Thursday, June 06, 2002

Kashmir-Terrorism-Political Repression

Todays Washington Post Editorial dealt with Kashmir (not that this is surprising) but in essence they suggested that the onus of the Kashmir problem be put on India, i.e. the reason that terrorism occurs in Kashmir is a result of the lack of political freedom offerred to the Kashmiri's. I am the first to agree that India has been too heavy handed with dealing with the Kashmiri's, and that an indigenous uprising is of course natural. I mean, if people are not offerred any way to voice their grievances, this will usually lead to violence.

"But the United States and other outside powers will find this crisis difficult to manage if they overlook the fact that underlying India's nominal casus belli -- terrorist attacks sponsored by Pakistan -- is a deeper substantive problem, concerning governance of Kashmir, that has been obscured and distorted by the vocabulary of 9/11."

My contention with the editorial is that the Post forgets that for the past ten years or so, the indigenous freedom movement has been completely hijacked by Pakistan sponsored Jehadi's, not to put pressure on the Indian government to give Kashmiris more political options, but solely so that international pressure will rise on India to allow Pakistan a forum to plead for Kashmir. Rather, Pakistan quite brilliantly co-opted the insurgency to use as an instrument to forward their goals with regards to Kashmir. It was a brilliant tactical move as it achieved exactly what the Pakistanis wanted and what the Indians didn't, the internationalization of the Kashmir dispute. Then of course, the September 11 attacks occurred.

The editorial does go on and discuss Vajpayee's attempts to work towards a political solution, but the damage is done. The editorial again places Kashmir in the same tone as Palestine, and the two places are completely different.

"Eighteen months ago, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee began an admirable effort to address the conflict politically, declaring a unilateral cease-fire, proposing negotiations with Kashmiri separatist groups and agreeing to discuss the issue at a summit meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. The summit, however, did not go well, and the cease-fire failed. The Bush administration's subsequent definition of terrorism as a global evil seems to have encouraged Mr. Vajpayee to aspire to a goal that would have been out of reach before 9/11: forcing an end to Pakistan's support for the Kashmiri resistance without addressing the underlying political issues."

I am not sure anyone in the punditry really get it. Columnists/Pundits talk about a plebiscite, third party intervention, nuclear war, terrorism. But I don't know if any of those are correct. The obvious things seem to remain the same. Vajpayee's BJP has showed that if the violence slows, then talks and cease-fires are forthcoming. Without the cessation of cross-border insurgencies, the Indians (the people, not the government) will not be willing to let the situation continue as is. That is Vajpayee's concern as well, he has to try and keep his party in power, and war is often a great way to do it.

Musharraf on the other side of the border too has domestic political concerns. He has no real legitimacy. Sure he had a referendum, one which no state gives much credibility towards. So then, how is he domestically able to stop support of the Jehadi's. Kashmir is a Pakistani cause, not just because of the Islamic element to it, but, I think, the rivalry with India keeps them going, much like India's rivalry with the Chinese, or the West keeps them going.

Cessation of Cross-Border Terrorism= Indian willingness to move away from the brink of war= chances for talks= a greater political forum= more dialogue= peace in Kashmir. That is my naive formula.


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