There are a few things that we should tell our fellow-citizens in Kashmir in clear and precise terms, things that our chicken-hearted UPA government may be hesitating to say. One is that, no matter how much some of them may sing and dance for azaadi, the state of Jammu & Kashmir is and will remain part and parcel of India and there is no way this can change. Pakistani infiltrators from across the LoC and their faithful followers in Srinagar may wave the Pakistan flag to their hearts? content, but India will never permit secession, come what may. This must be clearly understood.
We had one Partition of India in 1947 and the people of India will never allow another one, no matter how heavy the pressure. Kashmiri Muslims must understand that if they renege on the understanding arrived at between the Maharaja of Kashmir and Delhi in 1948, Muslims all over India will become suspect and it is frightening to imagine the consequences. In their own interests and in the larger interests of Muslims in India, the Kashmiri Muslims must remain in India and become part of India, symbolic of the over-arching, pluralistic Indian Union. In the second place, India cannot allow Jammu & Kashmir to secede because if it does so, it may set in motion a chain of events that could split the essential unity of India?an eventuality that no Indian would like to see. In the third place, within Jammu & Kashmir itself, a secession may lead to large-scale rioting and killing of both Hindus and Muslims that could have their own repercussions in the rest of India. We?ve had enough bloodshed; we don'tneed more.
In the fourth place, if Kashmiri Muslims secede on grounds of religion, heavy pressure may work on India to declare itself a Hindu State, much against its own will, the results of which no one, again, can predict. There may be another exodus, this time of Indian Muslims going over to Pakistan in millions which neither secular India nor communal Pakistan would like to see. The killing, too, may be one-sided. There are hardly any Hindus left in Pakistan. So it is in everybody'sinterest that Jammu & Kashmir stays with India.
In this connection, a few other points need to be mentioned. One is that there is not the slightest desire among anybody in India to devalue Kashmir'sculture and ethos. What Kashmir has to do as a matter of solemn duty is to let the over 3.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits who had been driven out of the Vale by Jihadis to return to their ancestral homes and get re-settled. Kashmiri Pandits are as much Kashmiri as Kashmiri Muslims, perhaps even more so. No other Indian would wish to settle in Kashmir, certainly no Nair, no Menon, no Nambiar, no Iyer and no Iyengar, let alone a Chatterjee or Bose, a Thackeray or even a Saraswat Brahmin from Goa. They are perfectly happy in their own surroundings.
Then there is the issue of Azaadi. Jammu & Kashmir enjoys more azaadi than any other state in India. Jammu & Kashmir cannot expect, nor can Delhi concede more than it already enjoys. If the Muslim Kashmiris think they will be better off in Pakistan, they have only to ask their fellow Kashmiris now living in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to find out how they feel. A separate, independent state of Jammu & Kashmir is also unthinkable for yet another reason: it will turn out to be a hotbed of alien forces seeking dominance there, forces such as American, Russian and Chinese that can only add chaos to confusion. If Kashmiri Muslims think they will be allowed to live in peace and comfort, pursuing their professed identity, they are living in a fool'sparadise. India cannot afford to let such a situation develop next door that can turn out to be a constant threat to its national security. Then there is the idea of trifurcating the present state into its three components: a Hindu Jammu, a Muslim Kashmir and a Buddhist Ladakh. In such a situation Kashmir will be isolated and Pakistan will try to dominate it mercilessly, inviting even more trouble to Kashmiri self-centredness.
Whatever the shortcomings of India, it is a tolerant country and tends to let well alone. And independent Kashmir will not be economically self-sufficient, a point that Omar Abdullah himself recently made in a moment of enlightenment. It is, therefore, in everybody'sinterest that Jammu & Kashmir remains with India. Kashmiri leaders are opposed to the presence of Indian troops in large numbers in the state. This is perfectly understandable. It is not that India wants to waste its resources by stationing troops in Kashmir at great cost to its treasury. No one would be more happy than Delhi if it can withdraw all its troops from Kashmir. These troops are where they are not because India wants to humiliate Kashmir but because of continuing Pakistani efforts to infiltrate into Kashmir from across the LoC and disturb the demographic balance.
If Pakistan comes to accept the fact that it can never wrest Jammu & Kashmir from India and leaves us in peace through mutual agreement, the first thing Delhi will be happy to do is to withdraw its troops. And let Kashmiris remember on thing: let them remember what has happened to Sind where the Sind identity was destroyed by an overwhelming presence of non-Sindhis in their land. In such a situation, is there a possible solution to the problem that has been dogging India in the last six decades. Yes, there is. The solution lies in the setting up of a South Asian Confederation consisting, to start with, of India and Pakistan.
If such a confederation can be brought about, Jammu & Kashmir can then get together with PoK, to be a united state and a part of the confederation which can have one currency, one foreign policy and one wholesome economy, that can challenge any country in the world including the United State and China. It will be an unbeatable power. It will then not have to be dependent on any other country and can hold its head high among the comity of nations. Wars will cease, communal disturbances will then be a thing of the past and, who knows?in due course, other countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka may wish to join in to create a South Asian version of the European Union. It is not an impossible dream, but it calls for statesmanship on the part of Pakistani leaders and even more importantly of the Pakistani Armed Forces which are still living in the age of Chenghiz Khan and Ghazni Mohammad. But miracles can?and do?happen. If Germany and France for centuries at loggerheads, can come to learn that in confederation lies prosperity, can'tIndia and Pakistan? Hatred does not beget peace and prosperity. Good sense does. In an age of globalisation, the answer to our problems is a South Asian Confederation?SAC. The time surely has come to give this concept some serious thought. Therein lies our future.