The Giving Away of Kashmir
by Ajay Chrungoo on 21 Feb 2010 8 Comments

For so many years we have concerned ourselves primarily with how Pakistan seeks to take away Jammu & Kashmir. It is perhaps too late to intensely involve ourselves with how a section of the Indian State and the political class have over the years been crafting the giving away of Jammu & Kashmir. The unilateral submission of the report of the Working Group on Centre-State Relations by its Chairman Justice Saghir Ahmad to the Chief Minister of J&K is only a reflection of the relentless campaign to keep the Muslim Question in India alive and transform the vision of secularism into an albatross round the neck of the Indian nation, freezing its limbs into inaction so that Muslim Power continues to inch eastwards through successive partitions of India.


A Sinister Course Correction


Justice Saghir submitted his report in the name of the Working Group on Centre State Relations without completing the agenda of the Working Group; without taking most of the members of the Working Group into confidence; without seeking the opinion of the members on the draft of the report; and last but not the least, without formally winding up the proceedings of the Working Group. It seems that the entire exercise was aimed at some sort of course correction crafted by those who have pre-fixed the direction and outcome of the internal dialogue on Jammu & Kashmir. There are pertinent reasons to think so.


The delay in submission of the report by Justice Saghir was certainly causing worry, which occasionally found expression in the public sphere. On March 10, 2008 a prominent local daily reported NC patron Farooq Abdullah blaming New Delhi for not being serious towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, and quoted him making direct and almost indictory references about the Working Group on Centre-State Relations, “appointment of a Muslim Judge to give report on the contentious issue of centre state relations reflects their whimsical approach…. The report could have catastrophic consequences for Justice Saghir.”


As per the report of Kashmir Times (KT), Dr Farooq maintained that the reluctance of Justice Saghir in convening another meeting of the Working Group reflects his understanding of “how the contents of the report could impact his career prospects.” KT further quoted Dr Farooq as having said, “…in a country where the minorities are under suspicion all the time, expecting Justice Saghir to give a report which could maintain his image of being a nationalist would be a little irrational.”


In his expressions, Dr Farooq referred to the population dynamics in the country, “If the centre would have been serious, Justice Sachar would have been the best choice.” He openly confessed his resentment at the appointment of Justice Saghir at the time when the heads of the working groups were being chosen and said, “I resisted his name, since I knew the repercussions of (his) heading this crucial working group on centre-state relationships…”


These statements clearly show that persons of the stature of Dr Farooq Abdullah had a clear cut expectation from the Working Group on Centre State Relations, and an apprehension whether Justice Saghir would be able to deliver the same. Dr Farooq fully realised that the content of this expectations had a ‘catastrophic’ bearing on the secular fabric in rest of the country, and hence he nurtured a lack of confidence about the wisdom of having a ‘Muslim Judge’ from outside the State as head of the Working Group reflecting upon the relationship of Jammu & Kashmir with the Union of India.


It is relevant to note what Prof Amitabh Mattoo was saying months before Justice Saghir submitted his report, given the fact that he was one of the more visible backchannel actors in the engagement between Pakistan, India, separatists, and the so called moderates in Kashmir. He wrote in early October, “An important working group of the Prime Minister on J&K dealt with centre state relations but it was unable to arrive at a breakthrough. This doesn’t mean that we have a cul-de-sac. There are many proposals on the table including those on autonomy, self rule, self governance and achievable nationhood… These internal discussions must flow into the backchannel which can then attempt to work out a non-territorial India-Pakistan settlement on J&K based on providing a similar political architecture on both sides of the line of control, working towards converting the LoC into Line of Peace that allows free movement of people, goods, services and ideas.”


The way Justice Saghir submitted his report has some resonance in the way the National Conference submitted the Greater and Regional Autonomy Reports. Like the constitution of the Working Group on Centre and State Relations, the Farooq government constituted the Committees on Greater Autonomy and Regional Autonomy after coming to power in 1996, giving an impression of adopting a non-partisan and inclusive process. Dr Karan Singh was made Chairman of the Greater Autonomy Committee, and another non-Muslim, Balraj Puri, the Working Chairman of the Regional Autonomy Committee. Sooner than later Dr Karan Singh resigned and Balraj Puri was forced out. The report of the Greater Autonomy Committee (also called State Autonomy Committee) was suddenly finalized, submitted to the government and then pushed into the State assembly for adoption.


The Regional Autonomy report of NC envisaged the division of the State along the same lines as Musharraf did later on. It put the division of Jammu province into Muslim and Hindu majority domains firmly on the agenda for the settlement of the Kashmir issue. Balraj Puri later wrote about the proposed breaking of the existing regions in the State: “Though re-demarcation or creation of a region or a district was not included in the terms of reference of the committee, I still sought a clarification from the chief minister who categorically ruled out consideration of any such demand… I sent my report to all members and the chief minister in all humility for favour of their kind consideration, scrutiny and comments.


“Despite a reminder, I did not receive any comment… I received a letter from the Chief Secretary on 21 January 1999 that my term had expired on 31 December 1998. Through another order dated 4 March 1999, the term of the Committee minus me was extended in a similar retrospective way w.e.f. 31 December 1998 till 31 March… It seems an alternate 28 page report was hastily got drafted and signed by three out of six original members which was tabled in the legislative assembly when it was about to adjourn sine die on 16 April.” 


What made Chief Minister Dr Farooq suddenly abandon all pretensions of accommodation and legitimate consultation taking everybody on board, and as Justice Saghir did recently, push through the reports having a bearing on the future of the state?


Pre- Fixed Destination


The entire peace engagement, internal as well as external, has a pre-fixed objective for a well entrenched lobby and every process employed by GoI is being judged on the yardstick of this objective. When PDP released its Self Rule document, not before the Working Group on Centre State Relations, but in Pakistan, NC president Omar Abdullah openly blamed the Indian High Commission in Pakistan of having facilitated the entire process. The Foreign Ministry did not contradict the allegation. Many Kashmir analysts privately believe that the Self Rule document is the creation of a section of the PMO. In the recent past, we have many instances wherein we come across a process where GoI acted almost in tandem with the Muslim leadership of the Kashmir Valley, both mainstream and separatist.


During the Vajpayee regime, a US-based Kashmiri secessionist leader, lobbyist and fund raiser, Farooq Kathwari, arrived in India with the full knowledge of the Government of India in March 1999, ‘carrying a series of proposals for the creation of an independent Kashmiri State’. At that time both USA and GoI underplayed his Jihad connections: his son had died in Chechnya while fighting the Russians!


Kathwari met very important persons in the Indian intelligence services and the ruling BJP. On March 8, Kathwari had a closed door meeting with Dr Farooq Abdullah and some of his top Cabinet colleagues in the Jammu Secretariat. This meeting induced urgency in the Farooq Government to come out with its reports on Greater and Regional Autonomy in the State. During his visit, Kathwari seemed ‘encouraged enough to push ahead with a new version of his blueprint for the solution of Kashmir’.


The blueprint - Kashmir: A Way Forward - became known as Kathwari Proposals. The National Conference reports had ‘striking similarities’ with Kathwari Proposals; the latter resembled Sir Owen Dixon’s proposals! Noted columnist Parveen Swami commented, “As significant, Abdullah’s maximalist demands for autonomy dovetail with the KSG’s (Kashmir Study Group) formulations of a quasi Sovereign State.”


It was not a coincidence that almost simultaneously the Indian and Pakistani Foreign Ministers met in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, in March 1999, and reached an agreement envisaging ‘plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir on regional/district basis’, ‘maximum possible autonomy to Kashmir and its adjoining areas’, division of Jammu province along the Chenab River and so on. Significantly, the BJP-led NDA was in power at the time.


The Regional Autonomy Report of NC advocated dividing the State into its Muslim and non-Muslim domains exactly as Kathwari envisaged. Pushing Balraj Puri, Working Chairman of the Regional Autonomy Committee, out of the decision making loop was a course correction applied to see the endorsement of the Greater Muslim Kashmir to which he probably would not have agreed.


It is highly improbable to conceive that Dr Farooq Abdullah, who was also Chief Minister, was not adequately briefed by Government of India about the purpose and purport of Kathwari’s visit to India. Even if he was not, it is more improbable to think that Americans didn’t educate him. Kathwari’s closeness to the US State Department and his presence in India with his “Way Forward” proposals on Jammu & Kashmir was more than a hint for NC to move fast to finalize the reports on Greater and Regional Autonomy and push them through the State Assembly where NC had a two-thirds majority.


To be fair to Justice Saghir, he refused to take into consideration definite signals from interested quarters in the Government of India to fall in line and took his time. He in fact took undue time in the view of those in a haste to strike a deal with the separatists and Pakistan. In the very first meeting of the Working Group, in response to a query posed by this author as to whether decisions will be taken in the Working Group by majority vote or total consensus, Justice Saghir had assured that the report of the WG will be finalized only if there was a total consensus.


During the deliberations of the Working Group, this author, while making his expositions on the Greater Autonomy report of NC, attracted intense attention from the Chairman while making the following comment, “Sir, while coming to participate in this Working Group, I was acutely conscious of the fact that I have the responsibility of the very survival of my community on my shoulders; during the deliberations which have taken place here I have come to realize that I have the responsibility of the minorities of the State on my shoulders. After listening to the expositions of NC, PDP and even Congress I feel I have the responsibility of the minorities of the entire country on my shoulders. Sir, I am sure that you will agree with me that you also have the responsibility of the minorities of this nation on your shoulders while conducting this Working Group.”


Justice Saghir could not have submitted the report which he eventually did, if he had followed the due process of first completing the remaining agenda of the Working Group, then submitting the draft report for acceptance by the members, seeking a total consensus on it as he had promised, and then duly winding up the proceedings of the Working Group. When he changed midway the agenda for the fourth meeting of the Working Group and incorporated the presentation of Wajahat Habibullah, he left no one in doubt about his helplessness by offering no answers when the members asked him the reasons for doing so.


He looked with embarrassment towards his secretary in the Group, Sh. Ajit Kumar, perhaps indicating to us that someone else had taken this decision. Justice Saghir could not have submitted the report if he had listened to his conscience, which he did for sometime. He eventually neither disappointed Dr Farooq Abdullah nor that section in the Government of India for whom the unfinished work of the Working Group was becoming a major hurdle. Submission of a report which at least will not come in the way of the pre-fixed objectives of the so-called search for peace with Pakistan had perhaps become an imperative necessity.


Paradigm Shift


When Kathwari was invited to India along with his proposals ‘Kashmir: A Way Forward,’ it marked a major change in the strategic perspectives of the Indian state. The plan was a rechristened Dixon Formula. It envisaged a quasi-independent or eventually independent Greater Muslim Kashmir. To Dixon, this was completing the ‘unfinished agenda’ of the Partition of India.


Nehru from inception was opposed to an Independent Kashmir. He outright communicated to Muslim leaders of Kashmir that, “he would prefer to hand over the State to Pakistan on a platter rather than support its independence and allow it to be turned into a centre of international intrigue and danger to both India and Pakistan.” This is not to say that Nehru and his successors till Vajpayee considered independence or quasi independence for J&K a political blasphemy.


There is much evidence to suggest that Nehru and his successors in Congress flirted with these options, but predominantly from a tactical perspective. For strategic planners in India, counterpoising Independence or Autonomy of J&K to counter pro-Pak sentiment in the State has always been an attractive option. They believed that keeping these options alive and nourishing them would provide India leverage to wrong foot Pakistan. Bereft of profound understanding of the issues involved and oblivious of implications, they often flaunted this manoeuvre as a strategic necessity. By accepting the options of Independence or quasi independence as possible concepts for clinching a deal with Pakistan, India has virtually checkmated itself. Pakistanis can now claim they are actually agreeing to India’s position and so there should be no delay in a final settlement.


The formulation that the Two Nation theory can be countered only by a Three Nation theory is turning out to be a fatal self goal. Both theories are ideologically one and the same. Cutting Two Nation politics into regional or ethnic denominators does not resolve its basic incompatibility with a state based on recognition of plural diversity on the principle of equality. The breaking away of Bangladesh from Pakistan only solved the problem of power sharing within the frame work of the bigger Pakistan. It did not resolve the conflict with an inclusive secular nation because it defined its separation from India on the same principle of two nation theory.


The symbiotic relationship Pakistan evolved between Pro-Pak and pro-independence / autonomy politics in J&K could not be properly comprehended within the framework of the strategic perspective of India. This perspective visualized harnessing Muslim identity politics and constitutionally fortifying Muslim sub-nationalism in the State as not only an antidote to Pakistan in J&K, but also as an effective device to mobilize the Muslim votebank in the rest of India. It considered Muslim communalism in India as merely a reaction to the supposed tyranny of the Hindu majority. The approach over the years has become not only a device to circumvent the issue of Muslim communalism in India, but to protect and nourish it.


Despite all this, till Kathwari’s visit, the Indian State had not totally closed its eyes to the incompatibility of an autonomous sphere of Muslim interests in J&K with secular nation building. That is why over the years the process of erosion of Article 370 remained alive. The extension of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India, CAG, fundamental rights and many other Central laws was an attempt to dissolve this incompatibility. A dominant section of the Indian State and the political establishment never agreed to elevate Article 370 from a transitory provision to a permanent feature of the Indian constitution. The strategic paradigm of fortifying Muslim identity politics in J&K and the rest of India to negate the appeal of the two nation theory has led to the creation of broadly two sections within Indian State and the political establishment.


One section has always had a subversive motivation and visualized recognition to Muslim sub-nationalism in J&K as a space to build a Greater Muslim Kashmir and use this to impair the indivisible unity of the Indian Republic from within. This section always wanted Muslim identity politics in J&K to be alive and kicking to use it as a cardinal insult to balkanize India along its sub-national diversity.


The second segment comprises those who gave more credence to the tactical value of harnessing Muslim sub-nationalism, but only to weaken the appeal of Pakistan in J&K. While keeping the affront to Muslim identity politics to the minimum, this section tried to neutralize the disruptive potential of the special status of J&K to the unity of India. It nourished a futile hope that eventually Indian democracy would prove a stronger force and Muslim identity politics in the state would loose relevance. Its approach was that Muslim communalism has not to be contested; has to be given minimum affront, and the best choice is to circumvent it.


Over the years, there has been a ping pong battle between these two mindsets, one seeking to de-legitimise religious identity politics, the other doing everything to consolidate Greater Muslim Kashmir. When Muslim majority Doda was carved out of Hindu majority Jammu province in 1948, followed by carving out of Shia Muslim majority Kargil out of Buddhist majority Ladakh, we were witnessing the counter responses to the process of fuller integration of J&K, unleashed not from Pakistan, but from within. Nehruvian strategic paradigm kept this internal conflict in the nation building process alive.


The promotion of Kathwari plan by the Vajpayee government marked the demise of this strategic perspective. The new paradigm recognized the three nation proposals of independence or semi-independence of Kashmir as a solution to the Indo-Pak conflict, rather than as a tactical antidote to the two nation vision.


Recognizing Pakistan as a partner in settling the future of the only Muslim majority state of India has not only made settlement of J&K the unfinished agenda of Partition, but opened afresh the Muslim question in India. The support extended by eminent Muslims like AG Noorani, Shahbana Azmi, or Wajahat Habibullah to the separatist cause in Kashmir has the sinister forebodings of the new confidence of a section of the Indian Muslim elite to the question the very unity of India.


Vajpayee’s strategic vision underlined that the frontline Muslim state of Pakistan can live in harmony with a secular and Hindu majority India. This shift in India’s strategic perspective is of the nature of a mutation. From visualizing the creation of an Independent Greater Muslim Kashmir as more dangerous than its secession to Pakistan and a potential hotbed of international intrigue, the new perspective seems to view the creation of the same as a bridge of peace between Pakistan, a confessional ideological State, and India, a secular state.


Giving Away Kashmir


Manmohan Singh’s tenure has carried the strategic shift further away from the Nehru-Gandhi era. Peace with Pakistan at any price seems to be getting internalized in a way that it has become more than a strategic necessity - an ideological imperative. The subversive entrenchment within, emboldened by its increasing reach and sway, is gradually succeeding in harnessing the might and wherewithal of the State itself to mount a concerted attack on the Nation.


The three Round Table Conferences and the meetings of the various Working Groups and the conclusions thereof are manifest examples of how the Indian State is made to invest in creating a Greater Muslim Kashmir.


A section of pro-India participants, invited to the First Round Table Conference, debated the wisdom of participating therein. They had legitimate apprehensions that the conduct of such a conference was in fact an exercise to accord democratic legitimacy to certain concessions the Government of India was ready to make to Pakistan and the separatists in the Valley. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already had series of high profile meetings with a section of the separatist leadership. These meetings, lasting for hours, along with the top most officers of Government of India, catapulted the separatist leadership into the national and international limelight at a time when their credibility on the ground was at the lowest.


The Chenab Solution, which became prominent in the public realm after Vajpayee invited Kathwari and sent his special emissary RK Mishra to start a dialogue process with Pakistan, had attained the stature of a possible solution considered more by the Government of India than by Pakistan. Was the participation of the pro-India leadership in J&K in the Round Table Conference along with the separatist leadership sought to give an impression of involving everyone so that the compromise already worked out could be presented as fait accompli to the wider national opinion?


Retrospectively, this apprehension seems well founded. At that time however, the view that the Round Table Conference accorded legitimacy to the diversity of political opinion in the State and presented an opportunity to show the separatists their position in the overall political environment of the state clinched the argument against dissociating from the RTC.


GoI used the RTCs and Working Groups to push through proposals which have critically strengthened the processes for creation of a Greater Muslim Kashmir. A process of reconciliation with separatism on their terms has been firmly grounded through a series of administrative, quasi-legal and political manoeuvres. These measures are such that they do not need legislative sanction of Parliament and as such are not dependent upon political consensus.


The deliberations in the RTCs and Working Groups amply reflect care in implementing an agenda. The very architecture of the RTCs was developed in a way that Government of India was placed as a neutral arbitrator between pro-India opinion and those who wanted to change the status quo of the relation between J&K and the Union of India. Often, the Government of India seemed to facilitate the separatist agenda by maintaining stoic silence even when the Valley’s Muslim leadership put forward misplaced constitutional arguments or historically unfounded and false propositions undermining the very Accession of the state to India and attacking its sovereignty.


When Omar Abdullah stated in the very first RTC that: “we have signed only Instrument of Accession and not Instrument of Merger,” it had profound implications calling for a proper response from the highest in the Government of India. In the same meeting, PDP leader and state cabinet minister Muzzaffar Beig claimed, “Article 370 had a treaty status”. He opined that this ‘treaty’ had developed after an understanding between the Constituent Assembly of J&K and the Constituent Assembly of India, both of which, according to him, were sovereign bodies! This blatant falsehood and sinister twist was never contested by the Government of India.


A section of the Indian State and political establishment seems to be allowing blatant falsehoods aimed at wrecking the sovereignty of the nation in J&K in such a way that the public in J&K, rest of India, and international opinion, is convinced that India has no case in J&K. The deliberations in the Working Groups were conducted in a manner to undermine all legitimate national interests. The Government of India mirrored the attitudes that the British Raj adopted in the build up to Partition.  


The Working Group on Confidence Building Measures never discussed anti-terrorism measures as an important confidence building measure for the return of normalcy in the state. It did not at all debate the relevance of anti-terrorism laws in the state in the light of the ongoing terrorist campaign, or even cursorily address the human rights violations due to terrorism. It focused primarily on State specific aspects of Human Rights Violations just as Amnesty International and Asia Watch used to do in the 1990’s.


The mindset employed can be understood by the written admission of the Working Group on Confidence Building Measures while dealing with the question of internally displaced Kashmiri Hindus: “the Working Group concerns itself with the rehabilitation and improvement of conditions of the militancy victims and did not go deeper into the causes or the genesis of the militancy in the state.” The Working Groups followed a clear cut direction to ignore all issues which would bring into focus the issues of ideologically motivated violence in the state and bring the ugly side of armed Muslim separatism to light. Their recommendations were meticulously in line with the separatist demands.


The WG on Confidence Building Measures recommended abrogation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), relief not only to the victims of terrorism but the families of killed terrorists, create conditions for the return of persons to J&K who had gone to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Pakistan for training and organizing support for armed separatism etc. etc.


Only lip service was rendered to all other issues, including problems faced by refugees who had come from West Pakistan, while PoK refugees of 1947 were not even mentioned in the report. The political motivation at work behind the scenes can be clearly understood by reading some recommendations of the same Working Group: “To start unconditional dialogue process with militant groups for finding sustainable solutions to the problems of militancy… To examine the role of media in generating an image of the people of the state as to lessen the indignity and suspicion that the people face outside the state”.


WG on Strengthening Relations across LoC never even considered the issue of illegal economy in the state and impact on it by cross-LoC trade. It never discussed the issue of Gulf-based business mafia seeking to suck J&K into its lap even when the leaders of the business committee in Kashmir have been openly canvassing with their fraternity that cross-LoC trade would integrate Kashmir Valley with the economy of not Pakistan, but the Gulf.  


The WG recommendations strengthened processes already unleashed to bring about the economic and political integration of the Muslim-majority areas of Jammu with the overwhelmingly Muslim Kashmir valley. The construction of the Mughal Road connecting Poonch-Rajouri with Kashmir through Shopian-Pulwama, and Sinthan top road connecting mountainous Kishtwar district with Anantnag, were given further impetus. The handing over of national power projects to J&K government assumed new stridency during the RTCs and WG meetings, and the subsequent recommendations have already created an agenda for developing the economic, legal and political infrastructure for Greater Muslim Kashmir.


At the third Round Table Conference, the Muslim representatives from Kargil vehemently opposed the concept of demilitarization and highlighted the humane role played by the Indian security establishment for people living in Kargil, Drass and other remote areas. This entire exposition was ignored and never allowed to be known in the rest of the country, primarily because GoI had already embarked upon the process of demilitarization.


In the same Round Table Conference, the then MLA from Bandipore asked the PM, “Sir, why was the All Party Hurriyat Conference chief Syed Ali Shah Gilani released from Jail before this conference? What was the assessment of Government of India? If he was released why was he allowed to address a public rally at the airport itself? What was the assessment of GoI about this? Do you know, Sir, that Lashkar-e-Toiba flags were flaunted in this rally? Do you know, Sir, what were the slogans raised in the rally? Sir, they raised the slogans - Lashkar Aayi, Lashkar Aayi, Manmohan ki Maut Aayi, Azad ki maut Aayi.” In retrospect, it seems that the release of the radical pro-Pakistan Hurriyat leader had a purpose. Gilani was perhaps released to raise the din of radical demands outside so that the proposals of Self Rule and Greater Autonomy raised by the Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference within the RTC appeared moderate options that could be endorsed.


The attitude of the Government of India to Jamaat, Ali Shah Gilani and Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) appears to have a purpose when we observe that it is GoI which is investing in pushing through the Kathwari/Dixon plan as a solution. While all other separatist leaders have lost their credibility and potential to mobilize the public, only Syed Ali Shah Gilani, DeM and Jamaat-e-Islami can keep the pot boiling in the public and provide the required pressure and momentum to the Government of India for giving concessions.


It is well known that whenever Government acted firmly on the ground, the Intifada never took off. It assumed the proportions of an uprising when Government of India publicly declared retraction of its authority from the ground. Omar Abdullah asked the Prime Minister in one RTC why Government of India is always befriending and encouraging such elements in the State who have a manifest anti-India stand on Kashmir.


Giving away of Kashmir is basically a process of recasting the concept of sovereignty of the Indian Nation, its frontiers, and its secular vision. The Self Rule Document of PDP, which many believe was prepared by the Government of India, openly talks about redefining the concepts of nation, sovereignty, ethnicity, regions etc. When GoI talks about porous borders, rendering borders irrelevant, settlement between stakeholders, it is talking about a fundamental ideological shift in the nation-building vision. To qualify these as tactical interventions or strategic imperatives, right or wrong, will be a gross misjudgment.


To those who pose serious questions about the gradual process of capitulation in Jammu and Kashmir, conducted and calibrated by sections of the State, the argument put forward to silence them in the back-channels is the intense international pressure exerted by USA and China on India. It is not incidental that one of the first public expressions of a ‘Two Front’ situation for India was given by Brijesh Mishra, the National Security Advisor to the Vajpayee Government, and one of the brains behind the peace process with Pakistan.


Prodded and patronised by the State, a voluntary censorship seems to be in vogue to not discuss the content and quality of this pressure. It is true that even after 9/11 USA has not given any indication that it has changed its policy on Kashmir or Pakistan vis-à-vis India. But it is also true that at a time when it is being parroted that GoI has been forced to enter into dialogue with Pakistan under US pressure, Washington has publicly released information about terrorists arrested in USA which link the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai directly to serving officers in the Pakistan Army. Robert Gates’ statement that India may loose its reserves of restraint in case of another terrorist attack on Indian soil was less a prodding in favour of dialogue and concession to separatists and more a warning to Pakistan.


This is not to say that USA is not seeking such cooperation from India which addresses US concerns more than Indian concerns. The fact is that USA has less leverage to exert pressure on India than it had before 9/11. Before the attacks on the twin towers in New York, the US Government had its relations intact with Pakistan and the rest of the radical Muslim countries in the Gulf. It had not entered Iraq and was exploring a relationship with Taliban. Now the situation is different. USA, as admitted by its own experts, is overstretched and needs India more in an atmosphere of global recession than at any time in history. Why is Government of India more willing to accommodate American views now than it has ever been before? Why are propaganda campaigns like suspension of aid to J&K by the World Bank because it has suddenly recognised the state as a dispute, left uncontested, especially when the World Bank representative clarified that it is continuing to finance many projects in India, including J&K?


The bogey of increasing international pressure is being crafted from within to target Indian public opinion at a time when dialogue with separatists is going on and Pakistan is unraveling from within. A section from within the government and the political establishment wants to present a compromise in J&K as a deliverance to the nation from perpetual confrontation, even if it means abandoning its frontiers, its people in the State, its civilisational responsibility, central features of its ecological heritage, secularism and everything India stands for.       


I participated in the first SAFMA conference in New Delhi immediately after a group of Pakistani journalists had for the first time visited Jammu and Kashmir. During the lunch session, I overheard a conversation between a visiting Pakistani journalist and an official of the Pakistani Embassy in India. The journalist told the official in Urdu that Indians while talking about the settlement of the Kashmir issue always say they cannot allow a Second Partition of India. The Pakistani official retorted that Gandhi and Nehru also used to talk like that before the Partition!


Dr. Ajay Chrungoo is chairman, Panun Kashmir

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