After the holiday season standstill relations between India and Pakistan have sharply deteriorated. The mysterious cruel killing of the two Indian military men in the state of Jammu and Kashmir reminded the world of the “oldest conflict on the UN agenda”. While Delhi and Islamabad are blaming each other for violating the truce, the conflict escalation threatens to upset the fragile status quo along the ‘Control line”, which is one of the most explosive borderlines in the world.
The disfigured bodies of the two Indian military who guarded the post at the border with Pakistan in the Mendhar sector and died on Tuesday under unclear circumstances, became a grim reminder of the fact that the demons of war sometimes return in the relations between India and Pakistan. Mysterious and unstoppable they come back to claim new victims. Each side has its own truth, its own view of the conflict, compiles its own list of victims, the true number of which nobody really knows at this point. Besides the official wars, there is an undeclared war in progress. And each side sticks to its own myths in this war.
The standoff between India and Pakistan, which has the dispute over Kashmir at its basis, with all the rejection of compromise and violence today appears irrational if not meaningless and leads to a dead end. And all this is not simply due to the fact that there can be no winners and defeated in this standoff – everybody would lose. And the fact that both sides have nuclear weapons forces the world to freeze in tension again and again when the word “Kashmir” comes up, which points at one of the most beautiful and at the same time hardest to access places on Earth.
It appears that owning the mountainous Kashmir which is poor in natural resources and has a severe climate can give little benefit to India: its military and economic significance is not that great. In reality, the territory of Kashmir presents little value for Pakistan as well. But why then are both sides engaged in this tug-of-war game on the «Roof of the World» risking to fall into the abyss?
In reality the issue at stake is not only and not as much the territory as the state ideology of each country. It is the ideology that raises the stakes so high and prevents the sides from compromising their principles. In reality, it is the historic argument between the two concepts that lie in the basis of the two states that used to be one at some point in the past. The Pakistani concept of the «two nations» opposes the Indian concept of «one nation».
The founding fathers of modern India Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi were Hindu, but they wanted it to be so that in their country not only Hindus, which were the majority of the population, but also representatives of other ethnic groups, religions and cultures could have a worthy life. This principle lies at the core of the theory of «one nation» or «one happy family of nations», which according to the plan of Nerhu and Gandhi the Republic of India was to become.
In his turn, the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah believed that there were differences between the Hindu and the Muslims, which prevented them from living together. Jinnah sincerely believed that only in their own Islamic state could the Indian Muslims receive equal rights and realize themselves fully. This is how the theory of the «two nations» was born – of the Hindu and the Muslims.
If today one can for a minute imagine that the separatists’ dream could come true and Kashmir would split from India that would bury the idea of the «united family» of nations, which is at the basis of the ideology of democratic secular India. If the events were to develop along that menacing scenario, the entire existence of the Indian federation would be under threat. Nobody would allow that.
And here a comparison to Russia is called for: if during the two Chechen wars that started after the collapse of the USSR the so-called advocates of «independent Ichkeria» realized their plan and created an independent state, it would have been a lethal strike at the Russian Federation.
It was no surprise that India from the very beginning supported the anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya and never voiced any doubts about that. The situation Moscow found itself in from the very beginning appeared very familiar to the Indians – similar to that in Kashmir.
Kashmir found itself a hostage of the half a century long fight between the two state ideologies, the Indian and the Pakistani. And that remains the main cause for the demons of war to continue to torture that part of the world, the land and the mountains of which are soaked with blood. And the anticipated resetting of the relations between the two countries keeps giving way to the shootings and terrorist attacks, the war of symbols and gestures, as it happens today.