Pakistan is an Islamic Republic and its evolution would depend on the way Islamic societies evolve globally. The Arab Springs are turning out to be Western Winter with Islamists taking control of newly found democracies. But then Shariah is natural for Muslims and wherever they are clear and dominant majority they will apply it there. Pakistan faces dilemma in deciding which way to go: western or Islamic. The current trends show that Pakistani society is splitting with majority of elites going the liberal Westernized way and others towards more radicalized Islam; towards Wahhabism and Salafism.
It naturally affects Kashmir; a Muslim majority state. But Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has three parts: Valley, Jammu and Ladakh. Valley Muslims are largely dissatisfied with Indian rule, whereas Jammu and Laddakh regions are largely pro-Indian. With the great service of Abdullah family, Indians are able to hold on to the Valley comfortably till now. But the changing consciousness can change everything. The people of Valley can come on to streets in a peaceful way demanding independence from India. In spite of flexibility of Indian state it would be difficult for India to meet the demand of ‘K-revolution’. While the nationalism of Jammu and Ladakh is handy, the fact is that if Valley Muslims protest peacefully, consistently and continuously, they will create problem for Indian state.
But there are other factors too. Asymmetries are getting strengthened with each passing decade in this world moving towards the irreversible dominance of the US. Therefore, India is becoming more and more powerful with respect to Pakistan. Moreover, since the balance of conventional war capabilities lies with India and there is almost parity with respect to nuclear capabilities, the war is no solution to resolve the Kashmir dispute. The nuclear war would have catastrophic consequences for both sides of Kashmir. Pakistan is waging a proxy war against India, increasing the cost of maintaining the Indian state and fuelling dissent among the dissatisfied people.
There is another factor, the China factor. Because of unfulfilled expectations and returns of both the US and China a cold war between the two may become a real possibility. The future American investments in China may lead to conflicts with world order showing a kind of branching. The Chinese economy may slow down because of this and then it would need BRICS more, than at any time since its inception. Even though the BRICS serves the primary purpose of the US-led West, the fact is that the US can not do anything to dissolve it in any likely future. Therefore, the importance of India would increase for China and China may not take overt anti-Indian state over Kashmir. Pakistan without China on its side can not do much in Kashmir.
Therefore, it is in the core interests of India and Pakistan to resolve the disputes before consciousness becomes a critical factor and the world order starts showing branching. The trust deficit along with the security questions makes the dispute resolution improbable without the explicit involvement of the US. Moreover, if the many steps of peace process towards resolving the dispute are to be compensated financially and if the economic well being becomes the dominant theme for people and states, then the US involvement is required more.
The US should make its bottomlines clear after understanding the constraints and limits of all the sides and its own influence. It should make it clear that a peaceful, liberal, secular and democratic entity is the only solution. Minimally people of two Kashmir should unite with increased people, goods and capital exchange and people of the two Kashmir be allowed to buy property in each other’s Kashmir.
The people need to be given kind of socio-psycho therapies. They need to be told through their local and national leaders and through Western leaders that de facto or de jure independence and referendum are not possible. All the constituents need to accept the inevitability of others. India and Pakistan are not going to dilute their present stakes but would increase their future stakes and those of the Kashmiris of the two sides because of non-linearity of economics and regulation and also because of the positivity of humans. The possible solutions are United Kashmiris, divided Kashmir, shared sovereignty and bi-staked ‘independent’ Kashmir with complexity increasing in the same order. It requires the mutuality, reciprocity, dualism, statistics consciousness and down-to-earth realistic approach to resolve Kashmir. All minorities need to understand that Muslims will always be dominant people as long as the present stakes are not diluted.