Mani Shankar Aiyar, the elitist member of Lutyen’s cabal who is infamous for insensitive and controversial remarks on every issues, has stoked another controversy after comparing Kashmir with Palestine. “If we are to continue to brush aside he desires of 7 million to 8 million Kashmiri and force down their throats then we are clearly we taking steps similar to those who have been undertaking in Palestine by Israelis,” said Mani Shankar Aiyar in an interview with India Today.
The analogy of Aiyar is very simplistic and most of the people with better understanding of Kashmir issue and international issue will not agree with Aiyar. Shashi Tharoor, Congress leader and former Under Secretary General of United Nations and among well know experts on International Relations and diplomacy, has said that West Bank analogy is wrong.
“I remain strongly critical of the Govt’s actions on Kashmir, but the West Bank analogy is wrong: at the UN,Kashmir is not “occupied territory” but“disputed territory,” &part of India since 1947; also Kashmiris have Indian citizenship, unlike Palestinians living in the West Bank,” tweeted Tharoor on August 9.
I remain strongly critical of the Govt's actions on Kashmir, but the West Bank analogy is wrong: at the UN,Kashmir is not “occupied territory" but“disputed territory,” &part of India since 1947; also Kashmiris have Indian citizenship, unlike Palestinians living in the West Bank.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 9, 2019
Mani Shankar Aiyar probably missed Tharoor’s tweet despite the fact both are good friends and members of Congress party.
Aiyar elaborated his West Bank Kashmir comparison in an article published in Indian Express with the title of ‘A long night in the valley’. “They (Modi-Shah) have learned how to trample on the freedom, dignity and self-respect of the Kashmiris even as Israel has tried to get away with seven decades of merciless oppression of the Palestinians,” wrote Aiyar in the article.
The Palestine-Kashmir comparison has no historic, cultural, legal, national ground. The Muslim majority Kashmir valley has been inhabited by Hindus till 14th century when Kashmir Sultanate (1346-1580) was established and Islamization of the valley started. On the other hand, the lands where Israel and Palestine are based were inhabited by Jews people for thousands of years when first Christians and then Muslims occupied the territory.
The anti-Semitism among the Muslim and Christian population forced the Jews to disperse and migrate. In ancient and medieval period, Muslims and Christians found in hard to co-habit with the people of other religions unlike Hinduism which co-existed with people of different faith for millennia.
A massive reverse migration took place on the lands of Palestine after the British mandate on Palestine and the region has a Jews majority since then. On the other hand, India never tried to reverse the demography of Kashmir. The area was ruled by Sikh kings and subsequently by Hindu rulers but they never made attempt to change the religious or ethnic demography of the area.
In fact, the Kashmiri Hindu population which was a sizable minority in the valley had to face exodus, atrocities, and worst kind of humiliation in their own land in early 1990s. Therefore while the region of Palestine became Jews majority area while the Hindus faced exodus in their own land and therefore the comparison of both areas is stupidity.
Kashmir has been part of Indian state and civilization for millennia, the religious demography of the region changed but the Kashmiri people are still identified as Indian. The state signed Instrument of Accession with India unlike Palestine which Israel won in war. Even in UN, West Bank is listed as ‘occupied territory’ while Kashmir has no such status.
Aiyar further argued that “Modi-Shah have learned their lessons well from their mentor, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Zionists, including Menachem Begin, who preceded Netanyahu.” He also compared the promise of development of Kashmir with ‘Manama package of US/petrodollars goodies’ in Palestine which the Palestinians rejected and said that ‘….the Kashmiris (are) spurning the Modi offer of an enslaved prosperity’.
The argument about development is also stupid as Kashmir is better off than many North Indian states on socio-economic development while West Bank is ‘very poor’ compared to areas of Israel and the more important fact to remember is money for this development expenditure is coming from the pocket of the central government.
J&K is one of the most pampered states of the country with 73.6 percent of the state’s total revenue from central government while the state generates only 26 percent of total revenue. As per an article published by The Hindu on July 24 written by TCA Sharad Raghavan, J&K gets 10% of all central funds with only 1% of the population.
Therefore, any comparison of Kashmir with Palestine could only be afforded by people like Mani Shankar Aiyar. People like him are liability to any political party or organization. He played a major role in the dismal performance of Congress party in 2014 general election after his comments on Narendra Modi drew flak from all quarters. He had said, “I promise you in 21st Century Narendra Modi will never become the Prime Minister of the country. …But if he wants to distribute tea here, we will find a place for him.” the views of Mani Shankar Aiyar -01on Kashmir issue are lopsided and very are dangerous to territorial integrity of the country.