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Subramaniam's statement, a case of delayed wisdom? - The Times of India

Mahendra Ved ()
June 7, 1998

Title: Subramaniam's statement, a case of delayed wisdom?
Author: Mahendra Ved
Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 7, 1998

It may be a mere coincidence that C. Subramaniam, former Union
minister and governor who was awarded Bharat Ratna recently, has
spoken a day after the foreign ministers of the P5 nations
meeting in Geneva, on the demand to involve a third party, or
parties, to resolve the long-pending Kashmir issue.

The P-5 ministers strongly demanded that India and Pakistan
engage in direct discussions on all outstanding issues, including
Kashmir, and have offered to help, depending upon the acceptance
of such an offer by both sides.

Speaking at a function for releasing Rafiq Zakaria's latest book
in Mumbai, Mr Subramaniam said that India should stop being
"obstinate" about treating Kashmir as a bilateral issue and not
an international dispute and should begin seeking third-party

Save the Tashkent Declaration of 1966, there has been no occasion
for a third party to intervene in a dispute between India and
Pakistan. It would be worthwhile if Mr Subramaniam, whose
experienced voice is added to the strong collective wisdom of the
world's mighty powers, had identified such a country that, in his
words, is "not a super power, but somebody willing to be fair to
both." There is perhaps no country, or countries, which can
ignore pressures of the rich and the powerful, each of whom have
their own agenda.

It is not unknown to either the PS or Mr Subramaniam that the
Kashmir issue has its Anglo-American angle, as also the age-old
Russian interest in pushing southwards in Asia and the role of
the Chinese, who control a part of the territory illegally ceded
to them by Pakistan. The P-5 lack the moral right doubly,
either to force a nuclear solution or a solution on Kashmir.
Saying this is not to reject talks or see things only through the
blinkers of morality. But there has to be something more
compelling for India to end its alleged "obstinacy" than the
wordy thrashing and the threat of sanctions by the P-5.

It is not unknown to anyone that pressures and platitudes
notwithstanding, there is no way India is going to give up the
control of Jammu and Kashmir. And equally so, Pakistan is not
going to turn a good neighbour and stop interfering in India. The
P-5 have diagnosed Kashmir as the "root cause" of the entire
nuclear imbroglio only to use it as a stick to beat India with,
so that they would behave and sign the NPT and the CTBT.

Mr Subramaniam belongs to that generation of freedom fighters who
were part of the ruling hierarchy for years. He is not unaware of
the diametrically opposite standpoints of India and Pakistan on
the Kashmir issue. His advocacy for a third-party intervention,
which flies in the face of all that the successive governments,
including the ones of which he was a part for years, have held.
It may appear to be a case of either delayed wisdom or at best, a
realisation that his generation has failed the nation and somehow
wants to see things resolved before leaving the scene.

Mr Subramaniam has been fearless in expressing his views on
various issues. His criticism of P.V. Narasimha Rao cost him the
governorship of Maharashtra. But it is also true that his world
view and his views on economics marks him out as a pro-west
liberal, despite having been a minister during the socialist
Nehru-Gandhi era.

Few would remember today that on the eve of Henry Kissinger's
visit to South Asia in 1974, finance ministers of all the three
countries he was visiting changed. In Pakistan, a fire-eating
Z.A. Bhutto brought in Mohammed Shoaib, a former World Bank
functionary. In Bangladesh, Tajuddin Ahmed was removed by Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman.

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