Sunday, 31 October 2010

Taliban peace talks come to a halt

Taliban peace talks come to a halt
Posted by K4Kashmir on October 31, 2010 in Pakistan | 0 Comment Edit
Taliban peace talks come to a halt
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

Efforts to begin a process of reconciliation with the Taliban have completely failed as Washington has refused to give any of the guarantees demanded by the Taliban as a prerequisite to sitting at the negotiation table, a Taliban representative has told Asia Times Online.

Should the breakdown prove permanent, the coming year promises to be a very tough one in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan’s tribal areas, home to militants and al-Qaeda.

The recent strategic dialogue between the United States and Pakistan that renewed a US$2 billion five-year security assistance package for the Pakistani army is aimed specifically at effectively

fighting against al-Qaeda bases situated in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The al-Qaeda response, Asia Times Online has learned, will be to activate sleeper cells around the world, orchestrated by a fresh team in place in border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Talks fall flat
The moves towards reconciliation with the Taliban began in late 2008. Saudi Arabia was named in the Western media as the main component of the process; it invited some former Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan members for dinner during the annual hajj (pilgrimage).

This became the first regular process of indirect American and Taliban interaction, with messages conveyed through various third parties. Interestingly, this period saw the beginning of the US’s stepped-up drone war against al-Qaeda’s sanctuaries in the tribal areas, with almost daily missile strikes, especially in North Waziristan.

By this October, at least two dozen important al-Qaeda members had been killed, as well as a sizeable number of newly recruited and trained European nationals. Regional franchises of al-Qaeda, including the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban), also suffered losses, as did the Uzbek militia.

Extensive spy networks in the tribal areas ensured that the Americans fully understood the dynamics of al-Qaeda and the ground situation in North Waziristan. A case in point is Nasrullah Khan, a former member of the Laskhar-e-Taiba jihadi group who joined forces with Ilyas Kashmiri’s al-Qaeda-linked 313 Brigade.

Before the beginning of the Commonwealth Games that ended on October 14 in Delhi, Khan had been selected to head a unit of the brigade to carry out an operation against the Games.

However, on September 20, he and five other men were killed in a drone attack in the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan. Khan had an extensive network of operatives in India and Indian-administered Kashmir and his death disrupted the ground operations in India to such an extent that no operation could be undertaken.

Similar drone missile attacks in September and October brought al-Qaeda’s European operational branches in North Waziristan to a halt.

Even as death was raining from the skies in the tribal areas, the peace process with the Taliban was gathering pace, with fresh overtures in August. For the first time, all parties noted some flexibility in the Taliban’s approach, and it appeared they would at least sit down for negotiations with the Americans or with the Afghan government. (See Taliban and US get down to talks Asia Times Online, September 11, 2010.)

The process drew on all international players to solicit the student militia to resolve the nearly 10-year conflict. (See Taliban soften as talks gain speed Asia Times Online, September 15, 2010.) To establish rapport with the Taliban and further the process of dialogue, the Taliban’s commander in Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was released. (See Pakistan frees Taliban commander Asia Times Online, October 16, 2010.)

The US’s top man in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, while saying that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would remain tough in Afghanistan against the Taliban, said the peace process was welcomed. He also disclosed that NATO had even gave safe passage to a senior Taliban commander to go to Kabul for talks – a hint over the release in Pakistan of Baradar.

Publicly, though, the Taliban did not acknowledge that talks were taking place. A recent handout read:
No Taliban official has spoken to the Americans or their puppet Afghan government … those who were arrested [Baradar], those who changed their loyalties [former Taliban foreign minister Abdul Wakeel Muttawakil and Senator Arsala Rahmani] or those who are living under Afghan government surveillance [former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Zaeef] are not Taliban representatives. Their interaction does not have any meaning for the Taliban.
Due to the extraordinary surveillance against the Taliban, no senior leader would agreed to come forward to give the real Taliban side of the story; however, eventually a middle-cadre member was sent to meet with Asia Times Online, and he confirmed the public statement.

“The much-hyped reconciliation strategy was a trap and we never actually considered it as an option,” the Taliban envoy – who had traveled from Kandahar in Afghanistan – said.

“The Americans never wanted reconciliation with the Taliban. They never approached us directly. If we were approached by third parties, like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or the UAE [United Arab Emirates], we did not consider it anything serious,” the envoy said.

This did not fit with a general understanding that Naseeruddin Haqqani, the son of commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani of the most powerful Taliban network, had been at the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad in September. Further, the embassy had arranged for him and his family to go on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. (Naseeruddin Haqqani had been arrested in 2009 by the Pakistani security forces and then released in exchange for Pakistani soldiers. The swap was brokered by now slain Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.)
I gave my understanding, “That was the real clandestine interaction of the Haqqani network with the American or the Afghan government through Saudi Arabia, not the contacts mentioned in the Western media.”

I continued, challenging the envoy’s version of events, “The fact of the matter is that the Taliban did show flexibility for talks, so I wonder why they abruptly failed?”

The Talib responded, “On the one hand they were offering an olive branch and from the another hand they were tightening the noose around us. We could see that the whole game of reconciliation was not aimed at offering us power, but on inflicting serious damage on us.”

He explained, “On the one side they were looking to establish a channel of communication with the Haqqanis, yet now [in October] they are gathering troops in Khost [province in Afghanistan across the border from North Waziristan]. There has been extraordinary troop mobilization in Khost. For what?” he asked, then answered the question.

“Pressure is mounting on Pakistan to carry out a military operation in North Waziristan against the Haqqani network. It is clearly evident that they want to place the Haqqani network between a hammer and a hard rock [NATO forces in Khost and the Pakistan army in North Waziristan].”

The Talib concluded, “There is more. For the first time, we see extraordinary movement in Chaman [a border town in Pakistan's Balochistan province across from the Spin Boldak-Kandahar area in Afghanistan]. This makes us wonder what the reconciliation process is really all about. In this whole situation, Pakistan’s role is central. If it takes NATO’s side, the Taliban will have a tough time as we see a serious battle ahead behind this smokescreen of the reconciliation process.”

Ali al-Shamsi, a special envoy of the UAE for Pakistan and Afghanistan and the main person who arranged high-profile Taliban meetings in Dubai at the US’s behest to initiate the dialogue process, submitted his resignation this month. (Shamsi was the UAE’s ambassador to Pakistan during Taliban rule in Afghanistan – 1996-2001.)

However, the UAE government requested him to continue his assignment until a peace conference in Dubai on Afghanistan scheduled for late next month. The conference is an initiative by the Afghan government.

Shamsi’s move followed the Americans stating that Washington could not give any guarantees for meeting any conditions set by the Taliban in the leadup to dialogue and that it backed out of earlier promises. (See Taliban and US get down to talks Asia Times Online, September 11, 2010.)

Al-Qaeda, meanwhile, realizing all along that it is the US’s main target, is regrouping after all the losses it has sustained.

Early this year, al-Qaeda finally had 16 of its members released by Iran. (See How Iran and al-Qaeda made a deal Asia Times Online, April 30, 2010. Prominent among them were Saad bin Laden (one of Osama bin Laden’s sons), Saiful Adil, Suleman al-Gaith and Abu Hafs al-Mauritani.

They settled in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, since they had spent almost eight years in detention in Iran, al-Qaeda kept them away from operations, they were not even allowed to attend shura (council) meetings.

In the face of al-Qaeda’s losses, though, al-Qaeda decided to embrace them for operations. Saiful Adil is likely to be the new face of al-Qaeda in 2011, with operations emanating in Pakistan and spreading to Somalia, Yemen and Turkey to pitch operations in Europe and India.

As matters stand now, going into 2011, the Taliban will continue the struggle in Afghanistan with the help of al-Qaeda’s new team, which in turn will also plan attacks in Europe and India.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at

India’s signing of IAEA nuclear liability treaty a move to please US: Analysts

India’s signing of IAEA nuclear liability treaty a move to please US: Analysts
Posted by K4Kashmir on October 31, 2010 in India | 0 Comment Edit
India’s signing of IAEA nuclear liability treaty a move to please US: Analysts
Thursday, 28 October 2010 15:18 Sujoy Dhar

Vienna/New Delhi, Oct 28: Ahead of Barack Obama’s November visit, India on Wednesday sent a positive signal to the US authorities as it signed the IAEA’s Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) treaty, which seeks to establish a uniform global legal regime for the compensation of victims in the event of a nuclear accident.

Analysts say the move is more a symbolic gesture ahead of Obama’s visit to India since the US suppliers were upset with India’s tough domestic legislation on nuclear liability in August.

The Indian legislation is seen as a deterrence for the firms to enter India’s civil nuclear business, estimated as possibly reaching $150 billion a year.

India in 2008 signed a landmark civil nuclear deal with United States but its implementation hit a roadblock owing to mounting opposition from Indian political groups following a verdict by court on the Bhopal gas disaster that was soft on the US corporation responsible for the accident in 1984.

Indian Ambassador to Austria, Mr. Dinkar Khullar, signed the CSC on Wednesday in Vienna at a brief ceremony held at IAEA headquarters, according to officials.

“The signing by India is under US pressure. This is more a symbolic gesture that the US administration perhaps wanted to convince their corporations after the tough domestic legislation on nuclear liability in India,” said political analyst and senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.

“After the Bhopal verdict the Indian government had to enact the tough law bowing before the mood in the country,” Mr. Guha Thakurta said.

At the moment four States have signed and ratified the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s convention – Argentina, Morocco, Romania and the United States.

India’s signing brings a total of 14 States as current signatories to the Convention. The Convention is set to enter into force on the ninetieth day after date of ratification by at least five States who have a minimum of 400,000 units of installed nuclear capacity.

America’s General Electric Co. and Westinghouse Electric Corp. are among the foreign energy suppliers that stand to gain a share of India’s civilian nuclear business.

American companies consider a liability cap particularly important because, unlike the state-subsidized French and Russian nuclear suppliers, they are not underwritten by their government.

India’s main opposition group, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), supported the nuclear liability bill in India after 18 amendments, though left-wing parties continued to oppose the bill.
The bill was amended by the Congress party led government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to cap damages that nuclear suppliers would pay in the event of an accident at 15 billion Indian rupees (about $320 million) — three times the earlier proposal of 5 billion rupees (about $107 million), which Indian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Science and Technology denounced as ridiculously low.

According to IAEA, the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage or CSC is consistent with principles set forth in previous international agreements governing nuclear liability, including the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy.

It provides a bridge between these two regimes, is open to States that are party to neither of these two regimes, and establishes an international fund to increase the amount available to compensate victims.

The CSC also allows for compensating civil damage occurring within a State’s exclusive economic zone, including loss of tourism or fisheries related income.

It also sets parameters on a nuclear operator’s financial liability, time limits governing possible legal action, requires that nuclear operators maintain insurance or other financial security measures and provides for a single competent court to hear claims.

India raises with China the issue of stapled visa for Kashmir residents

India raises with China the issue of stapled visa for Kashmir residents
Friday, 29 October 2010 21:38 Sujoy Dhar

Hanoi, Oct 29: India on Friday raised the contentious issue of stapled visas to Jammu and Kashmir residents by China during the meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao here and urged their neighbour to show sensitivity on core issues, a senior government official said.

The Indian PM met Wen Jiabao for 45 minutes during his ongoing visit to Vietnam where the two leaders are participating in the ASEAN-India and East Asia Summits.

Manmohan Singh has conveyed the concerns of India to Beijing, especially the issuance of stapled visas to the resident of Jammu and Kashmir, a move that smacks of China's non-recognition of the region as part of India and a departure from its earlier neutral stand.

"The prime minister raised the issue of all difficult questions and showing sensitivity to each other. The prime minister spoke of the need to show sensitivity to each other's core issues," National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon later told reporters about the

China started the practice of issuing stapled visas about two years back and the issue triggered a major row in July this year when Beijing offered such a visa to India's Northern Area Commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal.

India had responded by suspending high-level defence exchanges for which Lt Gen Jaswal was supposed to travel Beijing and made it clear that it would remain on "pause" till China reverted to its earlier position on Jammu and Kashmir.

The meeting on Friday was very significant from the point of discussions as the Chinese leader is scheduled to visit India late this year.

Asked if India and China agreed on the core issues with each other, Menon said: "I think we have both indicated to each other and this is an ongoing conversation. It is not one conversation where we mention what concerns either of us."

"So, we will continue that discussion as we lead up to Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit which we are sure will be a very successful and productive visit," he said.

Menon said the significance of the talks is that "both sides reaffirmed their determination to carry this relationship forward along the positive track that we have maintained for several years".

On the India-China boundary issue, Menon said both sides said that they looked forward to an early resolution of the issue.

"Both mentioned the need to carry the process forward from the guiding principles and the political parameters which were agreed and signed in 2005. Both said they would ask the Special Representatives to do so
with a sense of urgency.

"And they agreed that in the meantime, pending a settlement, we will maintain peace and tranquility along the boundary. The SRs are likely to be meeting towards the end of November," he said.

India has also concerns about Chinese projects in the Pak occupied Kashmir(POK).

Setting his point clear to tear apart all vague issues before meeting with the Chinese Prime Minister, Singh said in Malaysia on Wednesday that there was "enormous" possibility of India and China working together as the world has enough space to accommodate the growth ambitions of both the countries.

India and China, two Asian giants, bicker over many issues including disputes over territories and the role of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Majority in Kashmir Valley want independence: poll

Majority in Kashmir Valley want independence: poll
(Reuters) - Nearly 90 percent of people living in Indian Kashmir's summer capital want their troubled and divided state to become an independent country, according to a poll in an Indian newspaper on Monday.
India and Pakistan have fought and argued over the Himalayan region ever since partition in 1947, but 87 percent of people questioned in Srinagar have no allegiance to either side.
Only 3 percent of the mainly Muslim inhabitants of the city think Kashmir should become part of Pakistan, and 7 percent prefer Indian rule, the poll said.
But down in Jammu, the state's mainly Hindu winter capital in the plains to the south, 95 percent think Kashmir should be part of India.
Both countries claim the region in full, and both have ruled out independence as an option. India controls around 45 percent of the former princely state, Pakistan around a third and China the rest, a largely uninhabited slice of high-altitude desert.
Delhi's Centre for the Study of Developing Societies interviewed 226 people in Srinagar and 255 in Jammu for the poll, published in Monday's Indian Express.
People in 10 Indian and 10 Pakistani cities were also interviewed.
Indians were keener to keep control of the region than Pakistanis -- 67 percent of urban Indians think it should be ruled from New Delhi, against 48 percent of Pakistanis who wanted Islamabad to take full control, according to the poll.
Another 47 percent of Pakistanis said they supported independence for Kashmir.
The fate of Kashmir -- known for both its natural beauty and for its bloody recent past -- has been uncertain ever since its Hindu ruler hesitated in choosing whether to join the region to India or the newly formed Pakistan in 1947.
Officials say more than 42,000 people have been killed since militants started a violent separatist revolt in 1989. Human rights groups put the toll at about 60,000 dead or missing.
However, roughly seven out of 10 Kashmiris think the situation has improved since 2002.
The overwhelming majority of Srinagar's residents think the security forces have too much power. The army is often accused of killing innocent people and other rights abuses, operating under a special law that largely protects soldiers from prosecution.
Around 84 percent of people in Srinagar want to see the return of Kashmiri Pandits, a Hindu community, large numbers of whom fled the region after being targeted by Islamist militants. Many live in refugee camps elsewhere in India.

Can Pakistan produce one Arundhati Roy to speak truth?

Can Pakistan produce one Arundhati Roy to speak truth?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 28 October 2010

Arundhati Roy, a famous Indian writer and human rights activist has, once again, made headlines and won minds and hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. She said what she believed – Kashmir is not legally part of India. Kashmir is not part of Pakistan either, although both countries control State of Jammu and Kashmir and have no desire to relinquish their control over these areas.

There is demand in some parts of India that Arundhati Roy should be charged for ‘sedition’. But there are many rational people who support her. Alok Tiwari, a prominent Indian journalist wrote in her defence that what she said was ‘definitely against the government line on Kashmir. It was also against the popular opinion. Mercifully, there is no law that obligates us to toe the government or popular line. Going against it is dissent, not sedition; and democracies thrive on dissent. They do not shun it.’
India claims to be the biggest democracy on earth, and that democracy is alive and kicking, at least, in India, if not in Jammu and Kashmir. Demand of a genuine democracy is that people must be allowed to express their views without fear or intimidation; and Arundhati Roy is an Indian citizen, and at least, she should be entitled to enjoy fruits of democracy. Alok Tiwari further writes:
‘Freedom in a society is tested by its tolerance of what most of its members consider offensive. Freedom to say goody-goody thing is actually no freedom. If we assert before the world that Kashmiris in India are living in freedom, it means even those Kashmiris who would rather not be part of India. They have as much right to air their opinion as the rest of us have to assert Kashmir is an integral part of India. If we find Geelani’s ideas offensive then let us come up with better ideas to counter them.’
It is best for government of India to resolve the Kashmir dispute rather than charge all those who express their disagreement on Kashmir policy of government of India. The Kashmir dispute is real. It will not go away by closing eyes; or by using force.
In Kashmir there is a strong resentment against what Indian government do there; and that anger and sense of alienation will not go away by continuation of the present policies. The government of India has to come out with a new policy and new approach and satisfy demands of the people, as policy of gun and bullet cannot win minds and hearts of the people.
Arundhati Roy is brave and honest in her assertions on Kashmir. She had courage to say that India’s claim on Kashmir is not correct; and is against popular will of the people of Kashmir. She said all that even though Jammu and Kashmir ‘provisionally’ acceded to India; and India’s claim on Kashmir rests on that ‘accession’.
That ‘provisional accession’ had to be ratified by the people of Jammu and Kashmir; and due to Pakistan’s refusal to withdraw troops from Kashmiri territory, as demanded by the UN Resolutions, conditions for a plebiscite could not be created to hold a referendum to test will of the people, hence the present forced division and suffering of the people on both sides of the LOC.
Despite India’s claim on Kashmir and its claim to democratic ideals, people like Arundhati Roy speak against India’s Kashmir policy. They tell government of India that hearts and minds of people could not be won with use of force. They tell the government that you cannot make people Indian by pulling their finger nails.
On the other hand Pakistan also occupies two parts of State of Jammu and Kashmir, namely Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, from which Pakistan generously gave away around 2200 sq miles to China in 1963 to improve bilateral relations.
Pakistan has military strength to control the Kashmiri territory under its occupation, but has no legal cover to justify this occupation. It has no legal mandate to be in control of the Kashmiri territory, but still has managed to divert attention away from areas under its control and call them ‘azad’ meaning free; and many Kashmiri collaborators happily advance the cause of Pakistan.
Many in Pakistan, especially writers and scholars know shallowness of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir. They also know that people of so called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan are not happy with what Pakistan and its secret agencies do to the people of these areas; and yet they decide to remain quiet. Their conscience does not trouble them, and they follow the government policy on issue of Kashmir. They happily promote government’s version on Kashmir, knowing well that it is based on lies.
They know, as it has been confirmed by many impartial surveys that people of Jammu and Kashmir DONOT want to join Pakistan; and yet they broadcast lies that people of Jammu and Kashmir are desperate to join Pakistan. They are reluctant to speak about plight and exploitation of the people living under Pakistani occupation; and will only focus on events taking place on other side of the LOC.
Can Pakistani society produce one prominent writer, scholar and human rights champion who has guts to challenge Pakistan’s Kashmir policy; and tell the world that Pakistan’s control of Kashmiri territory is not legal? Someone who could tell the world people of Jammu and Kashmir State living on this side of the LOC are also deprived of their fundamental human rights. Or is this too much to ask, and Pakistani writers, intellectuals and scholars will continue to follow the out of date policy of Islamabad?
Writer is Head Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir

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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Turning the Taliban Against Al Qaeda

Turning the Taliban Against Al Qaeda
Scott Atran

FOR the last week there have been widespread news reports thatNATO is facilitating talks between the Afghan government and Taliban leaders, even as it routs Taliban forces from their main stronghold in Kandahar. The United States plan seems clear: allow for “preliminary” talks to end the war through a broad-based “reconciliation” process, but don’t get serious about a deal until beefed-up coalition forces have gained the initiative on the battlefield.

Yet, despite assertions by senior NATO officials that they can defeat the Taliban militarily if given enough money and men, and that military pressure will start the Taliban thinking about alternatives to fighting, the surge in southern Afghanistan appears only to have expanded the scope of the Taliban’s activity and entrenched their resolve to fight on until America tires and leaves.
In truth, the real pressure to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel is not on the Taliban, but the United States, so it can start drawing down troops next year as President Obama has pledged. This is why NATO and Washington are only now openly discussing the talks, although they have been going on in fits and starts for years. True, some senior Taliban leaders are playing along — but this is not so much because they fear defeat at the hands of the Americans, but because they worry that their new generation of midlevel commanders is getting out of control.
Washington’s goals officially remain those stated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: to strengthen Afghan Army forces and to “reintegrate” the supposedly “moderate” Taliban, that is, fighters who will consent to lay down arms and respect the Afghan Constitution, including its Western-inspired provisions to respect human rights and equality of women in the public sphere. Yet in nine years of war, no significant group of Taliban has opted for reintegration (a few individuals have come in, only to return to the Taliban when it again was in their interest). Moreover, coalition military personnel know that there isn’t a single Afghan Army brigade that can hold its own against Taliban troops.
Ten months into the new NATO push in Afghanistan, 2010 is the bloodiest year yet of the war. Insurgent attacks are up more than 60 percent compared with last year, according to the United Nations. The estimated number of Taliban has increased some tenfold since the aftermath of their defeat by coalition forces in 2001. Taliban troops now roam large areas in northern and eastern Afghanistan, far beyond the traditional Pashtun provinces of the south.
The United States claims to have killed thousands of Taliban in recent months, mostly foot soldiers and midlevel commanders. But those 25-year-old foot soldiers are being replaced by teenage fighters, and the 35-year-old midlevel commanders by 20-something students straight out of the religious schools called madrasas, which are the only form of education available in many rural areas.
These younger commanders and their fiercely loyal fighters are increasingly removed from the dense networks of tribal kinship and patronage, or qawm, and especially of friendship born of common experiences, or andiwali, that bind together the top figures in the established insurgent groups like the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network. Indeed, it is primarily through andiwali — overlapping bonds of family, schooling, years together in camps, combat service, business partnership — that talks between the adversaries, including representatives of Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, and Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s ultimate leader, have continued over the years.
These new Taliban warriors, however, are increasingly independent, ruthless and unwilling to compromise with foreign infidels and their associates. They yearn to fight, and describe battle as going on vacation from the long, boring interludes of training and waiting between engagements. They claim they will fight to the death as long as any foreign soldiers remain, even if only in military bases.
AS with the older Taliban, their ideology — a peculiar blend of pan-Islamic Shariah law and Pashtun customs — is “not for sale,” as one leader told a Times reporter. But the new cohort increasingly decides how these beliefs are imposed on the ground: recently the Quetta Shura sent a Muslim scholar to chastise a group of youthful commanders in Paktia Province who were not following Mullah Omar’s directives; they promptly killed him.
Hardly anyone who calls himself “Taliban” (an umbrella term for fractious Pashtun tribesmen who collectively hate the foreign invaders enough to turn even traditional enemies into friends) considers the American conditions for reintegration as anything other than comical. To get the tribesmen to lay down arms that have sustained them for decades against a host of powerful invaders is about as likely as getting the National Rifle Association to support a repeal of the Second Amendment. The separation of men and women in the public sphere is at the foundation of Pashtun tribal life, along with the duty to protect guests.
So why hold talks at all? Because there is a good chance that the Taliban can be persuaded to cut ties with Al Qaeda and offer some sort of guarantee that President Karzai won’t be left hanging from a lamppost when the Americans leave (as President Muhammad Najibullah, the puppet Afghan leader of the 1980s, was after the Soviets fled). The veteran correspondent Arnaud de Borchgrave recently told me that when he met with Mullah Omar shortly before 9/11, he was “stunned by the hostility” the mullah expressed for Osama bin Laden.
Indeed, there is strong evidence that in the late 1990s Mullah Omar tried to crack down on Mr. bin Laden’s activities — confiscating his cellphone, putting him under house arrest and forbidding him to talk to the press or issue fatwas. But then, as the Taliban were deliberating about how to “disinvite” their troublesome guest after 9/11, the United States invaded, bombing them into a closer alliance with Al Qaeda.
Likewise, it should be possible to drive a wedge between Al Qaeda and the Haqqanis. The group’s leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was once called “goodness personified” by Representative Charlie Wilson, the great patron of the Afghan mujahedeen. During the Soviet occupation, he was a principal conduit of funds between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and the Islamic rebels, and remains a key link between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban.
Although some Haqqani leaders now profess loyalty to Mullah Omar and probably continue to harbor members of Al Qaeda, this is most likely a manifestation of the tradition of sanctuary and the Afghan tribal dictum that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” What’s more, the Haqqanis have many long-standing andiwali ties with Mr. Karzai’s tribe, the Popalzai, which could be exploited in negotiations. Indeed, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar — a Taliban leader with close links to the Haqqanis who is in Pakistani custody, but is thought to be involved with the current talks — is himself a member of the Popalzai and once saved Mr. Karzai’s life.
With no real hopes for a breakthrough in negotiations, the Pentagon’s current thinking seems to be to keep troop levels up for at least a few months after President Obama’s declared June 2011 drawdown date, to show the Taliban that the force and the will to beat them will remain if they don’t come to the table. But this isn’t likely to impress any Taliban, who can simply wait us out.
The smarter move would be to turn the current shadow-play about talks into serious negotiations right now. The older Taliban leaders might well drop their support for Osama bin Laden if Western troops were no longer there to unite them. The Haqqanis, too, are exclusively interested in their homeland, not global jihad, and will discard anyone who interferes in their lives. No Haqqanis joined Al Qaeda before 9/11, because they couldn’t stand Arabs telling them how to pray and fight.
The problem now, for the Taliban leaders, the Afghan government, its Western backers and Pakistan, is that the main “success” of the recent surge — killing thousands of Taliban foot soldiers and midlevel commanders — may create a whirlwind that no one will be able to control.
Scott Atran, an anthropologist at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, the University of Michigan and John Jay College, is the author of “Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood and the (Un)making of Terrorists.”

NATO invites Russia to join Afghan fray

NATO invites Russia to join Afghan fray
By M K Bhadrakumar

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials have revealed their proposal with Moscow regarding a vastly stepped up Russian involvement in the Afghan war is in the final stages of negotiation and they are hopeful of formal agreement being reached at the alliance's two-day summit in Lisbon from November 19.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has announced his acceptance of the NATO invitation to attend the Lisbon summit, where he also scheduled to have a two-hour meeting with United States President Barack Obama. Aside Afghanistan, Medvedev's agenda includes Iran, a Russian proposal on a European security architecture and NATO's offer to cooperate with Russia on its missile defense system (which it is linking up with the US's).

Afghanistan promises to be the biggest vector of Russia-NATOcooperation to date. It doesn't come as surprise. A sort of romance was in the air though Moscow kept coyly disputing. Like in the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield, we knew "Barkis is willing". Barkis fell for small things - Clara Peggotty making "apple parsties" or that she "does all the cooking" - but the smart Russian diplomats will drive a hard bargain with NATO before a nuptial knot is tied.

The Russian ingenuity aims at making cooperation with the NATO a lucrative business deal as much as a political embrace.

However, the timing is significant. NATO hopes to tango with Russia in Lisbon within a few hours of settling into a long-term partnership with Kabul under a status of forces agreement with the Afghan government that peers into the post-war era. In short, NATO is joining hands with Russia even as it consolidates military presence in Central Asia - an incredible turn to the great game.

But stranger things have happened. Moscow seems increasingly confident of the reset with the US. The big question is how Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a host of others - Iranians, Central Asians (especially Uzbeks), Chinese and the Afghans (especially Pashtuns) - view an emergent NATO-Russia condominium.

NATO officials indicated that the deals included a supply of Russian helicopters and Russian crews to train Afghan pilots, Russian military instructors training Afghan military, expansion of the transit and supply routes for NATO forces in Afghanistan via Russian territory, and effective cooperation in curbing drug trafficking and strengthening border security.

The NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the Guardian newspaper: "The [Lisbon] summit can mark a new start in the relationship between NATO and Russia. We will hopefully agree on a broad range of areas in which we can develop practical cooperation on Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics.

''Russia is strongly interested in increased cooperation ... Last December when I visited Moscow I suggested that Russia provide helicopters for the Afghan army. Since then Russia has reflected on that and there are now bilateral talks between Russia and theUnited States. I would not exclude that we will facilitate that process within the NATO-Russian Council."

Russian helicopters are rugged machines suitable for the tough conditions in Afghanistan and Afghan armed forces are used to Soviet-era equipment. Russia has been insisting on a "commercial" deal. But the deal has manifestly political overtones. Will Russia be deputing its military instructors to Afghanistan or will Afghan officers get trained in the Russian military academies?
The proposal to deploy Russian helicopter crews to Afghanistan is a dramatic step. Of all the images etched deep in the Afghan consciousness and jihad mythology, it is the Russian helicopter gunships criss-crossing the Afghan skies raining death and destruction during the period 1979-89 that still evokes fear and fury. No doubt, the return of Russian military personnel becomes a highly symbolic turning point in the 30-year Afghan civil war.

How far is NATO is coordinating with Karzai? Karzai kept a cool distance from Moscow during most of the time and only lately, when his relations with the West began plummeting did he begin thawing. Karzai will now have to think hard and measure the hostility toward Russia still among the Afghan people. He is debilitated in the Afghan bazaar by the image of being a puppet of foreign powers.

Second, Karzai is barely keeping equilibrium in a tempestuous relationship with Western forces over whom he has no control. Two days ago, he lashed out at the West. He also "stormed out" of a meeting with the US commander, General David Petraeus. Conceivably, he is also watching with disquiet the latest chapter in the US's dalliance with the Pakistani military. Karzai's preference will be to have independent dealings with the regional powers, especially Russia.

Third, the Russian entry will cast shadows on the Afghan ethnic mosaic. It has been with non-Pashtun nationalities - especially Tajiks and Uzbeks - that Moscow got deeply involved over the years. Moscow had little to do with the Hazaras and was mostly on uneasy terms with the Pashtuns (despite keeping subsoil contacts with the Taliban). The officer corps of Afghan armed forces is predominantly Tajik and the Pashtuns have misgivings that Moscow is once again developing the sinews of its erstwhile proxies.

More so, as the Russian military personnel will be coming in at a time when non-Pashtun groups have begun secretly arming themselves fearing a Taliban takeover in Kabul.

The Taliban will take serious note of any form of Russian military involvement in the war and that can have serious implications for the Taliban's future cooperation with Central Asian militant groups. The Taliban viewed as something within acceptable threshold that Russia provided NATO with air and land supply and transit arrangements. But the threshold of the Taliban's tolerance may change, especially if the nascent peace talks fail to take off and the accent falls on the resistance.

Third, suffice to say that regional powers like China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will be curious about Russia joining hands with NATO bilaterally, sidestepping the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In effect, the kaleidoscope of collective security in Central Asia undergoes an ominous tilt. NATO still views the CSTO and SCO disdainfully.

On balance, NATO and the US are net gainers. The timing is perfect. NATO ensures that Moscow acquiesces in its long-term military presence in the region. NATO has multiple motives. With the specter of defeat staring at it, NATO has nothing to lose. These are days when the alliance and the US in particular feel lonely when the dusk falls - and it's good to have company of friends who have moved about in the dark in the Hindu Kush. In any case, Moscow has been bending over backward to be helpful.
It is useful to keep Russia engaged instead of ignoring it lest it acted as a "spoiler". Moscow still wields influence over non-Pashtun groups opposed to reconciliation with the Taliban. Also, Pakistan no more objects to Russia's entry. Moscow made serious overtures to Islamabad to reach a modus vivendi over Afghanistan and it is paying dividends.

In practical terms, the northern supply route via Russian territory is a great boon for NATO with insurgents having stepped up attacks on the two routes running through Pakistan.

But the geopolitics of NATO-Russia tie-up isolates China and Iran. Conceivably, the US is pursuing this tie-up as a matter of regional policy. According to NATO officials, a separate agreement on limited Russian cooperation with NATO's European missile defense plans is also in prospect at the Lisbon summit, which is a symbolic demonstration of a security matrix struggling to be born. It seems the reset process with Russia that Washington mooted modestly as a course correction from the George W Bush era is beginning to impact on the geopolitical chessboard.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in theIndian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

It’s called dissent, not sedition, Alok Tiwari

It’s called dissent, not sedition, Alok Tiwari

It’s called dissent, not sedition, Alok Tiwari
27 October 2010, 03:59 AM IST

The lack of outrage at the conclusion by Delhi police that there is “a fit case” to charge Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and author Arundhati Roy with sedition for what the two said in a seminar at Delhi is appalling. Only a few civil liberties advocates spoke out against the move. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party openly bayed for their blood. Congress maintained a studied silence. The minor parties were just not bothered. Union law minister Veerappa Moily didn’t come out to well when he suggested that freedom of expression couldn’t’ be used to violate “patriotic sentiments”, whatever that means.

The incident isn’t the best advertisement of either our democracy or our famed culture of tolerance. Sedition involves an attempt to overthrow legally constituted government. As far as I know, neither Geelani nor Roy did anything remotely in that direction. What they said was definitely against the government line on Kashmir. It was also against the popular opinion. Mercifully, there is no law that obligates us to toe the government or popular line. Going against it is dissent, not sedition; and democracies thrive on dissent. They do not shun it.

Geelani’s views about Kashmir are well known. He has made no secret of them. Most other Indians do not agree with him and even find his views offensive. Yet, he is an Indian citizen and entitled to his individual liberties as much as any other. Freedom in a society is tested by its tolerance of what most of its members consider offensive. Freedom to say goody-goody thing is actually no freedom. If we assert before the world that Kashmiris in India are living in freedom, it means even those Kashmiris who would rather not be part of India. They have as much right to air their opinion as the rest of us have to assert Kashmir is an integral part of India. If we find Geelani’s ideas offensive then let us come up with better ideas to counter them.

I am never tired of recalling the historic 1989 ruling by the US Supreme Court upholding the right of American citizens to burn the national flag. Justice Anthony M Kennedy, who wrote a concurring opinion with the majority, put it so memorably, “It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protect those who hold it in contempt.” By so doing, the court added to the majesty of the American flag and the constitution, it did not imperil them.

The same goes for Roy too. She holds strong views and expresses them forcefully. Too forcefully for many people’s comfort. Yet, her presence lends balance and a provocative edge to the discourse that would otherwise have been too one-sided. She raises uncomfortable, often troubling, questions. Of course, she does not provide all the answers. Sometimes her stance is contradictory and confusing. For instance, she herself uses airlines and railways but the development model she recommends would deny these to most others. If we are to build more airports, planes, and railways then land, steel, and aluminium for them have to come from somewhere. That would require some people to be displaced. One cannot be totally against displacement and still enjoy these facilities for oneself.

However, her views are not the point. The point is her ability to say it in the manner she chooses. Of course, the moment she picks up a gun or begins to organize an army to overthrow the constitutional authority, she can be booked and restrained. But if she merely argues-much to the discomfiture many, of course – that Indian state tramples upon its own citizens, that it is sold out to corporate interests, that each new mine is a huge conspiracy to dispossess the poor and the defenceless, then she has to be countered with better arguments that it is not so. Threatening her with court cases actually proves her point.

In any case, presence of people like her or Medha Patkar ensures that the debate is well rounded and all voices are heard. It may not stop the development but it at least would ensure better compensation and rehabilitation package for the displaced. That way, she is also being patriotic. When she challenges our ideas on Kashmir, does she not force a thought about where things have gone wrong and how we may right them? That also is a patriotic act. Now, should Mr Moily be booked because he violates this sentiment?

In the end, it is not about Geelani or Roy. It is about our own idea of India. It is sad that police even in national capital cannot differentiate between an act of rebellion and a contrary opinion. It is sadder that the entire political establishment remains silent when citizens are threatened with criminal charges for voicing opinions-howsoever unpopular or offensive. This is only to be expected at a time when books are withdrawn from universities because some goon decides it is written in bad taste. It is time for us to rise and take the matter of our freedoms into our own hands. If we won’t use our liberties, sure as hell we would lose them.

Kashmir interlocutors hint at considering 'Azaadi' option

Kashmir interlocutors hint at considering 'Azaadi' option
M Saleem Pandit, TNN, Oct 27, 2010, 04.21pm IST

SRINAGAR: The interlocutors appointed for J&K have hinted at introducing amendments in the Indian constitution to accommodate considering the " Azaadi option" for Kashmir.

"Indian constitution is a beautiful document and there is room for modification with changing times and we can even recommend for the amendments in the constitution to accommodate the discussions on the Kashmir issue and to find the solution to the problem in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiris," Radha Kumar, one of the three interlocutors told reporters here at the end of a four-day visit to the valley on Wednesday.

Saying it is my personal belief, Radha Kumar said, the constitution has been amended more than 400 times and there is no harm if it is modified further to make it more accommodative.

Importantly, Indian constitution as also Jammu & Kashmir constitution unequivocally mention the region as an integral part of India.

The head of the three-member panel, Dileep Padgoankar while interacting with media persons also wished to take leaders of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on board to find the permanent solution to the Kashmir issue.

"Yes we would like to visit PoK to talk to the leadership there to get their point of view on the issue .But there are parts in J&K which do not share the same view as the people in Kashmir valley," Dileep added.

The panel: Dileep Padgoankar, M M Ansari and Radha Kumar, which would undertake visit to the state every month , at the end of present visit , is expected to recommend several measures to be taken by the centre to bring in more credibility to the appointment of interlocutors to diminish the trust deficit of the people in Kashmir.

"We can even recommend the amendments in the Public Safety Act besides ask for release of political prisoners and even ask the centre to allow the peaceful protests in the valley in line with democratic temperament of the country," Dileep Padgoankar said.

Dileep even questioned the logic for imposing section 144 CrPC against holding peaceful protests in the valley. "There is no need of imposing section 144 to quell the assembly of the people for peaceful demonstrations," he added.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

We are back in London

We are back in London

Dear friends and colleagues aslamo alaykam and good morning We have reached London safely. Our trip was very useful and we have learnt many new things. Inshalla when I have time I will write a report on this. I want to thank all the friends who helped us during our trip, especially Shafqat Inquilabi, Saeed Asad, Nasir Ansari, Shazahda Masood Ul Hassan, Faisal Latif, Danial Saleem, Hammad Saleem, Bashir Ahmed, Nawaz Naji and others

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Study tour for PAK and Gilgit Baltistan

Study tour for PAK and Gilgit Baltistan

A group of people concerned about plight of Kashmiris in Pakistani Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan is leaving for the region. The purpose of the visit is to see for themselves what goes on in these areas; and what quality of life people of these areas enjoy.

The delegation will ascertain what are the demands of the people of these areas and if they were happy with the status quo. The delegation will meet and interview political leaders and members of the civil society in both regions; and see what social, economic, cultural and political rights they enjoy and what could be done to enhance quality of life in these regions.

The delegation leaving from London consist of Abbas Butt (Kashmir National Party), Dr Shabir Choudhry (KNP), Asim Mirza (KNP, Mohammed Shoaib (Pakistan Muslim League -AJK and Imtiaz ul Maqsood a Pakistani educationalist and political activist. Other people from Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistani Administered Kashmir will join the delegation in Islamabad.

The delegation will also meet diplomats of various countries in Islamabad and some Pakistani leaders and opinion makers; and return to Britain on 22 October 2010. The delegation will write a report on their experience and about their interaction with the people in both regions.

Dr Shabir Choudhry could be contacted on the number below during the visit to the region: 0092 (0)300 9744 800

Friday, 1 October 2010

"Pakistan has No Stand in J&K"

"Pakistan has No Stand in J&K"
By Beersmans Paul

Conclusions from the Study Tour to J&K from 24/June to 21/July 2010 by Beersmans Paul, President, Belgium Association for Solidarity with J&K.

A. J&K, as it was before partition in 1947, is at present under the rule of three countries:

(1) China: Aksai Chin and a territory of 5.180 km2 ceded by Pakistan to China;
(2) India: J&K State comprising Jammu-region, the Kashmir-Valley and Ladakh (Kargil and Leh districts);
(3) Pakistan: Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan (Northern Areas).

The population of these regions is totally different from each other: culture, history, traditions, language, religion, etc.

B. In order to find a permanent solution a dialogue is necessary on three levels, as we emphasise already since so many years:

(1) bilateral level: between India and Pakistan;
(2) national level: between the Government of India, the J&K State Government and the representatives of the civil society of the three regions;
(3) internal level: between the different regions of J&K.

C. Priority must be given to end the sufferings of the Kashmiris. This can only be realised by stopping violence and misleading people. They want to have a future and jobs for themselves, for their children. After 20 years of militancy, it is high time to give growing up generations a chance to have a normal youth and education. Violence has been rejected as an instrument for seeking a solution. Pakistan should stop cross-border terrorism and cross-border infiltration, stop sending money, ammunition and weapons, stop giving training. Pakistan decides over peace or violence: as long as Pakistan supports terrorism, openly or covertly, there can’t be peace in J&K. Without peace, there can’t be a solution.

D. Generally speaking, all agree that the Kashmir Valley is the ‘core component’ of any permanent solution, and its voice has a dominant influence on the final outcome although no one seriously believes that resolving the Kashmir issue is only a matter of meeting Valley needs. The other regions of J&K and other constituencies of J&K factor equally in the final solution.

In the end, the resolution of the Kashmir issue is like fitting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. All pieces must fit together at about the same time. So it is to the benefit of Kashmiris from both sides of the LoC to raise voices on achieving an honourable solution at the same time. Accentuating issues on only one side, while ignoring or brushing away problems on the other side, actually helps both India and Pakistan because it ensures that J&K will never emerge as an independent nation. Sure, Pakistan and Valley based separatist leaders can talk about UN resolutions to gladden hearts of their constituencies, but on the ground things will not move by even an inch as has been the case since 1948.

Independent J&K will not be feasible, even theoretically, unless and until all regions of J&K rise coherently to demand it. So, each region must engage with the other in a civil dialogue with mutual respect and with equal considerations. Failing that the status quo will continue, or worse, the Musharraf formula or a variant will be imposed by India and Pakistan and that will be it,

E. Corruption adds to the misery, sufferings and alienation of the common Kashmiri and has a destabilising effect on the normal functioning of the civil society. Kashmiris who have responsible jobs in the police, in the judicial system, in the administration, etc. are supposed to look after the well functioning of the society. By indulging into corruption, they are betraying their own compatriots. It is high time that at all levels in J&K State a serious effort is made to tackle corruption. It is too easy to point to the Centre as being the origin of all evils. One should have the courage and the honesty to recognise the shortcomings in the own system and take the necessary steps to redress the situation.

F. The peace process came to a standstill after the terrorist attack in Mumbai, in November 2008, involving Pakistani nationals trained by ISI and Pakistan Navy. Notwithstanding these hindrances, the composite dialogue must go on. One should not expect a short-term solution, this can only be reached through small steps.

G. The dissident leaders insist that the Kashmiris must be taken into confidence. This is a justified demand, the question however is who should represent the population of J&K in all its segments and differences. On the other hand, most of these leaders do not have a solution. ‘Let a tripartite dialogue start and a solution will emerge automatically’, is their view.

H. The Kashmiri Pandits are the original Kashmiri speaking inhabitants of the Valley. They were hounded out of the Valley by militancy in 1990: some 500.000 of them fled to safer places. This exodus changed drastically the demographic composition of the population in the Valley. After more than twenty years, the return of the Kashmiri Pandits is more and more blurred. Nevertheless, they have their emotional attachment with their birth ground, their roots. They only can return when peace is there and when the rule of law, not the rule of majority is re-installed.

I. There is no doubt that human rights violations are being committed by the security forces and by the militants. There is also no doubt that not all cases of human rights violations committed by the security forces are disclosed or prosecuted. It is also a fact that the security forces always are blamed if something happens. Dissident leaders do not mention and are not critical on human rights violations committed by militants. On the other hand, security forces should show restraint in controlling demonstrations: firing on unarmed civilians, even if they are pelting stones or attacking them, should be allowed only in extreme situations.

J. The Kashmiris expected a lot of the Government headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah: he is young, has a vision, hard working, honest, listening to the demands of the people and paying attention to their basic needs. The challenges are multiple: eradicate corruption and improve the functioning of the administration, the educational system, health care, etc. Terrorism must be tackled. The government must bring back secularism, mutual respect. Due to the prevailing security situation a lot of energy is spent to redress the law and order situation.

K. J&K State is a trouble tormented state for the last twenty years. Especially in the Valley, the youth grew up in a violent environment. They grew up with the presence of so many security forces, with encounters between militants and security forces, with search and cordon off operations, with human rights violations committed by security forces and militants, with the calls for strikes, harthals, demonstrations, shut downs, etc.. Day by day, they witnessed all this for the last twenty years. They didn’t have a normal environment where youth can grow up to a responsible adult. Violence became a part of their ‘normal’ life. This includes stone pelting, provocation of security forces: these are the games they learned to play. Even if peace returns and a lasting peaceful solution has been worked out it will take years to re-educate the youth and to bring them about respect for moral values.

L. It is often stressed that private industries should come to J&K, as they can create many jobs. This is only possible if prospects for a lasting peace are there. Private entrepreneurs only have faith in a peaceful solution. if there is no peace there will be no investment: this goes hand in gloves. Prof. Nisar Ali, senior professor of economics at Kashmir University and a renowned economist of the State believes that the problem of unemployment can’t be solved only by attracting private industries: ‘The problem of unemployment is basically from the educated lot of the State, who want ‘white collar’ jobs (= government jobs) and do not consider other options. J&K is the only State that provides government employment to over 500.000 people, highest in the country, while as in other Indian states it is considerably less. The Government therefore has reached its saturation and can‘t, realistically, absorb the chunk of unemployed youth. The thing that people here want and consider government job as the final word is really aggravating the problem which needs to be tackled on all fronts beginning from changing the mindsets of the people’.

M. The cry for the right of self-determination by some parties in the Valley is supported by Pakistan. However, accession to Pakistan is the only accepted option. Indeed, according to the Azad J&K, Interim Constitution Act, 1974, Par 7. (2): ‘No person or political party in Azad J&K shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the State’s accession to Pakistan’. In this regard the Strategic Foresight Group stated: ‘To the outside world, it is projected that Pakistan is supporting a struggle for self-determination for the people of Kashmir. Within the closed-door precincts of General Head Quarters of the Pakistani Army in Rawalpindi, Kashmir has a different meaning. It is most aptly summarised by Syed Salahuddin, chairman of the United Jihad Council, as he often assures the leaders of Pakistan that the Kashmir youth are fighting a war to help Pakistan secure its lifeline (= securing access to the water resources of Kashmir).’

General (retd) Tariq Nizami, former Secretary of Kashmir Liberation Cell highlighted the real interests of Pakistan as follows: ‘Kashmir is a primary source of water for the parched lands of the Pakistani peninsula. There are daily reports of the perpetual wrangling between Sindh and Punjab over water sharing. If utter political ineptitude is displayed by the Pakistan government on the Kashmir issue, it would not only lead to Pakistan relinquishing control over Kashmir but would also lead to a gradual secession of Sindh from Pakistan.’

N. Pakistan has no stand in J&K. Pakistan invaded J&K and is at the origin of the de facto partitioning of the State. As early as 13 August 1948 the UN Commission for India and Pakistan requested Pakistan to withdraw its troops from the State as a pre-condition for organising the plebiscite. The same Commission in its resolution of 5 January 1949 repeated this request. Until this date, Pakistan has not withdrawn its armed forces and consequently the plebiscite has not been held.