Kashmir and the future - Ashraf Jehangir Qazi - Monday, December 13, 2010

Source : www.thenews.com.pk

The writer is Pakistan’s former envoy to the US and India.

India-Pakistan talks have been effectively stalled since 2008, not over Kashmir, but as a result of the Mumbai attacks. The Indians insist that Pakistan must cooperate in bringing the perpetrators, who came from Pakistan, to justice and also dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism, including groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba that target India – and Indian-occupied Kashmir – from Pakistan or Azad Kashmir. India has successfully elicited US pressure on Pakistan to do the same as the US insists that effectively responding to the Mumbai atrocities, in accordance with Indian demands, is part of its own war on terror.

Pakistan has not been successful in eliciting US pressure on India to resume substantive and structured talks on outstanding issues, including a Kashmir settlement. This is because the US sees Pakistan, a supposed frontline ally in the war on terror, as being unhelpful in the case of the Mumbai terror attacks.

There have been several other attacks on Indian targets, including its embassy in Kabul, which the US supports India as alleging they were perpetrated by Pakistani elements as well. This is apart from the US perception that Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan is duplicitous as it seeks to counter Indian influence there at the expense of American lives and strategic objectives. Pakistan has, accordingly, played a crucial and successful role in cementing a US-Indian strategic alliance against itself.

This has enabled President Obama to limit his commitment to a Kashmir-settlement by going through the motions of urging India to resume talks with Pakistan while directing Indian attention to the human rights situation in Burma instead of Kashmir. It has also enabled India to adopt a stance of willingness to continue a dialogue charade while refusing to negotiate on substantive issues. An exasperated Pakistan runs to the Americans complaining of Indian obduracy. However, the Americans support the Indian position only urging it to maintain the pretence of dialogue until Pakistan satisfies Indian conditions for genuine dialogue.

As a result of Pakistan’s dysfunctional strategies, Kashmir is no longer the core issue in India-Pakistan relations. In 1989 the Kashmiris spontaneously rose in revolt against unbearable Indian military and police repression as well as Delhi’s brazen political and electoral chicanery. The Indian occupation forces and foreign policy establishment were completely thrown on the back foot. It was only a matter of time before the international community would have been compelled to take increasing note of the systematic and massive violations of human rights in Kashmir. Moreover, the ground would have been prepared for Pakistan to progressively elicit increased international support for its position that the human rights situation in Kashmir derived from the denial of the political rights of the Kashmiris, above all, their right of self-determination which was recognised by existing resolutions of the United Nations.

But what happened? Pakistan took fright that the success of a Kashmiri resistance, unless brought under its control, could threaten its interests, especially with regard to the “third option” of Azadi or independence and its potential impact on Azad Kashmir. This option was a valid cause of concern. It was not part of the UN resolutions on which Pakistan rested its case on Kashmir and it could threaten the contiguity of Pakistan’s border with China. In their panic, Pakistan’s real Kashmir policymakers forgot or did not know that the Azadi option while attractive to many Kashmiris in the Valley, was not their number one option at the time. Their preferred option was in fact the Pakistan option which they regarded as the real Azadi option. Moreover, the third option was the weakest option because it was opposed by both India and Pakistan.

Accordingly, Pakistan sought to unite the Kashmiri resistance and bring it under its control by infiltrating armed Mujahideen in support of pro-Pakistan groups and denying pro-Azadi groups any assistance against Indian military repression. This effectively split the resistance including its political affiliate, the APHC. India had been trying unsuccessfully to split the APHC and develop influence over the pro-Azadi groups. But now Pakistan came to India’s rescue and enabled it to achieve its prized goal of undermining the effectiveness of the APHC and rendering the freedom struggle completely dependent on cross-LOC armed support.

One of the main pro-Azadi leaders told me that had Pakistan not sought to so tightly control the resistance India would never have been able to drive a wedge between the Pakistan and Azadi options. The differences between them were relatively superficial. Both factions saw Pakistan as their destiny – one openly and directly, the other less directly. This would have helped develop a Kashmiri consensus in support of Pakistan which would have immeasurably strengthened its hand in negotiations with India for a Kashmir settlement.

The Kargil fiasco also rendered a signal service to India by transforming the problem of Kashmir in the perception of America and the west from a problem of self-determination into a problem of respecting the “sanctity” of the LOC. The status quo was strengthened in favour of India. After 9/11 the Kashmiri armed resistance was similarly transformed into international terrorism. The sufferings and struggles of the Kashmiri people were essentially wasted. India’s status quo strategy in Kashmir, which was based on force and fraud in violation of international law, triumphed as the US and its allies themselves embarked on international aggression as part of a war on terror in violation of international law. The Kashmiris were comprehensively betrayed as Pakistan successfully disabled itself through myopic policies dressed up in religious fervour.

Musharraf added insult to injury by altogether discarding the Kashmiri right of self-determination which was not in his gift to give or withdraw. It is an internationally recognised right which Pakistan as a party to the Kashmir dispute is mandated to support. The successive favours we have bestowed on India have indeed gone unappreciated by our great neighbour! Accordingly, I can understand Musharraf’s mystification over India’s refusal to give him a visa. However, the truth is that we have both provided India favours through myopic strategies and reason not to reciprocate them through acts of criminal folly. Our favours never end!

What is to be done? Along with Mir I would suggest that instead of bestowing our favours on others let us bestow some of them on ourselves. Let us be honest and recognise the prevailing realities while not throwing principle to the wind. Pakistan needs peace with India. Friendship may come later. Forcing a solution to Kashmir of our liking is not an option. Nor is selling out Kashmiri rights. We need to develop modalities and strategies for a compromise settlement acceptable to the Kashmiris, and to India and Pakistan.

Progress was made in backchannel negotiations between India and Pakistan. But important questions arise. Can this progress be squared with the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people? Can it pass what a most respected Indian Muslim friend calls “the three tests” of being publicly approved at Mochi Gate Lahore, Red Fort Delhi, and Lal Chowk Srinagar? Can it be approved by the parliaments of India and Pakistan and a plebiscite in Kashmir? Can it be embodied in a new set of agreed UN resolutions until which time existing UN relations on Kashmir cannot be superseded? Can it transcend the refusal of India to cede sovereignty over occupied Kashmir and Pakistan’s refusal to accept a force-based territorial status quo in which the Kashmiri people have had no say?

These questions cannot be answered positively without an accompanying significant breakthrough in India-Pakistan relations. The hawks, chauvinists and extremists in India will be a problem. India will need to tackle this challenge. But at the same time we must recognise our own security, national and survival interests in eliminating the threat to ourselves and our neighbours from terrorist structures based on our territory. If this is accepted the rest will not be easy. But it will be possible.

Email: ashrafjqazi@yahoo.com

No comments:

Post a Comment