The Quest for a Solution to the Kashmir Problem
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Issue Book Excerpt: Solving Kashmir | Date : 21 Aug , 2015

A Colonial Legacy

The Kashmir problem continues to vex the two nations created  out of a colonial exit which devoted limited thought on the future of such populous entities. Pakistan feels incomplete without the ‘K’ in its national nomenclature. This was aggravated by the cleavage of its eastern half in 1971, questioning the ‘rason detre’ of partitioning. India continues to nurse the wounds of the 1947-48 aggression which deprived it of the Radcliff drawn territorial rights. Perhaps there was a colonial design in creating a festering sore which would have very limited probability of healing. After all, the Commanders-in-Chief on both sides were British and it is most unlikely that the impending Pakistani aggression to violate the newly-drawn international border, would not have been known to both. This aspect needs to be borne in mind in historical retrospect.

Proposed by General Musharraf in October 2004 to the Pakistani press, the plan considers the pre-1948 existence of seven regions in Jammu and Kashmir…

A Military Solution

Obscured in the fog of the 1947-48 war, perhaps there lay a military solution to the problem, in India attempting and regaining lost territory to the extent it could. The Indian Commander-in-Chief probably felt this was possible but was denied political backing possibly due to lack of faith in a military solution or perhaps due to a desire to project statesmanship, internationally. In the conventional spectrum in 1965 and 1971, a military solution failed to emerge. With the nuclearisation of the subcontinent, a military solution has limited feasibility and logically indicates the need to explore other options.

Options Conceived

A number of options and plans have been in circulation over the years. There is the ‘Dixon Plan’ ascribed to Sir Owen Dixon of Australia, who as the UN representative had submitted his plan to UN Security Council in September 1950. With some variations there is the ‘Chenab Plan’, a favourite version with diplomats in Pakistan. The `Andorra Model’, a favourite with track-two negotiators advocates autonomy overseen by both nations. A plan propounded by Professor Deepak Basu of Japan’s Nagasaki University, advocates implementing the two-nation theory to its logical conclusion by total exchange of Muslim and non-Muslim populations. The `Neelam Plan’ envisages shifting the Line of Control along the Neelam River, thus rendering the northern areas independent. And finally, there is a concoction offered by General Musharraf which advocates further cleavage on communal lines with total advantage to Pakistan.

More than half a century removed from a colonial decision, implemented in an ad hoc manner, perhaps what matters more is the economic angle and hence, the distribution of water gains tremendous importance. The same rivers have to irrigate the bread-baskets of both nations and in an era where economics reign supreme, communal considerations should be relegated to the back-burner. The recent flare-up of the Baglihar issue, demonstrates the validity of this logic.

Compared to the border issues between India and China, the Kashmir problem has a very high emotional quotient in both India and Pakistan. Public perception of any solution to the problem can make governments fall. A detailed consideration of the various plans and models would be in order.

The Dixon Plan

This plan envisages handing over the northern areas and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) to Pakistan and dividing the Jammu Division based on Hindu/Muslim majority between the two. The fate of Kashmir Valley is to be decided by a plebiscite. The plan seemingly fell through due to Nehru’s insistence that the plebiscite should be held under Sheikh Abdullah as Prime Minister of the state. This was not agreed to by Dixon and hence, the implementation of the plan failed.

The Neelam river flows into Pakistan in the area of Gurais. It runs West and drains into the Jhelum North of Muzaffarabad. The plan envisions moving the Line of Control along the Neelam River. ..

The Chenab Plan

Under this plan, six districts of the Kashmir Valley i.e Srinagar, Baramulla, Budgam, Kupwara, Pulwama and Anantnag are to be granted sovereign status except for foreign policy. POK and the northern areas would become part of Pakistan. In return India would get the Hindu dominated districts of Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur, as well as Ladakh. The Line of Control would shift eastwards to include Poonch, Rajouri and Doda to Pakistan and be deemed the International Border.

Andorra Model

The model is based on an area called Andorra which was territorially claimed by both France and Spain. Based on an agreement in 1993, Andorra has been granted autonomy. It has its own currency and constitution. France and Spain are jointly responsible for the defence of Andorra. Following this model, the Kashmir Valley would attain near sovereignty with India and Pakistan jointly responsible for its defence and foreign affairs.

Neelam Plan

The Neelam river flows into Pakistan in the area of Gurais. It runs West and drains into the Jhelum North of Muzaffarabad. The plan envisions moving the Line of Control along the Neelam River. This would render the northern areas independent and India would gain the areas which currently constitute the crucible of terrorism from where violence is exported into India. The remaining portion of POK would remain with Pakistan and India would retain areas currently under her control. The resulting line would then be sanctified as the International Border and the northern areas of Gilgit and Baltistan would become independent. With the northern areas attaining Independence, the Desoai Plains would be rid of Pakistani forces thus reducing the threat towards Siachen, Drass and Kargil. The Neelam Valley would cease to be a breeding ground for terrorism. The plan is likely to find favour with US strategists as it would provide American access close to China in an independent country formed by the northern areas and would put an end to the main terrorist centre in South Asia in the Neelam Valley.

Progressing the Two-Nation Theory to its Logical Conclusion

This plan conceived by Professor Deepak Basu of Nagasaki University in Japan envisages carrying through the ‘two-nation Theory’ to completion. It offers the logic that having partitioned India on the basis of religion and having created an exclusive nation for Muslims, the plan should have been fully implemented with all Muslims moving to the nation created for them. The plan would involve Bangladesh and Pakistan accepting all Muslims, now living in India and India accepting all non-Muslims living in these countries. By the same logic, India would give up the Kashmir Valley and correspondingly the northern areas which had limited Muslim population pre-1947 would come under India. The Chittagong hill district (predominantly Buddhist with Chakma population) would be offered a plebiscite to join India or Burma. The exchange of population would take place under the auspices of a UN peacekeeping force to prevent blood-bath akin to the partition riots of 1947.

The Indus Water Treaty in its present form is inherently disadvantageous to India. It fails to consider that India has population eight times that of Pakistan.

Musharraf Proposal

Proposed by General Musharraf in October 2004 to the Pakistani press, the plan considers the pre-1948 existence of seven regions in Jammu and Kashmir. These consist of Jammu-Samba-Kathua, (considered as one with Hindu majority) Doda-Poonch-Rajouri (the second part with Muslim majority), the third being Kashmir Valley. The fourth region is Kargil-Drass (with Shia and Balti majority) and the fifth region being Ladakh. The sixth and the seventh under Pakistani control are POK (Azad Kashmir) and the northern areas. The plan envisages demilitarisation of these areas followed by ‘change of status’. It applies the two-nation theory further to these disputed areas. The very identification of the seven regions are on communal fault-lines. Thus in this plan, POK and northern areas would merge with Pakistan. Kashmir Valley could opt for independence or remain under joint control of India and Pakistan. Jammu-Samba-Kathua would remain with India while Doda-Poonch-Rajouri would go to Pakistan. Musharraf claims that his plan considers geography and ethnicity as the basis of division. In India the plan is criticised as it would involve Pakistan gaining through diplomacy what it has failed to seize in four wars.

An Indian Perspective

What the arms race or nuclear flashpoints of the Cold War could not achieve was rendered possible by USA with persistent economic efforts over four decades. By making the cost of opposition unbearable for the USSR, NATO achieved the break-up of USSR. As a fast growing economy, the tenth largest in the world, and projected to be in the same league as China in the next few decades, India has time on her side. On the other hand, Pakistan cannot possibly match India economically. Hence one observes, Pakistani efforts at pressurising India to go in for a final settlement of the Kashmir issue at the earliest. Conventional war options have been attempted four times by Pakistan and these have failed to achieve the aim. Proxy war has definitely affected India adversely but it has been able to fight the same successfully, so far. With the erection of the fence along the Line of Control and some reduction of terrorism in J&K, coupled with the international pressure against terrorism, Pakistan is in a hurry to utilise its current advantageous position with USA to force through a diplomatic solution to its advantage. With time and economic advantage on its side, this is a trap to be deftly avoided by India. Thus there may be no immediate solution of the Kashmir problem in sight.

India has the experience of successfully battling insurgency and terrorism and bringing back into its fold states which have openly attempted to secede. Mizoram fought an insurgency for 20 years and has now become a state. Terrorism in Punjab has been neutralised. The Nagaland issue is under negotiation. To further enhance the battle against terrorism in J&K, there is a need to recognise that what is happening in Kashmir is not mere terrorism but what is termed as Fourth Generation Warfare (4 GW).

Fourth Generation Warfare (4 GW)

With the attacks on the World Trade Centre in September 2001 and the attempt on the Indian Parliament, 4 GW has come of age. From First Generation Warfare of nation-states (upto the Napoleanic wars) to the wars of attrition in the Second Generation (American Civil War to World War I) and Manoeuvre Warfare in World War II, the world is now witnessing 4 GW in which non-state forces are fighting nation states. Terrorism and guerilla warfare have been catalysed by technology to evolve 4 GW. USA and India and much of the world now face the challenge of confronting 4GW and evolving a suitable response. 4GW focuses on shifting the conflict from destruction of military targets to socio-economic and politico-cultural targets. No matter how many terrorists are killed or terrorist camps destroyed, violent incidents continue in Kashmir. There is a requirement to adopt a fresh approach to counter 4 GW. Indian Armed Forces trained to fight third generation warfare are confronted with 4 GW and thus face a strategic paradox. National borders are no longer sacrosanct to the terrorist and the Army faces a difficult task with a faceless enemy thriving on the support of another state. Terrorism is being outsourced by Pakistan. This helps her in ‘Quick Deniability Stance’.

While it would save India billions in shipping of crude oil if it could access oil through pipelines from Iran passing through Pakistan, this would give Pakistan leverage for economic blackmail. The only way out is for India to retain control over water supply to Pakistan.

Response to 4 Generation Warfare

A new doctrine is called for to respond to 4 GW. The basis of such a doctrine may perhaps emerge from the Pakistan’s plan for terrorism in J&K. While such a plan had been conceived in 1984 under Zia-ul-Haq in Pakistan, its preoccupation in Afghanistan prevented it from implementing the same immediately. The interim period upto 1989 was used in indoctrinating the Kashmiri population to shift from its peaceful Sufi version of Islam to the more orthodox Sunni version Wahabi. Systematic replacement of maulvis in mosques and subversion of madarssas in Kashmir were resorted to in this ISI-launched psychological warfare. It was a battle of the minds which preceded the launch of terrorism in J&K in 1989. While India has focused on the military aspects of limiting infiltration and eliminating terrorists, unless it counters the effect of the psychological warfare, success may elude her. There is a need to instill in the minds of Kashmiris that the Sunni version of Islam violates the very concept of Kashmiriyat. Object-worship, very much a part of Kashmiri Islam as evident in Kashmir’s most venerated shrines of Hazrat Bal and Charar-e-Sharief, should be encouraged and counter psychological operations launched to convince people how Pakistan is imposing the doctrine of Wahabi Sunni Islam on Kashmiri Muslims, who for centuries have practised their own version of Islam.

The Economic Angle

Rather than offering periodic sops of a few hundred crores of rupees with the visits of the PM to J&K, conscious efforts need to be taken to industrialise the state to provide sufficient employment. The agricultural sector needs to be revamped with focus on production of fruits and agro-processing. The population of J&K should experience considerable economic superiority over their counterparts in POK. At the national level, our economic development should be utilised to enable India to bear the cost of fighting terrorism in J&K with ease. Over a period of time the sources of funding for terrorism should be ruthlessly curbed and the cost of sustaining terrorism should be made unbearable for Pakistan. India should not hesitate to be aggressive on the economic front. A reconsideration of the Indus Water Treaty is called for in this context.

Indus Water Treaty

The Indus Water Treaty in its present form is inherently disadvantageous to India. It fails to consider that India has population eight times that of Pakistan. There is a need for India to aggressively use the water by developing infrastructure. The treaty needs to be negotiated again on the basis of population.

Oil Pipelines

Neutralising India’s control over water is Pakistan’s geographic advantage in terms of overland transit territory for oil supplies from Middle East. While it would save India billions in shipping of crude oil if it could access oil through pipelines from Iran passing through Pakistan, this would give Pakistan leverage for economic blackmail. The only way out is for India to retain control over water supply to Pakistan.

…India and Pakistan, can only watch and wait. Watch and wait – perhaps, with no solution in sight. As India watches and waits it should act with a combined thrust that exploits diplomacy, economy, people-to-people contact and surgical military action when the sovereignty of the Nation is endangered…

Time, Economy and Doctrine Against 4 GW

In the final analysis, India has time on her side. Being a vibrant economy she should be able to bear the cost of fighting the proxy war in J&K. But how long? Pakistan’s desperation to settle the Kashmir issue to her advantage diplomatically, displays concerns over being able to sustain the terrorism in J&K economically as well as due to international pressure against terrorism. Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation will eventually put her at a disadvantage internationally. The answer for India in the long-term lies in making proxy war unsustainable for Pakistan economically. Simultaneously, India needs to develop an effective doctrine to counter 4 GW by adopting a paradigm shift from winning the battle of “kills” and body count to winning the battle of the minds and hearts of people of Jammu and Kashmir. Thus there appears to be no immediate solution to the Kashmir imbroglio. If Punjab was won in a decade and Mizoram in two decades, J&K may take some more time. India can afford to wait and as it waits, adopt more effective ways of fighting 4GW and focus on the economic angle.

The Quest

It is too premature and almost a naivety to think of quick fix solutions to the vexed Kashmir problem. When the Pakistani President goes on record to say that “Pakistan is willing to show flexibility – and it is high time we (India, Pakistan) gave up stated positions”, he has to be read in between the lines. While India has seldom staked its claim to POK or the pre – 1947 Kashmir to belong rightfully to her, Pakistan had floated the Jhelum Plan, laying claim to the entire Srinagar Valley. India has countered the ‘Jhelum Plan’ with the ‘Neelam Plan’ (envisaging the shift of Line of Control to the West & North of Neelam River & northern areas being accorded Independence). There obliviously can be no meeting ground on the Kashmir issue. It may be too simplistic a solution to think that a people to people contact, cultural exchanges, trade & commerce may ultimately solve the Kashmir tangle. India cannot, for national and political reasons cede territory in Kashmir nor can she agree to grant independence to the region.

Thus the Kashmir problem is likely to hang fire for some more time – some real quantum of time, to allow a change of psyche, healing of wounds and realisation of the ‘feel-good factor’ of economic progress on both sides. That may take a decade or two or even more – who knows? The good news is that a very large segment of people in Pakistan have seen through the Army’s role in damaging Pakistan. The number of enlightened officers even in the Army has become aware of the harm that the Army has done to the country1.

In the period covering December 2004 and January 2005 there was a marked increase in terrorist-related incidents in the Kashmir Valley. The failure of talks intended to resolve the dispute over the Baglihar dam on the Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir also cast a shadow over the on-going dialogue between the two countries. Pakistan President, General Parvez Musharraf’s decision to approach the World Bank to intervene and settle the dispute does not augur well for the future of the peace process. There have been numerous incidents in the recent past which indicate terrorists designs of attempting to sabotage confidence building measures being initiated. Stephen P Cohen the premier American South Asian Strategist writing in the Indian Express2 of 19 January, 2005 has predicated that the ongoing peace talks will fail because he contends there is no “political ownership”. This brings us back to the original conclusion that in the present context the dispute can only be resolved by divine intervention. The latest development is the commencement of alleged shelling by Pakistan across Line of Control . Are we heading back again to square one ?

The Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus has become a reality. The visa regime has been relaxed for the cricket series in March 2005. Musharraf’s desire to visit India to witness the cricket match reminds one of the ‘Cricket Diplomacy’ of Zia-ul-Haq in the latter 1980s. Are India and Pakistan doomed to upward spirals of violence and tension followed by downward spirals of diplomatic engagement? Is there a ray of hope in the people-to-people contact raising an unstoppable ‘tsunami wave’ of cordiality which brings down the Line of Control and fence, similar to the fall of the Berlin Wall? Will events and people overtake wily political calculations and guarded ‘stiff upper lip’ diplomatic statements? As the bus from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad rolls over the previously mine-strewn stretches of the road ahead of Uri towards Chakothi, the world and the belligerent neighbours, India and Pakistan, can only watch and wait. Watch and wait – perhaps, with no solution in sight. As India watches and waits it should act with a combined thrust that exploits diplomacy, economy, people-to-people contact and surgical military action when the sovereignty of the Nation is endangered. India, the ancient civilisation, having absorbed many a marauding conqueror into her folds, could best adopt a long-term policy of tiring the adversary out.

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1. Chinner, ML, Lt Gen (Dr.) PVSM, AVSM, Ph.D (Retd), “India Pakistan Reconciliation – Will Truth Prevail?”, A Monthly Journal of Defence & Security Affairs, Vol-III, No-12, August 2004.

2. The Indian Express, January 19, 2005

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen (Dr) Mohan Bhandari, (Retd.)

was in the Military Operations Dte during the Kargil conflict. He is the author of Solving Kashmirand Kargil Vijay.

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2 thoughts on “The Quest for a Solution to the Kashmir Problem

  1. Remarkable that some of the panaceas are worse than the disease. It is patently absurd to suggest as someone from Nagasaki University has done, the total exchange of populations. That is against the grain of the national movement which united communities and the pluralism of cultures, religions and languages that are the bedrock of Indian unity. India has to look after its people without biases of any kind and let Pakistan do whatever it wants within their territory. The K in Pakistan was needed to make it the land of the pure ‘pak’. (An Iranian friend of mine would chortle with laughter when he heard the word ‘Pakistan’ which in Farsi means a place for cleaning up, i.e. the bathroom).

  2. Before suggeting any solution to the Government and People of India it must be accepted that British India was partitioned based on religion.Gandhi was against partition but was sidelined by Nehru.Having accepted the partition we should have completed the process of exchange of population.All muslims should have gone to Pakistan.The Muslims in J & K ,if given a choice will join Pakistan.There is no change in their heart.Their sympathies lie with Pakistan.Nehru hiself was willing to accept Cease Fire Line as international boundry between India and Pakistan.Can we keep the Valley with India.USSR could not keep central asian republics as part of Russia when USSR broke up.These countris reasserted their identiy as muslim countries.The muslims believe in Umma ( all muslims are brothers) and Sunnah(their social order should be based on teachings of their holy books Quran and Hadis).Lasting solution therfore is Hindu majority area of Jammu be merged with Himachal Pardesh,Ladakh Province be declared a Union Territory as part of India.,the Valley and mulims majority areas of Poonch ,Rajouri and Doda be declared semi autonomus under joint control of India and Pakistan and areas under Pakista and China be left with them.India does does not have the strength to reclaim these territories.and accept the ground realities.338

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