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On perpetual Indo-Pakistani tensions over Kashmir

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] A [/yt_dropcap]nyone who closely watches Indian news and debates over TV channels, especially in English and Hindi would attest an ugly truth: India does not at all seek peace with Pakistan, Bangladesh, and it is still determined to kill the remaining Kashmir Muslims. Indian TV channels in English are fully devoted to terrorism, cricket and anti-Pakistanism.

India promotes cross-fire dramas as part of 11/9 in order to advance it national interest abroad. It is therefore not sure if India would any time end hostilities and hate politics with Pakistan over Kashmir even if all Kashmiris accept Indian sovereignty in a referendum if held. Indian military congestion in Kashmir would not be reduced as forces would continue to control the Muslims there and for which Indian regime would, like USA and Israel, discover new threats, meant to terrorize and attack Muslims. After all, Manipur in India continues facing military atrocities endorsed by New Delhi with extra powers. India would curtail all basic freedom to Indians as well and if anybody opposes they are tracked brutally.

India and Israel though are not strange bed partners but who promote trade-in terror goods. None in the world media is allowed to criticize Israel and India as both track world media reports and opinions and pay to say no articles appear in the press or internet criticising colonialist crimes being perpetrated by Indi and Israel. They are among the fast emerging strategic partners globally coordinating their colonialist operations. .

India thrives on anti-Pakistani and anti-Muslim and terror victim planks, though it also plays a premier role in spreading terrorism.

Indian media and political parties hate Kashmiris for the issue an international one thanks to Pakistani efforts to take to international forums the Indian techniques of committing genocides in Kashmir. In main India both national political outfits – and secret allies on anti-Islamism – BJP and Congress, having to end the struggle in Kashmir, have one agenda now: to somehow pacify Kashmiri Muslims with some false promises and also to delete the historic case against Hindu criminals, who pulled down the Historic Babri Mosque on 06 December 1992 on a deep rooted Indian conspiracy against Indian Muslims and Islam. This destructive politics has got the backup, guidance and help from Indian state and successive governments. Indian corporate media lords work very closely with military-intelligence organizations to promote Islamophobia in media so that India looks somewhat democratic and”safe”.

India committed a gracious crime by annexing Jammu Kashmir even if on the advice of former colonial master Britain and now anti-Islamic trends have come handy to perpetrate crimes against Muslims in Kashmir. It is therefore not difficult to comprehend the reason for this collective anti-Pakistani and anti-Muslim mindset of Indian regime, military, media and intelligence is the simple colonialist calculation that any peace with Pakistan would force India to shelve official tensions and try to be good to Indian Muslims albeit with a pinch of salt ,

Further, the promotion of bilateral ties with Pakistan would make India slowly lose global sympathy as a major “terror victim” and would eventually its nukes and military advantages to threaten the neighbors. In short, if it promotes peace and friendship with Muslims neighbors, India would lose its big brother status it enjoys now arrogantly. Many strategic guys think India cannot afford to lose its “strategic” advantages by mending ways with regional Muslim nations and Kashmiri and Muslims. India does not seek to end communal politics.

Above all, both India and Pakistan would lose Jammu Kashmir which both jointly occupy- while India does it brutally by targeting Muslims in Kashmir and India proper sending s warning to UK (and USA indirectly) for occupying India for centuries before granting independence in 1947, while Pakistan make Kashmiris “love” Pakistan as a “reliable” defender of Kashmiris Muslims, while it keeps killing Muslims indoors as per instructions of USA and also from India received through Washington along with service charges in dollars.

Wars, conflict, crisis and disruption of diplomatic relations and bogus talks or dialogues between the two nuclearized South Asian states are a central part of history of the region. India as well as Pakistan promotes tensions and both are not scared of them for many more years so that they continue to occupy Jammu Kashmir with backing from China, Russia and USA – all veto powers. Both are eager to escalate the tension by cross border fires, terrorizing the besieged Kashmiris.

Kashmir has been a contested area of South Asia since the partition of British India in 1947. The region is claimed by both India and Pakistan; the Indian-controlled part has periodically been convulsed by protests.

Tensions between the two nations have run high since India forces killed a Kashmiri militant commander. Then, last month, 19 soldiers were killed on an army base in India. At least 19 people have been killed as a result of India-Pakistan border disputes in Kashmir that have occurred in recent weeks, prompting some to wonder if the conflict could escalate into a drastic war over control of the region. Both nations have denied responsibility for bringing the first strike, and leaders in each country have accused the other of violating a 2003 ceasefire agreement that curbed violence in the area.

As Pakistan remains focused on Kashmir, India has been alertly pursuing an objective of maligning Pakistan in the world alleging that it is a terrorist state and it manufactures and exports terrorism. This allegation makes USA and Israel happy as India has not blamed these two fascism nations of inventing and popularizing terrorism. India does not do that because it wants their active help in targeting Muslims in Indi and Kashmir.

This summer in Kashmir saw some of the worst conflict – and worst challenge for Indian military – since 2010. Massive numbers have turned out in public demonstrations against often oppressive Indian rule and endorsement of a new age of militancy. Some 85 civilians have been killed, and at least 11,000 injured, hundreds of them by pellet guns, weapons that have become controversial symbols of this summer’s turmoil for the serious eye injuries they have inflicted. Schools and commercial establishments have been periodically closed under curfews, and the internet cut off in an effort to prevent protests. Thousands of protesters have also been arrested in the ongoing crackdown, including Abyad’s older brother, who was detained on July 8 and continues to be held in a police station.

India, like USA, Israel and Russia, has no concern for the murder of Muslims in Kashmiris because as Hindu majority India is eager to retain it illegal occupation at all costs even by paying huge resources to USA.

South Asian nuclear powers with a lot of poverty, Pakistan and India have not signed NPT and there seems less possibility for regional cooperation in the nuclear field By following the Israeli and American strategies against Arab world and Russia, respectively, India is keen to maintain superiority over Pakistani military postures. But Pakistan’s maintenance and advancement of minimum credible deterrence at the moment discourages India to go for misadventure by launching a missile war against Pakistan. After having the full spectrum deterrence, Pakistan now has the capability to cover all kinds of threats. India has very aggressive strategic posture to contain Pakistani military, aiming at the nuclearization of Indian Ocean and projecting military power in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. However, they not allow the situation to escalate into a full-fledged war.

Voicing its concern over India’s nuclear capabilities, Pakistan called on the member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to make a well-considered decision over including India, keeping in view the long-term implications for the global non-proliferation regime as well as strategic stability in the region “This build-up has been facilitated by the 2008 Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver granted to India, which not only dented the credibility of the non-proliferation regime and undermined its efficacy, but also negatively affected the strategic balance in South Asia,” said Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakariya at a weekly press briefing, reports the Dawn.

Pakistan has been asserting that India’s rapidly expanding military nuclear program poses a grave threat to peace and stability in the region and beyond. The FO spokesman warned that another country-specific exemption by the NSG on the membership question would further exacerbate the ill effects of the 2008 exemption. “It remains our hope that the NSG member states would make a well-considered decision this time keeping in view its long-term implications for the global non-proliferation regime as well as strategic stability in our region,” he said.

India says that seven civilians, including two children, died following cross-border firings. Officials have evacuated several civilian villages along the disputed border region and moved them into government-operated shelters for their protection. In Pakistan, more than 10 people were killed over the weekend and Monday. “It appears as if a full blown war is going on between India and Pakistan,” Mohammad Saeed, a resident of the village of Mohra in the region, told Reuters. “Please have mercy and stop it.” Armies from each nation patrol the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir into two separately governed regions. Cross-border firings between officials of the two nations continued, officials confirmed.

Such disputes have led to two of the three wars between the nations in the last 70 years. As decades of tension continue to mount, some young Kashmiri men are joining militant forces to fight India, seeking a route to self-determination for the region after years of frustration and oppression. This time the uprising has spread to every artery and vein of Kashmir. This is the third generation of Kashmiris since 1947, and their anger is such that they don’t want to budge.

Now, some worry that the stakes have become so high and the region so volatile that conflict could escalate into a nuclear exchange over the territory.

But other nonviolent tactics are at play in the conflict as well. India has threatened to skirt the provisions of a water treaty that regulates how the two nations share resources from three rivers by constructing two hydropower plants that would divert more water to India. Experts have criticized the tactic, and Pakistan has responded by saying it would consider a violation of the treaty to be “an act of war or a hostile act against Pakistan.” “It’s highly irresponsible on part of India to even consider revocation of the Indus Water Treaty,” Sartaj Aziz, foreign policy adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said last month. “Threats of a water war are part of a military, economic and diplomatic campaign to build pressure on Pakistan.”

Each nation also expelled diplomats last week when tensions rose to a government level. The decades-old conflict has left those in Kashmir disenchanted with politics between the two nations and apt to support rogue militant causes. As protests continue in the region, some say militant groups, and local support for them, could continue to grow in response to government actions. “People have lost faith in the political struggle,” Shujaat Bukhari, editor of Rising Kashmir said: “I’m not saying everyone in Kashmir is a militant. But everyone sympathizes with the militancy, and that is a new reality.” He fondly remembers the 1970s and ’80s in his native Kashmir – a place that was peaceful and verdant, where the now 63-year-old artist could interact with visiting artists from around the world and paint landscapes.

For Khytul Abyad, such an artist’s paradise seems an elusive dream. Born in 1993, the 23-year-old artist watched as Kashmir’s beauty was overshadowed by political crackdowns, torture, Army bunkers on every street, and long waits in traffic as Army convoys passed by. For her, growing up in Kashmir mainly meant negotiating the ongoing conflict between Kashmiris opposed to India’s occupation of their land. Mr. Hussain and Ms. Abyad are working to document the conflict they have seen explode around them this summer, as tensions over India’s occupation of Kashmir soared after the killing of the popular militant rebel leader Burhan Muzaffar Wani.

For both of them, Kashmir’s brutal history has become the canvas, their art their channel of dissent, protest, frustration, and hope. And they see others choosing the same path. “In 2008, 2010, and 2016 uprising, we’ve been seeing new artists emerging, either as musicians, rappers, poets, or painters,” says Abyad. “Being in a curfew for months, not being able to go out of home … this is the perfect time for art to emerge because there’s so much going on inside and the frustration becomes internal, rather than external,” she adds.

Abyad and Hussain’s perspectives are shaped by their very different experiences: While Hussain knew Kashmir before the armed rebellion started in 1988, Abyad was just 18 months old when unknown gunmen assassinated her father, Mirwaiz Qazi Nissar, a popular pro-freedom leader and a Muslim cleric. As she grew older, words like azaadi (Freedom) and tehreek (movement) became familiar rallying cries.

It was during the 2008 unrest that Abyad took up her paintbrush in protest. Nearly 80 people were shot dead and many injured in the uprising sparked by government land being transferred to a Hindu shrine board, where the board wanted to construct concrete structures. “I had never seen so much anger in people,” says Abyad, who has exhibited her work publicly and is participating in upcoming exhibitions and biennales. “It was tehreek, I thought. I saw people being beaten up inhumanely. I saw people who weren’t ready to go home even after teargas shells were fired at them, people who wouldn’t stop shouting ‘We want freedom’ until police would take them away.”

Like everyone, Abyad also experienced intense fear that she hadn’t known before. “This fear turned into sadness and brought anger,” she says. When she couldn’t go out and throw stones at the soldiers, it was art that became her outlet. Without being able to speak about her anger and frustration, art showed her the way to communicate the harshest of emotions in the gentlest manner. Her work is mostly a reflection of life in Kashmir and the events that have changed its history over the years. In her sketches, these days, she has been drawing short stories about various elements of the ongoing uprising, based on her own experience. “Wherever there is conflict, there’s discomfort, and discomfort gives rise to art,” she says.

Hussain’s early work was shaped by much more quotidian experiences. As a student at Mumbai’s JJ Institute of Applied Arts from 1971 to 1976, he would often visit home for vacation. After his education, he returned to Kashmir to introduce the graphic designer course in the Institute of Music and Fine Arts (IMFA). “Life was peaceful, and there was so much to do as a graphic designer,” says Hussain, now a highly acclaimed artist. “I used to paint as well. We had art camps every year and artists from across the world used to visit these camps. We had great fruitful interactions with them. It would not be an understatement to say that it truly was an artist’s paradise.”

At the IMFA, opportunities were many, including the highly creative and culturally diverse environment when artists from all regions and religions would work together. “My works talked about our rich cultural heritage, expressed my admiration for the natural beauty through landscapes, photo documentation of our vernacular architecture, especially the lattice work,” he says.

Then the conflict broke out; Hussain lost all the artwork he had created in 1993 amid protests. What he managed to salvage was then lost to floods in 2014. But that has just spurred him to do more paintings like “Death and Resurrection,” a series in the form of painted relief in mixed media that shows the conflict he has witnessed. He mourns the younger generation’s lack of awareness of an earlier Kashmir – one of his paintings, “Look Behind the Canvas,” depicts three generations of women in Kashmir – showing Mughli, whose son was forcibly disappeared, and Rafiqa, whose husband is also disappeared, and his own daughter. In the painting, he has also incorporated cuttings from the newspapers during 2010 mass uprising as a small collage.

After the work was finished, however, Hussain tore it apart, as a metaphor for Kashmir’s situation.v “I was so scared to see the situation of young boys dying in 2010. I found that there is no end to this violence and situation will not be better,” he says. “We are waiting for somebody to come, who can feel our wounds. I tore apart this painting but somebody will come who will put this painting back together again.”

Similarly, in July, when Abyad, a recent graduate of the IMFA, read about lead pellets being fired at civilians, the reaction came out on paper. More than 1.3 millions pellets have been fired in the first 43 days of the uprising. The hospitals are filled with young men wearing blackout glasses after undergoing operations to get out the pellets and then try to restore sight. “We have been confined to our homes for the past 52 days with violence all around us,” says Hussain, who has also been making digital art on pellet survivors. “It’s heartbreaking to see children losing their eye sight to pellets,” he says. “Digital media is the quickest means of depicting the plight of these children to the world. Such brutal acts must be stopped.”

On July 9, the capital of Indian-occupied Jammu Kashmir went unexpectedly quiet. Police barriers and barbed wire blocked the streets of Srinigar as military helicopters passed over blue skies crowded by mountains. Thousands of protesters were rioting in the streets 24 miles south. The sudden shutdown came after Indian Army forces killed 22-year-old Burhan Wani, a popular Hizb ul Mujahideen Kashmiri militant with a 1 million rupee ($15,000) Indian-issued bounty, late Friday evening in southern Kashmir. Outrage over Wani’s death turned the militant into a martyr overnight, and by Wednesday, the death toll reached 35, with hundreds more injured in clashes between separatist protesters and Indian troops.

As is routine when fighting breaks out in the Valley, which has been disputed between India and Pakistan since 1947, anti-Indian separatist leaders called for a four-day shutdown of the city. Shops, restaurants, pharmacies, and fruit sellers were closed in solidarity. The mood was grim, and few dared venture out of their homes.

But on the edge of the city, it was as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Dal Lake is Srinagar’s prized “jewel,” an economic powerhouse for a struggling region that draws tourists with its staggering mountains and serene waters. Nearly 70,000 locals reside near its shores, and depend entirely on tourism and fishing for their livelihood. And Dal’s façade of normalcy in recent days speaks to the tensions here as Kashmiris both chafe against Indian control and at the same time try to keep their shaky economy going. “Every Kashmiri wants to protect Dal Lake,” explains Asif Qureshi, bureau chief of a local news station in Srinagar. “It is the jewel of Kashmir. It’s a safe zone, blocked in from Dal Gate to the Boulevard near the Army Cantonment.”

On Sunday, as the rest of Srinagar remained on tense lockdown, water-skiers glided blissfully across Dal Lake. Fruit and souvenir sellers rowed in brightly-painted shikara boats around the silky blue water looking for tourists. Shikara boat owners offered rides to Indian families on vacation. “It’s our first time on Dal Lake,” said Sagar Choudri, a tourist visiting from Maharashtra who’d just finished water-skiing. “We feel good here. People are very nice to us. We heard a little about the strike, but we feel safe.”

Nearly 10 miles wide, Dal hosts some 880 wood-carved houseboats, leftover from the British before partition when the Dogra Maharaja of Kashmir prohibited them from building houses on land. Now, the Dal economy supports thousands of families across Srinagar – from taxi drivers to houseboat owners to cooks to fruit-sellers. It is one of the only areas that remains immune to fighting that can break out on short notice in Kashmir, which remains one of the most heavily militarized zones in the world. Green and white signs across Srinagar read: “Dal is our identity. Let us join our hands to preserve it.” “There is no tension, there is no military here. Dal Lake is peaceful, Dal Lake is safe, Dal Lake depends 90 percent on tourists,” says Latif Ahamed, a young shikara boat owner who stayed open during the strike, hoping to catch a few stray tourists. He sounded weary of talking about the recent fighting.

But it is not an easy topic to avoid. Dressed in the uniform blue kurta worn by shikara union workers, Mr. Ahamed explained that in addition to the economic difficulties of working as a shikara guide, his work carried the added burden of political pressure: Could he afford to follow suit and shut down his business? He had decided to stay open over the weekend, despite pressure to remain shut. “People are angry with us, the city people,” he said, referring to shopkeepers in other neighborhoods in Srinagar. “They come to us they say, ‘Why are you open?’ And I say, ‘Our family, we’re poor people. We earn only 500 rupees.’ You strike four to five days. What will I eat?”

Nearly every shop in Srinagar obeyed a statewide motion by Syed Geelani, the “father” of Kashmir’s separatist movement, to go on a five-day strike in protest of the killings. It has become a customary symbol of expressing discontent against the government – and is hard to defy. But it is often Kashmir’s urban poor who bears the brunt of these strikes. Ashiq Ahmad Kulo, a brass and silver jewelry seller, felt similar tensions as he rowed around Dal over the weekend looking for tourists. “Burhan Wani was a good person,” Kulo says from his shikara. “He was our Muslim brother, so we’re feeling sad about this. We are feeling totally bad. We want freedom. I am also hating the politics. But we have no shops, no regular salary. We people are depending only of the tourism.”

The costs of unrest are well known here, and lurk in recent memory. Fighting was so extreme in 2008, and later in 2010, that tourists stopped coming in entirely – Dal Lake was forced to shut down, more than 200 people were killed, and many youths were unemployed. The periodic unrest has meant that Jammu and Kashmir has one of the highest unemployment rates in India, with roughly 600,000 unable to find work.

But in the past five years, tourism has revived, with more Indians once again venturing north. During peak season, food and jewelry sellers can earn as much as 10,000 rupees ($148) in a single day. But during days of lockdown, which frighten off many tourists, the daily income ranges from zero to roughly 1,000 rupees, depending on the business. After fighting broke out this weekend, many tourists left early; Air India offered its customers outside Kashmir free cancellations for trips booked to Srinagar. “I stay open because everywhere nothing is open,” says Rafi Kulo, a local drink seller who sold water, juice, and soda. “But tourists suffer from thirst. I prefer to give people food, drinks. When protests happen, business always goes down. Before this situation we could earn 10,000 per day.

Most floating businesses on Dal Lake remained open over the weekend for tourists: Kashmiri silk and scarf shops, coat sellers, fruit and vegetable sellers, and even floating restaurants advertising popular Indian fast food like vegetable biryani, methi pakoora, zeera rice, dum aloo, and “Italian pasta.” “We people depend 100 percent on the tourists,” said Firdous Ahamed, owner of the floating restaurant Mango Bango. “In 2008, there was a killing on the road, local people got killed by police, in front of Dal Lake. And we people came out, we said, ‘We never fight for anything. Why is this happening here?’ ”

For Mr. Ahamed, the region’s dependency on India is clear. Many here wonder if an independent Kashmir would be able to survive, even if some current constraints on its economy were lifted. “We don’t think we have anything here to be independent. We don’t have nothing here, economically,” Ahamed adds. “We’re a small matchbox. Like India, if it stops, we can’t burn anything. We can’t have any factories here. We are depending on India. We say just give us democracy. That’s it. If we get democracy, like a right to talk, that’s the main thing.”

Observation

Whereas Pakistan has been internationalize the Kashmir issue so far now India, after its “surgical attacks on Kashmir on some bogus reason to weaken the Kashmiri struggle for freedom has got the opportunity to belittle Pakistan by internationalizing the Uri event.

RSS controlled Modi’s government tried its best to isolate Pakistan but failed miserably. it to be India proposed to BRICS Summit to declare Pakistan a terror state but China stood with Pakistan and rejected Indian claim.

India media are so happy that Indo-Pakistani ties are further straining and go complicated indefinitely as Uri provided the much waited chance to thrash Pakistani embassy officals.

For the sake of peace, stability and tranquility the UNSC must step in and push them to agree for a peace deal while releasing Jammu Kashmir under their joint occupation while China would also do the same as it also occupies a part of Azad Kashmir without striking secret deals with India and Pakistan. .

In order to retain occupational parts of Palestine, Israel also supports India directly and Pakistan does it passively. It is therefore necessary to clip the terror clip of the Zionist regime in Mideast and dismantle all its WMD obtained illegally form the west.

Indi a as well as Pakistan must now realize that they cannot occupy Jammu Kashmir indefinitely and must, therefore, wake up the protest calls of Kashmiris. The usual cross border firing dramas must end.

So long as India and Pakistan continue to cross fire to terrorize Kashmiris, the perpetual Indo-Pakistani tensions over Kashmir would not end especially when the UN and UNSC allow India to go on regular rampages in Kashmir and expand secret graveyards in the valley.

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South Asia

What Does NATO Withdrawal from Afghanistan Mean for Regional Actors?

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By September 11, 2021, NATO’s 20-year operation in Afghanistan will come to a close. That date marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on U.S. soil that prompted the invasion of the Central Asian state to eradicate the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda extremist group which used the country as a base for global terrorism.

America’s longest and most expensive war is coming to an end, but the country left behind finds itself in a state of turmoil. Peace talks between the internationally recognized Afghan government based in Kabul and the Taliban held in Doha, Qatar, have stalled. The Taliban’s hand in negotiations is becoming increasingly strong as the group has managed to seize power in roughly ⅓ of Afghanistan’s administrative districts sending Afghan government forces fleeing across the borders of neighboring states. Many districts have fallen to the Taliban without much resistance from the NATO-funded and equipped government forces compounding fears that Taliban influence and power will only grow as coalition forces complete their withdrawal.

The NATO withdrawal creates significant hurdles for regional stability and a power vacuum in Central Asia. There are several players, both internal and external, who are seeking to fill the void left by the Americans and their allies. Pakistan, India, Iran, Turkey, China and Russia seem poised to play the next “great game” in the so-called “graveyard of empires”. Some of these states have a vested interest in the stability of Afghanistan to ensure regional security and foster economic interests as well as mitigate the spread of extremism and narcotics flows from the state. Some actors stand to benefit from the current instability; supporting rival groups in hopes of enhancing influence and having the upper hand on geopolitical adversaries when the dust settles on the Afghan conflict. This paper will identify some of the most prominent outside actors in the current Afghan crisis, what those actors seek to gain in Afghanistan, and how they will try to achieve those aims.

Pakistan

Pakistan is arguably the most active actor in Afghanistan at this point. Pakistan has longstanding ties to conflict in Afghanistan. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan was an important base for the Mujahidin who eventually waged a guerilla war against Soviet invaders. Pakistan aided the United States in promoting opposition to the Soviets in Afghanistan and was incredibly successful in this role. In the contemporary context, Islamabad has maintained close ties to the Taliban offering support in military hardware, intelligence, being a haven for those fleeing NATO coalition advances in Afghanistan. There are cultural links between Afghan and Pakistani communities with Pashtun tribes living along the borders. Pakistan is one of the major actors that is thriving in the current instability caused by NATO’s withdrawal. The links between the Taliban and Islamabad allow Pakistan to wield considerable influence in Afghanistan; Pakistan has been increasingly pursuing a policy separate from its former close U.S. ally, with relations damaged between the two over Pakistan’s support for terrorist groups. Islamabad also maintains a poor relationship with the internationally recognized government in Kabul. Recently, the Afghan government has recalled senior diplomats from its embassy in Pakistan over the alleged kidnapping of the ambassador’s daughter on the Pakistani soil. Pakistan is also in constant competition for influence in the region in opposition to its historic rival, India.

Despite benefitting from the current turmoil in Afghanistan, its ambitions have become more nuanced in recent years. Pakistan has been growing closer with China, described as its “iron brother” and is a major recipient of investment under the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Pakistan is being forced to re-evaluate its policy in Afghanistan to protect its links to China and prospective projects under the BRI. China is interested in promoting stability in the region, it has been hesitant to invest in Afghanistan due to previous experience with instability damaging economic prospects in the country. Pakistan and China have engaged with the Taliban and Kabul in a trilateral format to promote peaceful resolution in the country, solidifying both states’ role in the peace process and protecting a potential economic corridor. There is also the prospect of a rail line linking Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan for both passenger and cargo freight that will not move forward without security guarantees in Afghanistan.

Despite playing the role of destabilizer for decades, Pakistan now seeks to reimagine its role as one of a mediator and promoter of economic stability and regional connectivity. Pakistan’s ties with the Taliban, although still strong in some groups within the Taliban, are strained by the perception of the Taliban as Pakistan’s proxy in Afghanistan. The two do share common interests and goals in the country, including opposition to the Kabul government; the Taliban is careful to distance itself from Pakistan to some degree in hopes of projecting itself as an independent and legitimate actor. The Afghan Taliban has also refused to distance itself from the Pakistani Taliban despite repeated attempts at pressuring the group to do so by Islamabad. The United States has also put pressure on the Taliban in peace talks to remove military personnel and structures from neighboring countries, a direct reference to Pakistan where the Taliban has a significant presence on the ground.

India

India’s aims in Afghanistan are very clear: to counter the influence of Pakistan and to reduce the potential for Afghan territory to be used as a base for anti-Indian extremism. India has long been opposed to the Taliban and maintained a policy of non-engagement with the group. This policy has recently changed due to the changing conditions on the ground. This is not unique to India, many states that have formally declared the Taliban a terrorist organization have been forced to accept the likely scenario that the Taliban will remain a consistent force in the country moving forward. The Indian government has supported the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan and the government in Kabul through investment and diplomatic support. With the Kabul-based government losing control of large swathes of territory and widely seen as corrupt and unpopular, New Delhi has engaged with the Taliban in direct talks.

Indian assets have been targeted by Taliban groups with close ties to Pakistan, such as the Haqqani Group, for years. Indian investment and support in the governance of Afghanistan were also largely contingent upon the (relative) security and stability provided by NATO forces in the country; these investments are now at risk of becoming a sunk cost with little to show. India under BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to take a more active role in international affairs, particularly in countering Pakistan and China’s influence on the Asian continent. India may seek greater involvement in the Afghan peace process; likely through increased coordination and cooperation with Russia and Iran. Besides, India may want to utilize its position as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), of which China and Pakistan are also members, to find common ground on the Afghan security issue with its traditional adversaries. It is also important to note that if the Taliban seeks to become a legitimate governing force in Afghanistan, cooperation with New Delhi will be important as it is an important regional player with significant economic and political clout. This cooperation may take the form of greater separation between the Taliban and Pakistan’s intelligence services which India views as a hostile actor and promoter of anti-Indian terrorist activities.

Turkey

Turkey’s position in Afghanistan presents many opportunities for the only Islamic-majority member of the NATO alliance. Turkey’s foreign military presence under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been significant with active involvement in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey’s relationship with the United States and other NATO allies has been tense in recent years. Its military involvement in Syria and Libya has not been received positively by all parties, and its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems drew the ire of the alliance, ending with Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter program.

Turkey has recently attempted to restore its reputation with NATO allies and the United States after some viewed Erdoğan as increasingly authoritarian and too close to Russia. It has offered to secure Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, seen as an essential link to the world for international diplomats to remain in Afghanistan following NATO withdrawal. The government in Ankara is also seeking to increase its involvement in Afghanistan as a mediator with the Taliban; Turkey has hosted the Taliban and Kabul-based government for talks in Istanbul earlier this year.

Greater Turkish involvement in Afghanistan as a security guarantor and mediator, welcomed by NATO allies, is not being received positively by all parties. The Taliban have gone on record stating that a continued Turkish military presence in Afghanistan is not acceptable. The group believes that Turkish troops remaining in Afghanistan violate the terms of the 2020 peace agreement with the United States that stipulates NATO troops are obliged to withdraw from Afghanistan. They believe that Turkey, despite being “a great Islamic country”, is still an occupational force that will not be tolerated. Russia may also be unenthusiastic about a greater Turkish role in Afghanistan. While Russia does have a vested interest in maintaining stability in Afghanistan, recent competition with Turkey for influence in its Central Asian sphere of influence (particularly, in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict) means an enlarged security role for Turkey in its backyard may be received coolly by Moscow.

Iran

Iran, which shares a 900+ km land border with Afghanistan, also intends to play a greater role in Afghanistan following the departure of its NATO adversaries. Iran, a Shiite-majority nation, has a complicated relationship with the Sunni Taliban. The two have long had ideological differences that have been glazed over due to a common enemy in the United States. The Afghan government has accused both Iran and Russia of training and equipping Taliban militants on Iranian territory for attacks on NATO and government forces. Iran is forced to take a more realist approach to the Taliban. Despite ideological differences, it recognizes that the Taliban will remain a powerful influence in Afghanistan and sees its best prospects for influence in the region through cooperation with the Taliban and traditional allies like Russia.

Iran also has economic and demographic considerations pertaining to the Afghan conflict. Iran is home to 780,000 registered Afghan immigrants and refugees in addition to an estimated 2.1-2.5 million undocumented Afghan migrants. Iran faces a future demographic crisis; its population is aging, its economy is in decline, and fertility rates are far below the necessary levels to spur future economic growth. With the impact of Western sanctions sending the Iranian economy into a tailspin, Iranians are now hesitant to have more children as economic prospects in the country decline. The Afghan crisis provides Iran with a potential surge in migration that may help mitigate population decline and strengthen its negotiating power in resolving the conflict.

Russia

Russia’s position in Afghanistan is multifaceted. The historical memory of the Soviet-Afghan War from 1979-89 which is widely regarded as a significant contributing factor to the decline of the Soviet Union still weighs heavily on many Russians. Russia also maintains close security ties to the states that border Afghanistan, namely: Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Iran. Russia’s largest foreign military base is in Tajikistan, while the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russia-led military alliance, figures to play a major role in any fallout from the Afghan crisis to secure the borders of member states. Russia has deployed tanks to the Afghan-Tajik border and plans to hold joint exercises with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in August along the border regions. Russia considers Central Asia and the former Soviet states to be its sphere of influence and maintains this influence through its role as the primary regional security guarantor. The current Afghan crisis represents a significant challenge to this role.

Russia’s long-standing opposition to a NATO presence on its southern flank is well-known, but the “hasty” withdrawal of the coalition forces threatens to provoke instability across the entire region. Russia fears that Afghanistan’s internal instability could spread to fragile neighbor states, such as Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. It also has legitimate concerns about the prospect of Afghanistan being used as a base for extremism targeted towards Russia or supportive of terrorists in Russia’s Caucasus regions. There is also the issue of the Taliban’s role in the narcotics trade in Central Asia. Russia has an interest in the stability of Afghanistan and the ability to reduce the flow of Afghan heroin through Central Asia and into Russia.

Russia will be an important actor in Afghanistan moving forward, and there are unique opportunities to collaborate with traditional allies and old adversaries alike. The Taliban, formally a terrorist organization under Russian law, were invited to Moscow for talks regarding the Afghan peace process in March 2021. Russia will likely coordinate with its allies in the CSTO and SCO to take a larger role in promoting stability in Afghanistan. Direct unilateral military involvement in Afghanistan by Russia is unlikely due to the legacy of the Soviet-Afghan War but collective support vis-a-vis multilateral forums remains in the realm of possibility. It has also recently been reported that Russia has made a surprising bid for cooperation on Afghanistan with the United States. At their summit in Geneva earlier this year, President Putin made an offer to President Biden for U.S. forces to utilize Russia’s Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan military bases for intelligence operations in Afghanistan. The United States has still not committed to acting on Russia’s offer, but after promising greater cooperation at the Geneva summit the potential for enhanced cooperation on Afghanistan is not out of the question despite tensions between the two powers.

China

China shares similar ambitions to Russia in maintaining the stability of Afghanistan. China considers the Taliban a terrorist organization and is wary of the group due to its previous support for separatist Uighur Muslims in its bordering Xinjiang autonomous region. However, like Russia, China understands that the Taliban presence in Afghanistan is an undeniable reality. It recognizes that a degree of cooperation with the Taliban is necessary to maintain stability and influence going forward. In 2019, Beijing held talks on the Afghan peace process with the Taliban seeking to establish ties with the group it had previously opposed. China is seeking to play an active role in the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan following the NATO withdrawal. The country’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are significant investments that require regional stability to flourish. China has dangled the prospect of greater Afghan involvement in the CPEC as an incentive to maintain stability in Afghanistan where it has previously been hesitant to invest.

Like Russia, China is incredibly concerned about the prospect of Afghanistan being used as a base for exporting extremism into its territory, particularly in Xinjiang. Flows of narcotics into China via Afghanistan are also a cause for concern for decision-makers in Beijing. The Chinese government has maintained its best prospects for mitigating these potential issues through active engagement with the Taliban and the incentive of monetary support in exchange for stability and non-interference in domestic affairs. The Taliban has responded positively to overtures from the Chinese government and has pledged not to interfere with China’s internal affairs, although the level of control they exercise over its various factions is still unclear. China’s unilateral military involvement in Afghanistan is unlikely. Instead, China is likely to utilize its role as a leader within the SCO to pursue multilateral solutions for promoting peace and stability in the region. It will likely collaborate with Russia and other regional players, including the Taliban and the Kabul-based government, to ensure that the conflict does not spill over into Chinese territory and to secure its investments in the region.

What Happens Next?

The power vacuum in Afghanistan left by the United States and its NATO allies is quickly being filled by several regional players. Some states, such as Pakistan, hope to take advantage of longstanding ties to the Taliban to exert considerable influence over the Afghan peace process and to gain the upper hand over regional rivals namely, India. States such as Turkey and Iran stand to benefit (to some degree) from the internal instability of Afghanistan.

For Turkey, a greater role in security in the region enhances its Central Asian presence and appeases NATO allies. For Iran, collaboration with the Taliban allows for a greater influence in a territory previously occupied by adversaries while the flow of migrants may mitigate some of its own internal struggles.

China and Russia, relieved that the NATO presence on their borders has been significantly diminished, still have a vested interest in the stability of Afghanistan. For China, the overwhelming majority of its concerns are economic. Stability will allow for greater investment in the region and the protection of existing assets. For Russia, security concerns are paramount in Afghanistan. It fears that instability may spread to its Central Asian neighbors and that it may be forced to play a greater military role in the region as the primary security guarantor for CSTO allies.

These countries have been actively engaging with the Taliban and the Kabul government, hedging their bets in anticipation of a power-sharing agreement between the two parties in the near future. Despite previously viewing the Taliban as a terrorist organization, both China and Russia recognize the need to engage with the group to secure influence in the country going forward.

For all actors involved in the Afghanistan conflict, there is a certain “wait-and-see” mentality; most actors are engaging with all sides hoping to secure influence regardless of the outcome and to avoid a civil war that may spread beyond Afghanistan’s borders. It remains to be seen how effective this strategy will be and how the situation will develop in Afghanistan following the conclusion of the NATO and U.S. withdrawal from the country.

From our partner RIAC

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South Asia

Why Strategies of Stakeholders in Afghanistan Failing Against Taliban?

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taliban afghanistan

Taliban is increasingly gaining ground in Afghanistan, on daily basis, for considerable period. US may have declared ending its military mission in Afghanistan as “Mission Accomplished on ‘Global War on Terrorism’ (GWOT)”, but in reality, its embarrassing exit will continue to haunt its reputation for a long time. With Taliban gaining territory every passing day, simultaneously imposing horrifying restrictions on captured territory as ‘Islamic traditions’ it indicates transition of GWOT into global resurgence of terror, in collusion with Pakistan. While all regional stakeholders are concerned, but watching helplessly, it is evident the strategy adopted by Taliban, assisted by Pakistan has done better than that of others, so far, unless a positive mid-course correction takes place to turn the tides. A critical analysis of strategies of each of the stakeholder is necessary to infer future possibilities.

Why US lost GWOT in Afghanistan? 

US supported by multinational forces entered GWOT, post 9/11 incident, with an aim to dislodge Taliban Regime, which sheltered al-Qaeda under Osama Bin Laden, who masterminded execution of the barbarous terrorist act in New York.  Their military aim encompassed ensuring that no terror group in Afghanistan becomes strong enough to hit their mainland again, besides eliminating Osama Bin Laden and some other terrorist leaders. Peace and Development in Afghanistan was an expected side-effect, not their main aim. To execute it, US had to depend on Pakistan for logistics chain, intelligence and boots on ground, despite full knowledge of Pakistan’s support to Taliban and other terror groups, having gainfully used services of ISI and Pakistan Army against erstwhile USSR.   

As per principles of war, had US stuck to its aim and exited after dislodging Taliban Regime, reinstating a democratically elected Government in place, eliminating Osama Bin Laden, marginalising al-Qaeda and other terror groups, it would have been a graceful exit. It stretched its aim to impractical limit, of eliminating Taliban and other Islamic terror outfits from Afghan soil, least realising that the military power by itself can’t eliminate Wahabi ideology. Finding only military solution to problem of religious fundamentalism was a strategic misjudgement. This shifted achievement of the aim of multinational forces (MNF), beyond their culmination point, operationally.

MNF was of fighting from urban bases, through technology and airpower could not eliminate Taliban from rural areas. People are centre of gravity in such operations; hence one innocent kill in collateral damage of airstrikes can lead to birth of many terrorist, strengthening ideology of fundamentalists. Battle fatigue and political considerations steered the desire of MNF to pull out. In exuberance to do so, sham peace negotiations of US with Taliban (which turned out to be an exit deal) was the next error committed by US. It legitimised Taliban as political entity from terrorist status; which led to a tired US military, fighting defensive battle against a resurged, legalised Taliban for a safe exit. 

US consistently underplayed Pakistan’s support to Sunni terrorists in the region, making it a major beneficiary of monetary help and military hardware. It is to the credit of Pakistan that it lured US to extract maximum, by encashing their expertise in terrorism, and finally helped US in defeating itself in GWOT. Now after 20 years of war, losing 2400 soldiers, more than $3 trillion, US and MNF have also lost the strategic space, bases in Pakistan, amounting to a walkover in Af-Pak region. A threat by US, not to recognise Taliban, if it takes over Afghanistan by force, forming Quad with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, some drone strikes and evacuating informers are weak responses to mitigate embarrassment indicating its helplessness.   

Is Strategy Adopted by Taliban Superior?  

A battle hardened Taliban having learnt some lessons after losing war against MNF, managed to survive in rural areas with full support of Pakistan, hosting some of their leaders in safe sanctuaries in their country, despite claiming to fight for US and MNF. When the MNF crossed their culmination point, Taliban with Pakistan’s support started to gain ground in rural areas. Taliban encashed on the combat fatigue of US forces and its political ramifications, encouraged US Administration to talk, establishing its legitimacy as an essential actor. Pakistan’s mediation in this exercise favoured Taliban and not US, although the optics was differently narrated. Thus a rejuvenated Taliban was fighting a tired US Forces, operating from their bases avoiding rough terrain and infantry dominated operations, relying more on technology and firepower, which has serious limitations in type of terrain in area of operation. The air and drone strikes proved inadequate to prevent growing influence of Taliban. This triggered a race for strategic space in that region, with almost every neighbour (Russia, Pakistan, China through Pakistan, Iran and Qatar) organising peace talks between various stakeholders, primarily to suit their own interests.

With US Taliban Peace Deal signed and US withdrawal in progress, Taliban gained maximum strategic advantage by consolidating occupation of rural areas and then increasingly capturing various border districts to takeover crossings of Afghanistan with other countries to isolate Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), which have numerical superiority, but are based in urban areas, having defensive mindset. With few military gains the strategic momentum of Taliban has improved and initiative is on their side. This has increased the pace of capturing territory, while their political and diplomatic wing continues with sham talks.

Taliban also encashed on urgency of US Forces to exit, by putting up demands like release of 5000 prisoners, which Afghanistan Government had to agree under US pressure. This in effect increased the numbers of fighters of Taliban. In the meantime Pakistan, increasingly under pressure from FATF, diverted over 10,000 terrorist to fight alongside Afghan Taliban, besides some professional guidance from Pakistan Army and ISI, and occasional air support. Taliban is now in a position to insert itself between important towns to isolate ANDSF, struggling with low morale, due to some surrenders.  

Taliban’s strategic aim is to get into power structure on their terms, without fighting any elections, by putting maximum pressure on negotiating table, after capturing maximum territory. That is why they are continuing with talks and offensive simultaneously. Taliban is aware that with Sharia Law tag it can never win an election (which it terms as non-Islamic governance model of West). It may not be keen to seize power by Force due to fear of being isolated, which will make it difficult for them to govern, giving rise to forces countering them within. They are aware that they don’t have mass people’s support, who have got used to democracy in last 20 years. Taliban thus finds talks and offensive simultaneously, as their best option for political solution in their favour.

All promises of Taliban leaders that it is moderate Taliban 2021 capable of meeting people’s aspirations, stand junked as ‘Shariah Law’ like curbs back in place in Taliban controlled areas. Men lose freedom to shave & smoke, forced to wear turban, women lose freedom to moving out without male companion and most disgusting is listing of single girls between 15 to 45 years, to be married to Taliban fighters as reward. Even if Taliban leaders pose moderate, their fighters will not let the leaders settle down for anything but Shariah Law.

What is Going Wrong with ANDSF Strategy?

ANDSF in numbers are two to three times more than Taliban fighters, but are low in morale, suffering a defensive mindset.  They are not venturing out of urban areas and trying to halt Taliban with less potent air power which Americans had. Over last 20 years they went into a syndrome of overdependence on foreign forces and foreign aid. The Afghan Government with fractured mandate and various groups eyeing to share power, weakened the homogeneity, as an effective establishment to govern. In military strategy, a defender can never win, but can at best delay the defeat. Operationally ANDSF are making same mistake as MNF made by trying to win by airpower and defending bases, thus leaving the initiative with Taliban. If ANDSF fights with offensive mindset, sound strategy, small gains can improve sagging morale, which can change the tide against Taliban.

China; A wild Card Entry!

Chinese strategic interest in Afghanistan includes, connectivity projects to Iran by extending CPEC to get warm water access, fill the strategic space vacated by USA and exploit mineral and other resources of Afghanistan, including share of narcotics  trade.

China, with initial hesitancy of not becoming the third power (after USSR and USA) to suffer “Graveyard of Empires” seems to have made an unprecedented move of recognising, engaging and striking a deal with Taliban by inviting its high power delegation to Tianjin, ignoring the Government of the day in Afghanistan. China hopes that it will be able to secure its security and economic interests with Taliban, which is promising no support to ETIM and inviting their investments, thus opening the window for economic exploitation, in a haste for recognition. It is interesting to see that Islamic Emirate, posing to champion Islamic cause are getting sold out to ignore atrocities to Uyghurs for the sake of power and money, or it’s a sham promise to get recognition.

This is a dangerous honeymoon, because neither Taliban is homogenous, nor Chinese have support of local population and there are many groups like ISKP, which may not buy the offer of China to ignore atrocities in Xinjiang. Taliban itself has ETIM cadres fighting for them including some commanders, who are unlikely to compromise, although they don’t mind making a sham promise for the sake of seeking international legitimacy. China may thus find that it may be much more risky to operate any transport corridor in Afghanistan, than doing so in Pakistan, where a politicised Army is involved in sustaining it with little success. Chinese however have learnt a lesson out of Russian and US debacle, therefore, despite their strategic interest they haven’t invested any large amount in Afghanistan so far, nor are they likely to do so, unless they are very sure of the viability of the next government.   

Pakistan’s Double Game: Unprecedented Opportunities and Concerns!

Pakistan’s strategic aim has always been to seek strategic depth in Afghanistan by enforcing Durand Line over friendly or weak government in Kabul, and edge out other players from Afghanistan. It has been uncomfortable with Indian presence for developmental work in Afghanistan and growing closeness between USA and India to an extent that it was propagating an unsalable narrative that India is trying to surround it from three sides. Its nexus with Taliban is quite old and its assistance to it was one of the causes of US failure in Afghanistan, as it managed to play a double game with US and Taliban. It was also an opportunity for Pakistan to send out large number of terrorists to fight alongside Afghan Taliban, whom it wanted to relocate to avoid FATF fallouts, to preserve what it terms them as their ‘Strategic assets’ to be used elsewhere later.

The opportunity is also marred with some serious concerns. Taliban in power never compromised on Durand Line and their stance in future is likely to be similar. Taliban also has many groups within including TTP, which will also get stronger to strike Pakistan, as power of Taliban grows. Innumerable refugees outflow along with some inimical terror groups is also a concern. Pakistan’s strategy of joining hands with Taliban, dumping Ghani’s Government and luring China in this strategic space has gone off well so far. It has also been successful in edging India out of Afghanistan, to some extent, with its terrorists incrementally damaging Indian built assets.  

Other Stakeholders!

All other stake holders are concerned with likelihood of export of terrorism, but are gravely short of options and leverages, as no one is keen to put boots on ground, knowing fully well that no foreign recipe of peace in Afghanistan has worked in past, nor will it work in future. Russia is concerned about export of terrorism in CAR states, where it assumes a priority right due to historical connect of USSR. It is however in no mood to burn its fingers again by any direct intervention. CAR countries are strengthening their military forces along borders to minimise export of terrorism into their countries and handle upcoming unprecedented refugee crisis, if Taliban comes to power.

The Indian Discomfort!

India has always been emphasising on Afghan led, Afghan owned, Afghan controlled, elected, democratic government and has invested tremendous amount of goodwill in people of Afghanistan and Ghani’s Government through large amount of development projects, and capacity building of various institutions, with a cumulative sunk cost of $3 billion, more than any other country in the region. India suffers from a major handicap that despite being a legal neighbour of Afghanistan, it doesn’t physically hold the common border, thus has no direct land route. This reduces the capability of India to directly influence outcomes in Afghanistan; hence it was never taken seriously by other stakeholders even during talks.

All effort by India are being made indirectly, through diplomacy and capacity building of institutions including ANDSF. The historical engagements with Taliban in past have not been positive, in the backdrop of Kandahar hijacking or Indian support to Northern Alliance; hence if Taliban comes to power it is unlikely to prioritise Indian interest over Pakistan. The Indian strategic interest include connectivity projects to CAR through Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan and prevention of export of terrorism. In this context, if Taliban comes to power, India will have to do business with Government of the day. It was known that Afghanistan was never stable in last few decades; hence Indian planners need to rethink if investment of $3 billion in an unstable country was worth the effort or otherwise.  

What Next?        

There is a need to boost the morale of Afghan Forces, with air support, military assets and maintenance of its existing damaged air assets. An offensive mindset, and sound military strategy can turn the tide in ANDSF favour. They need to focus on recapturing border crossings, utilise other non-state actors also in engaging Taliban to weaken blockades with guerrilla tactics. There is a need to create a viable countervailing force within Afghanistan, as Taliban suffers a weakness of poor population support and lesser numbers. There is a need for US to rein Pakistan in adding strength to Taliban through overt/covert means, for the sake of innocent people ladies and children of Afghanistan. History may not excuse global community, silently witnessing a democratic society being plunged into stone age governance, functioning on religious fundamentalism mode, ready to export terrorism globally.

If left to Afghan people, civil war will continue and Taliban even if in power, will also face unprecedented cycle of instability from angry population resenting Sharia law and rival groups in Afghanistan and within Taliban. Various tribes and terror groups will ensure that no single entity or  foreign player gets that strategic space exclusively. It is unlikely that China-Pakistan will find it easy to exploit the situation amidst expected instability. This will certainly have a telling effect on regional and global security situation, as Af-Pak Region will become the largest breeding ground for terrorism, with some of the terror groups again becoming strong enough to strike US, EU, China, India or CAR. Afghanistan seems to be heading for a situation where in different areas will be under influence of different entities, leaving helpless population in the hands of fundamentalists.

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South Asia

India’s North East: A cauldron of resentment

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The writer is of the view that the recent clash between police force of Mizoram and Assam is not an isolated event. Similar incidents have happened in the past. They reflect that it is not hunky dory in India’s north east as BJP’s government would have us believe. New states in India were created willy-nilly pacify agitation. Yet the boundaries of the new states do not satisfy the people of the new states fully. They are a simmering cauldron of resentment against India’s central government. They love their traditions more than monolithic Hindutva. s

On July 10, 2021, five Assamese policemen were killed while proceeding towards Varengate (outsider gate). Amid fiery statements of chief ministers of Assam and Mizoram, police officials and politicians, it appeared that the two states would launch a full-fledged war against one another. This was not the first incident of its kind. There had been similar clashes in the past (1979, 1985 at Mirapani where 42 persons were burnt alive and 2014 clash).

Crux of the problem

Hasty creation of states to deal with separatism

When India came into being, many of it states were in grip of insurgencies. To pacify the separatist movements India hastily bowed to demand for creation of new states by reorganising the existing territories of bigger states. Many northeastern states were carved out of the state of Assam. Under the Indian constitution, secession is an offence but a new state could be created through reorganistion of the bigger state. Mizoram and Nagaland were created in haste to meet insurgents’ demand for greater self-representation.

Northeastern frontier Agency was converted into Arunachal Pradesh after the fall of Dacca. Indira Gandhi hoped that China would remain a silent spectator to her initiative as it did while East Pakistan was seceded through intervention in East Pakistan.

Linguistic states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were created mainly owing to agitation by Marathi and Gujarati speaking populations of Bombay.

In 1960, the Indian government accepted the Naga tribes’ demand for a separate state. Three districts of the state of Assam were detached from Assam to create Nagaland. It had no railway station or airport. So Dmapur also was truncated from Assam and included in Nagaland. The Dima Kachhari tribe that mostly inhabited Dimapur resented this decision. Any how the city is now a throbbing commercial centre.

In 1966, the state of Punjab was divided to create the hind-speaking state of Haryana. In 1971 Himachal Pradesh was created. Then in early 1970s, three new states were created: Jharkhand out of Bihar, Chhattisgarh out of Madhya Pradesh, and Uttaranchal out of Utter Pradesh. In 2014, Talangana was created out of Andhra Pradesh.

Nagaling (Naga homeland)

The Naga consider that the demarcation of their state is repugnant to demarcation done in 1875 by the British government. Their concept of Nagaland extends up to Nepal.

Citizenship Amendment Act and the national Register of Citizenship

These two laws are abhorred in many states of the North East.

Concluding remarks

The pitched battle between the Mizo and Assamese policemen exposed India’s “myth of unity in diversity”. Like the British rulers, India is holding together its union of states by use of brutal force and draconian laws. However sub-surface against the Indian government persists. Obviously people cherish their tradition culture and religions more than monolithic Hindutva. The BJP has set up a north East Democratic Alliance to forestall disputes between the northeastern states. This body utterly failed to predict or prevent the recent Mizo-Assam clash.

India understood that if the erstwhile East Pakistan supported the insurgencies in the North east, it will be impossible for India to keep them within Indian fold. As such, India aided and abetted insurgency in East Pakistan.

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