Peace in South Asia requires unconditional talks between India and Pakistan

Moments after Pakistan released a captured IAF pilot, Prime Minister Modi declared — “A pilot project was just completed. The real project must be taken up now. The earlier one was just for practice.”

Ministers and TV news anchors are issuing provocative and inflammatory calls on a daily basis, threatening more aerial bombings of targets inside Pakistan.

Moments after Pakistan released a captured IAF pilot, Prime Minister Modi declared — “A pilot project was just completed. The real project must be taken up now. The earlier one was just for practice.”

Ministers and TV news anchors are issuing provocative and inflammatory calls on a daily basis, threatening more aerial bombings of targets inside Pakistan.

An extremely tense situation prevails at this time. The armed forces of India and Pakistan are mobilized on the border on full alert. There are daily incidents of firing across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir, in which civilians and soldiers on both sides have been killed or injured. The possibility of India and Pakistan getting drawn into a full-fledged destructive war cannot be ruled out.

Kashmir has been and remains the central bone of contention between India and Pakistan. It is one of the most militarized regions of the world. Over half the Indian Armed forces are stationed in Kashmir.

The problem of Kashmir has its root in the exit strategy of the British colonial rulers. It has its roots in the partition of India into two hostile powers on the basis of religion. At that time, Jammu & Kashmir was a princely state, in which the people were fighting against the oppressive and exploitative rule of the Maharaja. According to the terms of the partition agreement overseen by the British, Jammu & Kashmir could choose one of three options — to be part of Pakistan, part of India, or be an independent state.

In October 1947, Kashmir was forcibly partitioned between Pakistan and India following the first war between the two countries. The Government of India signed an agreement of accession with the Maharaja, giving special status to Jammu & Kashmir within the Indian Union. In parliament, the then Prime Minister Nehru promised a plebiscite (a referendum), in which the entire people of Jammu & Kashmir could determine their own political fate. The Government of India repeated this commitment in the UN General Assembly.

The commitment of the Indian ruling class to the people of Jammu & Kashmir has never been honored. Despite Article 370 of the Constitution providing for special status to Jammu & Kashmir, the people of this state have been under central control and army rule for most of the past 72 years.

Neither the rulers of India nor those of Pakistan have ever accepted the principle that the people of the undivided Jammu & Kashmir have the right to determine their own destiny, free from outside interference. They have dealt with the Kashmir problem as a territorial dispute between the two neighbouring states, to be settled by the force of arms. Such an approach has enabled foreign powers such as Britain and the US to continue to manipulate the situation in their own favour, to keep South Asia divided and weak.

The Anglo-American imperialists have always eyed Kashmir as a region of strategic importance, for retaining their domination in South Asia. In 1947, they manipulated the governments of India and Pakistan, and the Maharaja of Kashmir, to partition Kashmir. They thereby ensured that the two countries remain caught in a never ending conflict over Kashmir. Since that time, they have played India and Pakistan against each other, now appearing to support one, and now the other, in pursuit of their own aim of dominating the whole of Asia.

By keeping India and Pakistan perpetually at logger heads with each other, the Anglo-American imperialists want to ensure that the peoples of South Asia do not break free from the imperialist system. They want to use India and Pakistan to advance their imperialist aims towards other countries of Asia, including Russia, China and Iran.

During the period of the bipolar division of the world, the United States used Pakistan as a military base to encircle the Soviet Union. Pakistan was part of the war mongering SEATO and CENTO military alliances aimed at establishing American domination of South East Asia and West Asia. India signed a military treaty with the Soviet Union. With Soviet support, India intervened in the liberation struggle of the Bengali people in East Pakistan to create the independent state of Bangladesh. Both India and Pakistan became entangled in the rivalry between the two superpowers and in their nefarious efforts to manipulate and sabotage the anti-imperialist and liberation struggles of the peoples of Asia.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the bi-polar division of the world, the US imperialists have replaced their old slogan of fighting the “communist menace” by the new slogan of “war against terrorism”. They have used Pakistan and some other countries as bases to finance, train, arm and set into motion numerous terrorist groups. These terrorist groups, mobilized to fight in the name of Islam, have been deployed against Russia, India, China and many other countries, including Pakistan. These terrorist groups have been used to destabilize various countries, to provoke state repression and thus justify military intervention and regime change. US imperialism has justified armed aggression, occupation and destruction of many countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria in the name of waging “war against terrorism”.

In recent years, sections of the ruling circles of Pakistan have been openly admitting that it was a grave mistake to have collaborated militarily with the US in the past. They have admitted that Pakistan had allowed the US to set up terrorist groups in its country to destabilize other countries. There is widespread public recognition within Pakistan that participating in the US war in Afghanistan was a blunder. People are demanding that the government take action against terrorist groups operating in the country. They want Pakistan to break its ties with the US. They are demanding that the Pakistani government strive for peaceful relations with India.

An excellent opportunity exists for India and Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue, including the question of the national rights of the Kashmiri people, and the question of terrorism. India and Pakistan are both spending enormous resources in maintaining their massive armed forces. Lasting peace between India and Pakistan will ensure that precious resources which are being diverted towards militarization and war can be deployed towards ensuring prosperity and security for the people of both countries.

The Kashmir problem is a political problem which requires a political solution. It requires that the states of India and Pakistan both accept the right of the Kashmiri people to determine their own destiny.

Those who equate the struggle of the Kashmiri people for their national rights with terrorism, and justify state terrorism unleashed by the armed forces on this basis, are not contributing to a solution of this problem. The terrorism of underground groups and the policy of state terrorism are both roadblocks to solving the problem.

India and Pakistan both need to work together for a democratic solution to the Kashmiri people’s struggle for reunification and for their national rights. Peaceful and friendly relations between India and Pakistan is a necessary condition for this to happen. It is also true that there can be no lasting peace between India and Pakistan unless the Kashmir problem is resolved.

Those who look towards the US for help in solving the problems between India and Pakistan are extremely shortsighted. The strategy of US imperialism is a big part of the problem. It cannot be any part of the solution. US imperialism wants to keep India and Pakistan at permanent loggerheads with each other.

At the present time, as part of its Pivot to Asia policy, the US is building military strategic alliances to encircle China, isolate Russia, and carry out regime change in Iran. The US imperialists are egging on the Indian state to join its military strategic alliances.

The Indian ruling class, fueled by its own imperialist ambitions of becoming the dominant power in Asia, is hoping to achieve its aim through a military-strategic alliance with the US. It is unwilling to learn the lesson that Pakistan has learnt from following this path.

Time to overcome the bitter legacy of partition

In both India and Pakistan, children are taught from birth that the people of the other country are their biggest enemy. Communal poison is instilled into our people on a daily basis by the ruling class in both countries. This serves the ruling class of both our countries to smash people’s unity and to divert us from seeking a solution to our problems.

It is time to overcome this bitter legacy of partition. The starting point is to recognize that it is not the people of India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh who wanted the partition of our motherland. This partition was the work of the Anglo-American imperialists.

Instead of trying to overcome the legacy of partition, the Indian ruling class and its main political parties keep spewing communal poison and inciting hatred against the people of Pakistan. The people of India have to oppose this course. Use of force to deal with political and social problems must be opposed, as a matter of principle.

The Kashmiri people are demanding their national rights and an end to state terrorism. The Indian state must stop dealing with the Kashmiri people as a law and order problem and address their longstanding demands.

Both India and Pakistan must stop using terrorism as a tool of state policy. They must dismantle the apparatus and instruments of terrorism. Both India and Pakistan must stop their military intelligence collaboration with US and not allow the CIA to use their territories to launch terrorist attacks.

The Indian government must break its military strategic relationship with the United States, and work for lasting peace in South Asia.

The Indian state must agree to unconditional talks with Pakistan on all outstanding problems, including terrorism and the national rights of the Kashmiri people.

These are the essential conditions for safeguarding peace in South Asia and finding lasting solutions to the problems of all the peoples of this region.

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