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Kashmir for Kashmiris

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India for Indians, Pakistan for Pakistanis and, obviously, Kashmir for Kashmiris and there cannot be two opinions. Pakistan had been a part of India but no more. But India cannot take Kashmir in place of Pakistan which is now an independent nation. And hence annexation and brutal occupation of Jammu Kashmir is illegal. Kashmir cannot be for Indians and Pakistanis.

We Indians cannot say India for Pakistanis or Kashmiris and similarly, Kashmir is for Kashmiris. Many foreign nations o invaded Kashmir before India and its half-brother Pakistan did it in 1947 and all of them had to leave Kashmir before it was too late.  Similarly, Kashmiris know, Indians also would have to quit Kashmir for which a strong popular movement has begun in Kashmir. A restless India is trying all tricks of trade to quell the freedom movement and silence the Kashmiris, but Kashmiri youth is firmly bold and highly resurgent and reasonably resolved to retake their nation.

India went on killing Kashmiris during the last several decades of its illegal occupation and till day over 1000,000 innocent Kashmiri shave been slaughtered in order to silence them from their demand for sovereignty from Indian yoke. India as ruled out referendum, thereby giving slap on the UN. .

When India and Pakistan invaded Jammu Kashmir a soverign nation sandwiched between them, divided it and shared between them according to their military prowess. Britain while quitting New Delhi had left behind its large terror goods with India, the successor state of imperial India.  Indian military prowess continues to exercise its might over the region.

India has been quite tactfully avoiding a UN sponsored referendum to determine the future of Jammu Kashmir as it is damn scared of losing Kashmir forever. A referendum would end the nuclearized South Asian tensions forever and allow peace and prosperity of Jammu Kashmir as a soverign nation. New Delhi under all political outfits, both national and regional, plays dirty but criminal tricks with unfortunate Kashmiris, silencing them, and terrorizing the youth. Kashmiris have lost sovereignty, freedoms, peace as they are the target of Indo-Israeli bullets.

India and Pakistan amassed nukes thanks to their joint occupation of Jammu Kashmir obviously on a secret understanding. Britain helped both India and Pakistan to invade and occupy that nation according their individual military might. In fact, had British government resented invasion of Jammu Kashmir by Indo-Pakistan – the newly freed  South Asian colonies – the Indo-Pak would have immediately stopped its occupational  strategies.  As a colonialist power UK only promoted invasions. This explains as to why both UK and USA refuse to sincerely mediate between India and Pakistan and free Jammu Kashmir. These western powers are indeed the rogue states with democratic façade in front. UK and USA are responsible for the creation of a Zionist criminal state in Mideast to control Arab nations.

Struggle for sovereignty

The turmoil in Kashmir, which got intensified after the fake encounter of Burhan Wani (July 2016), does not seem to abet. It has been worsening as reflected in the ongoing violence leading to low turnout of voters in the by poll (April 2017). Shockingly there was a turn out only of 7.14 percent of voters. The by-polls were also marred by violence in which, many a civilians and security force person also died and lately one witnessed with great horror a Kashmir youth being tied to the military truck to prevent stone pelters from throwing stones on the vehicle. Those pelting stones don’t seem to be stopping despite the lapse of period of time. These young men are being looked at in various ways.

Farookh Abdullah had stated on the eve of elections that those young men throwing stones are doing so for their nation. This statement of his came under scathing criticism from various quarters and section of media and was dismissed by many as a pre election statement.

Who are these boys who pelt stones? Are these merely Pakistan inspired and funded youth? In the aftermath of state crackdown; hundreds have died, thousands have been wounded and many more have lost eyesight! A section of TV and other media is going hammer and tongs about the role of Pakistan and the funding they receive. The question which needs to be introspected is that will young people risk their life, loss of eyesight or other harm to body just for someone’s bidding or some money? Many of them are teenagers, tech savvy and they are so much full of deep hatred that they are willing to risk their lives, not caring about their future. The degree of frustration among them must we horrific.

India media have a duty to  shield the military crimes as their own. Only a small section of media has gone deeper into the real issue and have interviewed some of them. The stories of their experiences and feelings shatter one’s perceptions about law and order in Kashmir. Many belong to families which have given up hope of any type. Most of these young boys have experienced torture, beating, harassments of sorts and often humiliation For many of them stone throwing comes as sort of catharsis, a feeling of having taken revenge of what has happened to them. It is the only strong way of protest they must be feeling is left for them. Many of them are Pro Pakistan for sure but the basic point remains political alienation which is seeping in deepening. This in turn is due to the suffering and pain to which Kashmir has been subjected due to the prolonged military presence in the area.

Post Burhan Wani murder, the Kashmir based PDP, or even national Conference has been able to see the intensity of the situation. Mahbooba Mufti, the Chief Minister of the ruling coalition, wanted to go for a dialogue with the dissenters, but coalition partner and the party leading at center BJP shot down the idea. Mahbooba Mufti felt that dialogue is the only way out but BJP feels that dialogue is a way to befool the people. It seems the ruling BJP wants to take a hard line to deal with dissidence, regards that dissidence is there only due to Pakistan or ISIS and so repression should be intensified.

RSS has a tendency to give birth to more and more offshoots of Hindutva mode to threaten Muslims. BJP and RSS and other Hindutva elements have  gathered Hindutva  extremists, calling themselves  Jana Sena (people’s military),  to fight the Kashmiri Muslims youth  that uses stone as their weapon to  fight the powerful guns of India. 

Claiming to be the wholesale patriotic guys of Indian secular nation, the rich core media lords of Indian English/Hindi TV channels put themselves in the mode of ultra patriotic elements to retain Jammu Kashmir even by forcing the military forces to perform a complete holocaust of Kashmiri race. They advise the government and leaders of national political outfits not to let Jammu Kashmir go away from Indian military control saying that once free Kashmiris would support Pakistan and become another enemy of an “innocent” looking India which has killed over 1000,000 Kashmiri Muslims and yet it is not ready to end crimes in Kashmir.

BJP, RSS and Congress feel badly suffocated by the latest developments in occupied Kashmir as Kashmiris just ignore the military prowess and challenge their domination by stone pelting.  That is unbearable for them because military should have upper hand to decide the fate of Kashmiris. They are indeed sacred that they would lose Jammu Kashmir sooner than alter But they want to frighten them by using  Jana Sena to counter stone pelting in Kashmir by using the military guns and stones alternatively. That would, if implemented, obviously lead to a situation when India would be forced to give away Jammu Kashmir.  .

The BJP government  on the one hand and the RSS-Congress duo on the other keep scheming against Muslims in general and Kashmir in particular while the Hindu media lords, especially those that run TV channels in English on behalf political and intelligence wings consider it their duty to challenge the Kashmiri youth that has resorted to  stone  pelting against the terror attacks of India’s powerful military forces occupying their lands, killing them in a sustained manner, terrorizing everyone in Jammu Kashmir so that Kashmiris salute military  forces and let them do whatever they want to project Indian military prowess the supreme.

On domestic and foreign fronts, BJP has been pursing all Congress policies including on Kashmir issue. Hatred for Islam and Muslims are pushed on heavily by the Hindutva leaders. Targeting the Kashmiris in Kashmir and killing them in a sustained manner by is a part of that anti-Muslim effort. Core Indian media and intelligence wings tell the people that Kashmiris are as much enemies as Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are and they should be made to beg New Delhi for money as Sri Lank and Bhutan have been doing.

It has been a routine scene in many places in Kashmir where women and men, old and young, children inclusive, gather in front of the houses where people mourn the death of their beloved, near and dear ones, and Kashmiri young men are 

Freedom struggle in Kashmir grew thanks to involvement many of the youth. Many believe that today youth are being targeted in Kashmir, which is probably why people are feeling alienated from India.

The fallout of the security forces’ hardening attitude towards the locals has led to the spike in local militancy. As per media reports, since last year’s unrest, 88 local youth have joined the militant ranks. Many attribute this to the growing anger among the youth as “India is not ready to listen to them (Kashmiris).”

Repeated Indian attacks on Kashmiri Muslims leads to counter attacks. With two back to back attacks on security forces, Kashmir’s security situation is spiraling into a new cycle of violence. Even as the news of Kulgam ambush came to light (1 May) in which four policemen and two bank employees were killed by militants in Pumbai village, reports began to pour in of the dastardly attack by the Pakistani special forces and militants on an Indian Army post on the LoC in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district in Jammu, which resulted in killing and mutilation of two Indian soldiers. The attacks in Kulgam and Krishna Ghati represent the two major incidents since last year’s attack on the Indian Army brigade headquarters in Uri in north Kashmir.

Naturally, these attacks have shaken Kashmir’s political and security establishment and threaten to push Kashmir on the edge of another spell of unrest and major violence as the summer approaches. The locals that this reporter talked to had very little to say about the attack in Poonch, but offered different viewpoints on the situation in Kashmir. This is in stark contrast to last year, when post-Uri attack and India’s surgical strike, there were widespread fears of an India-Pakistan war.

Many believe that the recent attacks are a result of the excessive force being used by the security forces against the locals. The anger is directed especially towards the use of pellet guns which have destroyed the lives of many civilians.

The recent attack in Kulgam and similar attacks is mostly due to Indian oppression. If we look at the 2008 and 2010 unrest, the violence had not been this intense. People thought that India is not agreeing to anything which has caused resurgence of militancy. It is unfortunate that innocent people are getting killed, but if we look at the history, violence has always been countered by violence only.

There is anger among youth, they have been killed, they have been arrested and even tortured and even when minor things happen, they get angry. Same thing happened when forces entered the college in Pulwama.”

Clarity and perspective are early casualties during turmoil. Yet now more than ever before we are in need of clarity and perspective to deal with the mess in Kashmir. Instead of being swayed by the noise, blood and emotion, decision-makers must be guided by calm, rational judgment. Kashmir is not lost. Nor will it ever be. However, there is no space for complacency and denial. The Valley is suffering from one of the worst periods of crisis in its history and we must acknowledge it, prepare and implement a plan of action.

It is a problem with multifarious dimensions. However, trying to solve everything at the same time is a sure recipe for failure. Therefore, the Indian state must narrow down its focus.

Therefore, the first and foremost responsibility of government stakeholders (and that includes the Centre, state and the entire security establishment) is to restore the writ of the Indian state in Kashmir. Unless there is fear of authority, rule of law and a semblance of order, any hopes of “normalcy” returning to Valley is a pipe dream.

And unless there is even a semblance of normalcy, there can be no hope for “peace” with a final settlement of surrendering sovereignty to Kashmiris once for all. .

This opium-fuelled dream of “peace in Valley” cannot become a reality amid flash mobs resisting counter-insurgency operations, solders attacking the  youth, raising cries of secession, pelting stones, terrorists spraying Kalashnikov bullets and strewing bodies of jawans and Kashmiris alike.

Some students expressed skepticism about the current situation. The student protests make the situation further precarious while the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP coalition government is trying to pacify the students and locals. But if the voter turnout in the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-polls and the violence on 9 April is any indication, it is clear that her administration is simply unable to cope with the situation.

The painful truth

Conducting polls regularly tin Jammu Kashmir under Indian occupation o gain legitimacy for its illegal occupation and genocides has not solved the Indian case.  Killing Muslims in Kashmir has not silenced the Kashmiris youth, either. 

For all our blaming of Pakistan, the Indian state cannot shirk its role. If Pakistan is guilty of fuelling insurgency and using Hurriyat groups to keep Kashmir on the boil, the BJP-PDP coalition and the Narendra Modi government have been guilty of incompetence. The insurgency movement has gained in strength because it has failed to read the writing on the walls.

Indian state terror strategists say that since the neutralization of Hizbul Mujaheedin commander Burhan Wani, a series of tactical and policy errors have been committed. The government has appeared all too eager to cede control and have appeared more interested in short-term placatory gestures rather than displaying an iron will in arresting the deterioration of law and order. They argue that every Kashmiri should be murdered with Israeli terror goods and end the crisis once for all.  USA and Russia are now allies of India and they don’t mind the terror operations in Kashmir. 

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has appealed to the youth to help restore normalcy in the Valley so that peace returns.

If we add the recent cancellation of Anantnag bypoll to this mix, the depth of the problem seems clear. It is not one of lack of will and the administration, but the reality of situation in Kashmir.

Indian state terror forces have gone for a comprehensive military action to flush out the Kashmiris, ”terrorists”,  catch and neutralise some of the top commanders to render the outfit headless. The ‘cordon and combing’ operation in south Kashmir launched jointly by the Army and Jammu and Kashmir Police is considered to be a ‘good first step’. It is telling, however, that the “biggest operation in 15 years” have so far failed to nab a single “terrorist”. Restore the authority of Army and the writ of Indian state. The next steps shall follow. Kashmir isn’t going anywhere.

The pressure of military action — initially by eliminating hardcore leaders and subsequently, as a “threat-in-being” — is the catalyst that forces Kashmiri freedom fighters to talk with the government. Once you dilute the fear of authority of the uniformed forces, there is bound to be resistance to dialogue.”

Disappointment

Kashmiris have been looking forward to hearing form Indian PM or President about surrendering of sovereignty to people of Kashmir for remaking their nation. However, all these years Indian government and rulers have steadily refused to mention about that either in the parliament or in cabinet meetings or in the media briefing or in any special statement. It  is like claiming a wicket by the bowlers, even though they know they are wrong in their claim just as a drama,  with overt  firmness so that the drama umpires declare OUT after wasting time in reviewing the scene. Pure dramas.  On the contrary Indian rulers said Jammu Kashmir is now a part of India. In fact, Pakistan wants Kashmir to be handed over to it because most of Kashmiris prefer Pakistan to India. Referendum is a mischief by Indo-Pakistan to deny sovereignty back to Kashmiris.

Neither India nor Pakistan is keen to return sovereignty to Kashmiris with or without due apologies.  

Indian PM Narendra Modi has said that “bullets and abuses” cannot bring peace in Kashmir, as the country celebrates 70 years since independence. In a speech in Delhi, Modi accused Kashmiri separatists of “scheming”. Muslim-majority Kashmir under Indian occupation is at the centre of a decades-old territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. Modi said only “hugs” could solve the problems of the territory, which often sees clashes between protesters and Indian security forces. India is celebrating its 70th Independence Day a day after its neighbour Pakistan.

Modi also criticised people for using religion to incite violence. Vigilantes who portray themselves as protectors of cows  have been frequently attacking people mostly Muslims suspected of smuggling the animal since Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014. The slaughter of cows is banned in several Indian states being ruled by BJP. Nearly a dozen people have been killed in the past two years in the name of the cow. Targets are often picked based on unsubstantiated rumours and Muslims have been attacked and killed for even transporting cows for milk.

Indian government knows Jammu Kashmir does not belong to India and it invaded it soon after its own freedom from Great Britain in 1947 and maybe on its advice. But it never admits and t bluffs that it is a part of India while Indian media lords, who do not want JK to cede form India, creating a vacuum in Indian map, say Kashmir has been a part of India for centuries.

Bluff cannot become truth just because it is forcefully and repeatedly articulated by powerful sources.

Indian forces kill Kashmiri Muslims mercilessly. Targeting the Kashmiri Muslim youth ahs backed fired recently as the people of Kashmir have begun a firm struggle for sovereignty.

As the freedom struggle of Kashmiris gets intensified to regain sovereignty from occupation forces from New Delhi, Indian regime gets panicky and wants to end the new phase of struggle that is forcing India to cede neighboring Jammu Kashmir that its forces occupy since 1947 to Kashmiris themselves. 

Like Israel, India also does not like, rather oppose, any third nation to intervene to end Indo-Pak conflict and get justice for Kashmiris. India has also managed to silence even the USA and other veto powers to postpone the referendum almost permanently, and, cruelly enough, the UN is also silent about its resolution for referendum for Kashmir. UN is even otherwise is a dead rubber being misused by big powers. Obviously, India bribes them with money and other “facilities” to get on board.

Of course, now Indian regime is fully aware of the hard truth that Kashmiris are determined to take back their lost sovereignty from India. Nothing less than that!

Kashmiris firmly seek sovereignty!

As Indian media continue to say Kashmir is marked in Indian constitution and as such it is an integral part of now  the Hindutva set up, Kashmiris do not fight not for bread, nor for more jobs or extra money but they have sacrificed their valuable lives for freedom and sovereignty from brutal Indian military yoke.

Freedom and sovereignty are their birth right as they all want to live as free humans with dignity. 

India has murdered over 100000 Kashmiri Muslims, beside Indian Muslims. Indian claim of ownership of Muslims inside India is one thing but extending the same logic and argument to neighboring Kashmir is nonsensical, ridiculous.

Kashmiris have nothing common with Indians except that all are humans and blood runs through their veins. However, Indian forces, like the Zionist counterparts do,  have no right to drink the blood of Kashmiris. 

Kashmiri Muslims are treated like slaves and underdogs by New Delhi. Indian military guys kill Kashmiris as if they are playing a favorite and fixed cricket game.

Clearly, Kashmiris are on war path to attain independence while India and its media lords remain in a perpetually denial mode while Indian “patriotic” solders continue to kill , and consume Muslims in Kashmir their birth right because Indian parliament ahs allowed them to kill anybody at will. Sad and shame! 

Observation

Both India and Israel, the new strategic leveling partners, want to occupy the “colonies” they have, namely Kashmir and Palestine respectively, and keep murdering Muslims as freely as wild beast do in thick jungles.

Indo-Pakistani conflict and genocides of Kashmiris are old issue but unresolved by the UN and UNSC.

It is high time International community steps in to resolve the South Asia’s deadliest conflict and settle the dangerous Kashmir cum nukes’ issue once for all before it s to late for that.

The situation in Kashmir is critical, and worsening by the day due to the high handed dealings from the center. Even the former Chief Minister of Kashmir and the people like Sheikh Abdulla was ignored by India, leading to a serious conflict.  World needs peace and we want peace in the green valley known as paradise on earth; peace is crucial. The deeper peace can only be won through winning the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir, pseudo patriotic and ultranationalist formulations don’t work in the long run.

It is fact, military personnel are pad for their “services” both in India and Pakistan and they target innocent Kashmiris for their warm blood.

In view of the unrelenting unrest in Kashmir valley there is urgency for holding a genuine referendum in Kashmir to determine fate of Kashmiris and end the blood bath in Kashmir valley.

Today there can be two approaches one is to recall the treaty of accession and gravitate towards that and take the recommendations of Interlocutors seriously. Nearly seven decades after the accession of Kashmir to India, there is a need to recall that forcible merger; repression of dissent was never the idea of founders of Indian nation. Let’s see what Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had to say on the matter way back, Deputy Prime Minister Vallabhbhai Patel said at a public meeting in Bombay on October 30, 1948: “Some people consider that a Muslim majority area must necessarily belong to Pakistan. But (India is stronger than Pakistan) and should have Kashmir. They wonder why we are in Kashmir. The answer is plain and simple. We are in Kashmir because the people of Kashmir want us to be there. The moment we realize that the people of Kashmir do not want us to be there, we shall not be there even for a minute… We shall not let the Kashmir down” (Hindustan Times, October 1948)

Now the continued struggle for freedom clearly shows that they want freedom and sovereignty and India must vacate Jammu Kashmir in favor pace in the region.

Time over ripe for Indian military forces to quit Kashmir after or before the referendum. Better India leaves Kashmir without   going through an insulting referendum that would surely ask India to behave. 

India and its intelligence have complete details of how many paid Hindus have died in the war against Kashmir but they have no such details about genocides of innocent real Kashmir Muslims by paid Indian soldiers. New Delhi should make such vital details available to the public.

Military personnel receive salary, many semi-freebies, pension etc, but the freedom fighters get nothing but Indian bullets. Let the UN or Pakistan pay pension to the family of those get killed by paid Indian soldiers until Kashmir gains sovereignty.

South Asia

Proxy War and the Line of Control in Kashmir

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Who has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere, with its roses the brightest that earth ever gave.Thomas Moore

The Backdrop

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

 In Juxtaposition

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.

In Conclusion

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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Increasing Need for Global Cooperation and Solidarity- Interview with Dr. Tandi Dorji

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Covid-19 has invoked challenges worldwide that require us to formulate innovative solutions. Dr.Tandi Dorji , the foreign minister of Bhutan talks about the need to foster and increase transnational cooperation during these trying times.

Dr. Tandi Dorji has played a significant role in fostering Indo-Bhutan relations, and in the interview, he discussed future areas of collaboration, cultural understanding, and international engagement among the youth of the two countries. Having been a public health researcher before, Dr. Dorji reflects that the pandemic has rendered the population of Bhutan really vulnerable, and thinks that a challenge of such nature and scale can be surmounted only with global solidarity, cooperation and diligent efforts.

Some nations have a lot of financial, technical and human resources to tackle the pandemic, but others with weak public health systems and constrained by lack of resources cannot be sustained by sole efforts. There is a need to recognize this disparity and acknowledge that a weak link could jeopardize efforts aimed at global collaboration. Governments, health organizations, private sectors, scientists and researchers need to work with a common aim.

Countries that have research and financial capabilities need to come forward and support organizations like WHO that are responding to the current crisis through vaccine research. The collaborations in vaccine research need to be speeded up, and in order to make them more accessible and affordable for all countries, there needs to be a proper regulatory framework put in place.

This calls for a renewal in diplomatic efforts and increased funding programs by nations that already possess resources to tackle the crisis.

As someone who studied and lived in India for more than 15 years of his life, Dr. Dorji really appreciates the cultural richness and diversity present across states in India. He says that cultural understanding can play a very vital part in creating empathy within a population for the other side’s paradigm and mindsets. Being informed of a person’s or a culture’s peculiarities enables us to comprehend them better.

Cultural differences, according to him, have not prevented people from working together. Rather, the fact that different countries in the past have come together under the purview of common international frameworks has provided opportunities to different cultures to reach out to one another, and to understand as well as accept the differences among them.

Dr. Dorji also believes that the principles and values that construct out society play a crucial role in informing our education system, so the need of the hour is to collectively create an environment that would make the youth feel more involved and develop the ability in them to engage in constructive discussion and exercise other forms of proactive citizenship, including in the areas of foreign affairs and international relations.

From politics to economics to health, the world has become a lot more interconnected than before, and to succeed in this global age it is very important to instil in students the ability to think globally, communicate across cultures, and act on issues of global significance; and while school education could play a role by incorporating foreign affairs and international relations in the curriculum, to foster greater awareness and intercultural empathy among nations we would also need to enable young minds to understand how the foreign policy objectives constructed by a nation affects their daily lives and the society at large.

More exchange programs between the schools and colleges of India and Bhutan in the fields of sports, culture and science and more youth-focused programs is one way to enhance the probability of intercultural understanding.

Dr. Dorji also says that India being one of the largest economies of the world, and predicted to become the second largest by 2050, there is much scope for collaboration between India and Bhutan within sectors such as Science, technology, tourism, Information technology, space and satellites, and pharmaceuticals. Indian investments in such sectors could be explored in the near future.

His Majesty the King of Bhutan (Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk) has particularly stressed the importance of STEM in harnessing technological advances, which can only happen by investing in these subjects. Economies are progressing and the world is gradually becoming more digital, so the national labour market is also going to require skills with an added emphasis on technical abilities, and it is highly important that our children are prepared to participate in discoveries and technologies that would unfold in future. One of them is space, and although Bhutan lacks resources and is a small country, it is important for more Bhutanese young people to realise the value of, and take up space studies.

The government, as per Dr. Dorji, shall be ready to encourage and promote the same.

Dr. Tandi Dorji concluded by saying that he appreciates the strong cultural heritage of India and how the country has managed to preserve and promote it.

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Reimagining Pakistan Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State- Book Review

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Pakistan:  A Lost Cause?

In his book, ‘Reimagining Pakistan’, Husain Haqqani discusses the origins of Pakistan as a state while laying bare the genesis of the state it has evolved into, ultimately culminating with his formula, for a reimagined Pakistan. As he rightly points out, Jinnah, when calling for a separate state of Pakistan, invoked religion as a way of giving a semblance of unity and solidity to his divided (by ethnicity, language, geography) Muslim constituents. Consequently, his demand for Pakistan was perforce “specifically ambiguous and imprecise” (p.7) (Jalal)so as to command general support. This base of religious nationalism also became the country’s foundation for successive governments.

Then, taking a look behind the scenes, Haqqani says, even as the new state of Pakistan, was formed disadvantageously, with no functioning capital city, government or financial resources, its ill prepared founders unlike their Congress counterparts had no plans for the smooth functioning of a new country. Even, the concept of a common Governor General with India was rejected and Jinnah became the first head of state thereby losing for Pakistan all advantages financial and otherwise of having a moderating influence of a common governor general. Delineating the chemistry of Pakistani politics since independence, Husain with absolute clarity tells us that almost from the beginning part of the state apparatus used religion and religious groups for political ends. This unleashed a rampaging genie of religious–political chaos from time to time with the army stepping in to return the rampaging genie to its proverbial bottle. In this context Haqqani tells us that it was Zia’s US backed “religious militancy” (p.100)in the form of jihad which Pakistan is dealing with till this day.

The author succinctly says Pakistan has thus become home to the world’s “angriest Muslims” (p.112), with successive civilian and military governments choosing to appease “dial-a-riot” (ibid)Islamist hardliners, rather than confronting them. Drawing upon Shuja Nawaz’s telling comment that “Pakistan’s history is one of conflict between an under developed political system and a well – organized army”(Nawaz), Husain invokes this argument to point to consistent authoritarianism in the history of Pakistan when he refers to its four key military dictators.

The author also invokes Bengali leader Suharwardy’s prophetic commentary on possible economic chaos in Pakistan, wherein he had warned that there would be no commerce, business or trade if Pakistan were to keep “raising the bogey of attacks” (p.58), and engage in constant “friction with India” (ibid). Husain in his book, ‘India vs Pakistan – Why can’t we just be Friends’ talks of this pathological obsession with India and the consequent pressure points in their relationship. Ignoring, Jinnah’s vision of two countries, with porous borders, “like the United States and Canada” (Jinnah, p.58).Unfortunately, with policy making playing second fiddle to national pride and morale, the narrative in Pakistan has become that of a victim not only of conspiratorial enemies but also an army which expands the magnitude of threats to match its size.

Hence, as the author points out most Pakistani leaders, except Ayub Khan have shown little interest in economic matters. Ignoring fundamentals of economics, aid gathered internationally by Pakistan as rentier to the western world, was frittered away in building military capacity just as it sank ever lower in terms of human development indices. With the culture being one of extolling the “warrior nation” (p.62) over the “trader nation” (ibid), Pakistan then fell into a state of “ideological dysfunction” (p.63). Like Husain says, Justice Munir of the Munir Commission in 1953 was prescient when he said that, “you can persuade the masses to believe that something they are asked to do is religiously right or enjoined by religion, you can set them to any course of action, regardless of all considerations discipline, loyalty, decency, morality or civic sense”(p.83). The author quickly links this up to “Islamist Rage” (p.96), with jihad as a panacea for all the ills that befell the nation. Before long, the self-proclaimed Pakistani upholders of the honour of Islam and its prophet re-wrote their history with falsehoods to fit a fictional narrative born from an inherent insecurity which even acquisition of nuclear weapons could not assuage.

Ultimately, in his quest to offer a roadmap for a reimagined Pakistan, the most telling suggestion that comes from Haqqani is his exhortation that Pakistan should embrace its “multi-ethnic” (p.274) and “multi lingual reality” (ibid)just like Belgium did many years back and forever rid itself of the spectre of disintegration. He would thus, like his country to draw away from its focus on survival and resilience, a concept partially imparted by its military moorings and truly reimagine itself as a non- confessional state where the “individual can be pious and the society can be religious”(p.120). Going further, to him Pakistan has to have a national identity other than its self -obsessive and ever draining competition with India and not forever depend on God alone to ensure its survival.

Thus, wanting Pakistan to stop its “march of folly”(Tuchman), by creating a national identity which bypasses the nexus between power and bigotry, quoting Ayesha Jalal he talks of the damaging lack of territorial nationalism in the definition of Pakistan as an Islamic State. In this context he traces the breaking away of East Pakistan and possible future disintegration of Pakistan along ethnic lines just as it happened in say, Russia. Undeniably, Haqqani exhibits great courage when he says that if Pakistan has to have a future different from its past, it must identify the various confabulations of its leaders so as to not fulfill Barbara Tuchman’s “march of folly”, due to “governmental folly and obstinacy” (p.244).

All this notwithstanding, in this book Husain has laid bare the origins and development of Pakistan, in to what it is today. As an expert on radical Islamic movements, he traces the stranglehold that the jihadists and Islamic movements have on the state players and also tells us that it is the army which acts as a check and balance whatever else the other negatives might be in allowing the army to play such a pivotal role in the formation of the Pakistan nation and creation of jihadist movements. Quoting extensively from primary and secondary sources, he shows the proverbial mirror to the collective psyche of his nation. Jinnah’s speeches and Munir Commission’s findings are excellent primary sources in this regard, while among others Ayesha Jalal and Shuja Nawaz add credibility and meaningful insights to Husain’s process of reasoning. At the same time research and data is indeed exhaustive and the research team not lacking in extending support to his rubric, while Haqqani himself does not draw away from some uncomfortable truths that Pakistan must face. Even though, Husain has done a remarkable and honest job in analysing the dysfunctional aspects of the state of Pakistan, where the book lacks is that though the title suggests we are going to read about a roadmap to reimagine Pakistan, the emphasis is more on how the state was formed, its ideological moorings, and the role of the various players as it evolved over time. The suggestions for reimagining obviously need more reimagining as the suggestions provided by the author are not in the form of a coherent roadmap and his suggestions are few and far between besides being scattered randomly at times, through the course of the book. Also, to my mind, the author does not face the real tough questions as to how the cat (army) is to be belled, the monolithic behemoth that it has become. Over here, G Parthasarthy’s comment, “Every country has an army but in Pakistan, an army has a country”(G.Parthasarthy), comes to mind, something which its leaders would do well to remember. Besides this Husain does not seem to hold the western powers to account as they were probably just as much to blame for the current state of affairs when they played the renewed “great game”(Hopkirk)in this part of the world. From his unique perspective as an advisor to four ex-prime-ministers and the ambassadorship to U.S.A at a time when there was a global war on terrorism(Haqqani, Hudson Institute ), Haqqani should have dwelt as much on reimagining as he did on cautioning his homeland from its precipitous “march to folly” (p.264)(.Tuchman). Perhaps a second volume could take up this slack wherein the excellent foundational analysis of the state of Pakistan is the launch pad for a futuristic road map for reimagining.

Reimagining Pakistan Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State by Husain Haqqani, Harper Collins ,2018

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