Why does mere mention of Kashmir in any international forum unleash hysteria among Indian politicians and journalists? In the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif said that Kashmir is a core issue to be settled between India and Pakistan and it should be done according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people. He recalled the UN Kashmir plebiscite resolution. Media channels described his speech as a rant and provocation. Responding in UNGA the Indian spokesman said: “I would like to bring to the notice of this august House that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have peacefully chosen their destiny in accordance with the universally accepted democratic principles and practices and they continue to do so. We, therefore, reject in their entirety the untenable comments of the distinguished delegate of Pakistan.”
Have Indians lost touch with reality? Two nuclear nations divided by the Kashmir dispute with cross border terrorism emanating from one side is not an issue to be discussed? Have “the people of Jammu and Kashmir peacefully chosen their destiny” in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir which New Delhi claims belongs to India? Half Kashmir belonging to India being controlled by Pakistan presents no issue for discussion? It is India that should demand discussion on Kashmir. The solution to the dispute offered by Pakistan or by Kashmir leaders may be rejected and countered by India’s own formula. But to assume there is nothing to be discussed regarding Kashmir betrays insanity.
Mr. Nawaz Sharif lamented that the UN Kashmir plebiscite resolution remains unimplemented. It is because Pakistan will not vacate Kashmir as per the UN’s precondition for plebiscite. The UN resolution therefore by Pakistan itself should be considered dead. With regard to respecting the wishes of the Kashmir people current ground realities must be recognized. A solution along President Musharraf’s formula remains the best bet. It needs discussion to clinch it. It was the Indian government that cancelled peace talks.
Foreign Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj’s commendable performance elsewhere is marred by her flawed approach to Pakistan. Justifying cancellation of peace talks between India and Pakistan she said in New York: “There was an initiative from our side. After this they meet Hurriyat leaders four days before the talks. Who split it?” India split it. Why did not the government react four days earlier to the Pakistan ambassador’s talks with Hurriyat leaders? Why was an ultimatum delivered to him just forty minutes before he was scheduled to meet one Hurriyat leader? The decision to cancel the talks was taken by her and the Prime Minister without consulting the foreign ministry or the security establishment for reasons unknown. To think that India can ever achieve stable peace without settling the Kashmir dispute is delusional. Mercifully Mr. Modi in the UN reiterated his readiness to engage with Pakistan “but not under the shadow of terrorism”. That is the right approach. It needs to be pursued. An innovative policy to remove the shadow of terrorism should be initiated.