Solving Kashmir, is this the road to Indo-Pak peace?
“The day the Kashmir issue gets resolved is the day the Pak Army loses its relevance.”
To understand this, one needs to understand the ethos of Pakistan, as a state. Pakistan is ideological in nature, based on the two nation theory that a permanent minority of Muslims in a united India would lead to a defacto Hindu dominated democracy. Hence the need for Pakistan, an autonomous home land for Muslims.
A casual glance at the history of IndoPak ties which include the various standoffs, border buildups and skirmishes, proves ‘Kashmir’ as a territorial dispute has been at the epicentre of most of the issues. In fact, most people assume India and Pakistan have fought 3 wars over Kashmir namely ’65, ’71 and Kargil. They seem to overlook the fourth war that was fought right after independence when Pakistan sent in Mujahideen and successfully retained what is now referred to as Azad Kashmir or POK.
Its safe to say Kashmir has been a subject of much disagreement, contemplation and debate. Indian and Pakistani news channels often feature guests, defence and security analysts and politicians, debating current issues against the backdrop of Kashmir. Their take on the matter is, ‘Solve Kashmir and there shall be peace.’
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Armies usually belong to countries. Where as in Pakistan’s case, the country belongs to the Army. Even a casual look at the way Pakistan’s foreign affairs decisions are made makes it amply clear that nothing moves in the country without the explicit consent of the Army top brass. The Pak Army has its fingers in a lot of pies including the corporate world with Fauji Foundation, a company that employs army veterans and operates in some very lucrative business areas, like agriculture.
Pakistan’s Army has always kept itself relevant and will continue to do so. Kashmir is at the epicentre of that ‘relevance.’ The day the Kashmir issue gets resolved is the day the Pak Army loses its relevance. And that is something the Pak Army cannot afford to lose. It’s ‘relevance.’
The Pak Army, unlike the Indian Army or any other conventional army for that matter, operates on the threat perception of the Pakistani people in general. Keep the threat of extremist elements within and a hostile India in the East alive and the army will hold on to its ‘relevance.’
Kashmir as an issue is an integral part of the ‘hostile India’ threat perception the Pakistan Army has kept alive among its people. The sooner the populations of both these countries, Kashmir included, understand this, we can move on to worrying about the more important challenges facing our countries.