Agenda for tomorrow

EOPLE have begun to ask if Jews and Arabs who have hated each other for centuries and fought unending wars over the existence of Israel and an independent Palestine can come together, why can't India and Pakistan settle their disputes? If Blacks and Whites of South Africa who had refused to live together from the time the Whites came as settlers can bury the hatchet, shake hands and agree to set up a multiracial state, why can't Indians and Pakistanis who share the same cultural heritage and the same language live at peace with one another? We all know that the stumbling block is the status of Jammu & Kashmirto be most precise the 70-odd miles of the Valley of the Jhelum and the two predominantly Muslim districts of Jammu. No Indian or Pakistani leader has been bold enough to suggest that the state should be divided and those who want to opt out of India to become citizens of an autonomous state join hands with those who wish to opt out of the Pakistani occupied part of Kashmir. This is what common sense would dictate. But on either side anyone proposing this as a solution would be condemned as a traitor to his country. Patriotism in both India and Pakistan means implacable hatred for each other. So streams of blood flow down into the Jhelum and thousands of crores of rupees go down Indian and Pakistani drains. What kind of people are we? There are many in India who talk of a Punjab-like solution of the Kashmir problem i.e. let the police and the army settle the hash of the insurgents. This is foolish talk. The situation in the Punjab was quite different: in Punjab at no time did terrorists have the support of the' citizens; in the Valley they have. By now it should be evident that neither political leaders nor bureaucrats of either India or Pakistan can afford to budge from the rigid positions they have taken on Kashmir. If any change has to come it will be through the pressure of public opinion in both countries that continuing hostility which has already cost us so much must end. This cannot be achieved unilaterally. The movement of the people for a final solution of the Kashmir probem must be as powerful in Pakistan s it is in India.


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