The will of the people
‘Kashmiris have been denied their rights to determine their own future.’ Kashmir would prefer the creation of independent Kashmir state; ‘they are neither with India nor with Pakistan.’ (Krishna Pokarel, The Wall Street Journal).
It is good that the Western media has now accepted that the division of the subcontinent was a discriminatory one in which the right of Kashmiri people was denied at the time of partition. This is a positive development which should now mean that the matter can be resolved through a realistic approach and decisions which should be made in accordance with the will of Kashmiri people.
There are many voices for an independent Kashmir. And there has apparently been some positive change and flexibility in the Indian stance in this regard. But policymakers in Pakistan need to be wary – they will have to wait and see whether the change in stance is genuine or whether it is just another ploy to deceive Pakistan as well as Kashmiris.
Public opinion is of vital important for the states to make a decision. So, being a democratic state, Pakistan has to undergo a debate at a national level before opting for any decision on Kashmir. The slogan of ‘Kashmir Banay Ga Pakistan’ (‘Kashmir will become Pakistan’) that kept the blood of the Pakistani nation warm is now being cooled down, thanks to effective propaganda by the Western and Indian media.
I would suggest that the media in Pakistan must now play its part and dispel impressions projected by the foreign and Indian media. It can initiate a debate through print and electronic media whether or not independent Kashmir is in the interest of the region. If Pakistan goes for the option of an independent Kashmir, Pakistan will have to face several consequences. The trade route to Central Asia will be affected. India would be able to achieve its objective of dividing Pakistan further by creating ideological rifts within society like Greater Balochistan, Sindhu Desh, Pakhtunistan and Independent Kashmir. Secondly, and most importantly, Independent Kashmir may not favour Kashmiris themselves because they would still end up being dependent on either Pakistan or India.