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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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For years we have been debating 'the Kashmir solution'. The hype has increased producing innumerable experts on either side. Yet, the solution eludes us. More killings, more acrimony, more hysterics and the unending media hyperboles with little substance. And why? Because no one seeks to keep the realities in mind and accept as they exist. What are these realities? Let us define the facts which cannot be altered.

The State of Jammu & Kashmir acceded legitimately under the Accession Act passed by the British Parliament just like any other princely State of British India. Under this the process of accession could not be questioned.

The reality however is that the State of J&K stands partitioned through force exercised by Pakistan and China. There is no power which can alter the existing situation except through war consequences of which would be disastrous. Therefore, the three countries have to base their strategies on this reality. One must, accept status quo as the base to work upon.

Manmohan Singh our Prime Minister conveyed to Musharaff that existing geographical realities cannot be altered. Within this reality relations between India and Pakistan must rest. To accept and regulate the existing and future course of action related to this must be clearly understood.

There is no way a military regime can last in Pakistan beyond a point. Incorporating Indian side of Kashmir into Pakistan is an impossibility even with the enhanced militancy. Musharaff has, therefore, come out with ‘out of box’ solutions which include local autonomy, open borders and withdrawl of military forces leading to a mechanism of joint management with three participants i.e. India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir. For Pakistan, the ‘people of Kashmir’ mean the Kashmir Valley. In other words, Kashmir Valley will from the hub of the proposed solution. This cannot be basis of a solution.

All wars against India having failed and nuclear threat being self-destructive, there is no other way for Pakistan military rulers to survive except through involvement in the militancy in Kashmir. India cannot disintegrate. Kashmir Valley cannot be incorporated. The military must therefore, continue its silent war to be able to exist in power. It is tragic that the military rulers in Pakistan can only exist in their defeat.

Extending the Kashmir issue to broader realms, Pakistan’s existence itself is threatened through an ethnic and cultural conflict. Baluchis, Shias, Sindhis and other minorities cannot integrate into the ruling psyche of the Pakistan military whose existence rests on the support of the Punjabis. India is therefore, projected as a threat to all segments of Pakistanis which keeps the military in power. When this perceived threat did not consolidate the Pakistani identity, help of the fundamentalist groups and Islamic religious parties is now being taken. This has resulted in a peculiar situation for Pakistan.

When the middle class political power was vitiated through destroying the normal functioning of governance under civilian elected regimes, however corrupt or inefficient they may have been, a wide gap has emerged in the functioning of a democratic system which Pakistan military can never fill up for fear of losing power.

With its internal contradictions which led to 1971, India will always be projected as an everlasting threat which can only be faced by the military. India has to live with this situation. The Kashmir issue would, therefore, remain as long as the military perceptions persist. The civil power appears quite a distance away. One now sees emergence of a new religo-political grouping which supports the military for its own ends. Its ultimate objective is to wield political power as an Islamic force existing beyond the borders of Pakistan. Its tragedy is that it tries to bring back the Caliphate concept which disintegrated with the changing times. The coming decades will see their decadence forced by economic and technical pressures which cannot be held back come what may. The world cannot go back to the past.

What is the future, then of Indo-Pak relations. So long as India does not permit its vital interests to be vitiated, the next two decades will see a major change in our relationship. In a subtle way, this has already started happening. The commonality of long term interests is emerging. It will be politically impossible for either to live in perpetual hostility with the emerging geo-political realities and economic inter-action. More than ever before, economic factors will govern political decisions. China is an example where despite its ideological base it cannot but become a part of a new global order dependent on inter-action with others. Pakistan cannot live in splendid isolation remaining in comfort based on western dole or Indian conflict. India has to go out of its way to create this awareness however difficult it may be. Pakistan will have to be befriended with understanding without compromising on the Kashmir issue. A realistic and broader structure of relationship must emerge helping the two countries to play a significant and major role in the Asian region and beyond. Islam poses no threat to this reality. Equality of these two South Asian powers lies in this fact. Pakistan cannot exist under the wings of China or USA. With India, it can be an equal and strategic power.

Putting simplistically, the present measures be it the CBMs or institutional linkages, the process needs to be carried on inspite of the loss of blood which will continue to spill for a few more years. Srinagar does not represent the psyche of Kashmir. The Kashmiris extend beyond that. This realization is inching its way forward in many ways. Cliches like ‘healing the wound’ have no relevance in modern times. Self-interest and economic prosperity determine the course of events. This realization is bound to come in not too distant a time.

India’s interests lie in Pakistan’s stability. The interests of Indian Muslims are no different. To accuse them suo moto of subversion is untenable. Black sheep are everywhere. India and Pakistan can make formidable allies, their powerful economic and political role extending from West Asia to the far east. One sees no conflict of interests between the two.

Pakistan by itself can never emerge as the most powerful Islamic nation of the world. It is so obvious. It is also true that India shall never be or ever was a Hindu nation. It will start disintegrating the day it chooses to be so. As would Pakistan if it decides to be purely a Muslim entity. All circumstances, economic, political or regional preclude such a possibility because of sheer necessity to exist as a sovereign and plausible entity. Pakistan cannot afford to live in permanent hostility to India. It will collapse under its weight and the new thinking generation of young Pakistanis will not allow that to happen including the military which is learning from its failures.

Not being futurologists, one can only go by assumptions based on a new emerging global order. The USA determined the course of events of the political and economic order after the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the considerable weakening of the Monroe Doctrine, failure in Iraq and possible collapse in Afghanistan, possible nuclear proliferation leading to re-alignments posing a serious threat to existing balance of power as framed by USA, new players are emerging shaping a different world order based on a multi-polar system of exercise of political and economic power with USA as one of them. As a consequence, the present threats may subside by mid 21st century by sheer force of circumstances of self-preservation and economic compulsions. The World is moving towards a new environmental and demographic order forcing re-adjustments. Ofcourse, a very heavy price would have been paid by then in terms of loss of life and financial destruction.

India and Pakistan can play a vital role in restructuring of this new world order. With their immense potential and power, and most importantly the commonality of culture and politico-economic interests they together could play a major role in reshaping the new global order.


The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

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