Dawood is not in Pakistan

Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar is not in Pakistan.

Yes that is right. And the same holds true for Maulana Masood Azhar. These gents are either not in Pakistan or they are not terrorists. Somehow, with all evidence to the contrary, the Pakistan government finds it easy to make these statements.

We live in a funny world; there are so many things that are obvious,, but somehow these politicians are able to deny them. With a straight face too !

I ran into this piece by Dilip D’Souza yesterday on how to deal with the Kashmir issue. I am a fan of Dilip for the simple reason that he offers a different viewpoint to every situation. I like the simple way he thinks and, more importantly, expresses himself.

Coming to the piece, there were points which I just could not digest.:

You might say, this is a state desperate for change, desperate for good news, desperate for peace, desperate to find a way to unlock its great potential. How will Kashmiris find their own optimism and new confidence?

Fresh thinking, new ideas, that’s how. I believe that we have held on to old baggage in Kashmir for just too long. It has left us the bloody stalemate that state has suffered for years now.

Time for a change. Time, I believe, for a simple thought that the singer Sting once expressed like this: “If you love someone, set them free.” With Kashmir, put it this way: “If you want to keep Kashmir, set it free.”

Less eloquent than Sting, but it works. Meaning, the way to keep Kashmir is to give Kashmiris the choice to leave.

The idea that Dilip proposes is to allow a referendum in Kashmir (both Indian and Pakistan held parts) and let the people decide.

The problem is, we have this simplistic view of “Kashmiris”. I do not know who this term refers to these days: does it refer to the Hurriyat and its band of brothers? does it refer to the seperatists (LoT, Jaish-e-Mohhamad et al) supported by Pakistan ? does it refer to the majority muslim populace living in the state, or does it refer to the displaced Kashmiri Pandits, the Sikhs and other such ?

The last 60 years of strife in the state have so clearly drawn the battle lines here that it is almost impossible now to go back to square one. In a way, Dilip is right. The conventional solutions (peace talks,confidence building measures etc) do not offer a permanent solution. At best, they offer a temporary cease-fire.

We have to find ways to trust our neighbour, a difficult task after six decades of mutual hostility; but while we work at that, we use the weight of widespread public opinion to verify that they hold up their
end of the bargain. We use that opinion as we never have before: as a skillfully wielded weapon to win hearts in Kashmir and around the world.

It is this para that brings the Dawood story to mind. The US and the UN have declared him to be a terrorist. The US has evidence that he is in Pakistan. So, what is the delay ?

The point is, if we cannot use “widespread public opinion” to force our neighbor to hand over a terrorist, how can we trust this opinion on something as important as Kashmir ?

I do not know if I have a better idea or a better solution to the Kashmir situation. I am wondering, though. How can long can this neighbor of ours be in denial ? When will it emerge from its inherent contradictions ? It is sad that our future, our safety, our very lives are tied so closely to that of our neighbors. Sad, but inescapable.

Now deal with it.

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