Working Papers

A J&K Primer: From Myth to Reality

Indian Research Press

March 3, 2007

Jammu and Kashmir is a contentious and emotional issue that has beenwith us since Independence. It has two aspects.The first is internal, concerning relations between the people of J&K and the Indian State. The other is external and entails Pakistan’s aggressive role in the matter that India took to the UN Security Council on January 1,1948.The people of J&K are obviously an interested party but not a third party.

After years of trial and tribulation, a peace process is under way with the people of J&K as well as with Pakistan. At this juncture it is necessary to be clear about the background, sequence of errents, issues in contention and related matters.With the passage of time, there is danger of basic facts being ignored or forgotten. Myth has tended to obscure reality.

Any enduring settlement must rest on facts, not sentiment and emotion, though these cannot be altogether ignored. Pakistan and some sections of the international community have their own perceptions about the Kashmir Question. For influential elements in the West, this was driven by cold war considerations and Pakistan’s role as a”frontline state” from the early 1950s, which in some ways remains a continuing reality. Inconvenient facts were expendable. However, perceptions matter and it is therefore important that misperceptions and imagined truths do not cloud debate and projected solutions, howsoever reasonable.

India stands on firm ground, though mired in some of its own follies. It has been singularly inept in presenting its case from the very start, only to have the discourse and attendant vocabulary hijacked by others to its own discomfiture.

Yet it is in India’s highest interest to end this sorry chapter and bring the J&K question to a just and honourable resolution that accommodates legitimate points of view. It must therefore be generous and prepared to make concessions. However, it will find it difficult to convince its interlocutors at home and abroad about the merits and reasonableness of its stance unless the cobwebs are swept away.

Some will say that rehearsing the past will tead to recrimination and thereby vitiate the climate of goodwill and trust that alone can move the peace process forward. On the other hand, talks will go nowhere unless there is clarity about what precisely one is discussing and there is a common point of departure.

This J&K Primer is intended to educate ordinary people everywhere about the basics of the Jammu and Kashmir question and to put various events and issues in contexl. It does not purport to be an elaborate political history of J&K or a scholarly critique of the issue.Nor does it seek to indulge in barren polemics; rather, it aims to present a series of snapshots that tell the central story of J&K post-1947. Pakistani and UN references have been cited in preference to Indian or other sources in order more convincingly to sweep away the humbug that underlies much contention.

The degree of ignorance about J&K in both India and Pakistan, and around the world, is quite astonishing. Literature about the beginnings of the conflict in 1947 is not easily available in India today and much discourse and even policy making appears to rest on mere say-so and self-serwing narratives. There is as much to unlearn as to learn. India’s motto is Satyameve Jayate. This Primer is immodestly designed to lend Truth a helping hand.

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