Pakistan's 'Truth' On Kashmir Is Mostly Argumentative

06/10/2015 8:10 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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You know, I struggle with the truth. Is this most sacred of human constructs majoritarian, historical or divine? If it is all three, is there a golden ratio between them that makes some truths universal? Also, how does this truth triangle apply to the Kashmir issue bedeviling India and Pakistan?

For starters, Pakistan's "truth" on Kashmir is absolutely majoritarian. The "Dushman Hindustan" (Nemesis India) narrative is the national gospel and any political rhetoric wrapped around the "Kashmir banega Pakistan" (Pakistan will conquer Kashmir) chant preaches to packed crowds.

"It is imperative for an artificial nation-state like Pakistan to have an artificially bloated sense of nationalism. "

I have no issues with this overblown patriotism. It is imperative for an artificial nation-state like Pakistan to have an artificially bloated sense of nationalism. Since 1947, the government has carefully brainwashed us to believe that Pakistan had a parallel history of its own for centuries before partition. This "Muslim" version of the Indian subcontinent implies Pakistan was always here, they just called it the Mughal Empire back then.

Historical truth, however, does not side with Pakistan on Kashmir. The exiting British Raj in 1947 had both the Muslim League and Indian National Congress sign off on the Indian Independence Act. This legislation simplified, or so everyone thought, the divvying up of British India into the sovereign republics of India and Pakistan.

Under said act, areas won outright by either Congress or the Muslim League in the 1945-1946 elections would go straight to India or Pakistan. Moreover, the 565 princely states of the Raj would choose their own masters through the Instruments of Accession.

Unfortunately, this transition did not go smoothly. Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir opted to mull his options before joining either country. His decision infuriated Pakistan's founding father Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who was convinced somehow that all Muslim-majority areas (princely or otherwise) would become part of Pakistan. No such clause existed in the Indian Independence Act.

Regrettably, Jinnah, a singular legal talent, then abandoned his lifelong devotion to the fine print. By sending a Pashtun tribal militia across the border into Kashmir, he forced Hari Singh's hand. The panicked Maharaja quickly ran to India for help and signed the Instrument of Accession, thereby formalizing his state's entry into the Indian federation.

Now, was this sequence of events ideal? Not at all. Was Hari Singh within his rights to throw his lot with India? Most assuredly. Some say Jinnah's testy relationship with Lord Mountbatten cost him Kashmir. Others say Jawaharlal Nehru schemed with the Viceroy to keep his beloved home state within the Indian dominion. Either way, the only evidence admissible in court is the Instrument itself.

The comedy of errors did not end here either. If Jinnah shot future Pakistan in the foot by trying to conquer Kashmir, India's socialist leader Nehru returned the favor by taking Kashmir to the UN Security Council. There he ran into a brick wall named the Cold War. America, the newly minted global sheriff and custodian of Christian capitalist values, suspected socialism was the gateway drug to ungodly Bolshevism.

Unsurprisingly, then, there was little sympathy for India's position and pro-Pakistan resolutions on Kashmir piled on from 1948 to 1971. It was only after the Soviet Union took India under its wings and started using the UNSC veto in the 1960s that the latter got some breathing room. However, this also meant that hitherto non-aligned India entered the Cold War on the Soviet side. This was not a particularly happy arrangement, as the recently declassified CIA report from 1985 confirms.

Pakistan's divine (or moral) case on Kashmir is tethered to Allama Iqbal's version of the Two-Nation Theory, a facetious idea for the time. Never before in history, nor since, has religion been solely responsible for the division of a landmass as huge as the Indian subcontinent. The Viceroy's office would surely have laughed out a lesser lawyer than Jinnah.

Nevertheless, an unfortunate byproduct of the Two-Nation Theory was that it wrongly imbibed a warrior-of-faith complex in the Pakistani populace. This led to the public being more passionate about the perils of Muslims abroad instead of focusing their energies on building Pakistan. Both Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Gen. Zia-ul-Haq expertly used pan-Islamism to start ultimately pointless wars.

"If the Hurriyat Conference and its constituents so chafe under Indian rule, why do they not move to Pakistan?"

There is, however, a more important facet of this theory that keeps getting lost in cross-border jingoism. If the Hurriyat Conference and its constituents so chafe under Indian rule, why do they not move to Pakistan?

Pakistan, after all, exists for all the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent and nowhere does it say that 1947 was the cutoff point on immigration. Also, considering the 65% voter turnout in the 2014 assembly elections, it seems the majority of Kashmiris have already made peace with living under India.

So what if the separatists have to leave their ancestral lands and homes behind? Did 8 million Muslim refugees not cross over into Pakistan from India in 1947, penniless and without shelter? All for a better life. Surely the Hurriyat leaders and partisans don't think they are better than the original Muhajirs?

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