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PostSubject: Question to Kashmiris   Sun May 29, 2011 4:27 am

At the outset, let me clarify I am an Indian who has limited knowledge of what is going on in Kashmir or what Kashmiris think of India. However, all Kashmir related discussions on Pakistani and Kashmiri forums raise a few questions in my mind. I am hoping to find answers to these questions.

1. Hypothetically if Kashmir does become independent tomorrow, will all the Kashmiri students and Kashmiris settled in other parts of India for employment agree to leave India and go back to Kashmir where they might not find enough jobs? I have met Kashmiri students studying in India who claim to be anti-Pakistan and pro-India on all issues other than Kashmir. I have always wondered if they will ever leave their careers in India and go back to Kashmir if need be. I mean it is one thing to feel for your people and another thing to leave a lucrative career in an economically stronger 'enemy' country to go back and build your own country. Right?

2. Will they be ready to forfeit their Indian passports? Considering that having an Indian passport makes it easier for you to get a visa to the west than a 'Kashmiri' or 'Pakistani' passport because of prejudices of the West.

3. Are Kashmiris ready to let the Kashmiri pandits come back to their homes if they gain independence?

4. Hypothetically, if there is a plebiscite, and say Gilgit Baltistan opts to be with Pakistan, while Ladakh and Jammu opt to be with India and that leaves the two halves of Kashmir under the control of India and Pakistan respectively wanting freedom... Do you Kashmiris have a good reason to believe that such a small country, smaller than the state of J & K will survive economically? Or are u just looking to integrate the Kashmir valley administered by India with Pakistan?

5. Are Kashmiris fighting for independence of the 'Kashmir' region only? Or are they fighting for the entire State of J & K notwithstanding the fact that few regions like Ladakh and Jammu are possibly pro India?

6. Is an Autonomous Kashmir supervised by India in an arrangement similar to the Pakistan-AJK/POK arrangement an acceptable alternative to Kashmiris?

7. Worst case scenario- Imagine if India decides to grant freedom to India administered Kashmir and retains Jammu and Ladakh under Indian control. On the other hand if Pakistan does not release AK/POK from its control, will Indian Administered Kashmir valley survive on its own as an independent country?

[Please pardon me if any of these questions offend anyone because of possible factual inaccuracies. As I told you, I am an Indian with certain ideas. I am just trying to increase my knowledge and understand the Kashmiri point of view better.]
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PostSubject: Re: Question to Kashmiris   Sun May 29, 2011 8:15 pm

Well, those are good questions, and ones that have been asked many times. As an American who spent 18 months in Kashmir, the best answer I can give is that your answers will depend on who you ask. Opinions and ideas vary, even among pro-freedom Kashmiris. Which is exactly why the plebiscite that was promised decades ago needs to be held. However, I'll give my answers/opinions, for what they're worth:

1. I see no reason why Kashmiris settled in India or anywhere else would be required to return to Kashmir should Kashmir gain independence. I mean, there were Indians in the US and the UK at the time of Independence from Britain - they didn't have to return to India, though I'm sure some did voluntarily.

2. As I said, I'm in America, and while there is prejudice here, certainly, most people in the United States don't even know where Kashmir is, much less know about the conflict. They look at all "brown" people the same, whether they're from Tamil Nadu or Saudi Arabia. A Sikh gets mistaken for a Muslim all the time. So while the State Dept may have issues, they'd be no more or less than they are now with regard to South Asians from whatever place.

3. Kashmiri Pandits have always been welcome to return, some already have, some never left the Valley. Your esteemed Jagmohan was the one instrumental in their exodus in the first place; that's hardly a secret or conspiracy theory. It's my belief that a good deal of the brutality inflicted upon Pandits was directly or indirectly engineered by his gov't in "false flag" attacks. Oh, I'm sure there was a militant hand here and there, especially going after "informants" - that applied to Kashmiri Muslims who were fingered as informants, terrorized and killed as well as Hindus - but the conflict never was about Muslim vs. Pandit. One of the big misconceptions India and the world has about Kashmir is the notion that it is an exclusively Muslim state. It certainly is a Muslim-majority region, to be sure, but there are MANY Hindus living there. I saw them, I knew them, they ran shops, taught my kids in school, were my neighbors and friends. The same applies to Sikhs. Given the relatively small population of Sikhs per capita in India, I was amazed at how many there are in Kashmir. The school my boys attended was founded by a Sikh and had many Sikh students. There are Christian churches dotting the area as well, and I knew Christians there living peacefully side by side with Muslims; and of course there is the overwhelmingly Buddhist Ladakh. I'm veering off the "right of return" question, but my point is that Kashmir is a veritable melting pot of religious beliefs, which is as it has been for centuries and should be.

4. A true plebiscite should be conducted throughout all of J&K, including any territories administered by China and Pakistan. Whether these countries would agree with a plebiscite being held is up to those countries - I'd like to believe they would, in the interest of resolving the dispute, and there has been talk in favor of such action by these nations. Perhaps that's insincere on their part and naive thinking on my part; but in any event, Ladakh would have to be included with Jammu and Kashmir at the very least, with the majority vote being the final say in the matter. No one said this would be a simple "check India/Check Pakistan/Check Independence" sort of process - I think given the current situation that the process will be extremely difficult. Hence an international observer would have to be involved, in the form of the UN, most likely.

5. The general view is NOT independence for only the Kashmir Valley but for all of J&K and in the interest of a complete free Kashmir, and avoidance of future dispute, all territories recognized as being disputed/occupied by foreign elements ought to be included.

6. The answer to your last question is, I don't know. No one but God knows the answer to that question.

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PostSubject: Re: Question to Kashmiris   Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:15 am

I missed your question 6. To answer that, I think some would wholeheartedly embrace that offer. But more or less it would be going back to a pre-1989 status quo and it would in effect mean that over 100,000 Kashmiris have died in vain, nothing was achieved in all the bloodshed. So at this point in time, I'm not sure it would be supported by those struggling hardest against the Indian occupation. I do, however, think that this is the most India would be willing to offer at this time (IF the BJP doesn't get their way, anyway).

#6 in my previous post is actually #7. Sorry about that.
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