Cir­cle of po­lit­i­cal debt

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Saria Be­nazir

It's the edges of the maps that fas­ci­nate…" The Min­istry of Home Af­fairs of the self-ap­plauded big­gest demo­cratic state is fairly be­sot­ted with the subtext from the novel 'The Bone Clocks'. Bor­ders, on sev­eral oc­ca­sions en­snare law­mak­ers into in­con­gruity, con­trary to le­git­i­macy and pro­bity - how­ever, re­gret­tably, state­craft is deco­rous deal­ing and not an­other David Mitchell novel. Sev­ered from re­al­ism, the In­dian "Geospa­tial In­for­ma­tion Reg­u­la­tion Bill, 2016" is po­si­tioned to break in the In­dian Par­lia­ment. It broad­ens the union's bound­aries to the states of 'Arunachal Pradesh' and 'Jammu and Kash­mir', in­clud­ing Pak­istan's Azad Kash­mir and Gil­git-Baltistan re­gions.

Faintly flawed although; by the Hin­dutva ra­ti­o­ci­na­tion, shouldn't Mother In­dia pull out to the en­tire of Pak­istan, Bangladesh and frac­tions of China, Nepal and Sri Lanka too? Tan­ta­liz­ing edges! Any­way, the pro­jected leg­is­la­tion makes it un­law­ful for in­di­vid­u­als and lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional geospa­tial map­ping or­gan­i­sa­tions to por­tray In­dia's map wrongly, forc­ing heavy fines ap­prox­i­mat­ing 1 bil­lion In­dian Ru­pees and de­ten­tion of seven years for the al­leged in­fringe­ment. How­ever, the pos­tu­la­tion of In­dia's as­ser­tion of her pre­rog­a­tive to the whole of Kash­mir is not shock­ing - whereas the lion in its neigh­bor­hood has been snooz­ing, In­dia has been stick­ing to its guns.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, Pak­istan put for­ward the canons of the ten­den­tious bill to the United Na­tions Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, re­fer­ring to it as the "trav­esty of history, moral­ity, in­ter­na­tional law and facts on the ground". Res­o­lu­tion 47 of the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil has clas­si­fied Kash­mir as a 'dis­puted' ter­ri­tory in en­tirety, and de­clared that the ac­ces­sion of Jammu and Kash­mir to In­dia or Pak­istan should be de­cided through the demo­cratic method of a free and im­par­tial plebiscite. This dic­tum, of late, has be­come a dirt­ied sound in New Delhi, which seeks cover in the Simla Agree­ment, opin­ing that it overrules the UN res­o­lu­tions and that the dis­cord can only be con­sid­ered a bi­lat­eral is­sue.

Not just dis­re­gard, but the des­e­cra­tion of hu­man rights of the Kash­miris through ex­ces­sive mil­i­tari­sa­tion of the state demon­strates In­dia's de­nun­ci­a­tion of freewill of the pop­u­lace. The dis­in­cli­na­tion to en­gage in di­a­logue on the sub­ject is shrouded in ter­ror­ism ac­cu­sa­tions or sedi­tion charges. The clamp­ing down of an al­ter­na­tive dis­course on Kash­mir at the Jawaharlal Nehru Univer­sity and the ar­rest of its Union's Pres­i­dent, Kan­haiya Ku­mar are the signs of the hy­per-jin­go­ism of the gov­ern­ment and it's on­slaught on free speech. In an iden­ti­cal line up and in com­pli­ance with the Bharatiya Janata Party's man­i­festo, the Geospa­tial In­for­ma­tion Reg­u­la­tion Bill, 2016 aims to cap up ques­tion­ing on the un­de­cided po­si­tion of the state of Jammu and Kash­mir by con­trol­ling the de­lin­eation of In­dia's fron­tiers and chastis­ing those that do not toe the line on to its prin­ci­pally de­cep­tive and fac­tu­ally er­ro­neous au­tho­rised ver­sion.

The de­vel­op­ments in 2015 con­firm the re­luc­tance of In­dia to move to­ward con­cil­i­a­tion. This is par­tic­u­larly what led to the with­drawal of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor level talks be­tween Pak­istan and In­dia last year. Bar­ring Pak­istani en­voys from meet­ing with Kash­miri 'sep­a­ratists' ex­poses In­dia's no­tion of liken­ing the in­de­pen­dence (which is their le­git­i­mate right) seek­ing pub­lic to dis­si­dents. What In­dia has to con­cede to is that nega­tion of the prob­lem is no way out, it is only im­per­ma­nent bliss maybe. This is not to con­tro­vert the real ob­sta­cles of cross-border ter­ror­ism to the peace pro­ce­dure; how­ever, jum­bling the Kash­mir dis­pute and ter­ror­ism is far from sen­si­ble - the dis­crete­ness of the is­sues must be up­held for ap­pro­pri­ate set­tle­ment. It is facile to im­pose one's at­las or dic­tate the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of dis­cus­sion on an­other sov­er­eign coun­try. A one-sided rul­ing on the clash is sim­plis­tic and in­ad­mis­si­ble.

Mat­ters of na­tional im­por­tance can­not be dealt with timidly with read­ings from in­sub­stan­tial pa­pers. Some bar­gains are detri­men­tal to cru­cial ob­jec­tives. This is pal­pa­ble from the speech Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif made at the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly in Septem­ber 2015. He did not call for a plebiscite un­der UN aus­pices or in­ter­na­tional ar­bi­tra­tion to de­ter­mine the dis­agree­ment; the men­tion of Kash­mir's strug­gle for au­ton­omy was not fol­lowed by Pak­istan's usual diplo­matic and moral sup­port of it. Jointly at­tain­ing a peace­ful ar­range­ment that Sharif asked for is du­bi­ous when the other party to the conflict brusquely de­nies the re­al­ity of it. This was weak and tan­ta­mount to be­trayal of the Kash­miri cause and will of the elec­torate.

Rem­e­dy­ing the evil of ter­ror­ism en­gulf­ing our home is a fore­most pri­or­ity and en­tails stern ac­tions that Pak­istan al­ready is tak­ing. In­dia's ruth­less bar­rage of bul­lets at the Line of Con­trol while the Pak­istan mil­i­tary was con­cen­trat­ing its troops on the Oper­a­tion Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziris­tan is dif­fi­cult to over­look. Like­wise, re­coil­ing from the distinction be­tween good and bad ter­ror­ists is im­per­a­tive. The em­ploy­ment of Pak­istan based mil­i­tant or­gan­i­sa­tions in Kash­mir usurps the oth­er­wise jus­ti­fied move­ment for self­de­ter­mi­na­tion and blocks good­will. We can­not spawn snakes in our back­yard and wait for them to sting our neigh­bours only. Pak­istan has ir­refutably paid a very heavy price for it and can­not per­sist do­ing so. The abet­tors of the Mum­bai bomb­ings also in­sti­gated the Easter car­nage in La­hore in March. There is there­fore no pre­text against a mil­i­tary oper­a­tion to dis­man­tle pro­scribed mil­i­tant net­works mostly lo­cated in Pun­jab, PM Sharif's own strong­hold, and no amount of po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence should be per­mit­ted to call a halt to it.

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