Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kashmir's War Designs

Kashmir has become a centre of a bitter sanguinary war - a nidus of inter state warfare, when we ponder times like 1947-1948 and 1965. Gone are the days of history when Mughal kings used to travel to the vale as a vacationing spot. By being smitten to its beauty, they used to call it paradise. Now in changing times, the paradise is burning. Kashmir is now reduced to body counts, through a guerrilla warfare derived from ethno-nationalism and religious nationalism pitted against the Indian forces - civilians, renegades,  guerrillas, policemen, and military are parties to the dispute.

After the partition, and controversial accession, and UN peace keeping commissions, Kashmir was made to settle with two countries. In Indian Kashmir, JKNC made close ties with INC, the party spearheading freedom movement in India. In terms of religious contiguity and topography, Kashmir did suit well with the idea of Pakistan. Had the terms of accession been settled well by the Maharaja with the Pakistani Dominion, the whole Kashmir would now had been with it. But Pakistan, contrarily,  strangulated Kashmir through an economic blockade and tribesmen aggression.  

The most concerning rumination of our conflict, however, is the Line of Control (LOC), a 742 kilometer de facto border line, that separates parts of Indian and Pakistani controlled Kashmir. It originated as a ceasefire line in 1947, which was slightly modified in 1965 and 1971, by an agreement between two countries in 1972. The Line of Control was carved out of war, just like in other conflict zones like Israel-Palestine, Bosnia, Cyprus, Sri Lanka to name a few. The LOC is such a barb wire which rambles through world's highest battleground, the Siachen glacier, where both the countries have locked horns in fourth generation warfare exchanging shells and bullets. 

LOC is a harrowing example of political bickering between the two countries. Most Kashmiri people think of LOC as a line which has increased an emotional barrier between the natives of Kashmir in both parts, and believe that a free Kashmir would have settled aspirations - LOC means a sense of hostility, more war and less peace in South Asia. For Kashmiri people, it is a blot on India's and Pakistan's political history that is consumed by bankruptcies . 

Few people talk about the maneuvers before the bus routes were started by both countries in 2005, which were even praised by American foreign ministry. Between 2002 and 2004, India erected a ' multi-tiered fencing system' along the 742 kilometer border to dissuade movement of insurgents. The system comprised of two to three rows, about three meters to ten feet high, which were electrified and connected to a motion of sensors, with thermal ageing devices, and alarms that were imported from United States and Israel, just like its 'Great Wall of Palestine' counterpart without any credible media attention.

When bus routes for peace started in 2005, Indian military establishments were actually in the process of repairing these technologically advanced barbed wires due to adverse weather conditions.  In those times, there were even cases when many guerrillas firefighted with the Indian army. This two fold diplomacy actually resulted as a superficial peace making drama, as no responsible solution was granted to the dispute.

The Kashmir conflict has never seen a solution based on some pattern, similar to those which were proposed in Cyprus in 2004 or in Bosnia in 1996. In 1955, when Plebiscite Front was formed, it aimed at self-determination for Kashmiri people, under UN auspices, and demanded withdrawal of armed forces - the government of Indian controlled Kashmir prohibited the organisation to have any political mandate. In 1972, when it decided to contest elections, around 350 of its members were arrested by the police cadre under a series of police raids, and the organisation was declared illegal under Indian legal grounds. 

In August 1952, Nehru announced India's future spectrum of Kashmir, by muzzling any form of dissent, that was directly against the Indian dominion. This stance was officially supported by Russia in UN in 1957, to block a resolution that called for Kashmir's sovereignty. This made matters war prone in 1963-1964 when Ayyub Khan announced a war, code named 'Operation Gibraltar' with India. The plan was made successful when Pakistanis put it into operation in 1965, with the intention of forming an uprising in Kashmir. At that time, Sheikh's followers were not willing to submit to Pakistan's war designs. 

Operation Gibraltar was a strategic failure. Sheikh Abdullah, who once believed that Indian democracy ended in Pathankot, and after Banihal, there was no Indian democracy, also officially entered the Indian electoral fray as in 1975. After that, Abdullah never spoke about self determination as in 1953. In 1988, when his son became the successor, Kashmir was an epicenter of civil strife, doctored governments, authoritarianism, which ultimately produced the nemesis of Ak-47 perilous aggression in the following years.  Elections in Kashmir have mostly used by politicians for paltry gains.

Keeping Kashmir's shadow of war and failed diplomacy in order, there seem to be inherent challenges in the re-establishing democratic relations. There is a subtle discontent in Kashmiri public and a lot of rhetoric which permeates through media channels in India and Pakistan, that actually doesn't allow parties to re-engage in forward making decision making. The infinite silence by the government of India should also shun for the cost of reconciliation.  Both countries should look at conciliation resources for bridging the deep political divide that has only reverberated violence in the vale of Kashmir. Only a testament of practically can augment our resolution- nothing less than that.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kashmir's Resolution Discourse

Based on the political stakes of Kashmir, three wars have been fought over the disputed region, by India and Pakistan. Kashmir, which is viewed as a pandora box, has historic geo-strategic compulsions for both the countries, and in terms of its annexation, it would mean greater strategical depth, and total control of lifeline rivers. For India, especially, Kashmir acts as a wedge between the Sino-Pak nexus.

When we talk of conflict resolution for Kashmir, it may be through a variety of actors, namely the states, international governmental organisations (IGO's),  and international non governmental organisations (INGO's). They always form a bargaining process in a conflict resolution.

In academics, there are four kinds of mediation to conflict resolution namely; humanitarian mediation: when there is intense ethnic violence mainly mediated by non state actors; protective mediation: undertaken by a neighbouring state actor by saving the kin from complete defeat; defence mediation: where kin is the adversary of the mediator, and where political settlement and economic cohesion in the society  is necessary; pro-active mediation: where mediation is bilateral or extra-regional. In terms of academic theory and its solution to the Kashmir problem, there are models based on it available for the people to follow. 

Noted American writer, and expert on South Asian affairs, Selig S Harrison expressed the solution as spiting of the Indian state, where Ladakh and most of Jammu would be integrated with the Indian Union, and sizeable Muslim populations from Jammu and Ladakh and the valley of Kashmir would be integrated with a special status. The new State would then be given a far reaching autonomy ( as per the models in which Italy and Yugoslavia were involved). The present Line of Control (LOC) would then become an international border with Kashmiri people traveling freely between the two regions without any visas.

Mr. BG Verghese's five core ideas on Kashmir's solution include: a soft state between India and Pakistan with an adjusted Line of Control (LOC), with an easy movement of commerce on both the ways of the border; each region of the Kashmir negotiating the levels of autonomy; federating regional autonomy; confederating both regions by both the countries; the fifth would result as an autonomous state of Jammu and Kashmir.

In December 1998, a New York based group drafted the Livingston Proposal, which aimed to provide a solution among all three parties, where the main recommendation was reconstituting Kashmir into one or two entities without any international status. The research also involved culture, economy, and ecology into account. The proposals entitled Kashmiris of having either passports, having a separate currency, free transit of people and commerce. The paper had been circulated to diverse Kashmiri groups and several opinion makers and got positive implications.  

The other options conceived were the Dixon Plan, ascribed to Sir Owen Nixon of Australia, who submitted it to UN on September, 1950, where our fate has to be decided by a plebiscite. The Chenab Plan, a favourite among Pakistani diplomats, where six cities Srinagar, Baramulla, Budgam, Kupwara, Pulwama, Anantnag are to be granted sovereign status,  and Hindu dominated regions will go with India. The LOC  would then shift eastwards towards Poonch, Rajouri and Doda and will finally merge with Pakistan.  There is the Andorra Model which advocates autonomy for both the regions, guarded by military of two regions, just like Andorra, where French and Spanish armies operate along its borders. There is also Deepak Basu's Plan of implementing two nation theory to its logical conclusion, by exchange of Muslim and non-Muslim populations, and Neelam Plan, which envisages shifting of Line of Control along the Neelam River, rendering Northern Areas of Gilgit and Baltistan as independent. Finally, there has been the Musharaf's 2004 proposal, which envisages demilitarisation from cluster groups namely the Hindu dominated (Jammu- Kathua -Samba -Udhampur), Muslim dominated (Doda- Poonch- Rajouri), third being the Muslim dominated Kashmir valley, fourth being Kargil-Drass, fifth being Ladakh, sixth being the POK areas; followed by a change in status, which are based on two nation theory, where he emphasis Kashmir being made a slave to Fourth Generation Warfare - where conflict shifts from destruction of military targets to socio-economic and politico-cultural targets.

In terms of regional autonomy advocated by political parties and outside military defence, the tone of the masses wont go well with that because it doesn't necessitate a relationship with the Kashmir of the Pakistan region, and human rights violations oppose any military life in conflict ridden Kashmir. The Islamists, on the other hand, want nothing short of a merger with Pakistan, due to religious congruence, and don't buy the idea of an independent homeland, irrespective of the nationalist voices in the valley commenting on the ill side of Pakistani politics, that has troubled Kashmir of their region.  

Since India sees itself as a regional power, it has also not allowed any foreign diplomatic intervention. India also hasn't accepted broadening of SAARC discourse on political issues. It sees itself disadvantageous towards construction of nearby oil pipelines and water treaties. Our conflict resolution likely seems out of sight right now because of political - military rivalry between India and Pakistan. Its lost in indefinite postponement and in its internationalisation.  

Nobody seems to be concerned about Kashmir's welfare, safety and identity. No peace initiative has taken us anywhere. Ceasefires on LOC make military sense and no political sense. The recent initiatives taken by both NDA and UPA governments are vague. Factually, India and Pakistan have made more attempts to peace that the last four wars. But at the end, it has been very ironical because political bankruptcies that have been developed have given birth to a mutual discontent, which have been punctuated with uneasy peace and suspicion. which are still in vogue till date.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Kashmir's Nationalist Idea

If we examine Kashmir's history, notorious events like the Kashmir Conspiracy Case of 1958-1959 were events when leaders like Sheikh Abdullah became hypocritical double agents and were interestingly bailed later on. It actually fueled a proxy war and questioned the character of our leaders. These events were actually not good examples of serving the nation one belonged to. They were actually cases of conspiracy fueled by intelligence agencies where our leaders became stooges in semblance of opportunism.
Kashmiri people have been coerced to observe the India's national celebrations. There are many people who also observe August 15 as a black day - when daily life is interrupted in Kashmir on August 15, it serves as it's predicament.
Through the Indian perspective, many sections of Kashmir observe  January 26  - India's Republic day or October 27 - when Indian army entered Kashmir; as black days in Kashmir's history. It is mainly because a large portion of Kashmiri people do not have nationalistic aspirations inclined towards India. But this is just one side of the history. If one retrospects with an unbiased perspective, and puts Kashmir's ethno - national perspective in order, October 22, 1947 was also a misfortune on us, when the Dominion of Pakistan violated the Standstill agreement; or October 24  - when Pakistan dissolved the Revolutionary Provisional Government of Jammu and Kashmir or January 5 - when Pakistan changed Kashmir's destiny by changing our right to self determination to right of accession or January 9, when Pakistan took the northern areas of Gilgit - Baltistan.
Historically, many people confuse the right of self determination with the right of accession. But if we dive into history, the UN had given the right of self determination on August 13, 1948, which was later changed, on Pakistan's approval to right of accession to either India or Pakistan in the next resolution passed on January 5, 1949.
Whenever, Kashmiri people demand independence, a third option, Pakistani state actors laugh at our innocence because that clause is apparently not valid in legality - the end result of our desires rest in their favour, even though Article One is a fundamental right enshrined in the charter and international amalgams like OIC support it.
However, despite of this fact, the UN resolutions acknowledge that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed, entails collaboration of plebiscite administrator, de-militarisation and no victimisation. Post 1996, Kashmir has gained its place on the UN radar again through the reminder of a member state, which was initiated by Simla agreement and then ascribed in the Lahore Agreement.  
Kashmir's independence is a de facto aspiration on which blood has been spilled, and international community plays mute. According to UNCIP resolution of 1948, the necessities that demanded our fair trial for statehood were three: a) cease-fire b) withdrawal of troops from Pakistan c) Irregularities inside the State. Once all demands were reached by both dominions, implementation of plebiscite was made valid. Historically, Kashmir was a Princely State, and was not British India. It also became independent alongside India and Pakistan. Accession was only provisional and supported will of the people and unification of the State. Based on religious contiguity, ideologues supported Kashmir's accession with Pakistan, but when Maharaja wanted to stay independent, Pakistan ought to punish him by dethroning him. It is also worth mentioning that Maharaja had lost control of his State due to popular discontent in the masses that involved State sanctioned pogroms. Pakistan also stopped essential supplies to Kashmir and violated the Standstill agreement.  It is because of these facts that communal violence grew and wars regained its course in times to come.
Analysts like Dr. Shabir Choudhary postulate that Kabali people had no interest in helping Jammu Muslims who were suffering from communal violence in Poonch massacres and were more inclined towards annexing the valley of Kashmir. Ironically, Pakistani army continues to live in parts of Kashmir that they historically annexed when Maharaja sought help from the Indian army. 
The Instrument of Accession was only provisional and was more sovereign in nature. That has made the case of our conflict. More recently, British research has suggested that fishy developments lead to accession and firmer verdict on it should become legally debatable. 
Right now, hypothetically, we don't know how much fervidness will be shown in institutionalising plebiscite in Kashmir in years to come, because international politics is uncertain and leadership suffers with confusion.
UN resolutions seem advisory only and not enforceable as if they are there to fool people. Very recently, India told UN military observers group to vacate its chambers in New Delhi. In 2010, UN removed Kashmir from the list of disputed territories.
It is because of the above facts that our aspirations don't strike a chord with either of the countries.  A large portion of independence seeking Kashmiri people are labeled as ISI agents, whenever we discourse our identity crises. Also, Kashmiri nationalist movement hasn't matured yet, because our people haven't been nurtured to it. 
Our people need to read other nationalist movements happened in the world, where the newly designed States helped in creating a strong economic and political background in countries. To qualify to be a nationalist, one has to be receptive to failures of the present and retrospect from history, and to be a nationalist leader, one has to learn international strategies out of geo-political movements. As Kashmiri people, we need to discuss problems from both sides, and not only hymn about only one perspective - our local one. Our goals need to be international.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Kashmir Accord

One of the most hypocritical moments of JKNC and Farooq Abdullah’s history was pleading to Pervez Musharaf about Kashmir’s international resolution when he was on a visit to India. It is an irony that a political party claims to represent the aspirations of suppressed subjects who have championed to gimmick the myriads of one of the most brutal political history in the world which Kashmir has been a product of. They have also forgotten the historic facts of Kashmir Accord where the party’s ideologue insincerely juggled between resolution and internal autonomy and upheld the tenets of plebiscite which are hailed by UN on humanitarian grounds. “There is no quarrel with the Government of India over accession; it is over structure of internal autonomy. One must not forget that it is we who brought Kashmir to India, otherwise Kashmir could have never become part of India.”

In 1971 the Plebisite Front had been banned. The Indian Government associated the the Front with the activities of the group, Al Fatah. 'Over a million politically conscious people were conveniently removed from the field to clear the path for a walk over for the Congress. The doors of democratic processes were thus been banged against the real representatives of the people. When Bhutto spoke for self determination of Kashmiri people, JKNC and Abdullah spoke against any intervention of the Kashmiri state with the Dominion. In a series of negotiations, Indira Gandhi chose to capitalise on Abdullah’s more favourable stance towards India – which Kashmir and the world popularly know as Indira Abdullah accord. 

Kashmir’s international mediation suffered a blow.  Pakistan lost war with India, the emergence of independent Bangladesh gave Kashmir little hope for the future.  Infact, the tragedies, the psychological despair in regional politics has been a product of this development. The six point Indira Abdullah accord did retain Article 370, but the Indian State “was able to make laws relating to prevention of activities, directed towards disclaiming, questioning or disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, or ceasing insult to Indian National Flag, the Indian national anthem and the Constitution. “ There was no return to pre-1953 status. The autocratic Maharaja’s accession was confirmed by Sheikh Abdullah after thirty years. From an Indian standpoint, the movement of freedom came to an end. But on moral grounds, it didn’t. There came violence where thousands of Kashmiris were killed years after and it revitalised anarchy in cyclical phases. 

Although JKNC, which was not directly in power, Prem Nath Bazaz described JKNC ‘the new baby’ born out of Plebiscite Front - as a party, its power was brought to existence through intimidation and terror.’ Indira Gandhi’s presence in Kashmir in October 1975, was a reminder to people about civil liberties throughout India, which muzzled the press and arrested her political opponents. But for JKNC and his fanbase, it was a moment of cheer around the banks of Dal Lake.
Signing the accord was a futile exercise. Indira Gandhi’s two year emergency rule after the accord that was signed was ended. It also gave reasons of NC’s deteoriation at the State level. For example, him and his party members relied on taped speeches. 

Abdullah, also did not want to play the wild card of Pakistan to his advantage. He most of his life juggled on the rhetoric designed to assure Kashmiri people of their culture identity, without asserting any real change in Kashmir’s destiny.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kashmir is a conquered desire

Every breeze which passes through the modest towns of Kashmir, has some story to enounce about warfare and unceasing captivity. Sometimes, thinking of the conflict, which we are sucked into, a series of images get flashed into my mind, and they are always about common Kashmiris and less about politicians and extremists. People every time overly praise and resist these same figures, but its the common people of Kashmir, whose somber stories have been missing in this territorial dispute. The beautiful scenery of our vale has been reduced in ambiance and it has become a vanishing world.

The very first bomb blast, the very first casualty has killed the truth here. Everyone has a story to tell but only in different versions. Kashmir, today, has been reduced to deserted streets, shuttered shops in the evening, a neighborhood with military presence, checkpoints with people getting frisked, angry blokes with lumps of stones, militant aggression.... when you are driven in conflict and subjugation, your own vale feels like a prison. The bitter literal truth about our land being brutalized, every fresh infliction on wounded memories of all aggrieved victims chokes us, shatters us, and yet we can't do anything about this wretched retrospection. We can just condemn savageries, provide platform for discourse and hope for a successful closure of this conflict, which is so sepulchral, mercilessly inciting macabre and gulping our generations for decades.

Kashmiri society is based on pluralism, harmony and tolerance. Those people who are trying to project the freedom struggle as an extremist, fundamentalist struggle are halting the resolution process. This very notion proves to be the biggest flaw in the Kashmir resolution. Unless and until, common Kashmiris are not made part of the resolution, no such resolution is valid or can be accepted under any circumstances. India & Pakistan have to revere the sacrifices rendered by the people of Kashmir; Till then no such resolution can take place because it would be against the existing social persuasions. A joint commission of some kind, having negotiants from India, Pakistan and Kashmir can help in institutionalization of decommissioning of Jehadi groups through proper negotiations and phased demilitarization of army, initiated together, from both sides. It can significantly restore peace in the region.

After every act of violence, both countries should learn to initiate Confidence Building Measures (CBM'S), and to identify the grassroots of the conflict, instead of nurturing visions of destruction for each other. The perceptions of common man from both countries still haven't changed. It has only helped in impeding the resolution instead of its facilitation.

LOC (Line of Control) should be dismantled for enhancing political stability, so that the common masses can prosper through mutual economic dependence. People can come close, live together, and it can result in overcoming the emotional barrier which Kashmiris have faced since decades. Delay tactics in initializing the resolution may favor both countries but it is a serious drawback to Kashmiris. There is no mutual co-existence between the two parts of Kashmir. After decades of armed struggle, wars, loss of life and property, the resolution is still in the process of accommodation. The resolution should be stringently Kashmir-centric. The two parts of Kashmir should enjoy a greater autonomy, and stress should be profoundly given on territorial integrity. It would not only ease off the never ending mutual distrust between the two neighbors, but would also give Kashmiris a long needed chance to represent their own aspirations. 

The most important concern, still subsisting, among the masses in Kashmir is still the same : end of human rights violations. Thousands of people have been slaughtered, missing & women have been raped. There has been a failure in delivering justice. Most of these abuses have been tainted as serious international crimes by international humanitarian bodies. Installation of a United Nations Truth Commission can act as a record institution for such savage abuses and it can prove beneficial in restoring the social fabric of Kashmir by proper rehabilitation of victims of violence.

The resolution in Kashmir is vital for long lasting peace in the South Asia region. It has been a nuclear flash-point for many years, so its resolution is highly critical. The solution depends on the will to resolve and leadership efficiency. Sound Indo-Pak relations depend upon the effectual resolution of the K-issue. It has been in the world spotlight, since the partition of two countries. So, all the world powers want this issue to be settled once for all.

Most of the armed fights between the militants and the Indian army ultimately involve the lives of common people and their property. People live in increasing fears, this is of little comfort to the common man, who generally has had to bear the brunt of instigated violence and subjugation, from the last two decades. People here deserve a respectful life. Kashmir should be given to Kashmiris. We need a nation on our own, give us our piece of land which it was, which we have claimed for decades-- our soul, our nationality, our pride, dignity & individuality. I’m a proud Kashmiri, I love every grain of soil which I touch here, and there are thousands of people like me, who think the same way.

© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir