Crisis India-Pakistan:
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uit de Indiase, Pakistaanse en internationale media.

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The News International, Wednesday March 13, 2002

What Pakistan should do while India continues to threaten war:

How to stump Sushma -- and Atalji

by M B Naqvi

The PTV debate between India's Information Minister Sushma Swaraj and Talat Hussain on Friday evening was high on entertainment and low in utility. It heavily underscored the utter impasse into which the two countries have stumbled into. Any diplomatic tete a tete between the two countries' officials can, on present assumptions, scarcely achieve anything more substantial. India remains determined to prevent any mediation on Kashmir and until Pakistan actually does "on the ground" what Sushma said Pakistan government has been precisely told to do, India will neither withdraw its troops from the borders nor restore the sundered communication links, enhance each other's diplomatic presence or ease up on the visa regime. In fact, India will continue to threaten war.
Past policies of Pakistan, especially on national security and Kashmir, have ended into the blind alley, which is the current eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation. All Islamabad can do, thus, is to sit on its hands and wait -- for what? A war that may never come, except as an accident or irrational decision of either side. Meantime the hopes of expanding trade and investments, apart from the expense of forward deployment, are unlikely to be fulfilled. Economic turnaround, so necessary even for arresting the growing unemployment and poverty, may remain an aspiration. Economic prosperity, whatever this government means by it, will continue to elude. The regime is required to legitimise itself through elections of some kind. That requires normalcy and peaceful conditions and not war hysteria. These conditions are being denied by India. War-like conditions and electioneering do not gel; polls may have to wait for a quieter time. But the regime does not have unlimited time at its disposal.
Pakistan's new or old foreign friends are of no avail. The UK has spoken for the US, with EU and Japan concurring, that 'terrorism in Kashmir has to end before India-Pakistan dialogue can be resumed'. This is as good as saying: satisfy India that you have done your duty by restraining terrorism in Kashmir -- the very thing Sushma said: Pakistan knows what precisely to do. Islamabad, or rather CE Gen Pervez Musharraf, is thus on the horns of a painful dilemma: if he does restrain the Jihadis in Kashmir -- the true Indian demand -- which is the logical extension of what he did about Taliban, it will set up a dangerous backlash. Or so he is likely to be advised. If he refuses, he traps himself into the current quandary of the no war and no peace, complete with all the impediments of an actual war for the expected investments; and the regime's other political hopes might become somewhat unrealistic or difficult to be fulfilled. The country and its people are becoming perplexed and despondent about the future, creating a troubled rear for the troops on war deployment.
Since there are no democratic institutions with authority, this momentous decision has to be taken by one man -- on the advice of perhaps 12 to 15 Lt. Generals. Others' unsought advice is likely to be unwelcome. Even so, a duty devolves on political commentators and indeed all aware citizens to pronounce on national issues, especially in a time of crisis whether or not they are heeded. The only feasible advice today, given the situation, is to bite the bullet and do as the US, UK, EU, Japan and India are asking him to do -- a logical corollary almost of his policy switch on Afghanistan.
There is enough reason for a radical rethink. The old policy on Kashmir -- pursued for 54 years -- has not brought Pakistan any closer to its real desire: Kashmir Valley becoming a part of Pakistan. It was the result of misconceived militaristic approach. Its only rationale was that when push comes to the shove there, Pakistan Army can go in and administer a coup de grace. Later Pakistan's possible nuclear punch provided the shield behind which a Jihad could proceed in Kashmir. Well, the results of three regular wars and the quasi or a third of a nuclear war going on in the minds of the two general staffs since the Kargil skirmishes have ended in what is mutual impotence. And Almighty be praised for it.
The point is that a misplaced imperial attitude that underlies the militarist thinking has led to 70,000 young Kashmiri Muslims losing their lives in pursuit of a basically unrealistic policy. Whatever strength Pakistan can build India can do more. With an economic base many times richer it can outspend Pakistan into insolvency, a la USSR. It is time it is dropped. And a new Kashmir policy, more reasonable and realistic, is not hard to be devised by insisting on non-violence and Kashmiris waging their own political struggles for their own rights themselves. That will be more effective. Remember the Subcontinent's independence was won by a non-violent struggle.
But that change will not immediately or automatically dissolve the current political and diplomatic impasse, being made worse by increasing communal polarisation in India, not to mention the BJP leadership's arrogant style. Pakistan government, both substantively and tactically for the present, has to find an answer to India's bilateralism mantra. Bilateralism suits a militarily strong player of power politics, especially if it has imperialistic objectives in view. Pakistan has tried to recruit support from powerful nations of the west since 1954 -- and got some of it for a while. But whenever Pakistan needed it most in crises, no one came to its aid. Even politically involving third parties in its disputes with India has just not worked. And yet it has to find an answer: logically, it can only be unilateralism. Do what is right yourself and speedily and hope for the best.
Pakistan thus needs to de-link all its policies from India. It must do what it thinks is right and can be done within its own resources and by its own strength. Islamabad must not ape the great powers, thinking it is the legatee of the Great Mughals. No colonial or imperial motives for us, thank you. Our chief priority has to be domestic prosperity of our people -- actual common men, women and children's concrete and verifiable welfare and amidst all human freedoms. Peace and a good deal of actual disarmament are therefore a must for Pakistan. The present military establishment is too big for the size of the economy there is. So long as Pakistan goes on running an arms race with India, avowed or un-avowed, there will be no hope for the economy's true revival, what to speak of popular welfare.
What, leave India to go on with its military build up in all conceivable fields and not to strengthen Pakistan's national security! And yet the fact is that Pakistanis have been unsuccessfully chasing the chimera of a 1:3 power ratio with India all these years. What is the net result today? A decrepit debt-ridden economy in which economic decision-making has been delegated to creditors and World Bank Group. A Kashmir bleeding to death under Indian jackboots, with Pakistan actually weighing how to slip out of the foolish commitments. The political life has been ravaged by a succession of self-important Men-on-Horseback, a weak and splintered politics increasing provincial disharmony and with no democratic institutions working. Most of it is because of an unsustainable and militaristic Kashmir policy and the arms race that goes with it. Now, it is clearly becoming impossible to keep up with the Indian Joneses.
Let unilateralism be Pakistan's watchword. If Ms. Swaraj says troops cannot be withdrawn and communication links cannot be restored, let the Islamabad policy be to restore those links, withdraw its own troops to their formal stations, give maximum relaxation in the visa regime for the Indians courageously and ask Indian High Commission to increase their strength to as much as they like -- without asking for any reciprocal action. National security cannot be seriously compromised by troops returning to normal stations. Let India be ignored in all our policy making. As for longer-term National Security, if the Pakistanis are free and feel secure today it is not because of Islamabad's military expenditures. The real reason for that is: there is no cognisable external threat to Pakistan; the only threat is from the inside for which the armed forces can provide no solution, having been a part of the problem. An India dominated by Hindutva adherents will, if necessary, invent a new Pakistan if we stop giving them political ammunition.
The point is Pakistan must jettison needless baggage and restart the journey to the goal of a happy and prosperous Pakistan in which the people count and where all policies are made by them and for their own well-being.

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The Hindu, 13.3.02

Withdraw troops on border: UNHCR chief

ISLAMABAD, MARCH 12. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has called for the immediate withdrawal of troops on the Indo-Pakistan border and the resumption of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad. In an informal chat with correspondents here after meeting a delegation of Kashmiris, Ms. Robinson said the de-escalation of tension between India and Pakistan would greatly help address the human rights issue in Jammu and Kashmir. She expressed concern over the "human rights violations" there. A delegation of the Pakistan National Kashmir Committee also called on Ms. Robinson and apprised her of the dangers to the human rights of the people in Kashmir in view of the tension and unresolved Kashmir dispute.



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