Monday, 10 January 2011

Analyzing Sham Lal Sharma’s remarks

Recently Senior Congress leader and Minister for health and horticulture Sham Lal Sharma stirred hornets nest by advocating trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir during a rally where he called for making Jammu a separate state while seeking Azadi (freedom) for the Valley and Union Territory status for Ladakh. On the face of it, without going into depth what he meant by Jammu and other details, it looks a genuine and nice idea which can pave way for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
This idea should be given a serious thought as it is no secret that aspirations from the majority sentiment of complete independence overall in Jammu and Kashmir differ in some pockets and if we talk about getting our aspirations not only acknowledged but respected and acted upon there should be no reason for us not to respect any other sentiment in some areas of J&K which differ from the majority aspiration.

Present boundaries of J&K are not natural but colonial one, as history tells us in 1819 forces of Ranjit Singh defeated Afghans and Kashmir became part of Sikh dominion. In 1820 Ranjit Singh granted principality of Jammu to Ghulab Singh. After the death of Ranjit Singh trouble arose between Sikh and British for the possession of Punjab.

Ghulab Singh stroke a tactic understanding with British and betrayed fellow Sikhs by refusing them additional war materials and by delaying the dispatch of food supplies. After British win in Punjab he was rewarded with a hill territory between Ravi and Indus. By the treaty signed at Lahore on March 9, 1846 he got Jammu, Poonch, Ladakh and Baltistan. A week later on March 16 through treaty of Amritsar British sold Kashmir to Ghulab Singh. He tried to capture Gilgit, Yasin, Chilas, Hunza and Nagar but did not succeed. These areas maintained close relations with their powerful neighbours before they fell under British sway.

Furthermore it is understandable that while devising any solution for the future of Jammu and Kashmir the national interests of Kashmiris have to be kept supreme as they are the primary and main stake holders but the vital national interests of India, Pakistan and even China are to be taken into consideration for long lasting and permanent and durable solution to this dispute. China being a close ally of Pakistan which has trade and other links through northern areas of J&K (Gilgit & Baltistan) will never want that Pakistan should loose grip over these areas and more so these areas have hardly identified themselves with the liberation struggle going on in Kashmir for complete independence and remained busy with their territorial status. And India has vital strategic interests in Leh region of Ladakh and will like to maintain that at any cost and like above this area has never witnessed anything in favour of our struggle.

Kashmir valley, from Jammu region (Doda, Poonch, Rajouri, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Gool gulabgarh, Arnas, Basoli) and Pakistan Administered Kashmir (Azad Kashmir) are those areas where there is direct impact of lingering of Kashmir dispute. They are the real sufferers who have their life, honour, property and every thing at stake and can be referred as War Affected Areas. Those areas other than mentioned are also disputed but relatively peaceful and these areas can wait for hundreds of years for resolution of Kashmir dispute. But war affected ones need attention.

Also those espousing the cause of complete independence and self determination for J&K need not to be romantic about the slogan of “Gilgit to Lakhanpur” without ensuring active participation of all regions and areas of J&K in resistance struggle. People of two and a half district (Kathua, Samba) of Jammu have shown when they supported communal chauvinists and intelligence agencies in enforcing blockade on us with what they are. So one needs to be liberal to grant these areas their own choice what they want and aspire in terms of future of J&K.

Now the people of war affected areas with one idea and thought can have serious engagement with India and Pakistan over their future. It is the duty of pro-freedom leadership to devise and assert a pro-Kashmiri view from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad which will compel both India and Pakistan to act and get due acknowledgment of a genuine rights movement not as projected by vested quarters as extension of others foreign policy but a movement for independence and sovereignty of Kashmir.

Ultimately both India and Pakistan will have to come clean on Kashmir dispute, the best way is one which guarantees and respects Kashmiris national aspirations. One such instance can be that war affected areas can be made temporary independent for 5,7,10 or say 15 years, a period during which sentiments of both Indians and Pakistanis will cool down and a referendum can be held in a viable environment about Kashmir as whether to continue independence, join India or Pakistan or have any other way out. Areas other than war affected ones can decide the whether to join future prospect of Kashmir or chalk their own course. Neither their should be forced marriages nor forced divorces. Only that solution will be acceptable, workable, viable and amicable which will reflect people’s aspirations and none-else.