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Perspectives from the Past: Dr. Eqbal Ahmad on Kashmir
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Perspectives from the Past: Dr. Eqbal Ahmad on Kashmir

Eqbal Ahmd

Introduction:
Eqbal Ahmad was born in the village of Irki in Bihar in 1933.During his early childhood his father was murdered as a result of a land dispute. His father was involved in India’s pre-independence nationalist movement and in the gifting of lands. During the partition of India in 1947, Eqbal Ahmad and his elder brothers migrated to Pakistan.

Eqbal Ahmad was a bold and original activist, journalist, and theorist who brought uncommon perspective to the rise of militant Islam, the conflict in Kashmir, the involvement of the United States in Vietnam, and the geopolitics of the Cold War. He traveled through the United States, India, Pakistan, western Europe, and North Africa to connect with the experiences to the major currents of modern history.

Ahmad was the first to recognize that former ally Osama bin Laden would turn against the United States. He anticipated the rapidly shifting loyalties of terrorists and understood that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would provoke violence and sectarian strife in Iraq. Ahmad had great compassion for the victims of the proxy wars waged by the leading Cold War powers, and he frequently championed unpopular causes, such as the need to extend the rights of Palestinians and protect Bosnians and Kosovars in a disintegrating Yugoslavia. Toward the end of his life, Ahmad worked tirelessly to broker a peace between India and Pakistan and to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the subcontinent.

Eqbal Ahmad was Professor Emeritus of International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He taught world politics and political science at Hampshire College from 1982 for around 15 years. Upon retirement in 1997, he moved to Islamabad was involved in efforts to establish Khaldunia – an independent institution for higher education.

For many years Eqbal Ahmad was managing editor of the quarterly Race and Class. A prolific writer, his articles and essays have been published in The Nation (USA), Dawn (Pakistan), among several other journals throughout the world. He died on May 11, 1999 at Islamabad.

A Kashmiri Solution for Kashmir

JK Police
Image Credits: Time

Denial of Reality

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India’s failures in Kashmir have been compounding since the time Jawaharlal Nehru’s liberal, newly independent government chose to rely on the hated and oppressive Maharaja Hari Singh’s decision to join the Indian Union. Threatened with a military confrontation with Pakistan, Delhi took the dispute to the United Nations. It then promised to abide by the Security Council’s resolution which called for a plebiscite allowing Kashmiris to decide between joining India or Pakistan. India broke that promise.

Delhi’s only asset in those initial years had been Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah’s cooperation. Because of his opposition to the Maharaja’s unpopular regime and his advocacy of reforms of land and labour in Kashmir, the Sheikh and his party, the National Conference, had become the embodiment of Kashmiri nationalism. As Chief Minister of Kashmir, he promulgated land reforms in 1950, which further enhanced his standing with Kashmir’s overwhelmingly rural and poor people. But this national hero was jailed in August 1953 after he began demanding greater autonomy. Except for two brief spells of freedom, he remained India’s prisoner for 22 years, until February 1975, when the Sheikh became Chief Minister again after signing an agreement with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Mrs Gandhi was able to defang the Lion of Kashmir, who allied with the ruling Indian National Congress. The only freedom he, and his heir apparent Farooq Abdullah, exercised during his second term in office was the freedom to be outrageously self-indulgent and corrupt. Kashmiris nurtured anger and a sense of humiliation over how their vaunted ‘lion’ had been tamed by Indian hands. Furthermore, they had been denied not only the right of self- determination, a right affirmed by the United Nations, but were now also witnessing the disintegration of their historic Kashmiri party, the Conference. This was taken as yet another assault on their identity and, as often happens in such circumstances, reinforced Kashmiri nationalism vis-a-vis India.

Political disenchantment aside, the alienation of the Kashmiris from India is mired in history, economics and psychology. The problem is not communal, although sectarian Hindu ideologues would like to view it in these terms. The latest phase of Kashmiri discontent followed significant social changes in Kashmir. The governments of Sheikh Abdullah and Ghulam Mohammed Bakhshi did free the Kashmiri from feudal controls, and helped enlarge a middle class. In increasing numbers, Kashmiri youth were educated but their social mobility remained constricted because meaningful economic growth did not accompany land reforms and expanded educational facilities. Rebellions are normally started by the hopeful not the abject poor. The roots of the popular uprising in 1989 lay in the neglect of Kashmir, and New Delhi’s unconscionable manipulation of Kashmiri politics. Yet, India confronts the insurgency as incumbents normally do-with allegations of external subversion, brute force and unlawful machinations. Above all, it denies reality.

Kashmir in Partition

The reality is that New Delhi’s moral isolation from the Kashmiri people is total and irreversible. It might be reversible if India were to envisage a qualitatively different relation with Kashmir, one which meaningfully satisfies Kashmiri aspirations of self- government, but so far New Delhi has evinced no inclination in this direction.

But can India’s loss translate into Pakistan’s gain? The answer is that it cannot. Policy makers in Islamabad like to believe otherwise, and this is not unusual. It is quite common for rival countries to view their contest as a zero-sum game whereby the loss of one side translates as gain for the other. However, history shows this assumption to be false, and rival losses and gains are rarely proportional; they are determined by circumstances of history, politics and policy. India’s Kashmir record offers a chronicle of failures, yet none of these have accrued to Pakistan’s benefit. Rather, Pakistan’s policy has suffered from its own defects. Three characteristics made an early appearance in Islamabad’s Kashmir policy. Firstly, although Pakistani decision makers know the problem to be fundamentally political, since 1948 they have approached it in military terms.

Secondly, while the military outlook has dominated, there has been a healthy unwillingness to go to war over Kashmir. And finally, while officially invoking Kashmiri right to self-determination, Pakistan’s governments and politicians have pursued policies which have all but disregarded the history, culture, and aspirations of Kashmir’s people.

One consequence has been a string of grave Pakistani miscalculations regarding Kashmir. Another has been to alienate Kashmiris from Pakistan at crucial times such as 1948-49, 1965 and the 1990s. Success has eluded Pakistan’s Kashmir policy, and the costs have added up. Two wars-in 1948 and 1965-have broken out over Kashmir; annual casualties have mounted during the 1990s across the UN-monitored Line of Control (LOC); the burden of defence spending has not diminished. A study of recent Kashmiri history will help put Islamabad’s blunders in perspective. In 1947-48, Kashmiri Muslims were subject to contrasting pulls. The partition of India, the communal strife that accompanied it, and Kashmir’s political economy, which was linked to the Punjab, disposed them towards Pakistan. However, the people’s political outlook was rooted in Kashmiri nationalism which had been mobilised earlier by the National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh Sahib was drawn towards the men and the party with whom he had worked closely since 1935-Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad, and the Indian National Congress. (He did not meet Mohammad Ali Jinnah until 1944.) There was also a tradition of amicable relations between Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims, despite general Muslim antipathy to the Maharaja’s rule.

What Kashmiris needed was time, a period of peaceful transition to resolve their ambivalence. This, they did not get. Owing to Lord Mountbatten’s mindless haste, the Subcontinent was partitioned and power transferred in a dizzying sequence of events which left little time to attend to complex details in far corners. The leadership of the Muslim League, in particular, was preoccupied with the challenges of power transfer, division of assets, civil war and mass migration. The League was short on experienced leaders, and squabbling squandered their meagre skills. Quaid i Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was terminally ill.

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In this climate of crisis and competition, Kashmir received scant attention. The little attention it did attract was of those who did not comprehend Kashmiri aspirations nor the ambiguities, and the extraordinary risks and temptations that lay in waiting. In a peculiar expression of distorted perspective, self-serving officials like Ghulam Mohammed, a colonial bureaucrat who later wormed his way into becoming the Governor General of Pakistan, paid more attention to the undeserving and hopeless case of Hyderabad (Deccan) than to Kashmir.

When India’s Home Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel sent feelers about a possible give-and-take on Hyderabad and Kashmir, Ghulam Mohammed is said to have spurned this opportunity and carried on his lucrative dealings with Hyderabad’s Nizam. Pakistan also welcomed the accession of Junagadh and Manavadar, whereas an overwhelming majority in both states (as well as Hyderabad) were Hindu. In effect, Pakistan held three divergent positions on the question of accession-in favour of the Hyderabad Nizam’s right to independence, Junagadh’s right to accede to Pakistan against the wish of the populace, and, in Kashmir, for the right to self-determination.

Double standard is a common enough practice in politics, but it invariably harms the actor who lacks the power to avert consequences. The Nawab of Junagadh tried to deliver his Hindu-majority state to Pakistan, which set the precedence for the Maharaja of Muslim-dominated Kashmir choosing India. Pakistan did not have the power to defend either the Nawab or the Nizam, nor the will to punish the Maharaja. So India, practicing double standards in its turn, took it all. 

Pork Barrel

India’s policies have been no less riddled with blunders than Pakistan’s. Its moral isolation on Kashmir is nearly total, and unlikely to be overcome by military means or political manipulation. New Delhi commands not a shred of legitimacy among Kashmiri Muslims. Ironically, even as India’s standing in Kashmir appears increasingly untenable, Kashmiris today appear farther from the goal of liberation than they were in the years 1989 to 1992.

Pakistan’s engagement in Kashmir is indirect and unacknowledged. As such, it enjoys greater tactical and political flexibility than either Indian or the Kashmiri leaders. The diversity and nuances of informed opinion in Pakistan also render Islamabad more elastic than New Delhi, where the Hindutva right is powerful and breathes heavy over weak liberal shoulders. Furthermore, for a number of reasons-its popular standing in large segments of Kashmiri population, material support of militant groups, international advocacy of Kashmir’s cause-Pakistan’s leverage in Kashmir is greater than what most observers assume. Yet, beyond repeating tired shibboleths about “our principled stand”, Islamabad lacks a functioning policy capable of exploiting its advantages.

To date, the governments of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir have spent millions of dollars to mobilise international support behind the question of Kashmir. Islamabad’s jet setting, patronage-soaked lobbying for a UN recommended plebiscite has elicited no significant international support during the last seven years of Kashmir insurgency. Cumulatively, Pakistan’s score has been a pathetic zero, despite the hectic international itinerary of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the ever-travelling delegations headed by the Punjabi politician Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. A few months ago, the Security Council even dropped Kashmir from its agenda, and it was only retroactive Pakistani lobbying that was able to obtain a temporary reprieve. The most that Pakistan has been able to achieve are favourable resolutions from the Organisation of Islamic Countries, an entity about as influential in world politics as an Arabian camel. Kashmir’s cause therefore serves merely as one big pork barrel for Pakistani carpetbaggers and patronage seekers, religious and secular, parliamentary and private.

In sum, Pakistan continues to wage a halfhearted “war of position” replete with private doubts, symbolic posturing and petty opportunism. Its support has not helped unify or energise the insurgency in Kashmir into a winning movement. The resulting stalemate appears ‘stable’, and unlikely to be upset in the absence of a conventional India Pakistan war. Since war is not an option, Pakistan’s policy is reduced to bleeding India; and India’s to bleeding the Kashmiris, and to hit out at Pakistan whenever a wound can be inflicted.

Courtesy: Dawn

Kashmir and its Challenges

eqbal ahmad
Image Credits: Indian Times

I have been to India twice in last two months, which is to say I have spent one entire month of my last two months in India, where I spoke to nearly anybody other than Mr Jagmohan whom I really avoided. I spoke to a lot of others, included Mr Gujral, the Foreign Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, the leader of the opposition and former prime minister and Mr George Fernandes, who until a week ago was the Minister of Kashmir Affairs in the Cabinet of V.P. Singh.

The Kashmir uprising is unquestionably indigenous and unusually powerful. In its sheer power it compares with the Algerian uprising on 1954, the Palestinian Intifada of 1987, and perhaps the Vietnamese uprising of 1944. Apparently it has the unanimous support of the people of the Kashmir Valley. I will give you an example of unanimity of the support that the Kashmiris seem to be giving to the uprising. In Delhi, four or five weeks ago, the local community of foreign correspondents, mostly American and a few Europeans invited me for discussion. All these were people who had covered the Kashmir Valley. Three of them were friends of mine from Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Vietnam wars. Like me, they had seen other wars of liberation and I asked them: ‘How does it look in Kashmir? I can’t go there.’ They all said that they had never seen anything like it. I asked them, ‘What do you mean?’ They said, they had never been in a uprising or revolution in which they could not find a single person who supported the incumbent government. They could not find one person in the Kashmir Valley who in private talks or in public meetings was willing to say that we could like to stay in union with India. They said this unanimity is unique.

Yet the painful conclusion is that while the people of Kashmir Valley are almost unanimously united in their aspirations to achieve freedom or Azaadi, the movement which leads them is not at all united. I started making a count of the number of organisations which are now there, not all, but many of them competing with each other. I had to stop at twenty three. The patriotic Kashmiris who were giving me information, said ‘We have more information; there are all together forty three.’ I said to them that they had already given me twenty three, which was enough. It seems like a movement in terms of leadership and organization, three times worse than Afghan Mujahideen’s movement. However, what I have just said is a little misleading because on does not count number only. There is a primary fundamental divide which appears to be ideological, between the more or less Kashmir independence seekers led mainly by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, (JKLF) and those who seek a state organically linked to Pakistan. The primary grouping there is the Jamaat-i-Islami of Kashmir whose military wing is known as ‘Hizbul Mujahideen’.

Among the Kashmiri people and among foreign observers whom I talked, there is a perception, a very strong impression, that Pakistan favours the Islamic wing of the movement. Impressions in these kinds of wars carry at least as much weigh as realities do. Whether it is true or not cannot be justified because I have not been there. But the impression is strong and clear and impressions are weighty things in wars or liberation.

My next point is that the Indian government’s policy proceeds from the assumption that the root cause of the Kashmiri uprising lie in the failure of the Indian government to satisfy the aspiration of the Kashmiri people. Everybody said that to me. Mr Gujral said that, Dr Fernandes said that, the others said that. Mr Rajiv Gandhi too said that they had not held one free election in Kashmir. Rajiv Gandhi cited a different one that was free, while the others cited 1977, because that was the election which brought the Janta Dal to power. It was said that they put Sheikh Abdullah in jail, that they ruined Farooq Abdullah by forcing him to make a coalition with the Congress and thus destroying the National Conference hegemony in the Valley, and so on.

So, Indian officials and analysts are talking a lot about the failures of their policies in Kashmir. At the same time, they add that these would not have led to so strong an uprising if it were not for the Pakistani role in Kashmir. What follows from the Indian perception, which we found very hard to disabuse them of, was that, ‘we have make reforms, and do things differently now. But we can’t do this until we have brought an end to the uprising, brought peace and gotten rid of Pakistani interference.’ In other words, whatever their admission of failure, their prescription is something else.

What is the prescription? They have a four-pronged strategy. The first is the strategy of repression, the use of sheer brute force. I do not want to hurt you by giving examples, but the sheer use of brute force has been horrible. Kashmiris have been suffering not only from shooting and killing but much more importantly— shooting and killing at least gives you martyrs, strengthens your cause— they have been suffering from curfew and torture. And a total decline of Kashmiri economy, which was already poor. The repression is through which they want to bring the Kashmiri people and the movement which is leading them, to heel. In carrying out the repression, there is a method in their madness. You would not believe it, but it is very much like the Israeli methods. You will remember that in the first year and half of intifada, and for two years before intifada, the Israelis cracked down on the PLO wings Al Fatah particularly— and quietly they gave encouragement to the Islamic wing, the Al-Hamas. The same thing is happening here. If you merrily look at the list of the people who have been killed, the number who have been arrested, the houses which have been burnt down, eighty to ninety percent of them are JKLF militants. You can argue that the Islamic wing of Hizbul Mujahideen are so efficient that they not get caught, arrested, get their houses blown or killed, and on the whole are a much better organization and, therefore, they escape the Indian secret service. The other is that they are being spared for the time being and it is certain that they will not be spared forever the worst repression of the Indian state.

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The Indian government’s second strategic ploy is interdiction. You basically know that they have mined certain roots which people take from Azaad Kashmir, and a portion of the Shakargarh-Sialkot area to come to Jammu. Because Jammu is also seen as a possible root for the people to reach the Valley. The other interdiction is that nearly anything, including refugees, women and children who move across the border, are shot at. The Indian intervention for the frontier is total and almost brutal.

There is a third strategy which is subversion. Subversion also has many parts. Of this, I think Karachi is also one. I am unable to debate with you because I do not know the facts. But the Indians have a perception that Pakistan has a big role in the subversion and it is not only Jamaat-i-Islami but the Pakistan government as well. These are their perception and they keep throwing these words at us. Once they have this perception, they have a second perception ‘as you have been doing in Punjab.’ At one meeting which was with the editors, people like Prem Bhatia who have otherwise been very liberal, someone stood up and said, ‘Kashmir is not the only question; in fact Punjab is a bigger question for us. We might be able to negotiate with you on Kashmir, but we can’t on Punjab.’ So I asked them ‘You say that our government is doing this in Kashmir and that in Punjab. What does it mean, that you are innocent? Governments are governments. If you perceive me to be doing some subversion in your country, you are doing to do it in my country. These masked men who seem to be killing without to regard to which community they hit must be doing your dirty job.’ I got a very cruel and cynical smile, followed by the following words: ‘Our two countries must understand that stability is in our mutual interest. If one country stabilizes, it destabilizes the other and the other destabilizes the next one. We must stop is mutually. This can be a matter of discussion.’ This is the line you are getting.

Now I will elaborate a little on the logic or possibility of war between India and Pakistan. The logic is that the Indian government is suffering from the classical historic syndrome of incumbency. What is the syndrome of incumbency? When an incumbent government faces a popular revolt, it does want to admit to itself— if that revolt persists, if it becomes protracted for months and years— that this revolt is carried out by ill-clad, half-starved, hungry and poor people. They cannot believe Pyjama and Shalwar wearing guerrillas, whom they always call terrorists, can tie down one or two divisions of their armies.

So what do they do? They start saying that this whole thing has been sponsored, organized, and logistically supported by a foreign power. The next step is to start telling some foreign power ‘stop doing it or we will hit you.’ Therefore, if the insurgency continues, their first step is to start hitting the training camps and arms depots, what they call sanctuaries. Their next step is to go for the country as well.

If you want an example, take that of France in Algeria. France called Algeria a province and not a colony, just as Kashmir from the Indian point of view is not a colony. But the Algerian point of view it was a colony, we considered France an imperial power. After one year and a half they could not put down the uprising any longer. They put it down so much that nearly two thirds of the Algeria population had died. After that they could not manage it. Then they put out the theory that this is all being done by Abdel Nasser who has trained them, armed them and supplied them. If they stop Abdel Nasser, the Algerian uprising will end. In the quest of beating Nasser, they joined the Israelis and the British in invading the Suez Canal in 1956. It did not solve their problem. Further frustrated, in 1958 the French invaded Tunisia and destroyed the entire qasba of Sakiet Sidi Youssef. India led the protest at the United Nations and Krishna Menon’s speech which will be remembered by Algerians for a long time followed by our own Ahmad Bokhari’s, argued cogently that countries have the right to provide sanctuary to guerrillas but the incumbent power does not have the right to invade the sanctuary and the United Nations General Assembly, as well as the Security Council, condemned France.

The Security Council could not condemn France formally, because France was a member and voted against the resolution but all the other members of the Security Council, including the temporary members, voted against France. However, it did not solve the problem. In 1958, France invaded Sakiet Sidi Youssef and then waited for two years. In 1960, they came into Bizerta and totally destroyed this major city of Tunisia. It did not solve the problem. Similarly, in Vietnam, the Americans ultimately ended up saying that the whole problem was in North Vietnam and so they invaded the whole of North Vietnam and bombed it to bits but this did not solve their problem. Then the invaded Cambodia and nearly totally destroyed it. So this is the logic of incumbency.

The Indians have already talked themselves into believing that the whole problem is with Pakistan. If this problem persists for them for another five or six months, then we should start expecting and preparing ourselves for war. Until then they will go on with their three-pronged strategy: interdiction, subversion, and repression. It is does not work, we face the threat of war. Will India really go to war? Is the Indian public ready for war? I would say, not the public. But there is an awfully powerful logic of war within the Indian establishment which, in some respects, is independent of Kashmir.

I returned to India after eleven years. In the last ten years India has changed. In 1979 and 1980, I went there to give a series of lectures at a university. In those lectures I had argued that India was standing at a crossroads in its history. India looked very much like Japan looked in the 1870s and 1880s, a hundred years ago. First, Japan had an infrastructure ready for the fast industrial growth. Second, Japan had capital ready to go for massive growth. Third, it was a centralized state where people were ready for massive growth. Fourth, there was an infrastructure of skills: engineers, doctors, scientists, technicians, etc. So I said then, you have to same things now for a big take off, for fast growth, like Japan had in the 1870s and 1880s. But you have to make a big and crucial decision whether to choose the path of military Keyenesianism and make a common alliance between state and capital. If you go that way, you will have to leave out at least forty percent of your population because this strategy of growth is capital intensive. It is heavy industry, it is armaments prone, even if you are using the language of dual technology, which is what the Indians are doing.

Your other route is to go for social, not military Keyenesianism. That normally means that you grow by expanding your internal market but if you going to expand your internal market you have to give purchasing power to the people. This will slow down your growth rate but you will be less dangerous to your neighbours. Now, when I returned to India this year, it seemed to me that they had made the first choice. India is changing very fast. If you travel around Delhi alone, from one’s naked eye thirty miles around Delhi, there is more high tech industry in India than you will find in the whole of this country. Cars are plentiful and there are various models. There is not waiting list. You can just walk into a showroom and buy one of their luxury cars, and there are three or four models in the streets. The cars and everything else is made in India and nothing is imported. The economy is clearly burgeoning but this is the economy of a military industrial complex. They have put in almost sixty-five billion dollars on high tech dual purpose industries in the last eight years. The result is that both the public and private industrial class, for the past eight years, for the first time is hooked on to a national security state. Behind this growth is an ideology. The ideology of India as a major power, as a strong power. Which means an ideology of national security and to this ideology is hooked now the top business elite of India.

Image Credits: Fox News

Secondly, there is a whole lot of academic institutions. The centre for this research, that centre of strategic research. It seems that we are at least two hundred years behind them in all these things. There appears to be an intellectual establishment connected to the national security state. Then, of course, you have defence, the military, the navy, airforce. Further, you have the national security bureaucracy, the bureaucrats who are involved in the national security matters. Together they make up a very strong aggressive national security establishment, committed to the idea of India as a great power.

In 1979, after the lectures were over, I had made some nasty statements about the Indian military buildup. After that I was invited to lunch by the then prime minister, Morarji Desai. He was an aged man and he started telling me that he read my speech and wanted to assure me that India had no designs on its neighbours and wanted peace and friendship with them. I said I had merrily raised the question as to why does India, half of whose people are below the poverty level, wish to spend six billion dollars on building deep penetration aircraft? (At that time they were talking about building deep penetration aircraft). At this, Mr Desai got angry and said: ‘You have living for so long in America that you don’t understand the realities of this region.’ I asked him to tell me what the realities were. He said that out of the three or four major powers in the world, India was the only one which did not produce its own deep penetration aircraft. I started counting under my chair, USA, China, the Soviet Union and India. There went Japan, Germany Britain, France, all gone.

The next day I called upon Mrs Indira Gandhi. I asked her, ‘What do you think of the state of affairs as the leader of the opposition?’ She said, ‘The affairs are very bad the prices have gone up.’ I asked her, ‘What do you think about the deep penetration aircraft?’ She said, ‘I am terribly opposed to it. I think it is horrible.’ I said, ‘Please say something more, why do you think it is horrible?’ She said they are giving this contract to Jaguar which we had already looked into and is not qualified to build those planes. We wanted to give it to a French company. I asked her, ‘Why do you want the damn thing? You said the economy is low and the prices are up and the people are poor.’ She said, ‘You have to recognize that all of the four great powers, India is the only one not manufacturing its own deep penetration aircraft.’ I was not even counting this time. You have a consensus on a national security stature which, by the way, is being challenged by another section of Indian society which we are doing nothing to reach. There is a national security sector which has now found a new partner, a development which is frightening.

The BJP, the 86 members in the Lok Sabha, do not worry me. There were 92 in 1977. It does not bother me that behind the BJP is the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and the Rashtriya Sevak Sangh. Because ultimately the Indian people may show more intelligence, as they showed in Faizabad, the district where Ayodhya lies, where they defeated the Congress and the Janta and elected a communist member. My real fear about these people is that they are chauvinist, and this national security sector which I have talked to you about, sees in these people an ally. They are finding ears in many important places in very powerful corridors of the government. For this reason, if there is a failure on the part of the Indian government, by fall their compulsion to start a war will be very high. In other words, the possibility of war is premised on the failure of the Indian policy in Kashmir. Will it fail?

I did not find anyone among the high officials of India who was willing to acknowledge that India has violated the basic rights of Kashmiri people, the right of self-determination, and that a plebiscite is the only possible option open to them. We found a number of people, including some influential people, who showed a great deal of courage in recognizing reality. The Indians have produced two very powerful reports on human rights violation in Kashmir. One was led by a former Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Justice Tarkunde, with whom we spend a lot of time and members of his team who went with him to Kashmir seemed terribly open to discuss it honestly. It included a number of influential columnists, like Dilip Mukerjee, Niki Chakarbarti, these are very influential people and the openness of their minds is very striking. They do not represent a majority but a critical minority. India is a more polarized country today than it was fifteen years ago and that polarization is evident by the choices it has made. With that polarization, the critical minority may soon have a larger constituency than we imagined. The lessons of our past are not to interfere or take ideological sides in Kashmir. The uprising in Kashmir has been viewed by some people in Pakistan as an opportunity to help Kashmir free itself of Indian occupation: an opportunity to force India to fulfill its commitments made to the United Nations to hold a plebiscite and let the Kashmiris exercise their right to self-determination. I see it more as a challenge than an opportunity, a challenge much greater than most people seem to be recognizing.

From an address delivered by Dr Eqbal Ahmad, senior fellow, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, and Middle Eastern Studies, Amherst, Massachusetts, at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, on 7 June 1990.      

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