New Delhi: The settled position on India and Pakistan’s dispute over Jammu and Kashmir needs reiteration now and then. It requires again to be reemphasized for the controversy attending Pakistan’s National Day celebration at its high commission in Delhi Monday night where a few Hurriyat leaders disagreeably put in an appearance. The media in consequence baited the junior foreign minister, V. K. Singh, attending the ceremony for protocol who unfortunately rose to the bait. You should be a deep sea fish with excellent homing instincts to survive the treacherous waters of India-Pakistan relations.

As it happens there are only two parties to the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir. These are the sovereign states of India and Pakistan. This was explicit in the terms of Partition and further reinforced in the 1972 Simla Agreement following Pakistan’s defeat in the Bangladesh Liberation War. Pakistan’s then President, Z. A. Bhutto, agreed to the formalization of the Line of Control as the border but sought grace from Indira Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister, to convince his people. Back in Pakistan, he repudiated the understanding.

Indira Gandhi was advised by P. N. Haksar not to impose a “victor’s justice” on Pakistan. The allusion was to the Treaty of Versailles that foisted costs on Germany (territorial concessions, disarming, reparations) for launching the First World War. Germany was beset by militarism since the Hohenzollerns ascended to the throne. When Germany united and became a European great power, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s restraining hand and robust diplomacy precluded an all-out European war. With his deposition this became unpreventable; but Germany did not foreswear militarism even after defeat. The 1918 Armistice was barely done than the German military command ominously spoke of Punic Wars at whose conclusion Rome destroyed Carthage and inflicted what is known as the Carthaginian Peace.

Haksar should have known this history when he blithely advised Indira Gandhi against “victor’s justice”. “Victor’s justice” even in respect of post-war Germany had more bark than bite. The heavy reparations demanded by France of Germany satisfactorily never materialized because a strong West European lobby lead by John Maynard Keynes opposed it. Germany was also in no position to pay because of an obliterated economy and industry and hyperinflation; it wasn’t keen to either. Britain lost interest in backing France having returned to the pursuit of imperialism and the United States did not ratify the League of Nations as the final snub to Paris. Much else happened in this duration but the key is this. “Victor’s justice” was scarcely administered on Germany post World War I far less credible punishment. It yielded to Neville Chamberlain’s “appeasement” and “Peace in our time”. With Pakistan’s militarism and terror, India’s shambolic response has followed the same course.

As a terror and militaristic state, Pakistan has forfeited the privilege to exist in whole. The final and irrevocable separation of East Prussia from Germany at the conclusion of World War II thanks to the brilliant campaigns of the Soviet armies dealt a body blow to German militarism. The Junker aristocracy was destroyed in its ability to remake a militaristic Prussian state. The same principle must apply to Pakistan whose militarism has grown the worse since the liberation of Bangladesh. The rituals of the peace process with Pakistan are unavoidable perhaps. But the truth of Pakistan’s militarism and its resolution must never go out of sight.

This fundament transcends the government of the day. No Indian prime minister or government including the present dispensation can compromise India’s position on Kashmir. A parliamentary resolution seeks the return of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir; there is no retracting from this. A democratic government is in place in Jammu and Kashmir as before. As India economically integrates at a rapid pace and states financially are empowered to a greater degree than ever, the fruits of prosperity will flow to Jammu and Kashmir. Contrastingly Pakistan is a backward, feudal state. Its self-loathing leads to loathing of India and prevents the search for an own identity. India must rebut and riposte Pakistan on Kashmir as often as necessary and remember history’s caution never to appease militarism and terror.