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Kashmir issue

March 24, 2013

THIS is apropos of Mian Arshad’s letter ‘Kashmir issue’ (March 20). He has mistakenly asserted that a referendum in the Falkands has ‘resolved’ that conflict.

Nothing has been resolved. The referendum’s result was a foregone conclusion. The islanders, who number less than two thousand, voted entirely in favour of staying with the UK.

However, the other party to the dispute, Argentina, had rejected the referendum well before the result was declared.

Argentina’s position is that the islands are Argentine territory and the islanders are squatters. Therefore, from the Argentine perspective, their wishes are irrelevant.

If there is a lesson in this for the Kashmir issue, it is that solutions have to change with the times and suit the particularities of a conflict.

A referendum in Kashmir might have resolved the matter in 1949; today a referendum presenting a bilateral choice between India and Pakistan wouldn’t satisfy the Kashmiris themselves.

If they are unhappy with India, that in no way implies that they are keen to become Pakistanis. It’s a no-brainer really. In the current time, when Pakistanis are falling over themselves to become Canadian and Australian, why would the Kashmiris volunteer for our illustrious nationality? More importantly, the on-ground fact is that India will never allow a referendum in Kashmir and Pakistan simply doesn’t have the wherewithal to force India’s hand.

Nor will we acquire the requisite wherewithal in the foreseeable future; if anything, Pakistan’s position vis-à-vis Kashmir has weakened internationally over the last two decades.

So while Kashmiris might have good reason for complaint against India, it is increasingly difficult to see what Pakistan’s continuing interest in this conflict is.