Congress and Amitabh Mattoo: Reviving the Musharraf Formula?
by Sandhya Jain on 19 Feb 2011 7 Comments

If it is true, as credible sources suggest, that JNU professor Amitabh Mattoo has joined the Congress Party as a prelude to elevation as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (a post vacated by the controversial Shashi Tharoor), then the move must be viewed as an expression of the ruling party’s determination to press ahead with implementation of the discredited Musharraf Formula, doubtless at the prodding of the United States.


A prominent member of the dubious international think tank, PUGWASH (given the Nobel Peace Prize for god-knows-what), Prof Mattoo is being promoted by the Congress leadership to fulfill a covert agenda. To this end, he was first appointed Vice Chancellor of the new Central University Jammu last year, despite the appointment being illegal; despite sustained opposition from Jammu which observed a day-long bandh to protest against his appointment after his dubious role in the Amarnath Yatra controversy of 2008; despite grave reservations expressed in writing by J&K chief secretary S.S. Kapur in July 2010; and despite even the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jammu appeal to the President that local sentiment resented his appointment.


Obviously the Congress leadership, notably president Sonia Gandhi and perhaps also Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (though the two enjoy distinctly cold vibes these days), feels it has a lot riding on the person of Prof Mattoo. Hence, despite a deluge of complaints regarding his anti-national, pro-separatist, pro-Pakistan leanings, and other misdemeanours, the government pressed ahead with his appointment as VC for the new varsity though UGC ruled bar any person from holding office of Vice Chancellor of a Central University for more than two terms; Prof Mattoo has served two terms as VC University of Jammu (and reputedly has a host of skeletons in his cupboard from those tenures).


President Pratibha Patil, as Visitor of all Central Universities, was understandably perturbed when forced to approve his appointment despite the upheaval in Jammu over his appointment last year. Hence, while signing the file, she added the unprecedented caveat that the Centre would have to take responsibility for possible law and order problems that might arise from the appointment. This put the HRD ministry in a bind and effectively nixed the appointment.


Trapped, minister Kapil Sibal refused to issue orders for the appointment; seeing the writing on the wall, Prof Mattoo waited a short interval before resigning (sic) for personal reasons.


Now, running to make up for lost time by joining the Congress party, Prof Mattoo will allegedly provide it with a ‘Kashmiri Pandit’ face, though he is known for his proximity to some ‘moderate’ Kashmiri separatist leaders (whatever ‘moderate’ might mean). According to press reports, during Amitabh Mattoo’s tenure as VC, anti-India pro-separatist elements used the University of Jammu to promote the cause of Kashmiri separatists and terrorists and to create a dangerous regional and religious divide in the state. They were abetted by certain Jammu-based journalists.


Doubtless Prof Mattoo will now actively promote his pet solutions to the Kashmir problem, namely:

-        open borders

-        irrelevant Line of Control

-        demilitarization

-        autonomy

-        self-rule

-        good relations with Pakistan based on shunning what – after the latest Track Two in Bangkok – he calls the “coercive policy of non-engagement” (meaning, talk to Pakistan even if it does nothing about Mumbai 2008)

-        healing touch, compassion for stone throwers and subversives

-        water supply to Pakistan to the extent Islamabad needs.


Congress, which is heavily committed to the politics of tokenism, believes a distinguished (sic) Kashmiri Hindu like Amitabh Mattoo will win over the estranged Kashmiri Hindus and ease the flight of Kashmir out of India. This, the leadership believes, is a worthwhile price to pay for peace, no matter if it begins the process of dismemberment of India.


Self Rule Document


What is agitating the minds of Indian nationalists today is the dogged commitment of Prof Mattoo to ideas like Greater Autonomy, which he has espoused through numerous articles in the media. Despite free and fair Assembly elections in 2009, he wrote: “…New Delhi must not view the elections as signalling a return to ‘business as usual’ in the politics of the State. The triumph of democracy should not be a moment of triumphalism. By acting in a statesman like fashion now, New Delhi and Jammu/Srinagar will demonstrate a willingness to reward participation in the democratic process and will not be seen as capitulating to extra-constitutional pressure… The Centre must consider re-vamping the Fifth Working Group on Centre-State relations which failed to arrive at a consensus. A new expert group can consult with all stake holders to forge common ground on issues such as autonomy, self-rule, regional balances and sub regional aspirations.” [Greater Jammu 13 October 2009]


During his tenure in Jammu, Amitabh Mattoo endeared himself to PDP leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed (whom Hindus consider the ‘Butcher of Anantnag’) and reputedly helped in drafting the Self Rule Document which talks of ‘supra state’ measures, demilitarization, repeal of anti-terror laws, dual currency, economic independence and shared sovereignty, along with then Jammu & Kashmir Bank chairman Haseeb Drabu.


What most disturbs nationalist opinion, however, is his enthusiasm for international participation on the Kashmir issue. He is on the Governing Council of the PUGWASH Conference on ‘Science and World Affairs,’ an international NGO (read Western funds), which held a conference on J&K in March 2006 – in Islamabad! Most PUGWASH meetings have an agenda of what is to be conceded to Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists. The Islamabad PUGWASH meet, “Prospects of Self-Governance in Jammu & Kashmir and Present Status of Cooperation and Communications Across the LoC,” invited political leaders from India and Pakistan and prominent think tanks (international busy bodies) to discuss President Pervez Musharraf’s self-governance idea! Among those who participated was National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.


Prof Mattoo feels the Parliament Resolution reclaiming all Kashmir must be abandoned immediately. In an article titled, Four D's For A New Kashmir (Times of India 27 Oct 2009), he declared, inter alia:


- Kashmir is the ground zero of the India-Pakistan relationship. A signal from Singh on India's willingness to engage its troubled neighbour - in spite of its recalcitrance would generate tremendous enthusiasm within Kashmir.


- … there are in reality only four principal challenges that need to be addressed. First is the issue of the three dialogues that are vital to rebuild the culture of mutual respect, tolerance, accommodation and faith in peaceful conflict resolution… only the myopic will suggest that popular alienation has ended or separatist sentiment is dead. The challenge is to ensure a larger dialogue with separatists and even former militant groups which need not delegitimise the elections or undermine elected representatives.


- Dialogue must be unconditional and continuous and should address both political and humanitarian issues that could build confidence and trust (including the issue, for example, of the release of political detainees and ensuring a stricter enforcement of human rights).


- There has been growing regional and communal polarisation, which needs to be urgently addressed. The dialogue within should be complemented by restarting the New Delhi-Islamabad backchannel on Kashmir, to ensure that Pakistan has no incentive to subvert the internal track. This should, of course, take off from precisely where previously designated special envoys had paused in their discussions.


- The second challenge is to arrive at a consensus on devolution and decentralisation of power. 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 does not mean that we have arrived at 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 while working towards converting the LoC into a line of peace that allows free movement of people, goods, services and ideas. Cooperation in areas of mutual interest like water, transport, agriculture and education will require the creation gradually of trans-LoC mechanisms and institutions. Implementation of such an understanding should create conditions for a win-win solution without needing to address hard issues of political sovereignty.


- An issue that is both controversial and essential to building peace is demilitarisation. Militarisation must not be confused merely with withdrawal of troops. It is a culture that legitimises use of violence and force, rewards machismo and physical aggressiveness, patronises intolerance and repression and is contemptuous of marginal groups.


- All stakeholders, state and non-state, have an obligation to recreate a demilitarised culture of peace... A truth commission would be an ideal starting point. Symbolically, the withdrawal of troops from the main cities will send an immediate signal of the government of India's sincerity of purpose. But much will also depend on Pakistan's actions in ending sponsorship of violence as well as the ability of Kashmiris themselves to resist attempts that legitimise violence and force them to abandon once again their distinctly non-violent historic identity.


In another document, Ten Commandments: Towards a peace process, Amitabh Mattoo made some equally startling proposals:


- Autonomy must not be viewed as a dirty word, and an ‘autonomous’ Kashmir could become a model of cooperative federalism. Autonomy is… synonymous with decentralization and devolution of power, phrases that have been on the charter of virtually every political party in India.


- Autonomy can be achieved in the state through a simple six-point plan. First, restore the nomenclature. The terms Sadar-i-Riyasat and Wazir-e-Azam, which were used until 1965 for the governor and the chief minister of the state, still have important symbolic value for people of the state.


- … give the state a role in the selection of the governor. … The governor could be elected by the state legislature and be appointed by the President and, by virtue of Article 156(1), hold office at the pleasure of the President. Or alternatively, the state government could submit a panel of names for the President to appoint as governor the person he finds most suitable from the panel. The appointee would hold office at the President’s pleasure.


- … appoint a regional election commissioner for the state.


- … special constitutional guarantees are introduced to ensure that the state’s autonomy is not eroded. It may be necessary, for instance, to introduce a provision in the Constitution, which would provide for a referendum in the state before any major amendment that would affect its ties with the union becomes a law.


- A dialogue between the centre and the Kashmiris should be as inclusive as possible, and no group or individual must be considered untouchable. No conditions must be attached at the beginning of a dialogue... even militants who are willing to give up arms and eschew violence should be given a place at the negotiating table, as must representatives from minorities and different regions of the state.


Musharraf Formula / Chenab Formula


We now come to the famous formulations unveiled by then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf (now an accused in the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto). The Hindu lauded it as “completely new thinking on the part of the Pakistani establishment vis-à-vis its Kashmir policy since 1947”.


The Musharraf Formula envisages:

-        Division of Jammu and Kashmir into seven distinct regions, two of which are under the control of Pakistan (Northern Areas and Occupied Kashmir); five are with India.


-        These include Ladakh (the Islamic part between the Himalayas and the Indus); Kargil/Dras (Muslim); Poonch (Muslim, contiguous with PoK); Jammu (Muslim-majority districts) and the Valley (Muslim).


Given the emphasis on contiguous Muslim areas, it seems obvious the General was thinking in military terms and favoured drawing a line of division along the Chenab river, as all the five ‘parts’ in India are located along the Chenab. Indeed, the Chenab Formula was discussed at Track-II level talks between the governments of Nawaz Sharif and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999.


The Chenab Formula sought to divide Kashmir along the river Chenab, separating Muslim-majority areas from Hindu and Buddhist-dominated ones. The river flows through the mountainous areas of Doda, Ramban, Surukot, Salat, Reasi and Akhnoor and enters Punjab (Pakistan) at Head Marala.


Kashmir Valley has a 98 per cent Muslim population; out of the six districts of Jammu province nearly three Muslim-majority districts fall on the right bank of the Chenab and will fall to Pakistan if the river becomes the new boundary. In this way, 80 per cent of the territory of the original State, including POK and the Northern Areas, will become part of Pakistan.


Musharraf was aware that India (read Hindu nationalists, a distinction necessitated by the presence of anti-national Hindus among our so-called elites) would resist a religion-based solution to the Kashmir dispute. Hence he disguised his formula in geographical terms, though he admitted it amounted to the same thing: ‘The beauty of these regions is such that they are still religion-based even if we consider them geographically’.


Typically, Gen. Musharraf never ever referred to the huge chunk of Kashmir territory ceded by Pakistan to China illegally. Prior to the Agra Summit, however, he had said that as and when the Kashmir issue was to be settled, the territory under control of China would also be taken up as part of the deal. It is pertinent that Amitabh Mattoo, like Gen. Musharraf, favours demilitarisation of Kashmir.


Chaophraya dialogue
Days before he finally retreated from the futile attempt to become the first Vice Chancellor of the new Central University Jammu, Amitabh Mattoo attended the Chaophraya dialogue organised by the New Delhi-based Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies and former Pakistani federal minister Sherry Rehman’s Jinnah Institute at Bangkok.

Writing about the dialogue between security analysts from the two countries in The Hindustan Times (Reconnect the wires, 3 Feb 2011), Mattoo asserted that India's failure to engage with Pakistan was “counterproductive, fruitless and even dangerous”. This policy of “coercive non-engagement”, he said, had failed to enable early prosecution of those responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attacks, or a clampdown on the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.

The highlights of the Chaophraya dialogue, he claimed, was a broad acceptance that the only resolution of Jammu and Kashmir has to be on the basis of non-territorial settlement by converting the Line of Control into a line of peace. In other words, India has to give up claims to the Gilgit, Baltistan, Occupied Kashmir, and Aksai Chin.

That is, to begin with. The next stage will be to implement the Musharraf Formula and give the Muslim-majority contiguous districts to our ‘brothers’ in Pakistan, and curtail our border at the Chenab river.

That is, till the next set of demands are made, if Pakistan still continues to be…

This, it would seem, is the path Amitabh Mattoo will try to make the nation tread, should he make it to the office of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who failed to defend the Government record in the 2G spectrum scam, must tell the nation if he endorses the Musharraf Vision for dismemberment of India. He must know he cannot blame ‘coalition compulsions’ for the appointment of Amitabh Mattoo, should it happen; he will have to spell out where the buck stops in his party and government.


He will have to spell out if he and his government deserve to remain in office, having squandered and forfeited the public mandate.


(The author is Editor,

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