Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nothing Worthwhile Here

Javid says that WikiLeaks has all but ignored Kashmir

(Dr. Javid Iqbal, 64, was born in Srinagar. He attended the D.A.V. School, Srinagar, and graduated in Medicine from the Government Medical College (GMC). His professional service in medicine includes work in the Middle East for three decades. During his days at the GMC, he captained the cricket team. Dr. Iqbal is the Vice Principal, Controller and the head of department - Operation Theater Technology at Tahira Khanam's Paramedical Sciences Institute, Lawaypora, Srinagar. He enjoys writing and staying close to his children in far away lands.)

Reviewing Wikileaks

The report concerning Kashmir carries the code RL 31587 and it is dated September 30, 2002. In the introductory note, concern over the Kashmir conflict becoming a nuclear flash point finds expression-the dreadful scenario that Kargil flare-up in 1999 brought into focus. The origin of conflict in 1947 gets traced and since the report is 2002 based, the prospects of electoral exercise being carried out in that year are weighed, as the present two decades long conflict is related to infamous poll of 1987. Two sets of Kashmiri opinions are highlighted. Kashmiriyiat the slogan of Kashmiri nationalists opting for complete independence from both India and Pakistan and the jihadis’ standpoint of the conflict being a part of larger design to build a pan-Islamic Sunni state with a Caliph, the two standpoints are seen in conflict with each other, with prospects affecting the uprising as a whole.

The report at the very outset is flawed. The fears expressed of the two standpoints bringing forth an internal conflict stand nullified, eight years later. Kashmiri resistance leadership might be a divided lot; however there is a broad consensus on conflict resolution, with Azadi as the goal. Even the often branded hardliner-Syed Ali Shah Geelani has virtually given up the Pakistani option-Kashmir joining the Islamic republic of Pakistan and opted for Azadi. The so called mainstreamers too are clamoring for Azadi to act, feeling severely restrained by federal interference in shaping policies. Their vision of Azadi might be limited to work it out within the Indian constitution, but the recent speech of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on the floor of J&K legislative assembly is indicative enough of the demand of a meaningful change in the present set-up. Overall, instead of a conflict, a consensus seems to be in offing, differences on parameters of Azadi withstanding.

The report next focuses on the December 2001 and May 14 2002 militant raids on the Indian parliament and J&K legislative assembly, while U.S.-led allied troops were battling with al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in the war on terrorism. The play-up of the troops on the border following the parliamentary attack and the American diplomatic intervention to cool tempers gets highlighted. India being restrained in its designs to get pro-active across the border, in order to neutralize the militant bases in Pakistan administered Kashmir, while Pakistan is asked to rein in militants. Musharaf obliges, India did not go beyond amassing troops.

A review of this part of the report brings out the American delusions in focus. While the diplomatic intervention of the sole super-power does make a difference in South Asian conflict, both India and Pakistan do not go the whole hog to comply with American designs, rather they accommodate Uncle Sam to the extent, which fits in with their compulsions. India, it is recognized by even the die-hard supporters of Pakistan, stands notches above Pakistan in conventional warfare scenario. Hence Pakistan feels compelled to rely on the nuclear option, should India take the plunge. That is a prospect; no Indian strategist would be willing to take a risk with. The limited Indian response of troop amassing without taking it further was meant to address domestic concerns and with the limited objective of giving Pakistan a scare. If in the process of doing so, Indian was seen to accommodate American objective, it could be branded as diplomatic plus. As for Musharaf, he was feeling cornered by militants, who were fast visualizing him as a target to be hit than an accomplice in their designs. So, he too accommodated American objectives, matching his own interests.

The U.S. Role in Kashmir and Congressional Interests is the caption of what follows next. The focus is again on Kashmir being the nuclear flash point, sparking, as the report makes out increasing concern among U.S. and international officials, which is understandable, though debatable too. Nuclear flash point theme is overplayed by Pakistan to hasten resolution of the conflict. Conversely India sees it as an attempt to force it into making concessions; it may not be prepared to, hence the propensity to get into an ostrich like stance. There is another dimension to it, India playing up Pakistan being an unsafe repository of nuclear weapons, with ISI aided militant elements having a free play in Pakistan and with distinction between state and non-state actors being hazy, thus fueling western fears, particularly post Abdul Qadeer confessions. The Indian play-up has many buyers in west with Pakistani bomb projected as the Islamic bomb. However coming to brass tacks, it is precisely the nuclear weapons arsenal, rather than any western pressure that has brought India and Pakistan back from the brink of open conflict, with both realizing being in ‘Mutual Assured Destruction’ [MAD] Zone and not being mad enough to overlook it!

Of the U.S role in Kashmir, less said the better. In 1963 Bhutoo-Swaran Singh parleys following Chinese attack on India, when the west dreamt of joint Indo/Pak front to halt communist China, India was seen on negotiating table, as long as it suited it. It did not concede an inch, at a period in its history, when it had nothing to fall back upon except western support to help it recover from drubbing on Indo/China front. 2010, to borrow the American phrase is a different ball game.

America has as much to gain from 400 million strong middle, upper middle and upper class Indian consumer market, flush with cash to buy anything west may have to sell, as India might have to out of American super computers with defense applications and nuclear shopping to met its energy needs. So, the Kashmiri propensity to see America as the deliverer might be grossly over-estimated, withstanding Obama’s lip service to South Asian amity-taken in Kashmir to mean Uncle Sam shaping Kashmir resolution. There is a caveat however, American haste to come out of Afghanistan. This implies shifting the bulk of 350,000 Pakistani troops from its eastern border with India to western border with Afghanistan, which has barely 150,000 troops, 70 to 80,000 are said to be in reserves, which could be moved to either of the two fronts to meet a contingency.

To make it happen might compel America to put in extra pressure. The million dollar question remains-will it be productive, given the Indian sensitivities? More over, if America reaches a deal with Taliban, giving it the option to operate while sidelining Al-Qaeda, the caveat would remain an option, no more in reckoning. It is always a viable option to buy Afghan warlords with hard cash rather than fight them; risky too! A bigger cash deal from the contending side might tempt them to change sides overnight?

As is made out in the report, Al-Qaeda leaders have used parts of Kashmir to hide from Pakistani and U.S. forces, although others strongly dispute this assertion. However al-Qaeda ousted from Afghanistan might weigh its options of shifting elsewhere in the region. Mountainous sanctuaries of Kashmir might be too tempting to overlook. To foreclose the option would indeed entail India and Pakistan working in tandem. So, Americans might have work to do, keeping in with their own interests.

Overwhelmingly Kashmiris are for peace, that includes the made out hardliner Syed Ali Geelani, who has in fact doused the ranging fire in summer of 2010, the struggle for right as he perceives it, he could not be expected to part away with. Given the right parameters, Kashmiris of all hues would support a peaceful resolution of the conflict. In the peace drive the best bet remains to convince the Indian public opinion of the country’s stakes in a peaceful South Asia, with borders as soft as would be possible to work out. In the ultimate analysis, it is in nobody’s interests to prolong a conflict and have dreadful scenarios as made out in the Wikileaks Kashmir related reports overtake the subcontinent, due to existent political myopia.
In a long report listing Kashmiri political and militant organizations, their aims and objectives, there is nothing which any student of Kashmir studies is not well versed with. The report on a Sharjah meet of April of 2002 however makes an interesting reading. The meet reportedly was attended by Hurriyat leaders Abdul Gani Lone and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and leaders of the Pakistani-based Kashmir Committee including Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan, a former Prime Minister of Pakistani administered Kashmir. Lone, the report says, while expressing concern that post 9/11 militant activity would cause the entire uprising to be deemed terrorism by the United States requested that Pakistani-based militants stop their activity in Indian-held Kashmir and allow the Hurriyat to negotiate with India independently. Lone’s stance, it is reported was denounced by director of Pakistan’s ISI, Lt. Gen. Ehsan-ul-Haq, who warned him to stop supporting participation in the elections. On May 21, 2002, Lone was assassinated. The report says that speculation of those responsible ranged from ISI, to National Conference, to members of the far-right Hindu nationalist party, Shiv Sena, who had verbally and physically attacked Lone prior to the event.

The wide and quite often wild speculation is not limited to Lone’s assassination. During the last two decades, who killed whom, and for what purpose has a question mark touching the soul of the Aam Admi in Kashmir. No amount of congressional reports or numerous other reports provide an answer, hence for Kashmiris, the report is not worth the paper, it is written on!

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