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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

An open letter addressed to the Leaders of India and Pakistan

Kashmir - a new Switzerland?

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had visited Jammu and Kashmir on 18th and 19th this month to meet the people and ascertain their grievances in the State disturbed since decades. However he did not meet the most disgruntled elements who are protesting against the militancy and excesses of the Military Forces. Instead, he had opened the door of the treasury to offer a sum of Rs. 24,0000 million for the developments in the State. A renowned economist could not think beyond a financial deal. How money can buy a peace. Soon thereafter, within a week the Prime Minister of Pakistan arrived and declared "No improvements in bi-lateral relations without the settlement of the dispute of Kashmir". How long can we stretch the talks with determination not to tackle the issue. We are overlooking the ground realities.

The British Govt. was the real culprit who had planted a time-bomb in the Charter of the Independence by allowing the Princely States to act at their own whims in the matter of annexation.

  1. Maharaja Hari Singh had entered into an Agreement with Pakistan's Min. of the Post and Telegraphs. Their national flag was hoisted on the Post offices in Srinagar. Kashmir was intruded, Shaikh Abdullah saved Srinagar but a large part was occupied by Pakistan. Thousands of Muslim families were divided in two estranged countries. 

  2. We had taken a military action against the Nizam of Hyderabad who wanted to remain independent. 

  3. We had conducted a Referendum in Junagadh after running away of the Muslim ruler.

  4. On January1, 1948 we had lodged complaint against Pakistan in the United Nations Organisation only to get slapped with a Resolution for Referendum adopted.

However, after a gap of 17 years, Nehru decided to settle the Kashmir-issue once and for all. He released Shaikh Abdullah after detention of eleven years and deputed him to Pakistan to talk to Gen. Ayub Khan to find a solution. Unfortunately the conciliation was scuttled because Panditji had expired on May 27, 1964. Thereafter, no statesman has yet appeared on the horizon of the politics in the sub-continent to pick up the broken thread. 

We have fought three major wars, thousands of military men were perished and still the border clashes are continuing. We could not get back the Kashmir occupied by Pakistan. BJP Govt. warned of a fight to finish but retracted. The time has changed, now we are living in a nuclear age. War if erupts, shall destroy a large chunk of the sub-continent. Over 80,000 innocent civilians are killed in our side of the territory; they include Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Thousands of Pandits (Brahmin sect of Hindus) and Muslims are displaced from their ancestral homes. They are living miserably in shanties or footpaths in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities. Nearly a hundred thousand children are orphaned and ladies widowed. Our respectable sisters molested and innocent brothers killed. Protection of Human Rights is the essence of the Democracy; unfortunately we are failing in executing our duty to preserve the fundamental civil liberty of the people. 

Military men are losing their moral character due to frustration and tension. On 27 November a CRPF Constable Saman Deka ran amok and killed seven colleagues in Baramula. CRPF spokesman Mr. A. K. Singh said that this is not first incident of its kind in J&K. In several other instances, soldiers from the Army and paramilitary forces have gone amok killing their colleagues and superiors. He adds that such shootouts generally stem from frustration and stress. Homesickness and relentless participation in counter-insurgency operations, which invariably lead to alcoholism were also to be blamed for such tragedies, said Singh. In another incident one Col. H. S. Kohli, commanding Officer of an artillery, took photographs of civilians splashed with tomato sauce and posing as corpses and gave them to his seniors to stake claim for gallantry award as a proof of separatist’s killing in 2003 near Silchir in Assam. The Army Officer has been dismissed and another slapped five years loss of service on 25th Nov. 2004. A court martial proceeding was launched. 

Our Chief of Army Staff designate Lt. General J. J. Singh broke down on 28 November while narrating the story of an alleged militant in Srinagar who was married only two days back. All the military men are not brutal. God still lives in souls instead of the Satan.

The political tension has thrown the entire population of the sub-continent into a wretched life. Millions of people are living below the poverty line. The UNI has reported that 300 millions of Indians are facing starvation. The independence of 57 long years has not changed the life of the people since we are spending the fortunes on defence, instead of providing shelter on their heads. We could not yet provide potable water to the thousands of villages. Great sacrifices of the freedom fighters have gone waste. We have proved Winston Churchill right who had very vehemently objected to grant us the independence saying that we did not have the talent to rule and shall destroy the land.

Now both the countries have turned into nuclear powers. We must therefore opt for none other than an amicable settlement and become dearest friends and most favoured nations as well. Our people are living an inhuman life. Wealth spent on weaponry if diverted to welfare schemes can bring smile on the faces of the depressed people of the sub-continent. 

On this occasion a bright idea comes to mind which was presented to the nation by the Times of India, a leading newspaper last year. The TOI in its editorial, "Zurich-0n-the-Jhelum" on 22nd August 2003 had come out with a spectacular solution of the 57 years old dispute between the neighbouring countries. The sub-heading read as "Absurd as the idea might seem today, Kashmir as Switzerland could be tomorrow's reality" The formula is a marvellous suggestion to India and Pakistan, and not an 'absurd idea'.

The idea suggested by the TOI is the excellent, fantastic and most suitable proposal at the turn of this nuclear age. Resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio shall open the doors of a tremendous progress for the entire continent beyond imagination. We shall have an access to the vast thoroughfare to an entire new world through Pakistan via Iran and Afghanistan. After banning the over flights we had suffered hundred times more loss than Pakistan on the waste of time and money due to the diversion of the flight routes. Pakistan's trade and industry too will benefit from the vast market in India. The U.S., Europe and China shall envy our achievements. The extremists on both sides should realise the facts on the soil. It would be no defeat to any of them and sure-win for both. Let the grand and crowning glory return to India and Pakistan.

Let Kashmir become the most beautiful, peaceful and beloved place in Asia once again. The people of the 'Paradise' have been experiencing a period of a Hell for a very long time. Thousands have lost their mental balance and lingering in hospitals. Let us make them supremely happy and announce the beatification. India, Pakistan and the United Nations Organisation should guarantee the independence and integrity of the people of the paradise on the earth.

Mogul Emperor Jahangir had said in Kashmir "gar fidaus bar ru-e zameen ast, hameen ast, hameen ast, hameen ast". (If there is a paradise on the earth, it is here, it is here, it is here).

Politicians of India and Pakistan should stand together to offer to the human race throughout the world and the coming generations, the loveliest gift of a heaven-like land where harmony, serenity and tranquility shall prevail for ever.. 

M. I. Ansari, Bhiwandi, Maharashtra

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