KASHMIR: Virus or Symptom?
An essay in Indo-Pak Relations


Shakti, October 1965

If the scribes of the British press are to be believed our relations with Pakistan are now better than in 1962 when Mr. Swaran Singh and Mr. Bhutto were shuttling between the two countries in an effort to find a solution to the strained relations between the two countries.  This cordial spirit, they assert, was again revived when the two countries agreed to settle their differences through negotiations early this year.  The British diplomats were congratulating themselves for the significant role they played in bringing the parties together and they were convinced that the talks were preliminaries for a lasting solution to the difficult problems separating the two countries.  Yet hardly had the ink dried on the Kutch agreement before Pakistan began her menacing moves which soon engulfed the two countries in a bitter war. 

We can perhaps legitimately claim that the Government of India approached the Conference table in 1962 and again in 1965 with sincerity and was anxious on both occasions to find a solution to the problem of relations between the two countries.  In fact the opposition parties in the Lok Sabha were criticising the Government for what they feared to be a policy of appeasement towards Pakistan.  They favoured a “hard line” and it was not easy for the government to convince them of the need to improve the relations with Pakistan.

At the time when the decision to have a series of high level talks was taken there was considerable apprehension in several quarters whether it would be worthwhile to open negotiations with Pakistan.  Their fears were not entirely baseless since three days before the talks opened in Rawalpindi in December 27, 1962 President Ayub issued a statement that plebiscite was the only solution for the Kashmir problem, a stand which has been monotonously reiterated for years.  All the same the talks opened on December 27, as scheduled.  There were lot of pronouncements of Goodwill” prevailing between the press o both sides from ruining the calm atmosphere.  But hardly had Mr. Swaran Singh finished his opening statement than Mr. Bhutto began contesting the expressed views.  “One of the basic facts in the situation”, Mr. Swaran Singh had stated, “was that Kashmir had become an integral part of India by internationally accepted practices of law and democracy”.   Mr. Bhutto promptly contested this, with such basic differences there was hardly any progress in the first round.  As later events proved whatever hopes were there they were shattered by the announcement of the Border Agreement between China and Pakistan on December 26, 1962.

Yet the talks between Mr. Swaran Singh and Mr. Bhutto continued.  The second round of talks opened on January 16, 1963 in New Delhi.  There were no less than ten meetings between January 16 and 19 and it was claimed that the talks were “progressing” in the discussion.  While the joint communiqué issued at the end of second round did not mention specifically what was discussed, Mr. Bhutto at a press conference claimed that “most of the time only the possibilities of a plebiscite were discussed” and described India’s position as being one of “other than plebiscite”.

Reading back one gets the impression that Pakistan’s intentions were clearly one of getting Kashmir into her fold and this became apparent when the third round of talks opened in February at Karachi.  Mr. Bhutto who was still then a Minister for Industries and National Resources has been elevated to the post of Foreign Minister.  It was later announced that what was under examination during the third round was the “meaning and content of the principles for drawing up a line for the partition of Kashmir.”  There were a lot of discussions about the “strategic” and “economic” interests involved but finally it all boiled down to Pakistan’s insistence that the “communal composition of the areas connected should be kept in view in delineating possible lines of partition”.  India of course resisted their suggestion.  On February 10, 1963 it was apparent that the talks had reached a deadlock.  The line of partition suggested by Pakistan would have given it the whole of Jammu and Kashmir except for a few portions of Jammu.  The Indian line corresponded to a modified ceasefire line.  The line positions were irreconciliable.  Mr. Bhutto at press conference stated that the “core and the heart of the matter was the valley of Kashmir.”  The only outcome of the third round of talks was that the two Ministers decided to meet again at Calcutta in March.

The Calcutta talks were doomed to failure since Mr. Bhutto went on insisting on his idea of partitioning Kashmir and Jammu.  Yet the talks continued probably because of the role that American and British envoys played.  Their role will remain a secret till the archives are opened to a late historian, but it was believed that Mr. Bhutto told the American and British envoys that Pakistan would reconcile itself to its position in Jammu, if “India showed flexibility regarding the Kashmir valley”.  In any case there was little constructive achievement and again the issue was postponed to a late discussion.

The fifth round opened in April at Karachi and again it was apparent that Pakistan wanted the whole of Kashmir and really the whole of Jammu except about a district and a half.  The joint communiqué regretted that no agreements could be reached and announced that the two ministers would meet again at New Delhi in May.  The sixth round at New Delhi was perhaps the briefest of all and the joint communiqué at last accepted what was perhaps clear all along.  It stated that “no agreement could be reached on the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.”

It is not necessary to go into the background of the dispute on the Rann of Kutch.  When the disputes flared up and once again Pakistan and India were brought to the conference table due to British efforts the talks began with lot of fanfare.  When the Agreement was finally signed on June 30, there was a lot of back patting and mutual congratulation all round.  A Pakistan spokesman claimed that “it constitutes a most important landmark in Indo-Pakistan relations.  It will set the pattern on which other territorial disputes between India and Pakistan can also be settled.”

But within a short time the cordial spirit disappeared and Pakistan’s insistence on having the Kashmir dispute settled in her own way came to the surface.  Events since the August aggression of Pakistan are well known.  All along while the Indian Government was defending the Kutch ceasefire agreement Pakistan infiltrators were moving into the Kashmir valley.  Apparently Pakistan would not be satisfied with any settlement elsewhere, so long as Kashmir remained part of India.

A number of experts on Pakistan have attempted to explain Pakistan’s attitude.  They delve deep into the past and have concluded that its anti-Indian attitude began almost immediately after the transfer of power.  Analysing the statements of various ministers, the conclusion is drawn that Pakistan’s attitude is governed by its basic hate-India policy.  Thus Kashmir dispute is only a “symptom” and the solution of the Kashmir dispute would not constitute a remedy for the basic malady of Pakistan.  But the question remains what should then be done.  There is hardly any answer from the numerous specialised articles.

This writer does not claim any expertise on Pakistan affairs.  But it is quite clear that Pakistan’s foreign policy during the last decade has been based on the sole object of wresting Kashmir from India, just as Indonesia’s foreign policy during the last decade was based o the object of wresting West Irian from the Netherlands.  Just like Indonesia’s Pakistan’s internal policies were geared towards their objective and whenever possible the Kashmir question has been raised.  China and Indonesia became Pakistan’s great friends the moment they subscribed to Pakistan’s idea of self determination for the people of Kashmir.  This implies the necessity of a clear statement that India will not allow the military junta of Pakistan to retain any part of Kashmir much less acquire the valley through political gamesmanship.  The new Indian doctrine on Kashmir must unequivocally challenge the underlying assumption of Pakistan policy that territorial gain is at all possible at the expense of India.  Kashmir – the whole of Kashmir is now the test case of Indian determination.  It is contended that the Kashmir dispute is the main cause and a policy should be adopted to meet the Pakistan arguments.

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