ONE AND A HALF EDENS

The Tribune

By FS Aijazuddin

Even after 70 years, Kashmir, a withered paradise, is ensnared in conflict

GOD created one-and-a-half Edens — one in Switzerland and a half in Kashmir.  On both, he bestowed ineffable natural beauty. The Swiss have remained neutral for centuries, yet even today Swiss adult men are required to undergo national service. The closest the Swiss get to militarism is when they don fancy dress to protect the Pope in the Vatican.
The Kashmiris can never remember a time when they were not in a state of militant insecurity –— from the time Kashmir was bought by Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu in 1846 (that timely purchase propelled him to becoming Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir), through the rapacious dissection in 1948, to the present situation, where India and Pakistan tug like two tenacious mothers, each claiming maternity of the same child before a somnolent Solomon. King Solomon died at the age of 60.
The United Nations, even after 70 years, has yet to pass a judgment on the Kashmir dispute.Numerous books have been written on Kashmir since 1948, almost as many as the bullets and blinding pellets shot over that same period. “Books, at best, provide information, not answers”, former RAW chief AS Dulat commented in his book Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years  (2015). He added, derisively: “The Kashmiri rarely speaks the truth to you because he feels that you are lying to him. Brajesh Mishra (National Security Adviser, 1998-2004) was right when he said the only thing straight in Kashmir is the poplar tree.”The Sikh columnist Tavleen Singh’s view has been more charitable. She believes that while Sikhs look for causes to fight for, “Kashmiris are not naturally belligerent; [they] have always prided themselves on being non-violent.” She accepts the explanation that when “you live amid such extraordinary natural beauty, it is hard to be angry with life.” Yet it was anger and frustration that in February 1990 brought out 4,00,000 Kashmiris to protest outside the offices on the United Nations Military Observer Group (UNMOGIP) in Srinagar.
The demonstrators demanded implementation of the UN resolution No 47 and subsequent understandings. The UNMOGIP officials — Victoria Schofield mentions in her book Kashmir in the Crossfire (1996) — “were obliged to point out that their presence in the Valley was only to monitor the Line of Control”. Thus spake the blue-helmeted Solomon. On June 14, 2018, another United Nations organ — the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) — secreted a report on human rights violations in Kashmir between June, 2016, and April, 2018. It comes too late. That disputed child is already a battle-scarred, war-weary 70-year-old, too tired to swallow the pap of such verbiage. 
Lord Shiva on Mount Kailash could have written the OHCHR report with his third eye closed. It confesses at its outset that “without unconditional access to Kashmir on either side of the Line of Control, the OHCHR has undertaken remote monitoring of the human rights situation. This first report on the situation of human rights in both Indian-administered Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir is based on such monitoring.” The 49-page report ends with 23 recommendations —16 addressed to India and seven to Pakistan.
Both complainants will find a reason to crow and cause to cavil. Neither will take it seriously enough to convert into government action. Its 25,851 words are wasted paper pellets. They make pitiable headstones to the memory of over 47,000 plus unnecessary martyrs in both Kashmirs. Wasn’t it Yeats who wrote: “Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart. O, when may it suffice?”      
The writer is a Pakistan-based historian