There have been voiced strident demands that the journalist in spotlight, Mr. Ved Pratap Vaidik, should be arrested for committing sedition. What was his crime? He met with Pakistani terrorist mastermind Hafiz Saeed and made statements about the future of Kashmir while in Pakistan.
What did he say about Kashmir?
He said that both Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Indian held Kashmir should have a common assembly, should have free movement of peoples, and for all practical purpose unite so that they might enjoy a sense of freedom and peace as people in India do.
I shall not comment on the practicality or otherwise of this proposal. It suffers from the same inadequacy that President Musharraf’s proposal did of joint management of the two Kashmir segments.
President Musharraf proposed free movement of goods and people across the Line of Control and joint management of Kashmir territories held by India and Pakistan. I pointed out then that this could not be implemented unless the armies of both nations ceased to be in contention and became fully cooperative. That in turn suggested a joint defence treaty that would enable both armies to wipe out terrorism. That in turn suggested a full fledged arrangement similar to a confederation or one similar to the European Union. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh endorsed the Musharraf formula and said that borders should be made irrelevant.
Superior to both suggestions was what Pandit Nehru proposed to President Ayub Khan in 1964 through the message conveyed by his emissary, Sheikh Abdullah. Nehru proposed an Indo-Pakistan confederation with Kashmir acting as the bridge between both nations. While the Sheikh was in Pakistan, Nehru died and the exercise was aborted. Nehru’s proposal went further than that of Musharraf and did not suffer from any inadequacy insofar as its feasibility was concerned.
Mr. Vaidik’s meeting with Hafiz Saeed has attracted severe criticism because the latter masterminded a terrorist attack against India on 26/11. But is not Hafiz Saeed indisputably supported either remotely or directly by the Pakistan government? Did not President Ayub Khan, the man Nehru reach out to, launch the 1965 war against India? Did not General Musharraf launch the Kargil engagement despite which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conducted peace parleys with him? Therefore my question is simple.
If Mr. Vaidik deserves to be arrested for sedition and unpatriotic activity due to his views on Kashmir, would all those baying for his blood have demanded similar arrest of Pandit Nehru if he was alive, or of Mr. Manmohan Singh who can still be arrested? Question and condemn the actions of Mr. Vaidik by all means, but should critics lose all sense of proportion?