For nearly 2000 years now Af-pak area has been constantly a zone of war, shifting boundaries and bloodshed. It is upto our generation to look for long term answers rather than finding temporary patchworks as has been done by British raj in India, Russia, US/NATO over and over again. It must be understood that ultimate peace and prosperity in a region can come only when the society of that place is in peace with itself. It requires to look for the basis of stability in a society. Ethnicity is the main component of such basis. Only those countries all over the world are in perpetual state of peace where ethnic boundaries are coterminous with the national or state boundaries. Arbitrary drawing of boundaries based upon prevailing situation of time had costed north west of Indian subcontinent and many countries in Africa dear. It is time to recognize the natural frontiers and draw national lines without prejudice and analysis of immediate loss or gain by all concerned parties.
India should become major stakeholder in such long term plan as it is the only regional power in Af-pak area and a natural core for the stability of this region. For most of the historical time Afghanistan, pakistan, kashmir has been part of larger Indian cultural entity if not of a political state. For last 60 years Indian nation had shown way for the function of a multi-religious society in one modern political state. The main point to be noted is that it has become possible and smooth because indian political system recognized ethnicity/language (as language is most vocal component of an ethnic group) and divided its provinces on that line only. It is now agreed upon by most political scientists that recognizing Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Marathi, Hindi identities has led to strengthening for Indian identity and formation of a prosperous nation. If we apply same principle at north-west region of subcontinent, the long term plan, for next 50 years of diplomacy should be oriented to bring prudence to the political organization of region. Discredited two nation theory based on religion should give way to ethnicity based national and provincial boundaries. Religion might be considered as a criteria to grant internal autonomy to certain provinces in certain aspects of administration.
Quick study of ethnic groups in the the Indo-Afghan region will direct us towards two major groups of ethnicities, first Indian and second Afghan-Persian. The following are few proposals to ponder upon which can bring long sought stability in region and security for India.
1. Ceding Tajik and Ujbek areas of northern Afghanistan to Tajikistan and Ujbekistan respectively. This will reduce number of ethnic groups demanding share in afghan political sphere considerably and population will be in their natural state.
2. Formation of independent nation of Baluchistan consisting of Baluchi areas from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Baluchistan would be a economically viable and stable nation-state as it will have advantage of trade through sea.
3. Merging of Pashtun areas of North-West Frontier province of pakistan in Afghanistan. It will undo the wrong, done by durand line, of dividing pathans in two countries. Ever since the inclusion of these afghan areas into the British India, NWFP has been a administrative menace for any government ruling there. Resulting afghanistan can be made a federal polity consisting of various afghan ethnicities as provinces on the model of Indian union.
This left us with the Indian ethnic groups i.e.. Sindhi, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Balti etc. We have to stop beating around bushes and be ruthlessly realistic in this process, if we want Indian subcontinent to be a sound polity. Though religious basis of separate nation of pakistan has been long destroyed, it is still very important and real consideration. However following can be done to initiate a process of reconciliation of these areas to their natural Indian groups
1. Dividing complete Jammu and Kashmir on religious line into four parts i.e.. Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Jammu, Laddakh.
2. Jammu should be made a separate state under Indian union. It is a Hindu majority area and do not have any anti-indian sentiment what-so-ever. It has always desired to be a part of India. People of jammu must get their due share.
3. Claims of China in Aksai-chin must be addressed. There is lesser harm in accepting Aksai-chin as part of China in return for China returning favor by removing their claim from Arunachal pradesh. Natural boundary of India-China should be parallel to Indus river in Laddakh. After this settlement of boundary dispute with china, Laddakh should be made either a separate union territory or a state. There is option of merging it with Himachal Pradesh also.
4. Five Muslim dominated areas of Indian ethnicity – Sindh, Western Punjab, Kashmir, Baltistan, Chitral should be given a autonomous status within larger design of Indian nation. They can be given greater autonomy in terms of religious and local matters. Greater geo-political administration of economics, foreign affairs, development and education must pass under multi-ethnic Indian state. Now fabric of Indian state are powerful enough to sustain vibration of such merger and give boost to overall development of subcontinent. These autonomous provinces later can be given option for greater engagement with Indian union, whenever they desire and are ready for it. Membership of Loksabha can be granted on such later dates, while giving membership of Rajyasabha right away.
Later this principle of autonomous units within indian union can be applied to Independent nations of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, SriLanka and some rebellious states of present India like Nagaland, Mizoram etc.
This might look like a pipe dream today, but this analysis is based on sound principles of political science. An emergent India needs to make its boundaries secure and composition compact, removing misdoings of colonial past of ours. A sound policy of geopolitical affairs only can ensure an alround development of India. Ofcourse these must be long term objectives of India, may be for next century. It must be implemented with great care, resolve and bipartisan attitude as there is a matter of nuclear weapons involved in this region. Only the proper execution of such plans and no patchwork will stop the bloodbath in the south asia. World as a whole will be a better place to live when 1/4th of total world population will be at peace with itself.