Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama Backtracks on Kashmir

After repeatedly emphasizing that Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan is inextricably linked to Afghanistan crisis, President Barack Obama has begun to backtrack on the need for resolving Kashmir.

The clearest signal yet of this change of heart came this week when Kashmir was dropped from special envoy Richard Holbrooke's mandate under pressure from Indian lobby in Washington. According to Washington Post, India managed to "prune the portfolio of the Obama administration's top envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard C. Holbrooke -- basically eliminating the contested region of Kashmir from his job description".

In run-up to the last US presidential elections and until recently, it was widely known that Obama believes the situation in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. “The most important thing we’re going to have to do with respect to Afghanistan, is actually deal with Pakistan,” Obama said in an interview on October 30 with MSNBC. “And we’ve got work with the newly elected government there in a coherent way that says, terrorism is now a threat to you. Extremism is a threat to you. We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that they can stay focused not on India, but on the situation with those militants.”

Obama reiterated his emphasis on Kashmir in a December 7 interview on NBC's Meet The Press. He said, " I've said before, we can't continue to look at Afghanistan in isolation. We have to see it as a part of a regional problem that includes Pakistan, includes India, includes Kashmir, includes Iran. And part of the kind of foreign policy I want to shape is one in which we have tough, direct diplomacy combined with more effective military operations, focused on what is the number one threat against U.S. interests and U.S. lives. And that's al-Qaeda and, and, and their various affiliates, and we are going to go after them fiercely in the years to come."

The deletion is seen as a significant diplomatic concession to India that reflects increasingly warm ties between the country and the United States, according to South Asia analysts.

Indian diplomats, worried about Holbrooke's tough-as-nails reputation, wanted to keep him away from Kashmir, according to several Indian officials and Indian news media reports. Holbrooke is nicknamed "the Bulldozer" for arm-twisting warring leaders to the negotiating table as he hammered out the 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended the war in Bosnia, a peace that has stuck. The Indians are quite happy to see this "Bulldozer" riding roughshod over Pakistan.

Recalling her meeting with Holbrooke and Richard Perle in Kazakhstan, Pakistani analyst Shireen Mazari wrote recently that she "was surprised by the similarity of views they both held towards the Muslim world in general, and towards what the U.S. was doing post-9/11 in Afghanistan. Also, if we remember that Holbrooke was Hillary Clinton's senior policy adviser, we will understand where he is really coming from. After all, Hillary Clinton supported the Iraq war until it became unpopular in the U.S.!"

Mazari further added, "Again, it was Holbrooke ( who happens to be Jewish-American), as the U.S. ambassador at the UN, who arranged for Israel to be admitted into a regional grouping of Western European and other nations–to allow Israel access to membership of crucial committees and other privileges. Interestingly, Scott Ritter, a UN Weapons' Inspector in Iraq (1991-1998), has recalled how, in a television discussion in October 2001, Holbrooke had rejected any form of diplomacy in Afghanistan and had favored only military action. Hardly the sort of man who will be open to the sensitivities of Pakistan!"

"I think it is time for us -- having fobbed off Holbrooke -- to sit quietly and ask where are we and how do we manage the situation," said C. Raja Mohan, an Indian strategic analyst who served on India's national security advisory board in 2006.

"Intellectually, it is impossible to disentangle these problems (Afghanistan and Kashmir) from each other," said Daniel Markey, a South Asia expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. "The smartest thing is to work on this behind the scenes."

Time Magazine reports that the Obama Administration is not going to buy India's line that the U.S. should butt out of Kashmir. The President himself plainly believes there's a role for the U.S. to play.However, it's not clear how the US would play such a role.

The fact that Obama has already begun to show serious weakness in his dealings with India does not augur well for the success of any back-channel negotiations. If anything, it'll just mean more pressure on Pakistan to essentially agree to whatever terms are dictated by India through Holbrooke, the "Bulldozer".

In an earlier post, I had expressed the hope that Obama and his allies will show tough love to India and Israel, the kind of tough love that makes two of America's best friends see what is truly in their own best interest. The latest news about Obama's attitude suggests that my hope was misplaced. As far as India and Israel are concerned, we are likely to see a lot of diplomatic activity but no real fundamental shifts from the failed Bush policies of coddling Israel and India. The early indications are that Obama's "change" will only be skin-deep when it comes to changing the course of events in South Asia and the Middle East. On the contrary, Afghanistan and Pakistan will likely become Obama's Indochina, far worse than Bush's Iraq.

Here are two videos to explain Kashmir. The first is on the Obama vision of solving the Kashmir issue. The second 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

Bruce Riedel Interview

Clues to Obama's South Asia Policy


Anonymous said...

That is why I called it as "Peace that nobody wants" in your other post "Gandhi opposed Israel...Peace is going to RIP again...India has been taken over by Israeli zionists [Priod]

Saadia said...

Obama's devotion to the Kashmir issue is a major reason why I had hope in the man. After all, I am a Pakistani and we are all allowed to be a little selfish. But this is disappointing. Politician's words and promises should come in one ear and go out the other. At the end of the day, it is all about behind-the-scenes lobbying that Indians and Israelis are so well-known for.

One wonders now if Obama is all about gestures. Just say it...don't do it!

Saadia said...

A relevant piece: Will Kashmir Be an Obama Foreign Policy Focus?

Riaz Haq said...

Thanks for pointing out the Time article on Kashmir. Here's an excerpt from it:

Indian officials may be celebrating what they believe to be their thwarting of Richard Holbrooke, the new U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they may want to hold off on the champagne. Despite the fact that India's behind-the-scenes lobbying may have helped ensure that the country was left out of Holbrooke's official mandate, the Obama Administration is unlikely to ease up efforts to pressure India to come to terms with Pakistan over their long, bitter dispute over Kashmir.

BTW, it's not selfish to hope that Obama would focus on resolving Kashmir. All enlightened South Asians should hope that Kashmir gets resolved soon. It's the most potent trigger for a nuclear holocaust of un-imaginable proportions. Any miscalculation can lead to a total and complete disaster in one of the most heavily populated regions of the world.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you get the coincidence of the timing of Miliband and Obama+his advisor's sudden interest in Kashmir resolution? Americans and Europeans are using Kashmir to blackmail India to contribute troops in Afghanistan.Pak military in its ISPR pieces have time and again reiterated that things will not die down with any "Kashmir" or any other resolutions. And Americans are smart enough to know that. They need half-a-million troops to stabilize Afghanistan.They are not prepared to die in a decade long war when populous third world countries are there to fill the body bag.They have only allocated 30,000 extra troops. Where will the rest come from. Not from Europe. Hopefully, not from India too..

Secure Loose Nuclear Materials from Terrorists: Obama and Biden will secure all loose nuclear materials in the world within four years.
While working to secure existing stockpiles of nuclear material, Obama and Biden will negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear weapons material. This will deny terrorists the ability to steal or buy loose nuclear materials.

There is only one place where terrorists are nearer to nukes that want to hit Americans are based...and you know where..
Well, that will hopefully solve Riaz's
concerns of a holocaust! :-)

Anonymous said...

"In an earlier post, I had expressed the hope that Obama and his allies will show tough love to India and Israel, the kind of tough love that makes two of America's best friends see what is truly in their own best interest."

Thats never going to happen. In some other post, we discussed about India-US-Israel axis. These days, US sees India not only as a friend, but a partner. And with good reasons. I have full respect for you & I am sure that Pakistani people are very nice & generous. But not your establishment (government or Army). They believed that India's downfall is their stair to success. And they are ready to sacrifice their own development for it. And result is quite obvious. Pakistani people are compalining that they are getting biased treatment from US. They are paying for their authorities' deeds. And it is going to get worse, from Pakistan's point of view. Pakistan can not count on US anymore, as their ally.

Riaz Haq said...

Peaceful Indian,

With all due respect, let me suggest that it is unfair to blame Pakistani establishment for the lack of progress on Kashmir.

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 has now shattered again. It is clearly a missed opportunity in South Asia.

Please read my earlier post on this subject at:

Anonymous said...

Mr.Riaz-shall we worry why our nation cannot have good leaders?Shall we worry why we are terrorist capital of the world?Shall we worry why we breed terorists like mosquitoes?Shall worry why we produce AQ Khans?Shall we worry why our muslim nation with just muslims could not do better than India in economic terms?Shall we worry why our army is interfering in our democracy?Shall we worry that why do not we slam their heads for doing that?shall we worry that our instutions are fast degrading?Shall we worry why we have a mental patient as president?Are we not responsible as citizens for this mess?My heart breaks at the level our failures!!!Do we need Kashmir above all this????With broken legs and hands and crawing on ground-we are shouting for Kashmir-well will we survive??Has education changed or given any sense to my fellow Pakistanis-who cannot have sense think above religion?What can we expect of mullah on streets if thats the situation with educated jerks?

Anonymous said...

From the same 'Time' piece -"The key, he said, was to "make the argument to the Indians, 'You guys are on the brink of being an economic superpower, why do you want to keep on messing with this?'" Obama added that he would have to "make the argument to the Pakistanis, 'Look at India and what they are doing, why do you want to keep on being bogged down with this, particularly at a time where the biggest threat now is coming from the Afghan border?'"

I think this is a very relevant argument, more so for India. We are spending millions of dollars in a place (the valley) where the people don't even want to be part of India. This money could be put to much, much better use. I have held the view for long that relinquishing the valley is the best way to go for India. However, the 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits who have been tyrannically cleansed from the valley should also be given their rightful share.

Anonymous said...

Prepared Testimony by
Ashley J. Tellis
Senior Associate
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
to the
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
United States Senate
January 28, 2009

The LeT’s initial focus on Afghanistan is significant because it refutes the common misapprehension—assiduously fostered since the early 1990s—that the group has always been a
part of the indigenous Kashmiri insurgency. Nothing could be further from the truth. The LeT is
composed primarily of Pakistani Punjabis and has been so from its inception.
In fact, its Punjabi
composition, along with its inflexible ideology, is precisely what made it so attractive to the ISI to
begin with, because it could be controlled and directed far more effectively by its Punjabi-
dominated sponsor, the Pakistan Army, than any local Kashmiri resistance group. Because of
LeT’s founding ties to Al-Qaeda, however, its Punjabi core has over the years been episodically
supplemented by Libyans, Central Asians, and Sudanese—although these non-Pakistani elements
have generally been marginal to the group’s numerical strength.
It was only when the indigenous Kashmiri resistance began to flag in 1993 that the ISI directed
LeT, among other Pakistani terrorist groups, to shift its principal focus of operations from the
Afghan theater to Jammu and Kashmir. ISI objectives in engineering this shift were threefold:
First, it enabled the Pakistani military to replace what it saw as feckless local fighters pursuing the
autonomous goal of independence with militants who were battle-hardened in Afghanistan,
beholden to the Pakistani state, and dedicated to the more appropriate objective of incorporating
Kashmir into Pakistan. Second, it permitted the moderate Kashmiris to be replaced by genuinely
committed Wahabi fighters who were capable of inflicting (and intended to unleash) an
unprecedented level of brutality in their military operations because they shared no affinities
whatsoever with the local population. Third, and finally, it permitted Pakistan to pursue an
agenda larger than Kashmir: by employing ideologically charged Islamist foot soldiers from
outside the disputed state—a cohort that hailing from the Pakistani Punjab carried with it all of
Islamabad’s pent up animosities towards India—the local struggle over Kashmir’s status could be
expanded into a larger war aimed at destroying India itself.

Anonymous said...


Obama can think about Kashmir only if he wants to jeopardize his re-election chances in 4 years time. You must be knowing the world is looking toward India and China to take it out of recession.

Its better Pakistan forget Kashmir. We in India know its only b'coz your lifeline flows thru J&K and not coz of any love for the Kashmiris, Pakistan keeps on hyperventilating about Kashmir. But why risk total annihilation of Pakistan in dogged pursuit of securing ur lifeline? Pak shud just keep the part they have occupied and let us keep our part and in future when terrorism is wiped out from Pakistan and Kashmir, then we can think of having a soft border between the two parts parts of JK.

Moreover the Kashmiri separatist leadership is a discredited lot. They dont have it in them to sustain a credible freedom movement. Only recently I took on an anti-India Kashmiri blogger on the whole Kashmir issue and she lost the debate when I finally exposed the Kashmiri separatist leadership. I am sure the disillusioned Kashmiris will see reason pretty soon and say no to the gun and separatism. The sooner they realise the economic prosperity awaiting the Kashmir Valley as soon as the guns fall silent the better for them.

India is destined to be the third largest economy by 2050. It is in Pakistan's interest to get your house in order and open up trade with India for mutual prosperity.

Riaz Haq said...


You claim, "You must be knowing the world is looking toward India and China to take it out of recession."

I agree that China is very important for world economic recovery and stability. But India is more hype than reality. It's only a peripheral player. Let me quote a recent Time magazine piece about India at Davos 2009:

"The worldwide economic crisis has refocused the attention of the 2,000 plus delegates in Davos on critical issues of financial stability and governance, in which India is only a peripheral player."

Regarding your assertion about India becoming "the third largest economy by 2050", it really depends on a lot of assumptions, including peace in South Asia. You should realize that we live in a nuclear-armed neighborhood where trouble in Kashmir can lead to a devastating war, setting back the entire region by decades if not centuries. So resolution of Kashmir and peace is important to both nations to take care of their impoverished people.

Discrediting Kashmir leaders or discrediting Pakistan or deploying 500,000 Indian troops will not suppress the Kashmiris yearning for separation from India. Your claim of winning a debate with some Kashmiri blogger has no relevance to the underlying issues.

Anonymous said...

The whole episode of Indians lobbying on to remove Kashmir from the job description of Richard Halbrook exposes India as well as US

- Why India needed to do that? Because India's claim on Kashmir is an illegal and immoral one.

- Why US accepted an amendment? Because US never stood for truth when her own interests came in the way. It is also evident from the response of the Mr. Militant a.k.a Jadev.

Did someone want to debate on Kashmir? Its not Kashmir that needs to be debated as the debate got over a long time ago when UN resolution was violated. Please accept where morally the powers of the world stand today? No wonder from Belgium to Belgrad mnay non-muslims proclaimed'We are all Hammas". All the actual terrorist must start feeling very scared now them whether they are in India or elsewhere on the planet.

Anonymous said...

Riaz-if you ignore India because India is our enemy-it shows you are biased.India along with China are two of the worlds economic powers.Looks like you have toured western world with a closed mind of a mullah from the streets of Karachi.Wake up man!There is no doubt India is having huge poverty-but it also has 40 percent powerful middle class which is enough to challenge economics.Know your stuff man before you put biased news.It does not do well for our sinking country.Credibility lasts not false notions and illusions!!

Riaz Haq said...


You say, "Credibility lasts not false notions and illusions!!"

I absolutely agree with you. That's why I cite credible data and reliable sources to back up my observations and comments.

I have often talked about India's accomplishments along with its many failings. Its economy has grown robustly and its stock market reached sky-high before falling. But so did Pak economy and markets until last year.

India's democracy has failed to serve the vast majority of its people, who suffer from poverty and hunger comparable to that found in the nations of sub-Saharan Africa.

Looks like you're caught up in the hype, like many of your fellow countrymen. Clearly, the Indian propaganda machine has been successful in projecting a much larger than life image of itself.

As a famous Bollywood producer once said on CBS 60 Minutes, "We are dream merchants". I suggest you wake up from your Bollywood dreams and do some serious research. Watch "Slumdog Millionaire" , not the latest Bollywood flick glamorizing the good life of a privileged few....not even the "40% Indian middle class" that you have pulled out of nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Riaz your ardent hope that India stay a stunted regional midget is all too clear to see. Your statement of India being "more hype than reality" and a "peripheral player" conveniently obscures the context. China is an important player in the current context only because it's fortunes are inextricably tied to those of the US. India, being an insular economy, will continue to show stellar growth through 2009 while China craters along with the US. This bug of insularity, unfortunately for your dim view of the Indian economy, is actually a feature.

So you can hand-wave away any suggestion of India's rise to a global power, but it most likely won't change that destiny. You are right that the one entity that could rain on this parade is Pakistan - with it's poison-pill mentality.

Anonymous said...

You definitely are wrong and you have fell for the net laid for you.Yup-to your false information-my question is why did India not approach IMF inspite of such kind of economic disasters currenly going on apart from those you have created out of ignorance.If there is no 35-40 percent middle class in India,then I suggest you go back to school and get some reading seriously.Riaz-what you quote is not what is the reality.Just like your inability to understand that 10 percent of Indian population is not 10 percent of Pakistan population as India is 7-8 times more populated-you cannot compare failures of India to failures of pakistan.Our inability to not have discipline to vote a democratic government is the first thing you need to argue before raising finger at India.By the way-which idiot will compare Pakistan to India-as both do not have any comparision at any level-when you say Pakistan economy grew at same level-it is insane to even think on those terms-why did we borrow 1.5 billion-sorry I must say beg-from IMF???Your version of economic growth of pakistan is false clearly.

Riaz Haq said...


You say, "why did India not approach IMF inspite of such kind of economic disasters currenly going on.."

Do you know that Pakistan is not the only country that has gone to the IMF in the current situation? or in recent years? Do you know that Britain, Iceland, Malaysia and Korea have received IMF help in the last decade? Do you realize that it is clamoring for democracy by "civil society" that has brought incompetent and corrupt leaders in power responsible for this economic disaster? Democracy in a country that has not yet industrialized is not workable. That's true for both India and Pakistan that have yet to have an industrial revolution. China's decision to industrialize before they politically "liberalize" is how it has worked for successful, prosperous democracies serving their people.

You also suggest, "If there is no 35-40 percent middle class in India,then I suggest you go back to school and get some reading seriously.."

Please tell me your sources for this data and help me learn. Don't just attack me with your opinions.

You ask, "By the way-which idiot will compare Pakistan to India-as both do not have any comparision at any level-.."

To find out about a broad selection of independent, foreign "idiots" who compare the two nations, I suggest you read my post, Foreign Visitors to Pakistan Pleasantly Surprised" at the following link :

Riaz Haq said...


You suggest, "Riaz your ardent hope that India stay a stunted regional midget is all too clear to see. "

I think your reading of my commentary is highly selective to conclude whatever you wish to conclude. Please read my post titled "India: 21st Century's Economic Powerhouse" at:

You also say, "You are right that the one entity that could rain on this parade is Pakistan - with it's poison-pill mentality."

Your basic assumption is that Pakistanis are irrational beings. I think you are wrong. Kashmir is an issue that both India and Pakistan must take seriously and resolve to change the continued threat to peace that hurts all South Asians and continues to strengthen the extremists on both sides.

Riaz Haq said...


On the size of India's middle class, the figures I see are in the neighborhood of 50m (about 5%, not 40% as you claim). Here's the source:

Even if you consider it too conservative and double it, it adds up to no more than 10%.

More than 450 million Indians exist on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank. It also has a higher proportion of its population living on less than $2 per day than even sub-Saharan Africa. India has about 42% of the population living below the new international poverty line of $1.25 per day. The number of Indian poor also constitute 33% of the global poor, which is pegged at 1.4 billion people, according to a Times of India news report. More than 6 million of those desperately poor Indians live in Mumbai alone, representing about half the residents of the nation's financial capital. They live in super-sized slums and improvised housing juxtaposed with the shining new skyscrapers that symbolize India's resurgence. According to the World Bank and the UN Development Program (UNDP), 22% of Pakistan's population is classified as poor.

Anonymous said...

Riaz--you still do not have a valid point to explain why Indian reserves are still in Billions and why we with "only 22 percent" poor had to "beg IMF" for 1.5 billion.Middle class of Indian society runs over 2 million in USA and Europe.Let me harshly remind you that democracy in a society sustains because of collective tolerance of its society and NOT industrialisation.Ex:USA which was way democratic before being economic power.With all things put on plate including solving of Kashmir in Pakistan's favor -it will NOT still stabilise Pakistan as it lacks the discipline and tolerance to live as coherent society. Our nation especially its educated is no different from its rulers-we seem to have one good excuse every time we find ourselves behind India.Anyways-I can tell you that poverty has not talibanised India or Bangladesh.Poverty is not one thing any nation can be put in bad light.Pakistan training its citizens to terror activities that harm the world cannot be overemphasised.The answer why Kasab is from Pakistan is what we need to be ashamed of.You have to to self survey worldwide on top terrorists nation in this world-Pakistan is number one-why????According to you it is media thats responsible or bad rulers-you do not want to understand our society has inherent defects since 1947 which were never rectified.60 years is to short for you to ask why India as gaint democracy with billion population could not reach your expectations That 60 years is too long to explain why Pakistan with "only 22 percent povery" could not even earn decent name as "stable" nation-though it should have been one of the economic powers in this world within that time.In return our nation has become a nuisance to its neighbours with its terror factories.That explains why India and Pakistan are not equal anyday anytime.You cannot compare a 97 percent muslim nation to multiethnic democracy that is the size of a continent.You will always falter.Pakistan should be compared to Malaysia and we need to see why we lag-because Malaysia was behind Pakistan in 1947 in variuos indices.Everytime you refer to India and try to comapre our unstable nation to it-you will get lots of Indian readers who will oppose that criteria you use-and they have valid points no doubt.

Riaz Haq said...


You assert, "Riaz--you still do not have a valid point to explain why Indian reserves are still in Billions and why we with "only 22 percent" poor had to "beg IMF" for 1.5 billion."

I think you are confusing public and private sectors here. The fact that Pakistan's government is bankrupt does not mean the people are also bankrupt. The government tax revenue and spending represents less than 10% of the gdp in India and Pakistan, whereas in the Western world the government revenue/spending in the Western world ranges between 25% to 50%. In US, it's about 37%.

Based on all published data, wealth disparities in Pakistan , as measured by Gini coefficient, are much smaller than than India or China or the US.

And the latest ADB's real per capita income data shows Pakistan is ahead of India and China. Pakistan's per capita income is measured at HK$ 13,200, China at HK$ 11,500 and India at HK$ 9,300.

The rest of your commentary is just your opinions that have no relevance to reality on the ground or the current discussion. You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts. You are in serious need of learning the facts, rather than accept the media hype.

Anonymous said...

Yes I am in need of facts as you cannot see how our nation is behind.What are facts?The fact that Taliban has occupied SWAT?Will you agree?I am not sure.The fact that Taliban is being supported by ISI?Is it media story according to you?The fact that we cannot make basic industrial equipment?It is a story or fact?The fact that large areas run in feudal system all over country?fact or story?The fact we are most dangerous nation-story or fact?Do you need facts to support these truths?Are you going to ask me to show facts to prove that Allah existed?Or that kasab is from Pakistan?Do you need me to get you facts for that?? Or the blatant lie our media and politicians spread that Kasab is from India itself?? Do you not think that we instead of developing are resorting to spreading terrorist activities worlwide?Do you need me to tape and send you the questions asked by americans about our nation?
Percapita income of Srilanka is more than pakistan.Percapita of Dubai is more than India that does not mean Dubai is greater than India or Pakistan greater than China. If you think that these figures are going make us happy then fine-because money never lead to our current troubles-its mismanagement and excess religion,lack of tolerance in society.With political indiscipline -you cannot goahead but only backwards-there is no future with current leaders-you can call me pessimistic or whatever.

Riaz Haq said...


Yes, there are huge challenges in Pakistan. And who doesn't have challenges? Many nations, including our neighbors, have major insurgencies or have dealt with them. According to Prof Chhibber from Berkeley, there are large swaths of land in India where insurgents rule and the state has no presence. In some instances, the Indian government relies on private militias just to enter those area for brief periods. Sri Lanka has had a long running insurgency.

So why does the world focus on Pakistan, and not these other countries? Because it suits them to do it. Because the insurgency in Pakistan and Afghanistan is directed against powerful Western interests. Because India has an ax to grind by inviting US/NATO intervention to destabilize Pakistan. What the Indians and the Americans do not realize is that a destabilized Pakistan is not in their best interest. It will badly backfire on them.

There are many external and internal threats to Pakistan, including US/NATO, India, Islamic radicals and homegrown terrorists. Each is extremely dangerous.

But what is far more than insidious and toxic for Pakistan is the unrelenting cynicism that you and many other Pakistanis display. Instead of trying to create hope and to inspire people to take care of themselves and their country, you and your kind of Pakistanis have become prophets of doom and gloom. You reject all talk of hope and refuse to see any silver linings anywhere.

If a large number of Pakistanis start to share your way of thinking, Pakistan doesn't need any external enemies to destroy it. If your brand of cynicism becomes a widespread contagion, it will kill Pakistan.

My hope is that you will realize the folly of your extreme pessimism and change your attitude. Beyond that, I am hopeful that there are enough optimistic Pakistanis out there who will not allow Pakistan to be consumed by the toxic talk of doomsayers.

Anonymous said...

If a large number of Pakistanis start to share your way of thinking, Pakistan doesn't need any external enemies to destroy it. If your brand of cynicism becomes a widespread contagion, it will kill Pakistan.

Many of the ones that matter already share this way of thinking. But optimism and hope are not going to save Pakistan. Nothing short of a Marshall Plan or a MacArthur-like intervention will suffice. The Army will need to be radically restructured. And the nukes - they've got to go.

Those wary of India grabbing Pakistani land in such an event need to remember what Jinnah said of Pakistan in 1947 (i.e. including Bangladesh) - "moth-eaten and truncated". Add to that gun-toting mullahs with political ambitions, local militias in large areas, 50% illiteracy, exploding birth-rate, lower-riparian on all major rivers and a long border with Afghanistan ... anyone coveting this land is crazy or is an ideological nut. No, India needs Pakistan as a buffer state for the badlands of South and Central Asia.

Riaz Haq said...


You say, "Many of the ones that matter already share this way of thinking. But optimism and hope are not going to save Pakistan. Nothing short of a Marshall Plan or a MacArthur-like intervention will suffice. The Army will need to be radically restructured. And the nukes - they've got to go."

It looks like you are following RAW's Vikram Sood's advice who recently wrote:

"Covert action can be of various kinds. One is the paramilitary option, which is what the Pakistanis have been using against us. It is meant to hurt, destabilize or retaliate. The second is the psychological war option, which is a very potent and unseen force. It is an all weather option and constitutes essentially changing perceptions of friends and foes alike. The media is a favorite instrument, provided it is not left to the bureaucrats because then we will end up with some clumsy and implausible propaganda effort. More than the electronic and print media, it is now the internet and YouTube that can be the next-generation weapons of psychological war. Terrorists use these liberally and so should those required to counter terrorism."

A few Pakistanis, I am sure, will fall for this kind of treachery by Indian agents. But I am confident that Indian designs will not succeed. Pakistan will stay nuclear and stay strong. It'll overcome or at least effectively manage the insurgency it faces better than India or Sri Lanka.

Anonymous said...

A few Pakistanis, I am sure, will fall for this kind of treachery by Indian agents.

Guess you subscribe to the Andy Grove school of paranoid thought.

Pakistan will stay nuclear and stay strong. It'll overcome or at least effectively manage the insurgency it faces better than India or Sri Lanka.

Have you taken a look at what is happening in Swat? The Pakistan establishment and the Army are certainly covering themselves in glory there. The enemy is not at your (Eastern) gates - the enemy is in your house. Swat is 80 miles north-west of Islamabad. Putting up stout (read nuclear) defenses against evil Indians designs - or evil Afghan designs, or evil American designs, or evil Israeli designs, or whoever the bogey-du-jour is - will not help this house that is already on fire. But this is just evil propaganda from the Vikram Sood School of Thought - so pay no attention.

Riaz Haq said...


As expected, you deprecate Pak military by saying "Have you taken a look at what is happening in Swat? The Pakistan establishment and the Army are certainly covering themselves in glory there."

Let me ask you this: Have you taken a look at what is happening in thirteen of India's 28 states? Do you know even know what is going on there? Do you realize your "heroic" Indian military is shirking its duty while committing atrocities against Kashmiris?

Pak military is doing what it is supposed to do: Fighting an insurgency on behalf of constitutional government. They are heroes, unlike the Indian military which has conceded much bigger chunks of Indian territory to insurgents operating in thirteen of India's twenty-eight provinces and boasting between 10,000 and 20,000 dedicated followers, the Naxalites pose India's biggest internal security challenge. In contrast to the scattered actions of the Pakistani-backed Kashmiri separatist terrorists, the Naxalites are in every way a traditional communist insurgency.

Manmohan Singh himself has called the Maoist insurgency centered on the state of Chhattisgarh the biggest internal security threat to India since independence. The Maoists, however, are confined to rural areas; their bold tactics haven't rattled Indian middle-class confidence in recent years as much as the bomb attacks in major cities have.

Anonymous said...

Pak military is doing what it is supposed to do: Fighting an insurgency on behalf of constitutional government. They are heroes ...

Pardon my saying this - it could be construed as an insult - but you sound like the mouthpiece of a dysfunctional government. "Fighting an insurgency on behalf of constitutional government"? Surely you don't take your readers for fools. It's been Jinnah in 1948 since the Pak Army took orders from the Pak government - when they were _not_ the official government of course. And using the word "heroes": good grief! Some heroes they are - 4000 fighters in Swat have helped drive out 250,000 (and counting) local Swati and set up a separate Islamic state - courts and all. Rah-i-Haq - the operation in Swat - is now in Stage 3. This fight did not begin in 2009.

As for what's happening in India - don't see how that's relevant - guess it's a reflex for many Pakistanis to first look at what India is going through - the poison-pill mentality. But since you brought it up - yes, I'm aware. There's no glossing over the naxalites - they are a serious threat. But it's no different that any other time in India's history. There's always some insurgency or secessionist movement going on. India has been generally good about putting them down: yesterday's secessionists are today's Chief Ministers and tomorrow's opposition. Kashmir would have been there a long time ago if it weren't for Indian screwups in 1987 the meddling Pak military thereafter.

And to the "heroic" Indian military: they're not supposed to put down internal strife. The function is to ward off external aggression - you'll agree they did plenty in 1971 and 1998? Got their butts kicked by the Chinese - but at least they cannot and do not lie about it.

Riaz Haq said...


You claim, "As for what's happening in India - don't see how that's relevant - guess it's a reflex for many Pakistanis to first look at what India is going through - the poison-pill mentality."

So only the insurgencies in Pakistan are relevant to any discussion of insurgencies? Anything that paints Pakistan in bad light is fair game? You gotta be kidding. Or just perpetuating India's disinformation campaign as part of your nation's covert war as explained by RAW's Vikram Sood.

Wake up and smell the veggie burger. Maoists are every bit as determined, if not more so, as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan's border region. After all, they toppled the Nepalese king just recently. The real issue is your security forces are totally incompetent when it comes to counter-insurgency, the key mission of almost every military from US to NATO to Pakistan in the modern age of fighting non-state actors. Pakistanis are at least coping, if not winning yet. But, like US and NATO, they are learning in the process.

As Mumbai has shown recently, your military has no clue about it. Your commandos became a laughing stock for the world when a few young terrorists took over your financial capital for three days. You security forces looked totally helpless.

Other than firing on un-armed Kashmiri civilians and raping and pillaging the people of Kashmir, your security forces don't know any better.

Riaz Haq said...

Reuters is reporting that Holbrooke will visit India as part of his maiden voyage as "envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan".

U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke will travel to India this month as part of his mission to find a way to stabilize Afghanistan seven years after U.S.-backed forces ousted the Taliban, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The officials, who spoke on condition that they not be named, stressed that Holbrooke was going to India to discuss Afghanistan and not to mediate the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since 1947.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Haq,

I read your posts regularly and respect your views. I am one among the millions of IT engineers who work in India. You are right about hope and cynicism. Right now the dominant feeling in India is one of hope and cheerfulness. I can't properly describe it, but it is like a virus, infectious. I work in europe, where every day there is more doom and gloom in the workplace. In a satisfaction survey conducted across all our sites world wide, the India centre scored the best, which confounded our bosses, as the Indian engineers earn still only 2/3 of their european counterparts. Why is that?

I can't even begin to describe to you the hope and optimism that the whole country felt when we launched our moon mission. Though the Mumbai blasts and the subsequent financial crisis have dampened our spirits a bit, but the dominant mood in the country is still happy.

You make mentions about Indian economy being more hype than substance. But the interest rates for borrowing in India are still high, still people are buying, and it is not like U.S. In the sub-continent (India & Pak), we know how to live within our means, so we save first, make a downpayment then buy a property or a good. This fiscal conservatism & strong middle class family values, cutting across religons, castes is what makes India strong.
Atleast that is what i believe. What say you?

Riaz Haq said...


You say, "You make mentions about Indian economy being more hype than substance".

As I have indicated in many posts, India has made significant strides since the reform process began in the early 90s.

However, India still has a very long way to go. It's important to recognize that the media hype usually far outstrips the reality on the ground. Media tend to exaggerate both the good news and the bad news. India's progress has been very uneven and it has left behind a very large part of the population which has not shared in the fruits of its success. It is home to about 450m desperately poor people, the largest number of poor in any country of the world. Its Gini coefficient (inequality of income and wealth) is the worst in its region.

Look at international data and statistics on poverty, hunger, literacy, rich-poor gap, India shows up as having very serious problems.

But I am very happy hear of pervasive optimism in India. It's important to be hopeful to make progress.

Riaz Haq said...


It's become fashionable to compare India and China. Here's an interesting take by Sashi Tharoor titled "India is Not China":

It has become rather fashionable these days to speak of India and China in the same breath. These are the two big countries said to be taking over the world, the new contenders for global eminence after centuries of Western domination, the Oriental answer to generations of Occidental economic success. Some even speak of "Chindia", as if the two are joined at the hip in the international imagination.

But in case anyone wanted confirmation that such twinning is, to put it mildly, premature, one has only to look at the medals tally at the Beijing Olympics. China proudly ranked first, with 51 gold medals and a total of 100. You have to strain your eyes past such step-children of the global family as Jamaica, Belarus, war-torn Georgia, collapsing Zimbabwe and even what used to be called Outer Mongolia before stumbling across India in 50th place, with precisely three medals, one gold and two bronze.

This is not, in fact, a surprise. Whereas China has set about systematically striving for Olympic success since it re-entered global competition after years of isolation, India has remained complacent about its lack of sporting prowess. Where China lobbied for and won the right to host the Olympics within two decades of its return to the Games, India rested on its laurels after hosting the Asian Games in Delhi in 1982, so that it is now considered further behind in the competition for Olympic host-hood than it was two decades ago. Where China embarked on "Project 119," a program devised specifically to boost the country's Olympic medal standings (the number 119 refers to the golds awarded at the Sydney Games of 2000 in such medal-laden sports as track and field, swimming, rowing, sailing and canoeing), Indians wondered if they would be able to crack the magic ceiling of two, the highest number of medals the country has ever won at this quadrennial exercise in international sporting machismo. Where China, seeing the number of medals awarded in kayaking, decided to create a team to master a sport hitherto unknown in the Middle Kingdom, India has not even lobbied successfully for the inclusion in the Games of the few sports it does play well (kabbadi, for instance, a form of tag-team wrestling, or polo, or cricket, which was played in the Olympics of 1900 and has been omitted since). Where China has maintained its dominance in table-tennis and badminton, and developed new strengths in non-traditional sports like rowing and shooting, India has seen its once-legendary invincibility in field hockey fade with the introduction of Astroturf, to the point where its team even failed to qualify for Beijing this year.

Forget "Chindia" - the two countries barely belong in the same sporting sentence.

What's happened at the Olympics speaks to a basic difference in the two countries' systems. It's the creative chaos of all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood versus the perfectly-choreographed precision of the Beijing Opening Ceremony. The Chinese, as befits a Communist autocracy, approached the task of dominating the Olympics with top-down military discipline. The objective was determined, a program ("Project 119") drawn up, the considerable resources of the state attached to it, state-of-the-art technology acquired and world-class foreign coaches imported. India, by contrast, approached these Olympics as it had every other, with its usual combination of amiable amateurism, bureaucratic ineptitude, half-hearted experiment and shambolic organization.

That's simply the way we are. If China wants to build a new six-lane expressway, it can bulldoze its way past any number of villages in its path; in India, if you want to widen a two-lane road, you could be tied up in court for a dozen years over compensation entitlements. In China, national priorities are established by the Government and then funded by the state; in India, priorities emerge from seemingly endless discussions and arguments amongst myriad interests, and funds have to be found where they might. China's budget for preparing its sportspersons for these Games alone probably exceeded India's expenditure on all Olympic training in the last sixty years.

But where China's state-owned enterprises remain the most powerful motors of the country's development, India's private sector, ducking around governmental obstacles and bypassing the stifling patronage of the state, has transformed the fortunes of the Indian people. So it proved again in the Olympics: the wrestlers, boxers, runners, tennis players and weightlifters who made up the bulk of the Indian contingent, accompanied by the inevitable retinue of officials, returned with just two bronzes amongst them, while India's only gold - in shooting - was won by a young entrepreneur with a rifle range in his own backyard and no help from the state whatsoever. Young Abhinav Bindra is, at 25, the CEO of a high-tech firm, a self-motivated sharpshooter who financed his own equipment and training, and an avid blogger. He is, in short, a 21st century Indian. At one level, it is not surprising that he should have won India's first individual gold in any Olympics since a transplanted Englishman competed in Indian colors in the 1900 Games. India is the land of individual excellence despite the limitations of the system; in China, individual success is the product of the system.

Indians excel wherever individual talent is given free rein. The country has produced world-class computer scientists, mathematicians, biotech researchers, film-makers and novelists, but the only Indian sportsmen who have worn the title of world champion in recent years have been a billiards cueist and a chess grandmaster. Come up with a challenge that requires high levels of organization, strict discipline, sophisticated equipment, systematic training and elastic budgets, and Indians quail. This remains as true inside the Olympics stadium as outside it. When China built the Three Gorges dam, it created a 660-kilometer long reservoir that necessitated the displacement of a staggering 2 million people, all accomplished in 15 years without a fuss in the interests of generating electricity; when India attempted its Narmada Dam project, aiming to bring irrigation, drinking water and power to millions, it has spent 34 years (so far) fighting environmental groups, human rights activists, and advocates for the displaced all the way to the Supreme Court, while still being thwarted in the streets by the protestors from non-governmental organizations like the Narmada Bachao Andolan (the Save Narmada Movement). That is how it should be; India is a fractious democracy, China is not. China will win the Olympic medals for many games to come. India, perhaps, might win some hearts.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Haq,
I agree with all your points. The disparity between rich and poor is staggering. But in a chaotic democracy like India's, the wheels of change grind slowly. And even the development is quite staggered. We have 27 states currently in the Union, but 5 states out of 27 contribute more than 50% of the GDP. The governance in many northern rural hinterlands is abysmal (I agree to your reference to sub-saharan Africa). When i watched the movie Swades, it bought tear to my eyes, but there were many ignoramous sitting beside me in the multiplex who thought the movie was a bore. But the fact that the movie was based on a real life story gives hope for future. Though we are hurtling headlong towards capitalism, there are many young people who care deeply about the downtrodden.

Another point i wanted to make about Kashmir. You say that to normalize relations between India & Pak, the Kashmir issue has to be resolved. I think you got it completely backwards. I come from the southern state of Tamil Nadu. There was a serious separtist movement back in the 1950's to carve out a seperate country for the Tamils. Even the name Tamil Nadu is an oddity, as it literally means "Tamil Country". But looking back, i think it would have been disastrous. Today, we are one of the most industrialised state in the Union, very high literacy rate, very high affirmative action. I have engineer friends who have literally come from hut dwellings to working for high tech semiconductor companies. But i digress. My point is, despite our ethnic difference (dark skin), different tongue, different script, dravidian customs, we believe in the Indian dream. Why can't the Kashmiri people get along. why do they need Azadi. Infact who do they need azadi from.

Is azadi for Kashmir even a viable option. If you have seen the movie Zeitgeist, the western imperial powers of the world would like nothing more that infighting among people. Divide and conquer. Why should we play into their hands.

The people belong to the land and not the otherway around. The right approach should be one of mutual respect between (Ind & Pak), shun the external mediators, even the chinese. It is the Indian, pakistani and kashmiri people who know the "mitti ki khusbu", not the outsiders. We have got to stand down slowly, guns should fall silent, increase trade, allow the people to contribute to the economy, give them a sense of purpose and hope, and then decide if we really want to split the paradise on earth or restore it to its original glory.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting story by Steven Coll on Musharraf-Manmohan being close to agreement on Kashmir, as published in the New Yorker:

ABSTRACT: A REPORTER AT LARGE about back-channel negotiations between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir. Two years ago Pervez Musharraf, who was then Pakistan’s President and Army chief, summoned his most senior generals and two Foreign Ministry officials to review the progress of a secret, sensitive negotiation with India, known to its participants as “the back channel.” For several years, special envoys from Pakistan and India had been holding talks in hotel rooms in Bangkok, Dubai, and London. Musharraf and Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, had encouraged the negotiators to seek what some involved called a “paradigm shift” in relations between the two nations. The agenda included a search for an end to the long fight over Kashmir. The two principal envoys, Tariq Aziz and Satinder Lambah were developing what diplomats refer to as a “non-paper” on Kashmir which could serve as a deniable but detailed basis for a deal. By early 2007, the back-channel talks on Kashmir had become “so advanced that we’d come to semicolons,” recalled Khurshid Kasuri, who was then Pakistan’s foreign minister. Details for a visit to Pakistan by Singh were being discussed. Neither government, however, had done much to prepare its public for a breakthrough. Tells how domestic unrest in Pakistan contributed to the postponement of the summit. Musharraf slipped into a political death spiral and resigned in August of 2008. Mentions the periodic funding by India and Pakistan of guerilla or terrorist violence on each other’s soil. Describes the Mumbai attacks of last November 26, which were apparently coordinated by the Islamist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba and the concession by Pakistani officials that the attackers appear to have come from their country. India reacted to the attack with relative restraint, though many Indian politicians continue to call for military action. Writer visits the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and interviews Atta Muhammad Khan, who tends to the graves of about two hundred unknown young men in a village there. Gives a brief history of the dispute over the region and the shifting approaches taken by India and Pakistan to the dispute through the years. Writer interviews N. N. Vohra, the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, and then travels across the border to meet with Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Tells about the events preceding the back-channel talks and the potentially catastrophic results of an escalation in hostilities between the two nuclear powers. Discusses in more detail the process of the back-channel negotiations. Writer visits the regional headquarters of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the educational and charitable organization that, depending on how you see it, is either the parent of or a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba. He is given a tour of the grounds by Mohammad Abbas, also known as Abu Ehsaan. Considers America’s role in Indo-Pakistani relations and how relations between the two countries bear on the war in Afghanistan. Writer attends a reception in Washington, D.C., for Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf says that he always believed in peace between India and Pakistan and that an agreement “would have benefited both.”

Mr Coll writes that the resolution of the Kashmir dispute was the cornerstone of a broad agreement that would have represented a “paradigm shift” in relations between India and Pakistan: a moving away from decades of hostility to acceptance and peaceful trade.

Under the plan, the Kashmir conflict would have been resolved through the creation of an autonomous region in which local residents could move freely and conduct trade on both sides of the territorial boundary. Over time, the border would become irrelevant, and declining violence would allow a gradual withdrawal of tens of thousands of troops that now face one another across the region’s mountain passes.

“It was huge -- I think it would have changed the basic nature of the problem,” the article quoted a senior Indian official as saying. “You would have then had the freedom to remake Indo-Pakistani relations.”

According to Mr Coll’s account, the secret negotiations consisted of about two dozen meetings in hotel rooms in various overseas locations. The sessions revolved around developing a document known as a “non-paper”, diplomatic jargon for a negotiated text that bears no names or signatures and can “serve as a deniable but detailed basis for a deal”, the article says. The US and British governments were aware of the talks and offered low-key support and advice but otherwise elected to let India and Pakistan settle their disputes unaided, the article says.

The article portrays Mr Musharraf as an enthusiastic supporter of the deal who succeeded in winning converts among the country’s skeptical military leadership. Yet, just as the two countries were beginning to consider how to sell the plan domestically, Mr Musharraf was compelled to seek a delay because of domestic political problems.

Mr Coll observes that after Mr Musharraf’s departure, India-Pakistan relations -- and hopes for resuming the peace initiative -- began a downward slide. In Kashmir, anti-India fighters began an aggressive campaign of public demonstrations and terrorist attacks that seemed designed to send a message: “Musharraf is gone, but the Kashmir war is alive.”

In recent weeks, there have been signs of a modest thaw in Indo-Pakistani relations. Last week, The Washington Post reported that Indian and Pakistani spy agencies have been cooperating secretly in India’s investigation of the Mumbai attacks, sharing highly sensitive intelligence, with the CIA serving as arbiter and mediator. Pakistan has announced criminal charges against Pakistan-based men linked to the attack and acknowledged that some of the planning for the three-day assault occurred in that country.

Yet, in the emotionally charged aftermath of the attacks, the new civilian-led government of Pakistan may not find it easy to return to negotiations on Kashmir, even if it wishes to, the writer notes.

“The military is completely on board at top levels -- with a paradigm shift, to see India as an opportunity, to change domestic attitudes,” a senior Pakistani official was quoted as saying. But, he reportedly added, “the public mood is out of sync.”

anoop said...

You seem to be critical of India and well, think it is full of hindu extremists. You seem to think BJP is a extremist being. But, you fail to understand that BJP is just another party in India. BJP is evaluated on its economic performance and most of its religious accomplishments are thoroughly ignored.
Now, to Kashmir. Riaz, as with most Pakistanis you think Kashmiris are running an armed struggle against the Indian state. But, do you really think India can hold onto Kashmir if Kashmiris didnt approve? Take for example, Vietnam or even Bangladesh. Pakistan has its forces in high numbers but could not hold on to the territory. What does this say?
Another point. A democracy works by People choosing their representatives. Correct? Elections are being held in Kashmir for a long time and why do you think not a single separatist has been elected to the assembly of Kashmir? Take for instance the recent assembly election. There was a huge voter turn-out,60%. What do you have to say to that? In the recent Parliamentary elections a separatist dared to contest election. He fought from north Kashmir. Do you think he won? NOOOO! he didnt even occupy the second place! Let all the Kashmiris who want "independence" from India fight the elections and we'll see the results. Until, then dont claim as if Kashmiris are getting a raw deal from Indians(not that Kashmiris themselves are not Indians). Kashmir doesnt need any representation from the Pakistani side as they already have picked their representative- Omar Abdullah for the next 5 years.
Hopefully, the Kashmiris on the Pakistani side will get to see elections soon. I was recently reading a UNHRC report and i felt disappointed that Kashmiris on the Pakistani side are being treated this way.

Here is the link-

Hope, you are for democracy Riaz. I for one believe there is solution to every problem in a democratic setup! who knows the representative from PoK might ask for India.!

Riaz Haq said...

1. Unlike Indian occupied Kashmir, there are no Kashmiris on the streets of Azad Kashmir screaming for azadi from Pakistan, they are alreasy azad and ruled by their elected reps.

2. Unlike India, Pakistan is not holding on to Azad Kasmir by deploying more than half a million troops.

3. Tappan Bose, an Indian activist whose organization collected the data, says 86% of the civil service jobs in Indian-occupied Kahmir are held by Hindu pandits.

For more, watch this view:

4. The number of armed attacks in Kashmir valley has dropped to its lowest since the insurgency began in 1989, according to Indian officials. Yet the air is filled with chants of Azadi from Indian occupation by peaceful Kashmiri protesters.

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.

Recently, Wall Street Journal has reported on the 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."

Riaz Haq said...

You talk about Human Rights Watch report, here's one much more recent report about Indian occupied Kashmir:

(New York) - The newly elected Jammu and Kashmir government should hold security forces to account for human rights violations as an important confidence-building measure to promote lasting peace, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

Human Rights Watch called for an independent, transparent, and time-bound commission to investigate allegations of enforced disappearances. The commission should be empowered to summon members of the security forces to testify and to order forensic investigations to establish the identities of those buried in unmarked graves as unidentified foreign militants.

"The new government should break with past practices and ensure that those who commit abuses are investigated and appropriately prosecuted for their crimes," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "There can be no lasting political settlement in Kashmir unless human rights abuses that have fueled the insurgency are addressed."

Human Rights Watch called for the repeal of laws such as the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, and the Public Safety Act. These laws provide the armed forces with extraordinary powers to search, detain, and use lethal force, leading to numerous human rights violations. They also provide immunity for security forces. Prosecutions of security force personnel, even where the facts are well established, are rare.

Human Rights Watch has, over the two decades of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, documented numerous failures to ensure protection of human rights. A September 2006 report, "‘Everyone Lives in Fear': Patterns of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir," found that the Indian army and paramilitaries, as well as the militants, many backed by Pakistan, were responsible for human rights abuses and that the political and legal systems in India and Pakistan had failed to end abuses or punish the perpetrators.

anoop said...

Look, in the last year 2 elections were held in Kashmir. As your media might have reported 60% participation was there. Also, a seperatist contested the election who is not so friendly with India. He didnt even come 2nd place. What does this say? Please dont suggest the elections were free and fair.. I've read your media reports and other foreign journals who suggest that the elections were very free and fair.. This is what India stands for and we'll be damned if somebody accuses us that we cheated. Now, that the people have chosen their representative shouldn't you ask him to explain about everything you think is wrong with Kashmir? There are anti-state elements in every country. Like pakistan has balochis. Atleast the elected representatives in Indian Kashmir are pro-India. Even elected balochis hate the idea of Pakistan. you seem to ignore everything that is right in Kashmir and focus narrowly on few things that are wrong.
Looking forward for your reply.


Riaz Haq said...

Any election held under a military occupation by over 500,000 Indian soldiers and 80% of bureaucracy consisting of partisan Hindus can not be free or fair.

In fact, it was the massive electoral rigging in late 90s that triggered the insurgency in India.

If you are interested in facts rather than propaganda, please watch this video:

anoop said...

if thats true then even the polls held under general musharaff is not free and fair. Dont you think the UN and states such and the US and EU send representatives to make sure the elections are not rigged?? See what happened in Iran, the elections were rigged and people instantly drawn to the streets. Dont you think if the elections were rigged the people would come out into the street like it happened in Iran? I agree that there was massive rigging in 1989(i think) which started this militancy.. You have to know more about Indian election commision. why dont you research that? I am sure you can find somewhere a report by the UN on Kashmir elections. Election commission in India is totally independent. Coming from Pakistan i can understand your pessimism and the ill or,rather, distrustful feeling about the independent Election Commission. After all the pakistani election commission has been under attack by forces in pakistan more than once. But, the constitution of India clearly defines the boundaries of our election commission and nobody, i mean, NOBODY interferes in its affairs. Elections are not even close to being rigged in the most poverty-striken districts of UP and Bihar.. It is impossible to rig elections and get away with it when Pakistan,China,US,EU and especially the UN is watching them.. Dont you think they would be more vigilant considering this is Kashmir of all places?? would your own media ignore rigging in Kashmir? Surely, you could not disagree with my opinion about India's election Commission.. Face it, in the recent elections in Kashmir a separatist lost..

anoop said...

you and I would both agree that both will be satisfied if one produces videos and articles from a neutral source.. Thanks.. This is regarding your video on Kashmiri election.

Riaz Haq said...

Pervez Hoodbhoy is a highly respected scholar and professor known for his no-holds-barred critique of Pakistani military and ISI. In my book , he is far more knowledgeable and independent than any one else who has talked or written about Kashmir.

You should watch the video before jumping to any conclusions about him.

anoop said...

Oh sorry i didnt notice the video was made by Pervez Hoodbhoy. But, dont you think his opinions would seem prejudiced for me. After all he is bound to be influence by Pakistan's position on Kashmir.

Have a look at this link.

Pardon me,I have not read the link myself but this is what i am referring to about opinion from a neutral source.
I have read several articles of Mr.Hoodbhoy and I have admired his writing and his way of thinking. But, regarding the recent elections in Kashmir, they were free and fair. Our Govt takes pride in holding free and fair election in such a troubled region of India. Also, we would not be stupid enough to risk the exposure if the elections were indeed rigged. Look what the election of 1987(i think, not 1989) has brought us to- Militancy in Kashmir. Clearly, You,your media and your govt wouldn't let us sleep peacefully if the elections were rigged.
If,finally, we agree that free and fair elections were indeed just that in Kashmir, then how do you explain the separatist losing the constituency race to a National Conference candidate? He didnt even get 2nd place, as i've pointed out earlier. What does this say to you?
Why dont the seperatists come and fight the elections. If the people chose them they have a right to air their opinion regarding India's occupation. The Indian Govt has always maintained that separatism is minority in Kashmir but Pakistanis would not listen. We are even prepared to invite the world powers(we have always allowed their representatives to monitor our elections) to make sure no rigging is done. What do you have to say about the fact that these seperatists are not even prepared to risk losing.. They know that they have absolutely no chance of winning..

Riaz Haq said...


You can believe whatever you want about the elections in Kashmir. But, as a rule, the presence of over a half a million security forces and a hostile, partisan bureaucracy do not convey any sense of legitimacy to either the elections or its results.

As to why Hurriyet does not participate in Kashmir elections, it's obvious to me that Hurriyet leaders do not accept the legitimacy of India's claim to Kashmir. Participation by them in elections would amount to acceptance of India's illegitimate rule on the territory that is considered disputed by all except India.

anoop said...

you said- "You can believe whatever you want about the elections in Kashmir. But, as a rule, the presence of over a half a million security forces and a hostile, partisan bureaucracy do not convey any sense of legitimacy to either the elections or its results.

As to why Hurriyet does not participate in Kashmir elections, I know that Hurriyet leaders do not accept the legitimacy of India's claim to Kashmir. Participation by them in elections would amount to acceptance of India's illegitimate rule on the territory that is considered disputed by all except India. "

You say free and fair elections are not legitimate representation.. Why not? Atleast we agree that elections recently held were not rigged and there was huge participation. I am happy you have indirectly conceded that fact.

regarding hurriat, i am aware of their arguments that their participation in election would mean that they would be legitimizing India's supposed occupation. But, I ask you who are they to legitimize anything? They have never contested any kind of election. They are citizens of India for sure but that doesnt mean they can ask anything and we should give it to them. Do you even know how many factions of Hurriat are there?
Look at it this way. If they bury their egos and contest elections and let the people decide we'll know if they are truly representatives of Kashmir or not. If the hurriat win even 1/4th of the seats then Pakistan and members of Hurriat can claim they represent a sizable number of people and it would prove that their opinion really matters. Why should India believe an organization that only claims to represent the whole of Kashmir but are afraid to provide any proof. On what basis do YOU believe that they are the sole representatives of the people of Kashmir? If I follow your theory then aren't organizations that call of Independence in Baluchistan legitimate? Those organizations dont prefer to fight election,just like the Hurriat(all factions except one- you know,the won who lost). If you believe Hurriat is the sole representative of Kashmir then they too are the sole representative of Balochis..

I hope you see my point. Let them(hurriat) drop their egos and once fight election on a united front. We'll see who really matters. But, i know for sure the Hurriat will never do that because there is a huge chance that they will never win. All the options tried by Pakistan has failed till date. Pakistan invaded Kashmir in 1948,65 and recently in Kargil. Pakistan has also supported militancy. It has tried everything. Why cant it persuade hurriat to fight just one election and see what happens. Pakistan is out of choices anyway. Let the Pakistanis insist that UN keep a close watch on the election to make sure they are not rigged. Then, hopefully, pessimists like yourself and other who argue against India's control of Kashmir will stop supporting militancy(I am not saying you support armed struggle but others in your country might).
One elections will answer all our doubts and think of the position Pakistan will find itself in International forums. How can you possibly argue against this? This way the people of Kashmir will win.

Riaz Haq said...

The only election that Hurriyet will likely participate in will be the one demanded and supervised by the UN as a plebiscite based on Security Council resolutions to determine the fate of Kashmir.

Nothing short of a free and fair plebiscite that India agreed to and promised to Kashmiris will be considered legit by the Kashmiris and the world.

Riaz Haq said...

General Stanley McChrystal’s leaked assessment of the war in Afghanistan says as follows:

“Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant development efforts and financial investment. In addition the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian. While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani counter-measures in Afghanistan or India.”

Clearly, the rising Indian influence in Afghanistan is a matter of deep concern for Pakistan, given the history of Indian-inspired animosity toward Pakistan among Afghans, particularly those of non-Pushtoon ethnic background who constitute the Northern Alliance.

And it would not be a surprise if elements within Pakistan act to stem the tide of India's hostile presence in Afghanistan through their own covert actions which may or may not be in the best interest of NATO alliance and its goals in Afghanistan.

That reinforces the belief in Obama's earlier strategy to treat Afghanistan-India-Pakistan as part of the equation that must be dealt with by a single point of focus in the state dept...namely Richard Holbrook. But, unfortunately, Obama has increased his own difficulties by caving in to the Indian lobby's pressure in Washington to leave India out of Holbrook's portfolio. And ultimately, Indian lobby' actions will most likely prove to be detrimental to India's own interests in the region.

anoop said...

You say,"And ultimately, Indian lobby' actions will most likely prove to be detrimental to India's own interests in the region."

----How?? Can you tell me the scenario in which this could happen?

You say,"given the history of Indian-inspired animosity toward Pakistan among Afghans"

----Afghans hate you,Pakistan, because you supported a repressive regime to further your own interests. Not because India says so. What do you think,the Afghans dont have brains and they will believe whatever India says,which it doesn't even share a border with? How can you possibly believe this after all these years of Pakistani exploitation in Afghanistan?

you are right that rising Indian influence is gonna further irritate the Pakistani establishment. India has a plan in place. Sometime in the future we'll say,"leave Kashmir alone and we will do the same in Afghanistan". And, I cant see any scenario where USA or any other country trying to stop Indian assistance. India is already training more than 50% of Afghani bureaucracy in India. The more democratic and independent Afghanistan will become the more Indian influence will rise.
Pakistan will probably increase terrorist activity in Afghanistan to counter this. This will again gain India an upper hand where the Govt of Afghanistan will hate Pakistan more and ISI influence will again be exposed for the whole world to see. As a result, military supplies from the western world will end. China will be willing to export arms, of course.
Pakistan can opt to live with a hostile neighbour(Afghanistan) or support the Taliban and become isolated in the community of countries.
India can play a positive role by helping Afghanistan stand on its own feet and developing its own army to counter the Taliban and help train its police forces in India by training them in anti-insurgency tactics. This will bring the Govt of Afghanistan more closer to India and Indian companies will get reconstruction contracts as benefit in turn. If the Taliban is actively and aggressively helped by the ISI then India can provide arms to Afghanistan.

I advice to not to jump the gun and shoot itself in the foot. NOBODY can dictate a country about whom it should consider as friends and who as enemies. Karzai is anti-Pakistan but Abdullah is more so. The only meaningful option for Pakistan is to sit quite and take care of its homegrown Taliban problem and milk the US.

Riaz, I'd be looking forward to your reply.

Riaz Haq said...

..when she (Robin Raphel) made her controversial comments on the Kashmir dispute and the suggestion of a referendum, the Indian government saw her as a formidable, antagonistic voice to contend with. “The U.S. was seen as pro-Pakistan at the time,” describes diplomat Satinder Lambah, who was India’s High Commissioner in Islamabad then, “And Ms. Raphel was a real obstacle in bettering ties between the US and India. They improved dramatically, later, but it was in spite of her.”

The Narasimha Rao government issued demarches, both in New Delhi and Washington, expressing unhappiness over the comments. While Ms. Raphel remained in the position for several years, the Clintons changed their public positions on Kashmir soon after. President Bill Clinton, who had even raised concerns over “human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir” at a White house function in 1994, no longer brought those up, even as a visit by Hillary Clinton in April 1995 to New Delhi paved the way for better relations.