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Kashmir - Muslim Land?

Difficult problem -- Easy Solution

Posted on: November 25, 2005

While covering the devastating earthquake with its epicenter near Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, it was rather disingenuous of The Oregonian (October 11, 2005) to publish articles indulging in the politics of the region. Natural disasters don't recognize any race, religion, ethnicity or political compulsions. A Tsunami kills everyone in its wake from the shores of Thailand to Maldives as does a hurricane, blacks or whites, poor or rich.

Since the Oregonian chose to indulge in regional politics, it will not be out of place to comment on the subject matter of the concerned articles. Of the two articles in the News Focus section one talked of "quick relief efforts for quake survivors advancing the cause of Kashmiri separatists" while the other of "India's aid offer could help bridge the divide."

Let me make a few observations on the first.

"Lot of help was coming from Kashmiri separatists on the Indian side of the disputed territory" wrote Matthew Rosenberg, "In mountains villages, members of the two groups have been handing out everything from milk to medicine as the Indian government and army have faltered in their relief efforts."

This is in quite contrast to reports from Muzzafarabad, capital of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Mr. Amanullah Khan, leader of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, an Islamic separatists Group, in a telephone interview said that the Pakistan government is not doing anything to provide relief to the people. He went on to say "the Pak government response paled in comparison to that of the Indian government. Itís a shame as the government on the other side acted promptly and provided relief and rescue in all the affected areas. People are angry here as they think Islamabad has double standards, even in handling natural disasters... The earthquake, as I foresee, will damage Pakistanís image amongst the local Kashmiris and Pakistan could lose their sympathy." (Reuters)

If the separatists group are doing such a great job of providing aid to quake victims on the Indian side of the border, one wonders why are the other separatists groups looking for help from the Pakistan government which in their opinion is even worse than what the Indian government is doing on the Pakistan side?

I will leave that for Mr. Rosenberg and readers to decide.

Let me come to another point that the article covered. Mr. Rosenberg calls "Kashmir, a largely Muslim land". I don't understand what he means by it? Do lands have religions? By his definition are certain parts of New Orleans black land or Deer Born a Muslim land? If Kashmir has to be identified with any religion, it can only be Hinduism and the Hindus who have lived there ever since the dawn of humanity. It is a land that was usurped by the Muslims over the centuries by invasions and conversions -- mostly bloody. If Israel can belong to the Jews, why not Kashmir to the Hindus? Islam, born in the seventh century, does not own any land. The lands then were already "owned" by others. At best it has usurped others' land.

Rosenberg, at best, is quite miserly with the facts. "Kashmir was British protectorate under the British rule that remained nominally independent after the creation of India and Pakistan in a bloody partition of the subcontinent following independence in 1947. But within a year, the two neighbors began a war that left India with two-thirds of the region and Muslim Pakistan controlling the remainder" he went on to write.

He must take his readers to be completely ignorant. India was not created in 1947 -- Pakistan was because the Muslims of the subcontinent did not want to live in a multicultural, multi-religious secular India -- 86.6% of Muslims of India voted for Muslim League agenda of partition.

Yes, it is true that after partition, the King of Kashmir was neutral towards Islamic Pakistan and multi-religious India. What made him change his mind? The two neighbors just did not go to war as Rosenberg will like his readers to believe.

Soon after the partition of India, Islamic tribals from Pakistan, with the active support of the Pakistani army, raided the neutral kingdom of Kashmir. Had they not indulged in plunder and rape on their way to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, it is quite possible Pakistan would have annexed Kashmir. With the marauding raiders only kilometers away from Srinagar, the King of Kashmir signed an accession pact with India and invited the Indian army to protect his kingdom.

Pakistan calls Kashmir the "unfinished agenda of partition". They argue that since Kashmir was a Muslim majority state, it should have gone to Pakistan. The truth is that Kashmir was never on the partition agenda. At the time of partition there were 562 princely states that had the option of either acceding to India or Pakistan or remain independent. Kashmir chose to remain independent but the issue was forced upon the King by Islamic raiders from Pakistan.

However, what was on agenda, and once even proposed by Mr. Jinnah -- the leader of the Indian Muslims, was the population exchange of all Muslims in India. After all why not? In 1947, Muslims formed about 25% of India's population and they got about the same percentage of land mass. From what became Pakistan, they killed, converted or expelled almost all the non-Muslims. What good reason is there for all the Muslims -- for whom a separate country was carved out -- not to go to their cherished land?

There have been many massacre for secession of Kashmir, which has become an obsession for Pakistan. The world stands in awe of the two nuclear-armed neighbors who seem to be on the brink of war on the Kashmir issue. Much innocent blood has run down the valley of Kashmir since 1989 when the current insurgency started.

If we let the cooler minds prevail, the solution is not all that difficult. Pakistan claims, as said earlier, that Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of partition. Not true, but let us accept that, and also, this is not the only unfinished agenda of partition. The events in Kashmir have proven that indeed the Muslims don't want to live with the Hindus. They should have the freedom to do so. But let us also address the other unfinished agenda of partition -- the complete religious population exchange. The latest assault on the Hindus in the Muslim majority town of Mau in the state of Uttar Pradesh makes it evident that in Muslim majority areas, the life of non-Muslims is not safe even in Hindu majority secular India.

In a simple solution, let the Muslim majority areas of Kashmir become part of Pakistan and as a part of the same deal, all the Muslims of India go to Pakistan -- the land they fought for and got for themselves. A hijra -- migration -- they should have done in 1947. There are almost no Hindus left by now in Pakistan anyway, but the small number left could migrate to India in the process.

With the border situation and population problem solved and the cause of acrimony removed, this should establish religious harmony in the continent once for all. Thus, both the Hindus and the Muslims live peacefully in their own lands and fulfill their dreams.

As the Persian saying goes "der ast, durust ast". Roughly translated -- "late but correct".

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