The killing fields of IHK


M Ziauddin

INDIA has finally succeeded in turning a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan—Kashmir— into a serious problem for itself. This is not first time that that has happened. Even in early 1990s when the population in the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) found itself with no alternative but to go on an intifada—peaceful resistance against the occupying Indian army—it was but touch and go. But the Pakistan establishment smelling a self-deluded ‘victory’ sent in its trained and equipped Mujahideen which enabled India to pass the blame for the excessively harsh Army action against the freedom fighters on to Pakistan for the unrest and escape international accountability and indictment.
This time so far India has not been able to pass the blame on to either Pakistan or any or any other outside force. And it would be very much in the interest of the oppressed people of the IHK and also in Pakistan’s own interest to keep itself off from the on-going struggle inside the occupied territory. It is the moral support that the freedom fighter require not material.
Let India face the problem in the way it has been doing all these years with brute force and see where it would all lead to. It would not take long for India to realise that with Pakistan not serving as the escape-goat any more it will have no option but to come to Pakistan seeking a remedy.
And this would not be the first time that would happen. India was, indeed, on the back foot when in February 1999 the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee came to Lahore and signed what is called the Lahore Declaration which said: The Declaration reaffirmed the continued commitment of their respective governments to the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. It reiterated the determination of both countries to implementing the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit; and that an environment of peace and security is in the national interest of both countries and that resolution of all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, is essential for this purpose the parliaments of both countries quickly ratified and acceded the treaties.
However, a dim-witted Pakistani Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Pervez Musharraf smelling victory without waiting for the actual victory sabotaged the Declaration with his Kargil misadventure.
Again, it was an India on the back-foot having no clue how to stop the on -going bloodshed in IHK which invited the then military ruler of Pakistan, the dim-witted General Pervez Musharraf for a summit at Agra in July 2001. The host was Mr. Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India. In return for discussing Kashmir, India had wanted Pakistan to renounce the Pakistani sponsored on-going militancy in IHK. Musharraf not knowing freedom struggles were going to be renamed as terrorism by the end of the year because of 9/11 refused the Indian request and came back home empty handed but was accorded a hero’s welcome by the Jamat-i-Islami workers who had also attempted to disrupt, obviously on the prompting of the establishment, Vajpayee’s Lahore Yatra in February 1999 by besieging the city with rowdy workers.
The third time was when one saw the two countries almost coming to a settlement as the back-channel negotiations between India and Pakistan finalised a draft which seemed to be a practical and workable formula called the four-step formula. Just before the last general elections in India, on May 13, 2014 to be precise former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Speial Envoy Satinder Lambah while delivering a talk on “Discussion between India and Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir — A Historical Perspective” delivered at the Institute of Kashmir Studies, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, said: “Dr. Singh has consistently advocated a solution that makes the boundary irrelevant, enables commerce, communication, contacts and development of the Kashmiri people on both sides and that ends the cycle of violence.”
The points he highlighted were: it is important that military forces on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) are kept to the minimum, especially in populated areas; it is imperative that the people of Jammu and Kashmir on either side of the LoC should be able to move freely from one side to the other; it is important to ensure self-governance for internal management in all areas on the same basis on both sides of the LoC, and Jammu and Kashmir can, with the active encouragement of the governments of India and Pakistan, work out a cooperative and consultative mechanism to maximise the gains of cooperation in solving problems of social and economic development of the region.
According to The Hindu correspondent, Suhasini Haider (May 15, 2014), without doubt, Dr. Singh got a big push from the previous NDA regime, and the LoC ceasefire effected by Mr. Vajpayee. Mr. Vajpayee also made significant strides in talks with all sides, including the separatist Hurriyat leaders. In fact, his government even took the extreme step of talking to terror groups based in the Valley, through the aborted dialogue between the Home Secretary and Hizbul Mujahideen commanders.
“Interestingly, the Kashmir formula used to be called the” Musharaf four-step” but in the last few years, the ideas have been ascribed more to Dr. Singh than to Gen. Musharraf. In his book The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh, controversial for other reasons, former media adviser Sanjaya Baru seems to set the record straight. “(Singh) was quite prepared to sell this as a ‘Musharraf’ formula rather than a ‘Manmohan-Musharraf’ formula … He believed at the time that it would be tougher for Musharraf to sell the peace formula in Pakistan than for him to get the majority opinion on his side.”
“Regardless of who took the credit, the four-step formula was soon visible on the ground.
“While troop levels at the LoC have not come down, skirmishes, terror attacks and infiltration levels have dropped in the past decade. Army troops are seldom seen in Kashmir’s towns as they once were. Even during the stone-pelting protests in 2009-2010, the Army was enlisted no more than once — for a flag-march on the outskirts of Srinagar. The strength of the Central Reserve Police Force has also been reduced to nearly half in the State, with many bunkers being removed.
“However, the ground reality has also involved many setbacks. Every terror attack from Pakistan hardens positions in India. In India, the government has failed to engage the separatists of the Hurriyat in taking steps toward the mainstream…While it is creditable that no protester in the past five years has picked up more than a stone, the anger in the Valley is palpable, and the sense of alienation heightened after the decision by the government to hang the conspirator in the Parliament attack case, Afzal Guru, without notice to his family or agreeing to return his body. Finally, the return of Kashmiri Pandits, ousted from their homes a quarter of a century ago, remains an unfulfilled promise.
“In an interview to CNN-IBN in 2009, Dr. Singh admitted that he should have moved faster on the Kashmir resolution with Pakistan.” We had come very close to a non-border, non-territorial solution, and I regret that we didn’t go ahead with it due to certain events at the time.”
This was the scene in the IHK just before the Indian general election in 2014 which brought in PM Narendra Modi. Three years down the line, things have deteriorated to such a pass that the occupying army is once again on the killing spree but without breaking the back of the movement. The trigger was the killing of Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen leader. So, it is time for India to reopen talks with Pakistan with the four-step formula making up the main agenda. The best thing about this formula is that its second step advocates the long standing demand of the Kashmiris—withdrawal of India troops from the IHK. This would create the right kind of environment for finding a lasting solution of the bilateral dispute which India in its typically egotistical mind-set has turned into a very hot problem for itself.

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