Summit at the
Subodh Atal, Ph. D.
June 19, 2001
India-Pakistan relations are littered with starts and failures in the past half-century. While Pakistan may accuse India of being insincere, historical evidence points the finger in the reverse direction.
The UN resolutions of 1948 were not implemented by Pakistan which was asked to withdraw its forces from portions of Jammu and Kashmir it had occupied. The 1972 Simla accord between Indira Gandhi and Zulfiqar Bhutto was thrown overboard by Zia-ul-Haq, whose policies centered on fomenting insurgencies, first in Punjab, then in Kashmir valley.
Atal Behari Vajpayee wiped the slate clean for a new start when he signed the Lahore agreement with Nawaz Sharif, but the Pakistani military, led by Gen. Musharraf, undermined the accord by invading Kargil before the ink was dry in Lahore. Musharraf himself has spent the last couple of years cheering on various terrorist groups that create havoc in Jammu and Kashmir and want to spread Islam to the rest of India.
Why Vajpayee can now trust Musharraf is a question that begs any kind of rational thought. The west learned a valuable, but very costly lesson from the pre-World War II Munich summit between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain's caving in to Hitler's demands has earned him permanent notoreity and made his name synonymous with appeasement. Vajpayee is in grave danger of going down in history in the footsteps of Chamberlain. The Islamic fundamentalist forces that openly threaten to engulf the Indian subcontinent with a Taliban-like spectre are only being strengthened by unilateral ceasefires, terrorist-hostage exchanges and appeasement, just like appeasing Hitler made his appetite even more ravenous. Any attempt by Pakistan to disown its responsibility in spreading terrorism would be disingenuous. Hosting dozens of terrorist bases and tens of thousands of medieval madrassas churning out militants, providing logistical and material support to terrorist groups and using nuclear blackmail to back its proxy war, adds up to the perfect definition of a rogue state.
The issues that need to be discussed between India and Pakistan should center on the underlying causes, not on the symptoms. Yes, there is little religious freedom in the valley but that is true for Kashmiri Hindus, not Muslims. Yes, there is a lack of economic opportunity for youth but that is because the Kashmiri Muslim population is continually exhorted to focus on jehad, not on economic and technological development that is a reality in the rest of democratic India.
"Open borders" and bus service to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir will not bring relief to the state - it will bring more religious fervor and Talibanism. Yes, the Indian military is disproportionately present in the state but not because they are vacationing there, they are there to protect Indian citizens including Muslims, Pandits and Sikhs, administration employees, politicians, businesses and many others, who are regularly targeted by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists.
Yes, the electoral process is flawed, but today it is due to threats from Pakistani terrorists combined with refusal of Kashmiri Muslim leaders controlled by Pakistan to participate in the process.
The entire Indian subcontinent stands at a crossroads today. Either India can continue its weak-kneed policies which have allowed Hinduism to be exterminated from Kashmir valley and endangered the entire nation, or it can take a firm stand in forcing Pakistan to deal head-on with the problems it has created. The choice is very clear. Will Jammu and Kashmir go down the medieval, disastrous path followed by Pakistan and Afghanistan, or will it fully integrate with the economically, technologically and socially vibrant environment that exists in India?