The people of Kashmir have been caught up in the multidimensional battle amongst various interest groups for their very existence. The peaceful valley suffered at the hands ofZia ul Haq‘s aspirations translated through Op Topac in 1989. A mayhem and religious frenzy ensued which massacred innocent Kashmiri Pandits, marginalised the valley and left deep scars on the psyche of the people of the state – hindus, muslims or ladakhis.
Since the giving in to the release of Rubaiyah Syed, the Indian state has continued to give in to the machinations of Pakistan led, supported and funded wars in Kashmir. They always found excuses be they Hazratbal or Amarnath to inflame passions and attempted fracturing the society. The Indian state response has been affected by mismatch in words and deeds borne out of a true desire to effectively deal with the Op Topac designs. Now Ghazwa e Hind – an al Qaeda movement to destabilise India is underway in a big way This is being attemptedthrough sustained use of fanning Islamic propaganda amongst the Indian Muslims led by supporters of Pakistan . A google search of Ghazwa leads upto 35,ooo results all spitting venom and mobilising Muslims across the globe to destabilise and fragment India along religious lines. The recent Ayodhya verdict has been a blow to their designs. But India will offer more opportunities borne out of its vote bank politics, a fractured internal security mechanism and malfeasance of the politicians and bureucrats to the problem at hand.
At the global level Pakistan has leveraged Kashmir well against a resolution of the war in Afghanistan. As per Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer, “For the U.S., reducing and resolving the India-Pakistan Cold War before it goes hot is critical to stability in South Asia, isolating the jihadi extremists and preventing a war in South Asia that could go nuclear”.
This exactly is the sentiment being exploited by Kayani to blackmail Obama. In an interview to the Rolling Stones Magazine Obama articulated that a US withdrawal from Afghanistan would be bad for both India and Pakistan. To quote:
“I don’t know anybody who has examined the region who thinks that if we completely pulled out of Afghanistan, the Karzai regime collapsed, Kabul was overrun once again by the Taliban, and Sharia law was imposed throughout the country, that we would be safer,” .
“Or the Afghan people would be better off, or Pakistan would be better off, or India would be better off or that we would see a reduction in potential terrorist attacks around the world.
According to Bruce Riedel, Obama’s challenge is to quietly help Islamabad and New Delhi work behind the scenes to get back to the deal Musharraf and Singh negotiated during his November visit. A deal is good for America, India, Pakistan, and especially the Kashmiris, who have suffered enough, he articulates. But he must understand that the reason Gen. Kayani feels emboldened to take a harder line is easy to discern. Tensions deepened after the U.S. elevated Pakistan from “major non-NATO ally” to the linchpin of its Afghan exit strategy, and excluded India from a political solution in Afghanistan.
The Indian establishment, at the outset has to get its act together and reverse the affects of Ghazwa e Hind by actively isolating the sleeper cells and strangulating support for such religious fanaticism to take roots in the Indian Polity. The vested interests of political parties in using religious card needs to be ruthlessly curbed by disciplining and sensitising the society by a series of actions borne out of genuine love for India. The book Power and Love succinctly articulates this. If caste and religion based politics is not shunned, India awaits greater dangers.
The Kashmir package has to be backed by a concerted exercise in public democracy to assuage the feelings of the common man while exposing the terrorist designs of Ghazwa in vitiating the environment. This has thus far only made the people of Kashmir suffer in this cross fire to the advantage of Pakistan. Pakistan needs the valley to burn more to help it’s cause with the Americans in Afghanistan. This would demand grass root level people oriented programmes shorn of political manipulations.
The state and central agencies involved in restoring normalcy have to rise above inter agency or career based rivalries hurting the larger cause. Their attitudes and dispositions towards genuine rehabilitation of the people are crucial to marginalising the ill effects of Pakistan’s war in Kashmir. The separists have to be dealt with an iron hand in so far as their militant activities in collusion with ISI are considered. Analysts say the main preoccupation of the ISI, and the Pakistani military, is the threat from nuclear-armed rival India and it sees the Afghan Taliban as tools to influence events, and limit India’s role, in Afghanistan.Their hand in supporting the cause of Pakistan resulting in innocent killings needs to be exposed and awaam treated with the power of love.
As Martin Luther King put it, ‘Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.’ In his book, Power and Love, the author Kahane argues that love connects and creates opening, potential and opportunity, but power is required for these to be tested and realized. However, dialogue that does not acknowledge and work with power therefore cannot create new social realities. In fact, each needs the other. This couldn’t be more true now in Kashmir than someplace else.
Kuldip Nayar argues, amongst other things that setting up of a high-power commission to go into the security forces’ excesses would give confidence to the Kashmiris and may make them trust that the visit of the parliamentary delegation was not a joy ride. Once New Delhi and Srinagar have come to agree on the terms of a settlement, they should associate Islamabad with it, without which a lasting solution may not be possible – a tough call in the current scenario of mistrust and animosity
Then we have Obama – keen to further his interests domestically by projecting to be the behind the scene interlocutor. Unfortunately, unlike Bush, the Obama administration is divorced of realities in making overt recommendations of reproachment.
Riedel’s argument that for U.S., reducing and resolving the India-Pakistan Cold War does make sense but is far removed from the deep rooted animosity and belligerence Kayani and the Pakistan establishment have chosen to support. America chose to isolate India in Afghanistan without considering the larger picture. Now raising the Kashmir issue openly will inflame anti American sentiment in India and complicate any bialteral efforts in the future.
Kashmir thus needs an integrated approach both by India and Pakistan. American indulgence would be counterproductive to Indian experiences of peace initiatives with Pakistan be they the Lahore bus ride or Musharraf’s track two diplomacy.
While India settles down to putting its house in order, the message to America should be unambiguous.
On the lighter side there is this UN anecdote doing the rounds on the net
An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly that made the world community smile.
A representative from India began : ‘Before beginning my speech I want to tell you something about Rishi Kashyap of Kashmir, after whom Kashmir is named. When he struck a rock and it brought forth water, he thought, ‘What a good opportunity to have a bath.’
He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water.
When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished.. A Pakistani had stolen them.’
The Pakistani representative jumped up furiously and shouted, ‘What are you talking about? The Pakistanis weren’t there then.’
The Indian representative smiled and said, ‘And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.
- Kashmir is a global threat | Nazir Ahmed (guardian.co.uk)
- Pakistan seeks US intervention in Kashmir crisis (ibnlive.in.com)
- Hope And Cynicism In Kashmir Over India Security Review (nytimes.com)
- Kashmir or Security Council – Obama’s Visit (SAI)
- Kashmir – The Perception Management War (SAI)