Obama visit: Kashmiri Americans up the ante
by Sandhya Jain on 09 Nov 2010 10 Comments

Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kashmir would have inevitably featured in the subterranean subtext of discussions between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday. Hence our gratitude that American voters have rendered his a lame duck Presidency just prior to his arrival. New Delhi has little reason to pander to Washington’s strategic thinking regarding our sensitive northern state and adjacent neighbourhood, and should disdain American Muslims of Kashmiri origin who may be part of the US entourage.


For New Delhi, it is pertinent is that barely six weeks before his India trip, Mr Obama appointed notorious Kashmiri separatist Farooq Kathwari to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The fabulously rich owner of a famous interior design firm, Kathwari is a member of the powerful Council on Foreign Relations and an eloquent advocate of an independent Islamic nation of Kashmir.


To this end, in 1996, he founded the Kashmir Study Group whose members (as per its website) include Gary L. Ackerman and James A. Leach of the US House of Representatives; Dr. Walter Andersen, Johns Hopkins University (author of a famous work on the RSS titled, The Brotherhood of Saffron); Dr. Ainslie T. Embree, Columbia University; Dr. Robert L. Hardgrave, Jr., University of Texas, Austin (both India experts); and 20 other academics and retired diplomats. There is no Indian or Pakistani membership.


During Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure, in 2003, Kathwari lobbied extensively for the Livingston proposal prepared by his Kashmir Study Group, titled, Kashmir – A Way Forward. As that agenda remains alive on the American table, it may be instructive to examine its salient features. The blueprint begins with the falsehood that prior to annexation by the Mughals, Kashmir for 3,000 years of recorded history was an independent entity with distinct cultural and geographic features; in other words, it had no political or civilisational link with India.


Kathwari proposed a subterfuge called a “reconstituted Kashmir entity” straddling the Line of Control, with its own government, flag and constitution, but without international personality (whatever that means), and with special relationships with India and Pakistan. Its boundaries would be determined through internationally-supervised ‘ascertainment of peoples’ wishes’ (in other words, a UN plebiscite), and it would afford free access to both India and Pakistan.


Under this plan, the present Line of Control would continue until India and Pakistan decide to alter it in their mutual interest (or one party manages to do so by force), as the New Entity would be demilitarized (they still hope India will fall into this trap!).


The Limited Sovereignty of this proposed Entity would be guaranteed by India, Pakistan, and international bodies (unstated whether UN or America or NATO), and the New Entity would be secular and democratic, with power to legislate all matters except defense and foreign affairs (defence would be the responsibility of India and Pakistan; foreign policy is left vague. What is not explained is why the Islamic Republic of Pakistan would agree to a secular Entity, and why Kashmiri stone-pelters fighting for Nizam-e-Mustafa would agree to a secular and democratic regimen, which is precisely what they are resisting in Kashmir?)


According to the Kashmir Study Group, India and Pakistan would work out the financial arrangements for the Kashmiri Entity, which could include a separate currency. As a sweetener, the proposal gives all displaced persons, including Kashmiri Pandits, who left any portion of the Kashmir Entity the right to return to their homesteads (but who, other than the Hindus, was displaced? Why were they displaced, and who will guarantee their security?).


More recently, on Nov. 1, 2010, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Washington-based Kashmiri American Council, crawled out of the woodwork to exult that “Kashmir is giving proof that it is not going to compromise, far less abandon, its demand for Azaadi (freedom) which is its birthright and for which it has paid a price in blood and suffering…”


Fai’s ingenuous solution is to go back to the point of agreement when India and Pakistan separately took the issue to the UN Security Council. This point, he claims, is the agreement that the “future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be decided by the will of the people of the State as impartially ascertained in conditions free from coercion.” As a prerequisite, this involves demilitarization of the State (i.e. withdrawal of forces of both India and Pakistan) and a plebiscite supervised by the United Nations.


In reality, the UN specified that Pakistan as the aggressor state must vacate all territory of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed on Aug. 15, 1947, and India would re-occupy its seized territory. But what’s a white lie to a die-hard separatist committed to serving the colonial interests of western masters? Dr Fai suggests – wishful thinking – that India and Pakistan together prepare a plan for demilitarization of the State with joint safeguards for security. He seems unaware of the heightened alert in New Delhi following the movement of Chinese troops into Gilgit-Baltistan and adjacent to the strategic Siachin glacier.


Meanwhile, doubtless as a prelude to the Obama visit, our home-grown seditionists continue to mouth treason and provoke the authorities, which are desperate to turn a blind eye to their antics. Close on the heels of the Arundhati Roy-Syed Ali Shah Geelani treachery in Delhi on Sept. 29, West Bengal’s Jadavpur University permitted Delhi University lecturer Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani (of Parliament attack fame) to address a seminar titled ‘Azadi’, organised by a Maoist student group called the United Students Democratic Front.

peaker Siddhartha Guha Roy spun a yarn on the ‘independent’ history of Kashmir and stressed that the state be separated from India. This provoked a member of the audience, Arun Shaw, to raise questions about the role of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee in integrating Kashmir with the rest of India. All hell broke loose and the organizers brought out pre-stocked sticks and rods to chastise the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists.


For India, poetic justice came when the All Party National Alliance (APNA) in Muzaffarabad, Occupied Kashmir, decided to observe October 22 as ‘Black Day’ from 2011 onwards, to protest the 1947 Pakistani invasion which partitioned the erstwhile princely state. It seems the people of the region have had enough of the Islamic paradise.


The author is Editor, www.vijayvaani.com

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