The Kashmir conundrum continues to haunt the people of the region as well as the world, since it is a flashpoint between the two nuclear weapons equipped States - Pakistan and India.

This is a legacy of the British Raj and an unfinished agenda of the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. India illegally occupied the valley of Kashmir, negating the Independence Act of 1947. Pakistan and India went to war in 1947-48, which allowed the former to liberate some of the territory, but New Delhi approached the UN and secured a ceasefire. After deliberations, the UN passed Resolutions 37, 39, 47 and 51, which dictated that a plebiscite would be held in Kashmir permitting the people to decide their own fate. India agreed to abide by the resolutions, but later reneged. This resulted in the 1965 and the 1971 Pak-India wars, but the fate of Kashmiris did not change.

In 1989, the Kashmiris decided to take matters into their own hands that led to an armed revolt, which the Indians have been trying to crush through the use of brute force. Over 700,000 soldiers were deployed in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK), who have over the past 23 years martyred more than 100,000 innocent people, raped women and torched homes, shops and orchards, while thousands of Kashmiri youth are incarcerated. What’s worse is that India has tried to misrepresent the just freedom struggle as insurgency.

The world is aghast at the nuclear flashpoint, but has not interceded for the Kashmiris because of India’s clout and manoeuvre. President Barack Obama had promised to help resolve the Kashmir issue in his election campaign. However, after occupying the office of presidency, suffered a memory lapse over the sensitive subject owing to US overtures to India. So much so that during his visit to India in 2010, he was presented with a request signed by 4,500 prominent Kashmiri leaders, and the US and British parliamentarians urging India to resolve the Kashmir issue, but their appeal fell on deaf ears.

To rub salt into the wound, Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, an ardent supporter of the Kashmiri cause and an American citizen of Kashmiri origin, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at India’s behest on July 19, 2011. He was charged with accepting funds from Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, which is an attempt to silence an innocent promoter of the Kashmir cause in the USA.

Pakistan has been providing diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris, which is not based on emotional ties alone, but derives strength from cold logic. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had called Kashmir the “jugular vein of Pakistan”. Since most of its rivers, especially those running through the breadbasket of Punjab originate from Kashmir, it was imperative that Pakistan controlled the disputed valley. Soon India started dictating terms on Pakistan’s waters till Islamabad managed to sign the Indus Waters Treaty with New Delhi in 1960, under the aegis of the World Bank.

Resultantly, the State retained the use of waters in Jhelum, Chenab and Indus, but relinquished Sutlej, Beas and Ravi to India. Being a lower riparian, Pakistan is at a disadvantage specifically with India building illegal dams and reservoirs on the Western rivers. It is a point of caution that while Pakistan is pressing for a solution of the Kashmir conundrum, it must be mindful of the geographical and demographic realities.

Pakistan cannot afford to lose control of its Western rivers too, if the Indus Waters Treaty is to be revised and India may get decisions in its favour. Thus, the solution to the Kashmir imbroglio has numerous pitfalls, which must be avoided and prudent steps must be taken to safeguard Pakistan’s interests.

    The writer is a political and defence analyst.

    Email: sultanm.hali@gmail.com