Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ramky to raise Rs 1,440 crore debt J&K highway project

Ramky to raise Rs 1,440 crore debt J&K highway project

Hyderabad, Mar 31 (PTI) City-based infra firm, Ramky Infrastructure Ltd today said it will raise Rs 1,440 crore debt for its Srinagar-Banihal Highway project in Jammu and Kashmir.

The total project is worth Rs 1,600 crore and the equity part will be Rs 160 crore, which would be raised from the company''s internal sources, Ramky''s Managing Director Y R Nagaraja said today.
The debt has been raised with ICICI as the lead bank.

An agreement to this effect was signed between the Srinagar�Banihal Expressway Ltd (SBEL) and ICICI Bank Ltd here today.

"The successful financial tie-up for the prestigious road project in Jammu and Kashmir is a reflection of the trust the market has placed in our company. The country needs a large, integrated road network to achieve overall progress. As a trusted partner in this growth journey, we are committed to going the extra mile not only in the road sector but also in all other areas of Indian economy," Nagaraja said.

SBEL, is a joint venture between Ramky, with 74 per cent share, and Jiangsu Provincial Transportation Engineering Group Co. Ltd, China (JTEG), with 26 per cent.

The project was awarded by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for design, build, construction, development, operation and maintenance of the rehabilitation, strengthening and four-laning of Srinagar Banihal section of NH-1A from km 187 to km 189.350 (Banihal Bypass) and km 220.7 km to 286.110 km.

The concession agreement was signed on 28 October last year.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Memories of a Pandit boy

Memories of a Pandit boy

Memories of a Pandit boy
Volume 03, Issue 02
Tuesday, 22 March 2011 00:48
Siddhartha Gigoo wanted to write a novella, but could not stick to the word count. In a freewheeling interview with Ibrahim Wani in New Delhi, he talks about his journey to The Garden of Solitude.

Ibrahim Wani: You were working in TCS, how did you turn to writing?
Siddhartha Gigoo: Since my childhood, I had this fascination for literature - for poetry, for novels. I used to scribble some poetry and such stuff. I was a voracious reader in my childhood and always had this ambition to write a bunch of stories. I always thought can I write a few short stories? Or may be a novel! Then I gave it a shot. I wanted to see if I can narrate a story.

IW: And you did find a story to tell…about Kashmir?
SG: I have had interesting experiences during the writing process. Mainly, because I did not have a structure in mind. In fact, I did not have Kashmir in my mind. Kashmir somehow crept into my writing, and somehow it became quite easy for me because when you talk of Kashmir, you have millions of stories. And perhaps I found it an easier way during the writing process to narrate a story about Kashmir.

Originally when I started to write, the idea was to write the story of a boy coming of age, who gets to journey through different phases of life, and meets different people, and somebody who is looking for some meaning which is elusive. The setting could have been anything. It could have been Delhi, it could have been a town or a village. I could have created a fictional town. But when I started writing it was difficult to keep Kashmir out of the story. Kashmir crept into the story mischievously and intelligently. Also the whole thing about migration, which was in my mind, and stories told stories and so on. Migrants, their life, their condition, and so on.

And the whole thing about Kashmiri Muslim and Pandit divide. The whole thing intrigued me. The militancy, how it started, and how it erupted? What happened overnight? There were these unresolved questions in my mind. The story I was writing became a story of a boy who was living and evolving through these things.

IW: The boy, the protagonist in the story, travels a lot!
SG: Originally I wanted to write a novella. I had fascination for novellas - hundred page books. Herman Hess’s books like ‘Siddhartha’, or old man and the sea, just 90 to 100 pages. It is amazing how these small novellas can have so much in them. But unfortunately I could not stick to the word count, something like 40,000 words. There were stories and they went on growing and growing. I still wanted to keep it as a small novel. But then the canvass grew.

A boy migrates, and then after many years the protagonist goes to Kashmir, and has a very interesting experience. He visits his own house after fifteen years. And then the protagonist starts writing a book- a book of ancestors, he calls it. So that whole thing was a dream like kind of a thing.

And there were many other triggers. Sub-plots and sub-stories, you know about old men. There is a lot of talk about old men and women, forsaken and forgotten. My book is fiction, but it is based in a socio-political context. I let the book flow as it came to me. And then it took me a couple of years to write.

IW: Tell us about yourself and your childhood?
SG: I was unknown till yesterday. I consider myself nobody. I have come up with a small book. Am a Kashmiri, who has lived in Delhi for 14 years and been out of Kashmir for 21 years. And so Kashmir is a homeland for me, which it always will be. I migrated to Udhampur in 1990, when everybody was leaving. And studied there as a private student and came to Delhi to do my Masters in English from JNU and was an above average student. Then took up a job in Delhi, as an editor in TCS. Have been in and out of the country for work related reasons, and lived partly in Europe and America. Now settled in Delhi.

Born in 1974, my recollection of childhood is very vivid. I have great recollection of every event. I had friends in school, and the community, I grew up in. I lived in a small dirty, filthy lane, in between Safakadal, and Nawakadal, the two famous bridges. And our house was in that small lane, among a cluster of houses accessible through a very narrow lane. You could not drive a scooter there. There was a mosque at the back of the house. There was a temple. There was small shrine of Rupa Bhawani.

The mohalla had a great mix of Pandits and Muslims. Most of my friends were Muslim boys. We would walk to our school, National school in Karan Nagar. My childhood time there was excellent. You played cricket, fly kites. Of course Eidgah was 10 minutes walk from my house.

And suddenly everything changed in 1990s. The playground, where people would fly kites, have water chestnuts, play cricket and football and people would celebrate Eid, (changed) into a big a graveyard. Very interesting the way things changed, almost overnight.

That left a big impression on me. There would be speeches, congregations and funeral processions of militants who would be buried in the Eidgah. We used to call the place paradise. One of my Kashmiri friends still calls it a paradise, because there are noble souls buried there. Some interesting ways of looking at history and places which form part of us.

IW: What are your earliest memories of change in the valley?
SG: My first memory happened when Maqbool Bhat was hanged. The judge who had given the sentence, his granddaughter was a friend at school. He was, I think, killed. I used to visit their house in Karan Nagar.

I remember that some of my class friends, even though all of us were ridiculously young, telling me that things are changing. Something is going to happen in Kashmir. Something will erupt. Though those were the peace times, there was still some unrest lurking in people’s minds. And hearts. Even during the mid eighties when things were absolutely normal. Some unrest was there in the hearts and minds of both communities.

I feel that Pandits used to think that something terribly wrong was going to happen, and something terribly wrong is going to happen to us also. And Muslims used to think that something is going to erupt.

Then suddenly when militancy erupted, the first memory I have is of a funeral procession- of a famous militant who was idolised then. I remember my friends who were too much into cricket, their interest suddenly changed. From cricket it turned to militants and freedom fighters.

I happened to find myself caught in that procession. There were lakhs of people in the procession. It was no longer a road. It was a river full of people - kids, elders, as well as women. They were all shouting slogans. People were looking out of the windows. Some people were celebrating the martyrdom. It was a momentous occasion that someone had become a martyr. Some people were crying because they were sad. For days together people were talking about it.

Then there was this famous trio - Asfaq Majid, Javed Nalka and Hamid Sheikh. These three became heroes, and were supremely idolised. Some of my friends said that they wanted to die like them. With a grenade in their hand. That was the frenzy, the madness, the passion. Of course the whole thing was a little nerve wrecking for the Pandits because they feared for their lives. They feared that they would be targeted.

There were some killings, some Pandit people died on the streets. There were these announcements of ‘Azaadi’. And then people leaving. And when I look back upon them, it is as if it is happening in a movie, a world war movie.

I used to watch movies in Palladium Cinema, and then suddenly you find yourself in a situation where there is a war, and in hindsight you talk about these things for example in Delhi, people say that my God, these sort of things only happens in movies, and books. Has it happened? They ask.

This was one of the triggers for my writing. If you happen to a be a part of such childhood where the surroundings are too good to be true, there is horror, humour and pathos around, there is change around, things are changing, people are changing. So these are the vivid memories I have.

Roads full of people, curfews for endless day. People could not even buy cigarettes.

I remember one of my friends saying we will meet. Those days there was no telephones. Then, we never got to meet. We had a cricket team with Muslims as well as Pandit players. Some of them were excellent players. When there was curfew, and we used to have a small patch of land in the vicinity which was enclosed by houses on all sides. Despite curfew on the main roads, we used to play cricket. We somehow managed. Kids somehow manage their own way. But I don’t think it lasted.

IW: Were you able to meet or contact any of your old friends?
SG: The funny thing is that I remember the names of all my classmates, but I do not remember the names of my neighbourhood friends. We never called them by the real names. It was usually the pet name such as Prince or Saethe. I have no idea where they are this time.
I know a couple of Mohalla friends who crossed over. There was this plumber’s son who was two years junior to me. I was I think studying in tenth; he was in eight class he disappeared one day and crossed over. And somehow I got to know that he never returned. And there was his brother also. But I have no idea what happened to them.
I tried to locate my friends but was not successful. It is possible to locate them if I go there. But I doubt whether they would still be living there. Many wanted to get out of downtown even then, because it was a dirty place. By late 1989 they wanted to construct houses in the posh areas. They were saving for that.
Thanks to social networking sites, I have been able to locate three or four classmates. Somebody is able to locate me, and I locate someone. And three of my friends are doing very good. We are really surprised to see ourselves doing jobs which we even had not dreamt of doing at that time.

IW: How did your family cope with the migration?
SG: To be honest, I can only try and understand. I mean for a personal standpoint, my father did not suffer much. We had relatives in Delhi, my mother’s family. So every winter we used to come to Delhi. When I migrated, I thought that it was one of those things only, when we have to come back. The same applied to my father also to an extent.

But for my grandfather it was very difficult. The same was true for all the Pandits of his generation and age.In fact most of the people love their houses so much that they did not even venture out of their houses for most of the times. For them an outing at maximum was to go to their relatives in the village. And my grandfather, used to love his house so much, that he would not even go out and socialise much. For him his room was the best. He would come back and be in room.

He died out of his homeland. I do not think that he wanted that to happen. I know a number of people also who suffered a lot. They waited that tomorrow things would be better, we will go, and they had this hope. Hoping against hope. Sadly they could never go back. And they died away from the place where they were born.

Old people who could not cope up with that sudden change. It is not about a new place. Kashmir was too much a part of them. There were a lot of people, who had not seen the life outside the Banihal tunnel. For them going beyond the tunnel was something that should not be done. So I remember a scene, when I left, when I was crossing the tunnel, there were buses and trucks full of the people. Some people were blinded because of the sun. Because immediately after the tunnel, the sun came out. And they said is it like this here. While writing my book, I was suddenly reminded of this thing. That what a change they must have felt.

I did not suffer much. But those people from the villages who had no jobs, or relatives outside and had to live in camps, they suffered a lot. Others who did not live in camps, and whose parents had government jobs and salaries, they lived in rented accommodations, and did not suffer much. It was sort of ok.

IW: Your family migrated to Udhampur…
SG: No. My parents packed us, me and my sister, first to Jammu to live with some relatives. There was this feeling that children should be sent first. Then my parents shifted from our house in downtown to a safer place – Indranagar (near the cantonment). My parents did not want to migrate.

But since we were out, our relatives forced our parents to migrate. And then an interesting thing happened that most of the neighbours did not want them to leave. But then, they came. They said we cannot come to Jammu, since it is too hot. We will go to Udhampur, and we will take up a rented accommodation, because it is surrounded by mountains and it is less difficult to live for a good period.

During this time, my father got to teach in camp college which was set for migrant Pandits in Udhampur. My grandfather and grandmother also lived with us. They found themselves in a strange situation. He was a working person and a bread earner for many years when my father was unemployed. He suddenly found himself out of job, and away from work and home.

IW: Did you visit Srinagar after migrating from the place?
SG: It was way back in 1994, when I went with a Kashmiri Muslim friend for two days. In fact in those days we hardly went out and spent most of the time, in his house.

Second time I went was in 2006. My daughter was I think three years old. We went to Jammu and my father said let us go to Srinagar. We went for three days. We went to Gulmarg, we went to Mughal gardens. It was a whirwind kind of a tour. My mother, as well as grandmother came along.

IW: You did not visit your ancestral house?
SG: No, we did not go. It did not occur to us during that visit that we should go there. What happened is that when we were on our way to Gulmarg, we happened to drive by a medical shop, which was owned by a friend of my dad’s.

He came down, and he was seeing my father after 18 years. He hugged my dad, and he started crying. He asked us where we were going, and we replied that we were going to Gulmarg. He insisted that we must come to his place. Then my dad promised him that the next time we the valley, we will definitely visit him. Very emotional for all of us.

Then I visited Kashmir again after a year. I went actually to Amarnath with some friends. After we returned from Amarnath, along with a Muslim friend I went to my old house. That was after 18-19 years. We had sold it when we had migrated.

We knocked. An old lady opened the door. I explained the situation, that I used to live here, that i am a Kashmiri ‘bata’. She then said, why are you waiting outside. Come inside.

She introduced us to his children. She said that her husband was not there since he was a vegetable vendor, and comes back in the evening.

She said that this is your house. Go and have a look at your place. So I stayed there for 10-15 minutes. I saw my room, and my parent’s room. She offered us tea, but we said we are in a hurry, and will not be able to have it.

Her daughter asked, are you a Kashmiri Muslim. I said no. Then she asked then what are you. I said that I am a Kashmir Pandit. She had never heard of us.
So then I said that I take your leave. I was swayed by the emotions. I was shocked to see the way she had treated me. She had called me ‘son’. This can only happen in Kashmir. And that was no longer our house.

I tried to see if I recognised someone. Some shops were closed. I happened to meet one lady, and she asked me whether I recognised her. When I said no, she slapped me. She said in Kashmiri, that how can you forget me. She was our neighbour. She was still the same. I had changed. She invited me into her house, but I did not have time. In fact I wanted to cry.

What happened that I called my parents, and said that I am here. My grandmother said an interesting thing. She said, are you at home. She said in Kashmiri, “tche chukha ghare gomut?”

I said yes.
She told me to tell everyone there that we are OK and good. She did not know who was there.

People just go to Kheer Bhawani shrine. That actually means little to me. I think Pandits should visit their homes. That is the real pilgrimage.

IW: Many Kashmiris have started writing about Kashmir. A number of writers like you are coming up.
SG: Basharat (peer) is a trendsetter. He wrote a memoir and inspired more people to write. He has mentioned in his book that it used to torment him that he would walk into a book store and there were books written by non-Kashmiris and foreigners. The same thing used to torment me also. I think Mirza Waheed also mentioned that.

For an English speaking world, you need to have books in English. I am reminded of Agha Shahid Ali here. He made it really really big. I tried to follow him. I wrote poetry initially. I got couple of books published. He was a big influence. He writes so well, magical.

IW: So who has been the greatest influence on you as a writer?
SG: There are so many writers I admire. It is difficult to name few. Nikos Kazanzakis, the author of the famous, ‘Last Temptation of Christ’. His books like Zorba-the Greek. He is somebody I have read many times. And Herman Hess. His novella Siddhartha. I always dreamt to write something like that.
IW: Kashmiri Pandits are reportedly losing their Kashmiri essence. Most of Pandit children hardly know anything about Kashmir or are unable to speak Kashmiri?.
SG: What I also feel and tell my friends now is that Kashmiri Pandits are no longer migrants, because they are all settled. Of course they have seen bad times, but they are all settled. A majority of them have their own homes in Delhi, other cities, or even abroad. So they are no longer migrants. Second they are no longer Kashmiris and they are no longer Pandits.

They have amalgamated in the mainstream. They go to Kashmir as tourists, and stay there in hotels. They are not Pandits anymore, they are Hindus. The young generation no longer follows the traditions and the rituals. That concept does not exist now.

IW: You married outside of your community. Does your daughter know anything about the past?
SG: A lot of Pandits have married out of the community, like me. My daughter does not speak Kashmiri at all. She speaks mostly English and Hindi. But when my parents are around they teach her some Kashmiri, and when my Mom-in-law is around she teaches her Malayalam.

But she asked me one day in her own interesting way. She asked, are you a Kashmir Pandit. She asked then what am I. I had no answer. I said what do you think you are? She said I am a Delhi Pandit. I said fine, yeah you are a Delhi Pandit.

The sad part is that, after 20 years from now, when an entire old generation will no longer be there, a new generation of Kashmiri Pandits will be settled abroad, I do not know how many of them will have memory of migration, or whatever happened, or even the place.

So it will be interesting to see what will happen then. Will they make an effort to seek what happened to our elders and our ancestors. Will they go back, or will they not. I think that these are questions only history will answer. Will they continue to speak Kashmiri, will they continue to observe Kashmiri rituals. I mean in the real sense.

It will be really interesting to see what happens. Anyway it is a very shrinking community and things will totally change. To be honest I think that Kashmiri Pandit story is not relevant at all in the currents scene in India. It does not exist. Whereas the Kashmiri Muslim narrative is very much alive and it is a thriving issue.

It is a forgotten community. I do not know whether the community is itself responsible for that, but when you talk of Kashmir globally, the only talk is Kashmir Muslims. In fact many of my journalist friends say that Kashmiri pundits, there is no issue, there is no story, and they are all well.

IW: Did all your relatives migrate from Kashmir?
SG: Many chose to stay back. We are in touch with them. They are happy there. They never chose to migrate. They are doing well there.

IW: How do you see the current situation - Amarnath land row, Shopian and so on?
SG: Personally I feel, that maybe it was destiny. I figured a way out of the chaos. I never care to imagine, what would have happened to me had this not happened to me, and had I not left Kashmir, then what would have happened.

But my friends tell me horrible stories. Sometimes I wonder what if I was a Kashmir Muslim. And there are no answers. Like, I know so much has happened, hundreds and thousand have died and suffered. There is migration. There is this aspiration for Azaadi. There is this tiredness, related to what is going to happen. And then there are these self styled intellectuals, who say they know what is going to happen. But ordinary Kashmiris, how do they feel.
I have nobody to blame. The worst things people can do is play blame game. Somebody will say India, someone will say Pakistan, someone will say we Kashmiris ourselves are to blame. What will we achieve out of the blame game? The only thing I have been able to do is to be a mute spectator. Helplessly I have just seen history descend and trample innocents. And that is the sad part what we have lost we do not think we can get it back.

IW: Coming to your novel. What does it communicate?
SG: It is about a family who migrates from Kashmir. They get to live out of Kashmir for a period. They are torn between two realties, whether they will go back or not. Then the main protagonist sees the whole community living in exile, and he goes back to Kashmir, like me when I went. He visits his old house, and is greeted nicely. Then he returns and writes a book there actually called a book of ancestors. I have not talked about what is in that book. I have left it to the reader to understand.

IW: How did you name the book ‘Garden of Solitude’?
SG: I am not the right person who should be asked this. There are these three images I have. There is this image of Eidgah, which is a playground and has been turned into a martyrs graveyard. There are people who used to play in this ground and are now buried. That is one image. When I look back I see it as solitude.

Second image, is of a camp and an old lady sitting in heat and dust. Waiting for something which will not come and she is in some solitude.

Third image is that of an old migrant, who has lost his memory completely. And he is in this different world now. He does not recognise his own family, his own son, because of whatever has happened. And he is in a different world. That is also solitude. All these three images are somehow connected. All these images are beautiful images. They are sad images, but isn’t sadness pure. Deeply sad, deep suffering, there is some beauty in it. Garden of solitude, a little poetic, isn’t it.

China & Kashmir by A.G. NOORANI


China & Kashmir by A.G. NOORANI

China has received little thanks from Indian writers for the shift in its stand, in favour of India, on Kashmir and on India-Pakistan relations.

CHINA figures in Kashmiri discourse in two respects. In one, Kashmiri leaders, too unimaginative to craft a fitting political response to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's brutal repression and devious tactics, seek escape in plaintive appeals to foreign states to intercede in the Kashmir dispute. They are generally addressed to the United States, where some noted ‘experts' of old are dying to be invited to join the fray and burnish their faded credentials, which were never too bright at any time.

Lately, another state has become a recipient of the Kashmiri leaders' overtures, China. It is too mature and sensible to be impressed, however. Kashmiris rest their plea on bogus foundations – China is in possession of Kashmir's territory, in its eastern half (the Aksai Chin in Ladakh and much else below) and acquired in the western half Kashmiri territory in the Shaksgam valley from Pakistan under the boundary agreement of March 2, 1963.

The boundary dispute with India surely does not confer on China a locus standi in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, and China has not made any such claim either. The assertion that Pakistan “ ceded” the territory to China is palpably false, as this writer has demonstrated more than once in this journal (“Facing the truth”, Frontline, December 6, 2006 and “Lessons for India”, Frontline, January 24, 1997).

Professor M. Taylor Fravel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has written a definitive work on China's territorial disputes. In an outstandingly able survey, he provides, with copious references to Chinese sources, an overview that reveals China's outlook on the disputes. This is what this scholar of unimpeachable credentials has to say on what the China-Pakistan boundary agreement actually provides:

“China maintained control over more of the disputed territory, but the agreement overall was more favourable to Pakistan. China kept roughly 5,309 square kilometres it contested in the Shaksgam Valley. However, it transferred [ sic] control of some 1,942 square kilometres of territory in the Oprang Valley to Pakistan, which also maintained control over an additional 1,554 square kilometres of territory it already held. On balance, Pakistan seems to have gained more from the deal, as the final borderline followed closely the line of actual control advocated by Pakistan. China not only abandoned its claims to the Hunza, but Pakistan also received grazing areas in the Prang and Bund Darwaza valleys, the Kharachanai salt mine, and the town of Sokh Bulaq. In addition, Pakistan kept control over three-fourths of K2 as well as six of seven disputed mountain passes. Finally, Pakistan transferred no territory already under its control to China.” (Page 116; emphasis added, throughout.) It was instead China which “transferred control of some 1,942 square kilometres” to Pakistan. When will the half-a-century-old lie the country has been fed on be laid to rest? In any settlement in the future, India is certain to write off those areas.

It goes back to Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah's unwise venture during a trip abroad in 1965 when he met Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in Algiers and was afterwards arrested and detained at Kodaikanal, and later New Delhi, for nearly three years. Released on Id day, January 2, 1968, he gave a press conference two days later on the lawns of 3, Kotla Lane, New Delhi, where he was detained. It remained his home for quite some time. Over 150 correspondents grilled him. The transcript speaks for itself:

“Q.: Throw some light on your meeting with Mr. Zhou Enlai.

Sheikh Abdullah: I was in Algiers and Zhou Enlai suddenly came there one morning. I wanted to know from the horse's mouth about Kashmir, parts of whose area are controlled by India, another part by Pakistan and a portion thereof now is under China also. Naturally, I thought, let me see what has happened. So, I had a talk. Zhou Enlai said: ‘Pakistan being in de facto control of that area, we thought that we must straighten the border on that side. We talked with Pakistan and we have put a clause in the agreement that it is temporary; and ultimately when the question of Kashmir is resolved the matter will again be taken up at the time.' Then he talked about India. Next day I reported the whole thing to the Foreign Minister of India through the Indian Ambassador. First the Indian Ambassador avoided me but I did not avoid him. I gave him in writing and requested him to transmit it immediately to the Foreign Minister. It is only a question of trust. But I got indications that probably my friends in India did not trust me.” (He was arrested nonetheless.)

“Q. : You are trying to internationalise the issue.

Sheikh Abdullah: You have already internationalised it.

Q.: Do you consider China a party to the Kashmir problem in view of her agreement with Pakistan on a part of the State?

Sheikh Abdullah: China does not claim Kashmir. They have occupied some parts of Kashmir and so the dispute is going on.

Q.: The part of Kashmir which is under occupation of China, have you anything to say about that?

Sheikh Abdullah: That is a part of Kashmir and belongs to Kashmir. You should ask the Foreign Minister about it.”

(From Speeches and Interviews by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah; G.M. Shah (ed.), Member, Plebiscite Front; Delhi; 1968, pages 8-10).

Another noted authority Prof. John W. Garver, has demonstrated in his able work, also based on Chinese sources, a fundamental shift in China's stand on Kashmir and on India-Pakistan relations – in favour of India. He prepared a table tracing the “Evolution of the PRL Position on Kashmir” for his book Protracted Contest (Oxford University Press, £230).

Nuanced statements

China's statements, like its policies, are nuanced. Suffice it to say that during the worst phase of the Kashmir problem China did not support Pakistan. “Several days before President Jiang Zemin's December visit to India and Pakistan, China's Ambassador to India told the media ‘We do not stand for internationalisation of the Kashmir question', thereby directly and publicly rejecting Pakistan's approach to the problem. Nor did the President once mention Kashmir during his 45-minute speech to Pakistan's Senate. (Garver, page 231. See also his essay on “The future of the Sino-Pakistani Entente Cordial in South Asia in 2020”, edited by Michael R. Chambers; Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College; pages 385-448; and the Chinese scholar Mao Siwei's article “China and the Kashmir Issue” in Strategic Analysis, March 1995, IDSA, New Delhi, pages 1575-1597.) In his opinion, China is against a plebiscite in Kashmir, is for the status quo in Kashmir, and, generally, is for a settlement between India and Pakistan.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Premier Wen Jiabao after the signing of an MoU on media exchange by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and China's Ambassador to India Zhang Yan in New Delhi in December 2010.
China has received little or no thanks from Indian writers for its shift. Comment, surcharged with sheer chauvinism, misses the sense in the sound. What China's Ambassador to India Zhang Yan said on December 13, 2010, was highly significant. “China-India relations are very fragile and very easy to damage and very difficult to repair.” These wise words of caution were played up. The conclusion was ignored: “Therefore they need special care in the information age.” China dislikes publicising differences. The agreement on confidence-building measures (CBMs) along the Line of Actual Control (LOAC) in the border areas, signed on November 29, 1996, provided (Article IX) that “in case a doubtful situation develops in the border region” each side is entitled to seek clarification from the other “through diplomatic channels”. This statement of the obvious emphasises confidentiality.

The Chief of the Army Staff General V.K. Singh's statement on January 10, 2011, put paid effectively to the scare stories of Chinese “incursions” into Indian territory in Demchok. The area was in dispute. Perceptions on the LOAC differed. It was put out of bounds for construction work until the issue was settled. “Unfortunately such activities were being pushed by some people for local gains” ( Rising Kashmir, January, 11, 2011).

Another such scare was China's “knocking off of nearly 1,600 km from its definition of China's border with India” as one of India's best-informed writers, C. Raja Mohan, put it. He wrote that “the first signs of trouble came nearly a decade ago during the NDA [National Democratic Alliance] tenure” when maps were to be exchanged to clarify the LOAC. “Beijing was reluctant to do the same in the western sector” partly out of respect for “Pakistan's sensitivity to the delineation of the Sino-India border in J&K” ( Indian Express, December 19, 2010). If a writer with an academic background like C. Raja Mohan can go so completely wrong, it is hard to blame the shrieking hyenas on television channels in competition for TRPs.

Talks on boundary issue

China's position was made clear in the fifth meeting of Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Zhou Enlai in New Delhi in April 1960 – three years before the boundary pact with Pakistan. Pursuant to their directive, officials of both sides met to discuss the data. At the very first meeting in Beijing on June 27, 1960, S. Gopal, head of the Ministry of External Affairs' Historical Division, defined the boundary as commencing in the west from the Sino-Indian-Afghan trijunction. This drew a vigorous protest from the leader of China's delegation, Chang Wen-chin. He said: “It is necessary for both sides to adopt a matter-of-fact attitude and avoid serious political questions unrelated to our work.” The boundary with Sikkim and Bhutan was also excluded. (See Parshottam Mehra; Negotiating with Chinese 1846-1987; Reliance Publishing House, New Delhi; page 222.)

China has relented on Sikkim and concluded an agreement with Bhutan on December 8, 1998 “on maintenance of peace and tranquillity” in the border areas. Talks on the boundary question continued. It is one of the most difficult negotiations, undoubtedly. Reportedly, an offer to confirm the Sikkim boundary as laid down in the Convention with Britain on March 17, 1890, made a few years ago, coupled with accord on the middle sector, was clumsily withdrawn.

The stapled visa issue reeks of clumsiness. China began stapling visas for Kashmiris only in 2008 ( The Times of India, October 27, 2010). This is coupled with a marked hardening of its position on a boundary accord over the last decade and more.

The question we need to ask ourselves and answer realistically is: “Why this shift”? India has not changed its stand on Tibet. Chinese pronouncements reflect a certain disquiet over India-American relations; not that China or for that matter Russia does not seek good relations with the U.S. Who does not, pray? The staple issue will vanish perhaps. The basic issue of India's equation with China and the U.S. will survive. “What is especially unbearable is how the U.S. blatantly encourages China's neighbouring countries to go against China,” Xu Yunhong wrote in Qiushi (Seek the Truth), the Communist Party's official magazine (Ananth Krishnan; The Hindu, February 12, 2011).

This is where Prof. Fravel's work is of immense help. His opinion bears quotation in extenso:

“China is the new great power of the twenty-first century. Whether its rise will be peaceful or violent is a fundamental question for the study and practice of international relations. Unlike many past power transitions, China's current economic growth has occurred largely through its acceptance of the prevailing rules, norms, and institutions of the international system. Nevertheless, ambiguity and anxiety persist around how China will employ the military power that its growing wealth creates.

“Amid this historical change, one concern is China's potential for violent conflict with other states over territory. The congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, for example, stated in its 2006 annual report that China might ‘take advantage of more advanced military to threaten use of force, or actually use force, to facilitate desirable resolutions… of territorial claims'. Such concerns have merit. Historically, rapid internal economic growth has propelled states to redefine and expand the interests that they pursue abroad. Economic development funds the acquisition of more robust military capabilities to pursue and defend these interests. Often such expansion results in the escalation of territorial disputes with other states. More generally, the disruption in the balance of power generates uncertainty among the leading states in the system about the security of vital interests and the structure of international order. In its territorial disputes, however, China has been less prone to violence and more cooperative than a singular view of an expansionist state suggests. Since 1949, China has participated in twenty-three unique territorial disputes with its neighbours on land and at sea. Yet it has pursued compromise and offered concessions in seventeen of these conflicts. China's compromises have often been substantial, as it has usually offered to accept less than half of the contested territory in any final settlement. In addition, these compromises have resulted in boundary agreements in which China has abandoned potential irredentist claims to more than 3.4 million square kilometres of land that had been part of the Qing empire at its height in the early nineteenth century. In total, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has contested roughly 238,000 square kilometres or just 7 per cent of the territory once part of the Qing.

“Although China has pursued compromise frequently, it has nevertheless used force in six of its territorial disputes. Some of these conflicts, especially with India and Vietnam, were notably violent. Others, such as the crises over Taiwan in the 1950s and the clash with the Soviet Union in 1969, were tense moments in the Cold War involving threats to use nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, despite a willingness to use force in certain disputes, China has seized little land that it did not control before the outbreak of hostilities.”

In Fravel's view China escalates a dispute when it perceives a shift in the balance of power. It has “used force mostly in response to weakness and decline” (page 313).

China's rising power poses a diplomatic challenge, “but its territorial disputes are unlikely to be the leading cause of instability”. India should not be deflected from the course it has set before itself. China knows that there is no India-U.S. alliance.

There is, however, no harm in conducting, on the quiet, a serious and sustained dialogue on the basics of China-India relations. A boundary accord will follow once India and China arrive at an understanding on the basics of their relations in the days to come. It is that understanding which will yield the boundary accord, not the other way around. Meanwhile, India should push ahead to finalise with Pakistan its framework of agreement on Kashmir.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rain, snowfall in Jamm Kashmir, Srinagar-Jammu highway closed

Rain, snowfall in Jamm Kashmir, Srinagar-Jammu highway closed
Jammu & Kashmir Desk

SRINAGAR: In Kashmir, heavy rains in plains and snowfall in upper reaches of the Kashmir Valley have resulted in severe cold forcing people to again wear woollen and warm clothes, reports KMS.

The Srinagar-Jammu highway was closed due to landslides triggered by heavy rains at several places. Following the closure of the highway, hundreds of passenger vehicles and load carriers were stranded at Udhampur Qazigund, Lower Munda and other places.

The landslides blocked the road on at least four places including Sheeri, Panithal and Digdol.

Meanwhile, Coordinator Disaster Management Cell in Kashmir, Aamir Ali said, medium danger avalanche could occur in higher reaches of Gurez, Baruab, Chakwali, Kanzalwan, Niru, Razdan Pass, Gugladara, Keran, Machil, Chowkibal, Tangdar and higher reaches of Gulmarg and Khilanmarg. “Low danger avalanche warning exists for peaks of Drass and Kargil,” he said.

People living in the higher reaches of these areas have been advised to curtail their movement during snowfall and not to venture into avalanche-prone areas.

An earlier report had said that at least five people including a woman were killed and seven others were injured in two different road accidents. The tragic accident took place when a truck collided with a tempo near Bagla, Tatapani, on the Jammu-Rajouri highway.

As a result four people were killed. A labourer was killed and two others were injured in other road accidents at Batergam, Kupwara and Ganiepora Mattan.

Gurez, Baruab, Chakwali, Kanzalwan, Niru, Razdan Pass, Gugladara, Keran, Machil, Chowkibal, Tangdar

Friday, March 18, 2011

Roemer snubs separatists on maiden visit to Kashmir - Hindustan Times

Roemer snubs separatists on maiden visit to Kashmir - Hindustan Times

n a diplomatic snub to separatists in Jammu and Kashmir, the US ambassador to India, Timothy J Roemer, did not meet them on his first visit to the Valley. Roemer on Friday said he had come "only to meet elected representatives" and desisted from describing J&K either as an issue or a problem.

Roemer, who arrived in Srinagar on Thursday, said he had come to Kashmir as part of his mission to travel to different parts of the country to meet the students and youth, who were the future of India.

The ambassador said he wanted to meet the people in Kashmir "as he has been doing all over India". Roemer described his meeting with chief minister Omar Abdullah as productive and engaging.

He refused to take questions on the WikiLeaks expose on the cash-for-votes scam.

The expose - a leaked cable from a US diplomat to the state department - claimed the UPA-1 government sought to buy MPs to maintain its majority in the 14th Lok Sabha during the vote of confidence over the Indo-US nuclear deal on July 22, 2008.

The Hindu : News / National : “Our government does not respond to or give comment on these cables”

The Hindu : News / National : “Our government does not respond to or give comment on these cables”

U.S. Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer on Friday refused to comment on the WikiLeaks on India published by The Hindu.

Asked how he would look at the revelations, Mr. Roemer told journalists here that he was not going to comment on the issue.

“On the question of the WikiLeaks, our government does not respond to or give comment on these diplomatic cables. We don't do that in India, Japan or London. We do not do that anywhere in the world, so am not doing that in Srinagar” he said, while winding up his two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

For stronger ties

On bilateral ties, Mr. Roemer exuded confidence that India and the United States would march ahead in many fields and asserted that President Barrack Obama's vision was to have strong ties with India and bring the people together.

Mr. Roemer said he had come here to interact with the people, especially youth who are the leaders of future.

Asked why he avoided meeting separatists, he said: “I met the Chief Minister, who is the elected leader and represented people of Jammu and Kashmir. I had a productive and engaging meeting with him and it is not possible to meet all during this short trip,” he said.

To a question whether the U.S. would help India in the extradition of Avtar Singh, an Army Major accused of killing human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi in 1995, he said, “I am not going to comment on individual cases.”

Major Avtar recently surfaced in California and he is wanted in the case with a Srinagar court issuing warrants to bring him back.

Mr. Roemer, however, asserted that the U.S. was committed towards the human rights issues.

Earlier, addressing the students of Delhi Public School here, the Ambassador praised Kashmiris for their hospitality. He lauded the students who presented a diverse cultural programme in his honour.

Mr. Roemer said that when he embarked on his journey to take up the assignment in India two years back, President Obama unveiled a vision before him saying that India was a great country.

“His vision is about global partnership between the U.S. and India on non-proliferation, energy and development.”

Quoting Mr. Obama, he said: “President Obama told me to shake hands with every one of over one billion Indians and not only with Prime Minister, MPs and officers and I am trying to do that by travelling through the country.”

Second visit to J&K

The Ambassador also visited the Hazratbal shrine and Shankaracharya temple. He was accompanied by a team of diplomats and officials. This was his second visit to the State. He had visited Leh to help the victims of cloudburst in August.

Keywords: The India Cables, WikiLeaks, Cablegate, Indo-U.S. strategic relationship, Julian Assange

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Hindu : States / Other States : Uproar in J&K Assembly over interlocutors’ report, Opposition walks out

The Hindu : States / Other States : Uproar in J&K Assembly over interlocutors’ report, Opposition walks out

Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was today rocked by protests by opposition BJP, JKNPP and JSM members, who staged a walkout over the issue of interlocutors reportedly suggesting to the Centre for restoration of posts of Prime Minister and President in the State.

During the Zero Hour, National Panthers Party (JKNPP) leader Harshdev Singh drew the attention of Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone towards media reports about the Centre-appointed interlocutors’ recommendation on restoration of posts of Wazir-e-Azam (Prime Minister) and Sadar-e-Riyasat (President), which had been sought by the ruling National Conference to allow greater autonomy to the State.

Following this, opposition members including from BJP led by its Legislative Party Leader Chaman Lal Gupta, JKNPP and JSM protested against the report terming it as “anti-India” and accused the interlocutors of crossing their mandate.

Ruling NC in Jammu and Kashmir is demanding greater autonomy which also includes restoration of pre-1953 status of Prime Minister and President as a solution to the Kashmir issue.

“You cannot turn the clock back to pre-1953. We condemn such a report. It is anti-national and anti-India,” Mr. Singh said in the House.

Meanwhile, NC Legislator Shameema Firdous said, “Let us see which way the clock goes after the submission of the report.”

This sparked another wave of protest by opposition members who created ruckus in the House and later staged a walkout in protest.

“We will oppose such a recommendation,” Mr. Singh said.

“We want full and final integration of Jammu and Kashmir with rest of the India,” he said, warning that there would be serious repercussions if the Centre thinks on the lines of the interlocutors.

Lashing at the interlocutors and the Centre, BJP Legislator Ashok Khajuria told reporters that any such move would not be tolerated by the people of Jammu region and it would be fought tooth and nail.

“Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. We do not believe in two Prime Ministers and two Constitutions,” Mr. Khajuria said.

“We condemn it as ‘anti-India’ and ‘anti-national’ recommendation and also interlocutors who have crossed the lines of their mandate,” he said.

Some newspapers had earlier carried reports about interlocutors recommending to re-instate the posts of Prime Minister and President instead of Chief Minister and Governor.

Keywords: Jammu and Kashmir, Interlocutors, Opposition

The Hindu : News / National : Interlocutors' suggestion will “hurt national integration”

The Hindu : News / National : Interlocutors' suggestion will “hurt national integration”

BJP, Panthers oppose changing nomenclature of Governor, CM

Bhartiya Janata Party and National Panthers Party members on Thursday protested in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly the interlocutors' reported move to recommend political concessions to the State.

Panthers Party leader Harsh Dev Singh, raising the matter during zero hour, said the reported recommendation that the nomenclature of Governor be changed as ‘Sadr-e-Riyasat' and that of Chief Minister as ‘Wazir-e-Azam' “is a plot to project to the outside world that Jammu and Kashmir is a separate sovereign country.” The BJP members supported Mr. Singh, shouting Ek Pradhan, Ek Vidhan, Ek Nishan (one chief, one constitution and one flag). They later walked out, warning the Centre of “dire consequences” if it went ahead with the recommendation.

Talking to journalists later, Mr. Singh said such a recommendation might satisfy the ego of a particular person, but would not contribute to peace in the State; on the contrary, it would prove prejudicial to national integration. “The panel of interlocutors — Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari — has been told in advance that its report should not violate the Constitution. We will strongly oppose it.”

Senior BJP leader Ashok Khajuria said the interlocutors were crossing their limits. “The government of India is watching it like a mute spectator. The BJP will oppose any such move aimed at weakening Centre-State relations. Do-Pradhan, Do-Nishan and Do-Vidhan will never be allowed by the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir. We cannot go 50 years back.”

Mr. Khajuria alleged that the People's Democratic Party and the National Conference were trying to score points, thus stoking “fundamentalism” further. “We will go to the people's court to counter such policies.”

Jammu State Morcha MLA Ashwani Kumar, who also walked out of the Assembly, said that since their first visit to the Kashmir Valley the interlocutors had touched on sensitive issues. “Initially, they said Pakistan was a party to the [Kashmir] issue, and later termed the State a dispute. Since then, we have boycotted them.”

But PDP MLA Nizamuddin Bhat welcomed the interlocutors' recommendation. They were answerable only to the Union government which appointed them. “No one has the right to challenge their recommendation until it is made public officially. Right now, it is between the Central government and the panel [of interlocutors].”

Keywords: Jammu and Kashmir, Interlocutors, national integration, BJP, Panthers Party

US Ambassador meets Omar Abdullah

US Ambassador meets Omar Abdullah

US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer today met Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah during which the two discussed matters pertaining to the state.

Roemer arrived here this morning on a two-day visit to the state and his meeting with the Chief Minister is his only political engagement.

Political observers feel that his meeting with the Chief Minister was a clear message to separatist leaders – moderate as well as hardline -- that the US will not support any group indulging in violence.

Roemer will not be meeting leaders of any other political party or their representatives including that of the state's main opposition PDP. He has confined his engagements to meeting children and non-political NGOs.

During his stay in the state, he will be offering prayers at Hazratbal mosque and Shankaracharya temple besides meeting children of a school before flying out of Kashmir tomorrow evening, officials privy to the visit said.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 | Shared Destiny? | Shared Destiny?

Shared Destiny?
Is it possible to visualise a shared future for India and Pakistan?

(Paper prepared at the request of Prof Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution, US, for inclusion in an edited volume on Pakistan being brought out by him. The volume, which is proposed to be published from India, Pakistan and the US, would include papers on Pakistan contributed by scholars in the three countries plus from the UK and Norway)


Religious extremism encouraged by the Pakistan Army has turned into a double-edged sword. It did hurt the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s and India post-1989 to some extent, but it has started hurting Pakistan more than it has been hurting India.

The consolidation of the presence of Al Qaeda and its associates and the deepening of the roots of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistani territory, the growth of the Pakistani Taliban called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistani Punjab and the tribal belt and the ideological Talibanisation of India-specific terrorist organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and of growing sections of the youth in the tribal belt and Punjab have been the outcome of the encouragement of religious extremism by the Army. The Army has been using it as an operational asset to achieve its strategic objectives of forcing a change of the status quo in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) , retaining the Pakistani presence and influence in Afghanistan and countering the Indian presence and influence there.

The growth of religious extremism has made Pakistan a state of great concern not only to India as it has always been, but also to other countries of the world. Al Qaeda and its associates , which have global ambitions, have established de facto control over North Waziristan. The noticeable surge in the strikes by the Drone aircraft (pilot- less planes) of the US since Mr Barack Obama came to office in January 2009 might have weakened Al Qaeda and its associates to some extent as claimed by the US, but the weakening has not significantly affected their ability to operate globally. They may no longer be able to do a repeat of the 9/11-style terrorist strikes, but they are still in a position to operate on a smaller scale, but in a larger geographical area as compared to the period before 9/11.

What Al Qaeda and its associates have lost by way of well-motivated and well-trained Arab and other foreign cadres has been made good to some extent by the increase in the number of motivated cadres and capabilities of Pakistani organizations such as the LET. In the past, the LET was essentially an asset of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) raised, motivated, trained and armed for use against India and against Indian nationals and interests in Afghanistan. While continuing to play the India-focused role assigned to it by the ISI, the LET has gravitated into an organization with global ambitions and a global reach capable of making good the weaknesses of Al Qaeda and its associates.

The TTP, which started essentially as an organization indulging in acts of reprisal against the Pakistani security forces following the raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad by the Pakistani military commandoes in July,2007, has developed a larger agenda of assisting the Afghan Taliban in its operations against the NATO forces in Afghanistan and assisting home-grown jihadis in the US and other Western countries by training them in the areas under its control in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The Pakistan Army’s policy of using the extremists and terrorists as operational assets where it can and countering them as adversaries where it should has created a dichotomy in its counter-terrorism policy, thereby weakening the fight against terrorism emanating from Pakistani territory. While the Pakistan Army can be expected to keep up its sporadic operations against the TTP which poses an internal threat, it is unlikely to act effectively against the LET and other India-specific terrorist organizations and against the Afghan Taliban. It has been avoiding action against Al Qaeda due to a lack of confidence in its ability to eradicate it and due to a fear that Al Qaeda might indulge in acts of reprisal terrorism in Pakistani territory.

The internal security situation in Pakistan, already very bad, has been made worse by the activities of Sunni extremist groups such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) against the Shias, who constitute about 20 per cent of the population, the non-Muslim minorities and the liberal elements in the Sunni majority who take up the cause of the minorities and advocate changes in the blasphemy law in order to prevent its misuse against the minorities.

The religious parties, which contest in the elections, generally receive less than 15 per cent of the votes polled. There is no reason to believe that their number has increased. What has been happening is the gravitation of the terrorism-prone elements in these organizations as well as in the general population towards the terrorist organizations due to various reasons such as anger over the commando raid into the Lal Masjid and the civilian casualties due to the Drone strikes etc. Since the terrorist organizations do not contest the elections, it will be difficult to quantify the support enjoyed by them in the general population. However, the fact that they continue to have a regular flow of volunteers for suicide terrorism would indicate the existence of well-motivated support for them—particularly in Punjab and other areas.

From all this, it would be incorrect to assess that there has been a radicalization of Pakistan as a state and society. What we are seeing is a radicalisation of sizable sections of the population—particularly in certain areas of Punjab and the Pashtun belt— who have come under the influence of destabilising radical ideas and are posing a threat to peace and security in Pakistan as well as in the region and the rest of the world.

Despite pessimistic assessments by many analysts, I do not see any danger of a radicalisation of Pakistan as a state and a nation in the short and medium terms. The Army plays an important role in the governance of Pakistan—either directly by taking over the reins of power or indirectly when a duly elected political leadership is in power by having a say in matters concerning national security. There has been an increase in the number of radical elements in the Army since the days of the late Gen. Zia-ul-Haq (1977-88). One finds an increasing number of students from the madrasas in the Armed Forces and other Government departments. They are more prone to be influenced by radical ideas than the products of non-religious institutions. 

Such radical elements are found mainly at the lower and middle levels. The presence of radical elements at the higher command level is rare. However, exceptions have been there—the most prominent of them being Gen. Zia himself, who was a devout Deobandi and Gen. Mohammed Aziz Khan, who retired some years ago. Gen. Aziz Khan belongs to the Sudan tribe of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and was considered a hard-core fundamentalist in his thinking and actions. After his retirement, there are no votaries of radical or fundamentalist ideologies at the level of Lt. Generals and Generals 

Despite the presence of such radical elements at the lower and middle levels, the Pakistan Army is not a radical institution in the religious sense. While the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, which consists largely of military officers, have no compunctions about using radical elements in the society for achieving their strategic objectives, they have ensured that their institutions do not get infected with radical ideas at the senior levels. During the war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the ISI, in collaboration with the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), used radical ideologies for motivating the Afghan, Pakistani and Arab volunteers to fight against the Soviet troops. At the same time, it saw to it that these ideas did not affect the Army as an institution. This was equally true in the case of the Air Force and the Navy too. 

There are three destabilizing ideological influences in Pakistan— the Wahabised Islamic extremism, the trans-Ummah pan-Islamism and the country-wide anti-Americanism. The Wahabised Islamic extremism calls for the transformation of Pakistan into an Islamic democracy ruled according to the Sharia and the will of Allah, as interpreted by the clerics. It says that in an Islamic democracy, Allah will be sovereign and not the people. The trans-Ummah pan-Islamism holds that the first loyalty of a Muslim should be to his religion and not to the state, that religious bonds are more important than cultural bonds, that Muslims do not recognize national frontiers and have a right and obligation to go to any country to wage a jihad in support of the local Muslims and that the Muslims have the religious right and obligation to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in order to protect their religion, if necessary. The anti-Americanism projects the US as the source of all evils afflicting the Islamic as well as the non-Islamic world. The religious elements look upon the US as anti-Islam. The non-religious elements look upon it as anti-people.

The geo-religious landscape in Pakistan is dominated by two kinds of organizations—the fundamentalist parties and the jihadi organizations. The fundamentalist parties have been in existence since Pakistan became independent in 1947 and have been contesting the elections though they are opposed to Western-style liberal democracy. Their total vote share has always been below 15 per cent. They reached the figure of 11 per cent in the 2002 elections, thanks to the machinations of the Pervez Musharraf government, which wanted to marginalize the influence of the non-religious parties opposed to him such as the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) of Mrs  Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Mr Nawaz Sharif. In his over-anxiety to cut Mrs Bhutto and Mr Nawaz Sharief down to size, Musharraf handed over the tribal areas on a platter to the fundamentalists and the jihadis, thereby — more unwittingly than consciously — facilitating the resurgence of the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda. 

The jihadi organizations are so called because they misinterpret the concept of jihad and advocate its use against all perceived enemies of Islam—internal or external, non-Muslims or Muslims— wherever they are found. Their call for jihad has a domestic as well as an external agenda. The domestic agenda is the setting up of an Islamic democracy in Pakistan ruled according to the Sharia and the will of Allah. The external agenda is to “liberate” all so-called traditional Muslim lands from the “occupation” of non-Muslims and to eliminate the influence of the US and the rest of the Western world from the Ummah. 

The jihadi organizations were brought into existence in the 1980s by the ISI and the Saudi intelligence at the instance of the CIA for being used against the troops of the USSR and the pro-Soviet Afghan Government in Afghanistan. Their perceived success in bringing about the withdrawal of the Soviet troops and the collapse of the Najibullah Government has convinced them that the jihad as waged by them is a highly potent weapon, which could be used with equal effectiveness to bring about the withdrawal of the Western presence from the Ummah, to “liberate the traditional Muslim lands” and to transform Pakistan into an Islamic fundamentalist state. The Pakistani Army and the ISI, which were impressed by the motivation, determination and fighting skills displayed by the jihadi organizations in Afghanistan, transformed them, after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, into a new strategic weapon for use against India to annex J&K and in Afghanistan to achieve a strategic depth. 

The aggravation of the anti-US feelings in the Islamic world post-9/11 has resulted in a dual control over the Pakistani jihadi organizations.The ISI has been trying to use them for its national agenda against India and in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden has been using them for his global agenda against “the Crusaders and the Jewish people”. The jihadi organizations are now fighting on three fronts with equal ferocity—against India as desired by the ISI, against the US and Israel as desired by Al Qaeda and against the Pakistani state itself as dictated by their domestic agenda of an Islamic state ruled according to the Sharia and the will of Allah. The growing Talibanisation of the tribal areas in the FATA and the Khyber Pakhtoonkwa province (KP) and its spread outside the tribal areas are the outcome of their determined pursuit of their domestic agenda. The acts of jihadi terrorism in Spain and the UK, the thwarted acts of terrorism in the UK and the unearthing of numerous sleeper cells in the UK, the USA, Canada and other countries and the resurgence of the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan are the outcome of their equally determined pursuit of their international agenda. Members of the Pakistani diaspora in the Gulf and the Western countries have been playing an increasingly active role in facilitating the pursuit of their international agenda. 

The international community’s concern over the prevailing and developing situation in Pakistan has been further deepened by the status of Pakistan as a nuclear weapon state. The Pakistan Army has been repeatedly assuring the US and the rest of the international community that the security of its nuclear arsenal is strong and that there is no danger of its falling into the hands of the jihadi terrorists. Despite this, the concerns remain. This is due to various factors. 

Firstly, it is admitted even in Pakistan that there has been an infiltration of extremist elements into every section of the Pakistani state apparatus— the Armed Forces, the Police, the Para-military forces and the civilian bureaucracy. When that is so, it is inconceivable that there would not be a similar penetration of Pakistan’s nuclear establishment. 

Secondly, the fundamentalist and jihadi organizations are strong supporters of a military nuclear capability for the Ummah to counter the alleged nuclear capability of Israel. They project Pakistan’s atomic bomb not as a mere national asset, but as an Islamic asset. They describe it as an Islamic bomb, whose use should be available to the entire Ummah. They also support Pakistan sharing its nuclear technology with other Muslim countries. In their eyes, A.Q.Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, committed no offence by sharing the nuclear technology with Iran and Libya because both are Muslim states or with North Korea as a quid pro quo for its sharing its missile technology with Pakistan. They look upon Pakistan’s sharing its nuclear technology and know-how with other Islamic states as an Islamic obligation and not as an illegal act of proliferation. 

Thirdly, while serving scientists may be prepared to share the technology and know-how with other Muslim states, there has been no evidence of a similar willingness on their part to share them with Islamic non-state actors such as Al Qaeda. However, the dangers of such a sharing of know-how with the non-state actors were highlighted by the unearthing of evidence by the US intelligence after 9/11 that at least two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists —Sultan Bashiruddin Chaudhury and Abdul Majid—were in touch with Osama bin Laden after their retirement and had even visited him at Kandahar. They were taken into custody and questioned. They admitted their contacts with bin Laden, but insisted that those were in connection with the work of a humanitarian relief organization, which they had founded after their retirement. Many retired Pakistani military and intelligence officers have been helping the Neo Taliban and the Pakistani jihadi organizations. The most well-known example is that of Lt Gen Hamid Gul, who was the Director-General of the ISI during Mrs Benazir’s first tenure as the Prime Minister (1988-90). Are there retired nuclear scientists, who have been maintaining similar contacts with Al Qaeda and other jihadi organizations? 

The Pashtun belt on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border would continue to be under the de facto control of Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and the Pakistani jihadi organizations with neither the Pakistani Army in Pakistani territory nor the US-led NATO forces in the adjoining Afghan territory being able to prevail over the terrorists in an enduring manner. The NATO forces will not be able to prevail in the Afghan territory unless and until the roots of the jihadi terrorism in the Pakistani territory are initially sterilized and ultimately destroyed. The Pakistani Army has so far not exhibited either a willingness or the capability to undertake this task. The lack of willingness arises from its perception that it will need its own jihadis for continued use against India and the Neo Taliban for retrieving the strategic ground lost by it in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Army fears that any strong action by it against the jihadis operating in the Pashtun belt could lead to a major confrontation between the Army and the tribals, who contribute a large number of soldiers to the Pakistan Army. Next to Punjab, the largest number of soldier-recruits to the Pakistan Army comes from the KP and the FATA.

Its incapability arises from the fact that ever since Pakistan was born in 1947, the FATA has remained in a state of isolation and utter neglect with no worthwhile development of its economy and infrastructure. It should be possible to root out the terrorist infrastructure in this area through operations mounted by the NATO forces from the Afghan territory, but neither the present Government nor any future democratically elected civilian Government might be in a position to agree to this as this could aggravate anti-American feelings right across the political spectrum and the country as a whole and discredit the Government in power at Islamabad. If the Pakistan Government, including its military leadership do not act vigorously in time, there is a danger of the spread of jihadi extremism of the Taliban kind from the tribal areas to the POK and to those areas of Pakistani Punjab bordering the Pashtun belt. There are indications of this having already started. 

India and Afghanistan will continue to face the immediate impact of the uncontrolled activities of the extremists and jihadis in Pakistani territory. Jihadi terrorism in the Indian territory will ebb and flow depending on the effectiveness of the Indian security forces and counter-terrorism agencies in dealing with it. Occasional outbreaks of spectacular acts of terrorism will be followed by long spells of inactivity. In the first few years after terrorism broke out in J&K in 1989, it almost assumed the shape of a sustained insurgency. But, the political, counter-infiltration (building of border fences) and counter-terrorism measures taken by the Indian authorities have dented the capability of the terrorists to maintain a sustained wave of terrorist attacks. The total elimination of these sporadic acts would not be possible till the Pakistani state gives up its use of terrorism as a strategic weapon. 

There will be continuing instability in Afghanistan with the danger of Afghanistan reverting back to the pre-9/11 position. Narcotics control measures and all measures to dry up the flow of funds to different terrorist groups will remain ineffective. The flow of funds from the international community to Afghanistan will not result in any significant economic development and in an improvement in the standard of living of the people. On the other hand, there would be a danger of some of these funds leaking into the coffers of the terrorists through their sympathizers in the Government. There has been a penetration of the newly-raised Afghan security forces and the civilian administration by the Neo Taliban. 

The phenomenon of angry individual Muslims in the Pakistani and other Muslim diaspora in the West taking to suicide terrorism and emulating Al Qaeda even if they do not agree with its objectives will continue. The strong measures taken by the Western Governments against their own Muslim population as well as Muslim visitors to their country will add to the feelings of alienation and anger in the Muslim diaspora. This will come in the way of their integration and aggravate the divide between the Muslims and non-Muslims. Instances of acts of reprisal terrorism against Western nationals and interests will continue to take place. A repeat of 9/11 in the US homeland cannot be ruled out however strong the physical security measures. The vicious cycle of More terrorism—More physical security and restrictive measures against Muslims—More alienation and Anger—More Terrorism will continue unbroken. 

The fire of jihadi terrorism started in the Af-Pak region. It can be extinguished only through appropriate measures in the region from which it started—particularly in Pakistan where the heart of the fire is located. A mix of immediate and long-term measures is required. The immediate measures would include pressurizing Pakistan to stop the use of terrorism as a strategic weapon, effectively put an end to the terrorist infrastructure created by the ISI and arrest and prosecute the leaders of the jihadi terrorist organizations. These measures would weaken the Pakistani jihadi organizations, but would not end Al Qaeda. It could be neutralized only by joint international action. The international community has not been successful presently because of a lack of co-operation from Pakistan. It must be made to co-operate through a carrot and stick policy. Another immediate measure required is a change in the present over-militarised counter-terrorism methods of the US, which are causing considerable collateral damage and driving more Muslims into the arms of Al Qaeda. 

The long-term measures would include heavy investments in education in Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to make modern education available to the poorer sections of the society at an affordable price and reform of the madrasa system in order to make the madrasas serve the genuine religious and spiritual needs of the people without seeking to make jihadi terrorists out of them. The Western countries should seek to remove the feelings in the minds of their Muslim population that they are a targeted community. For this, there is a need for an improvement in the quality of the interactions of the intelligence and security agencies with the Muslims. How to be firm without seeming to be harsh and how to avoid creating feelings of humiliation in the minds of the Muslims under questioning? These are questions, which need attention—immediately as well as in the medium and long terms. Eradication of the roots of terrorism would be a long drawn-out process. It needs to be handled with patience and understanding of the feelings of the Muslims. The economic development of the tribal areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border also needs attention. 

India has to be a front-line state in the political and ideological campaign against extremism and terrorism in the Af-Pak region. The threats originating from these areas will continue to confront India, Afghanistan and the international community as a whole for at least another 10 to 15 years to come. It has to be gradually diluted and the terrorist organizations demotivated before one could hope to see jihadi fatigue set in. Demotivation of the terrorism-prone sections of the population should be the first objective. Better education, better medicare, better infrastructure, better governance and greater economic prosperity would be important factors in any exercise to achieve demotivation.

Attention to these factors alone would not be adequate to achieve the required level of demotivation which would enable a roll-back of the jihadi threat. It is equally important to work simultaneously for a demotivation of the Pakistani military leadership, whose reflexes are still largely influenced by memories of the defeat of the Pakistan Army by the Indian Army in 1971 and by fears of a possible repeat of 1971. The reflexes of the Pakistan Army are governed not only by its feelings of insecurity arising from its perception of what India could be up to, but also by its conviction that Jammu & Kashmir belongs to Pakistan and needs to be wrested from Indian control. Fears of India regaining its past influence in Afghanistan are another strong motivating factor.

The question of India handing over J&K to Pakistan does not arise. No amount of terrorism and no increase in the strength and capabilities of the Pakistan Army can shake India’s control over J&K and its determination to fight for the territorial status quo. The recent attempts of Pakistan to bring in China in a big way into Pakistan are an indicator of its realization that it cannot achieve its strategic objectives against India through the use of terrorism alone. It is also realizing that the US is unlikely to help Islamabad in achieving its objective vis-à-vis India.

Having realized the likely futility of the jihadi card and the US card, it is once again trying to use the China card against India by inviting Chinese troops into the POK and the Gilgit-Baltistan area and by encouraging China to diversify its economic and military stakes in Pakistan. China, which has been concerned over the likely implications to its status and security by the coming together of India and the US, is showing a greater willingness than hitherto to let itself be used by Pakistan to buttress its feelings of security vis-à-vis India.

In this web of geopolitical complexities, what are the policy options before India— keep adding to Pakistan’s feelings of insecurity and instability or taking the initiative to lessen Pakistani concerns? Is it possible to lessen Pakistani concerns and help Pakistan rid itself of its anti-India reflexes without changing the status quo in J&K and without giving up India’s growing links with Afghanistan?

Any exercise to demotivate the Pakistani state and help it to rid itself of its fears—which are seen by its army as real and by India as imaginary— has to start with frequent and sustained interactions between the institutions of the two countries— political parties to political parties, parliament to parliament, army to army, intelligence to intelligence, Foreign Office to Foreign Office and Home Ministry to Home Ministry. Increasing institutional contacts is as important as increasing people to people contacts to remove imaginary fears of each other.

How to achieve this increase in institutional interactions between India and Pakistan.? That should be the basic question to be addressed. It should be addressed in the context of an over-all vision statement between the two countries. The imaginary fears are more in Pakistan’s mind than in our mind. The Indian Prime Minister should take the initiative for visiting Pakistan to set the ball rolling towards an agreed common vision. 

B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.

Jammu Kashmir & Laddakh

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