The decision of Mr Nehru, in turning down the advice of his military leadership to allow them to overrun the Pakistani forces to recapture POK, then and there, can neither be ignored nor pardoned. It was lack of Mr Nehru’s operational wisdom, that prevented him from doing so. His misgivings about the capability of gallant Indian forces, led to his berating them often. History is replete with numerous examples to prove, that land once lost, can never be regained, except with immediate retaliatory counter measures. The truth of Nehru’s poor appreciation, and the existence of POK lies before the world. Nehru’s unimaginative approach and serious neglect of Indian defence forces, in the post independence period, have been fully responsible for India’s humiliating reverses against the Chinese in October 1962. To feel that situation is any better, and the history would not repeat itself, would be a gross underassessment and a fact far from reality.
Indira Gandhi also lost a golden opportunity of dictating terms to her counterpart ZA Bhutto, at the Shimla Summit, in 1972 after the 1971 Indo-Pak War, leading to liberation of Bangla Desh and capture of 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war. The Shimla agreement was an utter diplomatic and political failure, attributed not only to the wisdom of Mrs Gandhi but also to the illogical thinking and diplomacy of her bureaucratic and other expert advisors. It is high time the Government starts seeking advice on such volatile matters, from its more competent military/defence leadership also. The release of 90,000 POWs should never have been agreed, without return of forcibly captured POK territory, resulting from her father’s faulty decision. Now India is paying a heavy price for this diplomatic blunder, on her part. Incidentally, all hopes of peace between the two countries on the basis of Shimla Agreement have been belied, as Pakistan leadership has never been trustworthy and have violated the agreement umpteen number of times, including Kargil and innumerable instances of clandestine and open support to terrorism from across the border.
Unfortunately, situation has not improved but on the contrary has only deteriorated. There have been hardly any signs of rapprochement, in spite of the fact that Indian Governments have been pumping in Indian tax payers’ wealth in millions and billions to bring the Kashmiris into India’s mainstream. The negative results can be attributed to the uninspired thinking, cognisable neglect and indifferent attitude of Indian leadership at the helm in Delhi, who rarely acted judiciously when the situation was favourable. Factually, the Indian government has had nothing tangible to offer to Kashmir in sixty plus years, except mis-governance by totally unaccountable bureaucracy combined with heavy dose of corruption at all levels.
Mr Nehru as well as Mrs Indra Gandhi, in spite of having originated from Kashmir, failed to read the minds of the Kashmiri people to evolve any worthwhile solution to keep them within Indian control or strangle hold. Sonia Gandhi being of Italian origin, cannot be expected to have any sympathy or feelings for the people of Kashmir. It was indeed a national shame to see exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from their motherland, at gun point under the eyes of the incompetent and indifferent Government in Delhi. To the utter dismay of all Indians, the centre never found a solution to ensure their safe return and rehabilitation in their own motherland. Till date they are living as refugees in India, away from their homeland. The incapability and failure of the Government, to ensure rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in their own motherland, has belied the oft repeated echo of Kashmir being an integral part of India and a blot on our governance.
Unfortunately, opposed to any signs of reconciliation amongst Kashmir’s Muslim population and inability of the Government, to bring about rapprochement, the voices of dissent and separatism have started getting louder and louder without any fear or favour. There seems to be no check or reduction in the training camps for terrorist activity on the other side of the fence, which has resulted in increase of cross border infiltration across the Line of Control (LOC). The increase in lately inspired cases of stone pelting which have been causing increased tension amongst civilians and security forces as also frequent loss of innocent lives of locals in various parts of the valley have added insult to injury.
Some statements from a number of separatist groups have also added fuel to fire as they are openly raising anti India and pro Pakistan voices, seeking intervention of Pakistanis, in solving their internal problems. It reflects poorly on the mute Indian leadership’s total bankruptcy of thoughts, ideas and counter measures for such a malaise. It is a doubtful proposition that the interlocutors appointed for Kashmir would be able to evolve any worthwhile solutions or to create a favourable mindset amongst the dissenting groups, to this six decades old problem, except to facilitate extending it for a few more years.
Not much credence could also be given to the thought process of some prominent Indian personalities (without naming them) who after observing the wounds of the Kashmiri people, have come out with differing views which could compromise the sovereignty of Kashmir as an integral state of India, perhaps not seeing the reality and majority Indians’ aspirations. Most of them seem to be advocating referendum or plebiscite or their right of self determination as possible options to the Kashmiris. After having lived under the Indian umbrella for over six decades now, would it not be discreditable on the part of our Government, that the people of Kashmir should still be thinking of exercising separationist options, which also may not bring about any fruitful solutions for them.
If Indian Government has been determinedly making vocal announcements (perhaps not from their heart) at every forum, that Kashmir is an integral part of India, did the government ever make efforts to evolve tangible solutions, whether by dialogue with peoples’ representatives including separatists, good governance or by force of conviction or by diplomacy to ensure that Kashmir does remain an integral part of India not only physically but from the heart and soul of the Kashmiri people. Unfortunately, such a dream has so far remained an illusion amongst the people of Kashmir.
Worse come to worst, if by chance any of these options are thrust upon the people of Jammu and Kashmir, they could select either to go with India or with Pakistan or remain an independent state. Well, there was a time when Mr Sheikh Abdullah, Omar’s grandfather was beginning to think in terms of an Independent Kashmir, and as such was removed, put under detention and perhaps exiled by Nehru for many years. Although, Nehru was a weak prime minister militarily (implying taking prompt military action to sort out problems) yet, he was strong and ruthless in his political convictions to sideline, crush or destroy his opponents.
The conditions of accession of Kashmir by a Hindu ruler and muslim majority, followed by promulgation of Article 370 of the Constitution, at the time of partition and Indian independence has left the whole issue almost in an utter and unsolvable state of confusion, which none of the governments could un-puzzle till date, to find a viable solution.
When Omar Abdullah, took over as the CM of Jammu & Kashmir, it was thought, that his youth, dynamism and patriotism would help in improving the situation there. Unfortunately, some of his actions and utterances have altogether created a counter impression of his intentions which appear to be favouring the terrorists as well as being in unison with the thought process of the Pakistanis, Jehadis as also of the separatists residing in Kashmir.