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In Another Lifetime: A Roadmap to Peace for Pakistan and India –part 3



The third and final part of this paper deliberates on the roadmap to peace itself.

Roadmap to Peace

The road map includes the following and should be followed linearly.

  1. A Novel Kashmir Approach With Some “Give and Takes”
  2. Independent Overseer/Investigator
  3. Economic Relations Take Centre Stage
  4. Political, Cultural, Military CBM’s
  5. Outside the Box Approach for Kashmir

A Novel Kashmir Approach With Some “Give and Takes”

The paper suggests that rather than deliberating and bickering on whom Kashmir belongs to (and to hold a plebiscite), there should be no such discussions for at least 10 years. Let the territorial status quo maintain and instead of debating upon the territorial qualms, both countries should solely work towards improving Pakistan-Indian economic relations in the first 5 years and in the next 5 begin focusing on socio-cultural, military, and political CBM’s.

This kind of strategy seems to find favour with Lt. General Singh of India, who suggests freezing of the situation with regards to Kashmir and then gradually opening the borders for economic cooperation and increased people-to-people contact. This emphasis on the economic relations initially and then commencing political, social, and other CBM’s on its foundations must be extended towards the entirety of Kashmir as well.

Unfortunately, Kashmir, on both sides of the LoC, has suffered due to two regional powers playing tug of war with it. The issue has not come close to being resolved in more than 70 years and due to the historical militarization, the proliferation of proxies and hostile politics, Kashmiris have been the main fatalities. This should not be considered as deprioritizing Kashmir and furthermore should not be discerned as counterproductive and controversial.

Kashmir is interwoven with the emotions of all Pakistanis, but the reality is that with a weak economy and modest international stature, Pakistan cannot effectively deliberate the Kashmir issue (especially since India is second only to China in terms of economic and international stature in the region). This needs to be communicated effectively to the people of Pakistan especially the Kashmiris.

The major Kashmiri political and religious parties such as the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (JKPDP), APHC, the Pakistani government, and the Indian government must work jointly towards this end. It should not be seen as Pakistan forsaking Kashmiris but only that the traditional “Kashmir first policy” in a weak position will and has caused greater harm to Pakistan and Kashmir in totality.

What should be communicated to the Kashmiris and the rest of the country is that Pakistan and India would work together for the sake of Kashmir – both countries should strive to develop better educational and health facilities, improve the networks of roads and infrastructure, augment intra-LoC trade, liberalize visas so Kashmiris on both sides can move easily. This human development side of the new Kashmir policy will benefit not only Kashmir but will bring both nations closer.

“Give and takes” means that both countries need to give each other space for this roadmap to succeed. As India has always acknowledged Kashmir to be one of the issues while Pakistan has signalled it to be the primary issue, this new stance of Pakistan will be welcomed with much glee by the Indian government.

Pakistan has blamed India’s brutal machinations in J&K as the key cause of dissent, while India has continually blamed Pakistan for supporting proxies and instigating the Kashmiris in J&K. The truth, however, as mentioned earlier is that Pakistan has significantly clamped down its proxy efforts in J&K especially since 9/11. The September 11 attacks and the ensuing environment of zero tolerance for terror-based violence made organized violence a less attractive route.

Pakistan has militarily decimated the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the main terror outfit in the country, as well as other groups in the past decade. The problem for the country lies with the pro-Pakistan militant groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that the country has supported against India in the past. These groups cannot be dismantled in one sweeping motion as they have a huge welfare network across the country.

In addition to having a well-established network of educational facilities across the country, LeT offers blood banks, mobile clinics and ambulance services. Therefore, abolishing a militant organization such as LeT would not only cause the group to turn anti-state but would also mobilize the masses in certain areas of the country to their support – this would lead to another insurgency similar to the one Pakistan faced after 2001.

Conversely, the country must neutralize these militant outfits somehow, as international pressure regarding this issue is immense. The international community, however, especially India, must not turn a blind eye to sacrifices made by Pakistan and its population vis-à-vis terrorism. As stated, this new Kashmir policy will expressively signal to India that Pakistan truly wants better relations and also suggests that the country has not only been trying but will expedite its policy of eliminating militancy.

India has stated that dialogue shall not initiate until Pakistan eliminates its support for terrorism across the LoC and other parts of India. The ball, then, so to speak, would be in India’s court. Under the new Kashmir policy, Pakistan will be providing massive space to India by disclaiming that the territorial status quo should be unchallenged for 10 years. India would realistically be pleased by this decision and hopefully would see the need to reciprocate in kind to meet Pakistan’s huge step.

Pakistan should demand that India cease hostilities in Kashmir and maybe even reduce its military presence in the region. This allows pressure off Pakistan from its own public as India’s decision would alleviate the stress on the Kashmiri people. Furthermore, it will reinforce that the decision taken by the Pakistanis is a sound one as it has loosened the noose around the Kashmiri people.

Cordial relations and economic ties with India will benefit the whole of Pakistan including Kashmir – and of course India as well. Without the reassessing of myopic policies, Pakistan will only suffer. Pakistan does not gain an inch of territory by inciting troubles in Kashmir and it subsequently jeopardizes talks on the bilateral level.

At the same time, it does not help that India’s hard-line security policy and its own disregard towards Kashmiri discontent has led to yet another Kashmiri uprising in Indian controlled Kashmir. To ensure this new Kashmir policy succeeds, Pakistan should cease any funding and training of insurgent groups, while India should focus on reducing military and providing strong institutions and a pure sense of democracy in the region.

Independent Overseer/Investigator

To ensure the peace process and CBMs that would initiate after the first facet is implemented are not derailed, an independent international organization should oversee and investigate any attack or any triggering event that could potentially disrupt the peace process. Setting up such a body is integral due to each country’s history of blaming the other when a triggering event occurs and this leads to the dissolution of the peace process.

Both countries should jointly decide which countries’ nationals be a part of the group, how many members the body should have, and other technicalities. After these formalities are completed, both countries should sign a formal document that empowers the overseer body with pre-determined powers which includes investigatory powers, and also that its decision should be final and accepted by both countries.

On several occasions in the past, India has blamed Pakistan for orchestrating an attack even before starting an investigation and vice versa. Due to the fragile nature of Pakistan-India relations, any slight misunderstanding can lead to hyperbole, and due to prejudices produced by the “enemy syndrome,” many peace initiatives have collapsed on various occasions.

For example, the 1992 bilateral peace process between both countries was halted by the desecration of Babri Mosque by Hindu extremists in India; in 1992, the Lahore Declaration ceased due to fighting in the Kargil sector; and the Composite Dialogue between President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee in 2003 was paused due to the Mumbai train bomb blasts in 2006.

It should be ensured that baseless allegations are not made against either country and that third parties (such as Islamic and Hindutva extremists) do not hijack the peace initiative as they have done in the past. The international organization tasked with the investigation should be the one to pin the blame on the perpetrator and not the states themselves.

Eventually, if relations drastically improve, an unbiased joint-investigation team consisting of members from both countries should replace the international overseer. It is counterproductive for any country’s international reputation and economic safety to initiate a peace process consisting of CBMs and simultaneously conduct terrorist attacks (including false flag attacks) on the country they are trying to make things work with.

However, if Pakistan or India are short-sighted enough to make such mistakes, the overseer will act as a further deterrent to each country since it would weaken its own international repute if found involved in sabotaging a peace process that they themselves initiated. Furthermore, if an attack is found to be conducted by an entity other than Pakistan and India, the non-state actors responsible would become highlighted and swift action can be taken against them by the respective state.

The preceding is especially true as there are various militant groups and proxy organizations in both countries that do not want any kind of peace process – as it is within their interests for both states to remain hostile. Although India has maintained traditionally, that a third party is superfluous and that talks should be conducted on a bilateral level, this was mainly true only for when Kashmir was being discussed.

Moreover, the third-party overseer will only come into action during an attack or after events that could possibly destabilize relations. The overseer need not have any kind of other authority over bilateral talks and CBMs of both countries. It would be advantageous for both countries to take this step to ensure the peace process has a significant chance of succeeding in this region filled with raw emotions and distrust.

To further guarantee that the states themselves do not sabotage the process, a peace accord or ceasefire should also be signed preferably ratified by certain important nations.

Economic Relations Take Centre Stage

Economic ties should be the premier focus for both countries in the first 5 years of the decade long roadmap. India has been pursuing a Pakistan-declared MFN for many years, but they must also remove non-tariff barriers on Pakistani goods. The opportunities section thoroughly detailed what both countries must do to better their economic relations – from digitizing security at the border to the removal of the list system.

All of these recommendations must be adopted. Currently, Pakistan needs better trade relations to receive cheaper exports from India and to send out its own exports directly to India’s huge market. India, on the other hand, can benefit not only by trading with Pakistan but also by taking advantage of CPEC. Therefore, Pakistan, India, and China should sit down and decide India’s role in CPEC.

As mentioned above, if executed effectively, India gets a gateway of new and improved infrastructure links in Pakistan and to Afghanistan and Central Asia, while China finds a new route connected to India and can tap the Indian energy and other markets more effectively. Furthermore, Kashmir, across the LoC, as discussed must be developed economically. Intra-LoC trade is considered the best CBM but the recommendations stated earlier must be adopted.

Since CPEC will pass through the northern areas of Pakistan to China, Kashmir, Gilgit, Skardu, etcetera would be getting important economic spillovers, improved roads, and infrastructural networks. CPEC would also augment employment in these areas. Both countries should promise to earmark money for the development of Kashmir especially in the first 5 years of this framework.

Furthermore, economic CBM’s should be strived upon during this period. For example, regular meetings between Finance Ministers to pursue economic cooperation; India granting greater concessions (decreased non-tariff barriers) to Pakistan; promoting regular Chamber of Commerce contacts on each side; formulation of a joint commission to discuss initiatives for trade improvement and non-tariff barriers.

Improvement of economic relations has dual advantages as it not only aids the economy of both nations but automatically aids in achieving healthier political and cultural relations as well. Trade is beneficial for Pakistan-India bilateral relations and that improved bilateral trade can act as a deescalating factor for both nations, contrasted with the economic isolation policy both countries have pursued so long.

Pakistan and India’s mode of cooperation would automatically benefit Kashmir as well since LoC violations would cease (or at least reduce) to the relief of the Kashmiris across both sides. The goal is to reach some extent of economic interdependence with each other within the first 5 years. This goal is integral, as it acts as a deterrent for either country trying to pursue proxy war tactics on the other’s soil.

Maintaining good trade and economic relations while trying to malign each other from behind the shadows will be counterproductive to each in the short and long term. The restrictions towards trade and other economic opportunities as cited in the aforementioned “Opportunities” section should become the focus of both countries. Not only will economic interdependence improve the economic conditions of both countries but will also lead to a strong foundation where further, more direct, political, and socio-cultural CBM’s can finally be implemented.

The premise is thus that rather than directly focusing on political and social misgivings (without a solid base) initially, only economic connectivity should be worked upon. This sole focus on economics will create a less complicated agenda for both states and will eventually allow the trust deficit to be gapped.

Political, Cultural, Military CBMs

Only after the trade and economic CBMs have played their part in fixing economic relations and setting the groundwork for further developments, can the peace process enter the next stage – i.e. mending political, socio-cultural, and military reservations. Throughout their turbulent history, Pakistan and India have found meagre success through peace dialogues and CBMs – not without a lack of trying, however.

The paper delineates some of the most important and successful ones: In 1999, the ground-breaking Lahore Declaration was signed which would ensure strategic nuclear restraint – but a few months later the limited war on Kargil ruined any progress made. The Agra Summit resulted when President Musharraf visited Agra in 2001 to meet his Indian counterpart.

The summit was a landmark peace process and both countries came close to signing a joint declaration. Both leaders discussed CBMs, Kashmir, economic activity, and so on but due to the age-old tug of war of “Kashmir” (for Pakistan) and “cross-border terrorism” (for India), the talks faltered.

India’s Lt. General Singh, however, notes that due to the internal dynamics on the Indian side, the opportunity presented by the Agra Summit on compromising on contentious issues was missed. In 2004, the Composite Dialogue began; India placed 12 CBMs to Pakistan including sports resumption, reopening rail links, visas, tourism, increasing embassy staff, etcetera. Pakistan accepted all CBM’s (it amended three) and added two more.

The Composite Dialogue in 2004 also saw the inclusion of terrorism as an agenda item for the first time. It also consisted of the “mother of all CBMs”, the Kashmir bus service, which started operations in April 2005. The strong point of the dialogue was that it continued uninterrupted for four years and that it even continued after the Ayodhya attack in 2005.

Furthermore, the authors state that there was flexibility shown from both sides and that India had agreed to continue the dialogue even if a triggering event occurs. Pakistan, under Musharraf, showed an extreme degree of flexibility on the Kashmir issue (i.e. he did not insist on a UN plebiscite to solve the issue). However, the Indians seemed reluctant to discuss Kashmir at all, to the dismay of the Pakistanis.

Although these three peace processes might not have achieved long-term prosperity, lessons should be learned from their successes and failures for future talks and CBMs. Since, with respect to the roadmap offered by the paper, Kashmir’s territorial aspect will not be discussed for 10 years, it should not hinder the dialogue as it did during the Agra Summit and others.

This paper suggests that the flexibility shown from both sides during the Composite Dialogue should be emulated especially because it continued even with the triggering events – this time, however, with an international overseer to aid things if necessary. With the increased economic activity and the improved trust deficit achieved due to the road map’s initial economic focus, a structured, multifaceted, and continuous back and forth between the two states (like the Composite Dialogue) could do wonders for both countries.

The issue of liberalizing visa regimes must be seriously contemplated. Currently, it is extremely tedious and bureaucratic to visit either country. This must be extended to Kashmir so their people can travel more seamlessly through the border. The potential of religious tourism is huge across the subcontinent with a plethora of Shrines, Mosques, Temples, Stupas, and Sikh Gurdwaras.

Familial ties can also be reinforced through familial tourism. Improving tourism offers multiple benefits as it allows citizens from the other country to not only enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the host country but more importantly helps engage them in people-to-people contact. Pakistan and India can also promote tourism in Kashmir on both sides of the border.

This would allow the average Pakistani and Indian to experience Kashmir in its totality and would aid the economy of the underdeveloped region as guesthouses, hotels, and restaurants, etcetera would be utilized. Tourism creates cultural links that can eventually heal the “enemy syndrome” mentality amongst the general populous of both countries.

Regular meetings between foreign and prime ministers (Track I diplomacy) should become a staple of Pakistan-India relations. This will also improve SAARC’s credibility and strength as turbulent relations in the past have undermined the regional organization. Track II diplomacy has found success in recent times and this should be encouraged more so. In the recent past, students, lawyers, teachers, journalists, NGO workers, and celebrities have visited each country to exhibit trust and build a lasting peace.

Track II diplomacy should run parallel with Track I diplomacy and play a supportive role to it.In 2018, Indian and other journalists were invited to 7 Division Headquarters at Miranshah, North Waziristan, which was a safe haven for terrorists, to showcase how the Pakistani armed forces have not only cleared the area of terrorism but also introduced development initiatives such as a new cricket stadium, orphanages, schools, and even a golf course.

Initiatives like these are very important because they highlight Pakistan’s struggle against terrorism. These images and narrative must penetrate through to the Indian and other international media outlets rather than the “double game” or “do more” rhetoric that constantly undermines Pakistani efforts in combatting terrorism since 2001.

Sports resumption, and as mentioned earlier, the inception of annual sports tournaments will allow people-to-people contact to increase. Initiatives like the bus service from Delhi-Lahore (commenced in 1999), and the Samjhauta Express should be reinforced, and like-minded initiatives should be started throughout. Concerning Kashmir, the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service (launched in 2005) was a breakthrough in terms of CBM’s.

The bus called the Karvan-E-Aman runs weekly and has helped thousands of divided families to reunite with one another. Creating a new bus schedule that allows the bus to run throughout (or most of the week) would help even more people meet loved ones. The long-term plan should be to streamline the bureaucracies such as tedious visas, wait times, security checks, at the border and make it as easy as possible for the Kashmiris to travel back and forth on their land.

Military contacts must also be emphasized. The DGMO (Director General Military Operations) hotline (established in 1990) should be an uninterrupted line of communication between both countries especially in times of a crisis. This hotline should not be disbanded as it has been in the past due to political tensions. Nuclear CBMs should also be improved upon – for example, greater transparency towards one another’s nuclear facilities and programs should be addressed. This point cannot be stressed enough as Pakistan and India, both nuclear-armed countries, have been engaged in a decades-old arms race and a security dilemma that might not cease anytime soon.

Pakistani and Indian soldiers go abroad for training purposes in various military institutions such as the National Defence University (NDU) in America. This endeavour is also conducted in Pakistan and India but usually without the rival nations’ officers. Pakistan’s version of the NDU hosts many officers from the entire world and India should be included in this list (and vice versa). Defence cooperation must be initiated between both countries.

Lt. General Singh (2018) emphasises that India has only conducted defence cooperation in a superficial manner, especially with its neighbours – instead India should take a leaf from America’s book who proactively sought to engage with the Pakistani Army due to its pertinent position in the country. Other than this, film, TV, and journalists should contribute towards building strong ties. Pakistani and Indian media thrive on sensationalism and bashing the other.

A regulatory framework should be adopted and applied by each government that keeps the independent media sensationalism in check. A priority should be given to news that features positive developments between both countries rather than scandalous and exaggerated ones. These are only some specific examples of CBMs ranging from cultural to political that could take Pakistan-India relations to new zeniths.

Outside the Box Approach for Kashmir

While easier said than done, if the pre-requisites are present and the roadmap is followed to a certain degree at least, it would create amicable relations and a sturdy foundation for future relations. Unfortunately, the Kashmir issue without an outside the box solution will remain a dispute no matter how much the relations improve.

Even if both countries use the 10 years to shrink the economic, political, and cultural deficits, Kashmir would still be too “black and white” to solve. Pakistan will never hand over Azad Kashmir to India, and India will never hand over Jammu &Kashmir to Pakistan as a gesture of goodwill no matter how amicable relations are.

Realistically, to resolve the territorial aspect of Kashmir, both countries must leverage good bilateral relations achieved by following the roadmap and come up with an “outside the box” solution. President Musharraf displayed this when he suggested a 4-point formula in 2006 that strayed away from the historical UN plebiscite demand from the Pakistani side.

The 4 points included demilitarization in phases from both sides of the LoC; no change in the border or redrawing of borders but the movement of Kashmiris and trade will be free across the LoC; self-governance or autonomy in Kashmir without full independence; overseeing the progress via a joint supervision mechanism consisting of representatives from Pakistan, Kashmir, and India.

The paper suggests that a similar approach should be adopted if not the same. This kind of approach thinks of Kashmiris first rather than Pakistan and India — and hence is more humanitarian and selfless in its approach.


The paper deliberated on the opportunities for friendship with regards to Pakistan and India. The logic of doing this was to highlight and subsequently contemplate the contentious nature of the relationship and how to use the opportunities to overcome it. The barriers consisted of proxy wars, terrorism, international interference, Hindutva machinations, and trust deficit faced by both countries while the opportunities consisted of CPEC, trade, and collaborations in other sectors.

Keeping these barriers and opportunities in mind, the final section provides a roadmap that the paper considers applicable if certain pre-requisites and sequencing of events are done. The roadmap states that Kashmir’s territorial dispute should be put on hold for 10 years at least. An independent overseer must be involved to oversee and investigate any triggering incident that could potentially disturb the peace process.

During the 10-year time, economic relations should be the prime focus (for 5 years) after which political, socio-cultural, and military CBM’s should commence. There are obviously myriads of things that could go wrong or regional and global shifts that could hamper or even aid the process – nonetheless, a concerted and conscious effort must be made from both sides to resolve not just the Kashmir dispute but to create a lasting friendship that can be cited as a miraculous example by history.

Sarmad Ishfaq works as a research fellow for the Lahore Centre for Peace Research. He completed his Masters in International Studies and graduated as the 'Top Graduate' from the University of Wollongong in Dubai. He has several publications in peer-reviewed journals and magazines in the areas of counter-terrorism/terrorism and the geopolitics of South Asia and the GCC.

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South Asia

Cease-Fire Review: A ray of hope



Pre-Negotiations are very much crucial to achieve the state of “Negociation Continuelle” (continuous negotiations) the only way due to which conflicting parties go for sustained mode of talks.  On 25th February Director Generals of military operations (DGMO’s) of India and Pakistan contacted with each other to review cease fire agreement, on line of control (LOC), which was held back in 2003.  Both States reaffirmed cease fire agreement and to restart weekly hotline contact at DGMO’s level. The agreement was largely violated by both states for several times and they were accusing each other for violations. But one thing is common that on both sides Kashmiris are suffering, they are raising their children in an environment of fear and severe violence. India and Pakistan are both nuclear capable states of South Asian region and are considered as the custodian of regional peace and stability. And without shadow of a doubt regional peace and security is a collective responsibility of the responsible states. Pakistan and India are the main conflicting parties of South Asian region and Kashmir is the bone of contention between them. Kashmir has been a question of integrity for both States. The Line of control also known as working boundary, divides Indian Kashmir from Pakistani Kashmir. There are several resolutions have been passed by the UN General Assembly to address the Kashmir issue but never implemented. UN wants to solve this issue according to the hopes of Kashmiris. The initiation of bilateral talks in the present outrageous environment is not less than a blessing in disguise and it will be fruitful for all the stakeholders; India, Pakistan and Kashmiris as well. This peaceful move from Pakistan and India is highly appreciated globally because Kashmiri diaspora is present worldwide and they are very much concerned with future of their homeland.

Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi, with his hostile ideology of “Akhand Bharat” assumed office in 2014. His political adventurism based on jingoistic-cum-hawkish policies dragged India State to the verge of staunch illiberalism where identity crisis burst up, which is more lethal than previously existing class crisis. Every community including lower class Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc. all are vulnerable to the identity crisis.  On 30th May 2019, he sworn for his second tenure as prime minister of the world’s so called largest democracy. He came with another adventurous mandate and the first demonstration took place when he suspended special status of Kashmir and abrogated articles 370 and 35A. His ideology is regarded as Nazi-inspired ideology because in contemporary scenario only RSS community and other proponents of Hindutva are only considered as “Real Hindustani”. All minorities are suffering in India because their basic living rights are kept aside. The ongoing farmer’s protests shook the foundations of the state, hundreds of thousands of farmers rushed to the Delhi against the anti-famer laws passed by Indian Parliament.

In India Separatist movements are getting pace; minorities are unsatisfied with governing approach of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reuined the secular and democratic face of India. On the other hand, Foreign policy of India is facing severe challenges because PM Narendra Modi’s approach is hostile based on hatred and prejudice. These attributes are fatal for State’s reputation at foreign lands; the recent India-China standoff was just a teaser of BJP’s whole story related to foreign relations. In addition to this, Economic goal of 2025 of India is again became a distant dream just because of belligerent policies of ruling regime.

In contemporary scenario if we look towards India, only Modi-Media nexus will be seen. But in reality the situation is getting worse day by day. The review of cease fire agreement, offered by India, is a positive step towards the regional peace. It is appreciated by both civil and military administrations of both states. When PM Imran Khan assumed office he offered dialogue to his Indian counter-part but Indian Premier refused to go for any sort of talks. India always took a position that to initiate talks first of all, Pakistan has to stop the cross-border terrorism. Both terrorism and talks can never go side by side, this Indian claim is not based on empirical evidences because Pakistan has been facing menace of terrorism  since 2001 and leaving no stone unturned to root out terrorism and safe havens for terrorists.

Currently, India is facing deep internal and external challenges. It is in the interest of India to have peace talks with Pakistan. On the other hand, it is a ripe moment for Pakistan to act decisively because it is the only time when India can review its decision of 5th August 2019.Moreover, it is a ray of hope to establish peace in entire region. This is the time when bi-lateral diplomacy can turn the traditional regional political dynamics. Both states are facing same problems when it comes to poverty, climate change, social security and the list goes on. The realm of these talks should expand and concern parties have to include economic and political regimes in front of each other otherwise momentum of talks will be lost. Regional connectivity is important to have eternal peace, Pakistan and India should review SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) that would provide basis for economic, cultural as well as political connectivity. Major Powers should also play their important role because world cannot afford rivalry between two nuclear states. Now, America is under a democrat President, and they should check every internal and external move of their Strategic and defense ally in Asia-Pacific region. Negotiations between India and Pakistan are in the interest of all other regional and extra-regional actors. Both states should adopt flexible approach while discussing the core issues and should avoid blame game. It will enhance the chances of continuous negotiation which is a pre-requisite for peace and progress.

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South Asia

What does the Kashmiri want?



Friday prayers in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. © John Isaac

A group of envoys visited the illegally-occupied Jammu and Kashmir State ostensibly `to take first-hand account of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and government’s efforts to restore normalcy’ (Hindustan Times February 17, 2021). Srinagar welcomed the envoys with a spontaneous shutdown. Prior to the visit, political leaders and human-rights activists were detained. The envoys did not visit Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti or any of the other opposition Kashmiri leaders.

The Hindu dated February 17, 2021 reported ‘The J&K government showcased “deepening democracy” to visiting 24 foreign diplomats, who arrived on a two-day tour of the Union Territory (UT) on Wednesday amid a spontaneous shutdown in Srinagar and alleged detention of recently elected National Conference (NC) district council members in Budgam’.

Post-special-status abolition situation

After abrogation of the special status, India took a number of steps to silence public dissent_diurnal and nocturnal search operations to hound, kidnap or kill the Kashmiri, Internet ex-communication, blatant use of draconian laws against ordinary Kashmiris and their leaders alike. A law was passed to jail parents of stone-pelters., if any. Meanwhile local body elections were held in which the ruling BJP was cut to size. But, India, as reported b y the Hindu also, showcased the elections in international media as a proof of popular participation and contentment of the people with the status quo.

Have the Kashmiri resigned to their fate

The mysterious silence in the Valley during the envoys’ visit speaks volumes on how much the Kashmiri hate India. However, it appears the Kashmiri could have shown their ennui through some mode of peaceful protest.  They could draw lessons from the Occupy the Wall Street or Precariat Movement in the USA.

Occupy has six letters. A group of six persons mostly celebrities in their fields, stand up at some busy street holding letters O,C, C, U, P, and Y. The Kashmiris also could have displayed the letters in word `AZADI’ through a group of five persons.


Arnold Toynbee, in his Challenge and Response Theory postulates that if a challenge is too onerous a nation may become apathetic. In similar vein, Ibn-e-Khaldoon suggests that survival of a tribe (nation) depends on cohesion (asabiya, nationalism) of a tribe faced with life-and-death threat around its frontiers.

Amy Chua (Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations) talks about static or dynamic response of a society as shaped by group instincts of various components of a society.

Applying Amy Chua’s framework to Kashmir situation

Amy Chua challenges the view that the conventional mechanism of demokratia (government by the people) is a panacea for all the problems of a society. Thus the recently-held local level elections or even `state assembly’ elections in occupied Kashmir are no panacea for the Kashmiris’ simmering discontentment, their revulsion to yoke of Indian rule. Chua, in her afore-quoted book analysed situation in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Venezuela, besides so-called terror tribes including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Kashmir in Chua’s framework would suggest it is naïve to believe that Kashmiris are resigned to their fate. By analogy, even a thousand years of exploitation by a microscopic Chinese population did not subdue the Vietnamese hatred of the Chinese. As soon as the Americans left Vietnam, the native Vietnamese prowled upon the rich community of Chinese like a pack of wolves. The Americans plunged into decade long futile war with Vietnam without realizing that the Vietnamese were not Chinese stooges.

The indomitable fighting spirit

Indian forces had been using pellet guns to blind the Kashmir. Now, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, they have begun to use even chemical weapons against the Kashmiri.

Let us have a glimpse of the dogra’s reign of terror in Kashmir. To stifle the Kashmiri’s fighting spirit, the dogra punished even Kashmiri children who played with fork-slings (ghulail) and stones (Muhammad Yousaf Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, vol. 1, p. 50). Under the dogra rule, the Kashmiri were treated no better than beasts of burden. Instead of donkeys and horses, Kashmiri Muslims were used to transport goods across Gilgit, Leh and Skardu. They carried luggage on their backs across glaciers as high as 17,000 feet. Thousands of them perished along the way each year owing to frost bites, fall from a precipice, and hunger or sickness. The dogra caravans were not humane enough to stop for a while in the snowy passes to look after the injured porters (or ‘human beasts of burden’). Besides performing the forced labour, the Kashmiri had to pay heavy taxes. Whole of their produce was confiscated by the dogra. Little was left for tillers and their children to eat. On every item, the oppressed Kashmiri had to pay multiple taxes. Take shawls. Not only the shawl-makers were taxed, but also the other intermediaries like importers of pashmina (wool) from Ladakh, and storekeepers, whether wholesalers or retailers (ibid. p. 280-81).

The regressive revenue system resulted in a famine during winter of 1877. People began to die of starvation. Instead of releasing grain stocks from the royal go-downs, the maharajah’s constabulary drowned the starved, crying people in the Wullar Lake. Saraf writes: “Whole boat-loads of starving people have been conveyed by the Maharajah’s officials to the Woolar Lake, and there drowned” (ibid. p. 294).

The reign of terror by Indian forces (now estimated at about nine lac regulars and security personnel) who replaced the maharajah’s constabulary on October 27, 1947 is no less gruesome. International human-rights organisations, as well as India’s National Human Rights Commission, have brought into limelight the Kashmiri’s mysterious disappearances, their custodial deaths, and countless rapes of hapless Kashmiri women.

Like the dogra, Indian rulers are mercilessly exploiting Kashmiris’ economic resources. Bulk of locally-generated electricity is being diverted to Indian states. The tourism industry is in shambles. Highly – educated people have no jobs. With no inflow of tourists, the shopkeepers have no business. Unlike the occupied Kashmir, all the socio-economic sectors in Azad Kashmir are progressing by leaps and bounds.

Toynbee’s Challenge and Response Theory suggests that if the challenge is too strong, a nation becomes apathetic. Ibn-e-Khaldoon’s asabiya (spirit of national cohesion) also suggests that a nation’s spirit is likely to be smothered by a challenge which is too heavy. Historical lessons do not apply to the Kashmiri’s struggle. Neither Indians, nor the dogra could gag them. The struggle for freedom has continued unabated.

The lesson from Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom is that repression or palliatives like elections in occupied Kashmir are no good. The Kashmiri wants “freedom”. Their group instinct is `resistance’. But they need to learn from peaceful resistance movements like the Occupy and the Precariat.

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South Asia

Pakistan Day Celebrations: Civilian Participation



Pakistan got independence on 14 August 1947 by hectic political struggle from the platform of All India Muslim League (AIML) under the dynamic leadership of Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The presidential address at Allahabad on 29 December 1930 of Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, accelerated and gave more clarity to the movement. He presented the idea and concept that Muslims are a separate nation by emphasizing that a nation is distinguished from the other based on religion, customs, and traditions. At the same time, he strongly disagreed with the Western concept of religion as a private affair. Iqbal explained that Islam is a way of life and thus Muslims are a separate nationand accentuated that unless their rights areprotected, it is impossible to establish peace and tranquility in the sub-continent. The determined political struggle of AIML led to March 23, 1940, Lahore Resolution, at its 27th annual session. The Quaid addressed the session on the first day andstressedthat Hindus and Muslims follow two different religions, philosophies, social customs literature and this made them two distinct nations.

The contents of the resolution, according to Story of Pakistan are“No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may benecessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”. It strongly rejected the concept of United India. The word states wassubstituted to one state by a resolution passed at the 1941 Madras session of the AIML which stated, “everyone should clearly understand that we are striving for one independent and sovereign Muslim State.” Moreover, in all speeches, the Quaid used the word “an independent homeland” or “an independent Muslim state”.Pakistan and India became dominions on 14 and 15 August 1947 respectivelyby the Indian Independence Act, 1947, based on the Mountbatten Plan of 3 Junepassed by the parliament of the UK on 18 July. Keeping in view the atrocities being committed by RSS, a militant wing of BJP in Indian Illegally occupied Kashmir (IIoK), and minorities especially Muslims in all over Indianot being allowed to practice religion freely, havevery sturdily substantiated the decision of AIML to fight for a separate state for Muslims. It elucidates their political acumen and far-sightedness. 

Pakistan remained a dominion for about nine years till thefirst constitution as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was adopted on 23 March 1956.Thereafter 23 March was celebrated as “Republic Day” (Yome Jamhooria)every year to commemorate the Lahore resolution and adoption of the constitution.   After the imposition of martial law by Ayub Khan in Oct 1958,it is being celebrated as“Pakistan Day”. Probably the plotter of the coup could not celebrate constitutionalism and democracy on March 23 so ‘Republic Day’ was replaced with ‘Pakistan Day.  The main feature is a three-servicesparade in Islamabad followed bythe display of military weapons and equipment. Floats of the provinces also march past. The flypast by Army and Navy combat aircraft displaying their weapons and equipment.The flypast by PAF fighters and aerobatic.

The celebrations are spread over about two and half hours.Pakistan Day has taken the shape of a Defense Day which was not originally intended. Moreover, Army, Navy, and Air Force organize their respective Defense Days on 6,8, and 7 Septemberevery year. The events of the Pakistan Day parade give an impression especially to civilians that military strength is the only most important component of national power. The remaining such as economic capacity, natural resources, industrial capacity, national cohesion, political structure, and leadership, etc. which are also very vital needs to be given projection. Therefore, parade proceedings may be modified to include more participation of civilian-related events. The latest inventory and indigenously developed weapons and equipment may be displayed to reduce timings. The PAF fighters may only carry out professional flypast andaerobatic performance similar to the aerobatic display team, like “Red Arrow “may be excluded. It is pertinent to mention that most of the countries have prohibited aerobatic display in public places to avoid any untoward incident. It is suggested that floats carrying students who have topped in the boards and universitiesand have done distinct research work in the past year may be added. Similarly,floats carrying civilians who have been awarded Pride of Performance and other awards, businessmen who have been bestowed awards, sportsmen who have brought honors for Pakistan may also be included.  Few industrial floats may also be added with indigenously manufactured machinery and other items.Floats carrying agricultural products and livestock may also be considered.Citations are read as the float passes the dais. Moreover, in Islamabad and the provincial capitals industrial exhibitions may be organized which may include indigenously developed machinery and other items.The civilian participation in Pakistan Day celebrations will certainly add colors and act as a source of pride for them as well as for the nation.

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