The author is former foreign secretary of India
I was in Jammu and Kashmir for three days from March 24 to 26. The massacre of Hindus at Nadimarg occurred the day I arrived. A number of us who had gone for a conference at the University of Jammu, had the privilege of meeting the chief minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, on the 25th. As expected, he was deeply distressed at the massacre of Kashmiri Pandits. He emphasized the obvious motive behind continuing and incremental acts of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir —that of scuttling the efforts at restoring stability and harmony in the state which he initiated since coming to power nearly four months ago.
It is relevant, therefore, to examine the developing situation in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the context of the United States of America’s military operations against Iraq and continuing civil strife in Afghanistan. One also has to take note of the contradictions in the Pakistani polity in undertaking this examination.
First, the internal political realities in Jammu and Kashmir. The assurance given by the Sayeed government to resume a purposeful dialogue with dissidents in Jammu and Kashmir is still to gain substance because neither the state government nor the separatist groups have been able to formulate an innovative and constructive agenda for the dialogue.
Sayeed’s handicap is that the Central government has not indicated that the Centre’s framework is for such a dialogue. The government in New Delhi has appointed a new chief negotiator to deal with issues related to Jammu and Kashmir. N.N. Vohra, the former defence secretary, home secretary and principal secretary to the prime minister has been designated as the government of India’s representative. He has had preliminary discussions with the deputy prime minister, L.K. Advani, Sayeed and some Kashmiri leaders.
But two points have been made by political circles in Jammu and Kashmir. First, that the Central government has not undertaken any consultation with other political parties, particularly political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, to evolve a consensual brief for Vohra’s negotiations. Second, that Vohra is being left out on a limb because Advani has not given him any clear idea so far about the broad frame-work for his project, leaving aside the lack of consultations mentioned above.
Separatist groups have always been divided but contradictions have emerged even within each group, whether it is the Hurriyat or the Hizbul Mujaheddin or other important dissidents.
Steps taken to moderate the punitive role of the security forces are being viewed with mixed feelings, particularly in Jammu and Ladakh. The assassination of leaders like Abdul Ghani Lone and Abdul Majid Dar, has intensified fear and inhibitions in separatist groups about entering into a meaningful discussion with government representatives.
Terrorist acts are on the increase due to Islamist parties in Pakistan being in power in the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan.
Significant and pernicious changes have occurred in General Pervez Musharraf’s Kashmiri policies. Leaving aside the cosmetic arguments about operation self-determination and so on, the substantive ingredients in this policy now are to sustain and increase terrorist violence against minorities and against the para-military forces; at the same time eliminating leaders of the separatist movement who may have an inclination to negotiate with Sayeed and the Central government.
Second, he has so structured ethno-religious cleansing in Jammu and Kashmir as to compel the minorities to migrate from the valley and on the other hand, to change the demography of Jammu by increasing the influx of Muslims from other parts of the state into Jammu. The consequence is increasing hostility between Muslims and other religious groups among the population of the state.
With the onset of summer, anticipations are that military pressure on the line of control would be increased by Pakistan. The US-led coalition’s operations in Iraq will have longer term ramifications for Jammu and Kashmir in terms of cross-border terrorism. While the outcome of the US military operations seems more or less inevitable, the critical consequence would be the rise and expansion of Islamic extremist terrorism from Algeria in the north-west to the Philippines in the east and in all the countries in between. This time the phenomenon will have the support of Muslim populations who are full of resentment against the US military action in Iraq.
With prospects of political uncertainty in Iraq in the aftermath of war and the Afghanistan situation continuing to be on the boil, the fallout on the Gulf and on Afghanistan would generate violent and de-stabilizing influences in the south Asian region, particularly India. Whatever admonitions and pressures that the US may pass on to Pakistan, there is not going to be any qualitative or positive change in Pakistani policies towards Jammu and Kashmir.
What is important to keep in mind is that Pakistan’s objectives of alienating Jammu and Kashmir from India is not a limited one-issue objective. The objective is the long-term strategic one of the Pakistani power structure to destabilize India by generating violence and communal divisiveness and then fragmentation of India on the basis of centrifugal, ethno-religious forces which it seeks to create, sustain and encourage.
As a parallel priority in this exercise, there would be continued attempts to prevent restoration of democracy, harmony and normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir. In fact Pakistan’s spurious reiterations of insisting on a dialogue will be a cover for these policy objectives and will also be an exercise in preventing important world powers from understanding the substance of Pakistani machinations and intentions.
This analysis of Pakistani motivations is not speculative but is based on official documents related to strategic planning by Pakistan, concerning its relations with India. Once Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan were removed from the power structure of Pakistan, from the time of Field Marshal Ayub Khan down to Musharraf, there have been official memoranda or policy declarations confirming these motivations. The framework of Pakistani principles and intentions towards India reflected in the official stance are the following:
Pakistan’s destiny is in emerging as the most important regional power in south Asia.
This destiny cannot be fulfilled unless India fragments itself into smaller states which can be played off against each other. Such a fragmentation is also essential to restore and confirm the validity of the two-nation theory.
The initial territorial instrumentalities to generate this fragmentation is to capture Kashmir and to separate the northeastern states of India from the Indian republic; if Punjab also separates on the basis of Sikh ethno-religious separatism, the process of disintegration of India would be well on its way.
Pakistan’s nuclear weaponization was and is essential to put India on the defensive and to neutralize India’s superiority in conventional military strength.
The fragmentation of India would also result in demographic fragmentation of the large Muslim population of India who, with their desire for security, may look up to a comparatively strong Pakistan for protection.
Meanwhile, every effort should be made to prevent India from sustaining and strengthening its relations with Islamic countries in the Gulf, west Asia, central Asia and southeast Asia.
Meeting these objectives would also be avenging the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan.
It is necessary that India projects this assessment both diplomatically and in terms of media projections to the world at large. It must also be realized that our advocacy on these points can be effective and credible only if domestic politics in India exorcises itself of narrow communal agendas which have become instrumentalities for electoral victories, particularly over the last two or three years. If communal disharmony becomes a significant characteristic of civil society and the power structure in India, our efforts at projecting our cause in Jammu and Kashmir through the prism of democracy and secularism will not succeed.