By Ashiq Hussain
As the ongoing revolt entered Day 35 and Kashmir having gone out of control of Indian armed forces and intelligence agencies, the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in the presence of heads of armed services and intelligence agencies, has resulted not in any sincere desire to address Kashmir Conflict, but in insincere “Vajpayee rhetoric”. So it is time to be cautious because there have always been misperceptions surrounding Vajpayee’s political persona.
Vajpayee was a rightwing jingoist like any right-winger of India. Only he had a sweet tongue. He became Prime Minister of India at the cost of Babri Masjid in whose demolition he played a significant role along with L. K. Advani, both being the chief instigators of anti-Babri campaign in the early 1990s. When in 2002 Muslims were slaughtered in Gujarat, Vajpayee, then Prime Minister of India, did nothing to save Muslims of Gujarat which was his duty. Instead he delivered, on 12 April 2002 in Goa, a hate speech against Muslims (pp.450-52, Gujarat The Making of a Tragedy, S. Vardarajan). This was a hint to the Hindu right-wing of Gujarat that the Government of India was on their side.
In 1998 Vajpayee said he wanted to normalize relations with Pakistan. On this basis a misperception came to be created by the Indian propaganda machine (which includes the “mainstream” politicians of Kashmir) that he was a statesman not a common politician. For that matter, the Indian propaganda machine even described Nehru as a statesman. Nehru caused Partition of British India by sabotaging the 1946 Cabinet Mission Scheme. He was responsible for the emergence of the Kashmir Dispute and for India-Pakistan hostility. He was responsible for the emergence of Aksai Chin Dispute and Tawang Dispute and India-China hostility. Because of his political actions, South Asia has been standing on a volcano since 1947. Still a statesman!
Vajpayee’s real motive was to perpetuate status quo on Kashmir by imposing Livingston Proposal. Livingston Proposal recommended status quo on Kashmir with some superficial and deceptive changes. It was produced in 1998 by Farooq Kathwari’s New York-based Kashmir Study Group. It fitted very well into the 1997 American imperial project called “Project for New American Century (PNAC)” whereby the sole superpower of the time planned to bring the whole world and its resources under its feet in the 21st century. One of the main aims of American imperialists, called neoconservatives or neocons, was to contain China with the help of India (the other being to create a New Middle East by redrawing boundaries in Arabia). In order to bring Indian on board, America would help them in Kashmir and then use them against China.
In order to give Livingston Proposal “a local habitation and a name” many among the political circles put their services at the disposal of New Delhi. The mastermind of Kargil War, President Pervez Musharaf of Pakistan, gave it in 2004, the name of “Four Point Formula” and thus became a blue eyed boy of India who was till then a hated enemy; Sajjad Lone, in 2006, called it “Achievable Nationhood”, and Mufti Sayeed, in 2008, named it “Self-Rule Framework”. Even the Autonomy Committee of National Conference had it before them when they formulated, in 1999, the Autonomy report. Vajpayee asked in March 1999 the Track II diplomats, Niaz A. Naik and R.K. Mishra, to work on it instead of Chenab Partition Plan.
Now, if Vajpayee and Livingston Proposal were to become the reference points on Kashmir, the “Autonomy” of National Conference could well be ruled out because it misses out the external dimension of Kashmir Dispute. What would remain would be “Self-Rule”, “Achievable Nationhood”, and “Four Point Formula”. The last two “formulas” are now dead letters as Kashmiris rejected them under the guidance of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. “Self-Rule” would have to be granted to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
Should the Indian State really concede this much to PDP, it would not be because they (PDP) represented the Kashmiris’ sentiments but rather because of militancy and the self-determination movement which has entered a very intense phase since the killing of resistance symbol Burhan Wani. Granting “Self-Rule” (or even “Autonomy”) to the enemies of self-determination movement and militants would not end Kashmir Dispute.
New Delhi should know that Kashmiris don’t have any faith in what P.M. Modi calls Insaniyat (humanity), Jamhuriat (democrary), and Kashmiriyat (ethno-nationalism). They look at their miserable life which they are forced to live in Kashmir. To them Kashmir is a prison in which more than 5000 of them have been greeted this month by small shots fired from Repeaters as if they were no better than game birds. They cannot feel freedom unless the iron curtain was raised on the Srinagar-Rawalpindi Road. They will trust New Delhi only when the Indian State accepts Kashmir as an international dispute to be resolved through the mediation of the United Nations.