Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley last week expounded his views on Kashmir. Lauding former Prime Minister Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee the Minister spoke at length about how normalcy may be restored in Kashmir. He said that in today’s world international borders cannot be changed. This was a welcome view suggesting Indo-Pakistan settlement that could lead to some kind of confederation allowing people with a common history and culture to live as one. However the Minister seemed to approach the problem legally and not realistically. He said:
“Our neighbouring country will have to understand that whatever means they use; they will not get any part of this country. The times have changed when the borders of the country could be changed. Borders cannot be now rewritten. The borders will remain as they are. One thing I will make clear is that all people living in the country will have to accept that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of this country.”
This statement seems to indicate that by referring to unchangeable borders Mr. Jaitley is alluding to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) being part of India and therefore reclaimable. However valid legally, is this view practical? When referring to unchangeable international borders does Mr. Jaitley imply that the Line of Control (LOC) is changeable? The LOC can be legitimized as an international border. It is difficult to see how it might be changed without a war. And is war between nuclear powers India and Pakistan a proposition worth consideration? For Mr. Jaitley to realize his implicit goal of India recovering the whole of united Kashmir there is only one feasible way it might be done. Mr. Jaitley should support Hafiz Saeed.
Late last week Hafiz Saeed addressing a rally in Lahore said:
“If the right to self-determination of Kashmiris under the UN resolutions is not accepted, then PM Nawaz Sharif should take a firm stand with the Kashmiri leaders fighting for their independence against the Indian occupation.”
Hafiz Saeed therefore wants the UN resolutions on the Kashmir plebiscite implemented. This provides an excellent opportunity to Mr. Jaitley to realize his dream of recovering POK. He should support Hafiz Saeed and demand the Kashmir Plebiscite as outlined in UN resolutions. There are 14 UN resolutions related to the Kashmir dispute and the holding of a plebiscite to determine its future. In all 14 resolutions the operative part for holding the plebiscite remains unchanged. By it the preconditions demand that all Pakistanis along with their army withdraw from all Kashmir; only Indian army to remain in all Kashmir; the Indian army to remain until full normalcy is restored, that is terrorism ends; and the status quo ante preceding the hostilities in Kashmir is restored, that is China must withdraw from all the territory illegally ceded to it by Pakistan. After fulfilling these preconditions could India lose the plebiscite?
One fails to understand why Mr. Jaitley is waiting. Why does he not support Hafiz Saeed who is helping India so much?