The position of New Delhi and Islamabad on the dispute over Kashmir is very well known. So are the legality and the history of the dispute. However, whenever Pakistan raises the issue at whatever level, domestically or internationally, India feels riled up repeating its post-1994 (parliament resolution) position that the only issue for it was ‘how to take’ that portion of the territory which Pakistan controls. This is precisely what happened for the nth time on Thursday when Pakistan’s High Commissioner to New Delhi said what Islamabad has always maintained, and New Delhi responded the way it always has after the 1994 resolution.
Even if we see only the part of the New Delhi’s oft repeated statement that ‘PoK’ needs to be ‘liberated’ from Pakistani control, then why is it that New Delhi never asks Pakistan for a dialogue for that purpose? Why is it always that only Islamabad and the people of Kashmir demand a dialogue for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute?
The answer may lie in a simple fact, that a position or a claim by either about a territorial dispute involving more than one country does not always meet the demands of legality and the right of the people to determine their own political future. A resolution of either country’s parliament cannot substitute for the requirements of international law. This applies to both the contesting countries in case of Kashmir.
And if New Delhi ever demanded a dialogue for resolving its own claim over the part of Kashmir Pakistan controls, would Islamabad then raise the question of India’s internal problems before accepting a dialogue process begins, just like New Delhi responds to Islamabad’s demands for a dialogue over Kashmir by always saying that Pakistan should first deal with the issue of ‘terrorism’?
A simple examination of this question easily reveals that New Delhi is not interested in a dialogue over Kashmir, which actually also goes against its own claim over PoK, even though a plethora of political forces have been spawned, justified and cultivated inside Kashmir precisely over the ‘need’ to resolve the dispute. So, not accepting an offer or demand for dialogue over Kashmir actually amounts to denial of history which is marked by more three Indo-Pak wars, not to speak of a seven-decade-long history of death, destruction and stymied potential for peace and progress in the region. It is this denial that sustains the prevailing unacceptable conditions of uncertainty for the people of Kashmir on both sides of the divide. New Delhi shares the primary responsibility for not letting it change.