An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Why is Kashmir Important?

Kashmir is a major problem between India and Pakistan. Most often the cloak on every issue and problem between states is sewn from the thread of emotions and “principles” for public consumption. Actually, and in hard reality it is rarely so.

At the expense of sounding non-chalant, let me state that never have I ever believed, notwithstanding the public emotion, that Pakistan’s establishment had ever coveted Kashmir because of its Muslim residents and India because of its secular credentials.

If there was ever any secularism worth the name in that land of Kashmir, then conversions and Islamic invasion had long destroyed it. What was being dragged on for last few centuries was the coffin of that secularism.

Second, if Islamic brotherhood was the concern of the Pakistanis then they should have had a better track record at home to convince even a weak critic.

Of course, my eternal question o Pakistan always strikes at the root of this “Islamic Brotherhood” claim:

Which “Muslim” and “Islam” are we talking about?

The truth about Pakistan’s Islamic brotherhood is that its boundaries extend to only Punjabi Sunnis and then it abruptly stops. It assumes vicious forms as soon as it crosses over into the territory of those who believe in Prophet-hood beyond Mohammad. It is then that the love and acceptance that are the hallmark of any brotherhood should – ideally – be exemplified. And that is where it has failed and failed miserably!

Actually, and honestly, the frail “love” fails at the boundary of language itself. Bengalis, Mohajirs are living exhibits of that failure. So, to say that Kashmiri Sunni is any more important than a Bengali Sunni.. .or that a Kashmiri Shia will have any more luck than a Punjabi or Sindhi Shia is a tough sell to anyone not unlucky enough to have been brainwashed!

Now, if the interests of Kashmiris and their land was any concern then the quid pro quo, where a third of Jammu & Kashmir (5800 sq.km) – Trans-Karakoram Tract (1963 agreement and 1987 ratification of Chinese ownership) – was bartered to China by Pakistan would not have occured.

There is a reason why I or you cannot sell Taj Mahal. Because we do not own it! It is the same case with the land that we hold in “good trust”. A trustee does not have absolute rights on the property of the original owner. Trustee of a property cannot therefore sell a property held under trusteeship any more than you or I cannot sell Taj Mahal. That is how a logical law works. But it becomes a completely different matter if the trustee assumes the absolute rights and without any ratification from the original owner goes about wheeling-dealing in the property!

So, two things are very clear to me – for Pakistan, Kashmir is NOT about Islamic brotherhood and it is also NOT about love and care for Kashmiri interests.

What about India? If indeed Kashmir was the benchmark for secularism, without which the practice of this blessed principle would utterly fail and devastate India, then Kashmiri Pandits would not have been a casualty and that too in such a terrible way. The day the first Pandit was threatened and harmed and the Indian Government turned its eyes away, that pretense of Kashmir’s importance for holding together our secular culture collapsed an unsung death! It has never been resurrected since. It never will.

True “Secularism” – if one insists on extolling this word, in my view, and since it has been a point of so much debate in one of my earlier post, resides in people’s hearts. It is none other than love – pure love.

When the narrow minded look at Love being expressed to a person who swears by another “God”, they call that territory as “Secularism”. And Tolerance is basic building block of its definition by such a narrow mind. What they really mean is that Love was not a “natural” state when it saw a “different” opinion, yet this person exhibited it! It is quite obviously an unflattering characterization of “Love” to begin with, but to hide their own short-coming of terming Tolerance as a virtue, such people put Secularism on a high pedestal!

Acceptance of all is a virtue. And acceptance is not despite the differences, but irrespective and beyond the narrow boundaries of similarities and differences.

Love of Heer… of Shirin… of Juliet could not even dwell on such boundaries or mind-blocks. It was just love.

In my view, THAT can be the ONLY true “Secularism” – if you still want to use that semantics. Love and Secularism are, therefore, the same. Anything less than that is just a pretense and hypocrisy! Just as Jesus’ unbounded and unconditioned love cannot be characterized and defined in narrow terms… similarly Love of One’s own “God” – if it is really a God and not its cheap surrogate – has to and should include everyone’s “God”! So where is the reason or need for uncomfortably pretended “love” famously called “Tolerance” and its derivative “Secularism”??!!

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote something for Sherlock Holmes that remains – in my book – an excellent benchmark for getting to any truth – “Whenever you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, has to be the truth!”

So, now, if the public stances of India and Pakistan were never honest or even plausible ones to begin with, then why has so much of blood been shed over it? And its corollary – Is Kashmir even important and if yes, Why?

I am sure, there are many who will keep arguing on the above negated “principles” and “virtues” no end as the major issues in Kashmir, but it is quite obvious, given the actions and track record on the ground that they are akin to fleeting flirtings of schizophrenic administrations. No more defensible or believe-able than promises of love and faithfulness from a playboy Casanova, who pretends love and screws women because…well.. he can!!

The women who believe such playboys and jump into bed with them, usually keep bearing bastards and crying over their “bad fortune”. I have little sympathy or serious concern for such blind idealists. That is why I want to move on to the real (as opposed to pretended) reasons for so much importance of Kashmir and let the lovers of political Casanovas cry over bastardization of the most coveted principles and blame the “bad fortune” and villainous world for all that. Too bad.

Blood and money is generally spilled by “intelligent”, though bluffing regimes, always because and if, that land provides “Net Benefits”. When “Revenue” over a long time period is higher than the costs to sustain and hold that land. When the Net Return turned below the accepted “Investment threshold” for British, they quietly handed over the sub-continent to its impoverished residents and made it look as an act of greatness. That was political stage-craft… and victory of independence for the romantics!

A Nigerian friend recently made an interesting – and telling – remark (Nigeria was freed in 1960) “If the oil had been discovered in Nigeria before the Brits decided to leave our country, we would have been forever colonized. Our luck was their mis-fortune”.

That is why Darfur is not as important as Iraq or the two small provinces of Georgia are so dear to the big powers of the world. Benefits outwiegh the costs and the risks in those ventures, and Darfur, by contrast, is a net-net loss.

Kashmir has no oil. But it is a gateway. Yes, to Central Asia. But more importantly to the Himalayas – the ONLY consistent and bountiful source of water to the sub continent. For centuries, sub continent has seen its civilization been decided by that one element. While Saraswati enabled a flourishing civilization, its vanishing destroyed it. Neither Pakistan nor India can afford to lose that source.

While Pakistan’s hurry is that before India assumes un-beatable dominance in the region, to cut its life-force itself. India has the same aim. It also has a large population that any semi-honest political administration would want to plan for.

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