REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, --- By: Ghulam Nabi Fai, the secretary-general of the Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum.
WASHINGTON --- Benjamin Franklin, a signer of the US Declaration of Independence from Britain and the man responsible for negotiating a treaty between the colonies and France, asked: “When will mankind be convinced and agree to settle their difficulties by arbitration?”
Perhaps the simple answer is that it will come about when power is distributed among men in such a way that it cannot be abused by any individual or nation, and that both personal and national sovereignty is once and for all respected.
Franklin was a very wise man. He wrote, in respect to the American Revolution: “We shall be divided by our little partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest.”
He was also an inventor. Inventors cannot stand confused. They look for ways to simplify, to turn what is thought to be unrelated into a unity of parts that mean something or that can be used in a practical way. No doubt, he viewed war as stupidity, a useless way of dealing with problems.
As an ambassador for the colonies to Great Britain between 1767 and 1775, he sought constructive relations between the two countries. He was in fact a loyalist, a man who believed that the king should have more power (it was simpler) but became a patriot and ultimately a believer in liberty and the self-determination of those who wanted to escape tyranny.
It was through Franklin’s agency, his power of persuasion, and perhaps France’s discomfort with growing British strength that France aided the American colonies and brought balance to what might have been a lost cause for the American Revolution.
Franklin obviously believed that resistance by the colonies was a preferable route to capitulation. “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety,” he wrote and added: “deserve neither safety nor liberty.” With sufficient resistance, one has the strength to demand negotiations if winning outright isn’t in the cards. A man who is weak can demand nothing.
The need for both resistance and arbitration in the case of Kashmir is obviously needed, but we have a balance of power problem just as the colonies did in the beginning.
India’s 900,000 plus troops stationed in Kashmir, combined with its control over local law enforcement, presents a difficult if not an insurmountable challenge to those willing to resist the foreign occupation.
The presence of such a large number of troops, plus 73 years of conflict, would seem to most observers a clear indication that Kashmir’s differences with India are intractable and irresolvable given the persistent resistance, despite the serious imbalance of power between the two.