Kashmir is a burning issue for over 70 years. It is still burning because of the mistakes made by the Indian leadership in the forties and since then no Indian leader has had the depth or the courage to take bold steps to end the misery of the Kashmiris.
As the seeds of hate were not controlled and eliminated right from the beginning – India is now spending time and resources on ensuring that hate becomes mainstream – state is now spending resources in creating new avenues of hate like love jihad and corona jihadis.
If India had Mandela instead of Nehru in the forties, things would have been different. Nelson Mandela was kept in prison for over 27 years and was released in February 1990. After long negotiations between the coalition led by Mandela and the White regime, apartheid finally ended in April 1994. Mandela gave strong leadership and the right message – the country was ripe for a bloodbath but he ensured that the transition and transfer of power stayed peaceful. I would like to mention here that about a month before the elections in April 1994, Mandela’s deputy Chris Hani was murdered by a white guy. The nation was on edge and large crowds of African youth started gathering in various cities and towns – they wanted to take revenge and burn the white neighbourhoods. At this critical and emotional moment Mandela addressed the nation. In his speech he gave a clear message – do not take law in your own hands – the murderer has been arrested because an old white woman saw the murder and she immediately reported it to the police. Let the law take its course and go home. This was leadership at its best – he calmed the masses and ensured that matters do not go out of hand. If he had said, that time has come to take revenge – the bloodbath in South Africa would have been unimaginable. Mandela even offered the white minority an independent homeland – the white community after discussions decided to be part of the new, non-racial South Africa.
Wrong decisions by weak leadership that lacks the strength to take moral high ground leads to pain and suffering. There are United Nations Resolutions, Nehru’s promise of a vote – giving Kashmiris the right to decide their future. Special status of Kashmir – with the promise that migration will be controlled to ensure Muslim majority of Kashmir is not changed by new settlers. Even this special status was taken away last year. India is now hostage to the wrong direction that the leadership gave the country in 1947. As a large and powerful country in the region Indian leadership has conveyed to their people that they will be able to force their will on the entire neighbourhood. However, in 1962 China gave India a shock and it appears that the Indian leadership did not analyse and fully understood the long-term implications of this war with China.
Time has come for India to recognise the mistakes it has made – like Hyderabad it cannot take over Kashmir by force. The dynamics of the region are changing rapidly and every effort should be made to avoid another armed conflict over Kashmir. We have seen in our region how a small country Afghanistan, has suffered for decades in a conflict imposed on it by powerful outside forces. These forces made almost half the Afghan population refugees and over 1.3 million Afghans have died in a war which they never wanted and never started.
Kashmiris are suffering – India should take the bold step to free Kashmir and allow Kashmiris to live. This will force Pakistan to also allow Kashmiris from both sides of the line of control to mix and travel freely and work out what arrangements / structure they would like to live under. Life, property and honour of the Kashmiris must be protected – they must be allowed to live in peace and without any interference from any quarters.
Leadership everywhere, specially of the stronger nations should always take / support steps that end conflicts, end killings, protect minorities – clear message should be one of love, respect, tolerance and protection of all – particularly those who are weak and poor and who cannot defend themselves.