Thursday, 22 September 2016

Pakistan Has Finally Admitted That Afghan Taliban Leaders Are Living There

Pakistan Has Finally Admitted That Afghan Taliban Leaders Are Living There

The admission comes after years of denial
In a significant departure from the Pakistani government’s consistent, years-long denial of relations with the Taliban, one of its most senior foreign policy officials went on the record this week to say that the Islamic extremist group’s leaders reside in Pakistan.
The admission by Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s top adviser on foreign affairs, came during a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
“We have some influence on them because their leadership is in Pakistan, and they get some medical facilities, their families are here,” Aziz said, responding to a question about Pakistan’s role in peace talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan government.
“So we can use those levers to pressurize them to say ‘come to the table,’” he said, “but we can’t negotiate on behalf of the Afghan government because we can’t offer them what the Afghan government can.”
Although Pakistan’s sheltering of the militant group is considered something of an open secret by experts familiar with the region, the official position has always been a denial of any linkages.
“We do not make any comment on [political leaders’ statements],” a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign office told the BBC. “He [Aziz] has said what he had to say.”
The Pakistani Army and the Taliban leadership have not yet commented.
A four-nation coordination group, comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, the U.S. and China, has held four meetings since December to establish a road map for further talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which Aziz hinted may take place later this month.


Pakistan Has Finally Admitted That Afghan Taliban Leaders Are Living There

Pakistan Has Finally Admitted That Afghan Taliban Leaders Are Living There

The admission comes after years of denial
In a significant departure from the Pakistani government’s consistent, years-long denial of relations with the Taliban, one of its most senior foreign policy officials went on the record this week to say that the Islamic extremist group’s leaders reside in Pakistan.
The admission by Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s top adviser on foreign affairs, came during a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
“We have some influence on them because their leadership is in Pakistan, and they get some medical facilities, their families are here,” Aziz said, responding to a question about Pakistan’s role in peace talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan government.
“So we can use those levers to pressurize them to say ‘come to the table,’” he said, “but we can’t negotiate on behalf of the Afghan government because we can’t offer them what the Afghan government can.”
Although Pakistan’s sheltering of the militant group is considered something of an open secret by experts familiar with the region, the official position has always been a denial of any linkages.
“We do not make any comment on [political leaders’ statements],” a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign office told the BBC. “He [Aziz] has said what he had to say.”
The Pakistani Army and the Taliban leadership have not yet commented.
A four-nation coordination group, comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, the U.S. and China, has held four meetings since December to establish a road map for further talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which Aziz hinted may take place later this month.


Pakistan Has Finally Admitted That Afghan Taliban Leaders Are Living There

Pakistan Has Finally Admitted That Afghan Taliban Leaders Are Living There

The admission comes after years of denial
In a significant departure from the Pakistani government’s consistent, years-long denial of relations with the Taliban, one of its most senior foreign policy officials went on the record this week to say that the Islamic extremist group’s leaders reside in Pakistan.
The admission by Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s top adviser on foreign affairs, came during a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
“We have some influence on them because their leadership is in Pakistan, and they get some medical facilities, their families are here,” Aziz said, responding to a question about Pakistan’s role in peace talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan government.
“So we can use those levers to pressurize them to say ‘come to the table,’” he said, “but we can’t negotiate on behalf of the Afghan government because we can’t offer them what the Afghan government can.”
Although Pakistan’s sheltering of the militant group is considered something of an open secret by experts familiar with the region, the official position has always been a denial of any linkages.
“We do not make any comment on [political leaders’ statements],” a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign office told the BBC. “He [Aziz] has said what he had to say.”
The Pakistani Army and the Taliban leadership have not yet commented.
A four-nation coordination group, comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, the U.S. and China, has held four meetings since December to establish a road map for further talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which Aziz hinted may take place later this month.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

People of Jammu and Kashmir should also acknowledge their mistakes

People of Jammu and Kashmir should also acknowledge their mistakes
Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a Seminar held at the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 20 September 2016.
Mr Chairman and colleagues Aslamo alaikam and very good after noon to you all

There is more than one reason why people of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering. Normal practice of Majority of Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir is to accuse India for all the problems we have. Some will say Pakistan is responsible for our problems; and some will say both India and Pakistan are responsible for our miseries.

Have you ever analysed the role of people of Jammu and Kashmir in this conflict? Are they not responsible? Did not some citizens of Jammu and Kashmir become collaborators when Pakistan violated the Standstill Agreement with the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir; and launched the tribal attack to capture Kashmir on October 22 October 1947?

Did they not help Pakistan and the Tribesmen to kill non Muslim citizens of Jammu and Kashmir? In this brutal attack women of Jammu and Kashmir were kidnapped and raped, innocent people were killed and their houses were looted and burnt. Did not some of us agree to become foot soldiers of Pakistan, and set up a puppet government of so called Azad Kashmir?

Should we accept some of the responsibility for tens of thousands of deaths and rapes that took place after 22 October 1947; or only hold Pakistan responsible for all that?

This unprovoked aggression forced the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir to seek help from India, which was provided only after he acceded with India; and the accession was provisionally accepted. The attack resulted in first India and Pakistan war and forced division of our homeland.

Role of Valley of Kashmir
Did not people of the Valley come out to fight the tribesmen and the invading Pakistani soldiers in October 1947? After the Provisional accession, did they not side with government of India? If leaders of so called Azad Kashmir were puppets of Pakistan, were not leaders of Jammu and Kashmir puppets of India? Did they not take oath of allegiance to India?

After the Provisional accession the issue was between government of India and the people of State of Jammu and Kashmir; and Pakistan was not even a party to the dispute. People had three options, either to reject the provisional accession, ratify it or negotiate new terms of the accession.
Pakistan became a party because of its illegal occupation; and because the matter was taken to the UN Security Council; and they had a right to reply to the accusations made by India with regard to the aggression. Both India and Pakistan assumed the role of representatives of people of Jammu and Kashmir; and since that date they talk and negotiate and we suffer on both sides of the divide.

Despite the knowledge that Pakistan has imperial designs on Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan is guilty of aggression and gross human rights violation in Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistani Occupied Kashmir, some people felt it appropriate to take guns, bullets, training and money from Pakistan and use it against India.

Interestingly they called it azadi movement, meaning freedom movement. So in their view it was appropriate to become proxies of a country that also occupies large parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and sit in the capital of that country, receive all sorts of help; and still claim to be patriots and freedom fighters. Either I am missing something or the meaning of freedom struggle has changed.

Some citizens of Jammu and Kashmir don’t want independence. They don’t want Jammu and Kashmir to exist as a separate nation; and don’t want to own Kashmiri identity and culture because they have voluntarily accepted slavery of Pakistan. It is their choice, bad as it is; and I for one will not force them to change their views. May be they are unable to differentiate between freedom and slavery. May Almighty help them?

If these people are projected as patriots, even though they are not pro Jammu and Kashmir; then how could those loyal sons of the soil be accused of being traitors who want glory for Jammu and Kashmir; those who want independence for Jammu and Kashmir; and those who want to strengthen Jammu and Kashmir culture and promote tolerance, democracy and pluralism?

The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is a political dispute which required a political solution. These freedom fighters of Islamabad or proxies made it a religious struggle, knowing full well that Jammu and Kashmir is a multi religious and multi ethnic State. It is another black page of our history that in name of religion they turned against their fellow citizens and forced them out of the Kashmir Valley. The uprooted people, Kashmiri Pandits lived in Kashmir for centuries, but these religious warriors backed by Islamabad, in name of jihad killed many innocent people, raped women and they had to flee their homes to save their lives.

After dealing with the non Muslims they started fighting each other. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives; no one knows exactly how many people are killed by Indian para military forces, Jammu and Kashmir police, by infighting of militant groups, and by exchange of hostilities along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.
I agree people have suffered and they continue to suffer; but can we hold India responsible for everything what has happened? Did India ask these people to go to Pakistan, get training, bring weapons and use against the Indian army?

Where India and Pakistan are responsible for our miseries, we citizens of Jammu and Kashmir must also share some responsibility. We must learn from our mistakes and try to adopt pro Jammu and Kashmir and pro peace policies.

A little comparison
Mr Chairman
People often ask me to make comparison between India and Pakistan. I made one comparison last September. I want to make a little comparison now.

Many Muslims of the Valley shout pro Pakistan slogans. They say they are Pakistanis – Trei jaan Meri Jaan – Pakistan Pakistan. They burn Indian flags. They visit Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi and eat chicken Tikkas, Kebabs, and Biryani etc. They celebrate Eids with them and openly get their support. No one is killed on the Indian side of the divide for the above activities.

We had a brave son of soil, Arif Shahid, who Chairman of All Parties National Alliance. He did not wave an Indian flag. He did not call himself an Indian or expressed his desire to join India. He did not borrow a gun from India to use it against Pakistan. He never went to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. He did not celebrate Eid or Divali with them. His only crime was to criticise Pakistani designs on Kashmir. His only crime was that he challenged Pakistani jihad industry and demanded that it should be closed down as it was hurting people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Yasin Malik is still alive even though he was among those who brought gun from Pakistan and used it against India. When he surrendered the gun no one tried to kill him. Syed Ali Gilani and many others who call themselves Pakistanis and wave Pakistani flags are still alive, yet Arif Shahid was killed in Rawalpindi three years ago. To date his killers are not arrested.

Mr Chairman
This short comparison has a big message for thinking people; and especially to those who people who are still impartial.

Pakistanis must think of their priorities. Do they want to spend their resources on manufacturing more bombs and missiles and export of violence and extremism; or they want to spend their resources on education, and to eliminate poverty and improve health facilities. In 1947, Pakistan’s literacy rate was 16% and India was 18%, only difference of 2%. Today, this difference has increased to 22%. India is becoming an economic giant with 359 billion reserves; and Pakistan’s exports are falling; and the country survives on the foreign help.

Pakistanis need to think and think carefully, is their anti India narrative which is cornerstone of their national thinking and policy helping Pakistan or harming Pakistan.

My message to people of Jammu and Kashmir is we have lost a generation because of wrong policies; and without gaining an inch of Jammu and Kashmir. We were not pro Jammu and Kashmir, we were pro Pakistan. We were not pro peace, we were pro violence. Let us make a new start. - say good bye to the gun culture, and stop throwing stones and burning buildings.

Those we have lost; will not come back. Let us save those who are still alive. Let us make a new policy to promote an agenda that suits all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir State.

Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com



Monday, 19 September 2016

Extremism and religious intolerance must be opposed, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Extremism and religious intolerance must be opposed, Dr Shabir Choudhry
Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a Seminar held at the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 19 September 2016.

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues aslamo alaikam

Whenever forcibly divided State of Jammu and Kashmir is in news, it means there is trouble. There is bloodshed. There are incidents of torture and human rights abuses. Although focus of attention is the Valley of Kashmir because of violence, curfews and human rights abuses; but the fact is areas of Jammu and Kashmir occupied by Pakistan are also witnessing growing incidents of human rights abuses.

I condemn all these human rights abuses; and urge the authorities to respect fundamental human rights of all citizens of former Princely State Jammu and Kashmir. Also, I condemn extremism, terrorism and religious intolerance that result in human rights abuses and hatred.

While Pakistani narrative on Kashmir is dominated by the army and jihadi groups, leaving very little space for the elected government of Nawaz Sharif to manoeuvre; it is also sad to note that extremists in India are also asserting and redefining Indian national agenda, which is making it difficult to have a sustained peace process.

Mr Chairman
A society in which people are killed in their mosques and other places of worship just because they belong to a different sect or a different religion is not a tolerant and healthy society. This kind of society, very often, faces civil war and chaos; and goes down because of burden of hate and anger. 

India and Pakistan had 55 summit level meetings, and all these meetings have not changed the reality of their relationship, which is poisoned with hate and abhorrence. They cannot resolve outstanding disputes when their minds and hearts are poisoned with hate and anger.

There are people who claim to be human rights defenders and claim to know the UN system. However, these people conveniently remain quiet on the plight of non Muslim citizens of Jammu and Kashmir State. They remain quiet on suffering of the people of Gilgit Baltistan, and when false allegations of sedition are levelled against political activists of Gilgit Baltistan. They remain quiet when people of Balochistan are killed and tortured. They remain quiet when Christians are killed in Pakistan. They remain quiet when Hindus are targeted in Pakistan. They remain quiet when Ahmedis are hunted and killed in Pakistan. However, they get activated on click of a button when the issue is related to Muslims of Kashmir Valley.

This selective human rights activity indicates that they are not true human rights activists; and they seem to be advancing a certain agenda, which may suit needs of some governments and organisations; but surely this kind of activity is not pro people or pro Jammu and Kashmir.

Sometimes I wonder if people of the Valley of Kashmir are the chosen people with special rights and privileges. Nearly everyone in Kashmir, Pakistani Occupied Kashmir and Pakistan is only concerned about their rights and well being. My friend and colleague Abbas Butt says, just like every Muslim is duty bound to recite name of Allah before he eats, similarly we have to talk of problems of the people of the Valley of Kashmir and condemn India before we even begin to submissively talk about the problems we face on the Pakistani side of the divide.

I say, Do speak against India when India is wrong; however, don’t hesitate to speak out against wrong doings of Pakistan and their agencies. Don’t be afraid of opposing forces of extremism, terrorism and hatred, as that is the root cause of human rights abuses. No civilised government wants to kill civilians and torture them. It is a duty of every government to maintain law and order. It is their duty to ensure that terrorists and extremists do not disrupt peace and harass and intimidate citizens. Furthermore, it is also their duty to ensure that men in uniform do not abuse their power and commit human rights abuses.

It is sad that Pakistani nationalism is not defined by its writers and thinkers; but it is defined by its military and fanatic religious scholars. At the time of Partition of India, Pakistan inherited only 17% of resources, but 33% of the British Indian Army. So since the creation of Pakistan, army has been a dominant reality of the Pakistani life; and they call the shots in every walk of the Pakistani life. For the peace and prosperity of Pakistan, the army should allow multiple narratives to emerge that all sections of the Pakistani society can help to formulate policies for the betterment of Pakistan.
One wonders if Pakistan still needs to provide reasons for its existence; and use religion to justify rationale of Pakistan’s existence. Pakistan lost East Pakistan in 1971, but still shows its commitment to the Two Nations Theory. They have lived for 69 years without its jugular vein – Kashmir; and I am sure they can live without that in future too. So it is time to abandon policy of false nationalism. It is time to abandon the policy to capture Kashmir for the sake of peace and stability of the region. For this civilian writers and intellectuals have to come forward and assert themselves, because the military mindset can only think in certain manner, and their narrative no matter how sincere could be harmful to peace and prosperity of Pakistan
Mr Chairman
Pakistan needs to evaluate its policies and learn from the mistakes of the past. In real world there are no permanent friends or foes. Relationships are determined by shared values, economic and strategic interests. You cannot win friendship and goodwill of neighbours by exporting terrorism and threat of nuclear weapons.
The Jammu and Kashmir dispute needs a change of heart and mind. Seventy years of hatred, dislike and anger is the main obstacle. Use of proxy war, extremism and terrorism as a foreign policy tool is proving to be counterproductive. Violence, extremism and terrorism have to end before any serious effort to resolve the Kashmir dispute is pursued.
People of Jammu and Kashmir must get their fundamental rights on both sides of the divide, including a right of expression; and a right to assemble. Both governments must create conducive environment in which people of Jammu and Kashmir, principal party to the dispute could be part of the negotiation process.
Chairman I thank you for your patience.
Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com  

Friday, 16 September 2016

A Country Where Nukes and Terrorists Are Exported!

 A Country Where Nukes and Terrorists Are Exported!
By Baloch Warna    16/9/16
Against the backdrop of a possible Indian intervention in Balochistan, Gen Raheel Sharif sent a clear message of threat to a number of audiences, saying “We are aware of our enemies, know their tactics and to spoil their designs we would go beyond even the last limit”, hinting the use of nuke against “enemies”.
But Before this, recently, Pak-based Jihadi terrorist, Hafiz Saeed, the chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah, directly conveyed Pakistan’s message to India and US in which he threatened both countries of dire consequences “if it continued to show aggression against Pakistan and let US aircraft to use its airbase, Islamabad would not hesitate to use nuclear bombs if New Delhi attacks”.
With the bogy of nuclear threat and Jihadi proxy wars Pakistani state hardly left a stone unturned in its nefarious designs to trouble India and Afghanistan, even the US and NATO members. Pakistan state has hijacked the peace and prosperity of the region with proxy wars just for the sake of Punjab interests.
But in response what is deterring India and America to take on Pakistan for a meaningful engagement against its supports to insurgents and terrorist attacks in India and Kabul is widely believed to be the paranoid of nuke threat that Pakistan possesses.
After the Modi’s historic speech at the ramparts of Red Port, in which Balochistan was mentioned, the question of Balochistan independence widely spiraled in Indian media that unnerved Punjabi establishment! And it quickly gained popular support from every section of Indian political society. Given the general public opinion in Indian social media regarding the support to Balochistan freedom movement, we can say so far so good! But Baloch intelligentsia is of the opinion that Baloch leadership must be taken on board with a holistic approach!

Now, before saying anything on Pakistani nuke threat, it is necessary to know that in fact, it is Punjab that is solely micro-managing entire Pakistani state affairs right from the Beginning through its armed forces, as Punjab is the Serbian character of the compressed chamber of so-called Pakistani federation.
The biggest question here is that: can the Punjabi Generals be stupid enough to risk its cities to be the targets of Indian nukes that Punjab rulers developed with looted natural resources of Baloch? Now the point is that we Baloch didn’t have any enmity with India, it means our villages and hamlets cannot be the legitimate targets of Indian nukes! Thanks to Punjab-led Pakistani containment policy, Baloch didn’t build Dubai like skyscrapers in Balochistan.
However, In case sanity betrayed Punjab’s intelligentsia, India then can redefine its nuke doctrine along that line of above facts. That means India would have to train its nukes at Punjab’s major cities as prime targets in order to neutralize Pakistan nuclear threat; as it is a well-known fact that Taliban and Nukes together are Punjab’s strategic assets. Regarding the nukes, here I would like quote one of my close friends who often says that “the razor is in the hand of monkey”. It must be taken away from it before it is too late. It means the security screws must be tightened around Punjabi military establishment.
Why we insist that Pakistan is the smokescreen of Punjab? The two headed beast of Punjabi ultra-nationalism never allowed this unformatted country to become a genuine federal state. Punjabis apparently never formed a nationalist party in the name of Punjab interest; yet reclusively, they’re extremely ultra-nationalists regarding their hold over Pakistani state affairs and that ultra-nationalism is shrouded in the garb of Pakistani nation! They don’t trust other nationalities except themselves. Yet the Islam is the shield they use to draw legitimacy for the smokescreen of Punjab, called Pakistan. The same Islam is also used on the peripheries of Pakistan’s so-called ideological and geopolitical boundaries.
What are Punjab’s interests in case Pakistan broke into pieces? It would be the biggest loser! From Sindh It loses the access to Karachi commercial port for export and import. From KPK it loses the free hydroelectricity. From Balochistan it loses the natural gas that is running through the veins of its cities like blood and other precious mineral resources, including uranium and gold, besides military geostrategic depth. In return, what other provinces get from Punjab under its dominance? The answer is: they get nothing except death and destruction!
As the world knows that it is Punjabi dominated Pakistan’s army that has been calling the shots all along in all state affairs internally and externally! But the question is that what is the composition of Pakistan army?
According to Stephen P. Cohen (“The Idea of Pakistan”, Oxford University Press), around 70% of the army officers are from Punjab, 14% from former NWFP, 9% from Sindh, 3% from Baluchistan and 1.3% from Azad Kashmir. According to Cohen the ratio of Punjabi in the senior ranks has increased to more than 80%.
Now this Punjabi dominated army is engaged in a sinister war against humanity in Balochistan with blanket impunity committing Baloch genocide thereby contravening Geneva Convention. What is more, it is now no more a traditional army; it is now a jihadist army targeting Baloch, Afghan and Indian civilians. It is the moral obligation of civilized world to defang Punjab army threats by stripping off its nuclear arsenals.

The gangs of Jihadists that Pakistan army created in Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan are getting 70 billion annually as rewards to help contain Baloch and Pashtuns under abject poverty and provide legitimacy to Pakistan’s illegal existence in Balochistan and KPK since Zia era! Punjabi generals exploit religious sentiments in the name of holy wars as Jihad and use the religious fanatics for its nefarious designs in Afghanistan and India.
Almost every region of this globe, one way or another, has been affected by Punjabi led Pakistani terrorism. Holistically, it is the responsibility of all responsible nations to stop Punjabi generals from committing war crimes in Balochistan and its Jihadi wars in India and Afghanistan.
Empathically, we want the international community to understand the fact that Pakistan is committing Baloch genocide just because Baloch want to liberate their homeland from Pakistani occupation. Current Baloch leadership is extremely aware of the politics of the bargaining chip in the regional conflicts. Baloch don’t want to be a part of that, rather, they want to be a real partner in peace and prosperity as enjoyed by other nations of the world.
The secular Baloch have a logical case to present before international community for consideration. Baloch lost their sovereignty to British-backed Pakistani aggression in 1948. We believe, if Balochistan, as a secular and democratic nation, was helped to regain its sovereignty, would be the antithesis of the universal concept of Jihadism of Islam and would radiate secular and democratic values in the region.
Archen Baloch is a freelance Balochistan journalist, he tweets from @ArchenBaloch, He is associated with Free Balochistan Movement under the leadership of Hyrbyair Marri.





Pakistan’s Military Perpetuates Anti-India Narrative: Husain Haqqani

Pakistan’s Military Perpetuates Anti-India Narrative: Husain Haqqani
The former Pakistan ambassador to the US discusses the Kashmir issue, India-Pakistan relations and the struggle for lasting peace.
Former Pakistan ambassador to the US and well-known academic scholar Husain Haqqani believes that the current round of troubles in Kashmir will not have a different outcome than in the past, with the disputed region seeing yet another cyclical period of unrest and trading of barbs between Indian and Pakistan.
Author of books on Pakistan’s internal actors and ties with the US, Haqqani’s latest, India vs Pakistan: Why Can’t We Just be Friends?, explores the dysfunctional relationship between New Delhi and Islamabad. Haqqani has long advocated that India and Pakistan should talk to each other despite disagreeing over core issues so that progress can be made on other important and less controversial areas. “India and Pakistan are unique in the sense that we have the attitude that until and unless, everything is resolved, nothing will be resolved and that is never the way forward,” he said.
Speaking to The Wire, Haqqani was rather pessimistic about any reconciliation between India and Pakistan, noting that current “circumstances” didn’t enable either Prime Ministers Narendra Modi or Nawaz Sharif to do much diplomatic outreach. While Pakistan was already dominated by a certain nationalist narrative pushed by the army, Haqqani also saw similar signs of Hindutva nationalist redefinition in India, which could further fuel any possibility of a sustained peace process.
With Modi set to travel to Pakistan for the SAARC summit in November, Haqqani advised him to keep it very low-key. “This relationship has gone bad in a 70-year period. It is not going to get better in a 70-hour interaction in a SAARC conference and that is something we need to tell our people.”
Edited excerpts:
Where do you place the current troubles in Kashmir in the arc of the India-Pakistan story? Is this an old pattern or do you see any new elements in this situation?
India does definitely have a Kashmir problem. The fact that Pakistan has destroyed its international case on Kashmir by destroying jihadi groups does not take away from the fact that India will someday have to deal with the unrest among Kashmiri Muslims. That said, the current round of troubles is not going to end differently than the previous rounds.
It will be unfortunate for a lot of people in Kashmir. A lot of force will have to be deployed to deal with it. There will be the usual recriminations between India and Pakistan, with Pakistan emphasising Indian atrocities and India emphasising Pakistani support for extremism and terrorism. Yet, it will certainly not result in a solution. Something that has been happening cyclically for 70 years will not end differently from the previous cycles.
But the use of social media, the striking pictures of Burhan Wani’s funeral all over Kashmir, don’t you think there is a different spirit among the Kashmiri underground that has come to fore?
Kashmir has been a restive for quite a while. Every few years, India puts in effort into winning over Kashmiris and there is a period of relative calm. But, until and unless the undercurrent of unhappiness in Kashmir is addressed, this will just be something that will surface periodically.
The reason that I don’t think the unrest is strong enough to result in an outcome different from the past is simply because of the balance of forces in the Valley.
Part of the Kashmir problem seems to be is that the state of Jammu and Kashmir as incorporated in the Indian constitution has become two very distinct regions. The Kashmir Valley feels a certain way and Jammu feels a certain way. And politics within the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir ends up creating a sense of unhappiness in one or the other part of the state.
As far as the dispute between India and Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, such restiveness in the past has always been interpreted in Pakistan as an opportunity to try and change the status quo. But I do not see the status quo changing, simply because I think that India will be able to bring to bear tremendous force. I think that is unfortunate. I think that it is sometimes unjust. But, just as within Pakistan, extreme elements are dealt with a lot of force successfully. A similar process can and will continue to take place also in the Indian controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Indians must understand just as in 1971, Pakistan would not have lost East Pakistan if the people of East Pakistan were not unhappy with the state of Pakistan. Similarly, in Jammu and Kashmir, there would not be protests of this scale, unhappiness of this scale, unless they have genuine grievances. And young Kashmiris do have grievances.
Militarisation of any area results in grievances. So those grievances exist. At the same time, there is always a pragmatic and realistic assessment of the situation. And my assessment is that we will not see an outcome very different from the past.
How much do you think the Indian government, state or central, erred in addressing the situation?
I would not address that question myself. I will just refer to many Indian commentators who feel that the Jammu and Kashmir state government, as well as, the Indian government have not always handled Kashmir sensibly. And they have created circumstances for unhappiness and unrest, which then they had to deal with tremendous force.
And this situation will repeat itself again and again?
I am afraid that it will happen again. Basically, the people of Kashmir have been a football between Pakistan, the state policy of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian central government. Kashmir is one of the most highly militarised zones of the world. People are unhappy on both sides of the Line of Control and it is not a happy situation. Human rights violations are a reality. Yet, we all know that there is a logic of power. And the logic of power favours the status-quo.
Kashmiris could end up being the Palestinians of South Asia. But, we know that even the Palestinians with all the international support that they had could not get what they wanted. And in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, there is not even that level of international support that exists in the Palestinian question.
Ideally, the people of Kashmir should be heard. The various governments and entities that deal with their lives like the Azad Kashmir government in Pakistan, federal government of Pakistan, the state government of Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir, Indian central government – they should all act more sensibly that they have done historically. But I do not see that happening. It is something that I would want, but will it happen…I am not too optimistic.
Husain Haqqani India vs Pakistan: Why Can't We Just Be Friends? Juggernaut, 2016
Husain Haqqani
India vs Pakistan: Why Can’t We Just Be Friends? 
Juggernaut, 2016
So, do you have any hope of ever seeing any kind of solution – in your lifetime, perhaps?
No, my lifetime is too long. I actually hope that I have a few more years to live. I hope that there can be a better, more pragmatic outlook.
Look the curse of South Asia is a constant defining and redefining of nationalism. In 1947, for example, there was a competition between Indian nationalism and Muslim nationalism that resulted in the creation of Pakistan. In 1971, Muslim nationalism was challenged in East Pakistan, which led to the creation of Bangladesh. It was challenged by Bengali nationalism. Now, we are seeing a rise of Hindu nationalism, which is inspiring Muslim nationalism all over again.
I am a pragmatic moderate and I think that hardline ideology of all sorts actually hurts human beings. The subcontinent is mired in ideological politics. So, my assessment is very different from my desire. My desire is that people should resolve issues in a pragmatic manner, but at the moment, ideological and emotional politics prevails, that creates the difficulties that you and I are discussing.
What kind of circumstances are required for such a solution? Does this require a change in polity in Pakistan and India?
Pakistan has to stop thinking of itself as an ideological state. Pakistan has to accept that it exists, that it does not need to explain its existence or justify its creation anymore. That may have been necessary in 1947-48, but it is not necessary in 2016. Pakistan is there and it must make policies that are for the betterment of its own people. Pakistanis must realise that in 1947, Pakistan’s literacy rate was 16% and India was 18% – a 2% difference. Today, there is a 22% difference between India and Pakistan’s literacy rates. India’s economy is growing faster. Pakistan’s exports are falling. Pakistan needs to start looking inward to find a route towards prosperity. There is no need to continue the narrative that Pakistani nationalism has to be, by definition, anti-India.
On the Indian side, people have to understand the psychology that has driven Pakistan towards paranoid policies and a policy driven by fear. And instead of rejecting the fear, even if you want to reject it, do it in a manner that does not feed the paranoia further. I think that it will require a level of statesmanship, which does not exist at the moment.
Wouldn’t it also require a change in balance between the military and civilians in Pakistan itself?
Pakistan’s nationalism currently is defined by militarism. Pakistan inherited a much larger share of the British Indian army than the share it inherited of British India’s resources. We got only 17% of resources, but 33% of the army. The army has been the dominant reality. Even now, retired military officers write more in the Pakistani media than retired military officers write in any [other] country’s media. They act as if they are the guardians of Pakistan’s identity. And they have defined Pakistan’s identity in a certain way in which ‘anti-Indianism’ is more important.
I often say that if Pakistan can survive 69 years without its jugular vein, which is what Pakistanis call Kashmir, it can survive for a few more years. So let us pay more attention to what can be resolved rather than chasing issues that cannot be resolved. But, that said sometimes, it is too simplistic to just blame the Pakistani army. Yes, it is under the influence of the Pakistan army that Pakistan has developed a certain narrative of nationalism. But, that has become the dominant narrative and it also affects the civilians. Civilian ascendancy is important. [The] consolidation of civilian rule in Pakistan is important. It will take a long, long time. At the same time, military’s intellectual and ideological influence over the civilians also has to diminish.
So, the military has already relinquished direct control in Pakistan, but its influence at an ideological and intellectual level is still all pervasive.
Pakistan’s military controls the narrative of Pakistan and very frankly, all countries should allow multiple narratives and I would say that it applies to India also. Ideological states try to create a straitjacket of ideas. That never serves them. China has prospered much more after it opened itself a little and started questioning Mao Tse Tung and his policies, even while looking back at history. The Communist Party of China has change its vision of China – even though it still remains the dominant force in China.
[In] Burma, the military for many years defined what Burmese nationalism was. Now they have opened it up to different perspectives.
Pakistan has opened up a space in terms of sharing political power with civilians. But, it has not yet opened up the battle of ideas completely. So, people like me who have a slightly different view of Pakistani nationalism, who love their country but still think that the country should have a very different set of objectives and goals, are not necessarily welcome. A lot of people in Pakistan who say that Pakistan should have a different worldview, are targeted as traitors and even as sometime as kafirs, unbelievers. That is not conducive to progress.
So, I would say that while the Pakistani military has definitely moved forward in sharing power, it has not yet moved forward in sharing control of the national narrative.
Talking of circumstances required to bring about a solution – there is a certain theory that a right wing nationalist government in India is necessary for this mix. Do you subscribe to this?
In my book I have explained many times how new theories have been propounded. There was a time when Rajiv Gandhi was elected here [in India] and Benazir Bhutto was elected in Pakistan. [The] theory was given that ‘both of them are [of the] post-partition generation, so they will deal with issues differently’. Nothing changed.
Then when Sharif was elected and [Atal Bihari] Vajpayeeji was elected, people said ‘both represent conservative, right wing governments’. But that didn’t change anything.
Then when [Pervez] Musharraf came to power, it was assumed that a military ruler who has full control and wants to have a dialogue will be able to deliver. Well we heard that there was a very interesting process of negotiation etc but it never went anywhere. Before a deal could be consummated, Musharraf went out [of] power.
In my book, India vs Pakistan, I also show that any Pakistani leader who has been close to a[ny] sort of a deal with India has always ended losing power in Pakistan. So, that cannot be ignored.
Similarly, India can make peace under a centrist government, or a left-wing government, or a right-wing government, if the circumstances are right. And the same applies in the case of Pakistan, I think that we should focus more on what issues need to be focussed on than who will be able to bring that peace. In Pakistan, it is important that whoever controls the rein of power, understands that solving disputes first and then becoming friends, is always more difficult than becoming friends first and then solving disputes. Even the closest of friends and allies in the worlds have disputes. Canada and [the] US have an open border and a free trade agreement and yet, they have nine outstanding disputes. But that does not interfere in the normal relationship between the two.
India and Pakistan are unique in the sense that we have the attitude that until and unless everything is resolved nothing will be resolved and that is never the way forward.
India has said that Kashmir should be on the backburner, while both countries deal with other issues like trade.
I personally think that realism demands that dispute resolution be put off and normal exchange start first. While India has said it, it has not always facilitated it. India, sometimes justifiably so, says that we cannot open free travel, for example, because Pakistan will use that to infiltrate [India with] more terrorists. So, in this case, in India and Pakistan’s case, a lot is said that both sides know is rhetoric. But, what I am talking [about] is a great leap forward in [the] relationship, in which both sides say, you know what, this is not about winning the argument, it is about winning the peace.
Can Modi and Sharif achieve this great leap forward?
They might be the statesmen who can do it, but neither of them have the circumstances that will enable them to do that. I don’t want to comment on their personalities. Personally, I am not one of them who believes that history is shaped by individuals. I believe circumstances and events have a lot of role to play. On neither side of the India-Pakistan border right now is the situation ripe for that great leap forward.
On the Indian side, India is wrestling with the idea of what level of cultural and religious identity should play a part in Indian nationalism. That essentially has repercussions on Pakistan’s side, because it is interesting that hard-line two-nation theory starts becoming weak, it starts finding resonance in India. So, if we have to go beyond the debate of 1940s, both sides have to do it, not just one.
On the Pakistani side, we already know that the military has a peculiar and particular way of looking at India and it does not allow people to discuss it, let alone, change it [the view]. So, whatever the stature of the statesman in charge of Pakistan, the question is can he sell it to the army; sell the idea to the army and then to the general public, about how Pakistan and India need peace for economic growth and just for having healthy citizens.
Look, nations that are dragged down by the burden of hate, don’t do too well. Nations that free themselves from that, free themselves from issues of ideology and culture and pursue prosperity and happiness, they are always happier. If there are going to be disputes over what people should eat or not eat, and there are going to be murders, that is not a healthy society. Similarly, if there is a society in which people are killed in their mosques for belonging to a different sect, that is not a healthy society. I think that both India and Pakistan need to deal with the unhealthy trends in their respective societies. And until that is done, agreements and shaking hands between statesmen will not make such a big difference.
There have been 59 summit level meetings between Pakistani and Indian leaders. If 55 meetings have not changed the reality of our relationship, [the] 56th meeting or 57th meeting is not going to change it. Something else needs to be done. We need to take out the poison of anger and hate towards one another that has permeated our body politic.
You said in your book that Indian leaders haven’t consistently reached out to the Pakistani public to reassure them that there is no plan to undo Partition. How does the Indian government conduct such outreach?
My point is that Indian leaders have occasionally tried it. When Vajpayee went to Pakistan, he went to Minar-e-Pakistan to indicate that India accepts Pakistan wholeheartedly. Then, [L.K.] Advani went to [Muhammad Ali] Jinnah’s tomb and made some positive comments about him. But then both of them faced backlash in India from people who said that ‘no, no, no you cannot praise Jinnah or you cannot praise the… [then] you cannot say the idea of Pakistan is here to stay’. That then becomes a vicious circle, so people there [in Pakistan] say that these people are not sincere.
What I am talking about is a more sustained expression of the notion that India does not want to finish off Pakistan. That India or Indians may disagree with the fact of Pakistan having been created, but they accept that fact. It’s like, in a family, that [people say] ‘I do not want you to get married to so and so’, but once the marriage has taken place and children are born, [they] accept those children as their nephews and nieces. It’s that kind of attitude that is needed.
In my book, I actually cite how Indian leaders pursued their relationship with Pakistan and how Gandhi envisaged it, who said that we should treat Pakistan like the member of a joint family that has gone away and set up its own home. We didn’t want that to happen, but he is still a member of the family. That may have been a better way for Indians to treat Pakistan.
So, what I am talking [about] is a longer-term interaction in which, on a sustained basis, India gives the signal to Pakistanis – ‘we accept you. You are our neighbour. We were one country once, but now we are two countries but we have 5000 years of history and only 70 years of partition’. So let’s celebrate the shared history and let us ignore the disputes that we have created while we are separate.
The Indian prime minister has committed to visiting Pakistan for the November SAARC summit. But with Kashmir on the boil, heightened rhetoric on both sides and a still unfinished probe on Pathankot by the Pakistani side, how do you think the next few weeks will play out for Modi’s visit to take place?
Well, positive relations cannot emerge under the threat of terrorism. That is something I have been saying as a Pakistani to my fellow Pakistanis. On the Indian side, I think that there is a realisation that you cannot ignore your neighbour completely. That said, I say that India and Pakistan should continue to engage, but continue to engage with less expectations, because there is nothing worse than building high expectations and those expectations being dashed.
Modi went to Lahore, he held Sharif’s hand and if that had not happened, then Pathankot would not have the same kind of impact on the Indian psyche, because now there is a feeling of being let down. So my view is that even if Prime Minister Modi goes to Pakistan for the SAARC summit, he should do so with low expectations and he should make sure that Indians understand that he is going there because it is the SAARC summit, that he is not going there with the expectation or hope of a major breakthrough. This relationship has gone bad over a 70-year period. It is not going to get better in a 70-hour interaction in a SAARC conference and that is something we need to tell our people. Because when people [are] expecting ‘wow, something is about to happen that will change everything’, then that doesn’t happen, disappoint comes in and that disappointment is really bad for the prospect of this relationship. Engage, engage but less expectation and continue to work on the big picture which is to reassure each other and to stop looking at each other as permanent enemies.
India vs Pakistan: Why Can’t We Just be Friends? by Husain Haqqani is available on the Juggernaut app and in bookstores.