Friday, March 7, 2014

India’s knee-jerk Reaction against Kashmiri Students

March 7, 2014

By Saeed Qureshi

The suspension of 66 Kashmiri students and slapping them with sedition charges for celebrating Pakistan cricket team’s victory against Indian team is patently an uncalled for and outrageous action. Although the sedition charges were later dropped but the local administration is still intent on “investigating other offenses”. It was a knee jerk reaction and could have been avoided by the Utter Pradesh government. 

In such situations the tempers usually run high and show of unguarded exuberance cannot be ruled from the supporters of the winning side. The sentimental expression of national ego is always at the bottom of game competitions between India and Pakistan.

As part of the Asia Cup series 2014, this 6th group match was played at Sher-e- Bangla Stadium Mirpur Bangladesh on March 2 between two bitter contenders. The Pakistani team won this thrilling match by one wicket with still two balls remaining. 

The credit for this stunning victory goes to all time hitters of six Shahid Afridi. The cricket matches between India and Pakistan are invariably tense and excitement ridden. This victory for Pakistan came after a serious of defeats of the Pakistan team at the hands of Indian team.

Despite being a pacifist and a votary of abiding friendship between India and Pakistan, I am not ready to buy the argument that Pakistan and India can ever sincerely become peaceful and tolerant neighbors as one can bear out from the latest appalling action by the Meerut police. It is a far cry and rather an impossibility that there was an earnest desire even at the peoples or masses’ level for peace and friendliness between the two neighborly nations.

Notwithstanding their off-repeated sweet nuances and profuse pious planks to live in peace, they would not hesitate to lambast each other for minor irritants followed by revenge and battle cries.It is primarily a thousand years’ historical bitterness and deep seated animosity between Hindus and Muslims that pop up during even a mild conflict and transform into bloody communal riots. 

Hindus think that Muslims were primarily aliens and intruders into the sacred Hindustava or “Bharat Mata” and that they have no right to live and survive in the Indian subcontinent. The Muslims, though, ruled India until the British took over, seldom indulged in the persecution or ethnic cleansing of the religious minorities. The Muslim rulers like Akbar married with Hindu women and invariably treated Hindu population well and on equal level.

In the present times we are witness to a sequence of communal conflicts in India in which minorities were murdered with extreme vengeance and utter callousness. The genocide of Sikhs in 1984 and Muslims in Gujrat riots (2002) and occupation and demolition of Babri Mosque in 1992 by Hindu fanatics and ensuing bloodletting are of the recent origin and are awash with the blood of the countless innocent minority victims. 

Over a million Muslims were killed during the partition of India in 1947 by both Hindu marauders and Sikh armed gangs. The Muslims too whipped up the horrific orgy of blood of the Hindus and Sikhs emigrating from newly born Pakistan to India.

Let me reproduce some portions of my previous articles on this theme to further expound my view about the murky nature of relations between India and Pakistan even in the future.

Pakistan and India can never be good friends and neighbors because there is no good will or an earnest desire that comes from heart to resolve the contentious issues bedeviling their relationship for over six decades. At people’s level, the deep-seated animus can be witnessed when a match is being played or a situation of tension like the attack on a Bombay hotel arises between the two countries.

The bitterness and antagonism are spawned by the hardliners and fanatics of all sorts on both the sides, most notably the religious outfits. As such in a festering animus-loaded environment, it is difficult to presage if Pakistan and India can forget their strife ridden past and embark upon a path of enduring friendship.

The peace between these two neighbors would remain elusive until they come to a genuine and sincere realization to bury the hatchet and come to terms with each for finding a solution of the contentious issues bedeviling their relation for almost seven decades now. Unfortunately thus far, India and Pakistan have failed to sort out their mutual disputes for lasting peace and good neighborliness. 

There is no precedent in the past that they worked out and practically implemented bilateral agreements with regard to such thorny issues such as the demarcation of borders, mutual trade, the apportionment of water from rivers flowing down into Pakistan or the paramount lingering Kashmir issue. The Indus Basic Treaty was breached by India being the upper riparian.

There is no record of sitting down and coming up with a recipe of veritable peace and friendship by the two neighbors liberated from the British colonial yoke in 1947. India will not give up her hold on Kashmir, nor will Pakistan or Kashmiri nation relinquish or forego their claim about holding a pledged plebiscite to elicit the local population’s opinion as to which country they would prefer to join. 

Indian deems Kashmir as an integral part of Indian federation while Pakistan’s standpoint is that Kashmir is a disputed territory whose final status has yet to be determined by the people of Kashmir though a plebiscite.

Both the countries have not been able to smoothen and ease flow of cross border travel because of stringent visa rules that bar the travelers from either country to go beyond the cities specified in the passport. The intelligence operatives chase and keep a strict watch on the visitors until they depart. There have been many instances when a visitor was apprehended on mere suspicion and languished in Indian or Pakistani jails for years.

The three wars, in 1948, 1965, and 1971 followed by brief skirmishes in Kargil in July 1999 have failed to bring about change of hearts on both the sides. India’s military intervention in Bangladesh in 1971 led to the dismemberment of Pakistan and a humiliating defeat for the Pakistan’s armed forces. The Simla Agreement signed in 1972 between India and Pakistan, binds both the countries to settle all contentious issues via parleys to be conducted in the framework of the UN Charter.

Besides, since the inception of both the states in 1947, Pakistan has remained under unrelenting diplomatic, military, economic, and psychological pressure from India. So the talk of CBMS (confidence building measures) is a mere ploy to obfuscate the real issues. Both countries have varying and different interpretation for CBMS.

For Pakistan, primarily it is the easy movement of citizens of both the states without much of harassment and strict conditions. For India, it is to allow India to export her goods to Pakistani without any let or hindrance. While Pakistan has ever remained ready to talk on substantive issues India’s priorities and prerogatives have been focused on pushing them to back burners or keeping in a state of limbo.

Now building of 22 barrages by India on rivers emanating from Kashmir apart from being a violation of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, would give a complete control to India to stop or release water to Pakistan, which is a lower riparian. India agreed to sign Indus Basin Treaty because it deprived Pakistan of three rivers. 

If Pakistan doesn't get enough water, it would be exposed always to a looming threat of drought and famine. Tacitly India’s preference has been to turn Pakistan into a market for disposal of her products both industrial and agricultural.

The fact is that primarily it is Pakistan that would be the major beneficiary of the illusive settlement of the outstanding issues between India and Pakistan. For that matter, India would not let Pakistan off the hook lest it can move forward on a course of stability, progress, and prosperity. By facilitating cross border trade Pakistan would earn 12 billion dollars per annum.

Until and unless there is an overwhelming goodwill or an earnest desire to resolve the contentious issues bedeviling their relationship, the good neighborly relations and lasting friendship between Pakistan and India would remain elusive and hung up on tenterhooks of belligerency and deep distrust.

While Pakistan is caught up in the throes of a civil war at home front besides fighting a prolonged proxy war for the west, it cannot afford to ignite a crisis situation that can lead to another war and military confrontation with India. Given the Indian expanding role and interests in Afghanistan, Pakistan is genuinely worried that it night get a push both from the eastern and western fronts once the foreign occupation troops leave Afghanistan. 

But in view of the emerging scenario after exit of NATO and American troops from Afghanistan, the race for dominance in that war ravaged country would alarmingly heighten. That would add up to another conflict for a foothold in Afghanistan embittering their already tense relations. Can they agree to work together for the reconstruction and uplift of Afghanistan? It is a moot question.


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