Kashmir is the albatross round the neck of every Prime Minister who came to office after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minister. This is Nehru’s legacy, despite the opinion held by historians that modern India is Nehru’s creation.
Following the death of the first Deputy Prime Minister of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel rather too early after Independence in the year 1950, Nehru stalked the Indian subcontinent like a colossus for nearly 17 years. No wonder Natwar Singh says in his autobiography ‘One Life Is Not Enough’ that “it is often said that Sardar Patel would have made a better Prime Minister.” In retrospect, it seems there is truth in this opinion because if Sardar Patel had lived at least for another five years, he would have put an end to the Kashmir issue pestering India like a chronic disease, nay festering wound. The problem, in fact, is only in the Muslim majority Kashmir Valley and not in Jammu and Ladakh of J&K. More on this later.
I touch upon Kashmir issue as discussed in Natwar Singh’s book because our Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now in America to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) which was earlier addressed by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who went on a Kashmir rant raking up the same old demand for a plebiscite and demanding the UNGA to settle the “core-issue of Kashmir” to bring peace in the region.
Nehru during his early days in office was considered a peace-maker and a staunch opponent of nuclear weapons. A leader of world stature in the third world, guiding the non-alignment movement in a world polarised between USA and Soviet Union. Yet Nehru could not solve Kashmir issue which was his own creation in association with his friend, the then Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten. If only he had chosen military option rather than the one advised by Mountbatten to go to UN, there would be no Kashmir issue today at all. And our military, even in those early days of independence, was capab...more