By Dr Shireen M. Mazari
It was hardly a surprise to find
the Indian National Security Adviser, M K Narayanan
rejecting yet another proposal put forward by President
Musharraf as a means towards resolving the Kashmir
issue. Narayan rejected the proposal of joint management,
or joint control over the Kashmir Valley. Of course,
his diatribe about Pakistan seeking to fan communal
hatred in India was absurd, to say the least, given
that Indian political parties like the BJP have
been doing that quite effectively on their own.
That is why the massacre of Muslims took place in
the state of Gujarat and that is why there was a
spate of killings targeting Christians across India,
during the BJP rule at the center. So Mr. Narayan
would serve his country better if he looked closer
at home to the causes of communalism that have been
a part of the Indian polity since the creation of
the sovereign state of India in 1947.
As for Kashmir, clearly while Pakistan is moving
beyond its traditional position on the issue, the
Indian mindset continues to be rooted in its traditional
posturing. For India the problem of negotiating
substantively on Kashmir is also psychological.
It must acquire a more flexible and rational mindset.
Every time one meets people from Indian occupied
Jammu and Kashmir, apart from those struggling against
the Indian occupation, one finds the same obduracy.
The recent Pugwash-sponsored conference on Kashmir
was no different. Of course, it was an interesting
event because it brought together disparate groups
and opinions from across Jammu and Kashmir (both
Indian-occupied and AJK) as well as Pakistan and
India. Not surprisingly, there was no agreement
on anything except the need for greater and diverse
interaction, but it was clear that everyone was
viewing the issue from a vastly different vantage
Interestingly, the Pugwash representatives also
brought their own agenda with them and their frustration
was apparent when this failed to get through. There
were also strange concepts being put forward such
as "greater Kashmir" and the Pugwash organizers'
fruitless insistence that we all refer to the "Princely
State of Jammu and Kashmir" rather than just
the "State of Jammu and Kashmir"!
Hidden agendas never remain hidden for long though,
and it was no different this time. In any event,
we Pakistanis have made it abundantly clear that
we have an infinite capacity to be lectured to and
abused by the West, especially the US -- hence the
Bush visit was followed by the lecturing US Energy
Secretary and one can expect many more such visits
from the Americans and their apologists. So Pugwash
seemed to be following the same tradition but they
misread the environment.
As for the Indians and the Jammuites, they only
wanted to talk of the Northern Areas. There were
repeated references to the Northern Areas from these
groups – more so than to the issue of demilitarization
or human rights abuses. Even more outlandish was
the argument being advanced for rejecting a reduction
of Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir – that
the people of Occupied Kashmir wanted the bunkers
and the state of siege to stay!
The fact that the contingent from Indian occupied
Jammu and Kashmir comprised more Jammuites than
Kashmiris was jarring from the start. Also mystifying
to the Kashmiris and Pakistanis was the apparent
courting of Omar Abdullah to the exclusion of others
by Pakistani officialdom. Many of those who had
suffered abuse at the hands of the Abdullahs' alliance
with the Indian state expressed a contained anger
At the end of the day, it was clear that while Pakistan
can continue to offer all manner of tactical proactive
suggestions to break the deadlock on Kashmir, India
is not prepared to move beyond autonomy for occupied
Kashmir and greater movement across the LoC in terms
of trade and so on --thereby creating eventually
a de facto border status for what is merely a ceasefire
line. But even here the Indians want to have their
cake and eat it too!
After all, if the LoC is to become "irrelevant"
and if there is to be greater movement across this
line, then how can it continue to be fenced illegally
as has been done by the Indian government? However,
India wants to retain its illegal fence even as
it seeks extensive movement across the LoC! As for
self-governance or self-rule, it implies greater
levels of autonomy with no shifts in sovereignty.
So even within occupation one can have self-rule
-- as the British did so in so many of their colonial
territories, especially in the Dominions. Thus,
in the context of the Kashmir issue, at best self-rule
can be an interim measure, not a final solution.
While most Indians still seem unwilling to have
their government talk to the Kashmiri freedom fighters
or militant groups, they have accepted such talks
between their government and militants in territories
where secessionist movements have been going on.
The case of the Nagas in India's northeast is particularly
relevant since the Indian government opened talks
directly with the militant group conducting a military
struggle in their aim to create a separate State.
The talks became an option when the Indian military
suffered heavy losses and the Indian government
realized that the military could not resolve the
problem. That is when, in 1995, it invited the National
Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) (NSCN-IM)
to begin political negotiations informally, at the
prime ministerial level without conditions at a
mutually agreed location in a third country.
An informal process of dialogue began with the meeting
between the Naga representatives Isak Chishi Swu
and Th. Muivah and the Indian Prime Minister, Narasimha
Rao in Paris in June 1995. The Prime Minister offered
to hold unconditional talks. This offer was repeated
in February 1996. The NSCN-IM set three preconditions
for talks: (1) negotiations should focus on sovereignty;
(2) talks should be held in a third country; and
(3) a third party mediator should be included. The
Indian government accepted all these conditions
and is continuing the dialogue while sustaining
Now why should the Indian government hesitate in
talking to the Kashmiri freedom fighters' groups?
Because they happen to be Muslim? Kashmiri leaders
like Yasin Malik consistently point to this discriminatory
posture of the Indian government when the issue
of talks is raised.
Under the continuing obduracy of the Indians, perhaps
Pakistan should stop putting forward any more intermediate
steps that could lead to an eventual solution of
the Kashmir issue. There has to be some level of
mutuality and responsiveness from the other side
or else an incorrect perception will take hold that
we are either in undue haste or under duress. And
while we need to show flexibility at the tactical
level, we also need to remember very clearly that
our legal and political standpoint on Kashmir is
rooted in the continuing validity of the UNSC resolutions.
(The writer is director general of the Institute
of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Courtesy The