India’s traditional policy is handling all issues with Pakistan “bilaterally”. What has it achieved in the past two decades? Let us think out of the box and see if there is another route to solve the problems. You cannot carry on losing our armed forces personnel to terrorists’ actions. Trump has not learned the boundaries of what to say and what not to say in public. He is a man who walked into the White House from the Corporate Board Room where he was the owner of his business empire. He has not learned the finer points of holding a political office and he utters words and sentences without thinking or whetting with his counsels.
Many people like Trump, abroad and even within India, must be of the opinion that although these two countries keep saying that it is a bilateral issue, they have been unable to solve it bilaterally. So, where is the harm in a strong, well-meaning mutual friend coming to the table and mediating between the two? Pakistan had foolishly thought that it will be able to arm-twist India through terror. It now knows that it has failed.
India under Vajpayee had thought that buses will carry loads of goodwill between the two countries and everything will gradually become normal and pleasant. That too has failed. Narendra Modi is on a trip of his own ever since the surgical strikes. He thinks that by successfully sealing the borders to stop Pakistani terrorists from coming in, which Indian forces have almost completely done successfully, and by crushing the local resistance by force, India will be able to ward off any Pakistani stake in the region and completely own the territory for itself and confuse the demography of the valley by pushing in scores of rich Hindu families from other parts of the country over a period of time.
This ambition of Modi has met with resentment from the Kashmiris and threatens to snowball into a movement the kind of which was never seen before – that of trying to free that land from the dominion of India. An indirect test of the mood is single-digit percentage participation of the Muslims of the valley in any elections held there during the BJP presence at the Centre in last few years. Earlier on, even under terrorist threats, this participation used to be more than 50 per cent. Despite the boycott calls by the separatists, people did participate in the elections enthusiastically.
So, what was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, is now threatening to become, with Pakistan effectively sealed off, a bilateral issue between India and India’s own population in the Kashmir valley. This is likely to raise human rights violations on a very large scale. And this is what any person with humanity in his heart will want to resist or protest against that entire person’s might. Such persons can be found in foreign lands or even within India. In the name of goodness, Kashmiris should not suffer indignity or live under mortal fear as they are apparently doing now. I personally see nothing wrong if Trump or other well-meaning parties step in to mediate. What is the meaning of “Vasudev Kutumbkam” otherwise? When strong powerful nations can’t talk on unresolved issues for 70 years, perhaps mediation is necessary. Is mediation a permanent solution to end Kashmir problem?
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)