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Asian Studies symposium on Kashmir

     I would like to bring to your attention a recent symposium on Kashmir
held at University of South Carolina on Oct. 25-26, 1994. This symposium
(titled: Kashmir- A Symposium---- resolving Regional Conflict) was held by
the Center for Asian Studies in cooperation with The Institute of Inter-
national Studies and the University of South Carolina; and featured 2 of
the top four noted academicians on Kashmir (Prof. Robert Wirsing of USC
and Prof. Joseph Schwartzberg of Univ. of Minnesota); as well as James
Clad (Senior Associate, Asia Pacific Policy Center), Ms. Patricia Gross-
man (Human Rights Watch, Asia), Prof. Miraj-ud Din Munshi (former proffesor 
of medicine, Srinagar Medical College), Ms. Neelam Deo, Indian Embassy &
Mr. Prakash Singh, recently retired director general of BSF (Indian dele-
gation) and Mr. Zamir Akram (Pakistan Embassy-Political)- in short, almost
all the people involved in the struggle in Kashmir. 

   The speech by Prof. Miraj-ud Din Munshi (I believe he works as an
assistant to Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai at KAO) was such a gross re-write of the
history of Kashmir that he was not taken seriously. He made absurd state-
ments such as: the Instrument of accession doesn't exist, that nobody
called the Indian army to help in Kashmir in 1947, that the HR abuses in
Kashmir would put Hitler & Goebbels to shame, that the KPs who were
murdered, were killed because they belonged to BJP etc. <the last state-
ment evoked questions from the panelists to the effect that, even if
this were true, does it justify their being murdered- a question for which
Mr. Munshi had obviously no answer), etc. While such statements might
impress the sort of crowd Dr. Fai usually works with, i.e. people with
zero knowledge about Kashmir; it was recognized by all the expert
panelists (these guys have a much more in-depth knowledge of Kashmir than
probably most of us Kashmiris) as an attempt at grand-standing. As a 
result of his speech, Prof. Miraj ud-Din Munshi lost all credibility, and 
nobody bothered "dialoging" with him. Dr. Sazawal's (of IAKF) speech 
(included at the end of this note), on the other hand, led to over 45 
minutes of discussion on the issue of homeland (Panun Kashmir with maps & 
all), initiated by Schwartzberg who had seen & heard of it during his 
trip to India last summer. Most of the panelists seemed to see IAKF's 
(i.e. Panun Kashmir's) stance as the most sensible one. 

	The Pakistani & muslim delegation's strategy was to try to paint
Panun Kashmir and Sazawal as communalists- a strategy which failed
completely. For example, one muslim lady got up from the Pakistani
delegation & introduced herself as an Indian muslim (married, presumeably,
to a Pakistani) and read out verses from the Koran showing Islamic
tolerance towards other religions etc. Dr. Sazawal took the opportunity of
praising her profusely and saying that this is precisely the sort of Islam
we hope to see in Kashmir and that we would love to have a continued
dialog with such open-minded people. And then, Dr. Sazawal took out one 
of the Allah Tiger banners and started reading the urdu slogan on it (I 
believe it was something to the effect: Kafiron baag jao, Kashmir mein 
jihad hoge, Kashmir mein rehna hai to Allah-u-Akbar kehna hai etc) and 
then told the crowd that it is this brand of fundamentalist Islam that 
must be stopped at all costs; and that KPs welcome peaceful muslims such 
as the one who had stood up. The Pakistani delegation was left red-faced. 

   A few more interesting tid-bits. Apparently Patricia Grossman (Asia
Watch) admits that the problem in Kashmir started in the early 70's as a
result of communalism of Kashmiri politics. This is a far cry from her
statements in the past, in which she contended that the problems in
Kashmir arose because of widespread cheating in 1987 elections. Another
interesting development was that one Mr. Anwar Khan from Azad Kashmir, who
had befriended Dr. Sazawal sometime back in London, passed on a large
number of booklets written by him and his people which he asked Vijay to
distribute to the Indian and Pakistani delegations. Apparently this book
describes the horrific treatment of Kashmiris, who have been made
second-class citizens in their own homes in the so-called Azad Kashmir
area. Mr. Anwar Khan claims that Pakistan is totally un-islamic in its
nature, as witnessed by its treatment towards the Kashmiris in the so-
called Azad Kashmir region. 

Rajender Razdan

Here is the text of Dr. Vijay Sazawal's speech:.............


                                  V.K. Sazawal

                National President, Indo-American Kashmir Forum

        The Past:

        I was 15 months old when tribals from  the  Northeast  Areas  and
        Pakistani  regular army, under the joint command of Maj. Gen. Ak-
        bar Khan, invaded Jammu and Kashmir (hereafter called Kashmir) in
        October  1947. As the news of the plunder, brutality and violence
        reached Srinagar where I lived with my family, my father  brought
        home  certain  capsules  from  the pharmacy that he owned, and he
        distributed them to everyone in the family. The only  all-weather
        road  out  of  Srinagar  had  already been seized by the invading
        hordes, and the only way out of the valley was by aircraft, which
        was accessible to only a few. The increasing uncertainity about a
        rescue from India, coupled with the horror stories  of  rape  and
        mutilation  in  a  Christian  convent  in  Baramulla, created un-
        paralled horror and panic among the minorities in  Srinagar,  and
        my  family  was  no  exception.  From October 23rd to the 27th in
        1947, my family was just one cyanide capsule from  self-inflicted
        death. My father later told me that he wanted us to die in digni-

               Fortunately, the Indian army finally arrived by air on the  
        27th of October and saved numerous lives,  including ours. Over a
        period of time, I grew up, got married and moved  to  the  United
        States. My parents, who aged gracefully in Kashmir, chose to stay
        there in spite of my repeated requests to settle  down  with  us.
        For  them,  it  was not merely a home where they grew up and knew
        everyone, it symbolized the very essence of their  existence  and
        spirit. Having a very rich cultural heritage that went back 5,000
        years in  an  uninterrupted  past,  they  saw  themselves  living
        amongst  their  ancestors,  bonded  forever to the place with its
        unique traditions and glorious  past.  When  the  current  mayhem
        started  in  Kashmir  in 1989, it was understandable why they did
        not leave the valley in spite of the Islamic zealots who targeted
        the  minority  Pandit  community.  Even  as  other  relatives and
        friends began to flee, my parents chose to stay in Kashmir think-
        ing  as aged retirees they posed no threat to anybody.  My father
        especially had good relations with the Muslims in  the  neighbor-
        hood  from  whom he bought his day to day provisions. One fateful
        day, on July 27, 1990, two young boys whom he recognized as chil-
        dren  of  one  of  the  local  store owners, knocked on his door.
        Thinking the brothers were running some errand, he let  them  in,
        only  to  be  confronted  with a demand for "protection money" in
        order to remain in his  own  home.  The  brothers  flashed  their
        handguns  and  promised to return the next day. The same night my
        parents fled with nothing more than the clothes they  were  wear-

                My father died as a broken man in the oppressive heat  of
        New Delhi in 1993. He never got over the fact that he, along with
        his peers, had been ethnically cleansed out of the  Kashmir  Val-
        ley.  He  wanted to stay close to his cultural roots, hoping that
        one day he would return to the  land  of  his  ancestors.  Unfor-
        tunately, that was not to be.

                The reason why I introduced my talk on a personal note is
        because  I  want all of you to realize that Kashmiri Pandits have
        been forsaken by one and all. Pakistan would like to claim  Kash-
        mir  on the basis of Muslims living in the state, forgetting that
        Kashmir has deep rooted Vedic heritage and even today  represents
        a  subset  of the cultural and religious diversity that exists in
        the entire subcontinent. India would like to claim  that  Kashmir
        is  a  test of its ideals as a secular nation, forgetting that in
        the process they made guinea pigs of the Pandits  among  a  reli-
        gious majority that could not be entrusted to govern responsibly.
        Sunni Muslims in Kashmir valley would like to claim independence,
        forgetting  that by themselves they occupy only 16 percent of the
        land and constitute about 40 percent of the population. The world
        press  keeps talking about the so-called third option, forgetting
        that the state already enjoys unprecedented  autonomy  under  the
        secular  Indian  Constitution, but lacks the theocratic fanaticsm
        that the "Azadi" seekers demand. If not challenged, Islamic  fer-
        vor  will  surely  turn Kashmir into another Iran or Afghanistan.
        And let me tell you, we do not want another Iran or  Afghanistan.
        The world does not need one more Iran or Afghanistan.

        The Future:

                So where do we go from here? After all,  no  solution  to
        the  Kashmir  problem  is final unless and until Kashmiri Pandits
        find their moorings back in  the  land  of  their  ancestors.  As
        aborigines  of Kashmir, who have suffered at the hands of Islamic
        warriors, they will demand, and they must demand, adequate  safe-
        guards  and  protections  so  that  past horrors are not repeated
        again. From a broader perspective, the geopolitics of the subcon-
        tinent demands recognition of new ground realities since the par-
        tition. It is not as much a case of ignoring  past  promises,  as
        much it is a case of understanding new challenges.

                Whether anyone realizes it or not, the central isues  for
        Kashmiris today are not unification and independence. The key is-
        sues that are stifling peace and prosperity in Kashmir are  reli-
        gious  extremism  and lack of democratization. The secular fabric
        that coated the Kashmiriyat once has been torn to shreds by grow-
        ing  Islamic  fundamentalism  on one side, and by a lack of human
        rights for most ethnic communities on the other. In  that  sense,
        the  situation is virtually identical on both sides of the cease-
        fire line today.

                The unification of Kashmir will not enhance the political
        and regional stability in the region, because:

        - The unification of the two regions will be a  death  knell  for
        the  minorities  in  the  region.  Even though the two regions of
        Kashmir under India and Pakistan have evolved differently in  the
        last  47  years,  the  two  are strikingly similar in the way the
        minorities have fared.  Pakistani  Kashmir  drove  out  all  non-
        Muslims decades back. Muzaffarabad, which had a significant Hindu
        population in 1946, is 100% Muslim today. Indian  Kashmir,  which
        retained  the  multi-religious  and  multi-ethnic character since
        partition, has steadily come  under  growing  Islamic  chauvinism
        resulting  in  ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from the val-

        - The unification of the state would  make  some  sense  only  if
        there is a possiblity of independence. That option does not exist
        in practical terms- neither the UN resolutions on Kashmir nor the
        surrounding  powers  (India,  Pakistan and China) are in favor of
        it. In most neighboring nations, the idea of independent  Kashmir
        is  perceived  as  a yet another Anglo-American plot to reclaim a
        replacement for Shah's Iran.

        - There is simply no way that either India or Pakistan  can  sur-
        vive  (both politically and metaphorically) if either was to part
        with Kashmir.

        - Finally, and perhaps the most important reason is  that  it  is
        not clear what benefits- economic, political or otherwise the in-
        dependence will bring to Kashmiris. Will we become the next Azer-
        baijan  or  Ukraine?   Independence does not necessarily mean im-
        provement. The reasons have to be more than emotional pledges  of
        leaders in the past. Ground realities today are vastly different.
        A case for independence has yet to be made.

                The "least damage option" out of the present tension  and
        strife  is  to  convert the line of actual control (LAC) into the
        international boundary between India and Pakistan. This will com-
        plete the partition of the subcontinent and will allow both India
        and Pakistan to claim ownership to some  part  (if  not  all)  of

                For Kashmiris, this will be a reality check since it does
        not take away anything from what exists today. On the other hand,
        more importantly than which side of the border they live, are the
        political,  cultural,  and human rights issues that have been ig-
        nored in the past.  Kashmiris on either side of the  border  must
        be allowed to exercise their basic rights freely.

                Therefore, the first order of business  is  to  encourage
        dialogue  between  the  various  communities in two Kashmirs (in-
        dependently) rather than a four-way dialogue  between  two  Kash-
        mirs, India and Pakistan.

                The intercommunity dialogue should be initiated  so  that
        each region can define the framework under which the constituents
        can exercise their political, economic,  religious  and  cultural
        rights  freely and unequivocally.  Protection of the human rights
        of minorities in each region must be guaranteed by specific  leg-
        islative  measures,  including  designation  of  geographic areas
        where various ethnic communities and minorities can exercise  in-
        fluence  and  create  the  critical  mass for their religious and
        economic security. In this regard, Panun Kashmir, a political or-
        ganization  of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, has asked for creation
        of a homeland to ensure that aborigines of Kashmir do not  become
        extinct  in their own land. Similarly, constituents in the North-
        ern Areas have asked for the transfer of administration authority
        from the government of Pakistan to the local government.

                The  regions  of  Kashmir,  independently,  should   then
        develop  new political framework recognizing the new demographics
        and power sharing. The central governments of India and  Pakistan
        should neither interfere in this process, nor exercise undue pre-
        judice or favoritism to any one community at the expense of  oth-
        ers. Once the intercommunity dialogue has met its objectives, the
        constituents of each Kashmir should enter into negotiations  with
        their  respective  central  governments to redefine the powers of
        the state within the federal union. However, the central  govern-
        ments  should ensure that the new political arrangements are fair
        to each ethnic region, while at the same time are  consistent  in
        character and structure with the federal constitutions of the two

                What I am proposing is an integrated and phased  approach
        to bringing peace and tranquility not only in Kashmir, but in the
        entire subcontinent. It consists of three discrete actions:

        (a) Convert the LAC into the international boundary; (b)  Conduct
        an intercommunity dialogue in each region of Kashmir independent-
        ly, that will define the political, economic and cultural balance
        between the diverse ethnic entities. Minority rights will require
        designation of ethnic enclaves to ensure religious protection and
        political  influence.   (c) Finally, negotiate new pacts with the
        respective central governments, consistent with  the  aspirations
        of the people in the two regions.

                The three steps that  I  have  presented  are  the  basic
        building  blocks for establishing long-term peace and tranquility
        in the subcontinent.  A process that promotes democratization  of
        the  two Kashmirs will eventually lead to a stage when the border
        crossings between the two regions will become routine.  The  hope
        is  that one day the border between the two Kashmirs will be like
        the boundary between U.S.A. and Canada.

                I believe this is the only plan that offers something  to
        everyone  involved,  recognizing  that  no one can get everything
        that they desire. the drive for such a compromise must come  from
        Kashmiris  themselves. Let the world know that inspite of our hu-
        man failings, we are generous and peace loving people. Let  Kash-
        mir become the symbol of peace in the new world order.

        Thank you.

        October 25, 1994.

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