Kashmir dispute not territorial but clash of pride, identity: NYT
New York, May 19: TheGovernment of India’s decision of implementing a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir for the month of Ramadan could be the start of the dialogue between India and Pakistan only if the latter “stops its support for Islamist terrorist groups in Kashmir”, The New York Times wrote in its editorial on Saturday.
“A solution to a conflict that touches on so many religious and nationalist nerves must ultimately come from within, through talks among India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir,” read the editorial ‘A Long Shot in Kashmir’.
The NYT said the Kashmir dispute has long ceased being purely territorial, which might be amenable to a practical solution, and has deepened into a zero-sum clash of national pride and identity, made all the more “intractable by the rise of Islamist passions among young Muslim Kashmiris”.
“It may be too much to expect either side to surrender territorial claims on Kashmir, but India’s Ramadan olive branch, however inauspicious, could become the start of a sorely needed dialogue if Pakistan responds by at least suspending its support for Islamic terrorist groups in Kashmir,” the editorial read.
Welcoming the ceasefire move, NYT said that it requires a “strong leap of faith to expect that the break, if it holds, can achieve anything resembling a peace process.”
Pointing out that the ceasefire was sought by J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, the NYT said that she had found herself “increasingly isolated” since her political alliance with India’s dominant party, the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, “has failed to lower violence”.
Referring to the unsuccessful iron-hand policy the forces tried in Kashmir, the newspapers said: “It was an age-old story: Heavy-handed tactics may hold territory, but they lose the population.”
“A solution to a conflict that touches on so many religious and nationalist nerves must ultimately come from within, through talks among India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. They have tried before, but contacts in 2008 collapsed when Islamist terrorists staged a series of bloody attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai. A promising meeting in December 2015 between Mr. Modi and Nawaz Sharif, who was then Pakistan’s prime minister, came to nothing when Islamist militants attacked an Indian Air Force base,” the editorial read.
It said that border skirmishes along the heavily armed Line of Control dividing Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir are common.
“With India and Pakistan both in possession of nuclear arms, former President Bill Clinton once called the border ‘the most dangerous place in the world’. On Friday, despite Ramadan, a fierce exchange of fire between border posts left eight civilians dead,” it said.
The NYT supported the United States’ intervention in the issue.
“Given the magnitude of what’s at stake, Washington and other affected powers should do all they can to encourage all sides to give this opening a chance,” it said.