Nothing wrong with Prime Minister'sdeclaration during his recent visit to J&K that his Government would have ?zero tolerance? for human rights violation excepting that people of the State that are at the receiving end of the bloody terrorist acts perpetrated by jehadis expected Dr. Manmohan Singh to show an identical, if not more, determination to have ?zero tolerance? for terrorism. For whatever reason, his tone appears to have undergone a change after the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai that shocked the nation and gave a big blow to the peace process. In his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the Prime Minister promised that the Government would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that terrorist elements in India were ?neutralised and smashed?. Equally reassuring is his implied warning to Islamabad that unless Pakistan took concrete steps to implement the solemn assurance that it had given to prevent cross-border terrorism against India from territories under its control, public opinion that had supported the peace process would be undermined. However, one wished the good Doctor had shown more courage by emulating the late Lal Bahadur Shastri who had thundered in 1967 that any attempt to undermine India'sterritorial integrity would meet the punishment it deserved.
Having said this, one must ask the Prime Minister to come clean on his ?non-paper? to Pakistan. There is a disturbing report in The Nation of Pakistan that prior to the deadly bomb blasts in Mumbai, the peace process had reached such an advanced stage that New Delhi was prepared to grant autonomy to J&K to facilitate its return to pre-1953 constitutional frame work in which it was autonomous in dealing with all subjects barring defence external affairs and communications. The proposals, the newspaper says, were contained in a ?non-paper? India had submitted to Pakistan in response to President Musharraf'sproposals to de-militarise J&K, grant self-governance and have joint management of all ?sectors? in J&K, including PoK. Quoting diplomatic sources, the newspaper says, the ?non-paper? talked of reduction of Indian troops in J&K provided subversive activities by militants with the support of the elements across the Line of Control were brought to an end. New Delhi also offered to release militants that are not directly involved in acts of terrorism.
In diplomatic parlance, a ?non-paper? is a document circulated informally for discussion and negotiations without the originating country committing itself to the proposals made in it. Agreed, it is not a firm commitment by the Government concerned but it certainly indicates the limits to which a Government is willing to go to resolve a dispute or an issue. Since the Government of India has not denied the existence of the ?non-paper? more than a week after it came to light, there are reasons to believe that the report in The Nation is substantially correct. If that were so, the Prime Minister has a lot to explain to the nation. Did he take the principal opposition party in confidence on this sensitive issue? Has his Government tried to evolve a broad national consensus before submitting a ?non-paper? to Pakistan whose sincerity in having peace with India is suspect? Did he consult the representatives of the people of J&K?particularly those who live outside the valley?about their response to such a ?solution? of the issue? If the answer is negative, will the Prime Minister tell the nation whether he made these offers under international pressure (You know what that means)?
If the contents of the report in the Pakistani newspaper are correct, the UPA Government is guilty of willing to put the clock back by half a century. The proposals are a betrayal of the sacrifices made by thousands and thousands of soldiers and citizens who laid down their lives to defend and protect territorial integrity and unity of the country. It amounts to betraying the supreme sacrifice made by the Jana Sangh President Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee who died in suspicious circumstances in Sheikh Abdullah'sjail while fighting for the full integration of J&K with the rest of India. It also amounts to changing the terms of engagements with Pakistan over J&K. It compromises the 1995 Parliament resolution on J&K. In short, it is a shameless surrender before the bully by the Government of the day.
Congress party'srole on the issue has all along been less than honourable. Its governments are guilty of sacrificing national interests on this crucial issue more than once. The first one to commit the sin was Jawahar Lal Nehru who took J&K issue to United Nations and agreed to a ceasefire when our troops were on the verge of liberating the entire territory from the invading army. Lal Bahadur Shastri too can'tescape blame for succumbing under Russian pressure to hand over liberated territory of J&K to Pakistan that our brave soldiers had won after making great sacrifices. Indira Gandhi won the war in 1971 but failed to clinch the Kashmir issue when Pakistan was on its knees. It was Congress Prime Minister P Narasimha Rao who went to the extent of declaring: ?Sky is the limit of autonomy? so far as J&K was concerned. And now, this non-political ?appointed? Prime Minister declares he is willing to talk ?out of the box? and come up with proposals to undo all the good work done during the past 53 years to integrate J&K with the rest of the country.
Let Dr Manmohan Singh come clean. Let him take the nation into confidence what he is willing to sacrifice to buy peace with Pakistan. Let him remember what Israel told New Delhi in 90s of the last century, ?If India were to present J&K to Pakistan on a platter, Pakistan would invent another reason to continue with its hate-India campaign. Pakistan'svery existence depends on the theory that Muslims can'tbe comfortable with a Hindu India?. Is Dr. Manmohan Singh listening?