Sunday, November 30, 2008
How Many People Must Die for Indian Arrogance? India was partitioned in 1947 into two countries, one dominantly Moslem (Pakistan), one dominantly Hindu (India). Some 14.5 million people moved to the area they preferred, often from fear of reprisal and oppression if they stayed where they were. Wikipedia says, cryptically:
Partition was accompanied by one of the largest and most rapid population transfers in history, with 17.9 million people leaving their homes. Of these, only 14.5 million arrived, suggesting that 3.4 million went "missing".The Wikipedia article says that the number of people who died in intercommunal violence during the process is not known with certitude (estimates varying from 200,000 to 1 million, with a compromise guess of 500,000). Plainly, if 3.4 million people left their homes but didn't arrive in the other country yet at most 1 million people died, that leaves a lot of people unaccounted for. What probably happened is that they left parts of one country they felt dangerous but settled in another area of the same country that they felt safer in, without proceeding all the way to the other new country.
In any case, one Moslem-majority area in the far north of British India, Jammu and Kashmir, was not transferred to Pakistan, and India violated a demand by the United Nations, in 1948, to hold a plebiscite to determine the disposition of the territory. Pakistan and India are fiercely hostile to each other because of India's refusal to hold a plebiscite, and now both have nuclear weapons, and individuals have enormous firepower within reach with which to launch massively destructive terrorist attacks.
No one can talk any sense into India, which refuses to hold the plebiscite the UN demanded 60 friggin' years ago. Why? What could possibly be so valuable about this one relatively small tract of land, about the size of Minnesota overall but comprising almost nothing but uninhabitable mountains and one habitable valley, the Vale of Kashmir, and holding only 10 million of India's 1.1 billion people, 2/3 of them Moslems? (It used to be even more Moslem, but India moved Hindus in to bolster its claim.) As is so often the case, utter irration controls, and the world won't simply step in and tell India to live up to its obligation to hold an internationally-run or at least internationally-monitored plebiscite, then abide by the will of the people. Insanely, India is fiting a rearguard action in an endless war against a partition that is a done deal, and has been for 60 years!
The concept of partition is anathema to Indians. Kashmir's symbolism to India is as critical a consideration as any security significance associated with this fragment of ice and rock threaded by a beautiful valley. India is unwilling to lose even one additional hectare of this land.The pretense is that letting Kashmir go would incite other separatist movements, but no other movement has the legitimacy of a UN resolution demanding a plebiscite. India is in violation of a United Nations resolution. Remember how indignant the U.S. supposedly got over Saddam Hussein's defying UN resolutions? What will it take to get India to accept that partition happened and has to be completed for there to be closure?
Does the entire world have to impose sanctions, a watertite regime of complete economic embargo thrown up around India? Do we have to shut down all the telephone lines and satellite communications to Indian call centers that service U.S. companies? Ban all imports from India? Forbid tourism to India? Send the U.S. Navy and all the world's other navies to strangle Indian ports? Forbid aircraft from India to land in any airport in any other country around the world? What will it take? Because whatever it is, is better than a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. It would as well be better than more mass terrorist attacks to push India out of Kashmir, especially since innocent foreigners who share none of India's guilt stand to be killed in such violence too.
It's time for the U.S. to tell India that it's time to let go and move on. Partition happened. It's over. If India is ever to be reunited, it will have to be by voluntary, democratic merger of now independent countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh, into Federal India. You cannot have a voluntary merger, nor even normal relations, as long as you behave like a spoiled brat or lunatic insanely adamant about keeping something that belongs to somebody else. Kashmir in itself is NOTHING, indeed just a bunch of rock and ice. Let it go.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,207 — for Israel.)
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