Our policy on Kashmir is going nowhere. It is neither able to gather any support internationally, nor is it vibrant enough to wake up the UN on its resolutions that bind both India and Pakistan to allow the people of Kashmir to decide their fate through a plebiscite. Having said that, it is imperative that Pakistan rethink its policy vis-à-vis Kashmir and breathe new life into what is now being called a worn out historical position. After the 1989 insurgency broke out in the Valley, a pattern has emerged that would do little to accommodate the Pakistani version of an insurgency fought through proxies. The pattern is not about liberation from India. It could perhaps be liberation within the Indian domain that preserves the rights of the people of Kashmir. The Indian political discourse is virtually unanimous over Kashmir being an integral part of India. However, sane voices in New Delhi and elsewhere have been demanding of the Indian government to stop the policy of repression in Jammu and Kashmir and allow its people to live a decent life just like other states of the country. There have been noted cases of human rights violations in the Valley, especially those meted out by the Indian army deployed there for more than 20 years now. Kashmiri women have been raped, innocent boys picked up and slaughtered, the religious sentiments of the Kashmiri Muslims hurt, non-violent intifadas and at times a complete breakdown of law and order in the Valley. Pakistan’s official vigour to reclaim Kashmir though has declined and has been reduced to an issue left to the jihadis to handle. The adventure in Kargil has proved if nothing else the fact that this issue cannot be solved through a conventional war anymore, which since 1998 runs the risk of nuclear escalation. Having run the course diplomatically, politically and through conventional and asymmetrical wars, the only solution left is to chart a course through the status quo and find an amicable solution by way of which both India and Pakistan retain their parts of Kashmir and provide citizens of both the regions a quality life. Presently the people on both sides of the Line of Control are not quite happy with the standard of living provided by their respective governments. The Kashmiris of Jammu are aggrieved of being kept in a primitive state. On our side, in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the pseudo-government is merely a showpiece.
Instead of flogging this dead horse every year on February 5, it is better to engage with India and nudge it towards engaging with the Kashmiris for an internal political settlement acceptable to the Kashmiris to establish peace and free India and Pakistan from continuing to remain prisoners of history. *