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The Unicorn of Peace Isn't Visiting Kashmir

“Just talking is progress in India, Pakistan ties,” chirps Reuters merrily this morning.

No, it isn’t.

India and Pakistan have been talking on and off for years.  Mostly, they’ve been talking about the same thing: Kashmir.

The US in particular is happy when they talk; a solution for Kashmir and a rapprochement between two principal heirs of the British Raj would greatly simplify our foreign policy problems.  And so, partly to keep us happy, they talk.

But they don’t agree.  As Pakistan weakens (corrupt elite, ruinous military costs associated with the competition with India, internal divisions, spillover from Afghan war) and its role in terrorism becomes ever more clear, India has less and less reason to make new concessions over Kashmir.  And while some Pakistanis understand that a bad deal with a few face saving sprinkles is the best deal they can get, and that freeing Pakistan of its Kashmir obsession might be the country’s one hope, Pakistani opinion is not ready to make peace with reality.

Peace is not at hand.

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  • Riki Tiki Tavi

    “And so, partly to keep us happy, they talk.” Touche’.

    What prevents peace from breaking out between Pakistan and India? Is Kashmir the root cause of hostilities, or a symptom? I think you are forgetting that paying lip-service to Pakistan’s claims on Kashmir was how America paid off its client diplomatically during the heydays of the cold war. I doubt American analysts really ever believed that Kashmir was the “core” issue between the two countries. It was just a convenient talking point to keep India on the defensive, and so India talked endlessly! Mr. Fai’s (head of the Kashmiri American Council, in the pay of the ISI) recent arrest is indicative that the United States never took Pakistan’s narrative on Kashmir too seriously.

    The fundamental unresolved matter in South Asia is, “how will Muslims and non-Muslims live with one another?” This question has been asked many times in that part of the world, and to which many answers have been given. The latest answer, upon which Pakistan is founded, is the two-nation theory, which by its very design and content can only lead to implacable hostility between Muslims and Hindus, and other non-Muslim faiths as well. What is it that the Kashmiri Muslim cannot have in a democratic India that he feels he can either as part of Pakistan, or in an independent Kashmir? The answer is Sharia, plain and simple. No, he cannot have Sharia in India, which is why expulsion of Hindus from the Kashmir Valley, the only Muslim majority portion of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, was such a high priority.

    If India, Pakistan, and the United States need to talk, it is about Pakistan’s transformation into a more tolerant, democratic country. Kashmir would automatically resolve itself in due course. But, I’m afraid Pakistan has gone too far down the fundamentalist road for the two-nation theory to be repudiated nonviolently. Instead of waiting for talks on Kashmir to bear fruit, the United States and India need to start preparing for potentially dire events in South Asia.

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