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70 years of Kashmir under Indian occupation

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When India celebrated its 70th anniversary of independence, unfortunately, it also indirectly celebrated the occupation of Jammu Kashmir. One of the achievements of recent history of India in the negative sense is the genocides of Kashmiris- India murdered over 1000,000 Muslims Kashmir while using and protecting Hindus there.

Real protests

Kashmir today, even on Eid day, remains a nation in protest against Indian occupational crimes. Protests erupted on Saturday in Kupwara district of north Kashmir when a youth went missing while another was severely beaten and has been hospitalised in a critical condition with the locals alleging that were taken into custody by Indian Army. Police has registered two separate FIRs against army, one for attempt to murder and another for kidnapping and abducting in order to murder. Villagers of Kakarpati village of Devar Lolab told news agency GNS that Army picked up two local shepherds from forest area of Trimukh upper reaches of Lolab which is connected to Bandipora district.

The Indian/JK government, controlled by New Delhi, considers their prerogative to kill and deal with Kashmiris for seeking sovereignty back from a powerful military power called India. Two ailing Kashmiri women leaders rearrested despite release orders by Court

As Kashmiris are on agitational mold to regain sovereignty from Indian military yoke, India feels highly embarrassed before world powers while PM Modi feels the pinch in front of world leaders.

Interestingly, one of the Indian islets in Lakshadweep on Arabia Sea disappeared owing to climatic change nearly 20 years ago but Indian government has not yet recognized that it lost a small islet without any population. Indian official gazettes have made any change and as India still reasserts that every islet of India is intact. That is problem of India which refuses to accept the fact it has lost a small part of its territory in the natural process as it simply cannot accept or even imagine that Kashmir that decorates India as its multi-jewel crown on its head

India worried

Presumably, Indian strategists in New Delhi and abroad are with latest India maps looking at Kashmir and they cannot visualize India without that crown known as Kashmir on Indian head.

In fact, more than the land, India is concerned about the image of India on Indian map without Kashmir. Indian map without Kashmir looks like a wild animal – not exactly a cow – whose head has been severed. This of course Indian strategists and military experts cannot digest.

Indian strategy for China is one of appeasing that neighbor maybe because Beijing has withdrawn it stop badminton players (women) from the courts, thereby making Indian fight for tittles easier. India may have begun a dialogue with China over parts of Kashmir it occupies. Although China has not invaded Kashmir but got a part of Kashmir as a (paid) gift from Pakistan is not helping Beijing to convince New Delhi which seeks to take back that part of Kashmir from China as well.

That Kashmiris who fight for sovereignty, do not ask both Pakistan and China also surrender their lands makes Indian case difficult but makes India come closer to China easily. India would ask China not to worry about Kashmir as once occupied Jammu Kashmir is now lost for Kashmiris forever. However, the secret talks among India, Pakistan and China – the joint occupiers of Jammu Kashmir- are not revealed to public.

India continues to deal with the besieged Kashmiris the way the military feels best, or rather worst.

Brutality is the key expression that could be used to describe what the Indian solders do in occupied Kashmir day in and day out and at night. India has provided a perpetual blanket approval of every murder and all acts of genocides through fake encounters and all atrocities of making Kashmiris disappear from Kashmir valley once for all.

Obviously, India must have learnt all these murder techniques from its former masters in UK who continue to guide New Delhi in secret state terror operations. Now Israel seems to have accepted Indian appeal to offer terror tips on payment basis to deal with Kashmiris and others who seek sovereignty.

While their occupation masters in New Delhi celebrate 70 years of independence from Great Britain, Kashmiris who lost their sovereignty to then freed India have no choices but to cry loud over their loss of sovereignty under joint UK-India conspiracy with blessings from super power USA and other imperialist capitalist powers.

In fact, no power invades and occupies a weak alien nation to leave the occupation on its own. Invaders quit “subject” nations only under pressure or by force. Great Britain invaded many countries, including USA but had to leave most of them, if not all of them. Interestingly, not only Americans got independence from UK but also have become closest ally of USA today.

India’s easy invasion and quick occupation of Jammu Kashmir was possible because all big powers led by USA and UK supported the illegality behind the “deal” without the endorsement of the people of Jammu Kashmir and none, including China, opposed Indian military action. Neither USA nor UK can approve of invasion without popular consent as that goes against genuine democracy.

India bought problems

While its ruthless occupational crimes in Kashmir as it key policy, India may have good things to claim credit like its music which has made its mark on the world stage. Indian food is cultural given. Indian fashion now competes at the level of haute couture even as Indian fabrics are in demand in both the East and the West as much as the ever increasing Indian demands for western cloths and electronics and fashions. Indian professionalism in media to highlight Indian needs above others, engineering and information technology has formed a swathe and Indian business’ know-how is cutting edge. Bollywood is interested in making big films to match the Hollywood productions.  Last November, demonetization was welcomed by NRIs but there is still a lingering suspicion that the truly rich got away.

There are many issues Indians face. Among them, the killings over beef eating make us look savage and primitive. The refusal by the Parliament to revoke Article 377, a vicious law imposed on India by the same foreign yoke which ironically has no such law in its own country. Indian men still decide what women can do with their bodies. But fanatics Hindus only talk about Islam and Muslim religious rights. The Big Brother manifested itself by way of linking Aadhaar cards with PAN cards and no one quite knows why. For NRIs, it’s another hill to climb. Just as there was confusion about demonetisation — rumours of another one are on the way — the public is unclear how GST will play out even as retailers pull back on several items till there is clarity.

With 29 states and seven union territories what are a few more if a sense of identity is assuaged. The seven sisters in the North East were hit by floods and we took far too long to react, an acid commentary on our levels of awareness of an integral part of India.

A dangerous ignorance that China will exploit as it has spent the past two months trying to hector India on the borders of Bhutan and Sikkim. There are fears that a strong conflict is possible.

However, there’s little to celebrate. Since India was ruled for 200 years by a foreign power, Britain, it takes revenge on Kashmiris by occupying their nation since Indian independence.

The tension in Jammu Kashmir does not seem to be lessening as Indian occupation forces keep targeting Kashmir youth.

Indian terror strategists argue that India should never budge and surrender Kashmir to Kashmiris. And, therefore, unless a “hardcore” decision to void Article 370 is made to bring that nation on par with Indians states of the country, the issue will never be resolved. All we will do is confront civilians with guns and widen the chasm. The incessant appeasement as a policy only breeds contempt. The call for Gorkhaland in the east needs to be resolved swiftly.

India believes military action can solve all problems of Kashmiris once for all. In 2016, India imposed terror at IOC by to surgical terror attacks in Uri. Yes, keeping Indian troops’ morale high should be of utmost importance.

Abrogation of Article 35A: Widespread agitation against BJP’s ‘Israel model?

Abrogation of Article 35A: Kashmiris prepare for widespread agitation against BJP’s ‘Israel model’.

From hawkers to grocers, manufacturers and dealers, everyone stands united in their view that abolishment of Article 35A will bring turmoil in the Valley

Article 35A of the Constitution empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define its “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges. It was added to the Constitution in 1954 through a presidential order.

In Srinagar’s trade heartland, Lal Chowk, the local cab drivers sound like doomsayers. They are talking about the possible political fallouts in Kashmir, in case the Supreme Court of India, under pressure from the Modi government, abolishes Article 35A of the Constitution of India that restricts any outsider other than state subjects of Jammu Kashmir from acquiring immovable properties or having voting rights.

The others could only offer sighs than to comment or intervene over his ‘no fun’ remark. Such ‘distressed’ talks have overtaken the Valley since long. It is reminding people of those ‘talks of revolt’ that took place in the Kashmir Valley before Burhan Wani’s killing last summer in an encounter with forces.

These discussions are taking place inside offices, shops, streets, buses and inside homes. The idea of losing their permanent residency, employment, property, and scholarship, to outsiders, in case the Article 35A is removed or altered, is keeping Kashmiris on the edge. Kashmiris have lost their sovereignty to India due to a deep rooted conspiracy.

Kashmiris are quite aware of the ‘onslaught on Kashmir’s special status’. “Kashmiris won’t allow tinkering with our state subject law. We still repent the day when our leader Sheikh Abdullah committed a blunder by trusting the Delhi (government),” says an old employee. But now, he says, as a train of tourists comes out of the TRC after registration, “The government of India must know that it isn’t the same Kashmir as before. Any attempts to alter our constitutional status will be opposed tooth and nail.” This defiant mood has to do with the petition filed by an NGO ‘We the Citizens’ in the Supreme Court in 2014, seeking to scrap Article 35A. After serving notices to both, the state as well as Centre, the apex court only received counter-petition filed by the state government.

BJP and PDP rule the JK state, promoting the Hindu, Hindutva and Indian interests in return for money from New Delhi. The BJP-ruled Centre refused to file an affidavit, but instead sought a “larger debate”. The Centre’s posturing has unsettled the mood in the Valley with political commentators asserting that the Narendra Modi-led government is actually clearing all decks to scrap the article to settle outsiders in the Valley.

In fact, a larger sense prevails in the Valley that the BJP government wants to resolve the Kashmir issue through demographic changes.

While the Opposition and separatist camps in Kashmir have threatened an uprising over the judicial tinkering of the Article 35A, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has warned the central government that any such attempts won’t leave any “tricolour upholder” in the Valley.

The commoners in the Valley are getting mentally prepared for putting up a “bigger battle” to safeguard their constitutional positioning. Commenting on the controversy, he says, “On the one hand, the government of India calls for peace in Kashmir, while on the other hand, it threatens the very idea of it by resorting to the courts to achieve its political motives… Now, tell me, who is playing the role of a ‘terrorist’ in Kashmir?”

In restive Maisuma, the stronghold of pro-freedom leader Yasin Malik, the buzz is getting shrill. Many residents who often take the security forces head-on through street protests here see a ‘Hindutva pattern’ in the latest controversy.

Ever since the PDP formed a coalition government with the BJP, every person in Kashmir knew that there would be tension. This is essentially an RSS government led by the PDP madam. “But we will make sure we do not accede to their wishes and demands.”

In uptown Srinagar, many pose a question as to why the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is still in alliance with the BJP. In this ‘new’ Srinagar neighborhood known to house the government officialdom, the mood might not be militant, but the locals are flaying the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government. “Every Kashmiri is politically sound as we are living in a political disturbed and conflict zone. How come RSS thinks that they can fool people of Kashmir by resorting to such tactics?” says a trader in Hyderpora.

In Srinagar’s MA Road, which is lately witnessing a string of protests by students of a women’s college, against the security crackdown on Kashmiris, a college-goer blames PM Modi and his government for triggering fresh tensions in the Valley for political changes. “They wish for Kashmir to get disturbed, like in 2016, and that our people should again get killed or injured with pellets, slapped with cases under the Public Safety Act and be taken to the jails and police stations.

In Kashmir’s restriction zone aka Downtown Srinagar, the discussions revolve around Delhi’s (central government’s) “decadal deceit” with the people of Kashmir. “India simply wants Kashmir, not Kashmiris,” says a retired engineer, of Rajouri Kadal, the bastion of Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. “Otherwise, they would have never said that Indians will come and settle here to help change the azadis course. But they are mistaken. Such attempts hardly undo the legitimate demands.”

In the narrow lanes of Habba Kadal, a non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit, who only gives his first name to protect his identity, calls the ‘article 35A controversy’ as New Delhi’s foolishness. “So far, the government of India has not been successful in getting the Kashmiri Pandits back to Kashmir, and now this blatant attempt to create a mini-India out of Kashmir is simply nonsensical,” says Suresh. “They only know how to trigger tensions in Kashmir. They should come and live here for a week as a commoner, and then give these nonsensical statements.”

Now no migrant Pandit wants to return to the Valley, which is affected because of the everyday killings, strikes, and lack of jobs. From hawker to grocers, and from manufacturers to dealers, everyone stands united in their view. “Every Kashmiri wants to fight. I know my business will also suffer, but I can manage with sookhi dal roti (dry rotis) than allowing any federal sinister designs to alter the demography of my Valley,” says an hotelier in Srinagar.

When people are faced with atrocities, it is a natural tendency to fight against it. India should take note that it is a politically disturbed state and if they (the Centre) falter with our law, not only in Kashmir, but more than 80 percent of the state will be affected and there will be violence all around.

Al-Qaeda or USA?

Apparently, Al Qaeda has arrived in Kashmir and the ramification of the development is yet to be ascertained.

Musa is the youngest but first militant from Kashmir who has been linked with a global outfit. He has not pledged his support to the Al-Qaeda yet. But if such a thing happens then it will be bad for both Kashmir as well India.

The statement from Al-Qaeda naming Zakir Musa, the former militant commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, as the head of its wing in Kashmir has generated mixed reactions within and outside the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Al-Qaeda announcement has divided the militant ranks in the Valley with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba rejecting any role for the international terror organisation in the Valley. Many in the Valley are taken aback, worrying about its impact on the ongoing

Many believe that, India will intensify its policy towards Kashmiris after the Al-Qaeda announcement. “Musa’s exit from Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and subsequent developments in the Valley’s political scenario have created ambiguity here. Musa is being hailed both as an Indian agent and an Islamist, but I think the Kashmir issue is now becoming more complex, moving beyond the Hurriyat paradigm,” a political scientist said.

Freedom fighting militant groups too are reflecting on the new development, assessing its repercussions on Kashmir’s struggle. “There is no space for any international organisation like Daesh (Islamic State) and Al-Qaeda in the state,” said Salahuddin who also cautioned the people to remain vigilant of the conspiracies of India and keep their relations intact with (the) organisation fighting against the Indian Army. They should not become a part of any global agenda,” he said. However, many in the Valley believe that the situation is going to change if Musa, indeed, happens to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Over the years Al-Qaeda has changed a lot. Many of its affiliates have detached themselves from the main wing and become completely indigenous. Kashmir will be no exception. The newly nominated group is likely to work indigenously. It will increase the popularity of Musa and more youths will likely join his group than the others in the near future.”

Al-Qaeda’s announcement also indicates that after years of talking about the travails of Palestine, Kashmir and Myanmar, it has finally mustered courage to come forward for Kashmir’s struggle. But, the separatist leaders in the Valley have already denied any involvement of international groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Kashmir. However, there are others who also disagree on Musa’s involvement.

Some police officers emphasized that if the Al-Qaeda gets involved, it will strengthen the hands of the militants. This kind of development would definitely lead to confusion as well as ideological clashes

The reactions from Kashmir are mixed, but what everyone agrees upon is that Al-Qaeda’s announcement is an interesting development and opens a new chapter in Kashmir’s post-1989 armed local insurgency.

NIA targets Kashmiri

The latest unrest and perpetual demonstrations have dominated the Kashmir streets and affected Kashmiri life. But the new development has upset all calculations of New Delhi the worst way possible.

As a natural response to the emerging sovereignty demand, India has used its National Investigation Agency (NIA) to create problems for the freedom Hurriyet leaders. And NIA is working over night to cripple the freedom movement. India has learned all these tactics from its former Masters in London. It targets mosques and Islamic educational institutions.

The National Investigation Agency on Jul, 18 2017 has sent notice to Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid and an education trust run by separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to find out whether or not funds collected at the mosque are used to fuel the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir. The state witnessed over seven-month-long unrest after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Muzafar Wani, in July last year.

The NIA has also issued notice seeking appearance of Mohammad Ibrahim Shah, secretary, Anjuman-e-Nusrat-ul-Islam, an education trust, which is headed by Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. The trust runs Islamic educational institutes in the areas of Rajouri Kadal, Safa Kadal and Bota Kadal in Kashmir. Both the Anjumani Auqaf and Nusrat ul Islam have been asked to furnish their accounts of the last five years.

Besides looking into the role of Hurriyat Conference leaders, the NIA has also written letters to some newspapers asking them to furnish details about stone-pelters whom they had mentioned in their stories. “It is learnt that your newspaper has published some articles/news items mentioning the names and addresses of those involved in cases of stone pelting, burning of schools and damage to government property in the past one year starting from 1 July, 2016. It is requested to direct the concerned to provide the above mentioned documents/photographs/articles for investigation in the instant case,” read the letter issued by the NIA. The NIA is also investigating the role of former militants as well as the political leaders associated with Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman, Hurriyat Conference (Geelani), in funding the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

The NIA is also looking at the role of close associates of Geelani in fanning the unrest, and has recently summoned National Front chairman, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, in the case. Khan, who was recently in Delhi in connection with the investigation that is being carried out, has termed the investigations “witch-hunt”.

The investigation agency also questioned two retired bureaucrats and relatives of Farooq — Moulvi Shafat and Moulvi Manzoor — in the case. Both Shafat and Manzoor were in New Delhi for over a week and were questioned by the NIA in the case.

Earlier, the state police arrested some local youth for burning schools during the unrest while many others were slapped with the Public Safety Act (PSA) to keep them in judicial custody.

Observation

While earlier, India did not take the agitation of Kashmiris seriously, now it has taken unrest by Kashmiris and especially the youth leadership very very seriously. India is for the first time in occupation history is scared. Hence New Delhi is scheming to fix the Kashmiris Muslims in as many ways as time permits.

Kashmiris want total independence first from India, whether Pakistan supports or not. Kashmiris seek to regain all territories lost since 1947, whether China like that or not.

India should read the messages written on the wall and make sincere efforts to surrender sovereignty to Kashmirs and help h them make a home for peaceful existence with property.

It is high time the UNSC wakes up to the occupational reality and realizes the truth about Indian brutal intentions in Occupied Jammu Kashmir and ask India to behave. Kashmiris do not posses weapons, except few pieces of stones being gathered from time to time to defend themselves from Indian military brutality.

Can ordinary stones end Indian military attacks on innocent Kashmiris?

Already India has consumed over 1000,000 Kashmiris and many more have disappeared. Enough of Indian state crimes in Kashmir. India should not be allowed to kill more Kashmiris.

Let the UNSC convene a special UN assembly meeting to grant sovereignty to Kashmiris.

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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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South Asia

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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