The egoistic stand taken by both India and Pakistan on Kashmir for about seven-eight decades now has caused much loss of life, economic damage, and bloodshed in both countries but most of all in Kashmir. Several attempts have been made to resolve the dispute over Kashmir diplomatically, politically, and militarily, but all have failed.
As a common Kashmiri, I feel pain and anguish at the continued suffering of my motherland “Mouj Kashier”. So, humbly, I dare to suggest some possible solutions for the good of all parties. If given consideration, these suggestions may help cool the decades-old cauldron amicably.
Earliest documented evidence about Kashmir is available in Greek scholastic references (549-486 B.C.E), Chinese annals (220 B.C.E, 631-33 A.D) and Vedic texts, such as Upanishads (1300-900 B.C.E). The Greeks referred to it as Kasperia (Ptolemy) or Kaspapyros (Herodotus). The Sumitic people (Sumerian), Assyrian and subsequent settlers referred to it as Kapin, Kush/Kash/Kashmore, Kashmira and Kasheir.
The earliest settlers in Kashmir valley, apart from aborigines, included Pistachios, Nagas, Darvas, Gandharas, Juhndaras, Khambujas, Sakas, Khases and Yavans. Sakas were also known as Scythians, and Kushan and Yavan tribes as Bactrian Greeks/ Indo Greeks/ Mlechhas (non-Hindu).
In second half of the 1st millennium, Kashmir became part of Vedic Hinduism. Later, it came under the influence of Budhism (1st/2nd century C.E.) and remained so up to the 6th-7th century. In the late 8th or beginning of 9th century, Kashmiri Brahminism/ Shaivism had a resurgence and remained dominant up to the 14th century.
In 1320 AD, Reinchann Gyalpo, a prince originally named Ldhaki Bhutta but after conversion to Islam as “Sadur-ud-Din”, became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir. Shams-ud-Din (Shah Mir) of Swat valley (in present-day Malakand region in northwest Pakistan) became the first Muslim Sultan (1323-42AD) followed by Chacks, Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs and Dogras.
British rule came to Kashmir after the defeat of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of Punjab, whereupon the British entered into the black deed of selling the territory of Kashmir to the Dogra ruler Gulab Singh of Jammu.
From the earliest recorded chronicles, Kashmir has never been a part of Bharat (India) politically or administratively. Instead, it is reported that Kashmiris have actually ruled neighbouring territories during the reign of Raja Praverasena-11, Jayapida, Muktapida (Lalitadatiya), Awantivarman, and Sultan Sikander, Sultan Shuhab-ud-Din Shahmir. Kashmiris have resisted and resented rule of outsiders, right from the time of Mughals to that of Afghans, Sikhs, Dogras and now of New Delhi.
Occupying rulers took several measures in the name of good governance to buttress and perpetuate their rule in the valley, inter alia providing basic services and facilities. However, the urge for freedom and self-governance could not be suppressed, in spite of tall promises, pledges, invisible pressures, behind-the-back conspiracies, and brute atrocities. The latent misgivings continue even though four generations have passed since the 1930s, when the people rose in revolt against the Dogra king.
So, in the author’s opinion, the next agitation/ uprising looms before all of us, and will continue to loom unless the fundamental promises and pledges, such as “sky is the limit”, made to the Kashmiris are fulfilled, honestly and sincerely. The liberation of Algeria from France, of eastern European countries from USSR, of Bosnia Herzegovina from Yugoslavia / Serbia, of Vietnam from USA, of South Africa from white apartheid rule, and of African countries from France, Belgium, Italy and Germany, does sustain our feeble hopes and encourages us not to feel despondent, fatigued or defeated. Kashmiris wait for statesmen to appear on the Indian political/ media horizon who will reason with the power-drunk politicians to end the forced occupation of Kashmir valley in the greater interest of the nation (India), to ensure lasting peace and development of the sub-continent, and for the greater good of humanity.
Unless the ruling class both at center and in Kashmir acts with courage and impartiality, the Kashmir problem shall remain unresolved and any peace effort will remain elusive, blood will continue to spill, and more and more young as well as old human beings, whether in civilian clothes or in uniform, will die.
We the common people are/shall have to be hopeful and confident that one day these dark clouds would disappear, and a refreshing dawn will surely arise for the emancipation of suppressed Kashmiris, Insha-Allah. However, this shall also depend upon the resistance leadership and their sagacity, openness, unwavering stand, integrity, uprightness, calmness and down-to-earth behaviour and human empathy, supplemented by unwavering support of the fellow common people of the valley. Till then, we shall have to continue our just and peaceful resistance, in the face of provocations, heavy odds, conspiracies, or even new tall promises and appeasements.
In this regard, my humble request or suggestion to my fellow Kashmiris (young and old) shall be:
That in order to make our struggle/sacrifices manifest/ successful, we shall have to open our arms, hearts and minds to all Kashmiri-origin people who have left the valley in distress in the past due to one or other reason, as they have a right to return to their roots whenever they wish and without any fear or coercion from any group. This, I hope, shall restore in our Kashmir the great composite culture with peace, harmony, and love for all and hate for none. We have to rise above all conflicts and only be human, ignoring bias and discrimination or favour/ concession on basis of faith, region (rural-urban), language, economic standing, social station, gender, etc. However, this wishful dream of mine may take true shape only when our neighbouring, big countries ensure our peaceful existence, guaranteeing our freedom, liberty, non-interference in our internal affairs, and shunning the big-brother attitude towards us.
Being a small land-locked valley, the guarantees shall have to be offered at all fronts, from surface transport and air passage for people, goods, commerce, trade, travel, and pilgrimage with complete openness and no hidden restrictions. The Kashmiri people should have visa-less movement in both the countries (India and Pakistan). This will make Kashmir the “Switzerland” of the East. However, if ego and rigid posturing comes in the way, let both countries go for joint sovereignty for a period agreed upon or have once again two independent systems of governance with permanent constitutional guarantees like China and Hong Kong.
In my humble opinion, the other alternative for a possible peaceful solution is to harmonise the strained bellicose relations between the two parted citizens of the sub-continent. India and Pakistan should whole heartedly try to promote, encourage and strengthen relations between the people of the two now parted sovereign countries, originally belonging to the same stock, on basis of their common language, culture, social habits, and traditions.
I also appeal to all Kashmiris of the world to join in the cause of “Mouj Kashir”. Being a common Kashmiri citizen and having no personal stake, political or otherwise, I earnestly request readers to please support my suggestions and ignore any inadvertent omissions and deficiencies in this write-up. I plead only for peace, progress and prosperity for all.
The writer is a Retired Professor of SKUAST. ASqureshi@gmail.com. The views expressed are the writer’s and not Kashmir Reader’s.