August 2004 News

Raise The Costs For Pakistan

26 August 2004
The Pioneer
G Parthasarathy

New Delhi: When Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee met General Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad during the SAARC summit in January this year, India agreed to a resumption of dialogue with the latter following a categorical commitment by General Musharraf that he would not allow any territory in Pakistan, or under its control, to be used for terrorist activities. It should have been evident even to a high school student that General Musharraf believes that promises are made only to be broken, when circumstances warrant. He had, after all, promised to 'permanently' end support to cross-border terrorism to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in 2002, when under military pressure from India and simultaneous diplomatic pressure from Uncle Sam. Yet Mr Armitage himself recently declared: 'Clearly all the infrastructure and cross-border support activities have not been dismantled. Some infrastructure has been dismantled, but the level of infiltration was still too high.' Asked if terrorism had come down in J&K, Mr Armitage said: 'People are still dying and that was not acceptable. We will talk to Pakistan about it.' It would be naive to expect that General Musharraf, who once proclaimed that low intensity conflict with India would continue even if the Kashmir issue is resolved, would end support for terrorism in India, merely by inane assertions from our side about an 'uninterrupted dialogue' with his country. Experience has shown that General Musharraf and the military establishment he leads mend their ways only if they find the diplomatic, financial and military costs too high to sustain their adventurism. On August 18, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan called on Pakistan to stop terrorists from entering his country. On the same day, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed told Parliament that while there was some decline in levels of infiltration till May this year after the November 23 ceasefire, the levels had increased in July. Ahmed added: 'Recent reports suggested efforts to revive training camps and launching pads in Pakistan.' The Army chief, General Nirmal Vij, has repeatedly been saying the same thing. There is, however, little evidence to show that the Congress led-UPA Government has yet devised any coherent strategy to raise the political, diplomatic and military costs for Pakistan if it persists in supporting terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere in India. Zia ul Haq's son Ijaz ul Haq, who is General Musharraf's Minister for Religious Affairs, proclaimed in a function at the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad on August 17: 'We will not sit in peace unless the Pakistan flag is hoisted in Kashmir.' He added: 'Pakistan should render support to Kashmiris in every front. India is a born enemy of Pakistan.' India has been too defensive in dealing with Pakistan on Jammu & Kashmir. This has led to increasing Pakistani belligerence while speaking about developments on our side of the LoC. The time has now come to make our position clear to Pakistan, when its Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri arrives in Delhi on September 5. The unanimous resolution of our Parliament adopted in 1994 categorically states that the whole State of Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India. Our negotiating strategy should, therefore, be to see how we can now get the portion of Jammu & Kashmir under Pakistan's occupation, including the so-called 'Northern Areas,' increasingly integrated with India. Ever since 1947, both Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and the so-called Northern Areas have been ruled as virtual colonies of the Pakistan Government. They enjoy virtually no autonomy, with POK being administered by a so-called 'Kashmir Council' dominated by the Federal Government. The so-called 'President' of POK today is a retired Major General who has been a crony of Generals Musharraf and Aziz Khan. Similarly, people in the Shia dominated Northern Areas have no representative institutions. The region has been in perpetual turmoil. Curfews and crackdowns by the occupying Pakistani forces are commonplace. Pakistan has systematically sought to change the sectarian composition of the predominantly Shia Northern Areas by bringing in Sunni settlers with militant Wahhabi tendencies, from across the country. People of the Northern Areas deeply resent how their soldiers were disowned and not even given a decent burial, after they served as canon fodder for the Pakistan Army during the Kargil conflict. While Article 370 safeguards people of Jammu & Kashmir from ethnic marginalisation, the ethnic composition of POK has been significantly altered since 1947. There is no dearth of evidence available of the systematic abuse of human rights and the denial of democratic freedoms to people in POK and the Northern Areas. Pakistan has for long sought to use the Hurriyat Conference as its Trojan horse in Jammu & Kashmir. This conglomerate does have some distinguished figures who have genuine grievances about the fairness of past elections in the State. It is, however, made up largely of political leaders with a limited political base. It received some support from the US State Department and presumably the CIA in the days of when Ms Robin Raphel headed the South Asian Bureau. It is, however, now widely perceived to be made up of people with limited influence, most of whom depend on outside financial support and on the ability of ISI armed terrorists to call disruptive strikes and hartals. Hence, Kashmiris in the valley refer to the Hurriyat Conference as the 'Hartal Conference'. Recognising their declining influence, a predominant section of the Hurriyat responded positively to New Delhi's offer of unconditional talks. Pakistan reacted by patronising the hardline fundamentalist Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Other Hurriyat leaders were then intimidated by not-so- subtle threats to their lives to abandon the dialogue with Delhi. Having witnessed the assassinations of Abdul Ghani Lone and the father of Mirwaiz Umer Farooq by ISI trained terrorists, Hurriyat leaders obviously feel that discretion is the better part of valour and are fighting shy of a dialogue with New Delhi. The Pakistani aim is to subvert moves by New Delhi to widen the political space for dialogue within Kashmir. New Delhi should now adopt a two pronged strategy in dealing with Pakistan on Jammu & Kashmir. Externally we need to highlight the absence of autonomy and democratic freedoms across the LoC and insist that as a first step Pakistan should hold democratic elections that meet international yardsticks in the Northern Areas and grant as much autonomy to POK and the Northern Areas as that enjoyed by the Government in Jammu & Kashmir. In order to ensure that the Pakistan Army functions in a democratic manner, the Force Commander Northern Areas should be required work under the orders of the elected leadership there, just as the Unified Command of Indian Forces in Jammu & Kashmir functions under the Command of the Chief Minister. New Delhi should also insist that settlers in POK and the Northern Areas should not enjoy any electoral rights pending a final settlement of the Kashmir issue. These should be essential prerequisites for greater dialogue between Kashmiris on both sides of the LoC. Finally, given the reluctance and fears of the Hurriyat to enter into any dialogue process with New Delhi or even to talk to fellow Kashmiris, while betraying virtual servility while talking to Pakistan Government functionaries, a process should commence to encourage Kashmiris of all political, religious and sectarian persuasions to commence an intra-Kashmiri dialogue on how they would like the peace process to proceed. Even as such moves are undertaken, New Delhi should examine a whole range of options-diplomatic, economic, military and covert-to raise the costs for Pakistan if it persists with using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. It is obvious that old recipes will not work. The time has come for new thinking.


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