Let me first analyse the European model suggested by Ray and present my views on this solution. Here is what Ray had to say about it:
"I think Kashmiris look upon India as an occupying force. Like how Tibetans look upon China. Or like how Kurds look upon Turkey. Or much worse.. like how Palestenians look upon Israel. This is wrong because of two reasons (1) India is not a single culture which speaks a single language - like China or Turkey (2) Indians are prohibited to buy land in Kashmir, unlike Israelis who occupied Palestine and who are still building settlements in the west bank.
The closest comparison to India is the European Union. It has a thousand languages and religions. Don't you see the link ?"
I had written a post sometime ago about a hypothetical scenario where all the countries of the subcontinent would cooperate to form a similar federation in which all the constituent states are equal members of the federation; they are neither superior, nor inferior but equal members in this federation. However, given the current political atmosphere in our respective countries, would this arrangement really be feasable; sadly, I have to confess that it will not.
The reason it will not be feasible and cannot work as it has worked for the EU is that the states making up the European Union had separate referendums and elections in their own countries asking their citizens whether it would be in the best interest of these nations to give up some of their sovereign powers in favour of the larger union. That is the the main difference. The consent of the majority of the electorate of each member state was sought before any sort of union came into being. I remember quite vividly how the people of UK repeatedly voted against giving up their currency in favour of the Euro. That, my friends, is real democracy. How bizzare it would seem if the leaders of UK at the time would unilaterally have agreed to surrender the British Pound in favour of the Euro even though the general British public was against such a decision. There would be a big hue and cry in Britain, with people pouring out on the streets, and this decision would be called undemocratic.
Let me again bring up another hypothetical situation whereby lets say the ruler of an Eastern European country wishes to join the EU; however, let's suppose that an overwhelming majority of the citizens of that country are opposed to such a move. Let's also assume that the leader of this country is a dictatorial monarch and has not been elected by his people, who have been fighting against his rule for generations. This monarch unilaterally signs away his country to the EU and expects the world to legitimize his accession; however, the UN demands that the wishes of the people of this country trump any other consideration, and accordingly a referendum be held. Now, will the EU be morally correct to hold on to this country as a member despite all this? Would it not be legally and morally imperative that EU hold a referendum asking the people of this country whether they want to continue to be part of this federation? I doubt it will ever come to this, since the EU is based on sound principles of democracy and would never accept a unilateral accession by a dictator. This is the difference between a real democracy and a shameful 'democracy-lite' that India is.
I still feel that the EU model is the best possibility for all the countries of the subcontinent to come out this rut of mutual hatred and animosity. But the agressiveness and bullying by India has to come to an end. You cannot herd up all small neighbouring countries to makeup a larger country of your own even though they are not interested to join you. Where does that stop then? Next India would be eyeing Nepal, Bhutan, and Srilanka and using the same argument of "We are a multi-lingual, multi-cultural counrty, so you better let us swallow you; too bad you dont have a choice". India has to learn to practice democracy in spirit. Merely calling oneself a democratic country doesnt make one so.
Would it not be a better option to have a federation where all nations cooperate on mutually agreed terms. No coersion is needed and the consent of 3/4 ths of the electorate of each member state is needed to form this federation. Let us emulate the EU model both in spirit and in practice and maybe even ask for help from them in making this happen. But first, India has to grant Kashmir its independence so that there is a transition period in which we can heal from years of oppressive regimes. After that, if the majority of Kashmiris and Indians wish so, we can still cooperate to form an EU type federation of independent nations.
Which brings me Mike Desai's comment on the possible solution whereby the state of J&K as it stands now, is divided into three regions. Here is what Mike Desai had to say:
"Well, from the standpoint of an Indian from Delhi, I think the best solution would be to give UT Status to Ladhak, Full Statehood to Jammu and to LET THE VALLEY GO ITS OWN WAY....be it azadi/independence....I think we've had enough of each other. Time to split, neither cordially nor bitterly!"In a later post he mentions that in reality he feels that this might not be the real outcome, but I will analyse this possible sceanrio a bit further.
It is quite evident from the events of the past few weeks that Jammu doesn not want anything to do with Kashmir. They would rather be on their own as a separate state of India. I have nothing against such a wish and wish them well. Same can be said about the people of Ladakh who feel that their interests are best served as a separate state or union territory of India. Again they only know what is best for them and all the best to them as well. Now, how hypocritical would it be for freedom loving people of Kashmir to hold on to these regions against their wishes. It is clear that should Kashmir ever become independent and by some fluke or by some act of the UN, were we to come into possession of all the regions as the state did in 1947; which included all the Northern regions, Gilgit, Hunza, Ladakh, Jammu and Muzaffarabad; without a doubt, the regions of Jammu and Ladakh would erupt with calls of Independence from Kashmir. How hypocritical will it be for freedom fighters of Kashmir to ignore these calls and it would be against the conscience of all freedom loving people to deny these people a right to decide their own fate. It is by fluke and by accident that these regions have coalesed to form the state known as jammu and Kashmir and without a doubt I can say that the people of Kashmir would be willing to grant these regions a referendum to secede from an independent Kashmir. In that regard, we will not be compared to the hypocritical freedom fighters of India who perpetrated the same attrocities on Kashmiris that they accused the Britishers of.
After the regions of Jammu and Ladakh have separated from the state, what will be left is the Vale of Kashmir, Kargil, Kishtwar, Poonch, Rajouri, Uri, Muzaffarbad, Gilgit, and Hunza. These areas will join and form the nation known as Kashmir and if India and Pakistan are willing to act responsibly as good neighbours; there is no reason why all of us should not prosper together.