Kashmir northern most geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Snow-capped mountains, mountain lakes, and fields of flowers–Kashmir is known far and wide as the “Heaven on Earth”. Kashmir was an independent country till 1947. But today, India and Pakistan occupy Kashmir in two parts. While Kashmir remains a bone of contention to both countries for decades, Pakistan and India, to the people of Kashmir both countries are illegal occupants of their land. Known to the world, the people of Kashmir introduce themselves as Kashmiri, not as Indian nor Pakistani. This sense of nationalism is gradually looming in the public affairs of Kashmir ever since it lost its independence. Neither India, nor Pakistan could assimilate Kashmir into their greater social and political dominance. This staggering fact is resulted from the experience that Pakistan did with the Bangladesh before 1971 and the oppression India is imposing on the people of Kashmir ever since it occupied the land. While the country is already a burnt place with hundreds of thousands of death tolls fighting for its independence and a multiplied number injured or displaced, India has recently waged the fire by revoking Article 35-A and 370 of its Constitution–a constitutional provision granting the region a special status in their administered territory. This led Kashmir to a proxy battlefield between India and Pakistan and, as many believe, Kashmir is the next nuclear battlefield. The story goes deeper–in order to increase the influence of India, India is pushing in a considerable number of its Hindu population to the region so that Hindu becomes the majority in Kashmir. This strategic push in may bring some drastic never-ending consequences in the region.
How Kashmir lost its independence?
Kashmir dispute dates back to 1947 during the partition of the Indian subcontinent along religious lines that led to the formation of India and Pakistan. However, there remained the problem of over 650 states, run by princes, existed within the two newly independent countries. In theory, these princely states had the option of decide which country to join, or of remaining independent. At that time, three of these states did not want any country India nor Pakistan. They wanted to live independently. One of which is Jammu and Kashmir. The other two were Hyderabad and Junagadh. Junagadh quickly joined India in Under pressure. Hyderabad was a very wealthy state. Most of the people of this state were of Hindu religion, but its king Nizam was Muslim. Nizam wanted to merge with Pakistan. But the people wanted to join India. At that moment, India made Hyderabad a part of itself. The Jammu and Kashmir was remained. The situation there is just the opposite of Hyderabad, the ruler was Hindu but the majority of the people are Muslims. However, this Hindu king Hari Singh wanted to remain independent from the beginning, neither Pakistan nor India wanted to merge with themselves. But as the force started by Pakistan, they began to infiltrate a large number of people as well as the army into Kashmir. Maharaj Hari Singh saw that even though he did not want, the state was gradually becoming part of Pakistan. Then he sought India’s help. He had an agreement with India then. It’s about October 26 in 1947. This contract is known in history as the ‘instrument of accession’. The first war between India-Pakistan because of Kashmir. This matter goes to the United nation. The UN Security Council says that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will decide whether they merge or they get remain independent. There will be a referendum, it will be determined the fate of Kashmiri people.
However, The UN gave a condition, two countries will have to withdraw their forces. But they never withdrew their army. So the referendum did not occur. As a result, India occupies 45 percent of the valley which name is Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Siachen Glacier. Pakistan occupies 35 percent which name is Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan. The remaining 20 percent was Aksai China, which is now occupied by China. Thus, Kashmir valley divided three parts.
In fact, India has given the state some special advantages in keeping Kashmir with itself. The issues have been included in the Constitution since the Constitution of India was introduced in 1950. Then, in 1954 dr. Rajendra Prasad issued it as a presidential order.
What is Article 370?
Article 370 was the basis of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to the Indian union at a time when erstwhile princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after their independence from the British rule in 1947. The article, which came into effect in 1949, exempts Jammu and Kashmir state from the Indian constitution. It allows the Indian-administered region jurisdiction to make its own laws in all matters except finance, defense, foreign affairs and communications. It established a separate constitution and a separate flag and denied property rights in the region to the outsiders. That means the residents of the state live under different laws from the rest of the country in matters such as property ownership and citizenship.
What is Article 35A?
Article 35A was introduced through a presidential order in 1954 to continue the old provisions of the territory regulations under Article 370 of the Indian constitution. The article permits the local legislature in Indian-administered Kashmir to define permanent residents of the region. It forbids outsiders from permanently settling, buying lands, holding local government offices or winning education scholarships in the region. The article, referred to as the Permanent Residents Law, also bars female residents of Jammu and Kashmir from property rights in the event that they marry a person from outside the state. The provision also extends to such women’s children. While Article 35A has remained unchanged, some aspects of Article 370 have been diluted over the decades. Critics of Article 35A say the provision did not have any parliamentary sanction, and that it discriminates against women.
The Masterplan of Hindu Settlement and its impact:
While Article 370 and Article 35A were in action, it was literally impossible to penetrate the barrier of outside settlement in the region. But the discreet masterplan of the current ruling BJP, which is no longer discreet its drastically biased activity, is to raise the Hindu nationalism throughout the country. That includes the settlement of Hindu population in Hindu minority regions. As Kashmir remains a crucial region where the national inclusion policy fails over decades, this prompted the BJP government to initiate a discreet settlement program in the region. When Article 370 and Article 35A are no longer in place that means no more barrier to implement the plan. As a result, Hindu population from other states can buy lands and settle their businesses in Kashmir. Settlement is the first footstep to occupy Kashmir and it’s an achievable target for India within less than a decade provided the geographical and geopolitical nature of the region. Like all other settlers around the world in the Americas, Africa, Australia, if you need to occupy any nation you need to puss-in people there, rape, marriage and finally occupy the lands. India took this policy to extend its full control over the Muslim populated Kashmir. Nearly 7 million people live in the Kashmir Valley, 97% of them Muslim, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Indian troops and armed police deployed to quell an uprising against New Delhi’s rule.
Geographically, Kashmir is a highly fertile land with abundant natural resources, and rich terrain and hilly landscape–one of the most lucrative tourist destinations in South Asia. Overnight, outside investments will flow in its tourism and resource incursion sectors. Industries will settle in abundant cheaply priced lands. The prospect of new employments will bring millions of mainstream Hindu population to permanently settle in the region. Of course, Hindus will be preferred in granting in an outside-controlled job, not local people. The region is also lucrative for industrial settlement for its closest route to many regions of China and Pakistan. Geopolitically, the region is a center of three conflicting countries, India, Pakistan and China. More control over the region means a strategic win in the geopolitics.
This resettlement policy is very similar to the Chinese government’s policy with the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and the Philistine Muslims by Israel. But the BJP also knows that India is not a one-party governing country that must depend on its almost 21 percent non-Hindu votes. It is interesting that, reportedly, many local Hindus in Kashmir are also fighting for independence along with Muslims.
The ghost of British bipartisan theory still remains. Kashmir is now called Palestine in South Asia. Both territories are dominated in the same year in 1947. The main ringleader was the British and India is going to run a robust settlement program in Kashmir that the people of Palestine has been facing since 1947.
Revoking Article 35-A and 370 has fulfilled the long aspirations of Hindu nationalists. They have been wanting this change since the 1950. However, the situation can be dire in the region and for the whole country as a consequence. Revoking article 370 is a red alert in India. There has been increasing concern in the northeastern states of the country since the central government of India lifted up Article 370 of the Constitution. They are worried about Article 371 of the Constitution. Several states have been given special protection in different paragraphs of Article 371 of the Constitution. According to the central government’s announcement on August 5, these states are in fear of losing that special protection. The provisions contained in those paragraphs, in most of the northeastern region, speak of protecting tribal communities and their culture. It has decentralized administration and a certain level of administrative autonomy in those states. In addition, local laws have the advantage of settling cases. Some of these laws prohibit the transfer of land to a non-state citizen. These rules are applicable in Mizoram, Nagaland and parts of Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya. Likewise, Kashmir, over times northeastern region are also bumped with the rise of separate nationalism other than Indian.
India’s next target will be the occupation of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Recently, a minister of the country Jitendra Singh said this in Lok Sabha (the lower house of India’s bicameral Parliament). The Indians think Kashmir is their own land, while Pakistan thinks the Muslim majority valley is part of their country. By this conflict a major war will began between the two countries, Analysts predict. The fear of this conflict is even greater as both countries are nuclear-powered countries.
Instability and oppression will raise terrorism in Kashmir valley. No one Pakistan nor India can stop terrorism in this territory. Al-Qaeda’s South Asia branch and the Middle East IS have already increased their operations in the Indian subcontinent. They made their presence through the attacks in Sri Lankan churches by killing of 25p innocent people On 21 April 2019. But Now naturally Kashmir will focus.
S. Jaishankar’s ‘The India Way’, Is it a new vision of foreign policy?
S. Jaishankar has had an illustrious Foreign Service career holding some of the highest and most prestigious positions such as ambassador to China and the US and as foreign secretary of India. Since 2019 he has served as India’s foreign minister. S. Jaishankar also has a Ph.D. in international relations from JNU and his academic background is reflected in this book.
His main argument is simplistic, yet the issues involved are complex. Jaishankar argues that the world is changing fundamentally, and the international environment is experiencing major shifts in power as well as processes. China is rising and western hegemony is declining. We are moving away from a unipolar system dominated by the US to a multipolar system. Globalization is waning and nationalism and polarization is on the rise (p. 29). The old order is going away but we cannot yet glimpse what the future will look like. This is the uncertain world that Dr. Jaishankar sees.
Dr. Jaishankar also argues that India too has changed, it is more capable and more assertive. The liberalization program that began in 1991 has made the Indian economy vibrant and globally competitive and it is well on track to becoming the third biggest economy in the world, after China and the US. The war of 1971 that liberated Bangladesh, the liberalization of the economy after 1991, the nuclear tests in 1998 and the nuclear understanding with the US in 2005, Jaishankar argues are landmarks in India’s strategic evolution (p. 4). So given that both India and the system have changed, Jaishankar concludes, so should India’s foreign policy.
But his prescription for India’s foreign policy, in the grand scheme of things, is the same as before – India should remain nonaligned and not join the US in its efforts to contain China. India will try to play with both sides it seems in order to exploit the superpowers and maximize its own interests (p. 9). But he fails to highlight how India can find common ground with China other than to say the two nations must resolve things diplomatically. He also seems to think that the US has infinite tolerance for India’s coyness. In his imagination the US will keep making concessions and India will keep playing hard to get.
Jaishankar has a profound contradiction in his thinking. He argues that the future will be determined by what happens between the US and China. In a way he is postulating a bipolar future to global politics. But he then claims that the world is becoming multipolar and this he claims will increase the contests for regional hegemony. The world cannot be both bipolar and multipolar at the same time.
There is also a blind spot in Jaishankar’s book. He is apparently unaware of the rise of Hindu nationalism and the demand for a Hindu state that is agitating and polarizing India’s domestic politics. The systematic marginalization and oppression of Muslim minorities at home and the growing awareness overseas of the dangers of Hindutva extremism do not exist in the world that he lives in. He misses all this even as he goes on to invoke the Mahabharata and argue how Krishna’s wisdom and the not so ethical choices during the war between Pandavas and Kauravas should be a guide for how India deals with this uncertain world – by balancing ethics with realism (p. 63). Methinks his little digression in discussing the ancient Hindu epic is more to signal his ideological predilections than to add any insights to understanding the world or India’s place in it.
One aspect of his work that I found interesting is his awareness of the importance of democracy and pluralism. He states that India’s democracy garners respect and gives India a greater opportunity to be liked and admired by other nations in the world (p. 8). Yet recently when he was asked about the decline of India’s democratic credentials, his response was very defensive, and he showed visible signs of irritation. It is possible that he realizes India is losing ground internationally but is unwilling to acknowledge that his political party is responsible for the deterioration of India’s democracy.
This is also apparent when he talks about the importance of India improving its relations with its immediate neighbors. He calls the strategy as neighborhood first approach (pp. 9-10). What he does not explain is how an Islamophobic India will maintain good relations with Muslim majority neighbors like Bangladesh, Maldives, and Pakistan.
The book is interesting, it has its limitations and both, what is addressed and what is left out, are clearly political choices and provide insights into how New Delhi thinks about foreign policy. So, coming to the question with which we started, does India have a new foreign policy vision? The answer is no. Dr. Jaishankar is right, there is indeed an India way, but it is the same old way, and it entails remaining nonaligned with some minor attitudinal adjustments.
India’s open invitation to a nuclear Armageddon
Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said that “India was not averse to the possible demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier , the world’s highest battleground and an old sore in India-Pakistan ties , provided the neighbour accepted the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) that separates Indian and Pakistani positions. Acceptance of AGPL is the first step towards demilitarisation but the Pakistan side loathes doing that”. He said, ‘The Siachen situation occurred because of unilateral attempts by Pakistan to change status quo and countermeasures taken by the Indian Army’ (Not averse to demilitarisation of Siachen if Pak meets pre-condition: Army chief, Hindustan Times January 13, 2022).
Reacting to the Indian army chief’s statement, Pakistan’s former foreign secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan reminisced that the Siachen could not fructify into a written agreement because India wanted Siachen and Kashmir to be settled together. India’s approach ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ scuttled the agreement. As for Kashmir, “a simultaneous effort was made through the backchannel …in what is commonly known as the Four-Point Formula” (Siachen recollections, Dawn January 16, 2022). Riaz laments Indi’s distrust that hindered a solution.
Shyam Saran, a voice in the wilderness
Shyam Saran, in his book How India Sees the World (pp. 88-93) makes startling revelations about how this issue eluded solution at last minute. India itself created the Siachen problem. Saran reminisces, in the 1970s, US maps began to show 23000 kilometers of Siachen area under Pakistan’s control. Thereupon, Indian forces were sent to occupy the glacier in a pre-emptive strike, named Operation Meghdoot. Pakistani attempts to dislodge them did not succeed. But they did manage to occupy and fortify the lower reaches’.
He recalls how Siachen Glacier and Sir Creek agreements could not fructify for lack of political will or foot dragging. He says ‘NN Vohra, who was the defence secretary at the time, confirmed in a newspaper interview that an agreement on Siachen had been reached. At the last moment, however, a political decision was taken by the Narasimha Rao government to defer its signing to the next round of talks scheduled for January the following year. But, this did not happen…My defence of the deal became a voice in the wilderness’.
Saran says, `Kautliyan template would say the options for India are sandhi, conciliation; asana, neutrality; and yana, victory through war. One could add dana, buying allegiance through gifts; and bheda, sowing discord. The option of yana, of course would be the last in today’s world’ (p. 64, ibid.).
India’s current first option
It appears that Kautliya’s last-advised option,yana, as visualised by Shyam Saran, is India’s first option nowadays. Kautlya also talks about koota yuddha (no holds barred warfare), and maya yuddha (war by tricks) that India is engaged in.
By unilaterally declaring the disputed Jammu and Kashmir its territory does not solve the Kashmir problem. This step reflects that India has embarked upon the policy “might is right”. In Kotliyan parlance it would be “matsy nyaya, or mach nyaya”, that is big fish eats the small one. What if China also annexes disputed borders with India? India annexed Kashmir presuming that Pakistan is not currently in a position to respond militarily, nor could it agitate the matter at international forums for fear of US ennui.
India’s annexation smacks of acceptance of quasi-Dixon Plan, barring mention of plebiscite and division of Jammu. . Dixon proposed: Ladakh should be awarded to India. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (including Gilgit and Baltistan) should remain with Pakistan. Whole Kashmir valley should have a plebiscite with no option to independence. Jammu should be divided on religious basis. The river Chmab should be the dividing line. Northern Jammu (Muslims dominated) should go to Pakistan and Hindu majority parts of Jammu to remain with India.
In short Muslim areas should have gone with Pakistan and Hindu-Buddhist majority areas should have remained with India.
India’s annexation has no legal sanctity. But, it could have bbeen sanctified in a mutually agreed Kashmir solution.
India portrays the freedom movement in Kashmir as `terrorism’. What about India’s terrorism in neighbouring countries?
The world is listless to accounts of former diplomats and RAW officers about executing insurgencies in neighbouring countries. B. Raman, in his book The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane makes no bones about India’s involvement up to the level of prime minister in Bangladesh’s insurgency.
Will the world take notice of confessions by Indi’s former intelligence officers and diplomats?B. Raman reminds `Indian parliament passed resolution on March 31, 1971 to support insurgency. Indira Gandhi had then confided with Kao that in case Mujib was prevented from ruling Pakistan, she would liberate East Pakistan from the clutches of the military junta. Kao, through one RAW agent, hijacked a Fokker Friendship, the Ganga, of Indian Airlines hijacked from Srinagar to Lahore.
India’s ambassador Bharath Raj Muthu Kumar, with the consent of then foreign minister Jaswant Singh, `coordinated military and medical assistance that India was secretly giving to Massoud and his forces’… `helicopters, uniforms, ordnance, mortars, small armaments, refurbished Kalashnikovs seized in Kashmir, combat and winter clothes, packaged food, medicines, and funds through his brother in London, Wali Massoud’, delivered circuitously with the help of other countries who helped this outreach’. When New Delhi queried about the benefit of costly support to Northern Alliance chief Massoud, Kumar explained, “He is battling someone we should be battling. When Massoud fights the Taliban, he fights Pakistan.”
Death of back-channel
In his memoirs In the line of fire (pp.302-303), president Musharraf had proposed a personal solution of the Kashmir issue. This solution, in essence, envisioned self-rule in demilitarised regions of Kashmir under a joint-management mechanism. The solution pre-supposed* reciprocal flexibility.
Death of dialogue and diplomacy
Riaz warns of “incalculable” risks as the result of abrogation of Kashmir statehood (Aug 5, 2019). Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. In the absence of a dialogue on outstanding issues, war, perhaps a nuclear one, comes up as the only option.
Sans sincerity, the only Kashmir solution is a nuclear Armageddon. Or, perhaps divine intervention.
Major Challenges for Pakistan in 2022
Pakistan has been facing sever challenges since 1980s, after the former USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan. The history is full of challenges, but, being a most resilient nation, Pakistan has faced some of them bravely and overcome successfully. Yet, few are rather too big for Pakistan and still struggling to overcome in the near future.
Some of the challenges are domestic or internal, which can be addressed conveniently. But, some of them are part of geopolitics and rather beyond control of Pakistan itself. Such challenges need to pay more attention and need to be smarter and address them wisely.
Few key areas will be the main focus of Pakistan in the year ahead. Relations with China and the US while navigating the Sino-US confrontation, dealing with Afghanistan’s uncertainties, managing the adversarial relationship with India and balancing ties between strategic ally Saudi Arabia and neighbor Iran.
Pakistan has to pursue its diplomatic goals in an unsettled global and regional environment marked by several key features. They include rising East-West tensions, increasing preoccupation of big powers with domestic challenges, ongoing trade and technology wars overlying the strategic competition between China and the US, a fraying rules-based international order and attempts by regional and other powers to reshape the rules of the game in their neighborhood.
Understanding the dynamics of an unpredictable world is important especially as unilateral actions by big powers and populist leaders, which mark their foreign policy, have implications for Pakistan’s diplomacy. In evolving its foreign policy strategy Pakistan has to match its goals to its diplomatic resources and capital. No strategy is effective unless ends and means are aligned.
Pakistan’s relations with China will remain its overriding priority. While a solid economic dimension has been added to long-standing strategic ties, it needs sustained high-level engagement and consultation to keep relations on a positive trajectory. CPEC is on track, timely and smoothly progress is crucial to reinforce Beijing’s interest in strengthening Pakistan, economically and strategically. Close coordination with Beijing on key issues remains important.
Pakistan wants to improve ties with the US. But relations will inevitably be affected by Washington’s ongoing confrontation with Beijing, which American officials declare has an adversarial dimension while China attributes a cold war mindset to the US. Islamabad seeks to avoid being sucked into this big power rivalry. But this is easier said than done. So long as US-China relations remain unsteady it will have a direct bearing on Pakistan’s effort to reset ties with the US especially as containing China is a top American priority. Pakistan desires to keep good relations with the US, but, not at the cost of China. In past, Pakistan was keeping excellent relations with US, while simultaneously very close with China. When the US imposed economic blockade against China and launched anti-communism drive during the cold war, Pakistan was close ally with the US and yet, keeping excellent relations with China. Pakistan played vital role in bring China and the US to establish diplomatic relations in 1970s. Yet, Pakistan possesses the capability to narrow down the hostility between China and the US.
Pakistan was close ally with the US during cold war, anti-communism threat, war against USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1980s, and war on terror, etc. Pakistan might be a small country, but, possesses strategic importance. As long as, the US was cooperating with Pakistan, Pakistan looked after the US interest in the whole region. In fact, Pakistan ensured that the US has achieved its all strategic goals in the region. Since, the US kept distance from Pakistan, is facing failure after another failure consecutively. The importance of Pakistan is well recognized by the deep state in the US.
US thinks that withdrawal from Afghanistan has diminished Pakistan’s importance for now. For almost two decades Afghanistan was the principal basis for engagement in their frequently turbulent ties, marked by both cooperation and mistrust. As Pakistan tries to turn a new page with the US the challenge is to find a new basis for a relationship largely shorn of substantive bilateral content. Islamabad’s desire to expand trade ties is in any case contingent on building a stronger export base.
Complicating this is Washington’s growing strategic and economic relations with India, its partner of choice in the region in its strategy to project India as a counterweight to China. The implications for Pakistan of US-India entente are more than evident from Washington turning a blind eye to the grim situation in occupied Kashmir and its strengthening of India’s military and strategic capabilities. Closer US-India ties will intensify the strategic imbalance in the region magnifying Pakistan’s security challenge.
Multiple dimensions of Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan will preoccupy Islamabad, which spent much of 2021 engaged with tumultuous developments there. While Pakistan will continue to help Afghanistan avert a humanitarian and economic collapse it should not underestimate the problems that may arise with an erstwhile ally. For one, the TTP continues to be based in Afghanistan and conduct attacks from there. The border fencing issue is another source of unsettled discord. Careful calibration of ties will be needed — assisting Afghanistan but avoiding overstretch, and acknowledging that the interests of the Taliban and Pakistan are far from identical. Moreover, in efforts to mobilize international help for Afghanistan, Islamabad must not exhaust its diplomatic capital, which is finite and Pakistan has other foreign policy goals to pursue.
Managing relations with India will be a difficult challenge especially as the Modi government is continuing its repressive policy in occupied Kashmir and pressing ahead with demographic changes there, rejecting Pakistan’s protests. The hope in establishment circles that last year’s backchannel between the two countries would yield a thaw or even rapprochement, turned to disappointment when no headway was made on any front beyond the re-commitment by both neighbors to observe a ceasefire on the Line of Control.
Working level diplomatic engagement will continue on practical issues such as release of civilian prisoners. But prospects of formal dialogue resuming are slim in view of Delhi’s refusal to discuss Kashmir. This is unlikely to change unless Islamabad raises the diplomatic costs for Delhi of its intransigent policy. Islamabad’s focus on Afghanistan last year meant its diplomatic campaign on Kashmir sagged and was limited to issuing tough statements. Unless Islamabad renews and sustains its international efforts with commitment and imagination, India will feel no pressure on an issue that remains among Pakistan’s core foreign policy goals.
With normalization of ties a remote possibility, quiet diplomacy by the two countries is expected to focus on managing tensions to prevent them from spinning out of control. Given the impasse on Kashmir, an uneasy state of no war, no peace is likely to continue warranting Pakistan’s sustained attention.
In balancing ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran, Pakistan should consider how to leverage possible easing of tensions between the long-standing rivals — of which there are some tentative signs. With Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman keen to use economic power to expand his country’s diplomatic clout by making strategic overseas investments, Pakistan should use its political ties with Riyadh to attract Saudi investment through a coherent strategy. Relations with Iran too should be strengthened with close consultation on regional issues especially Afghanistan. The recent barter agreement is a step in the right direction.
In an increasingly multipolar world, Pakistan also needs to raise its diplomatic efforts by vigorous outreach to other key countries and actors beyond governments to secure its national interests and goals.
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