Nine years ago the Assembly of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from its parent nation Serbia. It was natural for some nations to accept the recognition of this new nation and some others to reject it. But the acceptance and non-acceptance depended more on the foreign policies and regional sensitivities of the different countries than their actual assessment of the Kosovar issue. Nations fighting secessionist forces in their own territories were the ones who raised their voice against Kosovar independence, while the countries who were themselves born in the same manner or the territories who want to break away from existing nations and emerge as independent nation-states supported Kosovar independence.
India’s Initial refusal
Kashmir’s present situation seems to be similar to Kosovo’s situation
India, for example has outrightly refused to accept Kosovo as an independent nation. The immediate reason seems to be the fact that Kashmir’s present situation seems to be similar to Kosovo’s situation of the 1980s, and Indians believe Kashmir to be an integral part of India, just like Serbians thought of Kosovo. In no way does India want the Kosovo episode to repeat in Kashmir. It defends its stance by claiming that Kosovo as a country was created unilaterally and did not meet the conditions necessary for a new nation state. Indeed even countries like Bangladesh and Timor Leste were recognised and admitted to the UN only after their parent countries waved a green flag. Moreover India has been a long standing ally of Russia, despite its traditional stance of non-alignment, and would synchronise with its decision on an issue like this.
By taking this stand India has also shown that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any nation should be respected. Religio-cultural differences can be no basis for the secession of any territory in this modern world. If that would be the case then a country like Indonesia would be balkanized into tens of fragments and India into possibly thousands. But the only way to ensure peace in this modern world is to usher universal human development into multicultural kaleidoscopic nations.
Chechnya,Xinjiang and Rakhine
The point is that the desperation of self-determination infected into the despaired people of a region can be far better contained by the dint of inclusion and development than seclusion and secession. If the spirit of Kosovo was to propagate then Chechnya would break free from Russia, Xinjiang from China and Rakhine from Myanmar, all of which may create new deeper problems. Will USA secede California as per the demands of separatist organisations? There comes a time in the history of a multi-ethnic nation when a faction feeling under-represented retaliates. A modern nation should treat this problem by applying universal equality in all aspects and by diminishing “reservations” and “exceptions” and differential treatment of different human beings. Many nations in the world manage separatist tendencies by providing some degree of autonomy to such fragile regions within their territories. But such an autonomy must have its time if significant development is expected in such regions.
Kashmir, for example, was legally acceded to India by its King Hari Singh in 1947. Now if Kashmir today becomes an independent country, will it be more prosperous and developed than what it can be as a State of Bharat? If Kashmir joins Pakistan calling upon its Muslim majority population, can it expect a bright and developed future knowing full well that India has a better history of long-term growth for its States? Even the justification of plebiscite in Kashmir is debatable because most the Kashmiri pundits(who were pro-Indian) have been massacred and driven out by Radical Kashmiri Islamists decades ago.
If cities like Hyderabad in India would have found divisive leaders and organisations trying to portray a self-serving story to those common Hyderabadis who could be made happy with just short-term gains just as Kashmir has been facing for many decades now, would it have become the pulse of the Indian Silicon Triangle today? Article 370 in the Indian Constitution ensures special status and considerable autonomy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The “Special status” granted by the Indian Constitution to this state was to preserve the rights and job opportunities of local Kashmiris, but seems to have defeated its very purpose by alienating it from mainland India and the swarm of industrial and social investments possible in that state. If Kashmiris are allowed to get real exposure to the rest of India, I believe they will soon learn the route to fulfil their ambitions.
Didn’t the USA go too far in extending its rivalry with Russia, taking FRY as a scapegoat?
One must analyse the Serbian situation more as a World Citizen taking a neutral standpoint. In doing so one observes that the whole turmoil that the Balkans have faced from the end of the Cold War, was perpetrated by both sides of the fight to a very conspicuous extent. Slobodan Milosevic may have been involved in acts of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and his personal wrong in it cannot be perhaps denied but what moved him to do so must be brooded over as well. Wasn’t the Albanian instigation of the Kosovar public partly responsible for it? Didn’t the USA go too far in extending its rivalry with Russia, taking FRY as a scapegoat?
Kosovo has gained freedom, but has it become as prosperous as it would have been with undivided Serbia? Today Kosovo is accused to serve as a drug transporting channel to Western Europe, and a den for Islamic insurgents. If Milosevic’s deeds were wrong, did not KLA have blood on their own hands too thereafter? Moreover the corruption in Kosovo is not unknown and time has come for EULEX to explain its shortcomings in maintaining law and order of this new polity. USA should peep at the prosperity of the ordinary and unemployed Kosovars today and should witness the health and education systems that exist there. Does USA really care about them? Does Russia really care about them? The answer is No because all these big powers play the game of ‘divide and rule’ on the less developed nations who try to grow. If a branch is severed from its stalk how can it blossom into a flower. It is understandable that the big powers enjoy countries like Kosovo to remain as their protectorates, never strong enough to rival them in any field.
Kosovo still had a hope, though bleak, of joining the EU to overcome the repercussions of its immaturity and instability since 2008. What hope will Kashmir have : a thread of assistance by a country like Pakistan who is itself sustained on the American life support system? Secularity and non-radicalism in Kosovo will shed like a snake’s skin if Kosovar stomachs remain empty.
— By Raman Butta
About the Author
Raman hold a B.Tech. degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the National Institute of Technology Durgapur, India and currently work as a Management Trainee in Electronics and Telecommunication at Coal India Ltd. Raman is deeply interested in International Relations as well as the History of nations.