It is sad commentary on Muslim rulers and leaders that most of them are corrupt and shamelessly use even terrorism drama to mint wealth illegally, keeping them in the country concerned and abroad. . Arab rulers are the best examples who have huge assets indoors and abroad.
Pakistan is one of worst affected corrupt nations just like its neighbor India where corruption at top level is promoted and protected by the government and president as their prime duty. People are disconnected from the government and deleted from the sphere of activities of their elected representatives to the assemblies and parliament where the rich corporate lords who lavishly fund the parties and their elections, have full sway. Parliaments and assemblies in these two nations are made to promote the interests of rich and corporate lords and MNCs In fact, after the polls, people, voters are nobody and if they have problems they must bribe the MLAs and MPs to get redressal, if any.. These “big’ elected people have their own wealth agenda by immoral illegal means.
Pakistani regime promotes and protects the private interests of the rich and aristocrats like Nawaz Sharif and his family. In fact, by using the name Muslim league the party works against the genuine interests of common Muslims. That is the case of Muslim League in India where Muslims have to bribe the ML leaders for a job and any such services and thus poor Muslims are ignored by the party which is supposed committed to all Muslims. The Muslim party employs criminal-fraud elements to the poor Muslims, others.
That is the real state of sad affairs of Muslim League both in India and Pakistan which behaves like a capitalist party. .It cheats and betrays people. .
Nawaz Sharif which was PM of Pakistan many times is an aristocrat with large business assets in and outside Pakistan and has only the interests of the rich like Imran Khan who made money playing cricket fixed by the international mafias. . .
On July 28, Nawaz Sharif has resigned as prime minister of Pakistan following a decision by the country’s Supreme Court to disqualify him from office. The ruling came after a probe into his family’s wealth following the 2015 Panama Papers dump linking Sharif’s children to offshore companies.
Sharif, like India’s international frauds cum Bharatratna candidates like liquor-IPL magnet Vijay Mallya who after cheating India on finances, is enjoying life in London obviously with the backing of BJP government, has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case. The five judges reached a unanimous verdict in the Islamabad court, which was filled to capacity. “Following the verdict, Nawaz Sharif has divested himself of his responsibility as prime minister,” a spokesman for Sharif’s office said in a statement. However, it said he had “serious reservations” about the judicial process.
That is the greatness of Pakistani judiciary, unlike its Indian counterpart which waits for “notes” from Indian government before declaring judgments of very important cases like Babri Mosque destroyed by the criminal elements of RSS-BJP and allies, now functions independently.
The court’s ruling stated that Sharif had been dishonest in not disclosing his earnings from a Dubai-based company in his nomination papers during the 2013 general election. One of the judges, Ejaz Afzal Khan, said that Mr Sharif was no longer “eligible to be an honest member of the parliament”. The court has recommended anti-corruption cases against several individuals, including Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam and her husband Safdar, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and others.
The case hearings – spread over nearly 15 months – have been marred by controversy. The case belongs in a criminal court. The Supreme Court, which is an appellate body, initially refused to hear it. But then it not only admitted the petition for hearing, it also took the unusual step of instituting its own investigation into the case, with a dominant role for military intelligence services.
Many believe that the Supreme Court has started a process of cracking down on corruption, which augurs well for democracy. Others see this as part of a long history of political manipulation through which the country’s powerful military establishment has sought to control civilian decision-making. However, while across-the-board action against corruption may remain a pipe dream, this verdict will open the gates of power for a new set of politicians – as has often happened in the past.
A huge leak of documents has lifted the lid on how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. The files were leaked from one of the world’s most secretive companies, a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca. The files show how Mossack Fonseca clients were able to launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid tax. In one case, the company offered an American millionaire fake ownership records to hide money from the authorities. This is in direct breach of international regulations designed to stop money laundering and tax evasion.
It is the biggest leak in history, dwarfing the data released by the Wikileaks in 2010. For context, if the amount of data released by Wikileaks was equivalent to the population of San Francisco, the amount of data released in the Panama Papers is the equivalent to that of India. There are links to 12 current or former heads of state and government in the data, including dictators accused of looting their own countries. More than 60 relatives and associates of heads of state and other politicians are also implicated. The files also reveal a suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring involving close associates of .rulers of most the G20 nations, including three of the four children of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. who is now in his largest trouble..
The leaks in April 2016 revealed that three of Mr Sharif’s children owned offshore companies and assets not shown on his family’s wealth statement. The companies were allegedly used to channel funds to acquire foreign assets, including some apartments along Park Lane in London’s Mayfair area. Despite documents from the Panama Papers suggesting that the beneficial owner of the luxury central London flats was Mr Sharif’s daughter Maryam, she later claimed that she was only a trustee – and that it was her brother who was the beneficial owner. To prove her point, Maryam Nawaz produced a trust deed signed by both her and her brother dated February 2006. But a British forensic expert later said the document was “fake” or had been “falsified” because it was typed in the Calibri font, which was not commercially available until 2007. The insinuation that the offshore companies were meant to hide or launder ill-gotten wealth or to avoid taxes called Mr Sharif’s credentials into question.
Although there are legitimate ways of using tax havens, most of what has been going on is about hiding the true owners of money, the origin of the money and avoiding paying tax on the money. IPL type joint cricket events is among the best routes for money laundering.. Some of the main allegations centre on the creation of shell companies, that have the outward appearance of being legitimate businesses, but are just empty shells. They do nothing but manage money, while hiding who owns it.. Many cricketers own such companies to further promote their own wealth making and awards for cricket batboys. .
Interestingly, Mossack Fonseca says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and never been accused or charged with criminal wrong-doing. President Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the reports were down to “journalists and members of other organisations actively trying to discredit Putin and this country’s leadership”. Publication of the leaks may be down to “former employees of the State Department, the CIA, other security services,” he said.
Pakistan has repeated history. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is resigning. He was the 18th prime minister of Pakistan. Not a single one of the 17 prime ministers that preceded him have completed their full term in office. Sharif, who was serving as prime minister for a record third time, was less than a year away from becoming the first in Pakistani history to complete a full term in office. He served as prime minister from November 1990 to July 1993 and from February 1997 until he was toppled in a bloodless coup in October 1999. Allegations of corruption have dogged Sharif Mia since the 1980s. And much of what the Panama Papers revealed was the subject of a federal inquiry in the mid-1990s.
It is not immediately clear who will succeed Sharif, but his brother Shehbaz, who is chief minister of Punjab province, is seen as a strong contender for the job. Pakistan’s ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), will be permitted by the speaker of the National Assembly to select an interim prime minister to rule until the 2018 general election. The PML-N, which has the most seats in parliament, is expected to deliver a statement later on Friday.
Opposition parties will also have the opportunity to put forward their own candidates for the position. Meanwhile, the court has directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the main anti-corruption body, to compile and send four references to accountability courts against Sharif and others. The NAB has been directed to file these references within six weeks. The accountability courts have been directed to complete hearings in these cases in six months.
The ruling represents the peak of a drama that has fuelled news coverage and social media debates for months, attracting both scorn and ridicule as well as trenchant support for the prime minister. The divisions fall largely along party lines but amid the febrile accusations, many have also expressed concerns over Pakistan’s political culture. The Wikipedia profile of the prime minister has also been littered with obscenities and accusations. Sharif is not the first prime minister to lose his position following the leaking of documents from the Panamanian law firm. Iceland’s prime minister was forced to resign after documents appeared to reveal that he and his wife concealed millions of dollars’ worth of investments in an offshore company.
The PML-N decided, in its own parliamentary committee meeting, to nominate Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif as the successor to his brother, Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan’s parliament will meet on Tuesday to elect a new prime minister after the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif following an investigation into corruption allegations against his family. The ruling party named Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz as his successor over the weekend, but he must first enter parliament by contesting the seat left vacant by Sharif. In the meantime the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which enjoys a majority in parliament, has nominated ex-oil minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in a parliamentary committee meeting on Saturday decided to push for a nominee unanimously supported by opposition parties for the vacant post of prime minister after Nawaz Sharif was disqualified from public office after a landmark Supreme Court ruling in the Panama Papers case a day earlier. The PTI’s parliamentary party of former cricketer Imran Khan expressed satisfaction and gratitude over the Supreme Court verdict in the Panamagate case, with Khan terming the decision a “historic” one.. The PTI announced that the party was fielding Yasmeen Rashid to contest by-polls for the NA-120 constituency left vacant after the defeating of Nawaz Sharif. Imran Khan met with Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid and invited him to attend Sunday’s ‘thanksgiving day’ gathering in Islamabad. Rashid accepted the invitation.
While the ML workers and leaders are unhappy and angry over the verdict that, they argue, would strengthen the opposition. , the general mood of the people is one of satisfaction. Local media on Friday showed crowds assembled outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad cheering the court’s verdict. As the verdict was announced, opposition supporters erupted in applause, rushing into the street chanting slogans and handing out sweets, according to reports. The vice-chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, called it an “historic day” and praised the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) for “not succumbing to the enormous pressure and serving the cause of justice.”
The verdict was announced amid heightened security in the capital, with about 3,000 armed police and members of the Pakistan Rangers paramilitary force deployed near and around the Supreme Court.
Pakistan, it further states, is in need of an independent judiciary to help keep the democratic process within the ambit of the law and the Constitution. In a country where public officials, elected and unelected, routinely and brazenly live beyond their known and legal sources of income and wealth, the Supreme Court’s verdict in connection with the Panama Papers case in Pakistan may be the beginning of a new era of public disclosure and accountability.. The citizens of Pakistan deserve a better, more transparent and more accountable leadership in all state institutions and therefore the July 28, 2017 is a historic day for both the judiciary and politics in Pakistan. None of the former rulers of Pakistan have been subjected to the kind of transparent scrutiny that PM Nawaz Sharif and his family have undergone. Pakistani rulers and leaders must urgently learn a humility that neither Sharif not Imran has seemed capable of. The former cricket considers himself a Muslim god but he is fraud who entered politics to protect his illegal wealth. The fact that a cricketer has come to occupy a major position in Pakistani politics only reveals the emptiness and vacuum in thinking power of the people. That is sad. People opt a entertainers and frauds olny when the professional politicians refuse to serve the people and lose the their trust.
While the Muslim League workers and leaders are unhappy and angry over the verdict that, they argue, would strengthen the opposition. , the general mood of the people is one of satisfaction. One fails to understand why the so-called “Islamic terrorists” who are suppose to fight for Islam do not target the corrupt rulers of Islamic world. One answer is that these terrorists are generated and supported by the anti-Islamic forces led by USA, Israel and allies whose main objective is to defame Islam as a terrorist nation, kill Muslims to reduce global Islamic populations. That is reason why USA and NATO are not interested in ending the terror wars. Russia has already joined them and China is providing indirect support to anti-Islamic forces in Syria and elsewhere. There is total uncertainty not only in Syria but also in Pakistan. .
The Hon judiciary of Pakistan has upheld the dignity of highest court of the land and genuineness of judgments by removing the strongest man in Pakistan- PM Sharif which in itself is a great achievement of Pakistan despite being one of the most corrupt states on the globe. This very important for the reason such judgments are very rare in the world of corrupt regimes around. as judiciary sub-serve the cause of the regime that promotes corruption as their prime duty as part of promotion of capitalism and imperialism. . .
In India, for instance, judiciary cannot dare delivering such judgments against a Hindu prime minister or a Hindu President, because it does not want to degrade the prestige of India by punishing the big Hindu political frauds. India cannot have Muslim Prime minister possible for “secular” reason. In case Indian top political leaders, cutting across political spectrum, decide to post a Muslim as Indian PM, then, there could also be tremendous pressure from various quarters to remove the Muslim PM through courts. Until then, Indian PM is safe.
India, which happily punishes if a Muslim is rising faster than Hindus but promotes and pampers frauds and gets 100s in cricket with mafia plus bowlers’ help, is not expected make a Muslim as Prime Minster even to punish him and insult other Indian Muslims and Islam. . After all, India looks down upon Muslims as a mere vote bank stuff – insulted and injured..
Pakistan’s War with COVID-19: A Victory for Now
From rethinking health care systems to the redefining of global movement and migration, the coronavirus has undoubtedly changed the world – Pakistan being no exception. However, Pakistan, one of the highest populated countries in the world and a developing nation, somehow weathered the storm far better than most countries in the world – leaving many international experts and doctors questioning how.
A state of panic and chaos gripped Pakistan when the first two cases of the novel coronavirus were registered near the Iranian border, back in February of 2020. With flimsy healthcare infrastructure, insufficient public awareness and overcrowded urban spaces succumbing to grisly sanitation system, Pakistan was globally perceived to be a misfit for this kind of war, and also thought to be amongst the brutally hit ones. The notable trust deficit between the government and public, and the ignorance of both could make matters even worse.
The concept of social distancing, not new to the modern world, was alien to a mighty chunk of the masses. Pakistan, one of the only two countries still battling polio, was forecasted by prominent experts to fall deep into a quagmire, if timely actions were not taken. During May the cases began rising and in June, they peaked – hospitals were put on high alert and fear enveloped the populace. Pakistan’s already frail economy also struggled due to the coronavirus – specifically due to the nationwide lockdown that began in March 2020.However, soon after the country hit its peak, the plans finally started to kick off well; active cases began dropping by the end of June. Miraculously, Pakistan has accelerated its recovery rate to 96% in a matter of 6 months, which is surprising, given the current economic and demographic situation of the country.
Out of the 307,000+ active cases registered, more than 6,400 infected have fell victim to this disease so far, according to the Government of Pakistan. Pakistan’s surprising comeback from the pandemic has prompted World Health Organization (WHO) to declare Pakistan as an influential player in the fight against Covid-19.But how was Pakistan able to avert this public health crisis with a handful of resources and poor health infrastructure?
Graphical Analysis: The trend shows that the country witnessed the peak of the epidemic by mid-June as a result of direct or indirect violations of SOPs by the general public, especially during the Islamic month of Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr. However, the country observed a decline in daily cases by the end of June.
|CLOSED CASES*(Recovered/Discharged +Deaths)||298,719|
*As of 21st September Source: Worldometer
Amidst the national outcry for straining financial capacity, Pakistan’s healthcare infrastructure stood tall like a “Jenga” tower, with the government’s sensitive decision-making on one hand against the public’s negligence. The opposition politically capitalized on the public’s doubt about the government’s capability in dealing with a catastrophe of this scale initially, given the past experiences in dealing with natural disasters, like floods and earthquakes. Under such pressure and insecurity, PM Khan came up with a different solution.
After imposing a complete lockdown in March, a popular containment strategy, Pakistan pursued partial lockdown by closing down vicinities. The ruling party in consensus with other major elements also decided to keep crucial sectors of the economy, the livelihood of millions of wagers, open for economic activity. The government’s take on the countrywide lockdown seemed like a catalyst for an economic, social and political collapse, especially for a developing country like Pakistan.
Despite so many fingers raised at the government’s approach, PM Khan staunchly defended his position by explaining how it could give birth to greater problems like unemployment and eventually push the country into mass starvation. Reports about recession and market crashes from the neighboring India further emboldened the government on its anticipated approach – the smart lockdown.
While many believe that the policy was successful in slowing the spread of the disease in the country, notable health experts believe that the lockdown policy has only saved the country from an economic crisis, and not the disease itself yet. They believe other factors, like demography, have a bigger role to play in the country’s defense so far.
The major factor to consider is the demographic structure of Pakistan. Pakistan stands in the list of the countries with the highest number of independent population (youth, adults) against its dependent population (children, old-aged). In other words, Pakistan is home to a large number of youth or working age population; the number of old-aged individuals is significantly less.
Although COVID-19 can fatally affect people of all ages, analysis of the global death figures from the virus in the developed countries in light of the data of median age from the developed countries taken from Global health observatory data (WHO), specifically Italy, UK, France, suggests that the virus has caused more deaths in countries with the average age above 40. According to the above mentioned source, average age in Pakistan is 22; which means that the number of people with stronger physiological immunity is high, and the virus eventually dies down when the transmission occurs between large communities of young people. Thus, it can be said that the youth aspect of Pakistan’s demography might have a key role to play in the apparent success so far.
The Reporting Conspiracy
Pakistan’s testing capacity has also been subject to criticism, with claims that the health system is not sufficiently testing its population on a daily basis. Despite the Prime Minister’s sole credit to the government’s micro-lockdown policy, the data reveals an evident relationship between the decline in testing and reduction in new cases. The statistics released by Our World in Data indicate that Pakistan’s daily tests per thousand people, by July 16, was 0.1. The above source also shows that figure was estimated to be 0.13 back in June, the peak-month; the figures reveal a notable decline in overall testing from June to July.
Misreporting at the district level might have understated the official figures, but the notable thing is that even if we consider the fact that the country’s general testing has declined, it has still managed to show a positive rate less than 5%, according to Al Jazeera. According to the World Health Organization, any country with a positive rate less than 5% is in control of the disease outbreak.
Vulnerability to the Virus
By June, the disease spiraled out of control and started spreading at a very rapid pace. Due to religious gatherings in the month of Ramadan despite the lockdown restrictions, and the lifting of lockdown few weeks after Eid Ul Fitr, the country witnessed a boom in new cases. If we analyze the trend in the aforementioned graph, we can see that the number of cases almost tripled in a month. However, you can also see that after hitting a peak (6,825) in new cases, the rate of new infection steadily begin to decline over the next few days.
In an interview to Al-Jazeera, a health professional in Pakistan suggests that despite the highly contagious nature, the vulnerability to getting infected by the virus varies from individual to individual; a concept known as “population heterogeneity” in epidemiology.
Polio Response Force to the Rescue
With a big question mark on the healthcare’s capacity to accommodate sufficient ventilators for patients nearing respiratory breakdown, Pakistan defied all odds by deploying its polio eradication infrastructure to grapple the virus from spreading. The infrastructure, solely built to combat polio in rural and remote areas, has borne a great deal of innovation and research over the years due to immense pressure from the global health authorities to extirpate it.
Without the presence of a digital integrated health information system on a national level, Pakistan marched forward by integrating its polio eradication system with the COVID-19 monitoring system, an effort highlighted by the World Health Organization in a press conference. Highly trained health workers who were tasked to visit every door around the country for polio vaccination, were now directed to strategize exceptional practices that could effectively monitor, trace and contain the virus.
Even though the healthcare system does not have many epidemiologists in its infantry, Pakistan’s unique strategy has been able to considerably counter the virus than the countries widely accredited for their breakthroughs in the domain of disease control. Pakistan has received much deserved worldwide recognition in its unanticipated yet effective battle against the contagion.
The War Continues…
Pakistan might have pulled a narrow victory in what is considered as the first round of the pandemic, but the threat of the second wave still lurks around the corner. Health officials are continuously ringing bells for a potential disaster and advising the government to brace for it early on. They have also requested the government to pursue a total lockdown, if the country goes through a second wave, in the coming months as historical data suggests that second waves have usually taken a higher toll on the population as compared to the predecessor waves, like that of the Spanish influenza.
Curfewed Night- Book Review
Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer, Vintage by Random House India, 2009
Kashmir – A Paradise Lost?
In ‘Curfewed Night’, Basharat Peer, launches his core narrative, with the remark, that it was from a very early age that he had a “sense of the alienation and resentment that most Kashmiri Muslims felt and had against Indian rule” (p.11). It is from this vantage point that the reader is catapulted in to an evocative account of a Kashmir he knows (so intimately), in a style which seamlessly switches between nostalgic reminiscing and straightforward reportage. As he tells us, it was the absence of “books about the Kashmiri experience” (p.95) which invoked in him the desire to “write about the people and places that had haunted him for years” (p.96). Basharat spent his formative years under the watchful eyes of his grandfather enjoying the company of books introduced to him by his father. It was January 1990, when he was 13 years of age that his war of adolescence began and events were set in motion which were to change Kashmir forever.
In this intensely personal account of Kashmir, Basharat, goes on to describe the transformation of Kashmir from a land of immense natural beauty, into one where “armoured cars and soldiers” (p.229) were now casting an ominous shadow on the once idyllic landscape. According to him, the night of January 20,1990 marked a watershed in the Kashmiri demand for freedom, from an oppressive central government. On that night the paramilitary had come down heavily to crush what was seen to be an “incipient rebellion” (p.14) and the infamous Gawkadal Bridge massacre was to follow just a day later(Haq, 2019). Starting with the consequent spurt in growth of home grown militancy under the aegis of the pro-independence JKLF, he in the course of the book then traces the changing complexion and complexity of militancy as it moved to one which endorsed a pro-Pakistan stand as advocated by Hizbul Mujahideen and later the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. As a concomitant we are exposed to his references to the growing presence of the Indian Armed Forces and the consequent, at times unspeakable atrocities.
While still in school, Basharat Peer, could have said to have been lucky when he heeds the words of his grandfather, who tells him that “you don’t live long, in a war son”(p.28). This takes place when he aspires to join the militants in a moment of boyish hero worship, only to be thwarted in his attempt through active intervention by his family. The irony lies in the fact that in the same time frame, Tariq, his cousin meets a violent end after having embraced militancy. This inevitability of a violent end, in case of militancy, is later underlined by Basharat when he mentions that, “even Yusuf had not gotten out alive” (p.221). Yusuf was his childhood acquaintance who had various dalliances with the law, militancy and politics before being gunned down. It is indeed thought provoking and sad to find that the graves of those killed in the conflict were mostly those of the young, really young.
With this early brush with militancy, it is not long before, Basharat is sent away to study at the Aligarh Muslim University followed by enrolment at a university in Delhi. This leads him to a job as a reporter and a mellowing phase in his personal development when he discovers, the “various Indias that existed” (p. 69). All along visiting and keeping in touch with the valley it is a militant attack on his parents which unnerves him and prompts his return to the valley after having resigned from his job as a reporter. Wanting to write an intimate account of Kashmir, he now spends his time tracking down events and people with “militants and soldiers” becoming “ghost like presences”(p.206). This marks an extremely traumatic, tumultuous phase of intensely felt emotions, just as we are witness to the paralytic pain that engulfs him in his failed attempt to visit Kunanposhpora where twenty women were raped by armed forces.
There is also a sense of the tragic especially in the latter half of the narrative, when Basharat poignantly reminds us (repeatedly)of the tremendous human cost brought upon his beloved valley which gradually became a conflict zone before his very own eyes. Whether it is the reference to the ‘Association of the Parents of the Disappeared’ (p.132) or his schoolmate Mubashir’s falling victim to a grenade attack as an innocent bystander, the pain is searing. Even his own grandfather’s brother Nabi suffers from “fear and paranoia” (p.77) after his brush with militants and is resigned to taking anti-depressants in order to cope with the trauma. This psychological distress does not take sides and even an army officer is quoted to say, “I was a different man before I joined the force and came to Kashmir” (p.232). It is no wonder that Basharat writes sub consciously or otherwise about the “violence of a shoe brush” and his aeroplane is seen to execute a “violent sprint on the runway” (p. 235).
All said and done, whatever one’s political orientation, ‘Curfewed Night’, is undeniably a rich tapestry of reportage, personal experiences, reminiscences while at the same time it works as a social commentary on the Kashmir of our times. Basharat Peer does not always shy away from the unpleasant, though his narrative does shy away from digging deeper in to some uncomfortable truths like the forced migration of 100,000 or more Kashmiri Pandits following the events of the night of January 19,1990 (India Today , 2016). Also brushed aside is the role played by Pakistan when it meddles in matters of the sovereign state of India through its active and complicit involvement in an ongoing state sponsored proxy war(Towle, 1981).
To end on a more positive note, looking to “return, leave, return, leave, and return again” (p.234), an emotional Basharat looks for erasure of the “lines of control” (p.239) and a return to a world where individuals are not just suspects or military targets. He does indeed sum it up so well with his heart rending expression of the hope that the war in his valley “would disappear like footsteps on winter snow”! (p.223)
Proxy War and the Line of Control in Kashmir
Who has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere, with its roses the brightest that earth ever gave.–Thomas Moore
Kashmir has a way of arousing strong emotions, even among those like the Irish poet Thomas Moore, who never set foot on its soil. At the time of partition of British India, Kashmir was one of the largest princely states and like the rest of the princely states, it had the option of joining either of the two dominions of India and Pakistan or else declare independence. Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir had a similar choice to make but unable to take a stand he chose to sign a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan in order to buy time. India delayed signing such an agreement. It was following this agreement, that Pakistan with an eye on taking over Kashmir, started to act up and enforced a virtual economic blockade of this landlocked state, in a bid to force the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan (Singh, 1989).
The Maharaja desperate for supplies turned to India for help and matters soon took a turn for the worse, when Pashtun Tribals funded and equipped by Pakistan, invaded Kashmir, in October 1947(Haque, 2010). Facing imminent takeover of his state, Hari Singh again turned to India for help, but the Indian Government expressed its inability to intervene militarily in the absence of an Instrument of Accession. The Maharaja had dithered for too long to his detriment, he then signed the agreement and Indian troops were airlifted to the valley, immediately. The Indian Army successfully routed the tribal force,code named ‘Operation Gulmarg’,and it was the Pakistani Army which now took up the slack and stepped in continue the battle.
With winter creeping in, fighting was resumed only in the spring of 1948. It was to be almost a year before a UN sponsored cease fire took effect in January 1949, and the cease fire line became the de facto border pending resolution of the dispute. In retrospect, the Pashtun invasion was in effect the first proxy war waged by Pakistan and the resulting cease fire line was to become the Line of Control in a later ‘avatar’. It is in the context of Kashmir that we shall examine the coming in to being of these twin concepts of ‘Line of Control’ and ‘Proxy War’ and see how they created and shaped the flow of events as they un folded, in the intervening decades. Also examined, will be the role of the two state actors in a bid to identify likely outcomes and possible course corrections.
Proxy War and Kashmir
Proxy wars cannot be understood, unless they are placed in the context of their existence and usage. For Pakistan, the benefit in this manner of engagement, lies not only in its deniability (for political reasons) but also because it minimises the chances that such a conflict could escalate into a full blown act of war (Byman, 2018).
As an added corollary, there is the added incentive of reduced financial and human costs. Contextually, of even more significance, is the fact that India has military superiority which Pakistan would find hard to counter, if it were to engage in direct combat in a bid to annex Kashmir. Moreover, from a strategic point of view, when Pakistan plays the religion card for motivation, the results exceed expectations as it radicalises Islam in a Kashmir which originally subscribed to Sufi Islam. The incentive of ‘Azaadi’ is just a metaphor for annexation.
In Kashmir, there is a chain of causality, that began when, Major General Akbar Khan, a serving Pakistani Army officer, used Pashtun Tribals to stage an armed insurrection in Kashmir in October 1947 (Haque, THE KASHMIR CONFLICT: WHY IT DEFIES SOLUTION, 2010). The tribals in this operation were the first in a long list of non -state actors used by Pakistan in the relentless proxy war being waged, across the line of control, till today. Praveen Swami chooses to call this an “informal war” and rightfully says it has had a greater impact than both the 1947 and 1965 wars, as it set the stage for a seemingly endless engagement (Talbot, 2007).
Line of Control and Kashmir
In international parlance there was no such term like the line of control, until it was coined in 1972, when the Simla Accord was signed between India and Pakistan, after the post war (1971) negotiations between the two countries. The physical origins of the line of control, date back to the first Indo-Pak war in 1947, an invasion, gone wrong. Pakistan had committed this act of aggression, covert and overt, in spite of having signed a standstill agreement with the Maharaja of Kashmir, and for no identifiable reason except to further Jinnah’s interpretation of the Two Nation Theory. In spite of speculation about the exact timing of the signing of the Instrument of Accession by the Maharaja, the fact remains that Indian troops intervened with this accession instrument in place and the UN mediated a cease fire between the two countries and the cease fire line was formalised in a Karachi agreement signed in July 1949. Approximately one third of Kashmir was now with Pakistan and India had the balance two thirds. In the following years, there were three major wars with Pakistan and out of them it was the 1971 war which metamorphosed the cease fire line in to the Line of Control (LOC), as part of a larger political settlement. This line of control was in effect ‘cordon sanitaire’ based on military realities and political exigencies. Virtually unaffected by the wars of 1965 and 1999, the 742 km LOC still traverses majorly mountainous terrain with the Siachen Glacier as its end point. It has now been fenced over much of its length to discourage infiltration from Pakistan.
Proxy War and Line of Control
Regardless of nomenclature, with the war of 1947, the matters of proxy war and the line of control, became inextricably linked to the very existence of the countries of India and Pakistan. Just like the first war of 1947, Pakistan, unsuccessfully tried the proxy route again in 1965, with ‘Operation Gibraltar’ but the infiltrators could not garner local support and ‘conventional’ war broke out. The UN then negotiated a cease fire, and the Tashkent Agreement restored the sanctity of the 1949 cease fire line. In subsequent years, the 1971 war mutated the cease fire line, in to the LOC, and this war was more to do with the liberation of East Pakistan, anyway. Finally, it was Zia, who ultimately formalised this bid to “bleed India with a thousand cuts”(Katoch, 2013). The juggernaut he set rolling in 1988, never quite stopped and the Kargil war of 1999, was to see the pattern repeated, in terms of the use of non-state actors.
In the intervening years, since, only the ‘face’ of proxy war has changed and evolved, the heavily militarized LOC is a constant. To start with, in the eighties, it was the pro-independence JKLF with indigenous recruits, which held sway, only to be replaced by a pro-Pakistan, Hizbul-Mujahideen and later the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-Mohammed. Even now, the youth of Kashmir, is being radicalised and trained in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, for ‘Jihad’, but ‘terrorism fatigue’ is setting in. Militants are losing support of the local population, more and more, just as Pakistan uses its Afghan experience to use different nationalities as cannon fodder. Peace talks make no headway in this paradigm and there are no winners in this war, social and economic development is the casualty, damaged goods abound amongst the public and the security forces, alike.
In Search of a Settlement
Taking the time of partition as a point of reference, Pakistan was convinced in its mind that given geographical contiguity, and the fact that the state was predominantly Muslim, Kashmir should be its own. Clearly this was a political issue which Pakistan turned in to a military conflict. From thereon, Pakistan’s strategies ensured that the situation was turned in to a regional conflict with international dimensions. So much so Clinton referred to the LOC as the “most dangerous place in the world”(Popham, 2000). Playing its cards well, Pakistan turned a political stalemate in to a militaristic, socio-religious and political quagmire. With no noteworthy democratic institutions to speak of, Pakistan wants to liberate Kashmir, choosing to forget that accession was the instrument of choice when the princely states decided their fate at the time of partition. How was Kashmir’s choice being invalidated if this was so.
Today, the Kashmir Valley is a land transformed. From a paradise of untold natural beauty, it is a landscape of concertina wire fences and concrete bunkers. Its residents are in a state of siege, emotionally scarred, unable to cast off the twin yokes of militancy and counter-insurgency, with the military and militants lurking at every corner (literally). Brutality abounds. Opportunistic politicians, flawed elections, corrupt bureaucrats, a protecting force which behaves like an occupation force, are faces of this brutality that have been unleashed on the people of Kashmir. This was not always so.
Clearly, somewhere along the way India lost her bearings. It failed to take in to account the aspirations of the people. Kashmirayat, was secular, but it was not taken seriously and it did not take much to ignite the flames of ‘Azaadi’ which almost engulfed the valley. The secular bond was broken with the forced migration of the Kashmiri Pundits out of the valley. Regardless of the prevailing political dispensation, over time, with the growth of militancy, repression was the dominant reaction and the ‘mailed fist’ gained precedence. Radicalised Islam began to replace Sufi Islam((RETD), 2018). Fear and suspicion ruled the psyche of the people. The youth felt disenfranchised. India had fallen in to the trap of enforcing a siege instigated by Pakistan. Kashmiris felt betrayed. Article 370 which granted unprecedented autonomy, had been diluted until it was just symbolic, when it was abrogated in 2019, by a fiercely nationalistic government which had only just snapped ties with an electoral partner perceived as soft on separatists.
Coming back to the time of independence, Dionisio Anzilotti, former President of the Permanent Court of International Justice, says that Pakistan’s invasion in 1947 was “against all canons of international law” and “a clear violation of the Charter, the Security Council’s resolution of 17 January, 1948” (Pan, 1998).Just as interesting is the fact that, the accession document is deemed to be legal under international law even if it is signed under duress(Ayoob, 1967). As for the oft touted failure to institute a plebiscite, the UNSC resolution signed by both countries, clearly calls for first off withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Kashmir, with India keeping its forces at a minimum. Pakistan will never pull back and the stalemate therefore continues.
Clearly, there is an impasse and an impossibility for either side to blink. In Pakistan, the army cannot possibly abandon a conflict through which it exercises control over the body politic that sustains its economic, political and economic interests. It is almost as if, Kashmir is the very reason for the existence of the army and for the public of Pakistan, Kashmir’s liberation and annihilation of its bête noire, India, is the only national priority. Muhammad Shaffi Qureshi, a Kashmiri politician put it well when he said, that the Pakistan Army has “been feeding the tiger for a long time” for it to just walk away(Kifner, 2001). The danger in proxy warfare being that after a time proxies begin to “act according to their own interest and impulses”(Byman, ORDER FROM CHAOS Why engage in proxy war? A state’s perspective, 2018)(ibid).Pervez Musharraf and others have realized this truth much to their chagrin.
India, too is riding its own tiger, as it is caught in a ‘low-level equilibrium trap ‘in terms of being, in a state of no war accompanied by no peace(Carciumaru, 2015). The fear being that any let up in military presence will escalate militancy. The abrogation of Article 370 and the division of the state of Jammu & Kashmir in to centrally administered divisions, has destabilized already vulnerable democratic processes, turning Kashmir in to a simmering cauldron. The current political dispensation at the centre is still going ahead andrapidly making changes in domicile laws, in a bid to alter the demographics of the region. Previous state governments had done this for different reasons when they allowed the settling of Rohingya refugees in Jammu and thereabouts, for obvious reasons. Admittedly, matters can take a serious turn from hereon, with resentment boiling over among the populace at large.
Attempting to deal with the abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan is consequently changing its strategy. A leaked policy document from the ‘Green Book 2020’,indicates that the proxy war will now move towards, a‘non kinetic domain’(Osborne, 2020).Cyber warfare and psychological warfare being used to aid and abet a native uprising, so as to be able to defend Pakistan’s position on international forums. With a defensive and weakened Pakistan, India, too must move differently and realize that it cannot have a decisive win against militancy, using brute force. With militancy, currently at an ebb, the time is in fact opportune to move towards a ‘negotiated settlement’ as the militants are politically discredited in a scenario where India has the moral high ground as it does not believe in building terror launch pads on its soil. Its people of Kashmir are decidedly at an advantage economically, when compared to their ‘compatriots’ across the LOC and they have a ‘voice’, in a country where rule of law still prevails. Aberrations like the AFSPA, can surface in any dispensation, you don’t throw the baby with the bath water.
Bashir Manzar wrote on twitter, “From Geelani to Farooq Abdullah, we have a luxury to say anything and everything against India, ridiculing it for rejecting our right of self-determination,independent Kashmir, autonomy, self-rule etc. But when Pakistan rejects all these things, we turn into non-speaking species. Are we more scared of Pakistan than India?”
Seven decades later, peace is still intractable in the Kashmir Valley.Violations across the line of control continue, by both sides and the proxy war initiated and sustained by Pakistan, has been a constant for long.Kashmir is ina ‘mutually hurting-stalemate’(Carciumaru, Beyond the ‘Low-Level Equilibrium Trap’: Getting to a ‘Principled Negotiation’ of the Kashmir Conflict, 2015) (ibid).Perhaps, the most elegant solution to this imbroglio would be acceptance of the line of control as an international border with greater autonomy for Kashmir (as suggested by Farooq Abdullah)so that the people of Kashmir couldthen move on with their lives, which in a paradoxical manner seem to be in a state of suspended animation, as long as the conflict continues to play itself out. This is not utopian, all it needs is political will and some give and take(Sharma, 2017).
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