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Kashmir’s journey from ceasefire to current political crisis

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Kashmir is a vexed issue of the Asian sub-continent that assumes dynamic dimensions and increases its momentum with the currents of time with a sort of deep permeated growing alienation of the masses and simultaneous floating wave of armed rebellion against the system. It is the problem of multitude and a vendetta which refuses to cow down with the periodic motions of time.

The problem has manifested into a state of multitude, viz,killings, arrests, hartals, mass media stirrings, political manuovers, internet blockades, etc. and unfortunately,the current political crisis is the major concern of the times in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that has delved deeply onto the political scene.

The government of India halted all the anti-militancy operations starting from 17th of May in the state of Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramadan of the Muslim calendar at the request of Chief Minister of the state Mehbooba Mufti. This was positively responded by the government of India after thorough consultations with all the stakeholders including the Home Affairs department.

Thereafter, Indian army chief ,General Bipan Rawat  reiterated that peace and talks must be given a chance.The positive aspect of unilateral ceasefire ensued a state of peace in the state for some period of time briefly until June 15,2018,with a fresh killing at the hands of the security personnel at Pulwama.

Subsequently, on the eve of Eid,the u-turn of events subsumed the peace horizon with a volley of anti-establishment protests and clashes between common masses and security forces  at various place of the valley, like Srinagar,Anantnag, Pulwama, Sopore,etc.which resulted in the bloody state in Anantnag district of J&K with the killing and bloodbath  of a youth and injury to various protesting people. All the national channels subsequently called into question the ceasefire move of the government and called it the day for the truce in the valley. Not only this, the killing of an army man Aurangzeb of Poonch area in Pulwama district of J&K deteriorated the situation thereof with the collective vent of anger at the situational flux and reluctance to offer the Eid prayers at Poonch area of the state.

In a crucial meeting conveyed by the Union government on 14th of June at New Delhi, it was reiterated to have the say whether to continue the truce or not after Eid ul fitr. However, on 17th of June, the Ministry of Home Affairs, government of India post-Eid ul fitr announced the end of temporary ceasefire after fresh tweets poured in over the twitter handle of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh calling it the day for the truce and refuted the extension further after surge in a series of attacks on the security forces.

The government of India cited the continuance of operation all out to combat the militancy.Also, there was a major say on the recent killings of veteran journalist, Shujaat Bukhari and army soldier, Aurangzeb, besides the annual Hindu pilgrimage of Amarnath yatra so far as security is concerned. Although, The short term temporary measure of truce yielded some positive results of peace keeping on the ground and improved the situation to a large extent but the larger question was the concretization of peace, which a common Kashmiri envisions day-in-day-out.

Ceasefire in Kashmir was a major experiment of the government on the ground level to acid test the real situation on ground.There should have been a prior consensus of all the parties prior to the announcement of its withdrawal from Kashmir.The government of India has already experimented the truce process in the state previously in 2003 with Pakistan part to it.Will the government carry on the truce or cessation of anti-militancy operations in future is a situational question of vital importance. Kashmir is driving towards abnormality and to prescribe the antidote for the ailment lies with the the government of India.According to a recent security report ,the truce in Ramadhan proved to be a great success in J&K.

On the eve of Eid Ul Fitr, Hurriyat leader and executive Mukhtar Ahmad Waza in the grand mosque of Seer Hamdan, Anantnag was vocal that the government of India must initiate an unconditional dialogue with Pakistan, in order to resolve the crisis and walk the talk for the sake of meaningful solution of the Kashmir problem and not merely for the sake of photo-ops and show-offs to the external world, devaiting from the main and core reality.

He  brought to light the former eighteen resolutions passed in the United Nations General assembly(UNGA) regarding the problem of Jammu and Kashmir and also expressed the plight of the prisoners in various jails of India, like Kathua, Hiranagar,Tihar jail(New Delhi),Rajasthan,etc. and pleaded for their unconditional release so that peace process can take off from the smooth and foundational ground and crisis will annhilate as soon as possible.He also brought to light the killing and martyrdom of  versatile veteran  journalist and Editor-in-Chief of the daily local newspaper Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari at press colony, Srinagar who was killed along with his two security guards by unknown gunmen on 14th of June,2018 in the very heart of the  Srinagar city.

The PDP-BJP(People’s Democratic Party-Bhartiya Janta Party) coalition government in J&K was formed few years back based on an agenda of alliance and common minimum programme ,brushing aside the political differences. Later,joining the baton,it was a Hobson’s choice for the coalition partners to come together.

The demise of the unholy alliance surfaced on 19th of June by the revelations of Ram Madhav ,BJP’s J&K incharge ,subsequently leading to demise of the coalition government and fallout in the form of Governor’s rule.BJP has time and again called for the abrogation of article 370 which gives special status to J&K state, whereas,PDP has always been its defender down the passing phases of time. Bhartiya Janta Party, national president Amit Shah accused PDP of misgovernance and developmental inequity in J&K, which latter out rightly refuted.

Meanwhile,ex-Chief Minister has recently warned New Delhi of serious repercussions, if it tries to create divisions and cracks in the People’s Democratic Party(PDP),since , according to media reports,few rebel MLA’s were in connivance with BJP to form the government again..The pull-out off the coalition government of PDP-BJP by the alliance partner BJP is seen as a political stunt by the analysts of the politics to woo the voters in the Lok Sabha elections,2019 in mainland of India as a polarising measure. Governor, N.N. Vohra called an all-party meeting on 22nd of june,2018,the same day when four militants, one civilian and one cop were killed in an encounter at Nowshehra, Khiram, Anantnag,J&K.

Moreover, The burning issue of Kashmir has time and again soured relations of India and Pakistan and given new lows to their bilateral relationship over the period of time. Even ceasefire violation at the border claimed life of a security person on the eve of Eid ul fitr.Not only this, for the first time, no pleasantries and sweets were exchanged by the armies of the two neighbours at the borders(LOC). In a recent interview to a local daily newspaper, the former Chief Minister and ex-minister in the Indian Union cabinet for New and Renewable energy Farooq Abdullah said that Kashmir will one day spell disaster and said that ceasefire will not work unless Pakistan is part of it.

Militancy is a major challenge for the government of India in the state of J&K, with rebels joining the same cadres on the day-to-day basis with very well-off family backgrounds and higher qualifications. However, according to security agencies, there were no intelligence inputs about any new recruitment into militancy during the truce operation.

Militancy has undergone a radical shift in J&K since the killing of Hizb Commander Burhan Wani in 2016.His departure was a major factor for the alienation of the people,with growing tendency among few youth to join the forces of rebellion.Down these two years,a huge number of youth joined the militancy and the process is on till date.Even, Ex-Chief Minister Omar Abdullah recently said that Burhan’s ability to recruit into militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media.

The recent arrest of two girl students from Anantnag district of J&K who are lodged in central jail Srinagar, J&K has created ire among the separatist chambers regarding the disregard for the opposite gender. Recently, after the termination and rejection of their bail, the father of these girls was making an affidavit in court complex Anantnag, when i enquired from him about their whereabouts. His face was sunken with paleness and disparity all over.

The next day these girls were transferred from sadder court, Anantnag to Srinagar central Jail. One of the girls is pursuing Masters in Economics and another is also well qualified in religious studies.Even,on the auspicious occasion of Eid ul fitr, the father-mother duo without any son spent their time amid sobs and wails, with the daughters confined behind the barracks of jail. Being the only daughters and spine of their father, the Government of j&K should review the gravity of the matter and release them subsequently who are still lodged in Srinagar central jail as soon as possible to prevent alienation, ruining and shattering of a next family and act in sync with the dictum of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan Beti Bachao (Save the girl).

The recent remarks of the United Nations General Assembly regarding the Kashmir problem and situation as of now reflects the interest of the world nations to solve the problem in Kashmir which has subsequently created ripples in the intellectual circles in India regarding the discourse over Kashmir imbroglio.

The former water resources minister and congress leader, Saifuddin Soz has recently hit the political plank and remarked that Parvez Musharaf’s formula is still relevant regarding Azadi,but that feat is not possible. Another congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in a recent interview to a national channel has said that more civilians are killed in anti-militancy operations by the security agencies than militants.

Meanwhile few media houses at the national level have tagged few intellectual Indians,like Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy,etc. who support the Kashmir cause as urban naxals and linked them with separatists, calling them as tukde tukde(Parts-parts) lobby to disintegrate India into parts in order to earn the TRP’s and appease the political bosses of the mainland India.

Being part to the problem, India and Pakistan must shun their rigidity, egoistic clashes and face-offs for the greater good of the people of the respective countries, particularly for the suffering people of J&K.The Kashmir issue has already consumed thousands of precious lives of the common men over the years of political turmoil. LOC trade has suffered to a remarkable and vast extent.

The growing state of animosity between India and Pakistan is not good gesture at all. India and Pakistan need to annihilate the looming crisis through the medium of a viable-cum-meaningful dialogue and reconciliatory approach with each other, keeping in view the state of chaos and disorder in j&K.There will be no descendancy of something divine to mediate thereupon so far as Kashmir issue is concerned , rather, it is the parties to the problem that have to negotiate for the redressal of the issue looming large over the Asian sub-continent. Meanwhile China  has said recently that Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) could serve as a great vehicle to build better bilateral relations and ties between India and Pakistan.

On 4th of June,Asif Ghafoor, Director General of ISPR,Pakistan accused India of 1,077 ceasefire violations since  the start of 2018 till date and said that there is no space for war with India.This is a vital indicator that only peace is the guarantee of a peaceful relationship between India and Pakistan,which will be subsequent platform for the discussion on Kashmir.

Today,the state is caught in the quagmire of a political crisis,where killings have become the order of the day.The major challenge for the governor’s office is to bring back the state towards the state of normalcy and pedestal of peace.

Today,when nobody is ready to take the baton of heading the political scene,the vital task is to dissolve the assembly for the fresh elections,till normalcy returns in the state of j&K,rather than keeping it in a state of suspended animation. The forego of BJP in the coalition government seems to be a divious plan of political motivations to create a ripple effect between one and the other to woo the nationalists. Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are three limbs of the same body,tied up altoghether,which cannot be separated by the political divisions of polarising policies of a single party which augurs ill to the interests of the state itself.

The valley of Kashmir is today submerged in a sort of political waywardness. The question is not about the troika of roads,electricity and water or a law and order problem,rather,it is a political problem and requires a political solution.This is the time to move beyond the rhetoric of dialogue and show action for a permanent solution from the political bosses ,lest anarchy would spin thready network of uncertainty in future .

It is the common Kashmiri man who is being killed in the enmeshed imbroglio process and victimized due to the lingering issue at stake, be it militant, army man (Lt. Colonel Fayaz, Aurangzeb, etc), or a common man.The lingering imbroglio has consumed thousands of lives since the eruption of insurgency in nineties in the state of J&K.Still, Peace eludes the state of Jammu and Kashmir.Thus,along the pedestal of wheel from ceasefire to the current state of political crisis, all is not well in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.If the same situation persists,Kashmir will move towards a state of complete anarchy.

The security agencies must be given directives by the higher-ups to have an ultimate human regard for the common masses and particularly their precious lives during the state of protests. This will repose faith in the dictum of law among the masses, who have already suffered at the cost of the issue at stake.

Today, the situational turn of events have washed away the stay of peace among the masses. No one is aloof of the unwithering pain.It is rather a collective pain for which political prescriptions have failed to contain it.The political engineering of politicians seems to be a farce exercise.The ultimate question is for how long the problem of multitude will persist without any solution. People are in no hurry for the quick fix solutions, rather yearn for a permanent solution,once for all.

The recent triumph of PTI chief as elect Prime Minister of Pakistan has brought hope to the scene to talk with India and resolve the looming imbroglio, once for all.

The author has done M.Sc.(Biochemistry),B.Ed from Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi,M.A.(History) and also qualified CTET from CBSE. Previously,he was also working as a project trainee at JNU,New Delhi.He writes for a number of platforms on socio-politico-economic issues and currently works in J&K, government education department. He can be reached at abidjmi121[at]gmail.com

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South Asia

Pakistan: A Terrorized Rather than Terrorist State

Syed Nasir Hassan

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It is not hard to analyze the human audacity in engaging itself towards violence particularly in modern world. The charm of subjugating others through oppression or use of violence is not something new, it had been done in the past but since the inception of the modern world into its true shape, it has shifted its discourse in new and different modes. In the current order, there is a new form of inflicting pain that is through extremism and terrorism.

Pakistan a piece of land with diversity on Indus sands, has long been a victim of this ailment. One key tactic of ensuring the impact of terror or achieving what is desired is to hit the vulnerabilities of the victim. This seems to be true in case of Pakistan which was once vulnerable state for numerous reasons mainly internal, but now it has gotten up from its knees. Where once there were sirens of death and constant trepidation of a terrorist attack, people now believe that dark clouds have dispersed.

Since its independence, Pakistan has seen many blows in its journey but the most severe one was terrorism. In past eighteen years, more than 65,000 Pakistani civilians and armed forces personals had been a victim to or sacrificed their lives against terrorism. One can debate on whether the steps which were taken by the various chief executive of the country through extending hands with the shady ally and stepping into the quagmire, were need of that time or just another fallacy in our history but the fact remains that the nation suffered the impact of the decisions which were taken at that time. The mourning continued for more than 15 years and the despair remained/prevailed among the nation.

It is not to be misunderstood that Pakistan is the only nation who paid the price of fight against terrorism for quite a long period of time in shape of trauma, misery and grief. There’s a  narrative which is mainly spread by the antagonistic parties to demoralize the efforts of the state and inflict more pain to the suffered minds was that the Pakistan is a promoter and exporter of this franchise of terror. Moreover, that its security forces are involved in exporting and promoting it also, thus ignoring the sacrifices of the country which it had presented while fighting to uproot terrorism. The Pakistani military conducted more than  eight full scale military operations to curtail the malady, where numerous lives of soldiers were laid in order to achieve the desired goal. Unfortunately, most of the time international arena had neglected the efforts.

This all has its roots when Uncle-Sam decided to invade Afghanistan in 2001 on the tag of eradicating terrorism. which was threatening the global “peace” order. Washington compelled Islamabad to be its non-NATO ally and so Pakistan became part of this bleakness. The war against terrorism did not bring any fruitful results and it blow backed as the Afghan mess shackled the mighty US. It’s been more than 17 years now and Washington still finds itself clung in Afghan terrain. One of the crucial effect of this un-holy alliance of Islamabad with the Oval was that the Pakistan suffered the most at home, especially at the north-western front of its empire.

Pakistan is a save heaven for radicals and terrorists! This seems more like a false accusation rather than honest claim. The infection of terrorist organizations residing in Pakistan is courtesy of an untrusty ally, US. The moment United States started their war against terrorism the remnants flew to bordering Pakistani territories and due to high density of Pashtun Pakistani citizens in those territories it was difficult to operate with full military muscle. When Pakistan started doing it, those citizens turned more radicalized towards the state.

From the beginning till date, Pakistan had been the victim of terrorism rather than exporter of it. Its whole socio-economic segment got wounded by it and still even after efforts for curtailing the malevolence, it is still striving to overcome those effects in order to maintain its stature in the international standing as the Pakistani nation and state pay the excruciating price which was not even due on them. In a nut shell, Pakistan repented for the sins committed by the US. Pakistan’s un-accompanied skirmish against terrorism is not over, yet there remains more to achieve, especially rehabilitation, facilitation and mainstreaming of the war torn areas, but foremost is to learn the lessons from the past and refrain to repeat the gaffes which the predecessors did.

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Kashmir: Will Modi accept Pakistan’s Khan’s talks offer?

Amjed Jaaved

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Once again Pakistan’s prime minister has welcomed India to talk about the Kashmir dispute.

He had earlier advocated a Good-Friday (Ireland)-like solution of the dispute. While addressing a gathering at Uri  (November 8, 2018), Farooq Abdullah, also, had sounded a clarion call for solving the Kashmir tangle. He advocated an -type settlement model to resolve the Kashmir imbroglio. Northern Ireland’s population is approximately 55 per cent Protestant and 45 per cent Catholic, and the two communities placed their emphases on different elements of the problem. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 had five main constitutional provisions: (a) Northern Ireland’s future constitutional status was to be in the hands of its citizens. (b) If the people of Ireland, north and south, wanted a united Ireland, they could have one by voting for it. (c) Northern Ireland’s current constitutional position would remain within the United Kingdom. (d) Northern Ireland’s citizens would have the right to “identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both.” (e) The Irish state would drop its territorial claim on Northern Ireland and instead define the Irish nation in terms of people, rather than land.

Other solutions

India could discuss other solutions, if allergic to the word `plebiscite’, Here is a bird’s-eye view: (a) Status quo (division of Kashmir along the present LoC with or without some local adjustments to facilitate the local population, (b) Complete or partial independence (creation of independent Muslim-majority tehsils of  Rajauri, Poonch and Uri with Hindu-majority areas merged in India), (c) Plebiscite to be held in 5 to 10 years after putting Kashmir under UN trusteeship (Trieste-like solution), (d), Joint control, (e) Indus-basin-related solution, (f) Andhorra island (g) Aland-island-like solution and (h) 2. South Tyrol model. Under the Paris Agreement of 1946 (also known as the Gruber-Degasperi Agreement) and the South Tyrol Package of 1969, Austria is mandated with exercising a protective function vis-à-vis Italy for the Austrian and Ladin minorities in South Tyrol. The goal is to secure the continued ethnic, cultural, social and economic existence of the German and Ladin-speaking population of South Tyrol. Besides, much importance is attached to the peaceful co-habitation of the different linguistic groups in the province of Bolzano. (i) Ibarretxe Proposal for the Basque conflict in Spain. The Basque agreement is supported by three basic premises: (1) The Basques are a People with their own identity; (2) they have the right to decide their own future; and (3) it is based on a respect for the decisions of the inhabitants of the different legal political spheres in which they are situated. At present, the Basque people are organised in three legal-administrative communities. On the one hand is the Basque Autonomous Community—made up of the provinces of Alava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa—and the Province of Navarre, both of which are situated within the Spanish state. On the other are the territories of Iparralde — Lapurdi, Zuberoa and Benafarroa — situated within the French state that do not have their own political administration. (j) Trieste model.

For the Free Territory of Trieste, over which Italy and Yugoslavia shared sovereignty until 1954, the lessons, if any, are negative. AG Noorani has argued that the Trieste formula is nothing but communal partition, with the Treaty of Osimo giving the largely Italian port city of Trieste to Italy and the Croat-Slovene dominated Istrian region to the erstwhile Yugoslavia. (k) Sami model. Another creative example is the Sami Parliamentary Assembly, established in 2000, as a joint forum of the parliaments of the Sami indigenous people who reside in the northern regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The Sami have been demanding greater control over the land, water and natural resources of their ancient homeland. They elect representatives to their own regional parliaments but are now trying to develop a pan-Sami political institution to better protect their rights. The three Nordic countries have all been pulled up by the UN for their treatment of the Sami and many issues—such as Norway’s decision to allow expanded bombing ranges for NATO warplanes—affect the indigenous population cutting across sovereign state borders.

The Sami example is a case of an attempt by a partitioned people to craft meaningful political institutions from below, often in the face of indifference from above. (l) New Caledonia Model Noumea Agreement.In 1774, the island was discovered by English captain James Cook. In 1853, under Napoleon III, France officially took its possession. The 1999 Noumea agreement on New Caledonia—where the indigenous Kanaks are now outnumbered by the descendants of European settlers and by other non-Melanesians—maintains French nationality over the colonial possession while establishing the idea of New Caledonia citizenship over a 20-year transition period till a referendum on final status. This example is unappealing in the South Asian context because Kashmir is not a colonial possession. Nevertheless, the notion of shared sovereignty is an interesting one. (m) The Chenab formula. Jammu and Kashmir has four distinct parts. The state of Pakistan-administered Kashmir is quasi-dependency of Pakistan. The Northern areas (former Northern Province of J&K) are an affiliated part of Pakistan except Aksai chin, an area under control of Chinese. The rest of the original state of Jammu and Kashmir including the valley is under India, where it has been granted a special status under the Indian constitution.

According to the Chenab Formula, Pakistan may consider Doaba, a narrow strip of land between Chenab and Ravi rivers in the suburbs of Shakargarh stretching up to Chamb, Dhodha and Rajwari districts as international border. “Even the town of Kargil might go to India under this ‘give and take’ but from Kargil upward, India will have to agree to give territory to Pakistan,” say the architects of this formula Most of the districts in Jammu and on the left bank of the Chenab are Hindu majority in the state of Jammu and Kashmir while in most of the districts on the western side of the Chenab, the Muslims are predominant. “Pakistan may also agree to forego its claim over the Buddhist majority Ladakh region, but there will be no compromise on the Valley,” Pakistani researchers say.

The Valley will be partially autonomous and there will be major changes on the borderline to adjust tehsils and towns surrounding the Valley between India and Pakistan. In short, the River Chenab will form the separation line between the Pakistan and Indian-held areas. (n) Kashmir Study Group formula.

The US-based Kashmir Study Group commissioned to find solution to Kashmir problem in its latest report recommends that portions of the former princely State of Jammu and Kashmir be reconstituted into self-governing entities enjoying free access to one another and to and from both India and Pakistan.

Each of the new entities would have its own democratic constitution, as well as its own citizenship, flag, and legislature, which would legislate on all matters other than defense and foreign affairs. India and Pakistan would be responsible for the defense of the entities, and the entities would maintain police forces to maintain internal law and order. India and Pakistan would be expected to work out financial arrangements for the entities. (o) An independent or autonomous Kashmir, as a neutral country. (h) Permutations and combinations of the aforementioned options.

Sheikh Abdullah’s autonomy proposal

From the early 1950s to the beginning of the crisis in 1989,  “Sheikh Abdullah supported ‘safeguarding of autonomy’ to the fullest possible extent” (Report of the State Autonomy Committee, Jammu, p. 41). Abdullah irked Nehru so much that he had to put Abdullah behind the bars. Bhabani Sen Gupta and Prem Shankar Jha assert that “if New Delhi sincerely wishes to break the deadlock in Kashmir, it has no other alternative except to accept and implement what is being termed as an ‘Autonomy Plus, Independence Minus’ formula, or to grant autonomy to the state to the point where it is indistinguishable from independence”. (Shri Prakash and Ghulam Mohammad Shah (ed.), Towards understanding the Kashmir crisis, p.226).

But, how could a solution evolve? India has avoided a dialogue with Pakistan for about a decade. Sans sincerity, the only Kashmir solution is a nuclear Armageddon. Or, perhaps divine intervention.

Let India begin to talk. True, honesty, not obduracy or legal rigmarole,  will solve the Kashmir tangle. 

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The ‘High-Risk Low-Gain’ Politics of the Kashmir Issue

M Waqas Jan

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Over the last few days, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan seems to have come under tremendous fire for his recent statements regarding a possible future settlement with India over Kashmir. Speaking to a group of foreign journalists, Mr. Khan had stated that he might have a better chance of reaching an agreement with Mr. Modi if his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party were voted to power in the ongoing elections in India. This he predicted would be better than dealing with the struggling Congress Party which may lack the political capital to cooperate with Pakistan, out of fear of alienating India’s influential far-right. 

Considered by many as a blatant endorsement of Mr. Modi and his more oppressive brand of politics, Mr. Khan has since taken considerable flak from his political opponents as well as from some prominent voices within Pakistan’s mainstream media. These include former diplomat Senator Sherry Rehman who has vehemently criticized the PM’s statement. Her position is that Pakistan instead of appearing to favor certain individuals should focus on dealing with the Indian state as a whole. Particularly with respect to the Kashmir issue, she pointed out that favoring one individual or party over the other not only amounts to interference, but denigrates and shuns other parties from any future diplomatic efforts as well.

The Senator does have a point. Picking favorites and potential negotiation partners before the Indian elections even start does amount to a diplomatic faux pas of sorts. However, if one was to simply consider the PM’s statement on its own merits, all he did was state a harsh, albeit long-standing political reality that has persistently characterized both countries’ relationship with one another. Particularly with respect to the politics and discourse surrounding the Kashmir issue, this reality has been referred to by renowned South Asian expert Stephen P. Cohen as the ‘high risk low gain’ nature of cooperation that exists between both countries.

This idea of the high-risk low-gain nature of Pak-India relations is based on the fact that any form of cooperation between both countries has historically remained fraught with risks, particularly within the realm of local politics. This idea that leaders on both sides of the border have often more to lose than to gain politically has been evident throughout both countries’ histories; especially when calling for greater cooperation.

For instance, these same risks were evident on both sides during Mr. Modi’s impromptu visit to Pakistan in late 2015. Building on the budding bonhomie between himself and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, both leaders had highlighted their growing personal relationship as highly positive for India Pakistan relations. This was despite the criticisms both were facing for appearing too conciliatory and overeager to paper over long standing issues. However, the risk of appearing weak or ceding more than necessary was ultimately greater for an already weakened Nawaz Sharif. Already dogged by the increasingly tenuous relationship between himself and the military establishment, Mr. Sharif instead of gaining any ground towards a workable solution with India, found himself even more politically alienated as a result of his overtures.

The same was the case in the Musharraf era as well. At the height of his power in 2001 and immune to the political risks of civilian leaders, Mr. Musharraf appeared more than willing at the Agra summit to reach a workable solution. His proposed solution however remained untenable for Indian leaders such as L.K Advani, who found the risks of appearing reconciled with the Pakistani General as too great. Six years later, the four point plan which Mr. Musharraf had developed over years of back-channel talks with Mr. Manmohan Singh’s government, also fell through as Mr. Musharraf’s political troubles at home started to take toll. The growing uncertainty over Mr. Musharraf’s political future further compounded the risks being faced by Indian leaders in late 2007, at a time when the Kashmir issue was according to many ‘all but resolved’.

Even more ironic perhaps was the lost opportunity for India at Simla in 1972, where Shrimati Indira Gandhi Ji at the height of her power remained a hair short of finalizing the Kashmir issue with a militarily defeated Mr. Bhutto. As the controversial story goes, a verbal agreement between Mr. Bhutto and Mrs. Gandhi just fell short of being written down and signed due to Mr. Bhutto’s insistence. He had reportedly asked for more time as the political risks for reaching a final settlement over Kashmir were far too great for him then.

Coming back to Mr. Imran Khan’s most recent statement, his prediction of a weakened Congress party being less able to face such risks can be termed as a candid summation of the above historical lessons. Not to mention the risks Mr. Khan himself faces to his own political capital, when calling for cooperation with a jingoistic and war-mongering BJP government. A BJP government, which thus despite its highly questionable sincerity to peace, may still yet offer a more pragmatic chance of cooperation over Kashmir.

Yet, in staying true to the irony that has long plagued India -Pakistan relations, both Mr. Khan and Mr. Modi are neither the first, nor likely the last leaders to face the high risk low-gain implications of calling for peace and reconciliation between Pakistan and India. Unless there is widespread political consensus on an honest and stringent commitment to peace and reconciliation on both sides of the border, that elusive peace sought by a few idealists is likely to remain just that; an elusive ideal.

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