Chapter 4: No gray areas

"Do you beleive in individual rights and government by the people Mr Gandhi?", President Williams had asked the Indian Prime Minister. He had hurriedly rushed to the White House from the Park Hotel as soon as the confirmation of the meeting was conveyed to him. He had been unable to answer that question directly knowing well that any answer in the affirmative would have been self-defeating. Kashmir was an Indian occupation, and the inhabitants wanted independence since the fateful day in 1947 when Indian troops had landed in Kashmir.

On his part, PM Rahul Gandhi had tried to convince President Williams of giving him more time--atleast two years, till things cool down in his country. President Williams had earlier spoken in private with her National Security staff who had run every possible scenario and outcome for holding a referendum in Kashmir. They had advised her that should the referendum be delayed for any more than a month, it would never happen, just as was the case with the previous UN resolution in the 50's. Furthermore, they had advised that any more killings of unarmed protesters and brutal suppression of Kashmiris by Indians was bound to escalate into a war between Pakistan ans India. She could not afford a war--a nuclear war at that--on her watch.

President Williams had seen similar adamant behaviour before from the Israelis during her days as the Secretary of State, when the Israelis were unwilling to consider full sovereign powers to Palestine. The Israelis had been pushing for a Palestinian state with their air corridors controlled by Israel. Finally, Israel had to concede when the US did not buy any of their arguments, and Palestine was granted full sovereign rights of their land, air space as well as waters.

"There are no gray areas in democracy Mr. Prime Minister. There cannot be any gray areas. You cannot pick and choose which areas of your nation enjoy the full rights of liberty, justice, and freedom of movement and assembly. I have reports of Indian troops perpetrating unspeakable horrors on the Kashmiri people with impuntiy. This has to stop. In the 21st century, just the thought of these acts being perpetrated on a daily basis is unacceptable." President Williams said.

Indian PM Rahul Gandhi left the meeting with no concessions and a stern warning: Agree to the UN consensus or risk being an outcast in the international community. According to the UN timeline, about two thousand EU troops should begin to trickle into Srinagar within a week. But they needed assurance from the Indian Prime Minister that his country is onboard.

As a member state of the UN that participated in the deliberations for this resolution, India was bound by the outcome; therefore, the UN troops could simply roll into Srinagar. However, no country wanted to risk the safety of their troops, therefore they were asked to halt in Muzaffarabad.

As soon as Rahul Gandhi landed in New Delhi, he rushed to the urgent meeting which he had called at his residence. Looking weary and unkempt, and with red, sleep deprived eyes, he addressed all his party members and the Congress Parliamentary Committee.

He had prepared his speech while in the plane and knew that he had to have his party members behind him on this one. He had already made up his mind: he could not risk alienating the world community.

In his address to his party members, he laid out the facts as he saw them. President Williams' ultimatum was the most contentious of all. Somehow illiterate Indian Members of Parliament could not fathom that the opinion of the world community could have a bearing on events in India. But PM Rahul Gandhi was aware of the repurcussions of ignoring this call for implentatation of the basic democratic principles--the right of a people to chose their own destiny.

Deep down PM Rahul Gandhi was aware of the injustices carried out by his country on hapless Kashmiris. He had seen intel reports of systematic rape, torture, and murders carried out by Indian troops in Kashmir. He had seen classified reports of the Indian Intelligence Bureau, where specific instructions had been given to shoot unarmed protesters to deter people from participating in pro-freedom marches. However, he did not want to speak out against them while he was in the opposition, or act on them while in power because that would mean more international scrutiny on the Indian occupation. He knew that no matter how he justfied it, every thing boild down to his country occupying Kashmir.

But for the political ramifications, he would have called back troops from Kashmir the very first day he was elected Prime Minister. If Kashmir wanted independence, let them have it, he had no problem with it. But the weight of ruling a largely illiterate and fundamentalist country had bogged him down. The fundamentalists would have called for his public hanging for even suggesting granting Kashmir independence. Bharat Mata! he had thought.

After heated arguments in the Congress meeting, he had asked for a vote. A thin majority of the members voted to cooperate with the UN. The rest of the members had started shouted slogans as though they were opposition members.

PM Rahul Gandhi called the UN High Commisioner and informed him that he will relay the final decision that evening. He also called President Williams and said the same.