In the backdrop of the present armed struggle for independence of Jammu and Kashmir, one finds it really difficult to make even the educated Indians understand the true aspirations of Kashmiri people. While most Indians remain ignorant, many others find it difficult to believe that a vast majority of Kashmiris is in fact fighting for achieving a sovereign homeland, independent of Indian as well as Pakistani control. Courtesy UN resolutions on Kashmir, a vicious media campaign, the ignorant masses and myopic polity, for every Indian whether educated or otherwise, turmoil in a Muslim majority Kashmir means a struggle for secession from Indian union and merger with Pakistan.
In a moment of enlightenment it dawned upon me how right Shaheed Muhammad Maqbool Bhat had been in putting forward the idea of independent Kashmir. Beyond domains of history of Kashmir prior to Mughal invasion into the realms of post 1947-48 scenario, the great thinker seemed to have clearly visualized and understood that an Independent Kashmir was not only the answer to Kashmiri aspirations but also the only solution acceptable to India and Pakistan both. By giving Jammu and Kashmir a Political identity of its own and accepting it as sovereign entity, India and Pakistan can bring the present carnage to an end. Having accepted the basic right of Kashmiris to choose their political future as enshrined in the UN Charter, the two South Asian Giants would actually stand to command respect from global community and emerge as true champions of Human Rights, Dignity, Respect, and Liberty.
Looking back at the events of history that led to imbroglio over Jammu and Kashmir and the present cycle of unending violence, one gets compelled to blame the two dimensional approach adopted by the UN security council when the matter was referred to it following the partition of India in 1947. The august body had failed to respect the basic right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to choose their own political identity and aspire for a future they deemed fit. Having shown utter disrespect to its own charter that empowers the people to choose their own political future, the United Nations unfortunately gave Kashmiris a right to choose their future within Indian union or then newly formed Pakistan reducing them to a flock of cattle. Amid claims of both India and Pakistan over entire Jammu and Kashmir, the residents of the territory though mentioned in dignified words are actually treated as surplus contents of a prized real estate which have no significance with change in title.
The visionary Maqbool Bhat was the first person to remind the world that UN Charter had empowered the people of Jammu and Kashmir to choose their political future beyond the political and physical boundaries of India or Pakistan. Kashmiris according to him also had a right like other nations to exist in the global community as a sovereign state as it existed before Mughal Invasion.
Shaheed Muhammad Maqbool Bhat always said that for the world community Kashmir may be just another issue, a conflict or at least a cause for it. But as far as people of Jammu and Kashmir are concerned it is not only a matter of dignity, honour and physical survival but also that of their existence as a responsible nation with political identity among other nations of world. A land where children could smile and play, where women instead of crying over dead could sing songs while their men plough fields in the back drop of Blue Mountain. Where meadows instead of turning into grave yards would grow flowers spreading heavenly fragrance. A dream destination where people come to explore and enjoy as tourists not as occupational armies to run muck. A nation that would spend all its energies improving health, education and economy of people.
Recent statements from President Pervez Musharraf regarding Demilitarization and Self Rule, in fact strengthen the philosophy of Shaheed Maqbool Bhat. Sardar Atique, the Prime Minster of Pak administered Kashmir and the veteran Politician Sardar Qayoom Khan has stated that in the present day context, UN resolution on Kashmir have become irrelevant, Having said so, they all not only depart from their previous stand but in effect express a desire to move towards a more appealing solution enshrined in demilitarizing Kashmir to usher in self rule. While several segments in the separatist camp and mainstream political factions in Indian controlled Kashmir also favour President Pervez Musharraf’s doctrine.
Maqbool’s philosophy of third option on Kashmir gets vindicated most strongly ever. Irrespective of how Musharraf understands his doctrine or how the separatist camps or the Pro-India band wagon interpret it, the politically conscious people of Jammu and Kashmir have a very clear understanding of the terms demilitarization and self rule. Endorsing the view of Shaheed Maqbool Bhat on third option, for the right thinking people, demilitarization without mincing words means India and Pakistan both actually relinquishing their control on the disputed territory. The acceptable self rule at the same time is seen as a completely independent form of governance.
It is the time that India, Pakistan and the people living on both sides of the cease fire line accept this principle of Independent Kashmir in order to bring lasting pace to south Asia and make the world a safer place.