Sunday, November 21, 2004

Kashmir

Most of our moderate Muslim friends talk about "root causes" of terrorism. While condemning terrorist violence, they aver that if it's root causes were resolved, terrorism would fade.

What is a "root cause" anyway? What's its nature?

Typically, the "root cause" is political. In Kashmir, for example, the "root cause" is about map making. In response to not getting their way politically , the jihadis have taken to terrorism.

Setting aside the immorality of a violent response to a non-violent disagreement, lets oblige our moderate Muslim friends and examine Kashmir's "root cause" via a thought experiment.

Lets assume that there was no jihadi violence -- and no Indian military response to it. Lets also assume that Pakistan was not involved in fomenting violence in Kashmir.

Would India then be morally obliged to grant Kashmiris their right to "self-determination"? This is the real heart of the matter. The debate over terrorism is distraction from this -- a useful distraction some might argue, but nothing more.

India's answer to this question must not rely on technical issues like the Maharaja's accession letter or Pt. Nehru's Security Council commitments. The answer lies in India's concern for its security, and its responsibility to the world.

If Kashmir were to become independent, or autonomous, it would likely evolve into a dysfunctional State, much like Pakistan and Bangladesh. This India cannot accept, and the world cannot afford. There can never be a new religion-motivated State in India's sphere of influence, nor an Islamic State within the Secular Indian State. If self-determination is to be sacrificed to prevent these outcomes, then so be it.

Not all political ideas are equal. India, for example, is a superior political idea than Pakistan. Kashmiris cannot be given the right to choose a worse political system than one they have as constituents of India. Since the "root cause" of terrorism is the desire of some Kashmiris to mimic Pakistan, there is no favorable resolution to this. Even if 100% of Kashmiris were to choose to become like Pakistan (a scenario we know is absurd), such a wish cannot be granted.

No people have the freedom to choose chaos for themselves. This is the hard reality and should end the "root cause" discussion.

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