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Pakistan’s Kashmir Policy is a Double Edged Sword

05 February, 2007

By Abid Mustafa


On February the 5th, the people of Pakistan and Kashmir will be commemorating Kashmir day. The annual remembrance is intended to demonstrate Pakistan’s solidarity with the plight of the Kashmiri people living under Indian rule. Whilst displays of unity are abound amongst the Pakistani people the same cannot be said for the Musharraf government.

 

Ever since September 11, 2001 Pakistan has conceded much in the hope that India will eventually reciprocate— put an end to the sixty year old dispute and hasten the normalisation process between the two countries.

Pakistan has abandoned the Jihadi groups, dismantled militant camps and imprisoned militant leaders. The result is that the number of attacks in Indian occupied Kashmir has dropped to its lowest since 2001. Yet, India still insists that Pakistan is not doing enough to stop infiltration.

On the political front, the Musharraf government ditched Pakistan’s principle stand of self determination for Kashmiris in accordance with UN resolutions, advocated a formula which allows India to retain control of occupied Kashmir, encouraged the rise of a moderate faction of the AHPC which is ready to strike a deal with New Delhi, and tolerated Indian intelligence officers in Afghanistan who continue to stoke the insurgency in Balochistan.

But so far the Indians basking in the warmth of their relationship with America have refused to budge on the Kashmir issue. It is true that America’s preference for India over Pakistan, as her principal agent in South Asia has hardened New Delhi’s position over Kashmir, but there is an underlying reason that provides a better explanation of India’s intransigence over Kashmir.

India is plagued by a score of secessionist groups that enjoy wide support from their people—any concessions to one group would encourage others to demand greater autonomy and re-enforce the perception that the government at the centre is weak and unable to hold the country together.

Indian politicians are extremely sensitive to the demands of the indigenous secessionist movements and do their utmost to avoid any word or deed that may lead to India’s implosion. It is within this context that the farther of the Congress Party, Nehru formulated his Kashmir doctrine i.e. Kashmir is an integral part of India. This doctrine has become the bedrock of India’s relations with Pakistan over Kashmir, and has influenced a plethora of Indian politicians.

So while Indian politicians—especially those affiliated with Congress— seek to strengthen India and settle the Kashmir issue within the parameters of this doctrine, the Pakistani politicians—irrespective of their civil or military orientation— have not displayed such tenacity. Rather their lack of opposition to Musharraf’s Kashmir policy combined with their partisan politics and power grab culture is indicative of the political malaise that runs deep in Pakistani politics. The focus on the uniform issue above all else is ample proof that Pakistani politicians are driven by the lust for power as opposed to policies and principles.

This has not gone unnoticed amongst Pakistan’s secessionist movements. The concessions made by Pakistan to India over Kashmir, and the preoccupation of Pakistani politicians with their self-interests have only emboldened such movements. These movements clearly sense that if the federal government is unable to stand up to India for the rights of Kashmiris then the Pakistan is poorly placed to safeguard the rights of Balochs, Pathans and Sindhis too. This rational has led some of these movements to take up arms against Islamabad and also to enlist Indian assistance in their quest for independence.

In September 2001, Musharraf assured the Pakistani nation that the only way of protecting Pakistan and its stance on the Kashmir was to join America’s war on terror. Six years of this unflinching support has only strengthened India’s grip over Kashmir, weakened India’s secessionist movements and allowed India to preserve her integrity. But just the opposite has occurred in Pakistan. Kashmir is all but gone, and the secessionist movements in Balochistan and FATA are advancing the break up of Pakistan.

The Musharraf government’s mantra of ‘Pakistan first’ has in reality been replaced by ‘America and India first’. But most alarming is that those who seek to replace Musharraf are no better and will follow the same Kashmir policy.

 

End.

Reader Comments:

Complex truth

The trouble in Kashmir is in the central valley (96% Muslim, BBC, links below) from the Kashmiri Sunni Muslims and it does not include 40% non-Muslims and 20% non-Kashmiri Muslims (mostly uphill people) of Kashmir including ousted Kashmiri Pandits, Buddhist region of Ladakh (46% Muslim), Hindu region of Jammu (30% Muslims, all BBC figures) as well as Shia regions (e.g. Kargil) who favour India. Also there are Sufi and Sikh minorities. Only some Sunni Muslims in central Kashmir valley are not Kashmir and they cannot force their opinions on others. Kashmir belongs to all Kashmiris and it was always UNFAIR and UNETHICAL to project it as Kashmir’s freedom struggle and all the talk about the wishes of Kashmiri people seems to be more of rhetoric. All those who did that were either misinformed or did not care about other parties involved. Kashmir is Multi-ethnic, Multi-religious, Multi-linguistic and Multicultural e.g. Hindus and Muslims had the history of praying together at Hazratbal Sufi place, where Prophet Mohammad.’s (PUBH) original hair is kept. Ladakhis, Dogra (Jammu) & up hill people have different languages and ethnicities e.g. Dogras have a Punjabi type language and culture and Ladakhis are uphill people with a different blood and language. Uphill people are non-Kashmiri Muslims.

It is also all over international media that common Kashmiris even in the valley have not supported an armed struggle for many years now. Also the fact that indigenous Kashmiri separatists organizations have lost public support and nobody represents Kashmir (BBC articles last year). Not even valley. Militants represent a very small minority perhaps.

With high turnover in elections, Kashmiris esp. people in the valley have already given a signal that they want peace and normalcy back. They vote despite the threats of militants.
Historical/legal
1. For the 500-something princely states, the British had fairly returned power to those from whom they had taken it i.e. to the princes, who were free to choose between India and Pakistan. The Kashmir Maharaja and his two advisers, one Hindu and one Muslim, decided to delay it to avoid being part of Hindu India or Muslim Pakistan, but the Pakistani attack in 1948 forced the Maharaja to sign the Instrument of accession of Kashmir to India. Later India became a secular democratic republic.

Since Pak had a non-aggression (standstill agreement) treaty with Kashmir in 1947, Pak was not supposed to touch Kashmir militarily as per international law. There was a rebellion in Poonch area in 1947 against Hari Singh. Pakistani army infiltrated tribals followed by army men to help the rebels. Now, Poonch was not Kashmir, but some in Pak had the perception that Kashmir belongs to Pak because of the Muslim majority and did not care about the treaty. That is why India went to UN with complaint and UN resolution maintained that “Pak will withdraw all tribals and nationals from Kashmir” after negotiating the modalities of withdrawal with India. Then a plebiscite will be held under the UN supervision. In the negotiations in New Delhi, Pak insisted that Azad Kashmir Force (I do not know what) will remain there and did not agree to withdraw. So there was no progress towards plebiscite. Perhaps India was serious about plebiscite that time and the Kashmiris under Pak attack had actually cheered when Indian army pushed the Pak forces back. Indian flag and slogans were prominent all over Kashmir that time. It was likely that India would have won the plebiscite that time. Some of those who cheered that time changed their mind by 1985 due to religion (or religious misguidance?). May be, Pak would have won the plebiscite and the matter would have been settled. May be Kashmir would have chosen to be with secular India. Unwarranted Pak attack changed the course of destiny of Kashmir for worse. Then Pak leaders waited till 1989 to buy time till Kashmir valley could be changed to harp on the UN resolutions and plebiscite rhetoric. The biggest evidence that Pak violated its treaty with Kashmir is that it still controls 1/3rd of it. India sent its army only after Kashmir King signed the instrument of accession after Pakistani forces reached outside Srinagar.
2. Kashmiris adopted a constitution in 1957 saying that the whole of Kashmir belongs to India forever and any change to this constitution will be null and void. Also Kashmiris voted in 1955 and later elections. Lord Mountbatten had signed Kashmir’s Accession to India as first governor general of free India as per the partition arrangements. He is supposed to have noted that India could confirm it by constitution, election or plebiscite and India did the first two.

Dayal, Hungary - 05 February, 2007

Pakistan’s Kashmir

Kashmir or no Kashmir but to remain on the road to progress India and Pakistan got to work together to find a solution to suit the Kashmiris the victims. India has already divided if we go back to 1947 which was done by British, divide and rule. India is still a large country housing more than 200m muslims the second largest minority, though there are so many others who are always deprived off their rights such as jobs etc. Majority Hindu rule they do whatever than can and get away with. A plebisite in Kashmir or withdrawing forces to their original borders both by India and Pakistan is a way forward to a resolution of Kashmir. India and Pakistan got to work together to save their skins. One must not think they are strong when it comes to US who is determined to colonialize other states. I hope that day will not come if there is a unity between India and Pakistan. Together they are too strong and alone not much they can do. Both countries got to change themselves to look for future.

mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 06 February, 2007

Integration of nations

Inshaallah, Pakistan will not sucumb to sessionists. India's official, stated policy is that a strong, stable and democratic Pakistan is in the best interst of India. Still misperceptions occur at many levels.
Let me remind you that India was rated much-much better than even China and Brazil in failed state index last year. It is a quite well-integrated country.
Let me also remind you that people came out on the streets to potest against ULFA last month when it killed innocent labourers in Assam. Maoists also do not have popular public support. Punjab is fine for the last two decades. Tamils have alwasy said that they are Indians, contrary to Sri Lanka. We have effectively defeated divisive logic in India and would like Pak to do so as well, Inshaallah.

Dayal, Hungary - 06 February, 2007

Rise & Fall

I do not see any logic for formation of Pakistan as a seperate nation.
But I clearly see the dismentling of this nation on crying Kasmir Kasmir Kasmir. Without Kasmir world is not enough.

tikola, Pakistan - 09 February, 2007

Kashmir,an about turn in policy

My question is only one.If we beleive indemocracy why we(Both India and Pakistan) believe in the opinion of the people whether they want to live alone or with one of the two countries.Both countries should help their people with funds to invest to solve their problems.Pakistanis did this mistake with Bengalies and Indians are doing with many of theirs.ALso In Pakistan Army should realise and confine itself on borders or barracks.Stay outof the politics you with low intelligence level.

ahmad shadid, Seychelles - 12 February, 2007

Pakistan Policy

I have some questions to ask from Pakistani people
1. You people support demand for a different country wherever muslim uprising takes place.Be it Chechnya, Kashmir, or whatever.
Don't u think you are negative minded people,who can't adjust with the mother contry. Don't you think the problem is with muslims themselves.

2. If the freedom is so important to you, why don't you give freedom to your own Baluchistan, Pakhtunistan, Sidh etc before advocating a separate country for Chechens, Kashmiris etc.
You should show an Example that for you freedom is more important than unity by begining with your own units.

3. When muslims are such breaking people that they can not live with their mother country and join mainstream, then don't you think it should be legal to ban muslim religion from spreading, when one day they will demand a different country finally?

4. Also, even when you people get successful in crafting a different country, you can't live in peace. Don't you think problem is with yourselves. It is every Country's duty to defend it's borders from breaking up.In that case, don't you think Mother states are doing everything right if they are suppressing muslim religion extremists.

5. You support Chechnya to break away from Russia, but never support Sinkiang or Tibet to break away from China. Don't you think you people are selfish and non trustable, even on negative side/principles.

These are not only my questions, i pressume these are questions of over 4 billion Non- muslims who want to ask this from muslim people. I request you to clarify above points, for God sake. Otherwise, there will be more and more Pakistans,be it carved out of India or any other country (Russia or China or other Mother Countries).and none will live in peace.

Answers are necessary even for you people, as you are yourself carved out from a mother country.


Neeraj Kumar, Hungary - 20 February, 2007

Todo nahi, Jodo !

Why talk of breaking-off and further disintegration of our countries ? Let us join Hindustan and Pakistan to form a New India. An India that the rest of the world will look upon. Kashmir issue will get solved all by itself....

What is the other option ? India is trying to break-off PoK and annex it in Kashmir while Pakistan is trying to break-off IoK and annex it in Kashmir. None will allow that to happen... no matter what ! We are wasting our time & energy on Kashmir.

If no agreement is reached, status-quo will continue !!

Atanu, Hungary - 08 March, 2007

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