Ethnic Cleansing versus Self-determination

By Moorthy Muthuswamy, June 2001

On the topic of self-determination versus ethnic cleansing, in New Delhi, Pakistan's Gen. Pervez Musharraf is expected to reiterate the well-known Pakistani demand for the self-determination of Kashmiri Muslims -- known in Pakistan as the "just cause." What can secular India do? One realizes that non-Muslims in Islamic Pakistan or in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir could not claim self-determination, because almost all were ethnically cleansed to India -- from over 30-percent non-Muslim population in 1947 to less than 2 percent now.

This massive ethnic cleansing carried out by the Pakistanis in the aftermath of the partition created a land imbalance in favor of Pakistan and to the detriment of India. In fact, Sardar Patel wanted to annex parts of Pakistan as a compensation but was prevented from doing so by Nehru.

In 1971, there was yet another cycle of Pakistan-sponsored ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims from the then East Pakistan -- again driven to India. My analysis indicates that Pakistan owes India at least one-third of its real estate to correct the land imbalance created by ethnic cleansing and to compensate for the property lost by people who were kicked out to India.

Here is a suggestion: The Indian leadership should respond to the general by first demanding that, as the home of people who have been ethnically cleansed to India from Pakistan, India, too, has a just cause and that the general should facilitate peaceful transfer of an appropriate portion of Pakistan's real estate as a compensation. In cricketing terms, this may be called putting Pakistan on the back foot.

Is anyone listening?