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


The Hindu, December 30, 2004

Gaps in perception of India, Pakistan on Kashmir

ISLAMABAD, DEC. 29. Despite the progress of the dialogue process, gaps re mained in the perceptions of India and Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir and security related confidence-building measures (CBMs) at the end of the second round of the composite dialogue. Both sides are deeply divided even on the approach and future direction of the process. India claims to focus on a "people's approach" without deflecting attention on Kashmir while Pakistan insists that full normalisation of ties will have to wait for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The difference in the style and substance of both sides was evident at the separate press interactions of the Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, and his Pakistani counterpart, Riaz Khokar. They differed sharply on the status of Kashmir, cross- border terrorism and people-to-people contacts. Mr. Khokar contested the Indian view that "much more" needed to be done on cross-border terrorism and asserted, "as far as the Pakistan Government is concerned, nothing is happening on the Line of Control (LoC)". The Pakistan Foreign Secretary said the Indian side had been told that "human rights violations" had gone up in Jammu and Kashmir and India needed to address this issue. Though Mr. Saran assured the Pakistani delegation that India was not seeking to sideline Kashmir through the route of CBMs and people-to-people contacts, Mr. Khokar made it a point to note: "we also conveyed that the Jammu and Kashmir issue, which is central to Pakistan-India problems and is indeed a core dispute, cannot be sidelined or put on the backburner."


Kashmir Images (Srinagar, Kashmir), December 29, 2004

On the Other Side of Line of Control

Bashir Manzar

Besides food, dress and lingo, people on both sides of LoC [Line of Control] and border share their miseries and sufferings as much as India and Pakistan share other facets of history and culture. Neither airs, nor water, soil or the children of the soil are different on either side. Why then this 'us' and 'them'? Take a trip across the boundaries and borders and LoC with Bashir Manzar and evolve your own answers. The author recently visited Pakistan and Pakistan Administered Kashmir as part of a South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) delegation.

I have not watched Sunny Deol's Gadhar but have heard the song 'Rab Jane, Kab Guzra, Amritsar, Lahore Aaya; Main Uthe Dil Chod Aaya' umpteenth times while moving on Srinagar streets. Have never had any interest in the song but while driving from Wagah to Lahore, trust me, this was the song that kept ringing in my mind; don't know why, but couldn't help but think about it. Amritsar and Lahore are so close - geographically, socially, linguistically and culturally that Rab Jane Kab Guzra Amritsar, Lahore Aaya, I too didn't know! When you visit some other country, the first thing you encounter is sort of culture shock. But on November 19, 2003, when I as a member of South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) delegation, crossed over to that side of divide at Wagah, there was no shock.
On this side near Wagah, I had seen an old Sikh in Payjama-Kameez grazing his buffaloes and just minutes after crossing the Bab-e-Azadi (door of freedom), I saw a young bearded person in Shalwar-Kameez grazing his buffaloes on the other side. Same ambience, same sunlight, same fragrance in the air - everything similar, so shockingly similar! And after some one hour's drive, I was in Lahore.
Our delegation was warmly received by SAFMA friends at Wagah and the secretary general of the Association, Imtiyaz Alam was there at Hotel Avari with open arms to welcome us.

After checking in and freshening up, I, with some other friends, decided to go out to get local SIM cards for our mobile phones as BSNL was not working there. In the nearby market, it was Indian film music being played all over by the shopkeepers. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Didi Tera Devar Dewana, Doli Saja Ke Rakhna - and all such songs. Had most of the people roaming around not been in Shalwar-Kameez, I would never believe that I am in another country - Pakistan.
Lahore is a warm city - full of life. People are extremely hospitable and loving. They are Punjabis, typical Punjabis, ready to lay down their lives for friends but at the same moment would not spare the enemies. And who are the enemies - given the 57 year old history of hostility and enmity - India; who else? And here were the Lahoris hugging Delhites. What is this? I questioned myself. And answers followed during my stay in this beautiful country.

I had never thought of language being a strong cementing force but within hours in Lahore, I realized that language unites people more than any other aspect of life. Punjabi speaking people from our side of the divide, including Jammuites, mingled with the people from Lahore so naturally and comfortably that after some time they were laughing together, sharing jokes, making frequent use of Punjabi slang. This Bale Bale atmosphere reached its peak during dinner. And those among us who couldn't speak Punjabi were feeling a little bit 'left-out'.
At dinner, while SAFMA officials were busy discussing organizational matters and the tour itinerary, most of the Pakistani journalists present there were keen to know about Kashmir. The chats, discussions, arguments continued till late in the night and finally the organizers called it a day as next morning they had the regional conference and a person no less than the President of Pakistan had agreed to inaugurate it. In the morning we all were asked to be on our seats in the conference hall by 0900 hours. Every entrant was frisked thoroughly - no match boxes, no lighters, no mobiles, even ballpoint pens became an issue which finally were allowed to be taken in. Security arrangements too were identical to the ones back home.
We're told that General Musharraf would be coming anytime but this 'anytime' got stretched to around 01100 hours. Here was the man, seen in India as the architect of Kargil war, backed by US as the trusted ally in its "war against terror", ridiculed by domestic Mullahs for snubbing Jehadis and loved by media for being a good newsmaker.
With a broad smile, General saluted the participants in his typical style and moved towards the dice. He was accompanied by Governor and Chief Minister of Punjab. As soon as he sat down on his chair, secretary general SAFMA requested him to come to the other side to cut the ribbon and formally inaugurate the conference Media and Reconciliation in South Asia.
"President sir, you have come from the wrong side. You had to come from left side to cut the ribbon," Alam said and somebody from the audience quipped: "He has come from wrong side in Pakistan politics too!" I am sure General didn't hear the comment.
Imtiyaz Alam spoke at length about SAFMA activities and SAFMA's opposition to no-go zones and support for go-go zones. He talked about Pakistani journalists' visit to India and Indian Kashmir, about Sri Lanka's decision of easing visa regime for journalists of South Asia. Sri Lankan government has started on arrival visa for journalists. Alam wanted similar gesture from India and Pakistan.
While Alam was talking about SAFMA, most of the participants were eagerly waiting for Musharraf's address. And finally it was President Musharraf addressing the conference.
When students raised anti-Pak slogans
Muzaffarabad: A few dozen students resorted to slogan-shouting at the University campus alleging that they were not being allowed to interact with visiting journalists.
Most of them were the activists of National Students Federation (NSF). The visiting journalists were shocked and surprised to hear slogans like "Pakistan Murdabad", "ISI agents Murdabad", "Ilhak Ka Jo Yaar Hai, Gaddar Hai Gaddar Hai."
Although a heavy contingent of police was rushed to the campus but they decided not to intervene as the students were spitting fire against Pakistan, its intelligence agencies and what they said "puppet government" of Azad Kashmir.
The students were displaying banners which read: "Indo Pak Go Back; Kashmir Kashmiriun Ke Hai; Na Manzoor, Na Manzoor, Taqseem Kashmir Na Manzoor." While these students were busy chanting slogans, another group, a smaller one, assembled near the venue raising pro-Pak slogans. "Pakistan Se Rishta Kya, La Ilaha Ilal Lah, Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan, Khudmukhtari Hai Gadaree, RAW agents Murdabad, Hindustan Murdabad" - were the slogans the NSF students were countered with. And in this mayhem, journalists were driven back to the hotel.
After welcoming the delegates, Musharraf opened Pakistan for SAFMA journalists. "You can visit any city, any area you want," said Musharraf to a thundering applause. And then he came to the real business - Indo-Pak relations and Kashmir. Musharraf sounded bitter, nay hurt, nay disappointed (as Khurshid Kasuri put it next day). He was upset as Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, during his Kashmir visit, had reiterated that Jammu and Kashmir was an "intesgral part" of India.
"How can one expect a forward movement in the wake of such statements? If you say this, I say 'we stand by UN resolutions and demand plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir'."

Musharraf said that he and Manmohan Singh in a joint-statement at New York had talked about discussing and exploring all options. "If I understand English, all options mean all options. Why should people feel upset?" he said.
Coming straight to his 7-point formula, General said: "This is neither a formula nor a solution. These are options to be discussed by my people. Let there be a debate and that was my intention when I discussed these points with some editors." During his around 40-minute speech, Musharraf made it a point to address journalists from Jammu and Kashmir separately several times and also invited them to a lunch at Governor's House same day. Musharraf spoke about Indo-Pak relations and "war on terrorism" and vowed that "every terrorist would be killed."
"We've to adopt a two-pronged strategy to deal with the menace (terrorism). Eliminate the terrorists and terrorism with full might and at the same time take care of peoples' aspirations." Musharraf's speech, between the lines, conveyed one thing very strongly: 'Hey guys! For God's sake tell India that I am a nice chap. I am moving extra miles, don't make things difficult for me.'
The same day, the atmosphere at Governor's house was relaxed and more informal. All the journalists from Jammu and Kashmir besides a few from Delhi attended the luncheon meeting. Before lunch, Musharraf had some 40-minute session (sort of press conference) with the journalists. He repeated what he had said during his speech at Avari Hotel in the morning. He didn't hide his bitterness but said he was not bitter.
"I am for peace process but it should be resolution oriented. Mere CBMs will not do," he stressed but clarified quickly: "Please don't write that I am against CBMs. I am for it but these CBMs should go in tandem with composite dialogue aimed at resolving the core issue of Kashmir."
General denied his country's involvement in the split of Hurriyat Conference. "We (Pakistan) don't manipulate the differences within Hurriyat," he said hoping that the two factions would do something for unity.
"We feel Hurriyat is the representative of Jammu and Kashmir and therefore should be involved in the dialogue process," Musharraf said. When some journalist pointed out that there were other parties, even with stronger constituencies than Hurriyat, General said: "Yes people from all shades of opinion should be part of dialogue but Hurriyat participation is a must."
The lunch was delicious. I, along with some other journalist friends shared the table with General Shoukat Sultan. A typical Fauji, tough talking guy! There was an interesting nok jhonk between him and our fellow journalist Sushant Sareen. It continued as we gulped down delicious food served by uniformed butlers.
There was a photo session with the General in the lawns of Governor House and then he left declaring that the group of journalists is free to visit any place including Northern Areas. Back at Hotel Avari the conference continued with people coming forward with several recommendations and suggestions for making SAFMA more effective.
Evening was with famous singer Saira Naseem. She is as beautiful as her voice and would have looked more graceful had she not overdone her make-up. But still she mesmerized people present in the hall.
One Pakistani sitting in the audience even started dancing in front of the audience (next day a Pakistani newspaper published the dancing man's photograph with a caption: "An Indian journalist dances as Saira sings at Hotel Avari"). I too went to the stage and had a lovely chat with this Pakistani sparrow and realized that she is as good an orator as a singer.
Next day the conference started at 0930 hours. Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasoori was the chief guest. He too talked about General's proposals, CBMs, composite dialogue and more strongly on the issue of Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service.
Kasuri tried to brush away the impression that General Musharraf was bitter. "He is not bitter. I will say he is disappointed by the attitude of New Delhi. He is ready to move ahead and Indian attitude indicates otherwise," said Kasuri but in the same breath made it clear that he was optimistic about the peace process and despite some hiccups was sure that it would move ahead. Kasuri hosted lunch for the delegates in the same hotel. In the post-lunch session, Imtiyaz Alam was unanimously re-elected secretary general of the SAFMA. Next day we had to leave for Islamabad on our way to Mirpur in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK).
Before leaving for Islamabad, we were invited to a gala lunch hosted by Mayor of Lahore (though the Mayor Sahib couldn't attend the function himself as he was busy because General was in the town). The lunch was hosted at Baradari of Bagh-e-Jinnah, (Lawrence Garden).
At two in the afternoon, around 22 of us were seen off by Imtiyaz Alam for our much-sought-after PaK visit. While Pakistanis call Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir as "Maqboza Kashmir", for Indians the area under Pak control is "Pakistan Occupied Kashmir". As the intention of the visit was reconciliation, it was decided that both the parts, during our stay there, would be referred to as LoC Ke Iss Paar Walla Ilaka and LoC Ke Uss Paar Wala Ilaka. Our group leader, Vinod Sharma (a wonderful person indeed) made it a point that only these new names are used during speeches or deliberations.
We reached Islamabad by the evening and drove straight to the Hotel Holiday Inn. This is the hotel where Hizbul Mujahideen Chief, Syed Sallahudin addressed media a few years back and called off the ceasefire declared by Abdul Majid Dar. Zee TV ran an 'exclusive' item showing a "Brigadier adjusting a chair for Sallahudin" to sit. That poor "Brigadier" still serves in that hotel as a waiter!
The first thing I did while checking in the hotel was to call Mohammed Shehzad, a local journalist who works for Kashmir Images. He was thrilled to know that finally I had reached his city (actually he was waiting for me in January during SAARC conference when I was supposed to visit Islamabad but along with two other Kashmiri journalists, was denied visa by Pakistan High Commission). He was there in the hotel within minutes. I couldn't give him much time as the schedule was very tight and we had to leave for Mirpur early in the morning. But I promised him that on my return I will visit his family. Reached Mirpur in the evening to a warm reception by local Press Club! Unlike Srinagar, LoC Ke Uss Paar (on the other side of LoC) you have press clubs in all big and small cities. We would fumble when the journalists there would ask why we didn't have one in Srinagar. The only face saving was Jammu Press Club and its president Manu Srivastav, who too was in the delegation. "Kashmir Ki Takseem Na Manzoor (division of Kashmir is unacceptable)" was one of the banners that were displayed on the walls of the hall where the media people had arranged the reception. They were very warm and hospitable. Next day in Mirpur was very hectic with a lot of meetings with people cutting across ideological divides - people from Muslim Conference, Bar Association, Liberation League, JKLF, writers, poets and even the people on the streets.
We were supposed to visit Mangla before returning to Islamabad but it was canceled at the last moment. Reason: some Chinese delegation was visiting the dam, we're told.We met some old stalwarts of JKLF in Mirpur. Some of them have done a lot of work on Maqbool Bhat's life. Both JKLFs (Yasin's and Khan's) have their presence in Mirpur besides Justice Majid Malik's Liberation League that too advocates Independent Kashmir. Justice Malik is the person who while in service, had given a landmark decision saying Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan) were parts of "Azad Jammu and Kashmir" and not Pakistan. However, the decision was then reversed by the higher court. Over all the Mirpur visit was an eye-opener. I had never thought that 'independence' sentiment could be so strong in this area. But it was!

Mirpur stands for independence
Mirpur: Overwhelming majority of Mirpuris stand for an Independent Jammu and Kashmir. They are not happy with Pakistan. Wherever we went, we saw 'Khudmukhtari' (pro-independence) banners. This part of PaK is inhabited by Paharis and Gujjars. There is some sort of tension between the two communities. Although the tension is not much visible but one can smell it in the air while chatting with people here.
People have a lot of grievances against Pakistan. Mangla Dam displacement is one among those grievances.
"We produce power and Pakistan reaps the fruits," is a common grievance. People want bigger share in power production which seems not coming, at least in near future.
Another crisis: Mirpuris are rich. They have money, lots of money. But they have no means to invest the same. "The money is blocked in banks and Pakistan earns on our money. Had we some scope of industrialization, we would invest and the rotation of money would take the area towards prosperity," feel people.
Most of the people we encountered advocated reunification and complete independence of Jammu and Kashmir (as it existed before 1947). Although there are some voices for accession to Pakistan too, these are very feeble.

"If you say integral part, then we go back to UN resolutions and plebescite. It takes two to tango. "
Next day we reached back Islamabad in the evening. Checked in in the same Holiday Inn hotel. I called Shehzad. He was there within an hour and we chatted till late. We're invited by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for dinner. Shehzad had his car with him and thus I and Zaffar Meraj stayed back with Shehzad in the hotel for a while with the promise that he would then drop us at the dinner venue.
The venue was a beautiful place. A hill station within Islamabad - Daman-e-Koh. While we were driving up the Koh (mountain), it resembled a drive from Tangmarg to Gulmarg. The slope is steeper. At the top of the hillock is a beautiful restaurant owned by a beautiful lady, Farzana Raja, the spokesperson of PPP. She was our host. Dinner was in the open and as there was some chill in the air, the hosts had lit small iron stoves all over. From the venue, we could look at Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It was a lovely dinner indeed. All of us enjoyed and relaxed as it was something worth after such a tight schedule. It was for the first time that I saw Tahir Mohiudin relaxed and happy as he was engrossed in some interaction with Farzana. Otherwise Tahir was too tired of the hectic schedule!
First person I met in the morning next day was Dr Walid. I knew him from the days he was in Srinagar associated with Shiekh Aziz's Peoples League. It took me few moments to recognize him. It was a lovely reunion. We chatted for sometime. He is presently in Geelani's Hurriyat in Pakistan Next day we went to Parliament House and had a detailed meeting and then lunch with members and head of Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir. The head, Hamid Nasir Chatta briefed about the Committee's stance over Kashmir - implementation of UN resolutions, plebiscite, etc. He also stressed inclusion of Kashmiri leaders in the dialogue process.
The attraction in the meeting was grand daughter of Mohammad Din Fauq, renowned Kashmiri historian. She too is a parliamentarian and loves Kashmir. She wants to visit Kashmir but is not sure whether she will be allowed at some stage. I, Zaffar and Tahir ducked the lunch half way, rushed out and hired a cab for Rawalpindi. Roamed for few hours in Rawalpindi markets; Zaffar and Tahir did some shopping and we hired another cab to our Islamabad hotel.
Dinner was with Mushahid Hussain of PML(Q). I had promised Shehzad that I will have dinner with his family and therefore skipped Mushahid's dinner (skipping was not so easy as our group leader Vinod Sharma had sharp eyes like seasoned shepherd who could find a sheep missing in the flock of hundreds; however, I too proved an intelligent sheep!).
Shehzad drove me to his home. There I met his wife and two lovely kids. I honestly felt at home there. They had decided to go out for the dinner. We went to a lovely place, Pearl (I was told that this restaurant used to be favourite of General Musharraf and he would frequently visit it before the attack). Shehzad also showed me the spot, near a filling station, where Musharraf was attacked.
It was the first apolitical dinner. We talked about ourselves. How desperate sometimes one is to talk very simple things! And that is what we did.

We're ready to fight
Gilgit: While roaming around in Gilgit market, I along with Zaffar and Tahir visited a cosmetic shop (I had to buy shampoo). A young stout man behind the counter was thrilled to know that we were from "Maqbooza Kashmir".
He introduced himself as launching chief of Hizbul Mujahideen. Prior to General Musharraf's crackdown on militant groups, this young man had been sending boys to Indian Kashmir for Jehad. "The activities have been suspended for the time being. Once we get a green signal, we will be launching the operation," he said. He is very keen to visit Kashmir himself - not as a tourist but as a Mujahid.
"Indian Fouj is killing our people there and raping our sisters. Jehad will continue till these cruel forces are dragged out of the Pak Sarzameen of Kashmir," he said.
He disclosed that Hizb chief Syed Sallahudin had been visiting the area earlier and he himself had several meetings with him.
This young man is a fan of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. "Do you know him; have you ever met him; how is his health now?" where some of his curious questions.
In Chilas, where we stopped on our way back to Rawalpindi for lunch, we met another young man. He too was a militant and eager to cross over to our Kashmir for Jehad.
After dropping family at his place, Shahzad drove me to the hotel and accompanied me upstairs to my room. We're surprised to see Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman Salim Hashmi with another guy standing outside my room (I had seen him in the morning alongwith Dr Walid). He told me that he had been waiting for me and was now ready to leave. Shehzad rested for a while in my room and then left. I chatted with Hashmi for some one hour. Although I was feeling too sleepy but courtesy demanded to be as friendly as possible and I think I did so. Our discussion revolved around an email war between us some years back when he sent me an email accusing that my newspaper was "anti-movement" as it accommodated views and news that, he thought, were not in accordance with the "spirit of freedom".
In a very cordial manner, I tried to convey to him that I need not a certificate from anyone and that I was answerable to my own conscience alone. Once I feel ashamed before my conscience for anything that appears in my newspaper, I will shut down the whole affair.
Hashmi wanted to tell me that I should have not felt upset over his remarks. "I heard something and I straightaway conveyed it to you. Had I been a hypocrite, I would have never shared it with you," he said and sounded logical in his argument. While we were discussing Kashmir and the situation, I got a phone call from Tahir. "Here is someone, who wants to talk to you," Tahir said and handed over the phone to that someone. It was Yousuf Naseem of Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz). He too wanted to have a chat with me. Hashmi left and Nasim was in.
Nasim was accompanied by another person (representative of Maulana Abbas Ansari). We talked for some time and I could find out that this faction of Hurriyat is no more untouchable in Pakistan now.
Although the duo was very cautious while discussing the issue, I could make out that Mirwaiz's meeting with President Musharraf at Amsterdam has got this faction back in good books of Pak establishment and Geelani was no more the sole darling.
Next morning, we left for Muzaffarabad. Although the entire team was too tired but the very excitement of visiting Muzaffarabad refreshed us. We left Islamabad in two mini-buses and halted at famous hill station Murrie for a while. It looked like our Patni Top. We roamed around but just in the market and had some tea.
The road was good but the zig-zag made several colleagues fall ill. But over all we enjoyed the drive and with the driver's record player putting into the air Indian film music, we would sometimes feel that we were traveling on Srinagar-Jammu road (to be honest, this road was better).
When we reached Kohala Bridge (here Pakistan ends and the territory of Pakistan part of Kashmir begins), the excitement was at its peak. We stopped for a while to take some pictures and to make the moment a memorable one. Our delay enraged one of our Pakistani hosts who came running and snubbed the driver: "Follow our vehicle and don't stop."
As we crossed the bridge and entered what Pakistan calls "Azad Jammu and Kashmir" and India describes as "Pak Occupied Kashmir", first thing we encountered was a group of JKLF (Yasin) supporters with banners in their hands advocating independence and saluting Yasin Malik.
The group, headed by Mir Dawood, showered flower petals on us and offered sweets (Dawood interestingly turned out to be a neighbour of mine. I recognized him within a second but he took some time).

When a Kotli youth created furor
Mirpur: It was a media interaction. Local journalists were talking about the freedom of media and expression in that part of Kashmir and comparing it with that of Indian part of Kashmir. The hall was jam-packed. Some visiting journalist raised the issue that how free was the media in Pakistan part of Kashmir. A Mirpuri journalist said it was free and there was no pressure from any government, local or federal.
A tall young boy, standing at the end of the hall yelled: "Who says press is free here. It is not. If you support the ideology of independence, you are not even given the registration for a newspaper."
He went on: "Yahan Azadi Ki Baat Karne Waloun Ko Tolerate Nahin Kiya Jata Ab Agar Koi India Ki Baat Kare, Usse Tu Mar He Daingay (those talking of independence are not being tolerated here and if someone talks of India, he would be simply killed)".
His remarks created furor in the hall. Some people tried to snub him; he reacted and to avoid a scuffle he was literally dragged out of the hall. But he had done it - become the media attraction. Visiting journalists followed him and recorded him.
The boy is from Kotli, actively involved with JKLF (Amanullah Khan). He wants to bring out a newspaper but was denied the registration because he doesn't subscribe to the idea of acceding to Pakistan.
"You are more free than we are," he told me, adding: "Geelani Danke Ki Chout Pe Kehta Hai Ki Woh Pakistani Hai Aur Hindustan Na Sirf Usko Bardasht Karta Hai Balki Uss Ke Elaj Par Bhi Sarkari Raqoomat Kharach Ki Jate Hain. Yahan Tu Azadi Ki Baat Karna Tak Jurm Hai."
Historic Shahi Masjid of Lahore and a Gurdwara stand close to each other near Lahore Qilla, giving a message of communal harmony and universal oneness.
Amid slogan-shouting by JKLF cadres, I and Dawood hugged and he asked unending questions about his family, friends, area, etc.
The visible change in atmosphere was noticed by Tahir Mohiuddin who had been to this side in 1999. He said those days all the walls around were painted with slogans of different militant outfits and one could see militants roaming around all over with arms. But now, it was different. We found only a few slogans like "Khudmukhtari Jaan Se Pyari" or its counter-slogan "Khudmukhtari Hai Gaddari".
No militant is seen roaming on roads. Although some camps still exist, we're told, but these are away from the city and the militants are not allowed to leave their camps.
Three days in Muzaffarabad were memorable - a life-time experience. We met almost everyone who happens to be someone in that Kashmir. Muzaffarabad is the capital of Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK). Spread over an area of 6117 Sq. Kms, district Muzaffarabad has a population of 0.724 million. PaK has seven districts, Muzaffarabad being the biggest both population- as well as area-wise. Population-wise Kotli is the second with 0.558 million followed by Poonch (0.403), Bagh (0.395), Mirpur (0.323), Bhimber (0.297) and Sudhanti (0.214).
In Muzaffarabad anti-India sentiments are very strong but at the same moment most of the people are looking toward Indo-Pak peace process with certain degree of hope and optimism.
During our three-day stay in Muzaffarabad, we had meetings with Bar Association, citizens, journalists, politicians, social activists, migrants, students and people from al shades of opinion. JKLF groups, both Malik's and Khan's, made it a point to make there presence felt everywhere.
Except the people in government and a few local politicians, nobody talked of Kashmir's accession with Pakistan. That doesn't mean there are no supporters of this theory. Unlike Mirpur, Muzaffarabad has a strong constituency for Pakistan and unlike Mirpur, which feels closer to Jammu, Muzaffarabad feels more close to Kashmir Valley.
Overall people favour Indo-Pak friendship but at the same time they want a solution to Kashmir tangle that satisfies the aspirations of the people. Musharraf is being viewed as a man with will and people think that he has the capacity to strike a deal with India. But President of "Azad Jammu and Kashmir" Sardar Anwar Khan doesn't see any point in friendship with India. "India is a neighbour. It can't be a friend," he says.
Amongst the politicians, Sardar Qayoom Khan sounded more reconciliatory. He supports General Musharaf's proposal as a right step to generate a debate so that something acceptable to all is evolved. Sardar Qayoom is convinced that a lasting solution to Kashmir can't be reached at so quickly and suggests some interim solution with a condition that people are told that this is the interim solution and not the final one. Besides opening of routes between two parts of Kashmir, Qayoom advocates creation of a 'no military zone' along LoC where people from either side can come and meet their relatives without any hassles.
Meeting with students at University campus was interesting but was marred by the demonstrations by some students who alleged they were not allowed to participate in the debate.
Students were very vocal about alleged human rights violations in Indian side of Kashmir and were critical of Indian media. They were of the view that media in Kashmir was not free and thus couldn't report the "ugly face" of India.
The argument was countered by Vinod Sharma, Salim Pandit and Shujat Bukhari. While Vinod said that when Pakistan talks of human rights violations in Kashmir, it uses the data that it gets from Indian newspapers; Shujat and Salim asked the students that how would they have known about Handwara rape case had Kashmir media not reported it.
The interaction had to be cut short as some students created furor by shouting slogans and a student yelled that 50 percent people in the auditorium were not students or teachers but "ISI agents".

Celebrating ceasefire
Chakothi: Our visit to LoC coincided with the anniversary of ceasefire along LoC and borders and the people of Chakoti and Chinari were celebrating the event.
"It is for that first time that we have seen peace. We have been able to grow our crops and our children could go to schools," said an elderly person, Khadim Hussain at Chakothi. He said that had ceasefire not been in operation, the visiting journalists would not have seen people doing routine business and children playing and studying.
"When there was no ceasefire, these areas would look like ghost places with no humans or animals visible. Most of the people would shift to safer places and those who had no place to go would die," said a young man of the area, Farooq. Recalling the nightmarish experiences people said that shells from Indian side would continue raining over these areas unabated.
The High School at Chakothi is the live example of the devastation. Although it has now been made operational, but it still has hundreds of scars of Indo-Pak hostility written on its walls and the roof-top.
It was in this backdrop that people were distributing sweets on the anniversary of the ceasefire and were praying for its continuance and permanence.
Muzaffarabad looks beautiful during night. Our hotel was located at Dumail. It is the place where river Jehlum and river Neelam (Kishan Ganga) meet. Although my room had the boring view of the market, I would go to Sushant's room from where the Sangam of the rivers looked as if 'out of this world'.
Roads are good and power supply too is better by all standards. The much talked about Srina-gar-Muzaffarabad road is perfectly fine except a small patch of some five kilom-etres. That too is mortorable and all sorts of vehicles can move on it but it has not yet been black-topped. The work on the road is going on to make it wider. Though the authorities say this is the routine work, people connect it with the hope of opening of the road.
We drove till last point under Pakistan's control - Chakothi. General Shoukat Sultan joined us there and briefed about the ceasefire and other related issues. We could see Indian soldiers, who waved vigorously (we thought they were knowing about our visit). The waving from both sides continued for some time as General spoke at length.
Road from that side is in perfect usable condition except the bridge that has not seen any human feet touching it from last almost 50 years. This bridge, which we could see from a distance, connects two Kashmirs and is in a dilapidated condition.
"If the road is to be opened, it will not take more than 24 hours to make the bridge," disclosed the General.
The mile stone at Chakothi reading: Uri 10 KM; Baramula 51 KM; Srinagar 121 KM did something to all the Kashmiri journalists from within. How crude are the realities - you have just a ten-minute drive to reach your side of Kashmir but you can't. Instead, you have to travel hundreds of miles back to Lahore and then cross Wagah, and then travel another hundreds of miles to reach your part of Kashmir. Injustice! Isn't it?
I noticed a very strange thing in that part of Kashmir - the desire for opening of the roads between two Kashmirs is stronger there than it is in my part of Kashmir. As the talk of opening of roads has started making rounds, people in Pakistani Kashmir, especially elders have started feeling nostalgic.
Yousuf Jameel visited a Kashmiri family in Muzaffarabad. He said that the head of the family has turned virtually mad. Every morning he tells his wife to pack his clothes as he will leave for Kashmir through Muzaffarabad-Srinagar road.
On our last day in Muzaffarabad, a cultural programme was organized by the Information Department there. An interesting 15-minute play was staged with three characters. It was an old father and a young daughter with their luggage waiting for the bus. They waited from morning till evening and no bus turned up. Another young man who was watching the duo sitting impatiently there asks them which bus they were waiting for. "Bus to Srinagar," replied the old man. And the young man laughs at him. "It is not coming. But some journalists from India and Indian Kashmir are in the town. You can send your message to Srinagar through their group leader Vinod Sharma!" the young man said.
The play was so touching that it brought tears to all the eyes and Vinod Sharma went to the stage promising that he will carry their message! Early next morning (around 0530 hours) we left Muzaffarabad for Islamabad airport. As the weather was kind enough, an old Folker took us to Gilgit. It was a wonderful flying - very identical to the air travel to Ladakh in our part. We flew over gorgeous mountains - K2 and others.
Around 1300 hours we landed at sunny Gilgat airport. Besides the breathtaking beauty of the area, first thing that we encountered was a group of JKLF activists with banners in hands, shouting slogans in favour of Independent Kashmir. They were standing outside airport building. All of them were from Amanullah Khan's JKLF.
We were straightaway driven to a PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development) hotel, very near to the airport. There we checked in and had our lunch. And in the meantime people from all walks of life started flooding the hotel.
Redefined as Northern Areas, Gilgit is presently under the direct control of Islamabad but still it has not been given the status of a full-fledged province. It is ruled directly by Pakistan through its Chief Executive, who is stationed at Islamabad. Although, on paper, the Deputy Chief Executive, who stays in Gilgit is the ruling authority, but practically orders flow from federal government.
Northern Areas are spread over 72,496 Kilometers with a population of some 869,997. It is divided into six districts (earlier only five; Astoor district has been created recently).

Please take us back!
Muzaffarabad: Some 700 odd youth are roaming around in Muzaffarabad with nothing to do. Their condition is pathetic. They are all from Kashmir Valley. They want to come back. But how?
These are the youth who crossed over to this part to seek arms training and go back to wage Jihad against India. "But our visit to this part was an eye-opener. It is no Jihad but a commercial game where leaders cash in on the sufferings of Kashmi-ris," said a young boy from Rafiabad. These boys disassociated from their respective groups (Tanzeems) and decided not to be part of militancy and for that they are paying the price. "Those who are in Tanze-ems are enjoying life. They get everything - food, money, places to live. And also those who migrated to this part fr-om border area are comfortable. They get Rs 750 per head per month. Govt. has construc ted hutments for them. They have been provided electricity and water and have separate schools. But we are the worst lot. We're neither Mujah ids nor Migrants and therefore nobody cares for us," said another person who hails fr om a Bandipore village. His ap ple orchards in Kashmir wou ld give him a minimum of Rs 3 lakhs per year and in Muzaffa rabad he is selling fruit on a raidee (wheel cart) on streets.
"I have to play hide and seek with police. Though I pay my Hafta regularly but still they are after my life," he said.
These youth, they alleged were being hounded by ISI and local intelligence people. "They did everything that we should not get in touch with you but we managed and we know what we have to face once you leave," said a 47-year-old person from Hand-wara. He too had crossed over in 1998, but has now decided to say good bye to arms.
"More than 400 boys are locked up in Qilla interrogation centre. They are amongst us who want to go back but not with arms. Life has become hell for us. We have turned into Dhobi Ke Kuttay. Please help us," said another boy from Khanyar area.
"When we tell these things to our Tanzeem people, they say they will allow us to cross but with arms only. And that is what we don't want," said this boy.
"Tell India to allow us to come back. We're even ready to face the interrogation but can't tolerate the humiliation here anymore," said one of the boys.
He said that even the local people are not friendly toward them. But the locals have their own stories to tell.
"They came here as Muja hids. Hum Ne Inhain Aank hon Pe Bithaya. And now they wander here and there troubling us," said an STD booth owner, in the vicinity of the Hotel Sangam, where we're staying. The STD man accused these Kashmiri boys of indulging in eve-teasing, pick-pocketing and other such evils, the allegations refuted by the boys.

Sgr-M'bad road only Why?
Mirpur: In Mirpur there is a strong desire for opening of roads between two Kashmirs. But Mirpuris are upset as they see people talking about Srinagar-Muza-ffarabad road only. Majority of the divided families live in Mirpur, they argue and advocate opening of Mirpur-Naushehra and Rawlakote-Poonch roads too. "People have to rise above Srinagar-centric attitude. Jammu and Kashmir is not Srinagar alone. You have to think about the aspirations of the people living in other areas too," we were told.
Mirpuris feel much closer to Jammu on the other side of LoC both linguistically and culturally. Although they don't say it very candidly, they don't like Srinagar's hegemony.

APNA fights with police
Muzaffarabad: The leaders of All Parties National Alliance had a tough time at our hotel as they wanted to meet the visiting journalists but police would not allow them.
They were not allowed inside the hotel but after a few hours of verbal brawl with the police; they managed to reach the hotel lobby but where not allowed to go into the rooms. Finally the journalists themselves got down to the lobby to interact with them.
They were upset and angry that their meeting, which they claimed was in the earlier itinerary, was dropped. They accused that the tour was conducted by Pakistan agencies and therefore nationalists were being dropped out. However, it was made clear to them that as the delegation was visiting Gilgit too, so there programme has been fixed there.
APNA is a forum of almost all national and pro-unification and pro-independence groups. This group counters Pakistan claim over Northern Areas.
Although the sentiments of independence are strong here too, but people seem more realistic. They think independence is not achievable and therefore want to live as part of Pakistan. But their strong demand is that Pakistan recognizes these areas as one of its provinces and gives all the democratic and economic rights to them as it has given to its own people. There is a strong urge for self-rule and people don't like to be governed from Islamabad.
Sectarian divide is sharp but both Shias and Sunnis are of the opinion that this divide is being created by Pakistani agencies. "Pakistan knows that once we are united, we will fight for our rights and therefore uses some so-called leaders from both the communities to instigate hatred," said most of the people.
The worst worry these people have is that of State Subject. While in Indian Kashmir and Pakistani Kashmir, the State Subject law is intact and no outsiders can buy properties, it is not the same in Northern Areas.
"Rich people of Pakistan are buying land here and a time will come when we'll be in minority," said a Balwaristan movement activist. A huge market in Gilgit is owned by the Pakistan Army. It was closed on that day as it was a Sunday, but people said that it was a beautiful market.
We had a series of meetings in Gilgit and met the Councilors too who had got elected in a recent election (most of the people in Northern Areas doesn't recognize these councilors as genuine representatives). People think of reunification of Jammu and Kashmir too but at the same time are very apprehensive about Srinagar's domination. Pertinent to mention that prior to 1947, Gilgit was under direct control of Srinagar and the people don't have pleasant memories of the days. The sentiments of the people regarding 'Srinagar monopoly' are identical with those in our part of Ladakh.
Next morning was disappointing. We're told that due to bad weather, the flight couldn't come and therefore we had to travel all the way by bus. All the journalists were upset. We're so tired that none of us would appreciate a road travel. Nidhi Razdan was ill but all including her had no other option.
Deciding to accept the fate as it comes, we resolved to enjoy the drive. And it was worth it. The landscape was breathtakingly beautiful.
Colour of mountains and height and depth of the terrain too was heavenly. We halted at a view point, a few Kilometres from Gilgit. Here River Gilgit and Indus meet and the spot also provides a wonderful feast to ones eyes as three gigantic mountain ranges - Hindukush, Karakoram, Himalaya meet here.
We had our lunch at Chilas. The hotel was really good and food wonderful. We had to rest there for some two hours as the bus we were traveling in had some problem. During our stay we came to know that this area is virtually controlled by fanatic Muslim groups. Girls are not allowed to go to schools and the only cinema hall there was burnt down by some group a few years back. We saw some kids playing on the roadside and the poverty was visible on their faces.
Chilas is a small place and our two-hour stay came as a boon to some shopkeepers selling Salajeet. Salajeet is some sort of drug which people say cures arthritis and other orthopedic ailments. A myth about the drug having aphrodisiac properties is also very popular as a Pakistani journalist put it: "It is the desi version of Viagra." Everybody from our group was purchasing Salajeet but at the same time giving very stupid kind of explanations. While some said they were getting the drug for wife's back problems, some suggested their ailing uncles as the reciepients of the 'wonder drug'. It became a kind of joke and we laughed all the way.
Another joke was about Hunza water. Hunza is an area in Gilgit and Hunza water meant all types of alcoholic drinks. Whenever somebody would be offered mineral water, he would ask: "Is it plain water or Hunza water?"

Hurriyat factions are not representative
Muzaffarabad/Mirpur: Both in Muzaffarabad and Mir-pur people in general challenged the representative character of both factions of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, two conglomerates of various separatists forums. "These Hurriyat's are not representative. They are Valley-specific and don't give a damn to people of Jammu, Rajouri, Poo-nch, Ladakh or the area under Pakistan's control." This statement was made by several people.
A retired professor (female) in Muzaffarabad went to the extent of saying about the people Hurriyats have in Pakistani part of Kashmir: "Unka Kirdaar Dagdaar Hai."
Our bus came to a halt so me 200 Kms from Gilgit. It was raining and already dark. A rock had fallen in the middle of the road and the traffic had come to a halt. We were told that no road clearance party would come and if we cou ldn't do anything, we would have to stay there for the wh ole night. All our people and the drivers of other vehicles tried to do something. It was difficult. There were no pro per tools to handle the rock. But people continued trying. Sant Kumar was the one from our group who really worked hard and finally when the rock was removed after some one-and-a-half hour's toil, Sant was received back in the bus amid clapping.
We reached Rawalpindi around 0630 next morning. Tired like dogs, we fell in our rooms like logs; but had to be ready again by 0900 hours. It was tough but we did it with the excitement that we would be leaving for Lahore and could relax there. In the morning Prof Ash raf Saraf had come to see us. Saraf was bitter about Geel ani's confrontational attitude. Other people who visited us were Rafiq Dar and Altaf Qadri of JKLF. Unlike the JKLF boys in Muzaffarabad, who really seem living a tough life, these two were much relaxed and neatly dressed. Their very appearance was enough to convey that they are living comfortable lives.
Our departure got delayed as Mustanzar Javed who was to see us off to Lahore, was stuck somewhere. We finally left around 1330 hours. We took the famous motorway, the one laid during Nawaz Sharief's tenure. It is really beautiful and perfectly maintained. It has good and comfortable junk-food restaurants and hotels all over the way. While driving to Lahore from Islamabad, you pass through Salt Mountains too. It is really a wonderful drive.
We reached Lahore by the evening and as the Hotel Avari was already full, we're taken to two guest houses in Liberty area. We decided to go out for a while to do some shopping but were told by the hosts to be back by 10.30 o' clock. I and Zaffar Meraj went to Liberty market. It is one of the posh markets of Lahore. Most of the shoppers you find during nights are women. Lahore is an open city and you find the women on streets fashionably fashionable.
We did some shopping, had some juice, ate some snacks and by 11:00 in the night were back in our guest house. Imtiyaz Alam and others were there. The party had already started and the only thing missing was that the dancer who had to perform was yet to come. After sometime she reached there with her crew and it was dancing almost all the night. The music played was - guess - Indian, what else.
She was a wonderful dancer. Although my colleagues were seeing her dance for the first time, I had already enjoyed her dance before leaving for Pakistani Kashmir. During our earlier three-day stay in Lahore, a friend took me to another friend's farm-house, where we watched her dance.
It was a memorable night. I too tried my steps after I think some 20 years. Hold your breath, I did well. Tahir really enjoyed the party and all his fatigue of travel and hectic schedule vanished.
Around 3:00 in the morning, we called it a day and went to sleep. Next day Lahore Press Club had organized a see-off party. After eating our lunch, we left for Wagah and by 5:00 in the evening were back in Amritsar.
A memorable visit it was. Thanks to SAFMA that it provided us a chance to visit Pakistan and Kashmir there. We are back with lots of sweet memories and with fresh hopes and optimism. People of Pakistan are no longer hostage to the bitter memories of 1947, '65 or '71. Yes, some sections may be, but majority wants to move ahead. They see no reason in remaining hostile to India. Their message is what Anupam Kher says in the last scene of Veer-Zara: "We long er need to scratch the woun ds of history. Our new gener ation wants to rise above the se things. They want peace, love and reconciliation, and tomorrow belong to them."
Free movement of people is something that would help India and Pakistan come closer. Let people from either side be allowed to visit each other, explore by themselves and feel the difference. This trend will undoubtedly change the whole politics of the sub-continent.


The Hindu, December 28, 2004

Not sidelining Kashmir, India assures Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, DEC. 27. On the opening day of the second round of composite dialogue, India and Pakistan today agreed to continue the process on a sustained and serious basis, narrow down differences and work towards resolution of all issues. The Foreign Secretary, Shy-am Saran, who led the Indian side at the talks was upbeat about the course of the dialogue and told a news conference that while there was progress on some of the proposals, more discussion was required on others. His reference was the wide gap in perception on both sides about conventional Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and differences on nuclear CBMs. In the course of three-hour-long meeting, the two sides reviewed the progress made so far on the composite dialogue, held an "in- depth discussion" on peace and security and a host of CBMs. No new proposals were exchanged. Tomorrow Jammu and Kashmir, which Pakistan believes is the 'core issue' between India and Pakistan, would be discussed. Pakistan is not expected to make any new proposal and focus essentially on the subject of the need to 'provide comfort to Kashmiris' theme enunciated by the Pakistan President, Per-vez Musharraf, in July last year. In other words Islamabad is expected to harp on the need for 'reduction' of troops in Kashmir, 'bettering' of the human rights situation in the valley and need for speedier movement towards resolution of the problem. The Indian position is that Kashmir is an internal issue and it is conscious of its responsibilities towards Kashmiris like any other Indian citizens.


The News International, December 24, 2004

Release the fishermen

The arrival of a seven-member delegation of Indian fishermen in Karachi on Wednesday for talks on the release of their brethren and boats held by Pakistan is yet another reminder of the plight of sea-going fishermen on both sides of the border. According to a news agency report, Pakistan is currently holding some 869 Indian fishermen along with 117 boats, while India has in detention 141 Pakistani fishermen along with 20 boats.
One of the reasons advanced for the greater number of Indian fishermen detained in Pakistan, is that more of them land up on the Pakistani side, impelled as much by wind and sea currents as the promise of more plentiful catch. However, fishermen on both sides argue that in the absence of clearly demarcated boundaries, they often find themselves on the wrong side, often after days at sea; their boats are old and not equipped with technological devices that would alert them that they are straying. Some privately admit that they know when they have crossed the line, but in the heat of the chase as they go after a shoal of fish, they prefer to take their chances rather than lose the catch - going out to sea and maintaining the boats is expensive business. If they don't catch the requisite number of fish, they and their families don't eat.
In any case, they are hard-working citizens who do not deserve to be treated as criminals. They are among the poorest of the poor, struggling to eke out a hand-to-mouth existence from this precarious livelihood that depends for its success on the vagaries of the weather and the moods of the sea. When arrested by the 'other side', their families back home are often left without any support or other means of livelihood. Sometimes families lose several male members at one go to the law-enforcing agencies, rendering their situation even more desperate. Their incarceration can range from months to a couple of years - surely a rather harsh punishment compared to the nature of their transgression.
There has been talk of the government providing fishermen with the expensive computerized nautical equipment that would enable them to keep track of their course. If this becomes a reality, at no cost or at subsidised cost to them, it would be a welcome step indeed. Meanwhile, as the governments of India and Pakistan engage in the peace process and discuss this and other issues, a practical step they could take before the time-consuming agreements are arrived at, is to least direct their maritime agencies to not arrest and detain each other's fishermen. If caught violating international boundaries, their catch could be confiscated, and they could be allowed to return home empty-handed. This would not only save the burden on our respective prison systems, but send out a goodwill signal and simultaneously benefit the powerless and the poor, which should surely be the aim of good governance, and good neighbours.


Inter Press Service, December 22, 2004

India-Pakistan Peace Precious, Not Easy

By Praful Bidwai

NEW DELHI, Dec 22 (IPS) - A year after India and Pakistan launched their first serious attempt at a bilateral dialogue after their 1998 nuclear blasts and two major military crises, the prospect of success looks tantalisingly close and yet uphill in the last stretch.
Both Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will have to struggle hard to overcome long-standing obstacles and achieve tangible results in 2005.
Unlike in February 1999, when former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee rode the bus to Lahore, or in 2001 when he met Musharraf in Agra at an unsuccessful summit, the bilateral discussions this time around have been more structured, systematic and better prepared.
The past aside, public opinion in both countries also favours reconciliation -overwhelmingly. The top leaders of the two neighbouring countries have also got to know each other reasonably closely. And the Pakistani establishment has shed much of its initial prejudice against Manmohan Singh, whose sober style seemed a contrast to Vajpayee's.
And yet, going by the multiple rounds of talks held at various levels so far, the going will not be easy. All that India and Pakistan have managed to achieve over the past year is to restore communication links, including air, bus and train services ruptured after a December 2001 terrorist attack on India's Parliament.
Although they agreed in June to reopen their consulates in Karachi and Mumbai, little progress has been made on this.
Also, there seems to be some stagnation over trade and economic cooperation - in particular proposed energy links through an overland gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan.
It is only in respect of liberal visa regimes, and greater freedom for people to travel (by no means without restrictions or limits on the number of cities to be visited) that there has been substantial progress. But even this is reversible.
On the two thorny issues - Kashmir and nuclear weapons - there has been no forward movement. But the two states have at least agreed to discuss Kashmir - for the first time ever.
Yet India and Pakistan still remain stuck without any agreement on what seems to be an important confidence-building measure (CBM) - namely the launching of a bus service between Srinagar in Indian Kashmir and Muzafarabad in the Pakistani-controlled part.
Various mutual suspicious and divergent perceptions have been responsible for the slow progress. Pakistan believes India is using CBMs, of which it has proposed over 70, as a substitute for a purposive and earnest discussion of Kashmir. India believes that Pakistan is dragging its feet on the bus route and on economic cooperation because it wants New Delhi to acknowledge the ''centrality'' of the Kashmir issue and address it first. India accuses Pakistan of a single-minded obsession with Kashmir.
Policy-makers in both countries continue to suspect each other's sincerity even as regards Siachen, a high-altitude glacier in disputed Kashmir, where India and Pakistan have waged a costly and counterproductive war for two decades. The absurdity of the Siachen conflict, the world's highest-altitude war, is that retaining or extending the territory has no strategic value or implications for either India or Pakistan. Both governments seem hell-bent on blowing up hundreds of millions of dollars a year and losing scores of soldiers, largely to frostbite, rather than reaching a rational settlement or a minimally agreed mutual withdrawal.
''Siachen and other boundary disputes can be successfully and quickly addressed,'' says Kamal Mitra Chenoy, a professor at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. ''But for that, Pakistan must feel reassured that India will put Kashmir on the negotiating table.''
The Manmohan Singh government has indeed agreed to discuss the Kashmir ''issue'' - it refuses to call it ''dispute'' - as part of a package of talks on eight subjects. But it is not clear how far it is prepared to go and what its bottom-line is.
In a considered statement, Singh recently ruled out any re-drawing of borders and also the further partition of India-Pakistan along religious lines. India would probably be prepared to go to exceptional lengths in granting autonomy to its part of Kashmir and allowing a "soft border" with a similarly autonomous part of Pakistani Kashmir.
On the other hand, Musharraf has urged that various ''options'' be considered, including treating the old state of Jammu and Kashmir as comprising seven distinct regions and then ''demilitarising'' each.
So far, there has been no meeting ground on these ideas, but once formal, and especially back-channel, discussions get going, there could be some progress.
The critical intermediate issue is whether each of the two governments shows the imagination needed to trigger progress in the short run. One test of this will lie on the issue of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus route, and of the identity documents to be carried on it.
Talks on this have not progressed because India would like passengers to have an ordinary national passport, although the visa/residence permit may not be stamped on it. Pakistan, by contrast, would like entirely different identity papers, which are Kashmir- specific.
But if the bus gets going, many proposals for cross-border trade, family meetings, a postal service and others can come up for discussion. If the bus proposal, made in October 2003, fails, despair and disappointment will follow, affecting the prospect for reconciliation.
Nonetheless, whatever happens on the Kashmir ''issue'', one thing remains clear -- India and Pakistan cannot achieve a sustainable, durable peace unless they grapple with the issue of nuclear weapons.
''So long as the nuclear shadow looms over the subcontinent, it will remain a potential site for serious militaryconflict and a nuclear confrontation,'' says Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Peace Coalition.
''Kashmir is the most obvious flashpoint for a nuclear catastrophe, but there could be others too - a land war where Indian troops enter the Pakistani Punjab. Besides, a nuclear attack could happen out of accident or without authorisation,'' he told IPS.
India and Pakistan have so far refused to address the nuclear weapons issue seriously by negotiating risk-reduction or restraint measures. Both the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (India), and Pakistan Peace Coalition have urged the two governments to enter into an important agreement not to deploy nuclear weapons and to keep warheads separated from nuclear-capable missiles. Both peace groups also want New Delhi and Islamabad to negotiate a moratorium on missile test-flights, to last between one to three years.
Sadly, both countries have made little momentum in that direction. But simply wishing away the nuclear problem will not do. If India and Pakistan want real peace, not cosmetic cessation of hostilities, they will have to grapple with thorny issues.


t r u t h o u t, December 21, 2004

India-Pakistan 'Flashpoint' Has Not Faded Away

J. Sri Raman

South Asians may now relax and rejoice. South Asia has ceased to be a nuclear flashpoint. Declarations to this effect by the rulers of both India and Pakistan should leave no one in doubt in the matter. Or, should they? Must not the pious proclamations, on the contrary, provoke suspicions about the motives behind them? The first declaration came from India. On December 4, addressing a group of Indian businessmen, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: "No one now talks of South Asia as a nuclear flashpoint." He explained: "Our political and diplomatic initiatives have begun to improve the regional security environment - and no travel advisories are being issued, apprehending war."
The last reference was to the India-Pakistan standoff of early 2002, which created worldwide fears of an imminent nuclear war in South Asia. True, unlike then, foreign governments are not today asking their nationals to take the first flight out of the country. Has the much-hyped India-Pakistan "peace process," however, turned the fears into mere fantasies?
An emphatic endorsement of Singh's statement followed - from Pakistan. It came at the end of yet another round of official-level India-Pakistan talks held in Islamabad. On December 15, Tariq Osman Hyder, head of the Pakistani delegation, told a joint media conference: "South Asia is no longer a nuclear flashpoint." According to him, the flashpoint had faded away because India and Pakistan had entered "a dialogue mode" and made "progress on important issues related to nuclear CBMs" (confidence-building measures). Has the "progress" made the peril that South Asia survived in 2002 a thing of the dim, distant past?
The questions, really, are rhetorical. Hyder was talking after the failure of the two-day Islamabad talks. The main item on the agenda of the meeting was the draft of an agreement on prior notification of missile tests. The agreement remained unsigned at the end of the talks. And no advance on the subject is expected until the next round on nuclear CBMs, for which the date is to be decided by December's end.
The non-progress is the more remarkable because of the fact that the agreement was only supposed to formalize an already established practice and procedure. Since 1999, India and Pakistan have been notifying each other ahead of their missile tests. A formal agreement once seemed the simplest of CBMs for the two countries to produce as proof of their nuclear "responsibility" without cutting back or compromising on their nuclear weapons programs. The agreement has still not been arrived at because of insuperable differences over details like information on the missile's trajectory as part of a prescribed notification.
An agreement, in any case, would not have meant fewer missile tests, or any slowing down of the nuclear-capable missile race. It would only have represented an attempt by both to tell the world that their missile race posed no serious risk to South Asia. It would, in other words, have been yet another attempt by both India and Pakistan to legitimize the Bomb-driven race.
The only CBM on which the two nuke-rattling neighbors have agreed since the start of the "process" is the establishment of a 'hotline" between Directors-General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries. This step, too, has only served as an argument in support of the sense of "responsibility" of the two nuclear states and their resolve to minimize the chances of nuclear conflicts and accidents. It has thus been yet another unconvincing attempt by both to sanitize and legitimize their nuclear weapons and programs.
In the course of their talks on CBMs and Nuclear Risk Reduction Measures or NRRMs (the "process" having produced more fashionable acronyms than the faintest advances towards "peace"), the rulers of India and Pakistan have agreed to undertake yet another initiative. New Delhi and Islamabad have agreed to seek "parity" with nuclear powers (P5), "consultations" with them "on matters of common concern," and development of a "common nuclear doctrine." They have agreed, in other words, to knock on the door of the "nuclear club." An improvement on this proposal (worryingly, with the support of some hitherto anti-nuclear activists) calls for an India-convened conference of nuclear powers and "nuclear-capable states" for the same objectives.
All this may make strange allies of the implacable adversaries that India and Pakistan stay despite their intermittent "dialogue process." Just as their uneasy coexistence in the U.S.-headed "alliance against global terror" does. None of this, however, makes the "nuclear flashpoint" a fading memory.
The flashpoint will not fade away so long as nuclear-capable missiles of India and Pakistan remain deployed against each other. It will not, so long as missiles of the two countries stay on hair-trigger alert. It will not, so long as nuclear warheads are not separated from delivery systems.
South Asia stays a flashpoint when Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf sneers that "only a madman" can expect his country's nuclear weapons program to be weakened under him. The danger remains dire, when India's Prime Minister talks, in characteristically soft tones but unexpectedly undemocratic terms, of the need for "continuity and consensus" in the country's nuclear policy. The flashpoint cannot fade away while his government thus affirms its commitment to the policy of nuclear militarism that his far-right predecessors imposed on India.
A freelance journalist and a peace activist of India, J. Sri Raman is the author of Flashpoint (Common Courage Press, USA). He is a regular contributor to t r u t h o u t.


Dawn, December 21, 2004

Fighting poverty with arms

By Omar Kureishi

India's arms shopping spree is not so much a spree as a binge. India is buying weapons from the US, Russia, France, the UK and Israel and whoever else who has set up shop in the arms bazaar.
The educated guess is that the bill for this will be in the vicinity of $95 billion spread over the next 15 years. Does India know of some new enemy that threatens it? India is a nuclear power as is Pakistan and thus there is a balance of terror which acts as a deterrent. Neither country would commit the monumental folly of an armed conflict. Who else is in India's neighbourhood? Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, not even flies in the ointment. So it becomes intriguing why a country with millions of desperately poor people should be spending such colossal sums of money on arms, which are for all practical purposes worthless.
I want to take the figure of $95 billion and what might happen if it was to be invested in the social sector over the next 15 years. Let me start with HIV/Aids. Globally India is second only to South Africa in the number of people living with the disease but is likely to overtake South Africa so fast is it spreading. The estimates are horrifying. The UN Population Division projects that India's adult HIV prevalence will peak at 1.9 per cent in 2019 (when it will have spent its $95 billion for arms).
During 2000-15 the UN projects 12. 3 million AIDS deaths and 49.5 million deaths during 2015-50. These projections are on the conservative side because of the difficulties involved in collecting data. The situation could be worse. Except on special, photo-op occasions such as World Aids Day, I have not read of any concern shown by Indian leaders for what is a clear and present danger that has the making of a national calamity. The BJP fought the elections on the slogan of Shining India. The Congress promised to improve the lives of the people of Rural India. There was some recognition that the poor of India had to be given some stake in the elections. But both parties saw India's poverty as an abstraction. HIV/Aids did not come in the category of poverty. Imagine $95 billion invested in saving lives instead of buying arms to kill people.
This is not an original thought. For years people have been saying that the Third World has no business in wasting its scant resources in buying arms instead of medicines and more often than not the arms are used to kill their own people or, at best, making war against an equally poor neighbour.
The main beneficiaries of this cock-eyed arrangement of priorities are the arms merchants and a few in government who get their share of kickbacks. Nowhere in the world, not even in the United States does the standard of living go up by a fraction because a country goes on an arms buying binge.
On the contrary is often bankrupted and there is no better example than the Soviet Union. We like to believe that the misadventure in Afghanistan brought about the downfall of the Soviet Union. The reality is that it got sucked into an arms race with the United States, trying to match it gun for gun and it went broke.
But an even more important consideration is that most of weapons that are bought (or gifted) are never used and they gather dust until they become obsolete and are replaced.
There is something else that makes a country strong. The United States is the most powerful country in the world and militarily stronger than the rest of the world combined. Yet its military power seems next to useless in the war on terror. It should have learnt this lesson in Vietnam. Military might matters in conventional wars but future wars will not be conventional wars. Barring a nuclear bomb, the Americans threw everything at their enemy in Vietnam. True, they killed an awful lot of people, destroyed cities and towns, poisoned the village and hamlets with Agent Orange but they lost the war.
The same is happening in Iraq. The billions of dollars that make up the defence budget is not proving particularly helpful in putting down the insurgency. No one doubts that the United States has might on its side, not just superior force but overwhelmingly so.
It demonstrated that in Fallujah where the town was destroyed in an effort to flush out the insurgents who had long fled just leaving innocent men, women and children to bear the brunt of the military fury of the world's only superpower.
The United States is also the world's most powerful economic power and, perhaps, can afford its war-machine though surely a day must come that it has to acknowledge that it has more than enough.
But there's lot of money to be made from the defence industry and so the arming of the United States will go on because there is no such condition as more than enough when it comes to making money.
But India is in a different league altogether and does not have money to burn. The Congress party will have to start making good on the promises it made to India's poor. So far there are no indications that Pakistan will want to enter into an arms race with India.
Perhaps, India is hoping that Pakistan will do so. Both Pakistan and India must take poverty alleviation beyond the level of rhetoric and slogan-mongering. I don't think that the poor of the two countries and they number in the millions, are fooled any more. Poverty is neither their dharma nor their kismet. If a lack of food does not kill them, then disease will do so. Nehru's "tryst with destiny" sounds not only hollow but also a cruel joke.


The Hindu, December 20, 2004

Karat’s call to mobilize people against U.S. interference

HYDERABAD, DEC. 19. Eliminating nuclear weapons and building peace between India and Pakistan should be the immediate goals of the anti-war movement in India, Prakash Karat, CPI (M) Polit Bureau member, said while addressing a public meeting of the Anti-War Assembly here on Sunday. "As a first step the two countries (India and Pakistan) should refrain from deploying their nuclear weapons in their respective armies," Mr. Karat said and added that this should lead to the complete de-nucle arisation of South Asia. Nuclear weapons would never allow peace to grow between India and Pakistan, he felt. Mr. Karat said that despite the defeat of the pro-U.S. NDA Government, there remained a strong lobby which wanted deeper military relations with the U.S. and Israel. "Military collaboration with the U.S. and Israel cannot co-exist with an independent foreign policy," he said. "We have to mobilise a larger number of people to stop U.S. interference in our country. It was only popular pressure which would keep the present UPA Government from falling into the lap of the U.S. imperialists."


Dawn, December 20, 2004

All part of the safari jeep

By Jawed Naqvi

Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Indian Held Kashmir are ugly phrases because they smack of official patronage, of government-inspired positions and not even-handed journalism. Why can't we say Indian-administered Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir and wait for the issue to be resolved before assigning a name it eventually chooses for itself?
It is strange that we in India and Pakistan have learnt to pour scorn on embedded American and British journalists who we believe are adept at endorsing the occupation of Iraq by subtle and, where it works better, crude methods.
Using the same argument, how can we ignore that most of us in the subcontinent have been assiduously practising a similar embedded journalism for half a century or more?
We do this by using a vocabulary that is insidious in intent and which creates an enemy in our neighbourhood instead of an organically structured nation peopled by the same kind of ideological jostling that we find in our own respective national boundaries.
Actually, we in India like to proclaim our love or contempt for Pakistan and Pakistanis depending on the season of the year. Even the movies change their story lines according to the season - Border or Mission Kashmir goes with the season of warmongering and Veer Zara, etc., reflect our maudlin love for the "other" side in less vitiated days.
In Pakistan it has been pretty much the same pattern. Like George Orwell's sheep the media in both countries by and large bleats "Four legs good, two legs bad" and vice versa, depending on the mood in the prime minister's office in our capitals as also, in Pakistan's case, at the General HQ in Rawalpindi.
Those who love or hate Pakistan and Pakistanis care little about the finer points of the problem. They suffer from the deception of the tiger in a wildlife sanctuary. If you stay in the open jeep the lurking tiger is likely to mistake you to be part of the jeep and not attack you as it would any other easy prey.
Indians and Pakistanis who care to concern themselves with each other appear to perceive the other side like the deceived tiger. It is scarcely part of a normal discourse in India, for instance, that there are at least four types of political Pakistanis that we are looking at.
The army, the mullahs, the followers of Benazir Bhutto and the followers of Nawaz Sharif represent the four corners. To an untrained Indian mind, they are all part of the safari jeep called Pakistan. That's how a Hindutva rabble-rouser like Narendra Modi could get away by painting all Pakistanis as children of General Pervez Musharraf! Which of course is not very different from the description given by Mr Modi's Hindu fanatics to Indian Muslims - that they are all children of Mughal emperor Babur who kept Hindu slaves and who built the Babri Masjid after razing their scared temple in Ayodhya, as the Hindutva mythmaking has it.
It eventually would take an educated Indian leader like Arif Mohammed Khan to object to Mr Modi. And he did, proclaim even if somewhat impishly: "We are Pathans, we had fought the Mughals. Please do not abuse us."
Last week a large group of Pakistani journalists arrived in India. We are told the Indian government had sponsored the trip. How this media trip was going to be any different from the recent ones organized by some media NGOs is difficult to divine.
Some of these journalists were quoted last week as saying how keen they were to meet former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. General Musharraf had asked them to meet Mr. Vajpayee, one of them said. They would also meet Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. But Mr. Vajpayee appeared to be someone special.
Is there nothing else in India for Pakistanis, more so their journalists, to be interested in? Have they ever tried to meet the ordinary people, people in the villages, in small towns, in the discotheque? How about meeting the Naxalites, the only people, as far as one can remember, who came out in droves in the streets against the war hysteria that was whipped up by Mr. Vajpayee and tacitly endorsed by Ms Gandhi's party through much of 2002?
These orchestrated visits of journalists reminds me of the time when I was under the impression that I was allowed to travel alone in Iran during the Khomeini era. I went to to the Davamand mountain resort north of where the Imam lived in Teheran's Farmaniyeh district. There I found on the snow-laden slopes of the mountains the most amazing sight - scores of women bereft of the hijab were skiing across the picturesque hills. Rock music was blaring from all corners. And the revellers - men and women - were using their skis to write large love messages in the snow to each other, some so large that they could be read from an aeroplane. It was a completely different world to the one we were tutored to believe in.
Click, click, click went my camera. I hadn't of course noticed the 'shadow' that was tailing me, not until the next morning when the camera mysteriously disappeared from the locker in my hotel room. Never mind that. The memories of the Davamand experience are still fresh in my mind. The day this experience becomes possible for Indians and Pakistanis to savour freely in each other's country, small bits of the Orwellian nightmare might begin to wane.


The Praful Bidwai Column, December 20, 2004 / The Korea Herald, December 23, 2004

Buying Arms, Talking Peace: India, Pakistan in an insecurity trap

By Praful Bidwai

It is regrettable that India and Pakistan have made so little progress on the worthy proposal, now 14 months-old, to launch a bus service between the capitals of divided Kashmir. And it is equally distressing that they remain stuck in a conservative groove while discussing nuclear and conventional military confidence-building measures (CBMs) which will genuinely reduce the threat of a conflict in this volatile and now-nuclearised region. While the hitch on the first issue concerns the nature of the documents to be carried by passengers, the talks on the second are marred by a lack of will to take the bold steps that are absolutely necessary in the South Asian context.
In Islamabad talks last week, India and Pakistan complacently declared that Kashmir is no longer a nuclear flashpoint. This is a dangerous delusion. So long as Kashmir remains a contentious issue, it will trigger military rivalry with a nuclear escalation potential.
Beyond a point, it is immaterial who deserves the blame for this stagnation. Each state has its own special concerns, compulsions and anxieties. At the end of the day, what matters is whether the two succeed or fail to address these concerns and allay their fears. The stagnation comes almost a year after the Islamabad breakthrough which re-started their first serious dialogue since the nuclear tests of 1998, punctuated by Kargil and the 10 months-long military standoff of 2002. Unless the dialogue leads to concrete results, India and Pakistan will fail in the eyes of the world community to achieve minimal peace or stability.
That is bad enough. Even worse, the two governments have since launched a huge arms-buying spree. India is acquiring sophisticated air defence systems, new submarines from France and Russia (including a nuclear-powered submarine), the Patriot range of anti-missile missiles from the US, as well as new warplanes and an air-defence ship. India is now among the world's three largest arms importers. Pakistan is buying more P-3C Orion maritime surveillance-cum-submarine-hunter aircraft, six Phalanx rapid-fire anti-ship guns, and TOW missiles, etc.-worth a big $1.2 billion from the US alone.
Washington is encouraging both states to acquire new, ever-deadlier weapons. Indeed, selling such weaponry to them was the principal function of US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfold's recent visit to New Delhi and Islamabad. This has created rancour and resentment in both the South Asian capitals. India's Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has protested at the arms sales to Pakistan. He says the US argument that the sales are meant "to contain terrorist groups like Al-Qaida and Taliban Š does not standŠ Nobody uses F-16 fighter planes and other weapons meant for big wars to fight terrorists". He has even warned that the arms transfer could "jeopardise" the India-Pakistan peace process.
Pakistan retorts that India is being "paranoid"; Islamabad's arms acquisition will only "restore symmetry and bring stability to the region". As Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan put it, in criticising Pakistan, India is "misleading Indian public opinion and misinforming the international community." According to him, "Pakistan is pursuing a modest programme to fill up the gap that emerged during the 1990s due to US sanctionsŠ" He also accuses India of having a highly ambitious $95 billion arms acquisition programme spread over 15 years.
Mr Mukherjee is right to say that weapons like the Orion and F-16 or anti-tank missiles are meant "for big wars and not to fight terrorism. Nobody uses F-16s to fight terrorism". But that's hardly the point. The new deadly toys are a reward for Pakistan's invaluable assistance to the US in fighting al-Qaeda in and around Afghanistan. Similarly, Washington has rewarded India for its "strategic partnership": first by approving the sale of the US-Israeli "Green Pine" radar and an associated air defence system, and then by offering top-of-the-range weapons such as the Patriot-II missile interceptor which is reportedly effective against low-flying aircraft, as well as other conventional materiel.
Two transformations are visible here. During the Cold War-particularly between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s, and then again in the 1980s-, the India-Pakistan arms race was fuelled by rival powers: respectively, the USSR and the US. Today, the same power drives the engine of that race: the US. India and Pakistan both vie for its attention and favours. In the process, both sustain, and in the long run intensify, their rivalry.
Second, the US is far from even-handed in its treatment of India and Pakistan. In one phase, it tilts towards one; in another, towards the other. A pro-Pakistan tilt took place, for instance, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. In 2000, following President Clinton's South Asia visit, this tilt was reversed. Washington also consciously plays one rival off against the other by offering different things to them.
In the 1980s, Washington sold F-16s to Pakistan on an exclusive basis. But in the early 1990s, it imposed restrictions under the Pressler Amendment, etc. Then, after 2000, it warmed up to India and offered it "strategic partnership" plus a role in Ballistic Missile Defence. But a few months ago, it suddenly designated Pakistan a Major non-Nato Ally. For all its rhetoric about India's worthy democracy and the country's great "potential", the US does not support India's candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
Now, Washington is dangling different carrots before the two states. President Bush has again described Pakistan as a "frontline state" which is successfully fighting al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and called General Pervez Musharraf "a world leader". Washington is even more effusive in describing India as an "emerging power, a regional power and a world power with which we want a growing relationship".
US ambassador to India David Mulford says Washington is eager to increase its military market in India. "We would like to be a bigger supplier of military equipmentŠ" Mr Mulford says Pakistan does not fall in the same category as India. "It is important to view these relationships each in their own context. Š It is very important to de-hyphenate the relationshipŠ" However, the relationship does remain strongly hyphenated-not least because of Washington. Washington practises double standards based on short-term considerations. Such double standards come naturally to a Superpower. India and Pakistan realise and resent this. Regrettably, they have both fallen a victim to it. All this would be relatively unimportant if it did not have strategic consequences. But it does. The India-Pakistan rivalry is exacerbated by Washington's policies and moves, with their profoundly destabilising and harmful consequences. In particular, the US's conduct can vitiate the present climate of goodwill and put a spoke in the India-Pakistan peace process.
It is not just hypocritical, but downright foolhardy, for Washington both to supply new weapons to India and Pakistan, and then expect them to negotiate an authentic peace. The logic of the first process-arms race, escalation of military preparations, and increased hostility-is sharply different from the logic of dialogue, reconciliation and peace.
It is even more unrealistic and foolish of India and Pakistan to imagine they can continue to arm themselves to the teeth against each other out of insecuity, and at the same time, become self-assured and secure. The hawks told us this would happen in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s-through the conventional rearmament route. It didn't. The sale of F-16 warplanes to Pakistan probably featured on the front pages of Indian newspapers on an average of 200 days out of 365 days in the year during the 1980s as a major bone of contention. But the contention didn't end when the planes' spares stopped reaching Pakistan.
Then, said our Right-wing experts, nuclear weapons would provide "strategic balance" and stability. They didn't. India and Pakistan went to war within a year of their nuclear tests! Unless they reach a durable peace, conflict could break out yet again-with a definite nuclear escalation potential.
India and Pakistan have tried to talk peace without taking their foot off the nuclear accelerator or even halting the conventional arms race. This too suits a hawkish prescription based on the utmost cynicism. Indian ultraconservatives believe that the US's "coddling" of Pakistan to the point of it becoming, as one of them puts it, a US "protectorate", is a good thing. It will keep Pakistan on its "best behaviour"; by contrast, "whenever American interest flagged Š [the] Pakistanis have run riot". Besides, argue these cynics, a close military sales relationship between Washington and Islamabad will help New Delhi demand "parity" or "fairness"-new, yet more lethal weapons from Washington, in keeping with India's "emerging" position.
This logic is fatally flawed: seeking "balance" through new armaments leads to the creation and widening of imbalances. These in turn furnish an argument for "balance" through yet more tilting of the scales. Such tilt in one direction, followed by a tilt in the other, violates the ends of fairness and justice-and peace. If you want peace, you must wage peace, not war. It would be suicidal for Indian and Pakistani policy-makers and opinion-shapers to forget this great lesson of the 20th century.


Gulf News, December 18, 2004

Partition has failed to solve communal bias

by Kuldip Nayar

A former Chief of Air Staff of the Pakistan Air Force made a poignant remark at a farewell party in New Delhi.
Leading a delegation of retired military officers to India a few days ago, he said he wished those who had left Pakistan after its formation had not done so because his country missed the texture of society it intended to have.
Probably he did not realise that theirs was not an easy choice. They had to leave because they were non-Muslims. When they locked their houses behind they thought they would return after things had settled down.
There was no going back and this realisation came to them only when they saw two streams of human beings on the main Grand Trunk Road, one flowing towards India and the other towards Pakistan. Muslims went through the same traumatic experience.
However, thousands of them have come back to the state, not Punjabis but others. In contrast, there are hardly any Hindus in West Punjab. This is what makes India different despite all the onslaughts of Hindutva. Non-Muslims would have stayed back in Pakistan if Mohammad Ali Jinnah's reinterpretation of the two-nation theory had been carried out.
Its ethos became secularism, not religion. He said that Muslims ceased to be Muslims and Hindus ceased to be Hindus; they were either Pakistanis or Indians.
Mahatma Gandhi, in turn, declared that he would live in Pakistan and seek no visa to enter. Gandhi was shot dead by the extremists and Jinnah was abandoned by similar elements and left dying as a disillusioned man.
Both leaders who were at the helm of political affairs then did not envisage that the minorities would have to quit because of their religion in the country to which they belonged. Both were dejected when the migration began.
I recall the talk I had with Jinnah in 1946 when he addressed the Law College at Lahore. I was then in the final year. I asked him what would happen in the subcontinent after the departure of the British because the hatred between Hindus and Muslims had reached a boiling point.
He said: "Some nations have killed millions of each others and yet an enemy of today is a friend of tomorrow."
That is history. Look at France and Germany which have fought each other for hundreds of years. I wish that had come true in the subcontinent.
We have fought three and a half wars and killed thousands. Retired military officers who came here and some of ours who went there were then in the forefront. The problem between the two countries has got more aggravated over the years.

Fires of prejudice

What was once a Hindu-Muslim hiatus has now become the confrontation between India and Pakistan which is laced with nuclear missiles. Partition has failed to solve the basic problem of communal bias.
I see the same fires of prejudice burning in the two countries. Misinformation, misunderstanding or misinterpretation of religion is grist to the hatred mill which is working all the time.
The common man wants to bury the hatchet while keeping his identity intact. But fundamentalists on either side sabotage even the most altruistic initiative to span the distance between the two.
It is strange that the Pakistan government should want to take credit for its campaign against prejudice when the history it teaches in schools and colleges is partisan and begins with the advent of Muslim rule in India.
What about the civilisation of Mohenjodaro and Taxila? They do not figure anywhere because they are related to Hinduism. This is how bias is sown. Revising history books should be one step to judge how serious President General Pervez Musharraf is about fostering secularism and Jinnah's legacy.
People-to-people contact has busted the walls of prejudice and suspicion to some extent. Religious parties wield great influence and they run state governments in the North Western Frontier Province on their own and in Baluchistan with the support of Musharraf.
Even otherwise, he has a close understanding with the religious elements which first approved of his presidency and now give empty threats that they will not tolerate his uniform beyond December 31.
The process of people meeting from the different fields in India and Pakistan has diluted religious fanaticism. But when Musharraf says: "I am giving bilateralism a final chance in Kashmir" and when Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh declares "all is not well", the atmosphere becomes heavy.
It means that the two governments are beginning to build a case to restrict the contact.
This necessitates the implementation of decisions reached on some of the confidence building measures. Another round of composite talks that has begun now should see to it. Kashmir is a symptom. The disease is bias.
Our priority should be to establish secularism on both sides. India has been lucky because leaders even after Nehru made no compromise with communalism.
The BJP which did was ousted lock, stock and barrel. In Pakistan no leader after Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan has pursued secularism. The result is that ideologically the two countries stand poles apart.
Musharraf says he is fighting fundamentalists. But he is also seeking their assistance for political purposes. His other problem is the jihadi elements in the military. In truth, fundamentalists in both the countries are vitiating the atmosphere and stoking the fires of prejudice. The eruption in India is met with eruption in Pakistan.
The demolition of Babri masjid is one example. What happened in its wake in Pakistan was equally vindictive when practically all the Hindu temples were damaged in retaliation.
Relations between New Delhi and Islamabad will not improve until fundamentalists are out of the reckoning. If Kashmir is the be-all and end-all for Pakistan, it can be solved only up to the point which has the support of the BJP.
True, former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee deserves all the credit for having set the ball rolling in January this year. Yet how far he would have conceded to Pakistan would never be known. The Manmohan Singh government, I am sure, must be keeping the BJP in the picture behind the scenes. But the stage of assessing how far it is willing to concede on Kashmir is yet to come.
What people on both sides should meanwhile do is to deepen contacts at every level so as to make it difficult for the governments to impose restrictions even when they want to. People should not be dependent on their whims.
In fact, they should be debating the South Asian economic zone, from Afghanistan to Myanmar, to push relations beyond nationalities, borders and religions. It is a pity that the persons who rule the region are pygmies, not visionaries.


Daily Times, December 17, 2004

Milestone Kathmandu Conference

The Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs has recently concluded a meeting in Kathmandu that brought together experts from India, Pakistan, the United States and some other countries. Even more significantly it had some leaders and analysts from the two sides of Kashmir - Azad Kashmir and Indian-Held Kashmir. This was a milestone conference for many reasons. The stimulus for Pugwash came from a Manifesto issued in 1955 by eminent scientist Albert Einstein and philosopher Bertrand Russell. The manifesto "called upon scientists of all political persuasions to assemble to discuss the threat posed to civilisation by the advent of thermonuclear weapons". The forum got its name from Pugwash, a small village in Nova Scotia in Canada, birthplace of the American philanthropist Cyrus Eaton, who hosted the first meeting. Since that day, Pugwash has expanded to cover various areas of security and conflict resolution. It brings together, "from around the world, influential scholars and public figures concerned with reducing the danger of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems".
During the Cold War, Pugwash provided a forum to antagonists on both sides of the East-West divide to talk to each other candidly in private. This is why Pugwash meetings work on the principle of non-reporting. While the Einstein-Russell Manifesto sets the ideal goal, much of Pugwash's success - for instance, in relation to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons - was owed to its policy-oriented approach. In 1995, it got the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of the work it had done towards non-proliferation and arms control.
For the last four years, Pugwash has also been involved in reducing the risk of war between India and Pakistan - following the nuclearisation of the two countries - and has recently also joined efforts to try and work out a solution to the Kashmir problem. The Kathmandu conference was a follow-up on at least two earlier conferences in Geneva and New Delhi. However, this was the first time it managed to bring together leaders and opinion makers from both sides of the Line of Control.
What is good is the fact that the meeting was facilitated by the governments of India and Pakistan, though there were anxious moments when bureaucrats on both sides tried to throw a spanner in the works. Pugwash was also a little concerned about some press coverage in the run-up to the conference, some of which hinted at its (Pugwash) being part of the American efforts to work out a solution. That is wrong, as Pugwash was at pains to point out. It simply provides a forum for frank and candid exchange of ideas which, most would agree, is important as part of ongoing efforts to improve the atmospherics between India and Pakistan and keep the normalisation process on the rails. Additionally, this particular meeting proved significant because of the interface between Kashmiri leadership from AJK and IHK. It has been a longstanding demand of Pakistan as well as the All Parties Hurriyat Conference that Kashmiris on both sides should be allowed to meet and work out a joint strategy. Therefore, it makes eminent sense for Pakistan to support all initiatives, whether official or unofficial, which seek to do just that.
Given that the UN resolutions on Kashmir have become mostly moribund in the backdrop of India's refusal to accept them, it is important to come up with creative solutions. Also, no solution of Kashmir is likely to stick unless it is generally acceptable to the majority of Kashmiris. This is also the official position of Pakistan and General Pervez Musharraf has reiterated it consistently. A good upshot of the recent meeting has been the committees set up to intensify contacts between leaders on both sides and provide them the space to flesh out ideas discussed at the Kathmandu meeting. That is why this development should be welcomed by India and Pakistan. Both can use the Kashmiris to climb down from their maximalist positions without losing face.


Deccan Herald, December 17, 2004

Kashmir Issue - How not to dialogue

By Balraj Puri

Apart from people-to-people contacts, there is need for internal dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue

Pugwash, a US-based think tank recently organised an intra-Kashmir dialogue between leaders of the Indian and Pakistani parts of state, "to resolve the Kashmir issue", at Kathmandu. The nearly 60 participants included not only politicians, academicians and journalists belonging to the two sides but also former generals and diplomats of India and Pakistan.
Personal level contacts and dialogue are certainly a better substitute for violence. To the extent that the Kathmandu conference creates an atmosphere for peace and amity between the two countries, it should be welcomed as should all other avenues of people-to-people contacts and Track II diplomacy. But if it creates expectations, as claimed by the organisers, that it would seek a solution of the problem, and if these expectations are not fulfilled, a backlash cannot be ruled out.
As none of the participants had authority on behalf of their constituencies or governments, they did not deviate from their formal positions. But an opportunity to know, first-hand, the views from the other side, might be a gain.
If it had been a meet of intellectuals and experts, they could have exchanged their knowledge and views and even prepared a road map for various stages that have to be covered before the final solution is attempted. But if politicians had also joined them, it would have been difficult to avoid a controversy over their representative character. Senior leaders of some of the parties, though invited, chose not to go to Kathmandu. They include Ali Shah Gilani, Yasin Malik, Mehbooba Mufi, Omar Farooq and Yusuf Tarigami. No representative of the Congress party and of the Ladakh region, nor of the Gujar and Pahari communities, was invited.
Would any concrete decision of the conference - apart from pious sentiments of mutual goodwill if at all reached - be acceptable to these absentees? It would be far better to persuade the two governments to allow the leaders and people on both sides of the LoC to visit the other side, interact with the persons of their choice and be acquainted with the realities on the ground, subject, of course, to the security concerns of the two governments. On return, they could discuss their impressions with their colleagues and if they like with their governments.

Internal dialogue needed
Again, this will not, in itself, obviate the necessity of internal dialogue. No two parties in Kashmir valley, at present, are on speaking terms with each other.
The Hurriyat which at one time claimed and was recognised by international media and foreign governments, as the sole representative of the people of the entire, or at any rate of the separatist camp, is split in at least four parts. The relations between what are called the mainstream parties, viz the ruling party, PDP, and the main opposition, the National Conference, are no better.
Much more serious damage that international conferences to find a solution for the Kashmir issue do, is to the internal coherence of the state. As external relations of the state become paramount, regions and communities will have a tendency to be pulled toward divergent directions.
Unless internal harmony between the aspirations and interests of all the diversities with which the state is endowed, is restored, the state cannot aspire for a stable and satisfactory status.
The only other alternative is to split the state, which inevitably would tend to be on religious lines. Can the state, India and the subcontinent afford another division on religious lines?
Any solution - merger with Pakistan, independence, status quo or autonomy of the state - in the absence of a systemic changes in the present over-centralised state, would be wrecked. It would further accentuate internal tensions and divisions. The Delhi Agreement in 1952, on the autonomy of the state, with the overwhelming popular support of the people of the Kashmir valley, it may be recalled, was wrecked, not by the government of India, but by a massive opposition to it by the people of Jammu, who were afraid that more autonomy to the state would increase the capacity of Kashmiri leaders to dominate over them.
Would any other solution like still greater autonomy or independence work if it does not provide for credible safeguards for Jammu and Ladakh? In 1952, my suggestion for regional autonomy to ensure such safeguards was accepted by Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah. But somehow it was never implemented.

Resolution adopted
Again, the J&K state People's Convention, convened by Sheikh Abdullah in 1968 and attended by each and every section of the Kashmir valley, adopted a resolution to seek a solution of the problem which kept in view the interests of all the regions. It offered to settle terms with either of the two governments, to implement a five-tier internal constitution of the state, which would define the distribution of powers at the state, region, district, block and panchayat levels.
If a dialogue is started and a consensus is reached within the Indian part of the state on the basis of the commitment of Nehru and Abdullah in 1952 and of the People's Convention or any modification thereof, it would be easier to initiate a dialogue on the external status of the state, with leaders across the LoC and the governments of the two countries. For there would then be a better appreciation by each community and region, of the aspirations of the others.


December 17, 2004

India-Pakistan: Yet another opportunity has been missed

By M.B. Naqvi

[Karachi December 17, 2004]
Yet another opportunity has been missed: Two groups of Indo-Pakistani officials met in Islamabad last week and failed to agree on anything except to continue talking. One group discussed CBMs (confidence building measures) and the possibility of strategic stability; the second discussed Sir Creek. This was a part of second round of composite dialogue, the first having ended in fiasco. It too appears to be going nowhere.
A dialogue by bureaucracies can make no political deviation or concession; they are bound by earlier decisions of their governments. A secretary can only reiterate the laid down position. At best, these officers can better define the differences for politicians to decide whether they should alter their basic positions.
It means that only Ministerial level discussions are indicated. Not that Foreign Ministers will necessarily succeed. They too may not find it easy to make serious concessions. Proper forum for actual give and take on sensitive matters can be Summits. But Summits require elaborate preparations; a lot of hard work goes into them, not all of it by bureaucracies. Public opinion in both countries will have to play a crucial part in creating the political will necessary for substantive mutual accommodation on sensitive matters.
There is a certain credibility deficit: Persistent assertions in America about its facilitation between India and Pakistan for these talks suggest that both sides do not have their heart in the negotiations. They are going through the motions of negotiating in deference to American wishes. Whether or not this is true in India's case, Pakistan has been under American pressure to stop insurgents going into Indian-controlled Kashmir. The US wants a modus vivendi in the Subcontinent to prevent another 2002 like confrontation. Anyway, both countries are strategic allies of America and it has expectations from both. Which is why it is cooperating with both.
But the issue of war and peace between India and Pakistan is primarily a concern of their peoples. Even if the Americans are knocking the heads together, peace, friendship and cooperation between the Indians and Pakistanis constitute a noble aim. The fact that the American are nudging the two sides toward the negotiating table does not mean that the Indo-Pakistan negotiations should not discontinue. This aim should be pursued resolutely and in good faith for its own sake.
That underlines the nub of the matter: what do the ruling elites of the two countries actually aim at and where their domestic preferences are likely to take their countries. Factually, the aims of the two are mutually incompatible. Which is why their officials are unable to agree even on things that are mutually beneficial. Factually the Indian political class is pursuing the objective of being recognized as a great power, with a veto-wielding permanent seat in the UN Security Council. India is therefore acquiring military means of projecting power and has gone a fairly long way toward the objective.
In contrast, Pakistan has viewed this as a threat to itself. Actually Pakistan is a national security state par excellence. It has subordinated everything else to what it conceives to be national security. Pakistani rulers' perceptions are based on the belief that Indian intentions are inimical. While India projects its great power role over large stretches of Asia, they see the net effect of its military build up is to radically threaten Pakistan. That perception has impelled Islamabad to counter India's overwhelming superiority in conventional armaments by an ever-growing reliance on nuclear weapons in addition to some modernization of conventional weapons.
Now nuclear weapons confound everything, producing profound uncertainty and instability in the region. For obscure reasons the Indian government decided in May '98 to test-explode five nuclear weapons. Pakistan felt compelled to follow suit and has created a nuclear deterrent against India. Nuclear weapons are a de-estabilising factor anywhere. They are far more so in the densely populated South Asia where attack time ranges between three to six minutes. In this duration no government can react meaningfully on a matter of highest importance. That forces both countries to remain on permanent high alert. That totally destroys trust between each other.
Nuclear weapons' mischief is enhanced by the reason of their birth. They issue from Kashmir dispute - clearly so in the case of Pakistan while the reasons for India going nuclear remain a mystery. But a Pakistani is not best suited to explore why Indians chose to become a nuclear power. Perhaps their quest for greatness made them acquire nuclear capability. But no matter what the Indians think or aim at, Islamabad believes that the Indian nuclear weapons are primarily aimed at Pakistan and can be fired the minute India so decides. That perception leads to counteraction in kind: Pakistan has to keep its nuclear deterrent in much the same state as India does. This results in an unending arms race for improving and increasing the number of nuclear weapons and constantly adapting their missiles to match the improved weapon designs and sizes. This creates a quasi-war atmosphere. The two sides have virtually been in this twilights zone ever since May '98. What chance do the peacemaking efforts have of succeeding?
Bomb-loving notables of both sides had advocated in earlier 1990s that nuclear weapons would reduce the need for high levels of conventional forces and the Bomb provides security on the cheap. They actually shortchanged us. The famous Neemrana Group made these virtual promises. The two governments bought them. The idea of peace and stability at smaller economic costs turned out to be a fraud; the two countries are not only updating the nuclear deterrent all the time, at great cost, they are also hectically accumulating conventional military hardware at ruinous prices.
A subject like Siachin Glacier on which there was an initialed agreement hangs fire. During the current goodwill based solely on popular expectations the two can easily revive it to mutual advantage. There is Sir Creek where what is required is determining approximately 10 kms of sea frontier. Any basis for agreement on it would be beneficial to both. The recurring sight of two para-militaries flexing muscles to catch poor fishermen is silly. Pakistan arrests 45 poor fishermen accused of poaching in Pakistani waters. Somehow Indians quickly find 55 illiterate Pakistani fishermen poaching in Indian waters. These wretches rot in each other's jail for extended periods and are released after elaborate negotiations. Commonsense and decency can prevent this farcical tragedy.
There are proposals such as a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad or the Monabao-Khokhrapar railway link. If giving relief to the people was intended the two countries should have agreed quickly. Indian government announced not too many months ago a unilateral decision, permitting certain categories of Pakistanis to obtain multiple visit visas easily and for the whole country. It has not been implemented. Perhaps Pakistan refused to make a matching decision. If so where is the unilateral part.
Kashmir is a major subject. But second is perhaps the biggest hurdle to friendly relations, though unrecognized; this is nuclear weapons in the two arsenals. The last one is not even perceived as the biggest hurdle to normal friendly relations.
But trade is mutually beneficial. Since Pakistan government has few cards up its sleeve, it has converted trade and people-to-people contacts into levers to apply on India. It is less than wise; it hurts Pakistan equally, if not more.


Indian Express, December 16, 2004

External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh has virtually expressed regret over India's current nuclear status

NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 15: EXTERNAL Affairs Minister Natwar Singh has virtually expressed regret over India's current nuclear status. Speaking to the Korea times daily, he also called upon the two Koreas not to emulate India's example in becoming a nuclear power. Singh, in the interview, sought to shift the entire blame for events leading up to the 1998 Shakti series of tests on the NDA Government and its nuclear stand-off with Pakistan, reported PTI from Seoul. In doing so, he not only seemed to be going against his own government's stated stand, but also appeared to be denying the role that various Congress leaders had played in India's nuclear journey. After appearing to blame the NDA Government on a visit to Seoul, Singh reportedly tqld the newspaper: "But regret would be can't put it back in the tube, it's out." Even the highest levels of government were taken aback at the Foreign Minister's views on the sensitive nuclear issue."What can I is his personal view," said a senior official.


Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, December 16, 2004

Press Release

The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India, is greatly disappointed at the failure of the recent official talks between India and Pakistan to come up with meaningful nuclear confidence-building measures (CBMs). Although these are no substitute for nuclear disarmament they can, when intelligently conceived and sensibly applied, make matters less unsafe. However, such CBMs are not likely to emerge when both governments continue buying and producing more conventional armaments thereby raising bilateral tensions and mistrust. Nor are matters helped through false reassurances about Kashmir no longer being a "nuclear flashpoint" when serious steps towards resolving the issue are absent.
New Delhi and Islamabad seem to lack the vision and commitment to bring about such desired nuclear CBMs. The CNDP calls on both governments to rapidly move towards:
1) Separating warheads from all delivery systems and making such procedures transparent and verifiable.
2) Establishing on both sides of the border a zone of non-deployment of nuclear capable delivery systems.
3) A permanent bilateral test ban pact.
4) Establishing joint teams of Indian and Pakistani scientific personnel to periodically visit nuclear-related facilities in both countries.

J. Sri Raman
Kamal Chenoy


The News International, December 16, 2004

Courting Insecurity Through Arms

Praful Bidwai

Although it would be premature to pronounce a negative judgment on it yet, the India-Pakistan dialogue is running into a number of roadblocks and probably a phase of stagnation. The two governments have made little progress on the worthy 14 month-old proposal to launch a bus service between the two capitals of divided Kashmir. They also remain stuck in a conservative groove while discussing nuclear and conventional military confidence-building measures (CBMs), which will reduce the threat of a conflict in this volatile, now-nuclearised, region. While the hitch on the first issue concerns the nature of the documents to be carried, the talks on the second are marred by a lack of will to take the bold steps that are necessary in the South Asian context.
Beyond a point, it is immaterial if the blame for this stagnation lies with Pakistan or India. Each has its own special concerns, compulsions, preoccupations and anxieties. At the end of a year, after they agreed to re-start their first serious dialogue since the nuclear tests of 1998, what matters is whether they have addressed these or failed to do so. Unless the dialogue leads to results, India and Pakistan will fail in the eyes of the world.
Even worse, each of the two has launched a huge arms-buying spree. India is acquiring sophisticated air defence systems, new submarines from France and Russia (including a nuclear-powered submarine), the Patriot range of US anti-missile missiles, as well as new warplanes and an air-defence ship. It is now among the world's three largest arms importers. Pakistan is buying more P-3C Orion maritime surveillance-cum-submarine-hunter aircraft, Phalanx rapid-fire guns, and TOW missiles, etc.-worth a $1.2 billion from the US alone.
Washington is encouraging both to acquire new, ever-deadlier weapons. Indeed, selling such weaponry to them was the principal function of US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld's recent India-Pakistan visit. This has created rancour and resentment in both our capitals. Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee protests against the US argument that the weapon sales to Pakistan are meant "to contain terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and Taliban ... Nobody uses F-16 fighter planes and other weapons meant for big wars to fight terrorists". He even warns that the sales could "jeopardise the peace process". Pakistan retorts that India is "paranoid" about Islamabad's arms acquisition. This is only meant to "restore symmetry and bring stability to the region" by filling up "the gap that emerged during the '90s due to US sanctions..."
Mukherjee is right to say that weapons like the Orion and F-16 or anti-tank missiles are meant "for big wars and not to fight terrorism". But that's hardly the point. The new deadly toys are a reward for Pakistan's invaluable assistance to the US in fighting al-Qaeda in and around Afghanistan. Similarly, Washington has rewarded India for its "strategic partnership": first by approving the sale of the US-Israeli "Green Pine" radar and the associated air defence system, and then by offering top-of-the-range weapons such as the Patriot-II missile interceptor, as well as other conventional materiel.
Two transformations are visible here. During the Cold War, particularly between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s, and then in the 1980s, the India-Pakistan arms race was fuelled by rival powers: respectively, the USSR and the US. Today, the same power drives the race: the US. India and Pakistan both vie for its attention and favours. In the process, both sustain, and in the long run intensify, their rivalry.
Second, the US is far from even-handed. In one phase, it tilts towards Pakistan; in another, towards India. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, it offered F-16s to Pakistan on an exclusive basis, but in the early 1990s, imposed restrictions under the Pressler Amendment, etc. After 2000, it suddenly warmed up to India and offered "strategic partnership" plus a role in Ballistic Missile Defence. Then a few months ago, suddenly, it designated Pakistan a Major non-Nato Ally. For all its rhetoric about India's great power "potential" and its democracy, the US does not support India's candidature for the permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
Now Washington is dangling different carrots before the two states. President Bush has again described Pakistan as a "frontline state" against terrorism and called Pervez Musharraf "a world leader". Washington is equally effusive when describing India as an "emerging power, a regional power and a world power with which we want a growing relationship".
Washington practises double standards based on short-term considerations. India and Pakistan realise and resent this. Regrettably, they have both fallen a victim to it. All this would be relatively unimportant if it did not have strategic consequences. But the India-Pakistan rivalry is aggravated by Washington's policies and moves. In particular, these can vitiate the present climate and put a spoke in the peace process.
It is not just hypocritical, but downright foolhardy, for Washington both to supply new weapons to India and Pakistan and then expect them to negotiate an authentic peace. The logic of the first process-escalation of military preparations, and increased hostility-is sharply different from the logic of dialogue, reconciliation and peace.
It is even more unrealistic and foolish of India and Pakistan to imagine they can continue to arm themselves to the teeth against each other and thus make themselves insecure, and at the same time, hope to become secure. The hawks told us this would happen in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s-through the conventional route. It didn't. The sale of F-16s to Pakistan probably featured on the front pages of Indian newspapers on an average of 200 days out of 365 days in the year in the 1980s as a major bone of contention. But the contention didn't end when the planes' spares stopped reaching Pakistan. Then, said our Right wing "experts", nuclear weapons would provide "strategic balance" and stability. They didn't. India and Pakistan went to war within a year of their nuclear tests!
India and Pakistan have tried to talk peace without taking their foot off the nuclear accelerator or even stopping the conventional arms race. This too suits the hawks' prescription, based on the utmost cynicism. For instance, Indian ultraconservatives believe that the US's "coddling" of Pakistan to the point of it becoming, as one of them puts it, a US "protectorate", is a good thing. It will keep Pakistan on its "best behaviour"; by contrast, "whenever American interest flagged... [the] Pakistanis have run riot". Besides, US military sales to Islamabad will help New Delhi demand "parity"-new, yet more lethal weapons, in keeping with India's "emerging" position.
This logic is fatally flawed: seeking "balance" through arms sales will lead to the creation and widening of existing imbalances. These imbalances in turn furnish an argument for "balance" through yet more tilting of the sales. A tilt in one direction, followed by a tilt in the other, violates the interests of fairness - and peace. If you want peace, you must wage peace, not war. It would be suicidal for India (and Pakistan) to forget this great lesson of the 20th century.


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