Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kashmir in Context

Here is a documentary video by Pervez Hoodbhoy and Zia Mian.

It's rather long 46 minutes presentation requiring patience, but I found the video to be the most honest account of the Kashmir problem which is surrounded by all kinds of misinformation, disinformation and spin from all sides. Hoodbhoy puts it in historical context, shows the cynical role of the politicians and extremists on both sides, and talks about the realities of the Kashmir tragedy as it affects both Kashmiri Muslims and Hindu pandits who have been dispossessed and dispersed, and led to radicalization of the populations on both sides.

The footage of late Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's pledge of the plebiscite to the people of Kashmir to decide their own fate can be seen and heard about 23 minutes into the 46 minute video.

I recommend this video to any one interested in understanding the Kashmir issue in depth and how it has drastically polarized the people South Asia.



Video Copyright Eqbal Ahmad Foundation, 2004.

The continued Indian occupation of Kashmir is neither legal nor moral. It's illegal because it violates security council resolutions 47(1948) of 21 April, 1948, 51(1948) of 3 June, 1948, 80 (1950) of 14 March, 1950 and 91(1951) of 30 March, 1951, that are binding on all UN member nations. It's immoral because it breaks repeated pledges to the people of Kashmir in late 40s and early 50s by Indian prime minister and various Indian officials.

As Hoodbhoy points out in the video, Kashmir has become the cause celebre for the radicals on both sides of the border and threatens the future of all of South Asia. Settling Kashmir is crucial to defeat the extremists and bring some normalcy to relations between India and Pakistan that could eventually lead to a common market greatly benefiting all of South Asia.


Related Links:

Nehru's Speeches on Kashmir

Nehru's Pledges on Kashmir

Obama's South Asia Policy

Military Occupation of Kashmir

Bruce Riedel Interview

Clues to Obama's South Asia Policy

Hoodbhoy on India

17 comments:

Jadev said...

check this out..what wallstreetjournal (aka jews) have 2 say abt pak..so true..
[i]
About Iran, Henry Kissinger once asked whether the Islamic Republic was a country or a cause. About Pakistan, the question is whether it's a country or merely a space.

What kind of state simply accepts that its judicial and political writ doesn't actually run to its internationally recognized boundaries? Three cases are typical.

One is a weak state that lacks the capacity to enforce its law and ensure domestic tranquility -- think of Congo. Another is an ethnic patchwork state that knows well enough not to bend restive or potentially restive minorities to its will -- that would be present-day Lebanon. [b]A third is a canny state that seeks to advance strategic aims by feigning powerlessness while deliberately ceding control to proxies -- the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.[/b]
[b]
Pakistan's odd distinction is that it fits all three descriptions at once. It is politically weak, ethnically riven, and a master of plausible deniability -- an art it has practiced not only toward India, Afghanistan and the U.S. with its support for various "freedom fighting" groups but also, in the matter of the CIA drone attacks, toward its own people.
[/b]
The roots of Pakistan's problems go to its nature as a state. What is Pakistan? Even now, nearly 62 years after its founding, the best answer is "not India": As with the Palestinians, Pakistani identity is defined negatively. What else is Pakistan? As with Iran, it is an Islamic Republic: Punjabis, Pashtuns, Kashmiris, Balochis, Sindhis and so on are only really knitted together in their state as Muslims.
[/i]

Anonymous said...

Yadev, well one thing is a fact, 3 wars intiated by your mighty India, and Pakistan is still standing.Your armed forces are useless, they lack balls of steel they could have easily taken over the whole pakistan in 1965 as per your goverments evil plan, and then another huge Indian deployment and serious standdoff during Kargil incident, well Pakistan is still there and now more tougher to deal with, therefore I rest my case.Keep on enjoying your congested stinky slum baby and forget about Pakistans issues, worry what will happen to India if Pakistan fails god forbid,so stop messing around in Baluchistan and Afghan pakistani border.Pakistan Zindabad.

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 are the key points of Hoodbhoy video on Kashmir:

Nationalist and religious fervor has been on the rise in both India and Pakistan with Kashmir as the flash point

Diverse people of Kashmir are trapped in the middle.

100,000 Kasmiris dead, many sought refuge in Pakistan, with pandits seeking refuge in India.

Pandits are a privileged class in Kashmir. 1990 study showed 86% of senior government jobs held by pandits.

Kashmiri Muslims are mostly impoverished.

Resentment against pandit domination has boiled over, with tragic consequences for Kashmiri pandits, some of whom have been killed or driven out of their homes.

Both Kashmiri Muslims and Hindu pandits massacred by extremists

All elections in Kashmir have been heavily rigged by India.

Indian police, paramilitary and armed forces supporting Kashmir govt seen as an occupation force by almost all Kashmiri Muslims.

Indian forces have used overwhelming force against Kashmiris.

Pakistan has intervened, it has armed and trained Afghan Jihadis to fight in Kashmir, encouraged Pakistanis to join the Kashmir Jihad against India

Many Kashmiri pandits want India to invade and destroy Pakistan.

Extremists like Togadia have jumped in, they want India to conquer Pakistan.

India's right-wing parties have flourished, as Kashmir has continued to be troubled.

BJP has changed the history and the entire curriculum to remove Islamic contributions, and emphasized Hindu kingdoms.

Right-wing Pakistani parties have influenced Pakistani textbooks as a means of indocrination against Hindus.

Roots of anger still lie in the way the partition was carried out in 1947.

Nehru pledged plebescite in Kashmir, but then went back on it.

Pakistan's President Ayub miscalculated by sending troops into Indian Kashmir. India responded by crossng the international border into Pakistan. The war ended with no gains for either side.

Siachin remains the highest battlefield.

Shockwaves sent across the world by nuclear tests by both nations in 1998.

Pakistan's Kargill intruson was a disaster, with major casualties on both sides.

Nawaz Sharif's decision to pull out of Kargil as seen as a humiliation for Pakistan. Pakistan military soon forced Sharif out, and Gen Musharraf took control.

Military again dominated life in Pakistan in all matters, including civilian governance.

In 2001, Kashmiri militants attacked Indian parliament, and India responded by massing troops on Pakistani border, as the two nations came close to war.

India has been brutal in suppressing minorities, denying even the basic rights to them in Kashmir and elsewhere.

Creatio of Bangladesh has shown that Islam is not enough to bind Pakistanis together into a nation.

Many Kashmiris want independence from both India and Pakistan.Neither Pakistan nor India accept the idea of an independent Kashmir.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LLnuglrW34

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...

Here are some excerpts from a recent post by Soutik Biswas of BBC.com on his Kashmir visit:

"The interminable day and night curfews have drained all life out of Srinagar. People have retreated into their homes leaving back graffiti on the walls screaming Go Back India! In the restive old city, surly young men sit outside shuttered homes and shops and glare at the troops peering out of sandbagged bunkers and manning the razor wire checkpoints. People wake up at the crack of dawn to store up on supplies when the grocers open for a few minutes. At night, an eerie silence descends over the city as the moon plays hide and seek with the clouds.

It is another summer of unrest in what is possibly the most scenic valley in the world. Two months of cyclical violence between stone pelting protesters and heavily armed security forces have left more than 50 dead - mostly teenagers. Things are looking grimmer than ever before. It's a summer that could turn out to be another defining point in the valley's tortured history. A whole generation of children of the conflict - Kashmiri writer Basharat Peer evocatively calls it their "war of adolescence" - who grew up in the days of militancy and violence in the early 1990s are driving the protests today. (Seven out of 10 Kashmiris are below 25.)

Growing up in the shadow of the gun and what they say is "perpetual humiliation" by the security forces, they are angry, alienated and distrustful of the state. As prominent opposition leader Mehbooba Mufti tells me when I visit her at her heavily secured home overlooking the stunning Dal lake: "If these young men are not given something to look forward to, God help Kashmir." The valley, most residents say, is in the early stages of an intifada."

"One mother emptied a cupboard and a suitcase full of of her 14 yr-old boy's belongings for me. Wamiq Farooq had gone to play in the neighbourhood when a tear gas shell fired by the troops exploded on his head. Doctors tried to revive him for an hour at the hospital before declaring him dead.

Now, sitting on a brown rug in a modest family home, his mother brings out Wamiq's red tie, red belt, white cap, fraying blue uniform, half a dozen school trophies, report cards, school certificates and then his pithy death certificate. "He is sure to be a face in the crowd," writes his school principal on one certificate praising Wamiq, the Tom and Jerry cartoons and science-loving teenaged son of a street vendor father. Then she slowly puts back Wamiq - his life and death - back into the suitcase and the cupboard and tells me, her eyes welling up: "I never understood why Kashmiri people demand freedom. After Wamiq's death, I do. I want freedom too. So that my children can return home unharmed and in peace.""

Riaz Haq said...

To get a peek into the Indian psyche, read the following advice offered by Financial Times to David Cameron prior to his recent India trip:

The first is 'Kashmir', he says. Recalling controversial utterances by previous British foreign secretaries like Robin Cook and David Miliband, Barker tells Cameron: "The quickest way to turn a charm offensive into a diplomatic fiasco. The basic rule: British ministers should say nothing. Don't dare criticise, offer to help, or link bringing peace to tackling terrorism. Stray words have consequences."

The second is 'Poverty'. "More poor people than anywhere on earth. But not worth mentioning too loudly. Talk about the New India instead. Mention the aid review. A patronising tone is fatal."

The third, 'Coming over too fresh'. Barker says: "The young, dynamic, no-nonsense version of Cameron should probably be left behind. It's time to learn some manners. Indian politicians are, as a rule, double his age and four times as grand. If the meetings are stuffy, formal, overbearingly polite, that's a good thing."

The fourth is the 'Immigration cap'. The columnist writes: "A big issue for the Indian elite. Anand Sharma, the commerce minister, raised his 'concerns' earlier this month with Cameron himself. A heavily bureaucratic and stingy visa regime will not encourage Indians to work or study in Britain."



Read more: Don't mention Kashmir, poverty in India, UK PM advised - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Dont-mention-Kashmir-poverty-in-India-UK-PM-advised/articleshow/6226174.cms#ixzz0zjt5WfSg

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report indicating Indian govt's intent to arrest and prosecute Arundhati Roy for sedition for her remarks on Kashmir:

India's home ministry is reported to have told police in Delhi that a case of sedition may be registered against Roy and the Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for remarks they made at the weekend.

Under section 124A of the Indian penal code, those convicted of sedition face punishment ranging from a fine to life imprisonment.

Roy, who won the Booker in 1997 for The God of Small Things, is a controversial figure in India for her championing of politically sensitive causes. She has divided opinion by speaking out in support of the Naxalite insurgency and for casting doubt on Pakistan's involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The 48-year-old author refused to backtrack. In an email interview with the Guardian, she said: "That the government is considering charging me with sedition me has to do with its panic about many voices, even in India, being raised against what is happening in Kashmir. This is a new development, and one that must be worrisome for the government."

"Threatening me with legal action is meant to frighten the civil rights groups and young journalists into keeping quiet. But I think it will have the opposite effect. I think the government is mature enough to understand that it's too late to put the lid on now," Roy said.

Earlier the author, who is currently in Srinagar, Kashmir, said in a statement: "I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators, have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice.

"I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state."

After describing her meetings with people caught up in the Kashmir violence, she said: "Some have accused me of giving 'hate speeches', of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their fingernails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one.

"Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor roam free."

India's justice minister, Moodbidri Veerappa Moily, described Roy's remarks as "most unfortunate". He said: "Yes, there is freedom of speech … it can't violate the patriotic sentiments of the people."

Others were less restrained. One person posted a comment on the Indian Express newspaper website calling for the novelist to be charged with treason and executed.

Roy said she was not aware of the calls for her death, but said the comments were part of a "reasonably healthy debate in the Indian press".

"The rightwing Hindu stormtroopers are furious and say some pretty extreme things," she told the Guardian.

Roy made her original remarks on Sunday in a seminar – entitled Whither Kashmir? Freedom or Enslavement, during which she accused India of becoming a colonial power. Geelani also spoke at the seminar.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian newspaper The Hindu is publishing some wikileaks cable on India. Here are a few interesting ones:

1. The Hindu reveals that PM Singh isolated on wanting talks with Pakistan:

During the interaction, Mr. Narayanan, who had been described by the Embassy in a January 12, 2005 cable (25259: confidential) as a long-time Gandhi family loyalist “who is seen as part of the traditional ‘coterie' around Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi,” came through as a hardliner on Pakistan, never afraid to voice his differences with Prime Minister Singh.

In an August 11, 2009 cable (220281: confnoforn), sent a day after the meeting, Mr. Roemer noted that Mr. Narayanan, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau who is now Governor of West Bengal, readily conceded that he had differences with Prime Minister Singh on Pakistan. The Prime Minister was a “great believer” in talks and negotiations with Islamabad, but Mr. Narayanan himself was “not a great believer in Pakistan.”

2. India was locked in a tussle with the United States over sharing information from the 2008 Mumbai attacks investigation with Pakistan, according to a chain of U.S. Embassy cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks.

During the India-Pakistan standoff in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation helped the two sides share information of each other's investigations.

But India, suspicious of Pakistan's intentions, tried as long as it could to fend off U.S. pressure on information-sharing — before relenting, but with some conditions.

Unhappy about those conditions, the U.S. then sought to work around them through a “broad” reading of the assent.

On January 3, 2009 Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice instructed the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi to deliver a demarche (cable 185593: secret) that the U.S. was making available to it material on the Mumbai attacks provided by the Government of Pakistan.

Dr. Rice asked Ambassador David Mulford to tell New Delhi that “this information originated from top Pakistani officials in very sensitive positions and is passed to you with their permission. It represents a genuine willingness on their part to share sensitive and significant information with India.”

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 report from The Hindu on demands to bar Jethmalani, who has compared Kashmir unrest to Nazi rule, from Kashmir:

SRINAGAR: Just 10 days since human rights activist Gautam Navlakha was deported from Srinagar, the ruling National Conference has asked the Jammu and Kashmir government not to allow senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani to enter Kashmir, saying such a visit would vitiate the “peaceful atmosphere”.
The NC was reacting to Mr. Jethmalani's statement that the atrocities committed by the government in Kashmir were “unheard [of even] in the Nazi ruled in Germany.”
He also held the State government, rather than the Centre, responsible for this. After reviving the Kashmir Committee, Mr. Jethmalani, along with Ambassador V.K. Grover and journalist-activist Madhu Kishwar, visited the Valley for five days and met a cross section of political leaders.
In a hard-hitting statement, the NC expressed its dismay over the statement, terming it “frivolous, irresponsible, baseless, callous and bereft of facts.”
The party spokesman said people like Mr. Jethmalani, Arundhati Roy and Mr. Navlakha — at the behest of political mercenaries like Madhu Kishwar and the like — visit Kashmir to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the State and then return to their comfortable homes in Delhi and Bombay to be seen occasionally on television screens discussing Kashmir with the sole aim of stoking the violence and disturbance in the State.
“The government should not allow people like Ram Jethmalani to enter the State during summer. [They] do not want a solution to the Kashmir issue, and instead, come here to misguide the people, hoodwink them, and derail the process of peace in Jammu & Kashmir,” the spokesman said.
He accused Mr. Jethmalani of being “out of his mind to suggest that in J&K, Nazi-like rule is prevalent… A state where 80 per cent of the electorate is participating in panchayat elections after nearly three decades to establish a democratic system at the grassroots level can by no stretch of imagination be termed Nazi rule but, in fact, should be hailed as a great leap forward in strengthening the democratic institutions in the State and bringing accountability, transparency, as also improving the delivery mechanism.”
The party spokesman asked Mr. Jethmalani to first convince his own party, the BJP, to support the reduction of troops' presence in civilian areas as also to raise the demand for the withdrawal of the Armed Forced (Special Powers) Act, before trying to convince others.
“Omar Abdullah and his government does not need any certificate from disgruntled, frustrated and politically rejected people like Ram Jethmalani — a man who has failed to even win the Supreme Court Bar Association elections,” the spokesman said, adding, “Omar is striving hard to win the hearts and minds of the people with his untiring efforts and so, deserves the full support of all right-thinking people.”
The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, headed by Yasin Malik, also criticised Mr. Jethmalani.
“No doubt Ram Jethmalani is a famous Supreme Court lawyer, but in the political field he is but an inexperienced man. His politics has always been based on duplicity. He has always been pursuing the policy of double standards and there has always been conflict in his words and deeds,” a JKLF spokesman said in a statement.
He claimed that Mr. Jethmalani had come here bearing the agenda of some mainstream political party. “These people have lost their relevance in New Delhi and are here only to keep themselves politically floating. They are now trying to use their vile tactics to achieve this purpose.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece by Ananya Vajpeyi titled "Notes on Swaraj":

In my view, it is precisely because
India experiences itself as economically and militarily on the ascendant that a re-thinking of cultural, political and moral selfhood is timely. It is also
appropriate to return to Gandhi
because so much of India – its poor, its minorities, its separatist and dissenting
constituencies in Kashmir and the
Northeast – remain outside the consensus view of its superpower status. An Indian sovereignty that bans millions of citizens in zones of exception and abandons them to the most egregious forms of violence and deprivation is not consistent with the idea of swaraj.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's another piece by Ananya Vajpeyi on exceptions to Indian "constitutional democracy":

By enforcing extraordinary laws, by sending in armed forces, by granting impunity to soldiers and paramilitaries for their actions against armed or unarmed civilians, by denying citizens redress, justice or compensation, by creating a war-like situation for a population that has political, social, cultural and economic grievances possible to address without force, it is the state that sets aside the Constitution. The Indian state has done this too many times, in too many places, and for too long.

It is time for citizens in the so-called ‘normal’ parts of the country to consider how they want to defend their Constitution against such misuse and ill-treatment by the state, a procedure that leaves millions of people exposed to both everyday as well as excessive violence, and ultimately turns them against India. If the Indian Union sees any attrition to its territory in the coming years on account of separatism and civil strife (not such an unlikely scenario as hawkish policy-makers like to believe), this will have come to pass at least partly because the state allowed the cancer of exception to eat away at the body politic, and did not administer the medicine of constitutional reinstatement and restitution in time. It bears repeating that periodic exercises in the electoral process do not always prove to be a sufficient counterweight to the toxic effects of the AFSPA, even if elections are relatively free and fair (a tough challenge), and even if significant percentages of the relevant populations do turn out to vote.

The state’s reasoning for why military, paramilitary and police must replace civil agencies in the work of everyday governance, a step which can and does go horribly wrong, is that disruptive violence (from secessionist and insurgent groups) has to be met with restorative counter-violence (from the state) in order to ensure overall security for the population, and preserve the integrity of the Union of India. Defenders of the AFSPA insist that this is a sound rationale. But inevitably, questions arise: What are the limits of the immunity that such an extraordinary law grants to the armed forces, when does the justifiable control of terror become overkill, and when should a quantitative assessment about the necessary degree of force give way to a qualitative judgment about whether force is necessary at all, over and above alternative – peaceful – means of addressing the situation?

There appears to be a dire need for a system of checks-and-balances, perhaps also originating from the Constitution, to be instituted, so that the explicitly democratic mandate of the Indian republic may be strengthened against an always lurking authoritarian tendency (a legacy of the post-colonial state’s colonialist and imperialist predecessor).


http://udayprakash05.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-people-of-india-are-skeptical.html

Riaz Haq said...

The arrest of Ghulam Nabi Fai signaling US shift in position to favor India on Kashmir will not change the ground realities of Indian Occupied Kashmir.

India's military occupation of Kashmir will not last, and increasing brutality and repression of the people of Kashmir will only make the situation worse. And it'll continue to make a mockery of India's claim to "democracy".

Here's a piece by Ananya Vajpeyi on exceptions to Indian "constitutional democracy":

By enforcing extraordinary laws, by sending in armed forces, by granting impunity to soldiers and paramilitaries for their actions against armed or unarmed civilians, by denying citizens redress, justice or compensation, by creating a war-like situation for a population that has political, social, cultural and economic grievances possible to address without force, it is the state that sets aside the Constitution. The Indian state has done this too many times, in too many places, and for too long.

It is time for citizens in the so-called ‘normal’ parts of the country to consider how they want to defend their Constitution against such misuse and ill-treatment by the state, a procedure that leaves millions of people exposed to both everyday as well as excessive violence, and ultimately turns them against India. If the Indian Union sees any attrition to its territory in the coming years on account of separatism and civil strife (not such an unlikely scenario as hawkish policy-makers like to believe), this will have come to pass at least partly because the state allowed the cancer of exception to eat away at the body politic, and did not administer the medicine of constitutional reinstatement and restitution in time. It bears repeating that periodic exercises in the electoral process do not always prove to be a sufficient counterweight to the toxic effects of the AFSPA, even if elections are relatively free and fair (a tough challenge), and even if significant percentages of the relevant populations do turn out to vote.

The state’s reasoning for why military, paramilitary and police must replace civil agencies in the work of everyday governance, a step which can and does go horribly wrong, is that disruptive violence (from secessionist and insurgent groups) has to be met with restorative counter-violence (from the state) in order to ensure overall security for the population, and preserve the integrity of the Union of India. Defenders of the AFSPA insist that this is a sound rationale. But inevitably, questions arise: What are the limits of the immunity that such an extraordinary law grants to the armed forces, when does the justifiable control of terror become overkill, and when should a quantitative assessment about the necessary degree of force give way to a qualitative judgment about whether force is necessary at all, over and above alternative – peaceful – means of addressing the situation?

There appears to be a dire need for a system of checks-and-balances, perhaps also originating from the Constitution, to be instituted, so that the explicitly democratic mandate of the Indian republic may be strengthened against an always lurking authoritarian tendency (a legacy of the post-colonial state’s colonialist and imperialist predecessor).

http://udayprakash05.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-people-of-india-are-skeptical.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Fox News report on a new book alleging Indian agents killed foreign tourists in Kashmir:

A state human rights commission said Tuesday it will review records from the 1995 kidnapping of six foreigners in Indian-controlled Kashmir after a new book alleged that Indian intelligence agents were involved in the deadly crime.

The six tourists were trekking in a Himalayan meadow when they were kidnapped by a previously unknown militant group named Al-Faran. One American escaped, but the body of a Norwegian was later found in a remote village. Another American, a German and two Britons were never located.

India said the kidnappers were backed by Pakistan, and that some disappeared after the crime while others were killed in gunbattles with Indian troops.

However, authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clarke suggest in a recently published book, "The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began," that the Indian government deliberately undermined hostage negotiations and prolonged the crisis to damage Pakistan's reputation, and then used its own militants to take custody of the hostages before they were killed.

The Jammu-Kashmir State Human Rights Commission asked Tuesday for reports about the 17-year-old case from government and police authorities. Commission Secretary Tariq Ahmad Banday said it is also seeking access to two officers who were part of the original investigation.

The commission will discuss the case at its next meeting May 28, after being asked to look into it by a local rights group, the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice.

The group called for an inquiry into "why no action was taken on various points ... despite the authorities having knowledge of the location of the hostages, and then subsequently the burial site of the hostages."


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/17/kashmir-revisits-5-case-foreigners-abduction/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times article by journalist Waheed Mirza:

LAST September, a lawmaker in Indian-controlled Kashmir stood up in the state’s legislative assembly and spoke of a valley filled with human carcasses near his home constituency in the mountains: “In our area, there are big gorges, where there are the bones of several hundred people who were eaten by crows.”

... The assembly was debating a report on the uncovering of more than 2,000 unmarked and mass graves not far from the Line of Control that divides Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. The report, by India’s government-appointed State Human Rights Commission, marked the first official acknowledgment of the presence of mass graves. More significantly, the report found that civilians, potentially the victims of extrajudicial killings, may be buried at some of the sites.

Corpses were brought in by the truckload and buried on an industrial scale. The report cataloged 2,156 bullet-riddled bodies found in mountain graves and called for an inquiry to identify them. Many were men described as “unidentified militants” killed in fighting with soldiers during the armed rebellion against Indian rule during the 1990s, but according to the report, more than 500 were local residents. “There is every probability,” the report concluded, that the graves might “contain the dead bodies of enforced disappearances,” a euphemism for people who have been detained, abducted, taken away by armed forces or the police, often without charge or conviction, and never seen again.

Had the graves been found under Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s compound in Libya or in the rubble of Homs in Syria, there surely would have been an uproar. But when over 2,000 skeletons appear in the conflict-ridden backyard of the world’s largest democracy, no one bats an eye. ........
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In March 2000, a day before President Bill Clinton visited India, about 35 Kashmiri Sikhs were massacred by unidentified gunmen in the village of Chattisinghpora, 50 miles from the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar. Soon after, L. K. Advani, then India’s home minister, declared that the terrorists responsible for the killings had been shot dead in an “encounter” with the Indian Army. But the truth turned out to be more sinister. Under pressure from human rights groups and relatives, the bodies of the so-called terrorists were exhumed, and after a couple of botched investigations in which DNA samples were fudged, it was revealed that the dead men were innocent Kashmiris.

It took nearly 12 years — primarily because of the Indian government’s refusal to prosecute those involved in the murders — to reach the Supreme Court of India. On May 1, in a widely criticized decision, the court left it to the army to decide how to proceed, and the army has opted for a court-martial rather than a transparent civilian trial. In the eyes of Pervez Imroz, a Kashmiri lawyer and civil rights activist, the court’s decision “further emboldens the security forces” and strengthens “a process that has appeared to never favor the victims.”-------
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The Indian government must do what may seem inconceivable to the hawks in the military establishment but is long overdue. Before it can even begin to contemplate negotiating a lasting political solution in consultation with Kashmiris it must act to deliver justice — for the parents of the disappeared; for the young lives brutally extinguished in 2010; for the innocent dead stealthily buried in unmarked graves in the mountains; for the Kashmiris languishing in Indian prisons without any legal recourse; for the exiled Kashmiri Hindu Pandits who fled in 1990 after some were targeted and killed by militants; and for the mother of Sameer Rah, who still doesn’t know why her young son was bludgeoned to death and his body left by a curb.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/opinion/sunday/indias-blood-stained-democracy.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.”

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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