My friends Afroz Taj and John Caldwell helped to organize an interesting debate about the Kashmir conflict
, sponsored by the UNC Sangam
student organization as part of South Asian Awareness Week. Here is the description from their website:
Come attend a Political Debate on one of the major conflicts in South Asia, The Kashmir Conflict. The conflict goes back till 1947 and still continues. Come out to get view points from all the three sides India, Pakistan and Kashmir, and give your opinion. This will be a great debate! You will get to learn more about the intense topic of Kashmir. Come to see how the conflict will change since India and Pakistan have Nuclear weapons. We need people who are serious, concerned or interested in this issue. So please come only if you are interested.
My wife and I enjoyed attending this short evening event. There were about a dozen in
attendance, mostly students. In thinking about the issue of Kashmir (should it be part of India, Pakistan, or be independent), one thought occurred to me, and that was federalism. I'm sure it's been thought of and seriously considered before, but my suggestion, that I shared (and which, it seemed, carried the day as perhaps the most feasible solution), was to use the European Union
as a model. Just as the French maintain their culture and the neighboring Italians maintain theirs, there is an easy sharing over borders.
The thought I had is, based on economics and encouraging multi-culturalism, that the current states of India and Pakistan, as well as Kashmir, all become semi-autonomous units. Live in Calcutta and enjoy the Bengali culture? Fine - when you want to visit Kashmir or Mumbai or Delhi or Srinagar or Lahore, off you go with minimal fuss.
I enjoyed the discussion, but wish that there were more partisan opinions expressed, based on what we see in the real world. I would have enjoyed hearing a strong case for Pakistan; instead, based on the attitudes of those present, much of the discussion seemed Indo-centric. I like debates where a team or person strongly argues a case that is not the case they personally believe, and then others can chime in and all can have good discussion. Nevertheless, this was an interesting and educational event.Map from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection of the University of Texas, produced by the C.I.A.