<link rel="stylesheet" href="//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans%3A400italic%2C700italic%2C400%2C700">Mountain warfare Archives « Aam JanataSkip to content

When I wrote my post on Kashmiri Pandits, a friend responded privately with a nugget of political insight – before the ethnic cleansing, Kashmiri Pandits did favor independence over merger with India. If that is true, then Pakistan did Kashmir a grave disservice by sponsoring the butchers who devastated them and turned them firmly pro-India.

That got me thinking about the the differences between Pakistan’s supposed support for Kashmir’s freedom, and its actual actions.

Please note, in the following observations, I have no particular opinion on what “should” happen with Kashmir, though I do see a disadvantage for India, the region and the world if Kashmir becomes independent and a target for Pakistan’s strategic depth. Not to mention, I am convinced Pakistan will not allow an independent Kashmir beyond getting it to separate from India.

Here is why.

1. When India and Pakistan got independent, Kashmir also became independent of sorts. It successfully negotiated its Stand Still agreement and while we can argue intent till the cows come home, the basic fact stands that the supposed “occupation” of Kashmir by India came after the occupation of Kashmir by Pakistan.

2. Regardless of whether the occupation was valid/popular or not or when it was signed, another fact that cannot be disputed is that it was a reaction to the Pakistani invasion/occupation and based on the understanding of a merger with India, unlike Pakistani occupation, which violated a Stand Still agreement they had made with Kashmir.

3. While there are no doubt many Kashmiris who fought for independence from India, militants from Punjab, Pakistan cannot be called Kashmiris.

4. Pakistan has initiated two “sly captures” of Kashmir territory since, which certainly cannot be called an indigenous Kashmiri independence struggle, since they escalated into wars between two armies.

5. Militants with pro-Pakistan agenda, comprised of Pakistanis (and other nationalities, trained in pakistan) have outnumbered and indeed hampered Kashmiri militants (who received far less assistance).

6. The ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits also came at a time when the voices in Kashmir demanding independence from both countries gathered momentum. If we add this insight that influential Kashmiri Pandits supported independence for their own reasons, it translates to not only an ethnic cleansing, but also a weakening of the political voice for independence (as opposed to merger with Pakistan – which the Kashmiri Pandits didn’t want).

7. Pro-independence separatists and moderates who have no specifci pro-Pakistan agenda have a disconcerting habit of turning up dead, being blamed on Indian Army and then being found out as work of militants or the unseen “hand”.

8. Rallies in Pakistan demanding conquering Kashmir from India via jihad have few Kashmiris – largely Punjabis.

9. Every conflict Pakistan has engaged in has been about land – specifically control over land and denying its citizens control over their land – be it the Balochs, be it the Bangladesh, be it the Taliban prop-up in Afghanistan (against both Soviets and later Afghans themselves) or be it Kashmir.

10. Pakistan’s idea of independence can be understood from Azad Kashmir, where freedom means political leaders must swear allegiance to Pakistan to have the rights to come to power.

11. Muslim Kashmiri who does not want to be identified points out that Kashmiri Muslims who are pro-India also get killed and many have migrated out of Kashmir too – which is even more ignored than Kashmiri Pandits.

12. He also points out that the area of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan has been heavily resettled by people loyal to Pakistan. Sunny Singh says something similar too – ‘azad’ Kashmir has been re-settled by Punjabi primarily ex-military personnel as part of a policy of demographic shift in contravention of a UN directive – while Pakistan publicizes demands for a plebiscite, it has itself violated conditions for it – conditions that were likely to lead to a “1947 like” result for independence.

Stray observations. I don’t believe for a minute that if Kashmir becomes independent, it will remain independent. It will either be attacked and absorbed into Pakistan, or it will become a puppet state like Afghanistan under Taliban – the dirty work and plausible deniability terrain.

Whether this means Kashmir should not be given independence? I don’t know. Having a potentially hostile neighbor cannot be reason enough to deny the right to self-determination. But this question gets muddied if we look at experiences of other territories of interest to Pakistan. Would it be human rights to leave them at the mercy of such? I don’t know that either.

I do know that there are atrocities happening in Kashmir, which are totally unacceptable as a long term state of existence (or short term for that matter) and they need to stop. My article on AFSPA talks about that.

I do think that unless there is a space for feeling safe created, Kashmiri responses are going to be ones of panicked escape. It could be from the frying pan into the fire, or it could be from hell to paradise. We don’t know. What I do know is that even if we were to give Kashmiris freedom (or not), the desperate, survivalist state of mind and the resultant domination of public space by reactiveness (pro or anti India/independence/Pakistan will be detrimental to everyone’s interest, in every condition. This protection of human rights is as necessary for us as a democratic country, as it is for a thoughtful, responsible solution for Kashmir to eventually emerge.

1

Update: After getting praise mails that I am, as a journalist encouraging war, I need to state specifically that I am NOT a journalist, and my knowledge of politics is minimal. What I am is a concerned and distraught citizen. My posts are not informed political opinions or advice about policy, but thoughts that cross my mind as I follow this crisis. I am against war and violence. I even feel pity for the poor captured terrorist for that matter. This is only a perspective and reaction about the threat of a nuclear war from Pakistan. This threat is actually explained by recent news about a hoax call that led to the Pakistani government thinking India was about to attack them. More than that, any comments like "kill the Pakistanis" will immediately be deleted, as I have no wish to encourage the circulation of such views. So, if you find that the comment you posted has been deleted, that's me in action. If hostile comments recur, I will delete this post. This post is about the Indian attitude toward the threat of nuclear war and what at that time seemed an insane attitude to me and not about hatred for Pakistan.

Current worry is that Pakistan is apparently never in the wrong, even as many Pakistanis raise questions about the ISI in their daily lives. Strange that the average Pakistani believes that their ISI can sabotage their own country but no other. Strange kind of organization to have, no? But I don't think logic has anything to do with the Pakistani response at the moment.

As for the Pakistani government not being involved, no one believes that. I doubt if the Pakistani government was ever directly involved with happenings in India. I doubt if it ever was in the loop. For that matter, the government was clueless about the Kargil conflict. Doesn't mean it didn't happen.

It is transparent that Pakistan WANTS the excuse of war with India to escape from its "coerced commitment" to the war against terror on the Afgan front. So I don't really think any actionable cooperation is ever going to come from there beyond demands of proof. Even if Zardari wants to cooperate, I doubt if he has the power to do so, when the army has another agenda. He is the sitting duck for pressure from his own country, the army, US, India, world opinion...... with no real power to do anything, because doing anything on this front will mean hurting the unofficial ISI weapon against India, which the ISI will not allow and I don't see how Zardari can make them, even if he wants to, even if he accepts that LeT are the culprits, even if he commits to getting rid of them.

A country that disowns terrorists as non-state actors (after first denying their existence) is willing to go to war over protecting them - anyone else find that incongruent?

Meanwhile, India is pissed and frustrated that its proof is dismissed and proofs are demanded. Terrorists wanted for causing harm in India are not to be given over. Pakistan speaks of strikes being seen as acts of war, and nukes are laid out on the table straight off. For someone cooperating, its a strange attitude of denials, refusals and threats.

Meanwhile, US and the rest of the world is shitting bricks at the thought of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, and doing all it can to prevent it.

What I literally see is a world held hostage to Pakistan. No one is convinced of their innocence, but no one also wants to provoke them because they have *melodramatic shudder* nukes, you know?

Pakistan is not the only country in the world to have nukes, but it is the only country to act against the interests of the world and then threaten to use nukes if it thinks there will be retaliation.

For that matter, it does the same with its own people. The threat is not nukes, but its own extremist and army agendas of power to control that hold the common man hostage with threats of physical harm. For example, in this current scenario, what the Pakistani common man thinks is as irrelevant as what Zardari thinks. The situation hinges on the army deserting the war on terror and threatening nukes and the militants talking of defending the country they were relentlessly destroying, which incidently were both irrelevant to the talks happening between the governments.

Perhaps I'm direct, but this is how I see it.

As long as the Kashmir issue is resolved, India and Pakistan will never be truly at peace. Pakistan has nukes and doesn't even consider an option of no-first-strike as a part of its "defence", so that problem is unlikely to be over, ever. For that matter, I don't even think Pakistan really wants Kashmir resolved, because that will take away their reason for acting on their hatred of India.

From how I understand, Pakistan sees nukes as any other weapon, and one of the most powerful in its arsenal. Its not particularly bothered about the damage it will cause to India, because that is the whole idea in any case. It counts on this attitude to be a deterrent in itself, with the entire world pressurizing India to avoid war, because they sure as hell know that there will be no reasoning with Pakistan.

My approach to this is different. Much as I hate violence, and my dream of a good world includes armies dismantled because they become redundant, I hate being held hostage by bullies even worse. I am aware that I could be one of the casualties if Pakistan makes a nuclear attack, and one of the more likely ones by virtue of living in Mumbai. Yet, I do think what India and the world needs to do at this moment is a nuclear war. Pakistan needs to go to the stone age before it can become a civilization.

I thought long and deep over it, considered my abhorrence of violence, the situation with Pakistan...... a whole load of things. I know it will be terrible thing. It will harm Indian economy, lives, morale, and cause a whole load of pain.

Yet, as I consider:

  • Pakistan is never ever going to stop harming India directly or indirectly.
  • Even if the LeT is finished, the reason for its creation is still there, and it is only a matter of time before it is resurrected or something else created to fulfill that need.
  • Pakistan has nukes and will continue to have them till they are destroyed or used. 50 years from now, we will still be bearing attrocities exported from that country because it has nukes. It will still be operating without a conscience, because it believes that its irresponsible attitude toward human lives will continue to protect it from those who value them.
  • India is a strong country. It will be devastated, but it will regenerate. Hopefully, it will regenerate without the hanging sword of Pakistani nukes over its head. I may die, but the future of hundreds will be safer from threat.

It is with a heavy heart, and against my instincts that I admit that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan is what India and the world needs, provided that we are able to work together and take out their nukes completely.

Rather than cringe and tolerate endlessly that which has no intention of ever going away, we need to face it and conquer it. If we pay a price, it is the price of a future of not being held hostage and harmed.

What is needed is for Pakistan to be conquered, and reorganized under a stable country (preferrably not India) and led to prosperity. It needs to find a future in creation rather than vengeance for perceived attrocities. It needs hope and well being.

The other option is to sit and do nothing. Ignore the attack completely, strengthen internal security, hang the terrorist and leave Pakistan alone to collapse under its own weight or in the "war against terror".

For a long time, Kashmir has been a thrown in the sides of India, Pakistan and Kashmir. Countless men losing their lives, exhorbitant amounts of money spent, arguments, claims, hopes and anger. Its been pver 50 years. The issue is still on.

The world watches with bated breath as the two nuclear armed rivals try and figure life out and hope that the nuclear part of it remains in firmly in the capability rather than the use. It seemed hopeless for a long time. 3 wars, numerous hot moments and endless peace efforts later, no one really sees hope.

I remember being on a discussion forum, where the people of India and Pakistan were arguing desperately about how Kashmir belongs to them. Each side with strong versions of the "truth" and every option under the sky being pulled out for an airing.

I remember a comment I made that got me very strong hatred from my compatriots. I had said, "If it was within my power, and if it would bring peace, I would happily gift Kashmir to Pakistan." Regardless of the history, regardless of what is right, my heart bleeds for the people of the land who have forgotten what a normal llife is all about. Its ages since they have been able to trust strangers, seen a society without soldiers, or felt truly safe in their own land. But even if I could gift it, I couldn't bring happiness. There are people who want to be with India, there are those who would like to join Pakistan and then there are those who want independence. All of them can't be happy with my "gift".

It is true attrocities have been committed by both countries. By militants or by armed forces. It is true that Hindus and Muslims have both known a lot of fear and pain and death in this place. But that has already happened. We can choose to harp on about it, or to move on ensuring that it will not happen again.

For a long time I have even avoided thinking about Kashmir because of the helplessness I feel. I feel frustrated to see politicians sitting safely in Delhi and Islamabad and deciding the moves on the fates of those living the problem. Frustrated, because I haven't seen any result that will ease the situation of the Kashmiris.

Finally, I found a thread of hope. I came across this news article about Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan's visit to India and the progress made in the talks. For the first time, I found a no nonsense willingness to leave aside age old perceptions and assumptions and actually take things as they come from across the border. There is a trust that moves me with hope. I only hope that the Indian Government live up to this trust, and both countries build up on it to move toward a resolution on this festering sore.

I'm quoting the article here, Its worth a read:

ISLAMABAD: Faced with a volley of questions by an accusing Pakistan media over his reported statements during a visit to India, Kashmiri leader Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan stuck to his guns, saying the truth about cross-border militant training camps could not be hidden, nor could anyone find fault with his desire for peace in Kashmir, and that the United Nations resolutions were "obsolete."

Returning from New Delhi on Thursday, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir drove straight to meet the media in the capital, presumably to clear the air over his statements that have been slammed by Kashmiri Opposition parties here.

The ageing leader, also known as the First Mujahid, said it was "a fact that there were training camps [for militants] in Pakistan and in Azad Kashmir [Pakistan Occupied Kashmir]."

"Speak the truth"

"It was in the open. We cannot keep something like this under wraps. The Americans can give you all the details about these camps. These things cannot be kept hidden in this day and age. We should speak the truth, or we will be exposed as liars," Mr. Khan said.

But, the Kashmiri leader said, he had been misreported as saying these were "terrorist" training camps, while he had stressed the camps were for "freedom fighters."

He said he had also pointed out that President Pervez Musharraf had closed down the training camps and that there was no more infiltration into India. His purpose in India was to attend an intra-Kashmir "hear-to-heart" dialogue, where he asked for free movement of Kashmiris, intra-Kashmir trade and peace, Mr. Khan said.

"We have wasted 50 years in discussing a final solution, and got nothing in return but bloodshed and suffering for Kashmiris. There should be no more discussion on this. Rather we should focus on tackling the situation on the ground in Kashmir, where people are dying. If we focus on the process, improve the atmosphere, it will lead to the solution by itself," Mr. Khan said. "No one can disagree with my point-by-point demands for free movement, trade and peace."

Asked about Indian "inflexibility" to Gen. Musharraf's famous four-point proposals, Mr. Khan shot back, "They gave me a visa even though they considered me as enemy number one. Is this is not flexibility?"

Mr. Khan praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said he was on the right track towards finding a solution to the Kashmir issue. "My impression is that a good environment is being created for a solution to Kashmir, and to take the peace process forward, and the Indian Prime Minister is making all efforts. The round table conference discussed all the issues, and I think they are serious. They are working on demilitarisation, on opening of routes, so these are within the parameters suggested by President Musharraf," he said.

The APHC should have attended the New Delhi roundtable because no Kashmiri should refuse the opportunity to present his point of view, Mr. Khan said.

The U.N. resolutions on Kashmir were "obsolete." He pointed out they were only recommendations. "Do you want to keep harping about them until the last Kashmiri is killed?" he asked a reporter who questioned him on this.

When the reporters pressed him about India's "unyielding" stand, Mr. Khan urged Pakistanis to stop thinking of India "as a municipal committee" which had "not done this or that." Describing India as "10 times a bigger country," he said it would have to keep its "own commitments" in mind before taking any step and could not be pushed around.

He said there was no question of India "trapping" Pakistan in a peace process. "We fail ourselves on many occasions, and blame India for nothing."