Prospects For India–Pakistan Peace
Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa said the other day that normalization of relations between India and Pakistan is the key to progress in the South Asian region. Prime Minister Imran Khan has come up with a supportive statement but mentioned a resolution of the Kashmir issue as important and demanded of India to make the first move in that direction.
I would not be making a tall claim if I were to say that this line of argument is what I argued for in several of my books and innumerable articles and newspaper columns.
As far as I can see, converting the Line of Control in Kashmir into the international border is imperative for both states to go forward and normalize their relations.
That would mean India agreeing not to claim the Pakistani Azad Kashmir while we stop beating our chests on the Indian Kashmir.
Just as the partition of India in 1947 was not the best solution to the confrontation between the Indian National Congress and the All-India Muslim League and a personal matter of Mohammad Ali Jinnah to prove he was not second fiddle to Gandhi, the two Kashmirs becoming parts of India and Pakistan in a de jure manner may not please all sides.
However, I have demonstrated and argued that the Kashmir issue is one of those problems on which no side will be willing to make territorial concessions.
Therefore, let the Line of Control become the international border but as the Kasuri Plan proposed serious efforts should be made to render the border in Kashmir open to Kashmiris to move freely on both sides without questioning the sovereign rights of either India or Pakistan to their portions of Kashmir.
In the long run, the whole India – Pakistan border must become open like those of the European Union. Pakistan needs to embark on an all-inclusive path. Non state actors and violent extremist voices should have no space or any sort of concession. Similarly, India needs to put an end to human rights violations in Kashmir and end draconian Laws for the first. This is used by those at fringes in society to gain political currency. A secular, inclusive and progressive India that founding fathers envisioned is fading away; it’s time to revitalize and reimagine it.
All this is doable if on both sides we have leaders with enough intelligence, integrity and courage.
The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University; and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He has written a number of books and won many awards, he can be reached on [email protected]