conecting muslims through muslims
Lasting Solution of Kashmir Issue?
A Real Prospect or Just Another Delusion•
Prof. Khurshid Ahmad
Quaid-e-Azam termed Kashmir as Pakistan’s jugular vein. In order to cut the lifeline for Pakistan soon after the Partition, India employed all means and resorted to conspiring, treachery, military invasion, and backing away from its promises and pledges to consolidate its grip on the ‘jugular vein’ and at last succeeded in establishing its illegal and unjust occupation of two-thirds of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
This illegal Indian occupation has never been accepted by not only Pakistan and the Kashmiri people, the United Nations and the international community too hold it ‘controversial’ and recognize the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide their own future, for which they should have an opportunity.
While the British researcher Alistair Lamb has proved in black and white that accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir never took place in legal terms, it is not less important to note that when India took its case to the United Nations Security Council that the State of Jammu and Kashmir was its part that had been intruded by Pakistan and its tribes, the Security Council asserted not once but seven times that the future of the State would be decided by its people through plebiscite. This is why the Kashmir issue is still on the agenda of the United Nations and UN Observers are posted on both sides of the Line of Control. Ever since the Partition of the subcontinent to date, Pakistani nation has upheld the view that Kashmir issue is part of the unfinished agenda of Partition. Ideological, political and geographic dimensions of the Pakistan movement all demand that Kashmir should be part of Pakistan. It was this fact that the representatives of the Kashmiri people had given expression to in the form of the resolution for accession to Pakistan in July 1947 – a resolution that had to be formally ratified in a plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations, which India has not let happen till date.
Critical Stage for Freedom Movement
The people of Jammu and Kashmir have been struggling for the last 57 years for the realization of this right of theirs. In this movement for freedom, they have offered great sacrifices. About half a million have attained martyrdom, thousands of women have faced the ordeal of being dishonored, whole villages and towns have been destroyed, and thousands are still languishing in jails. But there has been no flinching in the struggle and in the love for the homeland; though Pakistan erred, to the Indian advantage, when, alongside its insistence on its stand and pledge to adhere to the UN Charter, it accepted the path of bilateral talks for the resolution of the issue in the Tashkent agreement, after the 1965 war, and the Simla agreement, after the 1971 war. Benefiting from this Pakistani error, India has kept the issue hanging in balance and is trying to consolidate its grip and ‘integrate’ Jammu and Kashmir with it politically, economically, and militarily. For this it has employed every possible means of oppression and suppression, one the one hand, and, on the other, lured Pakistan into the endless rounds of talks and deceived the world with its trickery of “successful politics”.
It was under these circumstances that the brave and freedom-loving Muslim people of Jammu and Kashmir turned a page in their history of political struggle by adopting the path of armed struggle. This is why the whole of the State is in the ‘state of war’ since 1989 and the writ of the Indian rule is restricted to the shadows of guns. It is an irrefutable fact that in spite of the presence of 700,000 troops and brute use of force, the colonial Indian regime and its regional accomplices, puppet rulers, have not been able to establish their rule. There are no two views among the independent observers that the Indian rule and occupation is totally unacceptable to the Muslim people of Jammu and Kashmir; that they are alienated from the government in Delhi. This is the biggest ground reality vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue. Ignoring this reality and visualizing some understanding between the rulers of India and Pakistan on the future of Kashmir can only be a blunder of Himalayan proportions. The famous Indian journalist and diplomat Kuldip Nayar is an adroit supporter and champion of the Indian stance on Kashmir. While he gives continuous lectures to Pakistani leadership for showing flexibility, he has had to admit time and again that Kashmiri people hate the Delhi government. In the well-known daily the Indian Express, Ajai Shukla, an analyst on defense and security issues, admits in his article published on 5 May 2005:
Deep down the Kashmiris want azadi, a dream nurtured by political conviction as well as by loyalty to those who have died for it.
The ‘liberal’ and ‘enlightened’ journalists from Pakistan who had visited Jammu and Kashmir some months back were all agreed on the fact Kashmiri people are in no way ready to live with India, no matter how much they may differ on the issue of accession to Pakistan, and no matter how many of them may have been shocked by the confused and ill-founded policies of Pakistan. A ‘liberal’ journalist Khalid Hasan, Daily Time’s correspondent in Washington, writes in the Friday Times:
The alienation with India is total. No Kashmiri sees himself as an Indian. When I say Kashmiri, I mean the Muslims of the valley. Nor do they want union with Pakistan as they once did. There is great disillusionment with the policies followed by Pakistan at their expense. Everyone you talk…Azadi. The reality of Kashmir today is the graveyards of the martyrs where almost all graves are of those young men cut down in the first spring of their youth. (Friday Times, 06-12 May 2005)
The expectations that General Pervez Musharraf has talked about after his meetings in Delhi, and the ‘golden moment’ he made a mention of during the South Asian Parliamentary Conference under the aegis of South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), have not even a remote link with the ground realities. This is why the most urgent need for the Muslim people of Pakistan and their true leadership is to assess the situation, devise a rightful strategy and stick to it.
Intoxicated by its wishful thinking, the present government has taken a route that is disastrous for the country. God forbid, it may deprive us of our jugular vein. Irresponsible and reckless statements of General Pervez Musharraf, reflecting unending U-turns on the Kashmir policy, pose the gravest threat for the freedom movement in Jammu and Kashmir. While he thinks that this is how he could extract something from India, it is nothing but a huge mistake. By sacrificing Pakistan’s principled stand and stabbing the resistance movement in Kashmir, these rulers are not only being disloyal to the people of Kashmir but are also pushing them, their own brethren, some 12 million Kashmiris into the clasp of Indian and American control. More than this, they are becoming the instrument to deal a deathblow to Pakistan’s ideological foundations and sacrificing its strategic interests. Today, Pakistan’s ideological identity, its national security, and possibilities of provision of adequate water for its vast tracts of land are all at stake.
It is the need of the time to have an open discussion on all aspects of the problem and the nation be made to realize what is being done to it. These days, attempts are being made to drag the country on a dangerous path. If they succeed, God forbid, it would amount to negating the rationale of Pakistan movement under the leadership of Iqbal and Jinnah and may lead, through a counter-revolution, to Pakistan’s being submerged into South Asia once again. To understand the new game plan, it is necessary to have a true understanding of the change in Kashmir policy, new patterns of Pak-India friendship and redrawing the map of South Asia. It is also necessary to realize that it is a new political, economic and ideological agenda that includes American designs in the region, India’s role in it and liquidation of freedom movement in Kashmir to make it happen, breaking the power of Islamic forces in the region, and neutralizing Pakistan’s Islamic identity so as to promote a ‘secular Pakistan’ that would join ‘secular India’ to serve as a foot-soldier in South Asia and become an ‘extra’ in the strategic partnership of America and India.
General Pervez Musharraf has become a character in the American plan that begins with Kashmir, passes through friendship with India and end in a new vision for South Asia. Today, change in Kashmir policy is obviously a matter about Kashmir, but it does not end there, as the target is to make Kashmir’s freedom movement a scapegoat and erode that concept and role of Pakistan that was espoused by the Muslims of the subcontinent under the leadership of Iqbal and Jinnah, with coming into being of Pakistan as the first step toward the cherished destination. This is why we want to expose real objectives of India and America, even before discussing the changes in Kashmir policy and their implications, so as to have a true understanding of the grave repercussions General Pervez Musharraf drastic turns on Kashmir policy have engendered.
Indian Strategy and President Musharraf
What Kuldip Nayar has written about the Delhi talks and changes in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy needs to be brought to the notice of the nation. His two articles published in Dawn on 16 and 26 April 2005 are particularly important and greatly help in understanding the outlines of the game being played on the international chessboard. In the backdrop of
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s address at the Central Mosque in Delhi, and highlighting the real targets of Pak-India friendship, he wrote, on 16 April 2005 under the title “No Halfway Stop for Musharraf”, that the real concept of Pakistan – which, to him, was Quaid-e-Azam’s concept – was not about establishing Islamic system, but secularism.
He wanted it to be secular polity not mixing religion with politics. He died an unhappy man because during his lifetime he saw the country being mutilated and deformed in the name of Islam.
The ‘saving grace’ is his observation that the ‘retrogressive process’ of Islamic regeneration had started in the lifetime of Quaid-e-Azam, whereas our liberals give all blame to Zia’s rule!
He continues wondering:
Why could not Pakistan have the same democratic structure as India has?
And, then, he comes into open:
They should realize the valley could not go to Pakistan just because it was a Muslim majority area. The two-nation theory was history. Jinnah wanted to separate religion from politics. President General Pervez Musharraf stopped half way when he did not apply Jinnah’s logic to the valley… In fact Islamabad did a great disservice to the Kashmiris indigenous struggle when it tried to Islamize it in the name of “moral and diplomatic support”.
He reiterates Indian insistence that Kashmir cannot be given top priority in Pak-India friendship dialogue.
Still I have not been able to make out why relations between India and Pakistan should be hostage to Kashmir. If it were to be delinked from Kashmir, a solution would be easier to find.
When 10 former envoys of Pakistan visited India and insisted on the centrality of Kashmir in front the Indian diplomats, it enraged Kuldip Nayar to declare:
Former Pakistani envoys did not impress me because they were obsessed with Kashmir. Everything depended on its solution, so they said.
The fact is that these envoys were effectively representing Pakistan’s principled position, but Kuldip Nayar wanted to take them to the Indian position and found solution in making the borders ‘soft’:
But borders should be soft and crossing it should be like going from one street to another. The Shujaats and Mushahids should be working towards that instead of delineating the identity of Muslims on this that side.
The ‘light’ he sees emerging after the Musharraf-Manmohan meeting in Delhi and the retreat in Pakistan’s position, fills him with joy, which is evident from his article under the caption “Green Light Finally?” in Dawn on 26 April. The way he expresses his feelings not only expose his glee but also present a picture of Pakistan’s helplessness and insensitivity.
The raging debate in India even days after the visit of President General Pervez Musharraf to Delhi is whether he has changed and if so why.
Has Musharraf changed? I posed to former Prime Minister Inder Gujral. “What option does he have?” Gujral replied. “His country faces innumerable problems. He also finds India growing taller and taller. His friends, the Americans, have told him not to rock the boat.” (Foreign Minister Natwar Singh sensed this when he was in Washington two days before Musharraf’s arrival in Delhi.).
At the meeting with Indian editors, Musharraf said first laughingly that he had brought “a new heart” (meaning thereby after the failed Agra summit). Then he said in a serious tone that the 9/11 attacks in the US had changed him. It was obvious that America had conveyed to him in no uncertain terms that Washington would take serious note of cross-border terrorism.
Musharraf repeated the assurance he had given Manmohan Singh that terrorism would not be allowed to thwart the peace process. He said he would not allow the militants to use any territory in Pakistan. (Islamabad has reportedly given New Delhi this in writing).
There is ample evidence to underline that Islamabad’s policy towards New Delhi has undergone a change. Kashmir has become one of the confidence-building measures, not the core issue or on the top of the agenda. Pakistan is also reconciled to India’s assurance that it would associate the Kashmiris with the talks “at some stage,” definitely before the final decision.
Kuldip Nayar’s this article carries more weight than that that of one thousand speeches and statements put together, as it reflects the latest situation vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue in both India and Pakistan!
“Musharraf Our Best Ally”
Kuldip Nayar is not alone in talking about the Pervez Musharraf’s recent change of Kashmir policy, Pak-India friendship, Indian cultural onslaught, and spread of secularism. All are making the same noise. At the same time, and perhaps for the first time in Indian history, a mischievous campaign for the ‘rediscovery’ of Jinnah has begun. An Indian intellectual Professor Asiananda has published a book on Quaid-e-Azam under the title: Jinnah – A Corrective Reading of Indian History. The book’s launching ceremony was held just to days ahead of Pervez Musharraf’s Delhi yatra in the presence and auspices of the minister of defense Paranab Mukarjee and the minister for petroleum Mani Shankar Aiyar. The main theme of the book is that Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a great secular leader, as was Pundit Nehru! (The Hindu, 15 April 2005)
Another Indian intellectual Rafiq Dossani’s book Prospects for Peace in South Asia has been published from America. This presents the essence of the joint thinking of Indian and American intellectual. Besides Dossani, who is himself associated with America’s famous Stanford University, Robert Hathaway, director of America’s another important think tank Woodrow Wilson Center, and Michael Kreppon of another policy research institute, the Stimson Center, have also contributed to the analysis of the book. To them, the Kashmir issue has given rise to the trends of:
• Enhanced role of religion in the region (this they call religious extremism),
• Indian and Pakistani program to become nuclear powers, determination and tragedy,
• Politicization of Pakistan army, and
• Centrality of national identity
Along with highlighting India’s global designs and, for this to achieve, the need to deal with Pakistan, in one way or the other, the book also dilates on Pakistan’s compulsion to come to terms with an India who is gaining military power and political and economic strength – and, to them, the present is the most suitable time for this. The constant refrain of the book is that General Pervez Musharraf is best suited for this job because he and General Jehangir Karamat both are champions of a ‘secular Pakistan’.
Another Indian intellectual Suba Chandaran has most vividly depicted the scenario. He, too, is active in the policy-making circles and is associated with Delhi’s Institute of Peace and Conflict. His observations are worth pondering and help in developing a true understanding of American and Indian strategy on Kashmir. He said in Washington that India’s real objectives are:
a. To sustain the process of peace talks
b. To settle for a compromise with regard to situation in Kashmir that cross-border terrorism remains below a certain level, though it may not end completely.
c. Stable and secular Pakistan
The crux of his assertions is:
If General Pervez Musharraf could deliver India on these three counts, it would be in India’s interest to engage him. The question that India needs to address is whether he is the best bet given the present political and military situation in Pakistan.
His advice is:
General Musharraf may not be the right person but he is India’s best bet in Pakistan…because trustworthy or not he is the only person who could deliver.
Suba Chandaran also gives out the reasons for which he considers the General ‘best bet’ for the Indians.
Till date, India has never talked about any option; it merely talks about ‘integral part’ and borders that cannot be changed. But what the General’s mind is:
The fact that he has advocated so many options would reveal his willingness to compromise.
This all means that he has deviated from his position so much that even more compromises are expected from him. Moreover, India’s real and immediate objective – an end to the resistance movement in Kashmir, its weakening, and being divided – can be achieved only when the armed struggle, Jihad, is eliminated. Here too, he thinks the General can play a key role:
He could be the only person who can keep the cross border terrorism under control. It would be in India’s interest to keep the militancy under threshold so it could initiate a process between New Delhi and Srinagar and complete fencing the LoC.
He sees in General Musharraf the man who can surmount this barrier. Here it is worth noting that opening up of the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar route is not the objective; the real aim is to bring under control the situation on the LoC to make the journey easy, as Kuldip Nayar put it as “like going from one street to another.” So, it is the link and relations between Delhi and Srinagar that have to be made stronger so as to ensure that Kashmir remains on the map of India as such.
Then, the most important strategic target is to involve the Pakistan army in the matter to such an extent that India could achieve its targets but the people of Pakistan could not even raise a movement; whatever America, India, and the General may decide could be imposed on the people of the country. Suba Chandaran clearly says in his analysis:
The political leadership in Pakistan is weak and would remain so in the near-term future. General Musharraf is the only person who can implement what has been agreed upon at bilateral levels. Nawaz Sharif despite his massive majority in the Parliament after the 1997 elections was unable to carry forward the Lahore process. If this is a reality, then it would be in India’s interest to engage the military directly; if General Musharraf controls it today, India should engage him. The General has the courage to acknowledge that the UN Resolutions are irrelevant and that a soft border could be considered as a temporary solution.
And, consider the constant refrain; the General may not be liked otherwise, but is needed for:
The unfortunate fact is that only General Musharraf can convey and impose an understanding in Pakistan agreed upon with India.
Every word of this sentence is significant. The General is a ‘necessary evil’ to serve its interests. An understanding with India would go against the vision, conception, aspirations and interests of the people of Pakistan, so it needs to be ‘imposed’, which is possible through the General and the army! This is why the General is the ‘best bet’ for both America and India. This is the role, prescribed for him, for which it is necessary for him to keep the military uniform. Setting aside American and Indian democratic credentials, the ‘character’ needed to play the act has to be in military uniform, occupies military leadership, has to be a champion of ‘enlightened moderation’ – which is nothing but another name of secularism and aimed at depriving Pakistan of its Islamic identity and the spirit of Jihad.
The US-India Nexus
Whatever is broiling about Kashmir cannot be separated from the background in which this all is happening: US designs in the region, the US-India-Israel strategic partnership and restructuring of the United Nations. A deep study of former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott’s book Engaging India, especially with respect to the Kargil episode, the resultant US-India empathy in thinking and political levels and the mutual trust and commonality of interests paved the way for strategic partnership. This has now become a reality in the presidency of George W. Bush. Jaswant Singh not only acknowledged the role and cooperation of Talbott and Clinton, but also agreed to American plan according to which it wanted to benefit from Pak-India confrontation and to establish friendship and new partnership with India. Jaswant Singh’s observation calls for serious attention:
Something terrible has happened there past several months between us and our neighbors. But something quite new and good has happened this weekend between our countries, yours and mine – something related to matters of trust. My Prime Minister and I thank your President for that. (Engaging India, p 169)
It is this strategic partnership that is aimed at liquidating the Kashmir issue, neutralizing the borders, sabotaging the freedom movement, establishing political, economic and cultural relations between India and Pakistan, and reviving a new kind of ‘Greater India’. Its ultimate end is to check Islamic revivalism. It is worth noting how Henry Kissinger indicates to this end in his latest article “Implementing Bush’s Vision”:
Now India, in effect a strategic partner, not because of compatible domestic structures but because of parallel security interests in South East Asian and the Indian ocean and vis-à-vis the radical Islam. (The Washington Post)
Thus the political agenda is quite obvious. The US-India nexus is not just to confront China, but the aim is to make India not a regional but a global power. More than dozen reports and studies have been published in America in this regard during the last one year, the last being Carnegie Endowment’s “South Asian Seesaw: A New US Policy on the Subcontinent”, edited by its senior scholar Ashley J. Telling, who says that it reflects the thought of the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. There is an admission in this report that India’s token protest on the US supply of the F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan is part of the game and the US-India understanding – a product of the US strategy:
The result of a new and largely unreported US strategy for remaking the region: to advance India as a global power, while assisting Pakistan in becoming a successful state.
To enable India to meet its energy needs, to meet it a military power and to integrate it in the global system as a nuclear power are all part of the strategy, according to this report. In other words, Indian will be a global power and Pakistan a vassal state!
Deviation from National Kashmir Policy
General Pervez Musharraf says he has not been disloyal to Kashmiris’ interests, but it is obvious that his claims are hollow and unreal. What he is doing is quite in harmony with the framework of the American and Indian strategy.
1. Under the name of ‘enlightened moderation’ it is being asserted for the first time in Pakistan’s history that secularism is not in conflict with Islam, and that Pakistan should project its secular image before the world.
2. He has joined the US-led and so-called war against terrorism with such fervor that he has left even America trailing far behind. Against the US casualties in Afghanistan, the number of Pakistani troops that have been killed on Pakistan’s soil fighting those who were never a threat to Pakistan, no matter how much wanted they might have been by the US, is higher. If they now have turned against him, it is only because General Pervez Musharraf has targeted them in his love for America and has plunged his army in a bloody war against them. Lt. General Safdar Hussain, Corp Commander of Northern Areas, tells that 70,000 Pakistani troops are posted in 669 military posts in Northern Areas. In 48 operations so far, 306 people, including 150 foreigners have been killed while Pakistan army suffered a loss of 251 officers and soldiers, in addition to the 550 injured. This is higher than the number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan in three years. Is there no individual or institution that could hold the rulers accountable and ask them who is fighting whose war, and at what price?
3. On Kashmir, it was being said till February 2002 that it was the core issue in our foreign policy and our relations with India, that political or economic ties with India cannot be established without first resolving the Kashmir issue according to the UN Resolutions and the free will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, that the freedom movement in Kashmir was Jihad and cannot be termed terrorism, but our stand on these have been changed, one by one. We have now started using the Indian mantra of cross-border infiltration and cross-border terrorism; signed the protocol on terrorism with India and not only linked Pak-India talks, on the Indian demand, to the end of this so-called terrorism that Indian leadership wails about day in and day out, while reiterating its claim on Kashmir as being its ‘atoot ang’ (integral part), we have also delinked the progress in Pak-India friendship from the resolution of the Kashmir issue. Moreover, we also shelved the UN Resolutions, and, for an alternative, started considering the proposals of dividing the territory, along with the talk of ‘joint control’ and ‘limited sovereignty’! The very issue has changed now. The demand for an end to the illegal Indian occupation and restoration of the right of self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir – Pakistan’s principles position and national consensus, which the Article 257 of the Constitution describes as the stand of the whole nation from which no one can deviate – has no mention. The issue now revolves around ‘soft border’ and ‘making borders irrelevant’, which means nothing but to accept the ‘solution’ that America and India propose, whose main components are:
a. Permanent division of Kashmir
b. Certain kind of ‘autonomy’ on both sides
c. Permanent room for Indian interference and infiltration
d. An opening for American entry in the region
This all is possible only when the freedom struggle in Kashmir is strangled, or its leadership is taken into the new arrangement or left helpless to be eliminated by the Indian force or accept some new form of slavery in the face of dire circumstances.
Whether you study the ‘seven options’, or the ‘third option’, or review the proposals and schemes of American study groups or of the likes of Farooq Kathawari, all present this same theme. What the General is saying is not different from American-Indian agenda. Siddharth Varadarajin, deputy editor of Indian daily The Hindu, has analyzed the situation after the Musharraf-Manmohan meeting in Delhi. It presents the complete picture of Pakistan’s retreat from its principled position and India’s moving ahead according to its agenda. (See, “Slaying the Demons of Distrust”, Newsline, May 2005)
And the ‘trust’, with which we are talking about running the whole affairs of the state and our negotiations with India on all issues including Kashmir, appears to be about achieving India’s trust. Pakistan’s own aims and objectives, interests and goals, aspirations of the people of Pakistan, and, above all, the requirements of justice and fair play, rights of the 15 million Kashmiris and their freedom, all have become secondary, or even irrelevant. The Indian Express describes the situation:
Now that the April Foreign Policy euphoria is over, the party poopers are out with full force. The question is again being asked: Can we trust General Musharraf? Raising this question makes it sound like we have actually given something away. But the plain fact of the matter is that we had not made any concessions at all. Our position on territorial adjustments, on Kashmir, on the priority of CBMs etc remains the same. For the moment at any rate Pakistan had to do more adjusting than we have.
It goes on to say that security is of foremost importance for India, and there would be no compromise on it. Moreover, Pakistan is facing great US pressures that also make it fearful that ground realities have changed and that support for Pakistan in Kashmir is now very low. It says:
Support for Pakistan inside Kashmir is at its lowest. The American will cut Pakistan a lot of slack but their fundamental perception about terrorism has changed. (ref. The Nation, 17 May 2005)
Along with this, the General’s latest claim is:
I think there is a solution. I am convinced and I know there is that solution. It ought to be acceptable to India, to Pakistan and to the Kashmiri people. (Dawn, 21 May 2005)
Here, he appears to be surrendering to India’s ‘secular sensitivity’ and goes as far as negating the two-nation theory, right to self-determination, and the principles of sovereignty:
So therefore, it needs to be on regional basis, on the peoples basis, to identify the region, allow maximum self-governance to the people, demilitarize and take some action to make the borders irrelevant.
At the most, this revolves around ‘maximum self-governance’ and making the borders irrelevant, which means that freedom and the right of self-determination are no more an issue. What India always wanted that the territories of Jammu and Kashmir remain under the control of both the countries, that they may be given maximum autonomy (which in itself a very vague concept, and which has already been experimented during the days of Shaikh Abdullah) has been added with making the borders irrelevant. Borders are not just the geographic boundaries; they denote a country’s sovereignty. If they are made irrelevant, it leads to the loss of both political freedom and regional security.
It is pertinent to note here that the first thing Manmohan Singh talked about after taking oath was about ‘soft borders’. The General is now repeating it. Along with it, take his statement into account in which he says that Omar Abdullah and Mahbuba Mufti would have a role in the future setup in Kashmir alongside the Hurriyet Conference. Adding fuel to fire, the puppet Chief Minister of Kashmir proposed a system of joint supervision of Baglihar and Kishan Ganga dams etc for the solution of water issues!
A grievous dimension of this whole episode is that flirting with various options has divided the Kashmiri leadership. Among them is a great confusion. With the Hurriyet Conference divided, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq is talking about joining Omar Abdullah (National Conference) on a single platform, and, on the other side, Sardar Abdul Qayyum gave up his old stance and started playing fiddle to the idea of seven options. Yet the Mujahedin and the Kashmiri leader, who is firm on his principled position and ready to face any threat to his life and well-being, who is the strongest forte for Pakistan, Syed Ali Shah Gilani have not flinched. Ali Gilani is forced to say: we are neither tired nor can we be pressurized, but perhaps Pakistan government is tired as it has given up its advocacy of the Kashmiri freedom movement and started advocating the Indian stance. With a broken heart, he says:
Kashmir has become secondary today, and the Baglihar and Kisahn Ganga are more important. Delegations and troupes of journalists, artists, singers, and others are coming and going. Pakistan and India are becoming friends. This all is happening in spite of India’s continued occupation of Kashmir, the rein of terror, oppression and suppression is continuing, rather army troops brutalities are increasing.
As are as we are concerned, we will continue to perform our duty to get rid of the yoke of slavery… Those who have committed treachery have a bleak future.
In spite of his dangerous U-turn, General Pervez Musharraf is asking the nation to trust him, that he would never betray the Kashmir cause. How can the nation believe him now? The nation has seen that he has been retreating on the issue of Kashmir for the last three years and has been proved unreliable both for his words and deeds. It remembers he had said he was not like Ayub, Yahya, or Zia to try to prolong his rule. But what he actually did was treading the path of Ayub and Zia, staged the farce of referendum, and backed away from his pledge to doff military uniform by December 2004, as Zia-ul-Haq backed away from his pledge to hold elections in 90 days. With his oath to safeguard and protect the Constitution, he violated it. With his oath not to involve military in politics, he plunged in it and now insists on keeping the military involved unabated and indefinitely. With such a record, who can trust him? Who can fail to notice the gap between his assertions and the reality? While addressing at the Command and Staff College, Quetta, he went on to say that the country is enjoying democracy, Prime Minister is running the government, and military has no role in politics! Can there be a higher example of obstinacy? Can a day become night, if one says so; or a night a day!
Then, he says that he does not take decisions under pressure. Yet, the measures he has taken since 2001 under the US pressure (See, for example, Bob Woodward’s book “Bush at War” detailing the ‘abject surrender’ of General Pervez Musharraf), and his overtures of friendship with India (former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s statement about the Pak-India communiqué of 6 January 2001 is now on record that its text was prepared by him. See, for example, Pakistan’s former Secretary Foreign Affairs Shamshad Ahmad Khan’s article “CBMs: Not a Final Solution,” Dawn, 11 May 2005) leave no room for one to believe that General Musharraf’s decisions are made in Islamabad, not in Washington. His own ministers say that if they had not sided with Bush, they would have met the same fate as befell Afghanistan and Iraq. Is more evidence required to know for certain whether decisions are taken under foreign pressure, or according to the demands of sovereignty and interests of the country?
The General does not tire saying that the world situation has changed, and that political decisions cannot be arrived at with the use of force, especially after the events of 9/11. The reality, however, is that the lesson of 9/11 is that decisions are being arrived at solely with the use of force. The one who is weak, or lacks the verve and capability to use force, is destined to be subjugated. Moreover, it is also a fact that force can be met with force. Though Afghanistan and Iraq could not stand to American power, yet in spite of its military might and technological edge, America has not been able to establish its rule in either of them. The world has become more unsafe with the US war against terrorism after 9/11, and more than the lip service, nothing concrete could be done to remove the causes of terrorism anywhere in the world (including Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Philippines, Thailand, etc.) It is unfortunate that though General Pervez Musharraf distanced from the freedom movement and bracketed it with terrorism, but Indian state terrorism is continuing unabated – it is rather increasing. The approach of abandoning the cause of the right of self-determination for ‘maximum autonomy’, ‘soft borders’ or division has the portents to give permanence to the causes of disputes and provide ammunition to an un-ending confrontation, instead of removing the causes of contention.
It is plain and clear that General Pervez Musharraf has accepted defeat mentally, and is trying to put political gloss to cover up his defeat.
Political, economic and military imbalance is not a new thing, and political maps have changed in spite of such imbalances in the world, and will continue to change. Is there any parity between the US forces and the innocent people in Afghanistan? Is there any such thing in Iraq? Were the 140 countries that got rid of mighty colonial occupying powers waging their freedom struggles because they enjoyed military balance with their occupiers? Does the resistance India is facing in Kashmir since 1989 come anywhere near to striking a military balance with Indian power? It is the observation of nobody else than the Indian Chief of Staff about the resistance movement, Jihad, that has baffled India that at the most 10,000 mujahedin (who are called ‘terrorists’) are in the field, but 700,000 Indian troops are unable to overcome them. So, it is not about parity or military balance; it is about belief, commitment, determination and perseverance in the struggle to achieve one’s goals. In the battle of Kargil, too, the victor was not India but the martyred colonel who all alone inflicted ignominy on the Indian army, whose valor and courage was admired even by the Indian army!
Pakistan is not a banana republic. It is, by God’s grace, a nuclear power and a repository of a great nation’s traditions – a nation with enviable record of struggle for its belief system, honor and dignity, sovereignty and independence. In the past 57 years, the nation gave to army whatever it asked for, while itself facing all kinds of hardships. What this army, which the General says is undefeatable, is for? Is “war is an instrument of foreign policy” not an established rule of international relations? If war is an instrument of foreign policy of America, Britain, Russia, Israel and India, then why is it forbidden for others? No doubt that war is neither wanted nor desirable, but when necessary it represents the most effective means to protect and safeguard independence and sovereignty. Giving up this option is like putting own independence and sovereignty at stake. It may be the approach of the coward, but not the path of the brave!
Then, there is another plea being made these days that today’s is a rare or last chance for the resolution of the Kashmir issue; if we fail to seize it now, we will waste a historic opportunity perhaps forever. The reality is otherwise: there has never been so unfavorable a time as is now for trying to resolve the issue ‘once and for all’. What is rather needed is to continue the support of the freedom struggle, undertake proper preparations – military, economic, and above all, national consensus and harmony – and wait for the right time, while raising the “cost of occupation” for India, as much as possible, with prudent planning, sustained policy, patience and true understanding of the emerging scenario. The time for ‘friendly overtures’ has not yet come. The time is to keep the issue alive and wait for the right time with composure and serenity. Furthermore, every step that may weaken the morale of the people of Kashmir or their resistance movement or may negate their expectations should be avoided. This is the considered view of all those who keep an eye of world situation, Pakistan’s position and Indian postures. The General’s impatience to arrive at some solution during his and Manmohan Sigh’s rule is nothing short of selfishness and lack of insight. Almost all notable figures in Pakistan’s foreign policy are warning against acting in haste.
Concerns of Experienced Diplomats
While Agha Shahi and Hamid Gul have said so many times, even those who would never go beyond ‘silent diplomacy’ in the past feel obliged to come into the open and express their views in the public.
Former Secretary Foreign Affairs Shamshad Ahmad, who held the post at the time of Kargil conflict, warns in his article “CBMs: Not a Final Solution” in daily Dawn on 11 May 2005 that it is not the time to decide the matter. He writes:
In any case, given the past experience and volatile history of relations between the two countries, one must be careful in drawing conclusions or raising unrealistic hopes. Mistrust and apprehension on both sides are deep-rooted and will not evaporate simply by “thinking wishfully” or blowing out the flames. India and Pakistan will have to go beneath the fire to extinguish it at its source.
Confidence-building measures may be helpful to the process in terms of better atmosphere but are not a substitute for resolving disputes. No wonder, despite his unilateral overtures of flexibility, President Musharraf has also been warning that unless the underlying issues were resolved, conflict could erupt again. The task ahead is not an easy one. There should be no illusion about the complexity of the issues involved. We do need peace and must preserve it but should not rush into hasty “decisions” which may not be sustainable domestically in both countries with the change of governments or personalities.
In Pakistan, we need to build a national consensus on our “changed” India policy. This would require transparency and domestic confidence-building through a genuine national effort for “debate and consensus” not in hotel lobbies but in parliamentary chambers with the participation of all relevant major political stakeholders in the country.
A former ambassador Javid Husain in his article “Kashmir: The Time Factor” in daily Dawn on 18 May 2005, cautions the nation and its leadership that the present time is most unsuitable for finding the final solution. The best strategy for now on the issue is ‘holding on operation’, and that preparations are made for the final solution, which he says may come in the coming 25 years. He writes:
If we want to be in a comparatively stronger position vis-à-vis India after this long interval of a quarter of a century, we need to strengthen internal political stability through establishing the primacy of the representative institutions within the framework of a nationally agreed political framework, building up institutions rather than individuals, and strengthening the rule of law and the principle of taking decisions on merit.
Simultaneously, we should accelerate economic growth of the country through allocating a much higher proportion of the national resources to the task of economic development and according greater priority to education, science and technology in our economic planning. This would require tight control on our military expenditure while maintaining a credible deterrent at the lowest possible cost.
The case for a headlong rush towards a final settlement of the Kashmir dispute is based either on a serious misreading of the current realities or on the assumption that Pakistan’s future would be no better than its past, an assumption which is too pessimistic and defeatist to be acceptable. As our experience of the last year or so shows, India is also likely to exploit our eagerness for a final settlement of Kashmir by drawing unilateral concessions out of us.
Expressing his concern and anxiety, former ambassador and Foreign Secretary Iqbal Akhund counsels against taking any hasty step. In his article “Kashmir: denouncement or sell-out?” in daily Dawn on 29 April 2005, he writes:
The Musharraf-Manmohan Singh agreement is one that, leave alone the Kashmir dispute, says nothing even about Siachen or Baglihar or other side issues of the dispute. It proposes to add truck trade to the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service and to start similar services between other towns and regions of the divided state. All this softening of the LoC, does it not amount, in practical terms, to giving it durability, if not legitimacy of a sort?
Thus our options are reduced (and have been so for a good while) to staying put on our position or playing the field as it lies. But when one talks about sticking to our principled stand on Kashmir, exactly what does that mean in specific terms? The one immutable principle underlying the Kashmir case (and not only because it is embodied in the UN resolutions) is the principle of self-determination and that rules out a settlement along the LoC over the heads of the Kashmiri people. From the beginning India has favored dividing up the spoils on this finders-keepers basis, now there are some well-meaning peaceniks in this country who are prepared to go along. But assuredly, Pakistan has no legal or moral basis formally to endorse and accept India’s grab of Kashmir and no pragmatic, practical reason to do so in exchange for keeping our own piece.
No doubt, a good deal of hype and atmospherics surround the Delhi agreement but atmosphere is not without importance in relations between countries whose people are given to emotional outbursts that can swing quickly from one extreme to the other. CBMs such as the opening up of a bus service and trade routes in Kashmir will not resolve the Kashmir dispute. They are a beginning whose denouncement cannot be foreseen; interaction between the divided Kashmiris could create a dynamic of its own. For India too has to face a ground reality and recognize its implications. This is that 50 years of talking about Kashmir as India’s atoot ang has not changed the fact that India’s hold on Kashmir remains as tenuous as ever.
Progress on Kashmir in any case is not going to be linear, and admittedly, in negotiating with India, Pakistan is not playing on an even field. What you play on the diplomatic field is not cricket. One cannot count on a diplomatic Inzamam to hit a four with the last ball and bring the trophy home.
Former dean of social sciences at Quaid-e-Azam University Professor Ijaz Hussain’s comments too need to be brought on record and given a serious consideration. He says:
The joint statement says the peace process is irreversible. This is a clear climb down from President Musharraf’s earlier assertion that a failure to resolve the Kashmir dispute will bring the normalization process to a halt. This retreat was followed by another. The president renounced his earlier position – enunciated on a couple of occasions last year – in favor of fixing a deadline for resolving the Kashmir dispute. These somersaults should not come as a surprise. They mark a continuation of his earlier policy of gratuitous concessions to India including the renunciation of UN resolutions, abandonment of priority of resolution of Kashmir over normalization and characterization of armed resistance in Kashmir as terrorism. One could say that with the statement on the irreversibility of the peace process the U-turn on Kashmir is complete.
Thus the Kashmir policy being pursued by the president and supported by the West and India does not augur well for the success of the peace process. No sustainable peace is possible unless it is firmly based on a national consensus on Kashmir. The president should remember that Kashmir has been the graveyard for many a government in Pakistan.
Time to Decide
These views of the experienced Pakistani diplomats and intellectuals reflect the views of the nation. Ignoring this, the agenda that General Musharraf is feverishly pursuing leads to ignominy and disaster. So the need of the hour is to stop him from further journey on this path and the nation rises to protect its identity, independence, strategic interests and the rights of 15 million Kashmiri brethren. A main reason for the dangerous point General Musharraf has taken us to is one man’s rule in the country and the trend of not making decision through national institutions or taking the people into confidence. This is the main reason for all our ailments. Here lies the difference between democracy and dictatorship. In a democracy, values of supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law and national accountability are upheld, one the one hand, while on the other, decisions are made through national institutions, with discussion and debate and national consensus on issues of national importance. This is why the Kashmir policy being devised and conducted along the right path depends on full restoration of democracy and supremacy of the Parliament. Whatever the General is doing, he has taken neither the cabinet into confidence nor the Parliament, nor even the parliamentary Kashmir Committee. It is just an individual who, taking undue advantage of the situation, is deviating from the Kashmir policy that enjoys the consensus of the whole nation and that is written in the Constitution. It is time for all the responsible people to reiterate Pakistan’s principled policy, and wake up and mobilize the nation so that every deviating step could be stopped and disloyalty from the blood of Kashmir’s martyrs is not allowed, no matter how long and difficult may be the struggle!
All should know, and realize well, that Kashmir issue is not a border dispute between Pakistan and India, as is between China and India. For us, the issue is about the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that is backed by the established rules of justice, international law, the UN resolutions and well-recognized democratic norms – which demand that 15 million people should be allowed to decide their future with their free will. It is this right for which they have risked their life and property. Their destiny is associated with Pakistan in all respects – geographic, historical, religious, cultural and economic – and they have expressed this time and again, whether through the adjustment of time on their watches, national anthem, sports, politics, festivals or customs. Pakistani leaders, not Indian, are their heroes. In spite of all this, the stand of Pakistan and of the Kashmiri people is that they should formally be given an opportunity to express their view and decide their future.
Pakistan is not just an advocate of their case, it is also a major party in the whole affair. Though the dispute is not about land, but it is part of the problem as the abode and habitat of the people of the state – since habitat cannot be separated from its inhabitants. Yet the real issue is to get rid of the illegal Indian occupation and to ensure to the people their right to decide their future with their free will according to the scheme of the Partition of the subcontinent. Division and distribution of chunks of the land is not the issue.
It is wrong, a delusion, that Kashmiri people are asking for relief. They are the ones who have risked their lives and properties for the protection of their independence and identity. Laying down their lives and attending martyrs funerals in thousands, they show their resolve and confidence about their future. Relief is not the issue; getting rid of the Indian occupation is.
Any effort toward Pak-India friendship could be possible only when it is taken from the position of equal strength and honor, and can be productive only when it aims at resolving the main conflict, which is the cause of ill-will and confrontation, according to the dictates of justice and fair play. What is being done these days is a delusion and a hoax – real friendship cannot stem from it, nor can the Kashmir issue be resolved.
We also want to say that whatever solution might be proposed away from the principles of justice and fair play would be short-lived and would give rise t more confrontation and bickering. Pakistani nation will not accept a solution that is based on disloyalty to the Kashmiri people, but is worked out to gain some short-term, temporary benefits. Moreover, Kashmiri people will not let their struggle go waste, nor will they allow betrayal from the blood of their martyrs. Their struggle will continue in any case. Our sincere counsel to Pakistani rulers, therefore, is that they should not waste time in chasing shadows, but to continue efforts for the resolution of issues in the light of facts and realities. They should give their most attention to national unity, and try to gain strength from proper and judicious use of resources because we can neither protect our independence nor can we ensure attainment of justice and fair play to our oppressed brethren without it!
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