The current situation in Kashmir is highly unfortunate, to say the least. All we hear each and every day is about unrest, deaths, and humiliation. Whenever we read about Kashmir, the word Plebiscite always comes across our mind.
PLEBISCITE V/S REFERENDUM
To put it into simple words, Plebiscite means that the people of a state or country will vote whether a particular decision should be taken or not but it isn’t binding on the government. It is more of voicing your opinion against the current government.
A referendum is a vote by the people which is binding on the government and isn’t favourable at all.
Plebiscite has often been termed as one of the ongoing solutions in strife-torn state. India has rightly opposed it vehemently while Pakistan’s demand for it never ends. The question of the referendum doesn’t even arise.
PROPOSED BY INDIA, REJECTED BY PAKISTAN
Fighting on this issue since decades, it is interesting to note that the idea of Plebiscite was first proposed by Nehru which was rejected by Pakistan. The worst strategic mistake ever committed by Pakistan.
The idea of plebiscite came up from the equally dire situation at Junagarh during independence where tension had reached its highest peak due to differences between the people and the Maharaja on whether to side with India or Pakistan or remain an independent state.
The then PM of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan had agreed to ponder over the proposal but Jinnah opposed it since the proposal included Hyderabad as well where plebiscite was also supposed to take place. He was against any sort of such measure being undertaken in Hyderabad.
A WIN- WIN AGREEMENT
India and Pakistan never came close to agreeing over Kashmir until the deadlock was almost broken in 2007. A win-win agreement was almost signed between Musharraf and Manmohan only to fall apart.
In the words of Satinder K Lambah, Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy,
“We had agreed to the reduction of military troops, not paramilitary and that was subject to Pakistan ensuring an end to hostilities, violence and terrorism. That was a major prerequisite. There was no timeline by which the agreement was to be signed. The only time limit was that terrorism must end,”
Everything was derailed due to the political unrest in Pakistan which led to the removal of Musharraf and most importantly, the Mumbai Attacks in 2008 built an even bigger wall of distrust between the two neighbouring countries.
INDIA CANNOT GIVE UP KASHMIR
There are obvious reasons for India to not give up Kashmir since historically and emotionally, “Kashmir is an integral part of India”. On top of that, National security is of prime importance.
A major chunk of Pakistan’s water and a small part of India’s originates in Kashmir. The control and maintenance of these waters are of prime importance. The mountains of Kashmir forms a defensible border against any form of land based invasion.
Can Kashmir stand as an independent state? The answer is probably no. It cannot function peacefully as a singular state between two giant countries who will now and then try to grab hold of it.
It is a no-brainer that India isn’t going to give up Kashmir nor Pakistan is going to stop interfering in the day to day affairs of Kashmir. No one knows the future. We only wish and pray that terrorism should end and that there should be pencils instead of stones and guns in the hands of children of Kashmir.
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