Kashmir Truth Be Told Blog
Yus neereth gassan, pheereth cha yevaano: morda che gassan zinde (Kashmiri saying)

7/16/07

Undoing the partition

I have been wondering what prevents India ,Pakistan and Bangladesh from undoing the partition. I will assume that most readers will agree with me that breaking up a country on the basis of religion is simply idiotic - for lack of a better or more politically correct word. I will also assume that most of the readers will agree that the partition was a blunder of iconic proportions. Now that we agree that a mistake was made, what's stopping people from the three countries on starting negotiations on recombining?

Read this document on Scribd: muslim memorandum


If some readers can help me I would appreciate inputs on the exact details of events that led to the partition. But here is what I remember from history classes from way back when.

From what I remember, one of the reasons is as follows: both Mr Jinnah, and Mr Nehru wanted to be prime minsiter of the newly Independent India, and to cater to both, the British dude incharge at the time decided to break-up the country so both could be prime minister. This explanation is over-simplistic and even 4th graders can say that it doesnt pass the common-sense test.

One another hearsay explanation involves more sinister intentions on the part of the British. According to this theory, the British were aware of the capabilities of a newly democratic united-India. They knew that united, this enity has all the resources of becoming a super power. However they did not want to shift the balance of power from the west to South Asia. I dont know whether this theory holds water, but it passes the initial smell-test. India and Pakistan have fought no less than four wars and spend an enormous fraction of their GDP in arming themselves against one another. Seems to me like a divide and conquer strategy.

Some might argue that a combined federation consisting of, hypothetically speaking; India, Pakistan, Kashmir and Bangladesh would be a non-starter with too many differences to function as a cohesive cooperating nation. However convincing this argument might seem, a closer look at these nations at a macro scale reveals these very differences on a regional level. Consider for instance India. Each state has its own language and a distinct culture of its own. Apart from insurgency in the Assam and Uttaranchal, the Indian federation seems to have been a success story (not including Kashmir ofcourse - which I will talk about next).

Many Kashmiris will also rightly put forth the argument that the Indian forces have too much blood of innocent Kashmiris on their hands to ever trust the Indians again or be willing to cooperate with them. This sentiment is very valid and given time all wounds eventually heal and all misdeeds by the enemy forgiven. A precursor to any future settlement of the Kashmiri issue should include the maximum punishment for guilty Indian Army personnel in Kashmiri civil courts with no allowance of immunity no matter how high the ranking officer.

In my opinion, one of the core reasons for insurgencies in states like ours, Kashmir, and others like Assam and Uttaranchal is the whole sense of being under occupation by a foreign nation. This sense comes from the fact that affairs at the local level are being micro managed by officials appointed by the central government and who on most occasions are unaware of the local Kashmiri customs and cannot speak the local language and yet are expected to work efficiently with the local public. As I will argue, for a successful future federation, this micro-management has to change and each member of the new federation must have the maximum autonomy when it comes to managing their local affairs and yet they will be part of a larger federation when it comes to cooperation in things like foreign affairs, defence and currency.

Some readers might still remember the unrest in Ladakh many years ago, which resulted in the state government forming the Hill Council. A simplistic reason for that unrest was the fact that the state government was trying to manage affairs in Leh at the local municipal level with many appointees from the valley trying to tell Ladakhis what to do . This is the same scenario that I mentioned earlier, albeit on a smaller scale, regarding Indian bureaucrats telling kashmiris how to run affairs at the local level. The Ladakh issue was resolved with the forming of the Hill Council; the Kashmir problem may be resolved by granting the maximum possible autonomy, and a future federation of south-asian countries can be modeled on the success of the the Kashmir-India arrangment.

Central Government appointees:

When I mention Central government appointees, I mean the IAS and IPS officers who hold the posts of District commisioners (DC) and ADC's for management of local municipal affairs, or in policing the IGP or DGP, who manage the local police force , which in my opinion are unnecessary posts in a successful federation, and these should be replaced by KPS and KAS officers so that Kashmiris are allowed to manage and police their own affairs at local levels. This is not a new concept that I am proposing. Infact most successful federations around the world give maximum autonomy to the states or provinces that make up the federation.

Let us consider other successful federations such as the European Union for example, which is a federation of independent countries (an excellent model for us). However, the autonomy these countries that form the Union have in terms of taking care of their own affairs is phemomenal.

Contrast this with the colonial attitude of Indian officers stationed in Kashmir. There have been numerous cases of IAS and IPS officers abusing their authority in Kashmir. This only further alienates the local population who see this abuse as just another extension of the "illegal occupation" of Kashmir by India. If we compare the Indian system of appointing IAS and IPS officers to different states and manage local affairs there with how other other successful federations in the world , we will be able to see where the frustration of Kashmiris is coming from.