Monday, December 15, 2008

Kashmir Holds Key to Peace in South Asia


"India is not scared of the guns here in Kashmir -- it has a thousand times more guns. What it is scared of is people coming out in the streets, people seeing the power of nonviolent struggle," says the senior leader of the moderate wing of Kashmir's main separatist alliance, Hurriyat, and a key organizer of the civil disobedience campaign that began earlier this year, filling the air with chants of azadi. The number of armed attacks in the valley, meanwhile, has dropped to its lowest since the insurgency began in 1989, according to Indian officials.

How has India responded to the the peaceful movement for freedom in Kashmir? Not recognizing the reality of change on the ground, the Indian government has attempted to demonize the struggle as LeT led terrorism. Beyond that, it has continued to use force against unarmed, peaceful civilian protesters on the streets of Kashmir. Wall Street Journal reports the current situation in Kashmir as follows: Indian troops often resorted to lethal force, killing more than 50 Kashmiri civilians. Scores of protesters and separatist politicians have been thrown behind bars or placed under house arrest. Indian officials say these detentions are necessary to preserve public peace, and that the troops have to use force to maintain law and order. Some half a million Indian soldiers and policemen remain deployed in the Indian-administered part of Jammu and Kashmir, home to 10 million people. (About 5 million people live in Pakistani-held Kashmir.) Indian laws grant troops in Kashmir almost total immunity from prosecution, including in cases of civilian deaths. Srinagar, once India's prime tourist destination, is dotted by checkpoints, its indoor stadium, cinemas and hotels surrounded by sandbags and converted into military camps. Broadcast media are censored....As Kashmir descended into chaos after these killings of innocent civilian demonstrators, India responded with increasingly severe curfews and lockdowns that continue. Often they come without prior warning or formal announcement, as in Srinagar over the past weekend.

The events in Mumbai and the media spotlight on terrorism have obscured the reality of the 60-year peaceful struggle of Kashmiris ignored by the media and dismissed by India as Pakistan-backed terror in the Srinagar Valley.

In spite of the Indian government's efforts to mislead the world about the reality of Kashmir, there are some members of the media such as Yaroslav Trofimov of Wall Street Journal and activists like Arundhati Roy have made their efforts to help keep the Kashmiri freedom flame burning. Roy wrote recently for the Guardian newspaper as follows: Not surprisingly, the voice that the government of India has tried so hard to silence in Kashmir has massed into a deafening roar. Raised in a playground of army camps, checkpoints, and bunkers, with screams from torture chambers for a soundtrack, the young generation has suddenly discovered the power of mass protest, and above all, the dignity of being able to straighten their shoulders and speak for themselves, represent themselves. For them it is nothing short of an epiphany. Not even the fear of death seems to hold them back. And once that fear has gone, of what use is the largest or second largest army in the world?

Last 4 years in South Asia saw Pakistan ready to settle the Kashmir issue with no positive results due to the lack of any sense of urgency by India. With armed Muslim groups in Kashmir dormant since the post-2004 thaw and President Musharraf of Pakistan eager to make concessions, the world has seen an era of relative peace in Kashmir which appears close to shattering again. It is clearly a missed opportunity in South Asia.

In the context of Pakistan's anti-American public opinion, the country's ongoing crises, and the growing US demands on Pakistan, the future of US-Pakistan relations and the chances of success in the "war on terror" do not look particularly bright. The only solution to this darkening mood in both nations is a serious and sincere effort by each to improve their bilateral relationship based on a recognition of mutual interests and genuine needs. The incoming Obama administration has an opportunity to change the US tone with Pakistan in January 2009 to make the friendship genuine and useful to both partners in the war on terror. Barack Obama's oft-repeated position that Kashmir and India-Pakistan relations can not be isolated from the "war on terror" in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere in the world offers a good starting point for discussion.

As long as the Kashmir issue remains unresolved, Pakistan, India and the US can not win the "war on terror" and bring peace and stability to the South Asian region, including Afghanistan. Recent Mumbai attacks and the ostensible Kashmir link via LeT have confirmed that yet again. India's opposition to Mr. Obama's desire to mediate will test the Obama administration's resolve in seriously pursuing resolution of Kashmir.

Here is a comprehensive video on the origins of Kashmir dispute and the positions of various parties as presented by Pakistani Peace Activist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy:



Related Links:

Obama's South Asia Policy

Military Occupation of Kashmir

27 comments:

jadev said...

In LeT's manifesto, it calls for Islamic Caliphate spanning South Asia. LeT people have been found fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq etc. So down goes the theory. Obama is definitely not buying this BS, as Kerry pointed out.John Kerry says that the important point is to bring ISI under "civilian control and should not be allowed to make their own decisions".period. Besides, Hafiz sayeed clearly said that things are not going to stop even if "Kashmir dispute" is solved. Anyway, by making a link between "Kashmir grievance" and Mumbai attacks, you are clearly suggesting that terrorism is a legitimate instrument of state policy.(not insurgency mind you..we have two dozen of insurgencies) That shows your culture and where you are from.

Riaz Haq said...

Jadev,
If you bother to read the facts and watch the video, you will realize that you are buying the Indian government's line, hook and sinker. Please do not ignore the facts on the ground and be more thoughtful and analytical. Don't stick to the dogma that hasn't worked for over half a century. Personal attacks and bigotry will not help either. Get out of the box and think more freely.

Anonymous said...

Happy Vijay Divas Riaz. December 16, 1971.

Today, the whole of India is celebrating the nation's emphatic victory in the 1971 war and the subsequent dismemberment of Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Anonymous,
It doesn't surprise me one bit. This kind of celebration provides the context for the enduring animosity between the two nations in South Asia.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC is reporting that Hindus in Pakistan are protesting action against Jamat-ud-Dawa.

Many in Pakistan's minority Hindu community are poor farm workers.

One protester, Biga Ram, told Reuters news agency: "How can an organization be terrorist if it's been providing food and water to us despite knowing that we're not Muslims?"

She added: "They're friends of humanity. We condemn the ban. It's unjust."

Some of the banners read: "Do not ban our saviour!"

Bhai Chand, a Hindu community leader, told Associated Press the charity had set up water wells in the desert.

Pakistan has yet formally to ban Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which has been put on a blacklist by the UN Security Council.

Its bank accounts have been frozen by the Pakistani government and a number of members detained.

India blames Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, for training the Mumbai attackers. The group and the Pakistani government deny involvement.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7786495.stm

Jadev said...

all terror organization has charity frontends..like Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim BrotherHood etc...LTTE went one(or more) step further and filled the vacuum with fully-fledged civilian and military infrastructure.
If UN bans JuD, it needs substantial proof to be submitted to it. Dawood Ibrahim has a red corner notice on his name and address. So the white-wash about no proof will not fool anyone. Even China had to vote positively this time around regarding the JuD resolution.Ground support for terror organization could be becoz of charity efforts and that's is why they are doing it. With all the glib talk of cracking down on terror, Pak haven't even yet banned JuD even after UN declared it as a terrorist organization. Pak also didnt not oppose the motion overtly in UN(not like it would have mattered). Things couldn't be more clear.

Diganta said...

Charity Orgs - I do know RSS and bajrang Dal also did great work in Gujarat (Bhuj Earthquake) and Maharashtra (Latur Earthquake). So, it doesn't surprise me.

Diganta said...

One can read a couple of posts in the same blog (interviews of Arundhati and Pervez Hoodbhoy) and easily conclude that Kashmir is not the root of the problem. It's rather rooted in (India and Pakistan's) lack of knowledge, over-dependence on religion for everything and history of the subcontinent (obviously including Kashmir - as a small part).

Arundhati clearly points out that LeT belongs to group A - who would strenthen the side A arguments that you cannot place a context for terrorism.

Hoodbhoy placed context to a different pivot - America. He pointed out that these terror groups draw their line of attack based on their relation with (allies and enemies) of US. We saw one demonstration of this in the Mumbai attack also. In the current poverty-struck India, I cannot even dream of an India that is not an US ally. Even China is an US ally, at least in business. So, India will always be on the wrong side of the line.

So, whatever the solution be for Kashmir, it's not going to satisfy a majority of subcontinent people (had it been otherwise, we would have a solution by now). Interestingly the article did not focus on possible solutions - that would have made my job easier to highlight those grievences. It will add to their injury and terrorism in South Asia will grow even stronger.

Jadev said...

RSS is not a "terrorist organization". It doesn't behead Pak army captain in front of public or operates in enemy territory(Pakistan or Bangladesh or for that matter China..so there is basically no argument). It is loosely decentralized all across the country by clear manifesto of a declared cultural nationalism. When an earthquake or calamity happens, it will help people irrespective of their religion or region(unlike arab charities).
I was not intending that all charity org are terror org ;-)..& was suggesting that in most cases terror orgs do have legal front ends. Comparing LeT to RSS is laughable. RSS even has a Minority Cell consisting of Muslims and now it has quite a following.RSS was created so that people of India who are diverse in culture and language are bind together tightly so we put a united front to external threats. India had been plagued by European and Islamic rule for several hundreds of years becoz of disunity. So they do have a point.
I don't know why "Diganta" is hyphenating India and Pak in "over-dependence" on religion. Pak is one which is a theocratic state and internationally recognized terror hub.

Ray Lightning said...

Mr Haq

It is silly to isolate the Kashmir issue from the broader problem of language-based political independence to each of the regions in the Indian subcontinent.

Pakistan has a boiling problem in its frontier with Balochistan and Pashtunistan sternly demanding broader independence from the Punjabi dominated Pakistani military. Both these regions have been crassly divided by artificial boundaries, similar to Kashmir. Antagonism runs also in Sind, though to a smaller extent.

In comparison, India has much smaller problems to handle. The seperatist feeling is limited only to a minor percentage of the total population.

Both India and Pakistan have a long way to go in federalizing their constitutions and ensuring regional democracy. But a total break-up into pieces is not an option ! The success of the Pakistani federal state is important for that of the Indian Union. The vice-versa is equally true. The subcontinent is one connected region, and any minor disturbance will have its effects felt all over - in a fashion similar to Yugoslavia.

People who care for a strong Pakistani state should re-evaluate their strategies.

Riaz Haq said...

Ray Lightning,
It is ludicrous to compare Kashmir with NWFP or Baluchistan. People of NWFP and Baluchistan have had their say in this decision when they overwhelmingly elected Muslim League over Ghaffar Khan's party (which was allied with Congress) before the partition. Kashmiris never got that chance, in spite of UN resolutions and Nehru's acceptance of a plebiscite in Kashmir. Watch the Hoodbhoy video and Nehru's own words to get a better perspective.

Ray Lightning said...

What about the 1949 resolution of the Loya Jirga in Pashtunistan ?

Why does the Pakistani state still cannot impose its control in NWFP ?

Why did Salar-e-Millat Liaqhat Ali Khan get assassinated ?

Does Pakistan agree to have a referendum on the Durand line ?

Balochistan is totally another story : it accounts for more than 50% of the Pakistani land area and has vast natural resources. The democracy and human rights situation in this region is dismal (the poverty also appears to be significantly higher than Pakistani national value). By the way, kashmir compares favorably to the gross Indian value on poverty.

All these are very touchy issues, and India is bound to exploit them if Pakistan demands a return to the 50 year old UN resolution, which Nehru accepted out of his stupidity.

The fact is we don't live in the past, but in the present. And emotional issues like nationalism don't get evaluated inside courts.

As far as India is concerned, Kashmir is exactly the same as any other state : we have separatist problems in Assam, Tamil Nadu and in the north east. We cannot afford to treat them separately : this is basic survivalist instincts.

If Pakistanis really care about the well-being of Muslims in India (which I highly doubt), it is time to look beyond Kashmir. Kashmir has just 6 million Muslims out of the total 150 millions living in India. The majority live in little pockets in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra : each of these pockets contain more than 10 million Muslims. How are they different from the Kashmiri Muslims ? Why don't they deserve independence ? Who is there to prevent a complete rerun of the horrors of partition : massacre of Muslims and Hindus in millions ?

Riaz Haq said...

Ray,
Again, your comparisons are ridiculous. Comparing an alleged Loya Jirga of doubtful composition with the UN resolutions? Come on! Be serious!

Pakistani state has control over the province of NWFP. FATA is separate from NWFP. FATA's system is a legacy of the Brits that seems to have worked reasonably well and should continue.

Baluchistan does have a small insurgency by a minority of Baluchis who represent the interests of a few tribal chiefs and represent a small minority of Baluchistan population. Free and fair elections held repeatedly have given the insurgents only a small percentage of the total vote.

What you are offering is a way to distract from the real, core issue of Kashmir , an Indian government strategy that has not worked for over 50 years. It's time you understand it and get on with seriously addressing it. Obama understands it. Let's hope you do, too.

Ray Lightning said...

In fact, Obama is really smart and I hope he really means what he says " Afghanistan is related to the Kashmir issue".

The sentance also means "Kashmir is related to the Afghanistan issue".

You can shut your eyes down to the reality in the frontier region, but when it bites, reality will be very bitter.

Pashtuns are a fiercely independent people and think of the Punjabis in no gracious terms (probably worse than how Kashmiris think of Biharis).

The last referendum for Pashtuns was a joke : there was no option of independence or joining Afghanistan. Why would any Pashtun in any rational mind choose India over Pakistan ? So Pakistan did win, but the number of people who voted is too low to count. The Loya Jirga of Pashtuns in 1949 has officially declared the Durand line invalid. You might declare the Loya Jirga as unimportant, but for Pashtuns, it is the most important functional political unit.

A strong and stable Afghanistan (which is a US priority today) will automatically gain the political voice to demand suzereignity beyond the Durand line. When presented a choice between Afghanistan and Pakistan, FATA and NWFP will automatically choose Afghanistan/independence.

Baluchistan is a more important problem than NWFP because Pakistan's economy is highly dependent on its natural resources. Pakistan is lucky on the Baluchi issue because Iran is against Baluchis too. So there is no cross-border terrorism, as in Kashmir. But I don't know how long that will last : especially if there are tremors of seperatism running in the subcontinent.

It is time we (Pakistanis, Indians and Afghans) thought outside the box. It is impossible to achieve a settlement on these issues which will be favorable to every party. Any tremor / disintegration at any region will be suicidal for all these nations. The situation is no longer like Bangladesh.

Now, we have a clear choice (a) Keep pushing for hard, demarcated boundaries, and let the conflict simmer (b) accept a fuzzy boundary, a free transit of people, and a recognition for political and cultural units ( Kashmir / Pashtunistan / Baluchistan ) which spans across the frontiers.. This is not very digestible, but this is the only stable solution. We should hope of achieving a functioning union similar to the European Union.

(b) is not acceptable to many people in Pakistan because they view India as an infidel nation (even though it contains 150 million Muslims). This line of thinking assumes that Pakistan is closer to Central Asia both by race and religion. This is stupid of course, but this idea has its followers.

(a) is dangerous because both India and Pakistan are nuclear armed. When their survival as entities is under question, no nation will hesitate before using nuclear weapons (irrespective of what they say officially).

The question of Kashmir actually comes down to a question of survival for both India and Pakistan. On such an issue, damn the UN resolutions. This is actually a question of nuclear weapons. Let's recognize it as such, and find a solution.

Riaz Haq said...

Ray,
Your conclusion "The question of Kashmir actually comes down to a question of survival for both India and Pakistan" is excellent. I say Amen to that.

The rest of what you believe about Afghanistan and "Pashtunistan" is just a figment of Indians' imagination.

Ray Lightning said...

Please do read this article "The Lawless Frontier" by Robert Kaplan (one of the most important US commentator on geopolitics).

This article was written even before 9-11. USA has much higher priority to ensure stability in the region today.

It all comes down to Pashtun nationalism : whether you admit it or not.

By now, I hope you are convinced that I (and I speak of most Indians) actually care about stability of Pakistan and its borders as existing today. We really do not want the country to split (unlike during the Bangladeshi liberation). It is in India's strategic interest to ensure stability on Pakistan's frontier. An important part of that is to ensure that there is no volatility and that the people are content. This can only be done by a high degree of federalization which is not the case - either in Pakistan or in India.

Anonymous said...

Ray - I fully agree with you that a peaceful, stable, rational and prosperous India will be a blessing for Pakistan....stop spending those extra $s on Kashmir, on blocking water to Pakistan, and on creating mess in NWFP and Balochistan...we all 'south Asians' will benefit from this. Unfortunately even the educated and prosperous Indians overseas have grand dreams of becoming a super power through a path that will only lead to death and destruction.

Anonymous said...

Jadev - You must be a LeT agent in disguise as you have done great pubilicity for them and you seemto know a lot about all Indian extremist organizations...stop hiding your true self dude....

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an interesting related piece by Bennett Ramberg in Christian Science Monitor:

Unfortunately, the possibility of war may intensify in years to come if India ramps up its "Cold Start" military doctrine.

Cold Start transforms New Delhi's traditional focus on defense and lumbering mobilization of hundreds of thousands of troops to one that prizes nimble strikes against its neighbor within hours of crisis onset. The strategy assumes that occupation of limited Pakistani territory would be the bargaining chip to force Islamabad to heel. It also assumes that it could do this without crossing the nuclear threshold – not an easy feat where rivalries run deep.

India has war-gamed this strategy since 2004. Adoption still must overcome equipment and personnel deficiencies and interservice rivalries, but work continues.

Rather than intimidate Pakistan to constrain militants or suffer the consequences, Cold Start may do just the opposite by inadvertently putting militants in the driver's seat. Previously, terrorist provocations would be met with action only after deliberation and delay. Under Cold Start, response would be much more immediate, effectively empowering radicals to hold the subcontinent hostage to their crisis-initiating whims.

To avoid that outcome, the time has come for India to short circuit the most critical incendiary, the disputed area of Kashmir. Despite some recent Islamic militant clamor to dominate the entire subcontinent, Kashmir remains the eye of the Indo-Pakistani vortex.


http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1229/p09s02-coop.html

Ray Lightning said...

Riaz,

Pakistan has been engaged in a brutal war for the last 60 years. And this war is not with India. It is with linguistic nationalists everywhere.

For any practical Pakistani nationlist, it is not India that matters but the very integrity of Pakistan. And the glue that is holding Pakistan together is loyalty towards religion (Islam). When an alternative loyalty stems up (such as loyalty towards language), it gives nightmares for the nationalists. This is the reason why even an innocent demand such as naming the NWFP as Pukthoonkhwa makes the nationalists shudder.

Pakistan has a dismal record in provincial autonomy. Even the education is not provided in regional languages. You should seriously learn from India. What is holding India together is not religion, it is something deeper : civilizational ties, which is similar to the idea behind the EU. Linguistic nationalism (which belongs to the age of democracy) can be diffused only by this, not by religion (which belongs to the age of feudalism).

In fact, it is feudalist political structure that encourages religion as the nation's unifying glue : the very idea of partition of India was supported by wealthy zamindars in Punjab. Even today, all the major politicians of Pakistan are descendants of feudal dynasties. Compare with India : we have had P V Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh etc, who are not at all feudal land lords. In fact, even the earlier prime ministers of India were noted freedom fighters in the independence movement. After Quaid-e-Ajam Jinnah, did Pakistan have one single statesman to lead the country ?

The only way statesmen come forward is by encouraging linguistic nationalism, and an even more progressive civilizational nationalism. Pakistani army has been targeting such political parties and suppressing them all over the country : Awami National Party, Jamhori Watan Party, Pakthoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (in fact any party which has the word "Awami" in its name). The Taleban are very much a creation of the Pak army so as to suppress the Pashtun nationalism from spreading towards Kabul. Do you think that anybody believes that the Pak army is fighting the Taleban ? Why would they, when they are essential to the very survival of the Pakistan idea ? The recent murder of General Faisal Alavi is not helping the army much in keeping up that charade.

India is not stupid to ignore all these links. As I said earlier, it is not in the strategic interest of India to destabilize Pakistan or disintegrate it. But it is definitely in Indian interest to increase (a) secularism (b) provincial autonomy (c) linguistic and civilizational nationalism in Pakistan (d) democracy (e) making the military accountable to the parliament.

The cold-start doctrine that you have mentioned achieves none of the above 5 objectives, and will play right into the desires of the enemy camp.

Riaz Haq said...

From The Daily Times today....


Why not have a joint Kashmir?’

* PDP president calls for having ‘dual currency’ to encourage trade
* Says LoC should be made ‘irrelevant’

NEW DELHI: The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Indian-held Kashmir has called for unifying both Kashmirs and having a “dual currency” to encourage trade.

Speaking at an Indo-Pak conference on Sunday, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti said, “Can’t there be any joint mechanism between the two Kashmirs? Why can’t we have a joint council consisting of representatives from both sides?”

LoC: She said the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir should be made “irrelevant”. She said the recent militancy-related incidents in IHK should not influence New Delhi’s decision to withdraw troops from the disputed territory. “We know that the aim of any terror attack is to sabotage the dialogue process. The Lal Chowk attack should not influence the intention of the Indian government to withdraw forces [from IHK],” she said. The PDP leader said wars between India and Pakistan had only resulted in accumulation of security forces in IHK. Mehbooba said the peace process should be de-linked from terror incidents, adding that resumption of composite dialogue between India and Pakistan was the need of the hour.

The situation in IHK “has improved over the period of time and the people are turning to peaceful means to raise their grievances”, she said. Mehbooba said India and Pakistan should engage themselves in a result-oriented dialogue, adding that Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone was killed because “he wanted dialogue”. The PDP president urged the two countries to make a policy shift on Kashmir by reaching out to the people and practicing peaceful and democratic ways to build a new South Asia.

Mufti said that Kashmir would be the “first and the worst victim” if something happens to Pakistan. iftikhar gilani

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a recent Op Ed by Indian career diplomat M K Bhadrakumar on India's worries in Afghanistan:

...The big question is whether Delhi is pragmatic enough to accept that new thinking has become necessary. First and foremost, it does not help if India ignores the nascent processes of Afghan national reconciliation. Delhi on its own is incapable of calibrating the Afghan reconciliation process and the Indian and US approaches diverge. Enduring peace can only come out of an inclusive political settlement in Kabul.

Delhi lost much time quibbling over the "good" and "bad" Taliban while the international community and regional players moved on. There was initially some uneasiness that the Afghan government led by President Hamid Karzai was seeking reconciliation with the insurgent groups.

But more worrisome for Delhi is the fact Karzai has begun seeking help from Pakistan. The fault lies entirely with the Indians in having failed to support him in recent months. Delhi backed losing candidate Abdullah Abdullah in last year's presidential elections on the facile assumption that Washington wished to see him in power. That was a disastrous error of judgment.

Karzai is expected to unfold a road map on reconciliation within the next six weeks. He hopes to hold a loya jirgha (grand council) on April 29 with a view, as he put it, to "get guidance from the Afghan people on how to move forward towards reintegration and reconciliation [with the Taliban]". And in his estimation, if there is greater participation by insurgent elements in parliamentary elections scheduled to be held in August, then further coalition-building becomes possible.

Delhi can anticipate that in all this, Karzai hopes for cooperation from Pakistan and as a quid pro quo he can be expected to factor in Pakistan's interests. The day after Menon concluded his visit, Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kiani met Karzai in Kabul to discuss "matters of mutual interest". Karzai followed it up with a two-day visit to Islamabad that started on Wednesday.

Pakistan's assertiveness is bothering Indian strategists but Delhi seems to have overlooked that many factors work in Islamabad's favor. The Afghan elites in Kabul have close social and family kinships with Peshawar. The Afghan economy is dependent on imports from Pakistan. Pakistan has influence over Taliban groups and unlike in the past it has also cultivated the non-Pashtun groups of the erstwhile Northern Alliance. It also shouldn't be forgotten that more than 80% of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supplies for the war in Afghanistan pass through Pakistan.

And most of all, Delhi underestimated that Pakistan is the US's key non-NATO ally in the war and that implicit in this is Pakistan's expectation to be recognized by Washington as a regional power. In fact, the US has been harping on a fundamental theme: Pakistan has a choice to make, namely, whether it wants to have a comprehensive partnership with the US and NATO; and if so, that it must cooperate with Washington's strategies in the region.

The prevailing view in India is that the Pakistani military continues to play it both ways. But they may be in for disillusionment as there strong likelihood is that Pakistani army chief Kiani may have begun to explore the potential of the US offer.

Pakistan estimates that it is closer than at any time before to gaining "strategic depth" in Afghanistan - and this time, Washington may acquiesce....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC story about Indian military false claims of infiltrations and staged extrajudicial killings in Kashmir:

Three men went missing in Indian-administered Kashmir in April.

Nothing extraordinary about that, but some time later their bodies were discovered near the Line of Control (LoC), which separates Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir - a fate which militants trying to cross the border often meet.

But during investigations, the police discovered that the men had been killed in a staged gun battle in a frontier area.

The probe also revealed that a senior officer of the Indian army - a major - had the three men kidnapped by offering them jobs as porters.

The troops later informed the police that they had killed three militants. The army also claimed to have found Pakistani currency and arms and ammunition on the three men.

The major has been suspended and another senior soldier transferred from his post. The army has pledged to "co-operate" with the police in investigations.

So have 'fake encounter' killings - where the security forces are alleged to carry out extrajudicial killings - returned to Kashmir?

Political leaders across the spectrum - pro-Indian, anti-Indian and government ministers - think so.
'Bogey of infiltration'

"There are hardliners in the Indian Army and intelligence agencies, as there are in Pakistan, who think that by raising the bogey of infiltration and gun battles near the border they can create terror among people and also put pressure on Pakistan," says Mehbooba Mufti, prominent pro-India leader who heads the largest opposition party in the state.

Kashmir's law minister, Ali Mohammad Sagar says there have been "several proven cases of fake encounters in the past 20 years".

Investigating the latest "fake encounters" of the three men from Nadihal village in Barramulla district, the police said that the army major had even been rewarded with "a promotion and/or a cash reward" for killing the men whom they described as "militants".

But the army rejects this allegation, saying cash rewards for killing militants are a "myth".

Riaz Haq said...

Amnesty International has criticized what it calls "Lawless Law" in Indian-occupied Kashmir, according to the BBC:

Rights group Amnesty International has criticised a tough Indian law which it says has been used to detain up to 20,000 people without trial in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Amnesty urged India to scrap the Public Safety Act (PSA) which allows detention for up to two years without charge.

The group also criticised the judiciary for its failure to protect human rights of the detainees.

Kashmir has been gripped by a violent separatist insurgency since 1989.

The detentions have been made since the beginning of the insurgency, the Amnesty says in a new report released in Srinagar city on Monday.

Titled Lawless Law: Detentions under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act documents how the law is used to secure long-term detention of individuals against whom there is insufficient evidence for a trial.

"The Jammu and Kashmir authorities are using PSA detentions as a revolving door to keep people they can't or won't convict through proper legal channels locked up and out of the way," said Bikramjeet Batra, Amnesty's campaigner for Asia Pacific programme in India.

"Hundreds of people are being held each year on spurious grounds, with many exposed to higher risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment," he added.

The report says the detainees include political leaders and activists, suspected members or supporters of armed opposition groups, lawyers, journalists and protesters, including children.

Often, they are initially picked up for "unofficial" interrogation during which time they have no access to a lawyer or their families.

Even minors are being held under the law, the report says.

Amnesty International called upon the government of Jammu and Kashmir to repeal the law and end the system of detentions.

It also asked the government to release all detainees or charge those suspected of committing criminal acts with recognised offences and try them fairly in a court of law.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and is claimed in full by both.

The region is also one of most militarised in the world with hundreds of thousands of troops present on both sides of the Line of Control - the de facto border between the two countries.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post report on India's heavy troop presence in Kashmir in spite of peace:

SRINAGAR, India – For more than a decade it was seen as one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoints, its Himalayan valleys flooded with hundreds of thousands of Indian troops battling a separatist, Islamist insurgency backed by neighboring Pakistan.

But with relations slowly improving between South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, the insurgency is slowly fading away. That has left many Kashmiris wondering why quite so many Indian troops are still here — under laws that grant them vast powers.

With violence on the wane, Kashmir’s Chief Minister Omar Abdullah says the mainly Muslim people of his state deserve to see a “peace dividend,” in the form of a partial, limited withdrawal of the rules that allow soldiers the right to shoot to kill, with virtual immunity from prosecution.

The request would cover only two districts where the Indian army does not even conduct operations. Casualty rates due to the militancy are half of what they were last year, and under 5 percent of what they were a decade ago, officials say.

But India’s leaders have rebuffed the Kashmiri minister’s request, with the army and defense ministry insisting on maintaining broad powers.

It has left the 41-year-old Abdullah wondering whether the Indian government has the political will to achieve a lasting peace in Kashmir, where tens of thousands of people have died since 1989, and ultimately with Pakistan. The dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir lies at the heart of their long enmity and has fueled two of their three wars.

“At some point in time we have to have the courage to take what appear to be risky decisions, with the belief that this is an important component of a peace process,” Abdullah said.

If New Delhi cannot even agree to this, “how are you going to resolve the overall Kashmir issue, that is going to require much tougher decisions?” he asked.
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In Srinagar, 23-year-old Bilkees Mansoor knows only too well how difficult it is to find justice when the army is effectively above the law. When she was just a 13-year-old girl, she saw her father, a chemist and businessman, dragged out of their home just after midnight by dozens of soldiers, never to be seen or heard of again.

Clutching his photograph, she recounted her family’s decade-long search for her missing father and how her mother and her siblings all have stress-related health problems, and told of their desperate efforts to have the arresting officer questioned or appear in court.

The case even went to the country’s Supreme Court, she says, where the army major’s appeal to avoid questioning was rejected in July 2007. Still, he has failed to appear in court.

“Because of this law, the army is doing very evil things,” she said. “I still believe my father is alive. We have to keep positive thoughts in our minds. But if he is buried somewhere, this is my right to know.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/violence-wanes-in-kashmir-but-india-maintains-tight-military-grip/2011/11/29/gIQAlqS0YO_story_1.html

Riaz Haq said...

NY Times: "Many analysts say that India is unlikely to achieve prominence on the world stage until it reaches some sort of resolution with Pakistan of disputes that have lasted for decades over Kashmir and other issues."

Here's NY Times on India's growing troubles:

...a summer of difficulties has dented India’s confidence, and a growing chorus of critics is starting to ask whether India’s rise may take years, and perhaps decades, longer than many had hoped.

“There is a growing sense of desperation out there, particularly among the young,” said Ramachandra Guha, one of India’s leading historians.

Three events last week crystallized those new worries. On Wednesday, one of India’s most advanced submarines, the Sindhurakshak, exploded and sank at its berth in Mumbai, almost certainly killing 18 of the 21 sailors on its night watch.

On Friday, a top Indian general announced that India had killed 28 people in recent weeks in and around the Line of Control in Kashmir as part of the worst fighting between India and Pakistan since a 2003 cease-fire.

Also Friday, the Sensex, the Indian stock index, plunged nearly 4 percent, while the value of the rupee continued to fall, reaching just under 62 rupees per dollar, a record low.

Each event was unrelated to the others, but together they paint a picture of a country that is rapidly losing its swagger. India’s growing economic worries are perhaps its most challenging.

“India is now the sick man of Asia,” said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at the financial information provider IHS Global Insight. “They are in a crisis.”

---.

The Indian government recently loosened restrictions on direct foreign investment, expecting a number of major retailers like Walmart and other companies to come rushing in. The companies have instead stayed away, worried not only by the government’s constant policy changes but also by the widespread and endemic corruption in Indian society.

The government has followed with a series of increasingly desperate policy announcements in recent weeks in hopes of turning things around, including an increase in import duties on gold and silver and attempts to defend the currency without raising interest rates too high.

Then Wednesday night, the government announced measures to restrict the amounts that individuals and local companies could invest overseas without seeking approval. It was an astonishing move in a country where a growing number of companies have global operations and ambitions.
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The submarine explosion revealed once again the vast strategic challenges that the Indian military faces and how far behind China it has fallen. India still relies on Russia for more than 60 percent of its defense equipment needs, and its army, air force and navy have vital Russian equipment that is often decades old and of increasingly poor quality.

The Sindhurakshak is one of 10 Russian-made Kilo-class submarines that India has as part of its front-line maritime defenses, but only six of India’s submarines are operational at any given time — far fewer than are needed to protect the nation’s vast coastline.

Indeed, India has fewer than 100 ships, compared with China’s 260. India is the world’s largest weapons importer, but with its economy under stress and foreign currency reserves increasingly precious, that level of purchases will be increasingly hard to sustain.

The country’s efforts to build its own weapons have largely been disastrous, and a growing number of corruption scandals have tainted its foreign purchases, including a recent deal to buy helicopters from Italy.

Unable to build or buy, India is becoming dangerously short of vital defense equipment, analysts say....

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/19/business/global/a-summer-of-troubles-saps-indias-confidence.html

Riaz Haq said...

From Hindu: Comparison of Azad Kashmir and Indian Occupied Kashmir:

As a resident of Baramulla, I should have been able to make it to Muzaffarabad, the capital on the other side, within five hours by road, had the governments of India and Pakistan allowed our three-member delegation to travel on the much-vaunted cross LoC bus.

However, the walls between the two sides built over 60 years forced me to travel via Delhi-Lahore-Islamabad — the journey thus took me almost three days.

Nevertheless, this longer route was interesting in itself. The 180-km Islamabad-Muzaffarabad road reminded me of the winding Srinagar-Jammu highway, while the mountainscape and the gushing waters of the Jhelum resembled Patnitop and the waters of the Chenab.
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Muzaffarabad, with a population of just over 6,00,000, looks cleaner than Srinagar (PoK has 10 districts with an estimated population over three million in 2009). Even during my previous visit in 2004, I found that the stories of “under development in PoK,” fed to us on this side, are off the mark. This time, I noticed road connectivity and power supply to houses even on the upper reaches of a hill. In contrast, many villages in Jammu and Kashmir even today are without basic facilities. Neither does Muzaffarabad seem to be lagging behind in education and health compared to the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir though progress is more in tune with Pakistani literacy rates. In the past few years the development in these two sectors has been rapid. The literacy rate in PoK has touched 65 per cent which is higher than for any other area in Pakistan. In conversations, both the young and old in Muzaffarabad say that Pakistan has “never discriminated” against the region.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-other-kashmir/article2101764.ece