The mother of all stalemates continues. The latest New York summit between India and Pakistan found no magic formula to resolve the 'core' issue of Kashmir, but the 'peace process' between the two continues will continue -- just as it has continued for over half-a-century, more than one hiatus in between notwithstanding. It must surely be the longest and the only continuous process in the world that has not resulted in an end product.
Like several prime ministers before him, Dr Manmohan Singh will soon enough do his sojourn in Islamabad and exchange more gifts and handshakes with President Pervez Musharraf.
More cricket and more contacts of various kinds will continue between the two archenemies created by the British. More think tanks will emerge and get busy with blue prints -- like others before. More newsprint and more television time will consume our journalists and public on the subject.
This ad infinitum process will continue ad infinitum until either India or Pakistan loses its cool and blinks with a missile or until there is divine intervention in the shape of Uncle Sam or from the heavens above itself.
Frankly, President Musharraf should have blinked when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee told him that the solution of the 'core' issue did not lie in another partition of India. This thought has been conveyed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well, albeit in different words, though he has conceived of the possibility of territorial borders themselves being unnecessary -- as convoluted and clouded a caveat as any seasoned bureaucrat can make in a noting on a file.
However, President Musharraf -- and Pakistan and the Indian polity and the media of both countries -- continue to prod, to poke and to hope. It's all so incomprehensible to the realist, to the pragmatist, who wants himself and his nation to get ahead in life without all its old baggage and hypocrisies of one kind or another.
Diplomacy is one thing, but deception for over half-a-century? For what? For peace at all costs, including self-respect? With whom? With an entity that's envied us and hated us since its birth?
After all, just what is Pakistan's case? Shorn of all the rhetoric and twisted UN resolutions, Pakistan has all along believed that since the original 1947 Partition of India was effected by the British rulers on the basis of religious majority, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, with its predominantly Muslim population, should have been given to it under the Sir Cyril Radcliffe award that decided which territories would constitute India and which would constitute Pakistan.
Cunningly concealed by Pakistan in the worldwide exposition and exhibition of this is a cold and hard fact of history.
The written history and legal history is that the 1947 partition on the basis of religious majority was applicable only to British India which comprised the provinces ruled directly on a day to day basis by the viceroy of India functioning under His Majesty's Government run from 10 Downing Street.
The British parliament's Indian Independence Act, 1947 had made it crystal clear that the religion formula was not applicable to the 562 princely states in India that were administered under a monarchical system owing only allegiance, as protectorates, to His Majesty's Government.
Separate orders were issued to this effect to resolve any doubt whatsoever on the subject. It was also made abundantly clear that independence to the 562 rulers was out of question and each one of them had to decide as to whether his state was to accede to India or to Pakistan, depending upon contiguity of his state's borders.
The British themselves had drawn up the document for formalising and legalising such accession with the approval of the princely rulers. Hence, the J&K's state's official and legal accession to India on October 26, 1947, and the British Governor General's written and recorded acceptance of it the next day, should have blown the Pakistan belief to smithereens.
But Pakistan has been the rogue state from day one. Before the J&K ruler could take his decision, one way or another, Pakistan had overrun the state in typical cloak and dagger fashion, using bren guns, machine guns, mortars and flame throwers in place of cloaks and daggers. Having forcefully seized a large chunk of the state and refusing to part with it since then come what may, Pakistan has wanted the valley part of it -- if not the whole of it.
Aiding and abetting Pakistan its evil design all these years have been the UK, the USA, Europe minus the Communist regimes, and the Islamic world. But none of these entities, including the Reds of all hues, ever publicly endorsed the accession document of J&K. The hapless Jews under Hitler had their supporters, albeit helpless; we millions of Indians have not had even covert support to our legally sanctified right to the Kashmir Valley and beyond.
Instead, the world has urged us, coaxed us, and pressurised us to resolve the Kashmir 'dispute' with Pakistan. Instead, moreover, the West has kept mum over Pakistan's flagrant violation of our sovereign right to J&K just as it has, over 40 years, silently blessed Israel's blatant occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank territories of what has indisputably belonged to the Palestinians.
It is hence the mother of ironies that, at the UN General Assembly the other day, President Musharraf put Palestine and Kashmir in the same basket of terrorism, the roots of which, he said, were unresolved political issues. Oh, how devilishly daring this Pakistan General is!
And oh, how meek our Indian nation is! We demur and fear to argue our own, foolproof case before the world, seeking Gandhian plaudits through peace talks and peace statements ad infinitum.
If our rulers, all of them from 1947, had eyes and ears that really matter, they would have long ago seen and heard the mocking chuckles of the world even as we cocooned ourselves in dreams about peace with Pakistan without giving away the Kashmir valley, our very own valley, on which a rogue neighbour has cast its evil eye for 58 long years.