should-we-give-up-kashmir

Since 1947 Pakistan has been obsessed with getting Kashmir, the entire region, to be part of Pakistan and it is now time for India to offer it to them on a platter. This is the only way there will be peace and tranquility in Kashmir, and Pakistan will finally be able to achieve Islamic utopia that Jinnah so ambitiously envisioned.

After all, Pakistan was meant to be a land of Islamic brotherhood and peace, where all citizens were to live happily together, united in mood and spirit of true Islam. So, if India were to hand over Kashmir to Pakistan today, how would the country go about integrating the Indian side of Kashmir with the rest of their country?

The question is both relevant and pertinent, as this question was raised when the concept of Pakistan was first raised in undivided India. It’s been 70 years since Pakistan achieved its dream of an independent Islamic state and therefore, we need to revisit Pakistan of today to see how well they handled their own creation and what is the quality of life there.

Islam – the unifying bond for ethnic unity in Pakistan

Pre-1947, the founders of Pakistan argued vehemently that Muslims needed a land of their own and that Pakistan was their only option for bringing together all Muslims, bonded by the spirit of Islam. They would finally get to live happily, peacefully and cohesively as they worked towards building a prosperous Pakistan. So have they succeeded?

Violence, intolerance, ethnic strife and a failed economy

February 16, 2017 witnessed a suicide blast inside a famous and popular Sufi shrine, killing over 80 people and injuring close to 200. It was a place of worship and Sufism, as we all know, promotes peace and brotherhood. With the spate of violent attacks on Shias, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis, Balochis, Sindhis, and Kashmiris has been unending over the past 70 years, Islamic bond notwithstanding.

The fallacy of Islam being a unifying force for all Muslims stands exposed. And Pakistan is not the only example of it. The entire Middle East is burning with ethnic conflict, where the spirit of Islam has been buried deep in the shifting sands of time.

But isn’t Islam the driving reason for the Hurriyat in claiming their love and affection for everything Pakistani? And, if anyone still holds any misconception of this fallacy, just read on.

Restive Sindh

The series of terrorist attacks inside places of worship in Pakistan is indeed long; which forces us to ask: After 70 years of living as an independent nation, outside the influence of the marauding Hindus or British immorality, has Pakistan failed its initial objective of being a peaceful and prosperous nation bonded together by Islam? Sorry, but the answer is a big ‘YES’.

Ask the various ethnic groups in Pakistan how have they fared. The Mohajirs, as migrants from India are commonly called, are treated as second-class citizens and face frequent violent attacks, just as the one we saw this week in Karachi. They feel vulnerable and unsafe while being denied equal opportunity by the Punjabi-dominated society, and continue to remain exploited at every level. They feel badly let down by the promise of Jinnah and dream of freedom from the very country they helped create.

Exploited Balochistan

The people of Balochistan never wanted to be a part of Pakistan but were forced to accept the integration. However, 70 years on, they remain excluded from the prosperous mainstream dominated by Lahore-Rawalpindi elite. The region remains among the most underdeveloped — not that rest of Pakistan is very developed — and they continue to dream of an independent Balochistan, just as Jinnah once dreamt of Pakistan. Balochistan remains an example of state-sponsored human tragedy, injustice and exploitation.

Undeveloped and exploited Gilgit-Baltistan

The people of Gilgit and Baltistan rue the day Pakistan was created and they were forced to adopt a nationality they loathe. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) remains amongst the most backward places in Pakistan. One has to simply visit that part of Kashmir to get an idea of the difference between the Indian side and their counterpart across the border.

The harsh reality is that every Kashmiri on the Indian side would be grateful a thousand times over, if only they could see the reality of the other side. The Syed Geelanis and the Yasin Maliks are fully aware of this and their families continue to feed off the Indian largesse, as they live hypocritically in other cities of India while sucking up every drop of hospitality.

But this is India and this is their country. They continue to earn and prosper just as any other Indian. This is the ugly truth that the local agitating Kashmiris know, but are unwilling to publicly admit.

So if Pakistan has failed to deliver on its promise of a peaceful, prosperous and happy state, bonded together by the spirit of Islam, how on earth will they handle the entire Kashmir region handed to them on a platter by India?

Seventy years have passed and Pakistan continues to dream of Kashmiri utopia, just as Jinnah and his coterie did pre-1947. Pakistan, today, is a failed state by any definition and is on the verge of being declared a terrorist state.

The Pakistani government, their Army and their civil society have all failed to address the needs of various ethnic groups and remain completely at loss on how to deal with the existing problems. The nation is almost bankrupt, existing on doles handed down by the US, Saudi Arabia and now, its new found benefactor, China.

So what is their ‘Marshal’ plan for reviving and developing a new united Kashmir, when they barely have any money to feed their existing people? The government remains clueless, the Army busy with their own agenda, and civil society? Well, are they still around?

Lessons Pakistan can learn from India

In many ways, India shares a common heritage of ethnic diversity, where the differences in religion, culture, tradition, thought and lifestyle is even more diverse than in Pakistan. So how has India managed to stand up as a model of relative success in carrying together such diversity within a vibrant democracy?

It’s not been easy! India, for years, had to face widespread insurgency in the North-East, partly due to its earlier inept handling and priority, and partly on account of inter-ethnic rivalry that has traditionally existed.

States like Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Assam and Meghalaya have been victims of inter-ethnic violence, along with having intermittent clashes with the Indian state. Today, Mizoram stands out as a good example of India’s success in bringing peace to the state and getting people to be part of the Indian mainstream. The same stands true for all other states in the region, although it is still work in progress.

During the ’80s, Punjab witnessed the Khalistan movement, financed and stoked by Pakistan. It was a violent time that took its toll on local people and economy, but today Punjab remains a vibrant example of the Indian success story.

The integration of Sikkim and of Arunachal Pradesh stand out as excellent examples of positive statecraft, where people prosper on their own account with some help and guidance from the centre. They control their own lives, tradition, culture and economy, and remain an active part of the democratic system.

This is what Pakistan needs to learn from India and apply on their existing people and make it a success. Then, and only then, will they earn the moral right to demand Kashmir from India.

Till such time, it will remain a case of the monkey, living deep within the jungles of the Amazon, vociferously and persistently demanding an iPhone 7, without having any idea what to do with it, how to operate it and most of all, how to benefit from it.

Pakistan, unfortunately remains that monkey in the Amazon, and so, Kashmir will have to remain with India.

Moral: If you want an iPhone, give up being a monkey. Kashmir can wait.