Since the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, the estrangement in India-Pakistan relations has deepened. Although Pakistan strongly condemned the attacks, the investigations from both the countries have proved that the terrorists and the mastermind of the attack were intruding from the Pakistani soil. Though the evidence was very clear against the perpetrators, Pakistan’s inability to bring the perpetrators to justice further extends the vacuum of India and the Pak relationship.
Meanwhile, in December 2014 the Peshawar school massacre and August 2015 the killing of the Home Minister Shuja Khanzada in Pakistan’s Punjab province, indicating that terrorism is a common enemy for both countries. These terror incidents demonstrate that the terror network is disturbing the peace and development of the normal life of India and Pakistan. It would be a shame if the two countries did not collaborate in eliminating this common threat. Last year the prolong ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) have increased India’s outrage but caution with defensive retaliation on the status-quo border.
The Ufa understanding was established in July 2015 between India’s Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif during the Shanghai Cooperation Summit in Russia. This leads to open a National Security Advisor (NSA) level talks had collapsed in the first week of September before it starts. Despite the parleys of NSA level talks between India and Pakistan, the DG-level dialogue held in 10-12 September 2015 left a positive message. Pakistan’s former Foreign Affairs Minister Kasauri’s book launch in India and the aurally-challenged Geetha’s return to India after ten years has generated a feel-good diplomacy.
However, the meeting between Modi and Nawaz Sharif on the sideline of climate summit in Paris during early December 2015 has made a substantial renewal which has led for the NSA level meetings in Bangkok on 15 of December. The meeting held away from India which had found a new way to deal with the Hurriyat separatists helps the Pakistan leaders to escalate from meeting the separatists which has also avoided uncomfortable situation for the Indian elite. The post meeting the two countries has declared the joint statement. However, the Indian National Congress Party (INC) the major opposition party in India has put pressure on the Modi government to explain the contents of the secret talk. Now this secret talk has expanded by Modi to date with Pakistan on the day of Christmas is the quite, unexpected diplomacy initiated from the Indian side. Modi’s visit has been welcomed by the major opposition parties in Pakistan including Imran Khan.
However, Manish Tewari the Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Department of INC said, “This adventure of the prime minister will have serious impact”. The INC’s stance indicates potential reason to oppose the prime minister’s sudden visit to Pakistan. Their perception would be if any ‘reverse thing takes place instead of forward moment’ then the ice cannot be melted away immediately. Further, their trust deficit naturally gets wider. Moreover, the six decades estrangement cannot be sort out with the two hours stoppage in Lahore by the Indian prime minister. However, Modi may think of acknowledging his counterpart Nawaz Sherif’s initiative for peace process with India by advising his ministerial colleagues “not to make anti-India statements”. This means that small stars are visible at the end of the very long tunnel, where there is a possibility to melt the trust deficit between India and Pakistan to restart the entire peace process.
At least now India and Pakistan were acknowledged now that they are neighbours and this cannot be changed. What they have to do is accept the fact of their co-existence and move forward in resolving any outstanding divergence, for the mutual interest of both nations. Without concession from both sides, no substantial progress can be achieved in their relationship. Therefore, both should strive to nurture close ties rather than exhausting their treasuries by investing more in nuclear weaponry. A meaningful dialogue will have more lasting effects. It will catalyse improvement in their shared mutual issues of poverty and unemployment, which have gone unnoticed on both sides of the leadership for too long.
This sudden tilt from India indicates a new trajectory for engagement. The elected representative’s heads meeting in Lahore would not be materialised without the back up of the Pakistan military. Both sides seem to decide to back to the negotiating table without any preconditions. This would enhance them to move forward for the next stage with the possibility of making some breakthrough in their most sensitivity matters.
At this juncture what India should do? Firstly, Modi government should on board the opposition, particularly the INC. This would strengthen Modi’s initiative with Pakistan domestically and in the parliament. Secondly, India should give green signal to resume the India-Pakistan cricket series. In this issue the ball is on the Indian side. The Pakistan Cricket Board is eagerly waiting to receive the good news from the Indian foreign ministry. Once both countries come to exercise a normal mood then they can move further to the next level with the big agenda of the real sensitive issues. Thirdly, India should gently insist the Mumbai terror case with the Pakistan without any hesitation. Though this would raise serious reservations from both sides but both sides should face the reality. In this for both countries there is any easy go. Fourthly, the long awaited most-favoured-nation (MFN) status from Pakistan to India is remains to be a hectic negotiation since it has clearly wrapped up with politics and economics. India should assist Pakistan in this matter to take the issue in a smooth way. If Pakistan considers India in this regard, without any doubt it would be a leap forward moment in the relationship of India and Pakistan. By achieving this, both sides can further enhance to make a separate institutional mechanism for Kashmir talks bilaterally. Moreover, both sides requires immense patience on this issue particularly on Kashmir, since India and Pakistan’s domestic politics have strong hold on the issue as a matter of sensitivity.
If the pleasant moment to stay longer Pakistan should effectively discharge its duty to take stringent action on the Pathankot masterminds. The continuous flow of terror activity in Kashmir always have undoubted link with Pakistan terror groups. However, the present stance of both courtiers indicates that they demonstrated the will power to stand against the terror together. The Pathnakot attack demonstrates this. Firstly, the post-attack the Indian elite did not cancel the peace talks but with consensus they went for moratorium. Secondly, the Pakistan side accepted that the terrorist during the attack on the Pathankot naval base made several contact with the terror network in Pakistan. Now both the countries through back channel in search of finding the place for the talks. If both the sides put their effort to take this new trajectory of convergence further the possibility of more chance for engagement. If both sides articulate this relationship according to their conveniences this new trajectory of pleasing moment would have long stay. The question, therefore, is which way does India and Pakistan want to move now in the new-year?
Who pulls the strings of the government of India?
While talking to a Cornell college professor, Rahul Gandhi lamented (March 2, 2021) that the RSS was making use of its educational institutions to propagate its tunnel vision (NewsMatters, March 6, 2021). `Wherefrom money comes to run hundreds of thousands of schools’, he asked.
The RSS, founded in 1925, is not only distorting history, and polluting syllabi but also compelling the BJP government to appoint its nominees to key posts whether academic or political.
The RSS’s rationale is that it is their government. As such, they have every right to make appointments to all political and non-political posts and revise syllabus according to their own version of history.
A bird’s-eye view of appointments
Besides president Kovind Nath, a dalit, and Hindu-monk Yogi Adityanath, several parcharaks (apostles) were nominated for appointment as chief ministers, governors and cabinet ministers. The nominees included ML Khattar, chief minister of Haryana, Trivendra Singh Rawat, chief minister of Uttarakhand, Devandar Fadnavis (Maharashtra), and Ram Thakur (Himachal Pradesh).
The veterans appointed as governors included Balramji Das Tandan (Chhattisgarh), Ram Naik (UP), Om Prakash Kohli (Gujarat), Keshri Nath Tripathi (West Bengal), Kalyan Singh (Rajasthan), Vidya Saga Rao (Maharashtra), Vaju Bhai Bhala (Karnataka), Padmanabha Acharya (Nagaland), Jagdish Mukti (Assam) and Tathaghat Roy (Tripura) (Source: Aryana P. Chatterji, Thomas Blom Hansen, and Christophe Jaffrelot (eds), Majoritarian State).
Dr, Lokesh Chandra was made president of Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Ram Bahadur Roy, former ABVP organizing secretary who was jailed during Indira-Gandhi- imposed emergency was appointed to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts. Baldev Sharma, former editor of the RSS’s Hindi mouth-piece Panchjanya, was appointed chairman of the national Book Trust. Shakti Sanha, private secretary to prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was rewarded with appointment of Director of Nehru Memorial and Library. The memorial was the hub of Nehru-Gandhi legacy. A small-time actor Gajendra Chauhan was appointed Chairman of the Films and Television Institute of India. Hindu Nationalist Anupam Kher was appointed head of India’s Board of Film Certification.
Realising that educational institutions are key agents for ideological dissemination, the RSS thrust its nominees as vice chancellors and directors in universities and cultural institutions of higher learning.
RSS’s version of history
A distorted version is taught in RSS-run Vidya Bharti schools. Hindu caste system is well delineated in Rig Veda, Manusmriti and Bhagavad Gita. But, the RSS preaches that the Muslim Turks initiated the untouchability. Turks introduced commodes in India. “Hindus who refused to convert to Islam were forced to clean them. And, thus they became untouchable.”
While addressing a large gathering at Muzaffarpur, Bhagwat said, `RSS volunteers were so disciplined that they could be mobilized in a matter of days should the constitution and laws of the country so demand’. Many senior retired armed forces officers including former army chief General VK Singh have joined the RSS.
Bhagwat’s bonhomie with politicians, media, judiciary, industry, religious leaders and civil society reflects that the RSS would continue to keep the Modi government under its Octopus claw. Also it is keen to extend its influence in political, societal and non- governmental spheres. To deepen its roots, the RSS has initiated programmes like Family Awakening (parivar prabodhan),Village Development (grama vikas), and Social Harmony (samara satta).
Cease-Fire Review: A ray of hope
Pre-Negotiations are very much crucial to achieve the state of “Negociation Continuelle” (continuous negotiations) the only way due to which conflicting parties go for sustained mode of talks. On 25th February Director Generals of military operations (DGMO’s) of India and Pakistan contacted with each other to review cease fire agreement, on line of control (LOC), which was held back in 2003. Both States reaffirmed cease fire agreement and to restart weekly hotline contact at DGMO’s level. The agreement was largely violated by both states for several times and they were accusing each other for violations. But one thing is common that on both sides Kashmiris are suffering, they are raising their children in an environment of fear and severe violence. India and Pakistan are both nuclear capable states of South Asian region and are considered as the custodian of regional peace and stability. And without shadow of a doubt regional peace and security is a collective responsibility of the responsible states. Pakistan and India are the main conflicting parties of South Asian region and Kashmir is the bone of contention between them. Kashmir has been a question of integrity for both States. The Line of control also known as working boundary, divides Indian Kashmir from Pakistani Kashmir. There are several resolutions have been passed by the UN General Assembly to address the Kashmir issue but never implemented. UN wants to solve this issue according to the hopes of Kashmiris. The initiation of bilateral talks in the present outrageous environment is not less than a blessing in disguise and it will be fruitful for all the stakeholders; India, Pakistan and Kashmiris as well. This peaceful move from Pakistan and India is highly appreciated globally because Kashmiri diaspora is present worldwide and they are very much concerned with future of their homeland.
Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi, with his hostile ideology of “Akhand Bharat” assumed office in 2014. His political adventurism based on jingoistic-cum-hawkish policies dragged India State to the verge of staunch illiberalism where identity crisis burst up, which is more lethal than previously existing class crisis. Every community including lower class Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc. all are vulnerable to the identity crisis. On 30th May 2019, he sworn for his second tenure as prime minister of the world’s so called largest democracy. He came with another adventurous mandate and the first demonstration took place when he suspended special status of Kashmir and abrogated articles 370 and 35A. His ideology is regarded as Nazi-inspired ideology because in contemporary scenario only RSS community and other proponents of Hindutva are only considered as “Real Hindustani”. All minorities are suffering in India because their basic living rights are kept aside. The ongoing farmer’s protests shook the foundations of the state, hundreds of thousands of farmers rushed to the Delhi against the anti-famer laws passed by Indian Parliament.
In India Separatist movements are getting pace; minorities are unsatisfied with governing approach of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reuined the secular and democratic face of India. On the other hand, Foreign policy of India is facing severe challenges because PM Narendra Modi’s approach is hostile based on hatred and prejudice. These attributes are fatal for State’s reputation at foreign lands; the recent India-China standoff was just a teaser of BJP’s whole story related to foreign relations. In addition to this, Economic goal of 2025 of India is again became a distant dream just because of belligerent policies of ruling regime.
In contemporary scenario if we look towards India, only Modi-Media nexus will be seen. But in reality the situation is getting worse day by day. The review of cease fire agreement, offered by India, is a positive step towards the regional peace. It is appreciated by both civil and military administrations of both states. When PM Imran Khan assumed office he offered dialogue to his Indian counter-part but Indian Premier refused to go for any sort of talks. India always took a position that to initiate talks first of all, Pakistan has to stop the cross-border terrorism. Both terrorism and talks can never go side by side, this Indian claim is not based on empirical evidences because Pakistan has been facing menace of terrorism since 2001 and leaving no stone unturned to root out terrorism and safe havens for terrorists.
Currently, India is facing deep internal and external challenges. It is in the interest of India to have peace talks with Pakistan. On the other hand, it is a ripe moment for Pakistan to act decisively because it is the only time when India can review its decision of 5th August 2019.Moreover, it is a ray of hope to establish peace in entire region. This is the time when bi-lateral diplomacy can turn the traditional regional political dynamics. Both states are facing same problems when it comes to poverty, climate change, social security and the list goes on. The realm of these talks should expand and concern parties have to include economic and political regimes in front of each other otherwise momentum of talks will be lost. Regional connectivity is important to have eternal peace, Pakistan and India should review SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) that would provide basis for economic, cultural as well as political connectivity. Major Powers should also play their important role because world cannot afford rivalry between two nuclear states. Now, America is under a democrat President, and they should check every internal and external move of their Strategic and defense ally in Asia-Pacific region. Negotiations between India and Pakistan are in the interest of all other regional and extra-regional actors. Both states should adopt flexible approach while discussing the core issues and should avoid blame game. It will enhance the chances of continuous negotiation which is a pre-requisite for peace and progress.
What does the Kashmiri want?
A group of envoys visited the illegally-occupied Jammu and Kashmir State ostensibly `to take first-hand account of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and government’s efforts to restore normalcy’ (Hindustan Times February 17, 2021). Srinagar welcomed the envoys with a spontaneous shutdown. Prior to the visit, political leaders and human-rights activists were detained. The envoys did not visit Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti or any of the other opposition Kashmiri leaders.
The Hindu dated February 17, 2021 reported ‘The J&K government showcased “deepening democracy” to visiting 24 foreign diplomats, who arrived on a two-day tour of the Union Territory (UT) on Wednesday amid a spontaneous shutdown in Srinagar and alleged detention of recently elected National Conference (NC) district council members in Budgam’.
Post-special-status abolition situation
After abrogation of the special status, India took a number of steps to silence public dissent_diurnal and nocturnal search operations to hound, kidnap or kill the Kashmiri, Internet ex-communication, blatant use of draconian laws against ordinary Kashmiris and their leaders alike. A law was passed to jail parents of stone-pelters., if any. Meanwhile local body elections were held in which the ruling BJP was cut to size. But, India, as reported b y the Hindu also, showcased the elections in international media as a proof of popular participation and contentment of the people with the status quo.
Have the Kashmiri resigned to their fate
The mysterious silence in the Valley during the envoys’ visit speaks volumes on how much the Kashmiri hate India. However, it appears the Kashmiri could have shown their ennui through some mode of peaceful protest. They could draw lessons from the Occupy the Wall Street or Precariat Movement in the USA.
Occupy has six letters. A group of six persons mostly celebrities in their fields, stand up at some busy street holding letters O,C, C, U, P, and Y. The Kashmiris also could have displayed the letters in word `AZADI’ through a group of five persons.
Arnold Toynbee, in his Challenge and Response Theory postulates that if a challenge is too onerous a nation may become apathetic. In similar vein, Ibn-e-Khaldoon suggests that survival of a tribe (nation) depends on cohesion (asabiya, nationalism) of a tribe faced with life-and-death threat around its frontiers.
Amy Chua (Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations) talks about static or dynamic response of a society as shaped by group instincts of various components of a society.
Applying Amy Chua’s framework to Kashmir situation
Amy Chua challenges the view that the conventional mechanism of demokratia (government by the people) is a panacea for all the problems of a society. Thus the recently-held local level elections or even `state assembly’ elections in occupied Kashmir are no panacea for the Kashmiris’ simmering discontentment, their revulsion to yoke of Indian rule. Chua, in her afore-quoted book analysed situation in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Venezuela, besides so-called terror tribes including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Kashmir in Chua’s framework would suggest it is naïve to believe that Kashmiris are resigned to their fate. By analogy, even a thousand years of exploitation by a microscopic Chinese population did not subdue the Vietnamese hatred of the Chinese. As soon as the Americans left Vietnam, the native Vietnamese prowled upon the rich community of Chinese like a pack of wolves. The Americans plunged into decade long futile war with Vietnam without realizing that the Vietnamese were not Chinese stooges.
The indomitable fighting spirit
Indian forces had been using pellet guns to blind the Kashmir. Now, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, they have begun to use even chemical weapons against the Kashmiri.
Let us have a glimpse of the dogra’s reign of terror in Kashmir. To stifle the Kashmiri’s fighting spirit, the dogra punished even Kashmiri children who played with fork-slings (ghulail) and stones (Muhammad Yousaf Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, vol. 1, p. 50). Under the dogra rule, the Kashmiri were treated no better than beasts of burden. Instead of donkeys and horses, Kashmiri Muslims were used to transport goods across Gilgit, Leh and Skardu. They carried luggage on their backs across glaciers as high as 17,000 feet. Thousands of them perished along the way each year owing to frost bites, fall from a precipice, and hunger or sickness. The dogra caravans were not humane enough to stop for a while in the snowy passes to look after the injured porters (or ‘human beasts of burden’). Besides performing the forced labour, the Kashmiri had to pay heavy taxes. Whole of their produce was confiscated by the dogra. Little was left for tillers and their children to eat. On every item, the oppressed Kashmiri had to pay multiple taxes. Take shawls. Not only the shawl-makers were taxed, but also the other intermediaries like importers of pashmina (wool) from Ladakh, and storekeepers, whether wholesalers or retailers (ibid. p. 280-81).
The regressive revenue system resulted in a famine during winter of 1877. People began to die of starvation. Instead of releasing grain stocks from the royal go-downs, the maharajah’s constabulary drowned the starved, crying people in the Wullar Lake. Saraf writes: “Whole boat-loads of starving people have been conveyed by the Maharajah’s officials to the Woolar Lake, and there drowned” (ibid. p. 294).
The reign of terror by Indian forces (now estimated at about nine lac regulars and security personnel) who replaced the maharajah’s constabulary on October 27, 1947 is no less gruesome. International human-rights organisations, as well as India’s National Human Rights Commission, have brought into limelight the Kashmiri’s mysterious disappearances, their custodial deaths, and countless rapes of hapless Kashmiri women.
Like the dogra, Indian rulers are mercilessly exploiting Kashmiris’ economic resources. Bulk of locally-generated electricity is being diverted to Indian states. The tourism industry is in shambles. Highly – educated people have no jobs. With no inflow of tourists, the shopkeepers have no business. Unlike the occupied Kashmir, all the socio-economic sectors in Azad Kashmir are progressing by leaps and bounds.
Toynbee’s Challenge and Response Theory suggests that if the challenge is too strong, a nation becomes apathetic. Ibn-e-Khaldoon’s asabiya (spirit of national cohesion) also suggests that a nation’s spirit is likely to be smothered by a challenge which is too heavy. Historical lessons do not apply to the Kashmiri’s struggle. Neither Indians, nor the dogra could gag them. The struggle for freedom has continued unabated.
The lesson from Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom is that repression or palliatives like elections in occupied Kashmir are no good. The Kashmiri wants “freedom”. Their group instinct is `resistance’. But they need to learn from peaceful resistance movements like the Occupy and the Precariat.
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