Internal power-sharing, open borders solution to Kashmir
WASHINGTON: The one ‘necessary and sufficient’ solution to the Kashmir dispute lies in territorial autonomy combined with internal power-sharing and cross-border institutions linking Indian and Pakistani-administered parts, according to Professor Sumantra Bose of the London School of Economics.
Writing for Open Democracy, an online news and commentary portal, he argues that if such compromises were to come to pass, the world would be a much more democratic and peaceful place. He does not believe that the United States and its allies in Europe support self-determination for Kashmir or threaten multilateral intervention to that end. Bose notes, “The oft-stated American position on Kashmir is that India and Pakistan should negotiate a bilateral to the Kashmir dispute taking into account the wishes of ‘the Kashmiri people’ (a description that itself grossly over-simplifies the society and politics of Kashmir, which contains a diversity of regions, religions, ethnicities and languages, and whose citizens are split into pro-independence, pro-Pakistan and pro-India segments).”
Bose points out that the record of the international order since 1945 is that self-determination movements tend to receive a sceptical hearing at best, and no hearing at all in many cases. The vague and somewhat outdated principles of international law relevant to the issue of secession are broadly supportive of the territorial integrity of states, and recognise the legitimacy of self-determination only in situations of colonialism, Bose says between 1945 and 1990 the only fully realised case of national self-determination outside the decolonisation framework was Bangladesh in the early 1970s, facilitated by an Indian military intervention that resulted in the defeat of Pakistani forces in the former East Pakistan, and during those decades, dozens of other self-determination movements struggled in vain, he continues.
Bose writes, “This status-quo proclivity of the international system is not surprising. The most influential member-states of the international system have an obvious interest in not rocking the boat, and this is reflected in the behaviour of international institutions. The international system is apprehensive of encouraging, or seeming to encourage, instability and fractiousness. It is alive to the sensitivities and clout of major states, such as India or China, that contain groups seeking self-determination. It is acutely conscious of the risk of regional destabilisation - it is reluctant to admit new members to the club of sovereign states except in instances of a fait accompli on the ground - such as Bangladesh, Eritrea in the early 1990s, the break-up of the Soviet Union.” khalid hasan