A Peace Proposal

By Moorthy Muthuswamy, October 2001

Aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks has made it clear to the Pakistani establishment the perils of sponsoring religious extremists such as the Taliban. Gen. Musharraf has made the best of what he has inherited by aligning his government with the West. But, little appear to have changed in Pakistan’s policy toward Kashmir. India has been angered by the suicide bombing near Srinagar Assembly building, apparently, set off by a Pakistan based group. The current level of tension in Indo-Pak relations is among the most intense.

For Pakistan to strive forward as a modern nation, it should find a way out of the Kashmir quagmire that is a drain on its economy and a source of undesirable radicalization of its society through the ongoing Kashmir Jihad. For India too, Kashmir has been a financial drain and a source of increasing Hindu-Muslim divide.

With Pakistan having been carved out of British India in the name of Islam, Pakistan would like Muslim majority Kashmir to become part of it. India to has a long standing grievance against Pakistan: Pakistan’s role in ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims (to India) from every Muslim majority region in the subcontinent – Pakistan, Pakistani part of Kashmir, East Pakistan and the Kashmir valley, resulting in Muslim majority areas being virtually non-Muslim free. But most Muslims have stayed back in secular India. Nevertheless, Muslims in India are in an uneasy relationship with the majority community.

Any attempt at a lasting peace must address these two understandable grievances.

It is reasonable for India to cede the Muslim majority Kashmir valley to Pakistan while keeping a small portion for Kashmir Pundits. This should be followed by transfer of all non-Muslim populations from Pakistan and Bangladesh to India, the transfer of all non-Bengali speaking Muslims from India to Pakistan, and the transfer of all Bengali speaking Muslims from India to Bangladesh.

This idea may be viewed as a proposal for completing the unfinished agenda of partition – making the separation final between two sets of populations, in uneasy coexistence. This proposal, through addressing the fundamental roots of the Indo-Pak conflict, has the potential to bring about a lasting peace in South Asia.