreed to the creation of new states. Pakistan, on the other hand, lost Hyderabad Deccan and her Eastern wing because of its rigid policies. In the latest flare-up on Kashmir, India should pay heed to her foreign diplomats.

All Indian foreign secretaries starting from Shiv Shankar Menon, have ruled out war as a solution. Menon also opposed a military solution as an option to settle India-Pakistan disputes.

Foreign Secretary Jagat S. Mehta understood India’s abhorrence of the word plebiscite. He presented proposals in his article, Resolving Kashmir in the International Context of the 1990s for evolving a solution over a 10-year and more period.

Some suggestions of his quasi-solution: (a) pacification of the valley until a political solution is reached; (b) conversion of the Line of Control into “a soft border permitting free movement and facilitating free exchanges…” (c) immediate demilitarisation of the LoC to a depth of five to 10 miles with agreed methods of verifying compliance; and (d) final settlement of the dispute between India and Pakistan can be suspended (kept in cold freeze) for an agreed period.

Voracious readers may refer for more details to Robert G Wirsing’s book, India, Pakistan and the Kashmir Dispute (1994, St Martin’s Press, New York pp. 225-228).

Foreign secretary J.N. Dixit, as quoted in Victoria Schofield’s book, Kashmir in the Crossfire says: Everybody who has an understanding of history knows that legality only has relevance up to the threshold of transcending political realities. And especially in inter-state relations… so to quibble about points of law and hope that by proving a legal point you can reverse the process of history is living in a somewhat contrived utopia. It won’t work.’

Foreign Secretary Krishnan Srinivasan in ‘Lessons for Kashmir from the Kuriles’ (The Hindu Jan 7, 2019) says: Russia has long been Japan’s hypothetical enemy. But the two countries are no longer at daggers drawn with regard to the Kurile Islands dispute.

Srinivasan observes “although no two international problems are analogous, there are important lessons to be drawn from the manner in which traditionally hostile neighbours can identify common interests and explore unorthodox avenues along which to proceed in search of innovative solutions to apparently insoluble disputes. This requires strong leadership and a bold imagination. Neither India nor Pakistan lacks either attribute.”

India should realise it can’t stifle the Kashmiri people’s will. Does New Delhi want to escalate this crisis into a nuclear Armageddon?

The result no matter whether India wins or Pakistan would be pyrrhic.

Malik Asad Jameel


Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2019