Kashmir: The Way Forward

  • Dr Ejaz Hussain | Imran Khushaal Raja
  • Publish Date: Apr 1 2016 2:49PM
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  • Updated Date: Apr 6 2016 5:26PM

India and Pakistan can resolve the Kashmir dispute by meaningfully involving Kashmiri leadership and ensure regional peace and stability through strategic cooperation of all stakeholders


Conflict and cooperation are, ontologically speaking, two central components of human organization and phycology. Humans as well as the states do fight and also cooperate with each other. Realism essentializes the former while cooperative aspects are at the heart of liberalism. The post-World War European political and diplomatic experiences may serve as point of departure in this respect. Nevertheless, when it comes to politics and foreign policy in South Asia, realist approach seem to have dominated the political, and indeed military, discourse in this region which has witnessed wars between India and Pakistan, (continuing) warfare in Afghanistan, civil war in Nepal and Sri Lanka and certain separatist movements that India and Pakistan face.  

Out of the cited cases, India-Pakistan case has assumed regional and global attention as well as intervention legally, economically and diplomatically. At the heart of India-Pakistan relations lies the problematique of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The latter has been approached, documented and analyzed from a variety of perspectives and actors ranging from academics to the UN experts. Academically, the literature produced can broadly be termed as pro-India, pro-Pakistan and pro-Kashmir. The pro-India work is essentially integrationist which make a case to annex princely states, including J&K, with reference to Greater India – which was partitioned by the British. Little wonder Kashmir is thus termed as “atoot ang” of “Akhand Bharat”. In the view of pro-India studies, Kashmir is constitutionally integral (article 370) part of the Indian Union and election are held regularly to substitute the so called plebiscite which is enchanted by the pro-Pakistan literature. The latter regards Jammu and Kashmir as the unfinished agenda of partition. The Kashmiris have the legal and moral right to self-determination. On the other hand, the pro-Kashmir studies can be broadly classified as either pro-Pakistan and/or independent-minded that have, over the years, made a case for an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir. There are a couple of studies done by Kashmir-based non-Muslims that favored the pro-Indian stance.

Importantly, the pro-independence literature views the Kashmir problem historically whereby the Treaty of Amritsar is assumed as a point of reference. According to the mentioned treaty, J&K comprised of the present day AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), the Valley, Jammu, Ladakh, Aksai Chin and Trans Karakorum Tract. In other words, Jammu and Kashmir consisted of the former states of Burushal, Dardistan, Boloristan, Ladakh, Purig, Kishtwar, Duggart, Poonch and Kashmir, and it remained so till 1947. However, from the perspective of some recent research, only the Gilgat Wazarat was part and parcel of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

However, regardless the foregoing efforts on identity construction, the fact of the matter is India and Pakistan’s perspective held sway and the two attempted to seek a realist solution to the dispute. Consequently, the two states fought over Kashmir in 1947-48, 1965 and 1999. Paradoxically, neither Indian nor Pakistan was able to take J&K militarily. Interestingly, both turned to institutional measures. India invoked electoral politics along with military tactics whereas Pakistan invoked the UN resolutions along with the Jihadi means. The application of such soft and hard measures only compounded the problem regionally, extra-regionally and, in particular, locally. Locally, it is the Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) whose person and property has been put on stake. Hundred and thousands have been physicallyeliminated by the Indian security forces. Tens of thousands have been paralyzed permanently. Thousands of women have been raped and millions of children have suffered from psychological trauma at the hand of the Indian security establishment.

Similarly, thousands, from both sides of Kashmir, took refuge in militant Islam and became born-again Jihadis. The Pakistan state was instrumental in this respect. However, since the Musharraf days the intrusion of Kashmir-centered militants has been capped though the Jihadi infrastructure and ideology are still intact in parts of Pakistan.

In view of the above, one wonders whether India or Pakistan will be able to annex Kashmir militarily given the nuclear capability of the two rival states. Will the United Nations be able to implement its resolution to help resolve the dispute? Will the pro-independence forces be able to win over competing Kashmiri interests to pressure both India and Pakistan to give them total independence?

Based on the past approaches of, in particular, Pakistan and India, the authors posit that neither India nor Pakistan, for a variety of reasons, will disclaim and disown the Kashmiri territory that each has a control over. India occupies a larger area of J&K and hence it will hurt its status quo policy that guides its domestic security mechanism throughout the Union. Pakistan, being a lower riparian state, will never recede its control over the area, termed as Azad Kashmir for, from Pakistan’s perspective, its very survival as a state and society is contingent on the waters system based in and around Kashmir. Emotionally and nationally, India or Pakistan-controlled J&K will seem detrimental to even a common Kashmiri. Realistically, however, we do not foresee any such possibility where the Kashmiris have the whole territories of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Owing to the mentioned structural constraints, the authors, while relying on the newly emerged concept of “enlightened sovereignty”, propose a set of solutions to the Kashmir Konflict to the concerned actors, namely, India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris.

To begin with, we posit that third party is crucial in moving towards in the direction of any viable solution of the dispute. This third party must be the people of Kashmir who would participate through their elected representatives. Legislative assemblies in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and state assembly in Jammu and Kashmir lack a truly representative mandate of the Kashmiri people. On Pakistani side, no member of the Legislative Assembly in AJK can qualify without demonstrating allegiance to Pakistan and, on the Indian side, none can qualify without demonstrating allegiance to the Indian Union. These legislative assemblies which are controlled from New Delhi and Islamabad need to be replaced by the proposed Representatives Assemblies comprised of the representatives of the people of Kashmir from all parts of J&K. Moreover, elections for these representative assemblies must be free and open to the public and international organizations. No representative should be disqualified for lack of show of allegiance to India and/or Pakistan.These assemblies, after their fair formation, would combine and merge together to make a Greater Representative Assembly (GRA) for all the people of Kashmir with the mandate to negotiate with India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Line of Control should be made flexible and the people-to-people contact in terms of social and economic engagement will have to be enhanced. On the social side, people must be allowed to have family reunion and, on the economic side, the Kashmiris must be able to do business on either side of J&K. Simultaneously, the region needs to be demilitarized and militant organizations are supposed to be disowned by the Pakistani security establishment. Besides, the Kashmiri refugees, from all parts of the world, would be allowed to return to their homes and the international human right commission would takes the moral and normative responsibility to monitor human rights situation. In addition, international organizations and companies would be allowed to start development projects that favor socio-economic uplifting of the people mired in abject poverty.

Last but not the least, India and Pakistan have to take the mentioned proposals with seriousness of intent and purpose. Both have to do their part meaningfully. India, for example, needs to avoid accusing the Pakistani state of any terror-related activities without providing the latter with documented evidence. This will help reduce the atmosphere of fear, hatred and suspicion. Moreover, India needs to take into account the fact that though Pakistan nurtured certain militant organizations grounded in Jihadism — and some of those organizations were indeed India-centric — these very organizations have attacked the hand that fed them post-9/11 with fatalities crossing 60,000. Pakistan is struggling to make a strategy to deal with such militant forces. In addition, Delhi must understand the regional dynamics of economic opportunities that demand regional cooperation for peace and stability. The latter cannot be realized until Delhi and Islamabad talk meaningfully.The meaningfulness can be measured in terms of progress over Kashmir, which has consumed the energies of the two countries’ economies, militaries and people. Similarly, there is need on the part of the Indian state to get rid of its condescending attitude towards Pakistan. The latter is a sovereign and independent state that cannot be taken over by any means. Hence the RSS or Bajrang Dal’s idea of “Akhand Bharat” is only a utopia.

Pakistan, on its part, should realize the fact that it is no small state. Pakistan is two-time Germany. It needs to get rid of any fear that India will one day eat away Pakistan. This is another form of utopia for we believe that it is not in India’s interest to occupy Pakistan nor can the former afford to destabilize Pakistan for a variety of reasons. Nor can Pakistan be militarily subdued. Moreover, Pakistan’s security establishment should understand the changing strategic dynamics at the regional level where the US, Russia and China are pursuing alliances for economic cooperation and growth. Pakistan – and India, for that matter– ought not to miss such opportunities. Finally, there is always a Kashmir way forward if the leadership of the two is forward, not backward looking and believes in strategic cooperation with each other and above all, with the Kashmiris.


(Dr Ejaz Hussain holds PhD in Political Science from Heidelberg University (2010). Dr Hussain is the author of “Military Agency, Politics and the State in Pakistan (2013).” He has previously written for Daily Times, The Friday Times, Newsline and the BBC. Currently, he is the Head of Department of Social Sciences, Iqra University, Islamabad. @ejazbhatty)

(Imran Khushaal Raja, a researcher and editor of Monthly United Kashmir, is pursuing MPhil in International Relations at Iqra University, Islamabad. @imrankhushaal)