By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Victory for Both
It sometimes happens that two individuals or groups quarrel over a piece of land. A part of the land is grabbed by one group, and the rest by the other. It may happen that both groups fight each other to grab each other’s bit of land, and in the process both groups are devastated. But another way is for the parties to agree that each can keep the bit of land that he has, end their quarrel and get busy developing their bits of land. This way to solve a dispute is what is called a ‘win-win solution’.
This, to my mind, is the best and most practicable formula to solve the conflict between India and Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan presently control parts of Jammu and Kashmir. If, on the basis of the ‘win-win solution’ principle, the two agree to be satisfied with whatever part of the state they presently control, and, abandoning the path of conflict, they focus on developing their respective parts of the state, it would definitely be very beneficial for both countries. Both countries would embark on the path of progress that has been blocked for a very long time.
It is true that the portion of Kashmir under Pakistani control is relatively small in size. But experience tells us that in this world the size of a territory is only of relative importance. What is really important is the use of a territory’s resources in a wise manner. Numerous countries, such as Taiwan, and Singapore, for instance, are very small in size but in terms of progress and prosperity are in a better shape than many big countries.
Man is a ‘psychological creature’. It is a person’s psyche that creates his personality. Experience shows that if someone develops a negative psyche, his entire personality becomes negative. On the other hand, if someone develops a positive psyche, his entire personality becomes positive.
This rule applies as much to individuals as it does to groups, communities and countries. The problem of Jammu and Kashmir has been a continuing source of bitterness between India and Pakistan from 1947 onwards. In this long period, both countries have viewed each other as enemies. Each of them feels that the other has robbed it of its rights. ‘I may have been defeated, but so have you!’ they think in relation to each other. Consequently, both countries are driven by very strongly negative emotions towards each other. Their relations are such that they simply cannot properly focus on constructive work for their own progress.
Now, if both countries were to behave wisely, new doors of progress would open up for them. For this, however, they would have to replace their negative approach with a positive one. ‘I may have been defeated, but so have you!’ would have to be replaced by ‘I won, and so have you!’
Till now, these two neighbouring countries have viewed each other as deadly enemies. But if a fundamental change in psyche occurs, they will begin to see each other as friends. Till now, both countries have lived in a sense of having been denied or deprived of their due. But if they change to a positive way of thinking, they will focus on their achievements instead. Till now, both countries have thought of themselves as surrounded with problems. But through positive thinking, they will see that they are surrounded with numerous opportunities. Despite their geographical and political separation, a constructive unity will be established between the two countries. And all this would be a miraculous result of both countries having adopted the ‘win-win solution’ path.
Moving Towards A Solution
The choice that Pakistan faces today is not between democracy and military rule. Rather, it is between either remaining in the impasse that it finds itself in, thereby wiping itself off from the roadmap of the global community, or to extricate itself from this impasse and move ahead.
In the history of a country, it can sometimes happen that its progress comes to a complete stand-still. At such times, it becomes imperative for it to take a bold decision so that its progress can resume. This sort of decision is often unpopular and against people’s sentiments. This is why such bold decisions are often taken by military rulers. Democratically-elected rulers cannot take such bold decisions because they come to power by being elected by the people. They cannot take any revolutionary decision that is not in accordance with popular sentiments.
Let me cite two instances to make this point. One of these is from Muslim history—the instance of Salahuddin Ayyubi (d. 1193 C.E.). What is considered to have been his great achievement was his protecting the Muslim world from the Crusaders. But how did Salahuddin gain the powerful status that enabled him to play this great role? He was a military officer under the Sultan of Egypt, Nuruddin Zangi. When the Sultan died, Salahuddin snatched his throne, although the Sultan had sons of his own. In this way, Salahuddin became the Sultan. Muslim historians generally regard this grabbing of the throne by Salahuddin as legitimate because, although from the legal point of view it seemed to be wrong, from the point of view of its results it proved to be of enormous political benefit. It was this that made it possible for Salahuddin Ayyubi to later play his great role in protecting Islam and Muslims.
Another instance is that of the French President Charles de Gaulle (d. 1970). He was a General in the French Army, but later grabbed political power and become the country’s President. On the face of it, this was an anti-democratic action, but by doing so, de Gaulle was able to take a major step in saving France that a democratically-elected ruler could not take.
At that time, France still had many colonies in Africa, which it termed as French provinces. But this unrealistic policy proved to be so dangerous for France that in the race for ‘progress’ after the Second World War, it became the ‘Sick Man’ of Europe. De Gaulle examined the matter setting aside French national sentiment. He realised that the only solution of the problem was to unilaterally grant freedom to the French colonies in Africa. This move was completely opposed to the sentiments of the French people. But it was this unpopular decision that granted France the status of a major power in the race for ‘progress’.
The current situation in Pakistan is somewhat similar. Pakistan’s undeclared war against India over Kashmir has brought immense destruction to Pakistan itself. The entire world views Pakistan as a very unsafe country. Global financial institutions are not ready to invest there. The unrest among the Pakistani public has led to strife in vast parts of the country. Pakistan’s religious, educational and cultural institutions have become centres for destructive activities.
The most horrific result of these developments is the alarming brain-drain that the country is facing. Human beings naturally want to progress and move ahead. And for the progress of any country it is enough if its people have opportunities to carry on with their efforts. For instance, peace should prevail; there should be good infrastructure; people should be properly compensated for their work. If in any country these opportunities are fully available, every person in that country will himself or herself become actively engaged and the country will automatically begin to progress. However, unfortunately, this could not happen in Pakistan. There, because of the ideology based on agitating against, and seeking to forcibly overthrow, the political status quo, an emergency situation was created, that continued uninterrupted. As a result, people had very limited opportunities to work and progress. That is why large numbers of capable Pakistanis left Pakistan and shifted elsewhere. During my visits to America, I asked many Pakistanis who have settled in America why they had left their country and come to America. Almost all of them replied that in America they have opportunities to work, unlike in Pakistan.
The unrealistic policies of Pakistan with regard to Kashmir have proven to be a trap-door blocking the path to Pakistan’s further development. It is a fact that Pakistan has been left way behind in the field of progress. The only way for it to overcome this backwardness is to stop fighting against problems, and, instead, to adopt a policy of making use of available opportunities. In the present circumstances, what the Pakistani leaders must do is agree to accept the status quo in Kashmir as it is. In other words, the Line of Control in Kashmir should be accepted as the agreed frontier between India and Pakistan, with certain necessary adjustments. In this regard, by accepting the geographical and political status quo that has come to prevail between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, the Kashmir conflict can be resolved forever. I have been consistently and continuously advocating this solution since 1968.
Pakistan must abandon its emotional-driven policy with regard to Kashmir and adopt a realistic policy in its place. It must come to an agreement with India on Kashmir so that peace can be established in Pakistan and the country can focus on its internal development.
Ever since 1947, Pakistan’s politics have centred on one question—and that is, to change the political status quo in Kashmir. But it has been conclusively and fully proven that this is an enormously destructive policy, which will not produce any positive results. It did not have any positive consequences in the past. This is how it is at present as well. And, it will be the same in the future, too.
For Pakistan to take a revolutionary step of the sort I have suggested would certainly not be easy. But if, mustering courage, it does take this decision, it would gain miraculous results. Its undeclared war with India would come to an end and peace would be established. The negative mentality of the Pakistani people would transform into a positive mentality. Mutually-beneficial trade would flourish between India and Pakistan. There would be exchanges between the two countries at various levels, including in the fields of education, culture and politics. Exchange of literature would help remove misunderstandings between them, and a brotherly atmosphere would be promoted. India and Pakistan share much in terms of culture. Yet, despite this, the two are distant neighbours. But if the Kashmir issue is solved as I have suggested, they will become friendly neighbours.
Whenever an individual, community or nation wants to do something, it is faced with a pre-existing status quo. Now, there are two ways of thinking in this regard. One is to first try to change the existing status quo so that the road is cleared and one is able to do as one wants. The other is to leave aside the existing status quo as it is and to focus one’s efforts on other possible activities instead.
This latter approach I call ‘positive status quoism’. And this approach is in accordance with reason. That is to say, when what one considers to be an ideal solution is unattainable, one should agree to accept what is practical. This is what Islam, too, teaches. Thus, the Quran (:128) says, ‘reconciliation is best’. That is, the best and most useful policy with regard to a conflict is reconciliation and coming to an agreement with the other party. In other words, when faced with a conflict, one should desist from confrontation and, instead, should adopt the method of reconciliation.
This suggestion of accepting the status quo in Kashmir and basing relations between India and Pakistan on firm foundations is not a new one. When Jawaharlal Nehru was the Indian Prime Minister, India and Pakistan had evidently agreed to this proposal, so much so that Sheikh Abdullah went to Pakistan as a mediator. But with Nehru’s sudden death, no action could be taken on this historical proposal. According to an article in The Hindustan Times (18th June, 2001):
By 1956, Nehru had publicly offered a settlement of Kashmir with Pakistan over the ceasefire line (now converted into the Line of Control). On 23 May 1964, Nehru asked Sheikh Abdullah to meet Ayub Khan in Rawalpindi in an effort to solve the Kashmir imbroglio […] the Pakistani leader agreed to a summit with Nehru, which was to be held in June 1964. This message was urgently telegraphed to Nehru on May 26. But just as Nehru’s consent reached Karachi, the world also learnt that Nehru had died in his sleep. And with that a major opportunity for a peaceful solution [of the] Kashmir [conflict] was also lost.
If Pakistan were to accept the status quo in Kashmir as a permanent solution, it will not have any negative consequences at all for Pakistan, nor, in broader terms, for Muslims as a whole. In such a situation, despite being separate from Pakistan, Kashmir would still remain its status of a Muslim-majority region. Furthermore, it is an uncontestable fact that the Muslims who live in India are in a better position than the Muslims of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Another point to be noted is that for Pakistan to reconcile with India is no ordinary matter. It would, in this way, be able to end its on-going conflict with its powerful neighbour. To end a running conflict with a neighbour is tantamount to opening the doors to every kind of progress. How ending a conflict with an enemy paves the way for progress is illustrated by the example of modern Japan. During the Second World War, Japan and the USA were enemies, but after the war, Japan reconciled with America. This reconciliation enabled Japan to emerge as an economic super-power.
Pakistan’s present policy has become the cause of giving Islam a bad name. Because of this policy, Pakistan made hatred against India the means for promoting national unity. This wrong policy did not, however, succeed in uniting the people of Pakistan (including the former East Pakistan) in the name of Islam. Rather, they were sought to be united in the name of anti-India hatred. And this, in turn, gave the world the chance to say that Islam does not have the power to unite Muslims. As an article in the Delhi-based The Hindustan Times (18th June, 2001) put it, ‘Islam does not hold Pakistan together anymore, but anti-Indianism does.’
If Pakistan were to adopt a reconciliatory approach, it would help promote a positive mind-set among its people. This will help usher in a new period in that country, wherein Pakistani national unity would be based not on anti-Indian, but on pro-Islam, sentiments. This would be so immensely beneficial that it would not be surprising if all the doors of Divine blessings would be opened upon it.