< < <
Date Index
> > >
Autonomy for Kashmir is the Answer to South Asia's Main Conflict!!
by Saima Alvi
25 May 2002 20:00 UTC
< < <
Thread Index
> > >
Posted from THE GUARDIAN 


Autonomy for Kashmir is the answer 

The stakes are now so high that India, as well as Pakistan, must see sense 

Martin Woollacott
The attack on the Indian parliament which has led to military confrontation 
between India and Pakistan in Kashmir was, some Indians say, probably aimed 
at killing their prime minister and other leading politicians. But in the 
political rather than the physical sense, the attack was aimed much more at 
the leadership of Pakistan than it was at that of India. That is why the 
Indian reaction needs critical examination. It has included demands that 
the leaders of the covert groups responsible be arrested and in some cases 
handed over to India, a claim of dissatisfaction with the detentions that 
have followed and a rushing of troops and missiles to the front line. 
General Pervez Musharraf is engaged upon an extraordinary reversal of 
Pakistani strategic policy, forced upon him initially by events in 
Afghanistan, but which cannot be confined to that country. A changed 
approach to Afghanistan, a changed approach to Kashmir, a changed approach 
to India, and a changed approach to Islamist parties and movements in 
Pakistan itself are all part of the broader shift which is in prospect, 
although far from assured. 

Pakistani policy in Afghanistan was aimed at closing off that country to 
India, which once enjoyed influence there, and at using its remote places 
and Islamist militants to help in a deniable covert war in Kashmir. The 
supposed purpose was to detach the Indian part of Kashmir, or at least keep 
India in a state of constant discomfort until the balance of advantage 
changed, as with Pakistani covert aid for other rebels in the Indian union. 
Beyond that, for some zealots, perhaps danced the hope that the huge Muslim 
community in India would be radicalised. 

It was less a realistic scheme to win Kashmir than a wrecker's project and 
a rationale for the dominance of the armed forces and the intelligence 
services within Pakistan. Even though they had failed in the wars with 
India, lost East Bengal and proved inept when they seized political 
control, they still claimed they had a cunning long-term plan to come out 
even against India. Musharraf was part of this culture, benefited from it, 
and is indebted to some of the more Islamist elements within the officer 

He is in power today because he was able to represent the Kargil disaster 
in 1999, when the Pakistanis were forced to withdraw from positions that 
they and Kashmiri militants had seized in Indian Kashmir, as entirely the 
fault of Nawaz Sharif, the then prime minister. In reality it was the joint 
responsibility of both the political and the military leadership, very much 
including Musharraf himself. But he is an opportunist and by Pakistani 
standards a realist, and it seems that he recognises that times have 

He is now faced with a sharp divergence between his interests and those of 
what is probably still the greater part of the Pakistani establishment on 
the one hand and those of the militants that Pakistan has long encouraged 
and used on the other. The raid on the Delhi parliament, like the earlier 
attack on the Kashmir assembly, were surely aimed either at embroiling him 
in a new confrontation with India or at producing an upheaval in Pakistan 
in which he and his new policies would be discarded. 

If India humiliates Musharraf by forcing the pace of the repudiation of 
extreme Islamists on which he may now be riskily embarked, it could come to 
regret it. As the journalist and analyst Nayan Chanda has pointed out, to 
demand a complete end to support for armed struggle in Kashmir, including 
support for genuinely local and religiously moderate groups, is 
something "no Pakistani ruler can risk without a demonstrable quid pro quo 
from India". 

Indian policy ought to be bent toward producing that quid pro quo rather 
than bullying Pakistan into concession after concession. Perhaps, beneath 
the military show, some rethinking is going on and perhaps the Americans, 
and Tony Blair during his visit, may be able to encourage it. But there is 
an Indian irrationality over Kashmir as dismaying in some ways as that of 
Pakistan. It is not too much to say that India, by its cavalier and in the 
end brutal approach in Kashmir, over the years extinguished what was 
initially probably a slight majority in favour of the New Delhi connection. 

Perhaps the desire now of most of the inhabitants for independence, a 
desire which pleases neither India or Pakistan, could be parlayed into a 
substantial autonomy which could be made acceptable to Kashmiris, Indians, 
and Pakistanis alike. What was impossible or improbable before has to be 
considered now because, as the attack on the Indian parliament showed, the 
stakes have increased so hugely. 


< < <
Date Index
> > >
World Systems Network List Archives
at CSF
Subscribe to World Systems Network < < <
Thread Index
> > >