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Washington’s New Offer And New Delhi’s Response

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Kashmir: Truman to Trump

By

Z. G. Muhammad

A few days earlier to Nehru’s death in May 1964  he had shown an inclination towards departing from his straitjacket ‘Procrastination Policy and Diplomacy’  about the Kashmir Dispute by sending Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as his envoy on an exploratory mission to Islamabad for meeting the President of Pakistan.  Perhaps, at this stage after the 1962 India-China War, which had made Nehru bid adieu to his “nonaligned policy” he had realized that the procrastination diplomacy leads nowhere. It is a dream killer- killer of dreaming of permanent peace and stability in the South- Asian region needed for the prosperity of a developing nation like India.

Thirteen Prime Ministers from different political parties after his death came to power in India. Nonetheless, for all the Prime Ministers, despite some of them vowing to exorcise India of Nehru’s bad policies including so-called ‘Fabien Socialism’ his procrastination policy that included wriggling out of the commitments before the comity of nations and refusing third party mediation continued to be their bible on Kashmir. Since Nehru’s death New Delhi foreign policy has undergone a paradigm shift. Now it is of only of archival value nonetheless, what has not changed is his Kashmir policy.

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump took the oath of office as 45th President of the United States. For his interpersonal relation and good chemistry with Prime Minister, Narendra Damodardas Modi, most of the television channels in New Delhi and Mumbai were abuzz with jubilation.  Donald Trump during his 76 days in the White House, explicitly showed his keenness for resolving the Kashmir Dispute. That many of his predecessors in the office had seen as a gateway to peace not only in volatile Afghanistan but to the whole of South Asia. Moreover, there have been debates in some international think-tanks about the Kashmir Dispute having the potential of ‘converting the region into a theater of a ‘new cold war’ and a nuclear flashpoint.  The first time after his victory, Trump showed his willingness to play personally a role for addressing and finding a solution to the outstanding problem in the region in his telephonic conversation with Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. Initially,   the veracity of the conversation was doubted and later on it was   dismissed as off the cuff talk.  Donald Trumps’ interested in Kashmir was subtly confirmed in his interview by Mike Pence, Vice President to theB.B.C in reply to a specific question on mediating resolution of Kashmir. He said, “But I think you’re also going to see an energetic leadership in the world, prepared to engage and to look for ways that he can bring those extraordinary deal-making skills to bear on lessening tensions and solving problems in the world.” Notwithstanding, a lot of hullabaloo in media about Pakistan making the transcript of the conversation of Trump with Sharif public, it was in tune with his remarks during the election campaign when he had said “Kashmir is a very hot tinderbox… but I can fix it”.  Past week US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley sounded more categorical in her press conference about the Trump administration intending to play a role in deescalating the tension over Kashmir between to South-Asian neighbors. Living up to the Nehruvian policy of procrastination, New Dehli sharply reacted to the Trump Administration’s proposition and rejected it.

Since the day Nehru’s initiative in 1948, had caused the United Nations Security Council to pass many a resolution guaranteeing the right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir the United States has been at the center of the Dispute. These resolutions called for holding of a plebiscite for deciding the future of the State.    ‘In April 1949, after the United Nations sent UNCIP’s memorandum to  Government of India and Pakistan for the appointment of an arbitrator for resolving the difference regarding holding of a plebiscite in the state. President Truman and British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee issued parallel appeals to the two governments urging them to accept Commissions’ proposal. Nehru, who at the time had close ties with the Soviet Union outrightly rejected the appointment of an Amercian as an arbitrator.’

 From the passing of the first resolution by the UNSC, the United State’s stated policy on Kashmir problem was the implementation of these resolutions in letter and spirit. Nevertheless, the Soviet veto over Kashmir made Washington look for a solution to the problem outside the United Nations through mediation. From the fifties every US president offered to mediate.  John F Kennedy, who was friendly to India,  first offered to direct meditation resolve to the Kashmir problem. Then in a note to Nehru and Ayub Khan, he suggested Mr. Eugene Black as mediator. ‘Mr. Eugene had earned an enviable reputation by successfully ‘untying the intricate knot of the canal waters dispute.’ President Kennedy’s note did not evoke a positive response from Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. But, these efforts did kickstart eight a few rounds of talks between Swaran-Singh and Bhutoo. Had, India’s Kashmir policy not been captive of Nehru’s procrastination diplomacy, the problem would have been long before settled amicably.

Of all the Prime Ministers,  Atal Bihari Vajpayee despite bureaucratic mindset in New Delhi continuing to be a prisoner of the Nehruvian procrastination diplomacy was interested in breaking the straitjacket policy. Despite odds, he had made himself amenable to the outside initiatives, more particularly from Washington for addressing outstanding disputes with Pakistan. In 2003,  he did not take an umbrage when US-UK issued an unprecedented joint statement calling upon India-Pakistan for resolving ‘outstanding differences, including Kashmir.’ Instead in his speech in April 2003, he extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan. Followed by US Secretary of State, Colin Powell facilitating an ice-breaking conversation between Prime Ministers of the two countries. That graduated into   Composite Dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad- and if one believes then NSA, the dialogue had shown substantial results.

The Nehurian policy of shutting doors on friendly countries for helping in sorting out the Kashmir  problem  has not worked in the past and it is not going to help in future. Instead of turning down the offer of mediation on Kashmir by Washington, New Delhi need’s to come out of  the cold war mindset and welcome third party mediation.

. This would be a way forward for resolving sixty nine year old dispute that has caused three wars between India and Pakistan and continues to threaten peace in the region.

Published in Greater Kashmir 10-04-2oo4

Filed under: Editor's Take, Featured, Kashmir-Talk, Point of view

  • Qayum Tariq Khan

    Third party mediation means nothing and has no future as long as one party is dishonest in his commitments to the people in question and the world community in general.
    Since 1948, as you have very beautifully and chronologically delineated the sequence of international efforts to resolve the kashmir problem by all means including third party mediation. All along during these long sixty nine years all efforts yielded ZERO results. Three wars already fought and fourth is in pipe line that Trumph administration feels very likely at anytime even on a trivial matters. Reason why Nicky Haly sounded warning while saying that America needs to mediate before it is too late. The reply of Indian foreign office termed kashmir dispute bilateral issue which evidently manifests that there is no change in the political temperament in new Delhi despites the changed international political dynamics , in which analyst are of the opinion that in coming ten to fifteen years there is probability of emergence of burnt headed pro fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan threatening not only the peace and stability of Indian sub continent but equally Iran and other central Asian countries. Thus, as Nicky Haly said we shall not wait the deteoraration of situation to solve the problem, Kashmir.
    It is high time for the countries of Indian sub continent mainly India and Pakistan to resolve Kashmir problems to face jointly with greater cooperation the future challenges coming from defeated minds of fundamentalists, both Hindu and Muslim.
    History is witness of the fact that you can’t keep hanging indefinitely great human problems mainly when they are political in nature, character and content.

    • Zahid G Muhammad

      Please do see debate on the Facebook

  • Qayum Tariq Khan

    Third party mediation means nothing and has no future as long as one party is dishonest in his commitments to the people in question and the world in general.
    Since 1948, as you have very beautifully and chronologically delineated the sequence of international efforts to resolve the kashmir problem by all means including third party mediation. All along during these long sixty nine years all efforts yielded ZERO results. Three wars already fought and fourth is in pipe line that Trumph administration feels very likely at anytime even on a trivial matters. Reason why Nicky Haly sounded warning while saying that America needs to mediate before it is too late. The reply of Indian foreign office termed kashmir dispute bilateral dispute which evidently manifests that there is no change in the political temperament in new Delhi despites the changed international politics dynamics , in which analyst are of the opinion that in coming ten to fifteen years there is probability of emergence of burnt headed pro fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan threatening not only the peace and stability of Indian sub continent but equally Iran and other central Asian countries. Thus, as Nicky Haly said we shall not wait the deteoraration of situation to solve the problem, Kashmir.
    It is high time for the countries of Indian sub continent mainly India and Pakistan to resolve Kashmir problems to face jointly with greater cooperation the future challenges coming from defeated minds of fundamentalists, both Hindu and Muslim.
    History is witness if the fact that you can’t keep hanging indefinitely great human problems mainly when they are political in nature, character and content.

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