Dangerous Lures of Delhi Atmospherics
By Dr Shireen M. Mazari

There is a strange lure that India seems to have on Pakistanis of many shades and opinions -- and this is especially noticeable now in the wake of the fast-paced "peace" process. In fact, at the rate developments are taking place, the peace process is fast beginning to look like an "appeasing" process.
On Kashmir we continue to hear the hackneyed diatribes of the Indian leadership regarding infiltration across the LoC. How this can be happening despite the construction of a three-layered, illegal fence by India along the same LoC is difficult to comprehend. However, clearly India's inability to accept the fact that indigenous Kashmiris will not accept Indian occupation and will continue to fight it prevents them from having a more realistic take on the Kashmir issue.
What is totally inexplicable is what happens to Pakistanis and Kashmiris from AJK when they go to India. Take the statements that came from New Delhi in the press, quoting one of the Old Guard of Kashmiri leaders in AJK -- Sardar Qayyum. In New Delhi for a meeting of Kashmiri leaders, he was quoted as saying, "There is no jihad in Kashmir. The terrorists are being employed by those with vested interests…" Now why would this "Mujahid-i-Awal" suddenly declare the jihad in Kashmir as over? Has Kashmir been liberated from Indian occupation? Have the Kashmiris been given the right to exercise self-determination? Has India allowed the resolution of the Kashmir conflict in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions? If the answer to all these questions is in the negative then how has a struggle for basic human rights and the implementation of a UN Charter provision of self-determination suddenly lost its legitimacy in Sardar Qayyum's eyes?
Of course, on his return from New Delhi, in the face of a critical press in Pakistan, Sardar Qayyum denied having equated the Kashmir jihad with terrorism, but he did not deny the rest of his statements. So something clearly is amiss.
After all, what has changed on the ground that has altered the character of the indigenous struggle in Occupied Kashmir? Merely the commencement of the peace process and the bus service across the LoC? Or is it the Indian government's decision to talk to the now-divided APHC leadership of Occupied Kashmir? Or was it the atmospheric in the Delhi conference of Kashmiri leaders that allowed Sardar Qayyum to be misquoted on the Kashmiri struggle? Nor is that all. The worse was his declaration that the peace process between Pakistan and India "could be derailed if these militants acquire weapons of mass destruction". (Interesting how the mujahideen and freedom fighters of yesteryear are now "militants" for Sardar Qayyum.)
What exactly was he alluding to if not the Western phobia that somehow Muslim militants can access WMDs? One can compare this statement to the irresponsible bragging our politicians used to do in the early years of our nuclearisation when they threatened the use of nuclear weapons at the least provocation -- or even imagined provocation. That certainly did little to bolster Pakistan's claims -- based on reality -- that we had strong command and control structures safeguarding our nuclear assets. Now again there is this dramatic statement which has unintended consequences extremely damaging especially for Pakistan. Don't these leaders ever think of the consequences of such statements?
But Sardar Qayyum was not done with his new approach to the Kashmir issue. Delhi atmospherics seemed to be with him when he addressed a press conference on Wednesday, 28th September, in which he declared that both Pakistan and India should withdraw their troops from Kashmir and work for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri refugees. How he could compare an occupation force with the presence of Pakistani troops in AJK is amazing but it seems on this issue he was a trifle confused, if the news reports are to be believed, because he went on to then state that while a solution to the Kashmir issue was not possible at present, Kashmiris wanted the state to accede to Pakistan. To add to the confusion he also supported a future Kashmiri government headed by ex-Indian minister, Karan Singh, provided India withdrew its forces from Occupied Kashmir. As he put it, "It will not be a bad deal to have Karan Singh as Kashmir's ruler if India withdraws its army from Occupied Kashmir." Since he talks of a deal and does not qualify Kashmir in terms of the Indian-Occupied part, is he referring to Karan Singh taking over as ruler of the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir?
Clearly something happened in Delhi to impact Sardar Qayyum, whom one has respected and admired for many years as a stalwart of the Kashmiri struggle. But this struggle continues in altering forms and will surely do so till India ends its occupation of Kashmir, so why this drastic turnabout on the part of Sardar Qayyum? Of course there has to be a political solution, not a military one and this is the time for the political ascendancy of the struggle. But one cannot simply condemn the mujahideen -- who incidentally have always been careful in selecting their targets in terms of the Indian military, as Indian investigations into civilian massacres like Chattisinghpora have proven -- by terming their jihad as terrorism. This is an insult to the memory of those indigenous Kashmiris who gave their lives to rid themselves of Indian occupation. And these martyrs are different from the renegade groups supported by Indian security forces that deliberately target civilians in order to shift the blame on to the mujahideen. It is Indian investigations that have substantiated this state of affairs.
But then why blame Sardar Qayyum for being taken in by Delhi atmospherics. Many others are equally struck by the overall atmospherics of the "peace process". In Sana'a, Yemen, the head honcho of the Sherezade Hotel in Islamabad is rumored to have declared that he was not prepared to say anything regarding India and the OIC that would get him "bad press" in India. Is the India lure really so strong within our society and officialdom?
Of course peace is necessary and clearly the present process is strong, but we need to move beyond atmospherics and tactical CBMs, to some concrete results on conflictual issues also. The peace process cannot be allowed to act as "buying time" by India as happened in the case of the Baglihar Dam issue. After all, President Musharraf has correctly stated that we are seeking a conflict-resolution approach to the dialogue process. And, as he pointed out, India is seeking "conflict management". With this basic difference in approach, we need to be careful not to get sucked into the Indian game plan simply because things are happening too fast. If all economic and trade goals of India are achieved, where would be the incentive for conflict resolution? So let us try and shake out of the Delhi atmospherics and do a reality check on the long-term direction we are taking, or being taken on, in the present peace process.
(The writer is director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Courtesy The News)


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