Persistent Kashmir Conflict Made Pak Army Powerful, Dutch Author

1 December 2014
Kashmir Watch

Brussels: The persistent conflict for Kashmir has made the army in Pakistan much more powerful than the government, says Gie Goris noted author and a Dutch magazine editor in his recently published feature. To be successful in Afghanistan the international community should start from the broader context of regional conflicts: the long after-effects of the colonial period, 64 years of international conflict over Jammu and Kashmir, 32 years of uninterrupted war in Afghanistan, 22 years of armed insurgency in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, 10 years of Western occupation of Afghanistan and at least 5 years of armed conflict between sundry Jihadists and the Pakistani state, which has financed and supported them, says Gie Goris in the feature. The author further says, 'Pakistani and Indian armies have failed to deal with insurgencies on their own territory. What's more, their strategy proved counterproductive. Also the superpowers - the Soviet-Union, the United States and Nato - have had to admit that military interventions in Afghanistan only add to problems.' He further says, 'The conflict between Pakistan and India is probably the most determing conflict for the region and at the same the main factor in the dead-end war for Afghanistan. The symbolic key issue between the two neighbouring countries is Jammu and Kashmir, the princely state in the high north of the subcontinent. One and a half month before independence, in the middle of August 1947 Great Britain had not resolved the issue of the more than five hundred princely states. Yet, the two inheritors of British India succeeded in convincing almost all Maharajas, nawabs and other feudal rulers to become part of Pakistan or India, depending on the location of the princely state and the religion of the majority of the inhabitants. The Hindu Maharaja of dominantly Islamic Jammu and Kashmir dreamed of independency and neutrality - a 'Switzerland from the East. At the end of October 1947 the political uncertainty surrounding the future of Jammu and Kashmir was stopped by an invasion of irregular, tribal groups from northern Pakistan, which were probably supported by the Pakistani government. The Maharaja signed the deed that integrated his land into India, after which the regular armies of the recently independent countries fought a first war. The war ended undecidedly with a divided Jammu and Kashmir. In 1965, 1971 and 1989 the Indian and Pakistani armies confronted each other again in the Himalayan state and in 1962 also India and China fought a short war about an almost uninhabited piece of Jammu and Kashmir, which according to China belonged to Tibet, whereas India claimed it was part of Ladakh. As no arrangements were made about this border with Tibet under British rule, there was room left for different interpretations. China won that war and took over Aksai Chin. The persistent conflict for Kashmir has made the army in Pakistan much more powerful than the government. And it is the basis of the army's ideology of 'strategic depth', which boils down to the imperative of having a reliable ally along the western border - in Afghanistan - so Pakistan does not have to fight on two fronts in case of a war with India. The retired Pakistani Lieutenant General Talat Masood warned that these ideas of strategic depth are responsible for the fact that the state is besieged by extremist groups and yet keeps supporting these organisations because they advocate fighting against India and 'liberating' Jammu and Kashmir.'