Thursday, 14 May 2015
Pakistan has lost out in Kashmir: Dulat
Pakistan has lost out in Kashmir: Dulat
Published at 14/05/2015
· UN resolutions are dead and buried
· Geelani doesn’t see reality when it is staring at his face
· Shabir Shah had the best opportunity to contest polls
· Delhi should not push Mufti to the wall
· No need for separate townships for Kashmiri Pandits
Years of association with the troubled politics of Jammu and Kashmir has earned former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief, Amarjit Singh Dulat friends among the mainstream as well as separatist leaders and an insight into their capabilities and compulsions. In an exclusive interview with Rising Kashmir Political Editor, Faisul Yaseen, he delves into the ‘missed opportunities’ of separatists and the changes in the discourse of Kashmir politics.
What brings you here?
I come here every spring. This year I was a bit late. Normally I come here in the last week of April. It is a lovely time to be here. The weather is good. It isn’t too hot. I play a little bit of golf, and meet old friends.
By old friends, do you mean separatists?
I regard them as friends. I don’t know whether they regard me as their friend. One thing I have learnt in Kashmir is you do not take any one for granted. I regard separatists as my friends because of the fact that I spent time with them. Now, some meet, some don’t meet. When I am here, it gets known that I am here, and I am available. Yes, separatists are friends. Shabir Shah is one of those friends who I thought has forgotten me. Among the separatists, I spent the maximum time with him. He is honest and candid. But somewhere, he thought we were not getting anywhere. When you start dialogue or a process, you hope to reach somewhere.
Was he correct?
May be it has been our fault. May be it has been his fault. I don’t want to pinpoint anyone. I think he had the best opportunity in the separatist camp. He was the one who was spoken to first. Others were still part of the Hurriyat, and Hurriyat was a big thing, and getting to Hurriyat was not easy. Shabir was outside the Hurriyat, then he joined the Hurriyat, then they threw him out of the Hurriyat. So he was always at the loose end, and always by himself. Somewhere, he lost out. He had a great opportunity in 1996 and he also had a little opportunity in 2002. If you are a politician, whether you are a separatist or not, you have to get into politics. If you stay outside, then you must say, alright, I have talked to you, and I am not getting in politics, I am outside that. The real fact is that most of these younger separatists, I am not talking of the older people like Professor (Abdul Gani) sahab, Abbas (Ansari) sahab or (Syed Ali) Geelani sahab but the younger lot all have political ambitions or had political ambitions but somewhere it has got stuck. It has not moved in the right direction.
Has Government of India something to do with that? We have already seen the fate of Sajad Gani Lone?
It can be that they made mistakes. I can only say that they have had opportunities. Somewhere they got stuck. I think that Mirwaiz has a great future but he must also realize that opportunities in politics in Kashmir come once in six years. He has to get into some kind of process. He has to think that. I once wrote whether he wants to be a pope for the life or Chief Minister of Jammu Kashmir. When we first talked to Sajad, he said, “How can I get into elections, I am a separatist.” I think Sajad is one of the brightest politicians. Now that he is in it, he has a great future. If Sajad would be honest to himself, he would agree that he has wasted 13 years. In 2002, he did not contest and put up proxy candidates. Now finally he has become a minister. I am sure his time of being a chief minister will come. Age is on his side. Age is also on the side of Mirwaiz. But time passes. Time goes on. I think Shabir has missed the bus. He is a little older than these people. He had his opportunities. He had his chances. He was the most favoured of all the separatists.
Among all the separatists, who should New Delhi be backing?
Everybody, I would still back all of them. When I say backing, I mean, we should be talking to everybody. I am a great believer in talking. Engagement should never end. ‘Guftugu band no ho; Baat sey baat chaley.’ Dialogue should never end. When we first started talks with Shabir Shah, he said, “What will we talk about.” I told him, “We will talk about talks, about dialogue process.” Engagements should never end. I don’t know why Delhi is not engaging or why these people are not engaging. I don’t know where the problem lies. I am now 11 years out of government. I can’t say where the problem lies. May be, both sides.
Did you ever try to engage Syed Ali Geelani?
I have never met Geelani sahab. He is the one Kashmiri leader I have never met.
I don’t know. I missed something. After I left the government, I have been very keen to meet him. I have asked some friends that I have not been able to reach out to him. Even today, I would be quite happy to meet Geelani sahab.
Do you regret that?
I do not regret it but, yes, it is something that I have missed in Kashmir. It is not that nobody ever talked to Geelani sahab. I am sure people from the establishment did talk to him. I know the people from the establishment did talk to him but it was not serious from our side. It was just checking out.
He is the most popular leader in Kashmir particularly among the youth.
There have been ups and downs. It has something to do with 2008. That is when youth got angry over Amarnath land transfer. It was when youth first got angry and Geelani sahab again became a big figure. Before that Musharraf told him, “Old man get out of the way. Don’t be a nuisance. Don’t make a nuisance of yourself.” After that Geelani sahab always cursed Musharraf. It is post-2008 that Geelani sahab has again come into his own. Geelani sahab has stuck to that line. The more he has been sidelined, the more stubbornly he has stuck to that line of Pakistan. It suits Pakistan. It has become a stubborn thing with him that ‘I will live and die with Pakistan.’
Do you think that he is the best bet for Pakistan?
I don’t think Pakistan has a bet here really. I have met a lot of Pakistanis. I talked to a lot of Pakistanis. I think Pakistan has lost out in Kashmir. If Pakistan is making a comeback here, it is because of our mistakes.
What makes you think that? What makes you so confident? Recently, waving of just one Pakistan flag almost toppled the State government and triggered a never-ending debate in the Parliament.
One Pakistan flag, what does that mean? Is that for the first time that Pakistan flag has been waved in Kashmir? Pakistan slogans have been raised quite frequently at Friday congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid where Mirwaiz addresses the gathering. Even the day when (Abdul Gani) Lone sahab was killed, before that pro-Pakistan slogans were raised in that rally. Sajad even said that ISI got him killed. His initial reaction was that. Coming back to Geelani sahab, Mirwaiz last year said, “Who the hell is Geelani.” He must have been very angry. I am not trying to give an impression that Pakistan is not a factor and does not matter. Over the years, the idea of creating this proxy war and sustaining the proxy war has died down. It still happens. There are some pockets like Tral, Shopian and Sopore and things can still take place and take place everywhere.
In a way you are saying that pro-Pakistan constituency in Kashmir has shrunk?
It has shrunk. It grows because Geelani sahab helps it grow. He looks bigger than life. If you don’t engage with moderates, then the hardliners come into play. Why did Musharraf tell Geelani sahab to get out of the way? He thought that Geelani sahab was only an obstacle, a nuisance. Between Musharraf and Government of India, we were trying to get the separatists into play and Geelani sahab would not stop talking Pakistan and taking that hardline stance.
How do you see the role of mainstream politicians here?
The role of mainstream politicians has been growing all the time. Pakistan understands that. Post 2002, Pakistan has shown more interest in the mainstream. It has shown more interest in elections here. It has shown more interest in the outcome of election here. When Omar (Abdullah) sahab went to Pakistan, Musharaff was very impressed by Omar Abdullah and Omar Abdullah with Musharaff. These are good exposures. There is nothing wrong in it.
How have these mainstream politicians like Farooq Abdullah, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and Omar Abdullah dealt with Kashmir?
I think everybody has dealt with it in his own way. Farooq sahab had his own way. Mufti sahab has in own way. Omar sahab was still learning. His period was not so great. Generally, people were not that happy. He was not as accessible as Farooq sahab. Mufti sahab is determined to do a good job.
What makes you think people of Kashmir will invest in mainstream politics seeing the helplessness of the successive chief ministers before New Delhi. Omar Abdullah would frequently talk about revocation of AFSPA and demilitarization yet it never happened in his six years. Before that, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed too could not do anything about it.
It is unfortunate. It is for the government here to decide about AFSPA. If it does not want AFSPA, they should take it up seriously with New Delhi. Army’s view is that the problem here has not ended and they require that extra backup. This is an issue that has gone on. Omar sahab did try but he failed. May be Mufti sahab can try now.
This coalition or alliance is a unique experiment, an imaginative experiment. If it succeeds, and I think it should succeed, it must succeed, then all the polarization that has taken place post 2008 between Kashmir and Jammu, could end. It could bring Kashmir and Jammu together like it brought PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) and BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party) together.
You think it will last six years?
I have been very hopeful and I am still hopeful but here in the last five days sometimes I got the impression that people have doubts whether it will last or not last. It is not a natural alliance. It is an unnatural alliance. It is a compulsion for both sides. If both sides understand that compulsion, then it should last six years. If one of the two sides thinks that there is no need for it, then it may not last.
Generally, there is an impression that State BJP wants to continue with the alliance but BJP at New Delhi is uncomfortable with what Mufti Sayeed did here with decisions like release of Hurriyat leader Masrat Alam. After that he too has been stifling the separatists. So the general impression is he is no different from Omar Abdullah.
Whether Mufti sahab is different from Omar sahab or not or he faces the same compulsions that time will tell. Mufti sahab is a very canny politician. He is a smart politician. It was Omar sahab’s first innings. So there is lot of difference there. Mufti sahab has been a Union Home Minister. He has been a chief minister before. This is his second time. He knows. Omar sahab was raw. It was his first time. I am sure next time Omar sahab will be a better chief minister. I don’t have any doubts about it. I think sitting in the opposition will do him good. He will learn politics. He should.
How do you see the knee-jerk reaction in New Delhi to what a chief minister is doing here? A pro-India politician like him was accused of being a pro-Pakistan CM?
I don’t know of these reactions. I don’t want to react to Delhi’s reactions. At this point of time, he needs every support. He should not be pushed to the wall. He should not be cornered. He should be supported. He is doing nothing wrong. If he made a mistake in releasing Masrat Alam, he realized that mistake and has locked him up. I don’t see Mufti sahab doing anything wrong. He would like to govern and he is very keen to govern. Mufti sahab also knows this is his last hurrah. He has mellowed a great deal. I met him the other day. He is not the Mufti of 2002. He is a much more mellowed person. He appears much more accommodative today. Some of the things he is doing to accommodate Delhi today, he would not have done in 2002. He refused to do those things in 2002.
Is it due to a strong government in New Delhi?
New Delhi should be there to oversee but not issue diktat to the State government. If New Delhi is concerned about J&K, then New Delhi’s own party is a part of the State government. After all, the deputy chief minister is from BJP. Whatever New Delhi requires to do should be done through the deputy chief minister.
New Delhi has tried to engage with separatists because they have a backing of the militant groups. Why not engage with the real players, militants?
I don’t think so. The idea of dealing with the separatists is that they represent a slightly different thought from the mainstream. By engagement, you can make them understand. Musharaff’s four-point proposal is the closest that we have come to some kind of forward movement. All four points were not acceptable to either sides but we were quite close. Coming in and going, opening of borders, making borders irrelevant that is the general idea. There was a forward movement. Separatists were happy. The same separatists, the same Hurriyat had two rounds of talks with the same party – BJP.
New Delhi called off foreign secretary level talks over a petty issue.
My view is same with regard to Pakistan as it is with regard to Kashmir, ‘Guftagu band na ho; Baat sey baat chaley.’ This permanent disconnect doesn’t make sense to me. I am sure it will resume.
How serious is Islamabad?
We will get to know about their seriousness in the course of time. Only when you talk, will you get to know. There were a lot of reservations about Musharraf when we first started engaging with him. Musharraf was far more provocative than any other Pakistani has been. He caused Kargil. He caused a lot of havoc and yet we talked to him. However, in that thing we wasted some time. When he started going down and lost power in 2006-07, it was a great window of opportunity that was lost.
The provocations are not coming from Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif is not provoking India on Kashmir. Asif Ali Zardari has not been provocative on Kashmir. Another PM hopeful Imran Khan’s stand on Kashmir is moderate. Pakistan Army chief has not been provocative. Why are the provocations coming from New Delhi?
There is a difference in rhetoric. I don’t take that rhetoric seriously. Kashmiris also don’t take that rhetoric seriously. When Pakistan talks of a 5000-year-war or talks about the United Nations resolutions, then we know that Pakistan is not being serious. There is a world of difference between a four-point formula and UN resolutions. UN resolutions are dead and buried. Why talk about those things. When you talk about that, it is pure rhetoric. I don’t think that any Kashmiri believes in that that- the right to self-determination or plebiscite. If plebiscite could not be held all these years, where will you have plebiscite now?
If plebiscite could be held in Scotland, South Sudan and East Timor, why cannot it be held in Kashmir?
Well, it won’t happen here. Let us be realistic. Yasin (Malik) once told me, “We want freedom.” I told him, if you could get freedom, I would have raised Azadi slogans with you. Be realistic, there can be an Azadi within the Indian union. When Hurriyat started coming to Delhi, sometimes there would be a remark, “This thing is within the constitution.” They would say, “Why are you stating the obvious. When we come and talk to Delhi, it has to be within the constitution. Can Delhi talk outside the constitution?” That is why (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee sahab said, “Insaniyat key Dairey ki baat kartey hain. Why are you getting bogged down in the constitution? We are human beings and let us talk as human beings.” Humanism is important.
In a way you are saying that India isn’t as mature as United Kingdom. It does not have the heart.
There is a different history here altogether than Scotland. It is not the question of heart. It is a question of reality. What if a plebiscite did not happen up to 1957 or 1967 or before the 1965 war, do you think it will happen in 2015. Does anybody anywhere in the world talk about plebiscite in Kashmir? Does anybody anywhere in the world talk about UN resolutions? When militancy started in early 1990s in Kashmir, Americans used to call it a freedom struggle. But 9/11 woke them up. Now everybody is a terrorist. The world has changed. When Vajpayee and Musharaff started talking and when Manmohan Singh followed up on that, there was a realization. Musharraf realized two things that borders can’t be changed and India will never compromise on its sovereignty. He told the separatists that let’s not live in a fool’s paradise. This is a reality. Within that, there is so much scope for engaging. Ask the Mirwaiz if he is comfortable with that or not. He would be very comfortable. If Shabir is honest to himself, he would be very comfortable. Yasin should be very comfortable. Geelani sahab has a different take. He is an old man. He doesn’t want to compromise and he thinks it is a compromise. He doesn’t see reality when it is staring at his face.
You were the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief and have been in the Intelligence Bureau (IB). As an intelligence officer, do you think creating a group of renegades was a mistake as they unleashed a reign of terror on people and became notorious and dreadful?
I spent my life in the IB and somehow became the RAW chief. I don’t know who was responsible for their creation. I know it was created. I know it also helped the security forces (troops, paramilitary forces and Police) at that point of time. If they got out of hand and did wrong things that should not have been condoned either.
What do you think of Village Defense Committees (VDCs)? You have created VDCs in Muslim-majority areas. You have given arms to Hindus and they are pushing Muslims to the wall.
Let us not get into that. VDC is a very old story. Let us forget that. That part of militancy is over.
What do you think of the current stalemate between New Delhi and Islamabad?
I am a great believer in engagement. We should never stop engaging. Things come out of dialogue. If they are not engaging now, I am sure they will. Modi is not Vajpayee and Vajpayee was not Modi. Vajpayee took a bus to Lahore. Modi ji thinks what will come out of taking a bus to Lahore. He wants to know the outcome before taking that decision.
India does not have good relations with Pakistan or with China or with any other neigbour other than Bhutan. What does it say of India?
I agree. We must have good relations with all our neighbours. Pakistan is a key neighbour, a very important neighbour for us. Vajpayee said this in Lahore during his Pakistan visit. He said, “We can change our friends, but we cannot change our neigbours.” This is a reality. You have to live with it. If India and Pakistan were together, so much could happen together.
India is offending China. How do you see India being in the center of two nuclear powers, Pakistan and China?
We should not look at China or Pakistan as an enemy. Yes, there are times when we have that kind of situation or position.
There are issues like settlement of West Pakistan refugees and settlement of Kashmiri Pandit in separate townships. There is a general perception here that New Delhi is working to carry out genocide of Kashmiri Muslims.
Nobody is planning any genocide. Kashmir has a history of living together. It is unfortunate that in 1990 Kashmiri Pandits had to leave. At that time, they were subjected to excesses. Some of them were killed. They fled as there was a threat and panic. Even today, Kashmiri Pandits do not feel so comfortable coming back. On the Kashmir side, every Kashmiri leader from Geelani sahab downward have said, “They are our brethren and are welcome to come back and should come back.”
Why are they asked to live in satellite townships? Doesn’t it give an impression that New Delhi plans to settle them on the pattern of Israel?
This should happen in a more natural and organic way rather than imposing something on somebody which would not happen. I don’t think that we need a particular township. The government can have a hundred houses in Ram Munshi Bagh or Jawahar Nagar, which are comfortable areas, and Kashmiri Pandits can come.
What about the settlement of West Pakistan refugees? There are refugees in entire India. When nobody talks about settling those refugees in any state of India, why Jammu Kashmir?
Mufti sahab and Nirmal Singh should sort it out. The chief minister and the deputy chief minister represent the two parties of the coalition. I am sure they can sort it.
How do you see India’s role in Baluchistan? On the one hand, you accuse Islamabad of indulging in Kashmir and on the other hand, New Delhi is investing too much in Baluchistan.
I think it is overplayed. This is a debate we have had with Pakistanis. This issue was also brought up by (former) Prime Minister (of Pakistan), Yousuf Raza Gilani at Sharm el-Sheikh with (former Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh and he said, “There is no such thing but because you are insisting, we will look into it.”
Just some days back, Chief of the Army Staff of Pakistan, Raheel Sharif accused RAW of fiddling in Pakistan. How do you react to it?
This whole thing is blown out of proportion. Pakistan has been saying for a long time that India has 12 consulates in Afghanistan, which is a bunk up. Where are our 12 consulates in Afghanistan? I think, may be, we have three. Now another bogey of Karachi is being raised through MQM. If they have a problem, my advice to the ISI chief regarding MQM and regarding Karachi, for which RAW is being blamed, is why he doesn’t talk to the MI6 chief. Altaf Hussain lives in London and is the guest of the British. So he should talk to the MI6 and if he is misbehaving, then they should ask MI6 to behave. I think somebody living in London cannot be more in our control than in the control of the British.
Not many Muslims get to be the officers in the intelligence agencies, the Indian Army, Indian Air Force or the Indian Navy in India. In the 10,000 men strong RAW there are not many Muslims. Why?
Asif Ibrahim, who recently retired as the chief of the IB, became the chief of the organization superseding three people senior to him. The government went out of its way to accommodate a Muslim officer. It is not as if Muslims are being discriminated against. I think the agencies need Muslim officers. There is no doubt about that. There are less Muslims officers in RAW though. That is our weakness. We should have more. There are many Muslims in IB. I myself recruited them. Indian Army is open to recruitments. I don’t think they discriminate against Muslims. Two to three Corps Commanders here have been Muslims. The name of one of them, Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain is being mentioned as a possible Governor here.
Yours was also.
Mine you can write off.
What went wrong? Why didn’t you get the nod?
What time are you referring to? I have heard this for so many years that I got tired hearing about it. When I heard it first, I said it will not happen.
You have a deep insight into Kashmir.
I love Kashmir. This is the reason why I come here every year. Kashmir has got into my blood stream.
Is there anything else you want to say?
I hope for the sake of Kashmir and Jammu that this coalition lasts, it survives. It must. The feeling that is around that it may not last is unfortunate. Mufti sahab is not doing anything wrong. He must be supported. He should not be pushed into the corner. He must not be driven against the wall. He is being much more accommodative. He is being much more reasonable than in the past. It is a good opportunity for Kashmir and Jammu to come closer. But if you push him beyond the point, much as the old man wants to serve for six years, he might throw in the towel and that would be unfortunate.
WHO IS A S DULAT?
Amarjit Singh Dulat joined Indian Police Services (Rajasthan cadre) in 1965. Four years later, he joined Ministry of Home Affairs’ Intelligence Bureau where he went on to serve as special director. Dulat also served as the chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
He remained the First Secretary in the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu between 1976 and 1980. Dulat was head of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) between 1999 and 2000. He superannuated after rendering 30 years of service to the police and intelligence agencies.
However, Dulat was re-employed as Advisor on Kashmir in the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s office from January 2001 to May 2004.
He is currently a member of National Security Advisory Board.
Dulat is regarded as one of India’s leading experts on Kashmir. He has been a Director of Ballarpur Industries Limited since October 17, 2006. Dulat serves as an Independent Director of BILT Paper PLC. He serves as a Director of Onicra Credit Rating Agency of India Limited. Dulat holds a Masters in History from Punjab University, Chandigarh.