Sunday, June 14, 2009

The US Advice on Kashmir is Lunacy

The US Advice on Kashmir is Lunacy
By M J Akbar


If you want to sell arsenic, the kindest way to do so is to disguise it as medicine heavily coated with sugar. There is nothing particularly new about the proposal of an interim balm for the wounds of Kashmir, demilitarization on both sides of the Line of Control. What is novel is the heavy Washington endorsement of this Pakistan-promoted option.

This is not all. Unusually for a senior diplomat of a super power that affects neutrality, US under secretary of state for political affairs, William Burns, chose Delhi as the venue for a message designed to disturb the equanimity of his hosts, when he said, "Any resolution of Kashmir has to take into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people". That must have been music to Islamabad's ears.

Demilitarization sounds so sweetly reasonable, a definitive gesture of de-escalation. The Obama administration is delighted by the prospect of collateral benefit. This would release more Pak troops for the war against Taliban. Pakistan has shifted some brigades from the Indian border, but not from the Line of Control.

Self-interest may have blinded Washington to an obvious fallacy in this "reasonable" formulation. In all three major Kashmir conflicts — 1947, 1965 and Kargil — Pakistan has used a two-tier strategy. A surrogate force has served as a first line of offense. The Pakistani term for them has been consistent; they have come in the guise of "freedom fighters". India called them "raiders" in 1947 and 1965, and defines them as terrorists now. This surrogate force has expanded its operations far beyond Kashmir, as the terrorist attacks on Mumbai confirmed.

DMZs (De-Militarized Zones) would guarantee the security of Pakistan and weaken India's defences, since there is no suggestion that terrorist militias are going to be "demilitarized". Should the Indian army leave the Kashmir valley to the mercy of well-organized, finely-trained, generously-financed indiscriminate organisations? India has no corresponding surrogate force, because it is a status-quo power; it makes no claims on any neighbour's territory.

If America wants a DMZ (De-Militarized Zone) in India they will first have to ensure a DTZ (De-Terrorised Zone) in Pakistan.

India and Pakistan may have a common problem in terrorism, but they do not have terrorists in common. Those who have inflicted havoc already in India, and those who intend to do so in future, are safe in their havens in Lahore and Multan and Karachi. Pakistan's ambivalence on terrorism was exposed yet again by the release of Prof Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, emir of Jamaat ud Dawa, from house arrest on June 6. It needed an official sanction by the UN Security Council to send him into soft detention. The government's duplicity was evident in the frailty of the case against him. The Lahore High Court, which ordered his release, discovered that Pakistan had not even placed al-Qaeda on its list of terrorist organizations.

Islamabad may have taken action against militants in the Frontier who pose a threat to Pakistan, but it continues to mollycoddle those who threaten India.

Islamabad's leverage has risen in Obama's Washington for good reasons. America may have outsourced flat-world, high-tech jobs to soft-power India. But America has outsourced a full-scale Af-Pak war to Pakistan.

Rewards for India come in corporate balance sheets and middle-class jobs. Compensation for Pakistan comes in billions of dollars for the army (as much as $5 billion of which has been diverted, so far, to the purchase of conventional weapons meant primarily for use against India) and much more in aid and soft-loans. Pakistan believes that money is insufficient. It wants the bonus of political rewards. It expects a Pak-US nuclear pact, not because it is in need of fuel for peaceful or martial purposes, but in order to quasi-legitimize its status as a nuclear power. Islamabad also wants some settlement on Kashmir that it can sell to its people as a victory.

Former president Pervez Musharraf may be out of circulation but ideas that jumped out of his box a few years ago are back in play. He has just given an interview to Der Spiegel in which he suggests that India and Pakistan were close to an agreement over his proposals:

"demilitarization of the disputed area, self-governance and a mutual overwatch." Delhi insisted on the conversion of the Line of Control into a formal border, but the thought that the two countries came close has given Washington reason to believe that it can now pressurize Delhi to make some concession, perhaps by agreeing to make the Line of Control "irrelevant" by "opening transit routes".

There is great danger in this "soft border" thesis. How can you have a "soft border" unless both sides recognize it as a border? Moreover, what does the phrase "mutual overwatch" mean? Both would dilute symbols of Indian sovereignty in Kashmir.

Musharraf, who sounds bored by his new routine of bridge with friends at his flat in London, says he is ready to broker a peace deal.

The search for peace might prove to be tougher than starting a war in Kargil.

Appeared in Times of India - June 14, 2009

4 comments:

Meghana said...

Dear Mr. Akbar,

I agree completely with you. As a Kashmiri Pandit living in the US with family that has been exiled from its homeland, I know secondhand about the real terrorism and violence that has occurred in the valley and perpetuated by supposedly "stateless" militants.

To be completely honest, I'm surprised by the insensitivity displayed by the Obama administration on this issue, given its extraordinary competence and international diplomacy. All this can mean is that Pakistan is somehow doing a damn good job of leveraging its diplomacy against America's. I sincerely hope that justice can be brought to Kashmiri Pandits in the long run, and in the short run, that stability is maintained WITH a militarized Indian government presence.

R.Alamsha Karnan said...

Haj susidy, sounds vulgar during this hour of crisis:

Our national carrier, Air India, is in deep financial crisis and they have delayed salaries for 31,500 employees. They need atleast 15,000 crore bailout package to keep it alive.

Don't you think, it's the time for our Indian Muslim brethern to join hands at this hour of national crisis and do their bit?. I suggest, we Indian Muslims must giveup our Haj subsidy , which is close to 700 crores to save the jobs of 31,500 employees.

Islam says NOT to eat full meal when the neighbour is hungry and share the food with him. At this hour crisis, accepting Haj subsidy looks vulgar and shameful.

Honestly, i feel very much ashamed, as a Muslim, to accept Haj Subsidy at this hour of national crisis. I will keep my head high in pride, if Darul Uloom and Indian Muslims unanimously declare that we do not want Haj subsidy.

Practice what you preach.

R.Alamsha Karnan said...

Entire Muslim world is a threat for Bharat Mata:

Islam is an anti-thesis to Hinduism and all Islamic republics are one and the same.

Quran says clearly:

Qul ya ayyuha alkafiroona......Lakum deenukum waliya deeni
Oh Kaafirs.................You follow your ways and we will follow, our ways.
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Pakistan is a born enemy of India. All 55 OIC Islamic republics support and admire Pakistan because of it's nuclear capability and ability to give a tit for tat response to India's nuclear capability. All Islamic republics are one and the same when it comes to Islamic ideology. Pakistan enjoys very high respect and treated like a hero by 55 OIC Islamic republics.

India lost 1962 war with China. China has become a default regional superpower and India looks timid and weak in front of China. Today, Indo-US nuclear deal has cut off all our military ties with Russia and is irreversible. Also, let us bear in mind that Russia-China relationship is warming up and we are surrounded by hostile neighbourhood. Pakistan and all our neighbours have given naval base for China's "string of pearls" military strategy which is clearly against India's interest.

Israel is a sworn enemy of the Muslim world. Hence, Israel is an indispensible partner for our national security and defense. Thus, it is very obvious that any relationship with the Muslim world jeopardises our national interest and the time has come for us to shut our doors for the Muslim world.

In order to prove our patriotism, we Indian Muslims demand:

The time has come for Indian Muslims to end their silence since 1947 and unequivocally proclaim their loyalty and patriotism for Bharat Mata, loud and clear.

1. India should openly declare the entire Muslim world as a threat for Bharat Mata and severe all diplomatic relationships with the Muslim world.

2. We need to prove that we are son of the soil and NOT Babur ke aulad, as mentioned by Mr.Narendra Modi. We will restore the past glory of Tejo Mahalaya, a palace temple of Lord Shiva, which was illegally named as Taj Mahal by the true Babur ka aulad Shah Jehan. As a first step, Taj Mahal should be renamed as Tejo Mahalaya. Later we will follow the list provided by RSS and Hindu Maha Sabha, time to time.

3. We have got nothing to do with Pakistan. Pakistan was created by Brahmins and the blame was slapped on Muslims. We Indian Muslims are paying the price for their fault, since 1947. Brahmins do NOT want to eliminate the threat factor from Pakistan because they thrive on this threat. Give me the mandate and i will end this threat and bring absolute peace in the subcontinent in 90 days. Try me.

Let us finish this hypocricy and learn to call a spade, a spade.

JAI HIND.

Ammer Amin said...

R.Alamsha Karnan you are a complete fool. In the first post you claim to be a Muslim who should give up 'Haj subsidy' to save AirIndia then you talk about the Muslim world being the enemy of India - Muslims from India ARE part of the Muslim World!

A few more points:

1. Why should Muslims give up Haj subsidy to save AirIndia? Does the country not have enough money to fund this from elsewhere and why should only Muslims be responsible?

2. If you really are a Muslim why are you calling for the renaming of the Taj to a palace temple of Lord Shiva. What proof do you have about your claims that it was not built by the Mughals but by Hindus as a temple. The best sites in India were built by Muslims so learn to accept that.

Loyalty is to the Ummah first and not to country as Islam abhors nationalism.

Either pretend to stop being Muslim or learn the basics as you are standing on cliff edge at the moment