One knows that it needs a mirror to show how one looks. Thus, what outside people feel about India and Kashmir in particular  can best be gauged only by meeting and listening to the people living outside India. I have been singularly lucky of having spent a fair amount of time abroad. Presently for over 2 years I am in Abu Dhabi and  also visit Mumbai. My general impression is that most persons I have met feel India has a very weak claim to Kashmir.

This bit of information may startle many readers on this site, but the fact is that over the decades  India and its political leadership have greatly weakened the Indian case. To start with many people have asked me why is there an armed insurrection in the valley. To my reply that it is Pakistan sponsored terrorism, the reply is that almost 90% of captured and killed Mujahadeen are local Kashmiri youth. This unfortunately is a fact and the fact remains that Pakistan may support the terror groups, yet the movement in the valley is sustained  by local youths.

The second point that always crops up  is that India itself considers Kashmir a disputed territory. That is why it discusses the Kashmir problem with Pakistan. Does India discuss the integration of Hyderabad state with anybody they ask, though Hyderabad was taken over by military force that created a situation that forced the Nizam to accede to India? Yet India discusses the future of Kashmir with Pakistan and worse the Kashmir issue remains as unfinished business on the UN agenda. After all the Indians themselves led by Nehru approached the UN for a solution to the Kashmir issue.

Another point raised is, ( though only by the educated elite, as others don't know about it) that why the Indians have a separate constitution  for Kashmir and a separate flag. Does any other Indian state have a separate constitution and flag? Thankfully not many know about Article 370, but they know that India allows Kashmir to have a separate identity.

All this is depressing to hear and one wonders what was the aim of the Indian leadership and Nehru at that time. However there are no excuses and blaming Nehru won't do. The question is why the successive Indian leaders allowed the Kashmir issue to continue to simmer? Why the folly of Nehru was not corrected.

I wonder how long we can continue in this vein. The Muslim world feels India must make an accommodation on Kashmir as after all India itself accepts that accession of Kashmir to India is not full and final. Any takers for this?

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