THE STALEMATE AND THE STEPS – Kashmiri Awaaz

Introduction   Kashmir problem is with the world since 1947, the year of the partition of India.  Now the world is apprehensive about nuclear war between India and Pakistan over this issue.  The UN and the US want both sides to start discussions, but the important question is on what basis the discussion can take place. India’s position has been consistent that ‘Borders cannot be altered, No plebiscite, relations will be guided by the Shimla Agreement and The Sino-India model should be followed’. But Pakistan disagrees and maint that solution based on the ‘line of control’ is not acceptable and moreover the status quo is a part of the problem not part of the solution.  The unresolved status of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute has pushed us to three wars in addition to three minor ones and might well have triggered a wider and more sinister war between the two countries in 2002, if diplomacy, realism and commonsense had not prevailed.”  The positions of the two contending sides do not have any common ground so far; as a result, solution is encoding them. 
 
The Background of the Problem   Problem started in 1947 when British was dividing India into two parts to separate out Muslims, who had demanded a separate homeland for themselves and the non-Muslims.  Pakistan had refused to give a chance to the old princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and attacked in the guise of tribal Pathans on 20th October 1947.  The Maharaja asked India for help and joined India on 26th October 1947.  However, by that time Pakistan had already occupied about 1/3 of the Kashmir.  The UN Security Council resolution of April 1948 had suggested a plebiscite for the people of Kashmir after it would be vacated by Pakistan: India would be allowed to maintain some forces to maintain the law and order.  Pakistan never vacated the area and as a result, the referendum could not happen.  During the last six decades a lot of demographic changes took place, the most notable one is the expulsions of the non-Muslim communities both from the Pakistan occupied Kashmir and also from the Indian Kashmir.  Non-Muslims were driven out from the Pakistan occupied areas of Baltistan, Skardu, Hunza and Gilgit, the four semi-independent kingdoms associated with the state of the Jammu and Kashmir, there were large-scale infiltrations of Muslims into traditional Buddhist area Ladakh and the Hindu areas of Jammu.  In the current demographic characteristics, there are nine million people in the Indian Kashmir, about seven millions are Muslims, the rest two millions are Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs.  While Kashmir valley is now almost all Muslim, in Ladakh Buddhists are still in majority.  Muslims are still a minority in Jammu.  Indian part of the Kashmir is about 45 percent of the original Kingdom of the Jammu and Kashmir, about 35 percent is now in Pakistan, and China has occupied the other 20 percent in 1962.  Skardu, Gilgit, Hunza, and Baltistan are now the Northern Area Province of Pakistan. The dispute is mainly on the Indian part of Kashmir, as Pakistan wants it on the ground that Muslims are the majority of the population in that part.  India although theoretically still claims the whole of the original kingdom, it had never pressed any demands for the Pakistani and the Chinese parts seriously. We have always stated that Kashmir is an integral part of India, but Pak maintains that Kashmir is the “jugular vein of Pakistan” and a currently disputed territory whose final status must be determined by the people of Kashmir. China states that Aksai Chin is a part of China and does not recognize the addition of Aksai Chin to the Kashmir region. Certain Kashmiri independence groups believe that Kashmir should be independent of both India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan have fought at least three wars over Kashmir, including the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 19471965 and 1999. India and Pakistan have also been involved in several skirmishes over the Siachen Glacier. Since 1987, a disputed State election has resulted in some of the state’s legislative assembly forming militant wings, creating a catalyst for insurgency. The Jammu and Kashmir has been the site of conflict between the  Armed Forces, militants, and separatists. India has furnished documentary evidence to the United Nations that these militants are supported by Pakistan, leading to a ban on some terrorist organisations, which Pakistan has yet to enforce.  Former President of Pakistan and the ex-chief of Pakistan military Pervez Musharraf, once agreed, that Pakistani government indeed helped to form underground militant groups and “turned a blind eye” towards their existence. The turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir has resulted in thousands of deaths, but has become less deadly in recent years. There have been protest movements in Kashmir since 1989. The movements were created to voice Kashmir’s disputes and grievances with the Indian government, specifically the Military. Elections held in 2008 were generally regarded as fair by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, had a high voter turnout in spite of calls by militants for a boycott, and led to the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference forming the government in the state. According to Voice of America, many analysts have interpreted the high voter turnout in this election as a sign that the people of Kashmir have endorsed Indian rule in the state. 
 
Reasons Behind the Dispute   The Kashmir Conflict arises from the Partition of British India in 1947 into modern India and Pakistan. Both the countries have made claims to Kashmir, based on historical developments and religious affiliations of the Kashmiri people. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, which lies strategically in the north-west of the subcontinent, bordering Afghanistan and China, was a princely state ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh under the paramountcy of British India. In geographical and legal terms, the Maharaja could have joined either of the two new Dominions. In October 1947, incursions by Pakistan took place leading to a war, as a result of which the state of Jammu and Kashmir remains divided between the two countries. Attempts to resolve the dispute through political discussions were unsuccessful. In September 1965, war broke out again between Pakistan and India. The United Nations called for another cease-fire, and peace was restored once again following the Tashkent Declaration in 1966, by which both nations returned to their original positions along the demarcated line. After the 1971 war and the creation of independent Bangladesh, under the terms of the 1972 Shimla Agreement between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, it was agreed that neither country would seek to alter the cease-fire line in Kashmir, which was renamed as the Line of Control, “unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations”. Numerous violations of the Line of Control have occurred, including the incursions by insurgents and Pakistani armed forces at Kargil leading to the Kargil war. There are also sporadic clashes on the Siachen Glacier, where the Line of Control is not demarcated and both countries maintain forces at altitudes rising to 20,000 ft (6,100 m), with the Indian forces serving at higher altitudes.
 
Start of Insurgency  In 1989, a widespread popular and armed insurgency started in Kashmir. After the 1987 State legislative assembly election, some of the results were disputed. This resulted in the formation of militant wings after the election and was the beginning of the Mujahadeen insurgency, which continues to this day. Insurgency was largely started by Afghan mujahadeen who entered the Kashmir valley following the end of the Soviet-Afghan War. Pakistani and Kashmiri nationalists argue that Afghan mujahideen did not leave Afghanistan in large numbers until 1992, three years after the insurgency began. Yasin Malik, a leader of one faction of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, was one of the Kashmiris to organize militancy in Kashmir, along with Ashfaq Majid Wani and Farooq Ahmad Dar (alias Bitta Karatay) Papa. Pakistan always claims these insurgents are Jammu and Kashmir citizens, and are rising up against the Indian army in an independence movement. Amnesty International accused security forces in Kashmir of exploiting the Public Safety Act that enables them to “hold prisoners without trial”.  Insurgents actually are Islamic terrorist groups from Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Afghanistan, fighting to make Jammu and Kashmir, a part of Pakistan. Pakistan is supplying munitions to the terrorists and training them in Pakistan. The terrorists have been killing many citizens in Kashmir and committing human rights violations and own armed forces are not responsible for human rights abuses. The Pakistani government calls these insurgents “Kashmiri freedom fighters”, and claims that it gives only moral and diplomatic support to these insurgents, though we know they are Pakistan-supported terrorists from Pakistan occupied Kashmir. In October 2008, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan called the Kashmir separatists, terrorists in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. These comments by Zardari sparked outrage amongst many Kashmiris, some of whom defied a curfew by the administration to burn his in effigy.
 
Indian View point  
 
  • India holds that the Instrument of Accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India, signed by Maharaja Hari Singh (erstwhile ruler of the State) on 25 October 1947 & executed on 27 October 1947 between the ruler of Kashmir and the Governor General of India was a legal act, was completely valid in terms of the Government of India Act (1935), Indian Independence Act (1947) and international law and was total and irrevocable. 
  • The Constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir had unanimously ratified the Maharaja’s Instrument of Accession to India and had adopted a constitution for the state that called for a perpetual merger of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India. Constituent assembly was a representative one, and that its views were those of the Kashmiri people at the time.
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1172 tacitly accepts India’s stand regarding all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan and urges the need to resolve the dispute through mutual dialogue and does not call for a plebiscite. 
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 cannot be implemented since Pakistan failed to withdraw its forces from Kashmir, which was the first step in implementing the resolution. India is also of the view that Resolution 47 is obsolete, since the geography and demographics of the region have been permanently altered. The resolution was passed by United Nations Security Council under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter. It is therefore non-binding and has no mandatory enforceability, as opposed to the resolutions passed under Chapter VII.
  • India does not accept the two-nation theory that forms the basis of Pakistan and considers that Kashmir, despite being a Muslim-majority state, is in many ways an “integral part” of secular India.
  • The state of Jammu and Kashmir was provided significant autonomy in Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
  • All differences between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir, need to be settled through bilateral negotiations as agreed to by the two countries when they signed the Shimla Agreement on 02 July 1972.
Pakistani View
  • The popular Kashmiri insurgency demonstrates that the Kashmiri people no longer wish to remain within India. Pakistan suggests that this means that Kashmir either wants to be with Pakistan or independent.
  • According to the two-nation theory, which is one of the theories that is cited for the partition that created India and Pakistan, Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, because it has a Muslim majority.
  • India has shown disregard to the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the United Nations Commission in India and Pakistan by failing to hold a plebiscite to determine the future allegiance of the state.
  • Pakistan has noted the widespread use of extrajudicial killings in Kashmir carried out by Indian security forces while claiming they were caught up in encounters with militants. These encounters are common place in Kashmir. The encounters go largely uninvestigated by the authorities, and the perpetrators are spared criminal prosecution.
  • Human rights organizations have strongly condemned Indian troops for widespread murder of innocent civilians while accusing these civilians of being militants.
  • The Chenab formula was a compromise proposed in the 1960s, in which the Kashmir valley and other Muslim-dominated areas north of the Chenab River would go to Pakistan, and Jammu and other Hindu-dominated regions would go to India.
 
Chinese View
 
  • China did not accept the boundaries of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu, north of the Aksai Chin and the Karakoram that were proposed by the British.
  • China settled its border disputes with Pakistan in the Trans Karakoram Tract in 1963 with the provision that the settlement was subject to the final solution of the Kashmir dispute.
Problems of  Pakistan Occupied Kashmir
 
  • Azad Kashmir   Claim of religious discrimination and restricting religious freedom in Azad Kashmir have been made against Pakistan. It is also accused of systemic suppression of free speech and demonstrations against the government. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights reported that a number of Islamist militant groups, including al-Qaeda, operate from bases in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir with the tacit permission of Pakistani intelligence and there have been several allegations of human rights abuse.  Human rights watch (organization) accused Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and the military of systemic torture with the purpose of “punishing” errant politicians, political activists and journalists in Azad Kashmir, It is also critical of the lack of human rights, justice, democracy, and Kashmiri representation in the Pakistan National Assembly. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence operates in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and is accused of involvement in extensive surveillance, arbitrary arrests, torture, and murder.
  • Gilgit-Baltistan   The main demand of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan is a constitutional status to the region as a fifth province of Pakistan. However, Pakistan claims that Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be given constitutional status due to Pakistan’s commitment to the 1948 UN resolution. In 2007, International Crisis Group stated that “Almost six decades after Pakistan’s independence, the constitutional status of the Federally Administered Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan), once part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and now under Pakistani control, remains undetermined, with political autonomy a distant dream. The region’s inhabitants are embittered by Islamabad’s unwillingness to devolve powers in real terms to its elected representatives, and a nationalist movement, which seeks independence, is gaining ground. The rise of sectarian extremism is an alarming consequence of this denial of basic political rights”. 
 
Kashmir a Way Forward  
  
  • Interlocutor’s Role The unbroken cycle of curfew, encounter deaths, stone pelting and firing on unarmed civilians underlined this failure, compelling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to finally take the onus of dealing with the situation. He convened an all-party meeting at New Delhi in September 2010 where he said he was open to talks with every stakeholder, including the separatists, if they gave up violence. Though the separatists boycotted this meet, the PDP took part in the deliberations and the outcome was an unexpected decision to send an all-party delegation to Kashmir to assess the situation.  It was perhaps one of the most prudent decisions taken on Kashmir in recent times.  The members of the delegation were carefully chosen; they represented all major political parties and the presence of senior leaders like Home Minister P. Chidambaram gave the team a legitimacy and credibility and the visit paved the way for negotiations even with the distrustful APHC leadership. The discussions were free and frank and offered after a long time the people of Kashmir an opportunity to have their voice heard by New Delhi. The visit was symbolic but its outcome was substantial—it opened a small window of opportunity in the intractable terrain of Kashmir.  The next logical step was to appoint a team of interlocutors to take the dialogue for-ward in a much more substantial manner.
  • Situation still manageable Despite this initial faux pas, the situation is not beyond redemption. The fault lines in Kashmir are clearly visible and known to the government and as such it is pointless to set up any ‘fact finding’ missions. The need of the hour is for a team of credible and experienced interlocutors, preferably led by a senior political leader, to establish a dia-logue with, and among, the various stakeholders in the state to create an atmosphere for the resolution of some of the urgent demands and grievances of the people of Kashmir.
  • Strengthen local Police  Second would be to strengthen and equip the local police force in a phased manner. This would mean a gradual increase in the number of police men and officers, better utilisation of training facilities (the state has four training institutes which are under-utilised) and creation of specialised armed units and intelligence wings to deal with local disturbances. The centre must not only provide adequate budgetary resources for such a major overhauling of the state police but also offer assistance in counter-terrorism training and intelligence. The police must also be encouraged to re-connect with the communities by instituting civil-police mohalla (locality) committee meetings once a month. These practices have proven to be quite useful in scorching rumors, gathering intelligence and establishing a rapport with the community leaders at the ground level. The local police must also be empowered with the latest technological tools available for surveillance and intelligence gathering.
  • Remove trust deficit Much more needs to be done to sustain the process of removing  the trust deficit between the Indian state and the people of Kashmir. Many of the socio-economic and political measures have been dealt with at length by the five working groups set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in May 2006. These are all medium- and long-term measures and require commitment in terms of resources and drive to achieve stated objectives. To the disillusioned people, these represent at best good intentions, and promises. It is therefore important for the centre to seize the initiative now to lay the groundwork for creating a violence free atmosphere for a dialogue to develop.
Role of Army
 
  • Return of Normalcy The near return to normalcy can be specifically attributed to the continuous pressure exerted by the army against militants and terrorists of all hues over the years and not just in 2011 and 2012. The courage and commitment of the officers and men deployed in very harsh and trying conditions is praiseworthy. Unremitting operations have sapped the will and morale of terrorist groups but the battle is by no means over. In J&K, the attempts by militants to infiltrate have not abated with over a hundred infiltration attempts being made in the year gone by. All these bids were actively supported, aided and backed by Pakistan. That most of these bids were detected and foiled redounds to the credit of the units manning our borders. But it would be naïve to assume a hundred per cent success rate in anti-infiltration operations. The small groups that manage to get through contribute to the residual levels of violence existing in the state. 
  • Army’s Dual Focus on Sadbhavana & Ops The army’s success in J&K could be attributed to its dual focus on intelligence-based operations and specific targeting of the terrorist leadership. This, in conjunction with a very effective outreach programme towards the local population and Sadbhavana programmes in all areas where the army is deployed, has contributed to the creation of a climate where the political and administrative process has been enabled to function with reasonable effectiveness. Significant progress made on the political and administrative front contributes to the success of operations by the army which, in turn, further reinforces the political process. This synergy must be maintained over the next few years to ensure lasting stability in the region.
  • Future Strategy & Concept of Ops
    • Advent of Counter terrorist Ops with a Human Face After the recent peace in J&K from the military perspective, it is the right time to deal a crushing blow to militancy so that the Army can move out of the CT grid permanently. Notwithstanding the above, we have to change strategy of undertaking CT operations under the changed environment. The observations may be considered in the backdrop of the improved ground situation and normalcy having been brought to the Valley.
    • Winning hearts and minds   Army has earned goodwill of people so that they extend support to the Army as they had done in 1948, 1965 and 1971. The centre of gravity of the Kashmir issue is the people. Therefore, operating procedures and philosophies have to change to make the Kashmiri Awam aware that they still need the Army’s assistance to make Kashmir a safer and better place to live. Army has to change its operational philosophy and  the commanders on the ground  have to rework  their methodologies to tackle terrorism with the least cost, both to the security forces and the  people of Kashmir.
    • People-friendly Operations  The commanders on the ground have to acknowledge that they are fighting terrorism in their own homeland and the sufferers are their own countrymen. We have to realise that the protection of their life and property is the responsibility of the security forces. The emphasis have to be on surgical operations, given that the people have to be not averse to it, for they certainly do not want terrorists in their backyards. People are to be treated with dignity and sympathy even while anti-terrorist operations are being undertaken. We have to maintain transparency about military operations and collateral damage, if it occurs in the course of the operations, unintentionally or by negligence. Spot compensation have to be made to the concerned people and if the intent is malicious or negligent, the guilty party/parties are to be summarily punished.

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