Friday, September 26, 2008

Where Swamy is Wrong

This is to clarify the points my fellow blogger DD raised with regard to Subramanyam Swamy's article. First of all, one needs to understand the problem in Kashmir. Like every other state and many countries across the world, Kashmir too has always had a liberal/socialist/leftist political outfit on one end and one or more conservative/rightist/Islamist party on the other. This is true of many other Indian states as well with the Congress filling the role of the former and the BJP with its Hindutva slant taking up the latter space. Just as the BJP takes its inspiration from ancient Hindu texts and our sanatana dharma, the Kashmiri right takes its cue from the Islamist system. Kashmir has long enjoyed strong familial and religious ties with PoK and to some extent, Pakistani Punjab as well. Not surprisingly, the Kashmiri Islamists look towards the Pakistani system as their ideal model (That is one area where the Hindu/Sikh right in India differs from their Islamic counterparts. The Islamist ideologues see Islam as embodying a comprehensive system of governance which it is the duty of the ideal (Islamic) state to adopt as the shariah. In the Hindu predominant states of India, none of the Sangh organizations have any comparable alternative blueprint for governance. While the RSS/VHP/Bajrang Dal have sometimes suggested that they do not, in practice, accept some aspects of the Constitution, they have never offered a clear conceptual alternative to the system as a whole). The trouble is that this Islamist opposition has found it unable to operative within the four corners of a secular Indian constitution - they have come to believe that there is no place in our system to execute their agenda (This is again a point where the Hindu right and the Islamists diverge in their strategy. The BJP made its compromises early on - though the RSS has sought a Hindu Rashtra in the past, the BJP now swears by secularism. This was a strategic move to render themselves more broadly acceptable so as to promote their growth especially in those parts of the country where Hindus are a minority. Also, it was facilitated by the fact that unlike the Islamists, the Sangh did not have any declared alternative that it idealized - the notion of Ram Rajya is quite a nebulous one). A system that does not offer political space to a mainstream alternative is inherently unstable and finds it difficult to sustain its own survival without the periodic use of force. In other words, an absence of choice implies a freedom deficit and a situation somewhat analogous to countries with single party ruled regimes across the world. (By the way, it is this fundamental understanding of politics in pre-partition Muslim dominated states that made Indira Gandhi reject the idea of incorporating Bangladesh into the Indian Union following the Bangladesh war - the fact that there are now two established parties ruling that country alternatively, one outwardly more pro-India than the other, shows how correct that decision was).

First of all, it needs to be made clear that there is no military solution to the Kashmir problem. The military can at best contain the scope of the problem and protect us from a failure to solve it but is not an answer in itself. This is where Swamy is wrong. By ruling out negotiations and foreclosing political efforts, he will ensure that those who do not see eye-to-eye with the GoI are goaded into extreme measures. The consequences of such an extreme position are too harmful to contemplate. For one thing, such a position will effectively hand over the jehadis a victory - the Kashmiri separatists will no longer have to play a careful game of balancing their support for dialogue with sympathy for the terrorists; instead, the stance will force them to go over fully to their side. If the GoI compels Kashmiris to take a with-us-or-against-us, given the historic sentiments in the valley, the odds are that a majority including moderates and independents would choose to go against us. No one, not even Israel, despite being so powerful, takes such an extreme view that there will never be a Palestinian state - the possibility of a state in the future is always held out for the Palestinians provided various conditions of good conduct are fulfilled.

Secondly, there was an outwardly calm in the valley but there has never been genuine normalcy. Sheikh Abdullah was imprisoned off and on by Nehru and later by Indira Gandhi, there were intermittent riots on a couple of occasions and finally an accord in 1975. But the Sheikh was well aware that the only way to guarantee peace in his state was if Kashmir, India and Pakistan all agreed. This was also the reason Nehru dispatched Abdullah to Pakistan for talks shortly before his death.

Swamy predicts that Pakistan will be controlled by jehadis five years from now. The question is still open. People predicted the same thing five years ago when there was speculation about Musharraf's successor. For one thing, the Americans ensured who Musharraf's successor was going to be and are very likely going to have a prominent say in who succeeds Kayani. It is true that the Pakistan army has moved steadily towards the right since Zia-ul-Haq and many of its cadres share a common ideological perspective with the jehadi outfits. But this will affect more the answer to the questions when and whether the Kashmir issue is tackled, not so much how. As Pranab Mukherjee said recently, Pakistan will be judged by its actions, not words. If jehad is declared against India, that will of course automatically shut down the dialogue process as it had done recently following the Pakistan Army's direct role in the Embassy bombing in Kabul. No doubt we need to be prepared to wield the stick but that does not mean that if peace reigns, there can be no carrot. Besides, the ideological predilection of the army are no doubt important but it is one among several related factors to be figured into the political calculus. After all, we have dealt with the Islamist right before - for example, the Vajpayee government held discussions with Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a Deobandi cleric who heads the Jamiat-ulema-e-Islam and is currently the Pakistani parliament's chairperson on Kashmir affairs.

Finally, much has been written about the legalities of the dispute, so I will keep this brief. India promised a plebiscite in the Instrument of Accession, a promise it came to regret and reneged upon (it conducted a plebiscite in Junagadh where it was confident of victory given the large Hindu majority but none in Kashmir where it possibly predicted that the odds of losing were high). It has since been arguing that the issue of a plebiscite is between the GoI and the people of Kashmir with Pakistan having no say in the matter. As for the issue of Kashmir with Pakistan, it will be resolved by talks under the Shimla accord of 1972. This fine distinction ignores the political realities of Kashmir and ever since the current peace process picked up towards the end of Vajpayee's tenure, such legalisms have been less employed by both sides.

Swamy is right that outright secession is not the answer - it is politically untenable and constitutionally impermissible. But short of that, is there a solution to the Kashmir question that would grant enough autonomy and would also be acceptable to Pakistan? There have been some reports of the two sides having arrived at a framework. There was even an article last year in Outlook providing the details which I do not recall now. Nothing was announced however and not much has been heard of it ever since. Gen. Musharraf a while ago suggested that the answer would perhaps involve 'rendering the border irrelevant'. That may be a worthwhile goal but India would have to figure out how to go about preserving and protecting its interests in the valley, a challenge that is easier said than done.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pilid,

Your argument is objective except that you start with a premise that the aspiration of the Kashmiri (Read not as an Indian) should be protected and nurtured, without any time boundaries, even if in the process it becomes inimical to the interest of the larger Indian constituency. I have grave doubts about that premise. Whatever the provocation, every person part of the society, should move towards the mainstream, even while zealously guarding their personal rights. Otherwise, it would result in just the complicated circumstances as we live in, if we were to wait till eternity for a particular society to harmonise their aspiration with the balance society.

Even while not being an unabashed admirer of the BJP and their Hindutva principles, I think that they have shown bigger respect to the Constitution of the Country which deserves praise. That their aspirations are idealogical and different is forcing them to bring them to fore, frequently, but gratifyingly they are working from within rather than working from outside and definitely they are not stooping to the levels of the terrorists, whatever the media may state in this regard. I see an intellectual honesty in their objective, maybe diluted by the reality of the Politics of the day.

Also, it is not the static Kashmiri, who is Right of Centre, as per your definition, that India would need to contend but the dynamic fundamental group, aided and abetted by Pakistan and other fundamentalist Countries. Somehow, these worthies go by the belief that to keep their survival intact they keep the jihadi activities simmering and in the forefront.

Therefore Swamy is not totally wrong in statting that we should be ready to use all means, even forceful, if need be to ensure that the Indian interest in the Kashmir Valley is fully protected and not compromised in any manner.

Thyagarajan.

reason said...

There is a lot going on about equating BJP and RSS with SIMI and IM. This post takes it a step further to equate BJP with kashmiri separatists. Looks like letting the congress win another election is *such* a big deal.

Repeatedly asserting that BJP did not offer a alternative to our constitution - when did you get the hint they wanted to but could not? One big thing they still have on their agenda is uniform civil code and they say they can do it within this constitution.

Let us see where *you* are wrong.

"the Kashmiri Islamists look towards the Pakistani system as their ideal model"

They do not look to 'pakistani system' as the model - they look to a islamist theocracy as the model. There are people in pakistan who look to the Afghan Talibani system as the ideal model. The kashmiri islamists want that too. One of those idiots said he is far long gone than even Osama.

"The Islamist ideologues see Islam as embodying a comprehensive system of governance which it is the duty of the ideal (Islamic) state to adopt as the shariah."

You are bang right they do. Not just in kashmir, but in the rest of India, and even the rest of the world. There are british muslims who want shariah and may get it too. The Indian Mujahideen obviously want that as well. Now what do you propose to do ?

"The trouble is that this Islamist opposition has found it unable to operative within the four corners of a secular Indian constitution - they have come to believe that there is no place in our system to execute their agenda"

And so does Indian Mujahideen. and so do LTTE supporters in TN. What do you propose to do with anybody who does not want to operate within the indian constitution? Grant them their wish?

"In other words, an absence of choice implies a freedom deficit "

you imply absence of political choice. But the political choice is made available under the constitution that your islamists do not want to do anything with. do you see where this is going?

The islamists do not want political choice. They want a caliphate.

"This is where Swamy is wrong. By ruling out negotiations and foreclosing political efforts, he will ensure that those who do not see eye-to-eye with the GoI are goaded into extreme measures"

The islamists themselves will disagree with this. They got into extreme measures before the GoI could think about negotiations and political efforts. you confuse cause and effect.

"For one thing, the Americans ensured who Musharraf's successor was going to be and are very likely going to have a prominent say in who succeeds Kayani."

Your trust in the american empire is amazing. But sadly,the empire is now running on borrowed money to supply its people with bread and circus. Empires do decline and fall.

Freedom of opinion and expression is fine. But outright assertions of falsehoods in the name of debate is meaningless. This is what the chindu does and successfully drives sane people away.

Anonymous said...

Kashmir has a glorious "Hindu past" (as much as an "Islamist past"), negated by not only the jihadis, but also by seemingly well-intentioned secularists. Folks are either afraid or unwilling to consider the Hindu past of Kashmir. And the jihadis on their part have "solved" the Hindu problem by systematic and violent ethnic cleansing, about which the secular liberals are deafeningly silent.

reason said...

"about which the secular liberals are deafeningly silent"

if you are a evil Hindoo, you are fair game to the Jihadi's bombs or the missionary's ridicule. If you so much as try to protest, all hell breaks loose and you are damn communal bigot.

the jihadis and missionaries were treating you evil ugly dirty Hindoo heathens with such love and kindness you didn't deserve. You had to pay some extra tax or endure some famines. And then RSS came along and spoilt everything. Quit cribbing. Dont you have such ugly practices as caste, idolatry and Sati? Have you stopped burning your wife?

Pilid said...

Thyagarajan,

The center of gravity of politics varies from state to state and is more extreme in some than in others. In a relatively free country such as ours, the Center has to manage this fact and cannot force the public at gunpoint to move towards what we may call the mainstream - the government does have a role but not a monopoly over shaping public opinion. The GoI has been aware of this for quite some time which is why it has tried to negotiate with organizations that are outside of the mainstream but command popular support. There is a similar problem with the Nagas where the GoI has agreed upon and maintained a ceasefire with the Isaac Muivah faction of NSC(N) which is actively running its own government with the Center's tacit acquiescence. The key element in many of these instances has been the organizations' willingness to abjure from violence as a step towards an ultimate political solution. The dialogue that led to the Mizo accord (1986) and the entry of the Mizo National Front into the Indian mainstream is another good example.

The BJP is differently situated as compared to the Kashmiri separatists for the reasons I explained. The BJP has always had every hope and intent of coming to power and ruling the country. They have therefore aimed at coopting the institutions of the state as part of their movement rather than confronting them ideologically. The Kashmiri Islamists cannot aspire for any such thing. They realize that their ideology holds appeal only within the confines of the valley, so they are ready to confront the state rather than try to coopt it. The aim of a dialogue is to convince them otherwise, namely, that they are better off seeking to advance their objectives from within the system rather than without.

I do not know what you mean by a 'static Kashmiri'. The majority of Kashmiris want independence, i.e. neither India nor Pakistan. As for the more important question of what sort of system of goverment they aspire for, the Hurriyat has been careful not to expound on it precisely because there is no agreement. But in all likelihood, given the politics of the valley, it is likely to lie somewhere between between full-fledged secularism and a theocracy.

Reason,

One cannot equate the IM with the Kashmiri separatists. There can be no dialogue with an organization that sees violence as an end in itself or sets out its goals in terms that cannot be conceded. For the same reason, the only answer to organizations such as the LeT, HuM, etc. must remain the use of force.

Mainstream Islamist parties in Pakistan are not seeking a caliphate. The JeUM, JeI and others have been participating in elections for a long time. Likewise, I have never heard of Geelani and co. propose a caliphate. That is only the terrorist outfits with which India cannot negotiate with in any case.
You are right that the Islamists did not get involved in violence because of anything the GoI did. The reason had a lot more to do with success of the Islamist insurgency in Afghanistan. But that does not however mean that in the future if we are to foreclose the democratic alternative, we will not be giving a fillip to violent outfits.

America has survived on borrowed money since its inception (Alexander Hamilton was the brain behind this idea of creating a credit system). Notwithstanding the current crisis, I see no immediate decline of the empire or of any real alternative emerging to the US. The US is poised to remain heavily engaged in Afghanistan in the foreseeable future and will continue to actively intervene in Pakistani questions of succession.

reason said...

"America has survived on borrowed money since its inception"

US had gold standard until 1971. america had trade surplus with the rest of the world until the seventies. it is not clear where you get your information from.

"The US is poised to remain heavily engaged in Afghanistan in the foreseeable future and will continue to actively intervene in Pakistani questions of succession."

with that hope and prayer, we signed off our nuclear weapon options.

"There can be no dialogue with an organization that sees violence as an end in itself or sets out its goals in terms that cannot be conceded."

you need to make it clear how you arrive at which goals are to be conceded, to whom, and which are not, and to whom.

you are trying to declare the kashmiri separatists were never violent. lucky for you if you know no victims of their terror.

"Likewise, I have never heard of Geelani and co. propose a caliphate"

http://specials.rediff.com/news/2008/aug/25sd4.htm

it is because of people like you that people like Geelani can reject secularism and in the next sentence accuse Hindus of being communal. It is because of people like you that Indians get killed daily in this violence.

You are probably lucky that you dont get inconvenienced by their dead bodies. Let us pray to secular Gods that your luck continues.

I would like to see if Hindu Fundamentalist or Dirt Digger have anything to say about this post and follow up comments.

Pilid said...

Reason,

American national debt has grown steadily since the 1700s even with the gold standard. And the growing deficits have not changed the fact that the greenback remains the dominant international currency of the day with potential competitors like the Euro still behind.

Signed off our nuclear weapon options? Last time I heard, we were very much a nuclear armed nation. Read the 123 agreement correctly to understand what we committed to.

Where did I say that separatism has not been violent? I am talking about the political question in Kashmir. If there is one thing the tumultuous history of the region over the last 60 years tells us, there is a political question here awaiting resolution apart from the terrorist problem faced in recent times. The peaceful but huge separatist rally recently is testimony to that fact.

A caliphate is a theocracy but the reverse is not necessarily true. If you do not know the difference, try a dictionary.

People like me are causing civilian deaths? Do you believe that if the country were to refuse to acknowledge the Kashmir problem, the violence we are facing would somehow magically disappear? That is sheer baloney.

reason said...

"Do you believe that if the country were to refuse to acknowledge the Kashmir problem, the violence we are facing would somehow magically disappear?"

i do not indulge in wishful thinking, nor form opinions with the only backing of fond hopes and prayers.

if the country allows the likes of Geelani and their apologists like you get away with yet another partition in the name of Islam, at the same time accusing Hindus of being communal, the violence we are facing will magnify many folds. From afghanistan to kashmir will be a single entity built on decadent ideas, in perpetual Jihad with other religions.

Geelani does not have any place for democracy. Osama and Geelani have no place for democracy because they derive it from quran - they say so unless you dont want to hear.

choice quotes from this geelani interview -

"The question of imposing an Islamic rule is different. Why do people object to it? If America and India can have democratic rule, others can have Communism, why object to Islamic rule? "

Q:In essence, Osama bin Laden's crusade to establish Islamic rule across the globe seems no different from yours.

A:Osama has come only during the last few years. People like me have been fighting for this all our lives. I do not want to be compared with Osama.

Geelani says he wants to be better than Osama.

You can twist in your fantasies on the dictionary differences between caliphate and islamist theocracy. Or the subtle differences between a kashmiri 'separatist' and a terrorist. Fantasies do not alter facts and the reality.

Anonymous said...

"But in all likelihood, given the politics of the valley, it is likely to lie somewhere between between full-fledged secularism and a theocracy." Some kind of a nice joke to have "secularism" (full-fledged, half baked or uncooked) as one of the defining points of the system of govt. that will flourish in "independent" Kashmir. Nearly 6 lakhs original inhabitants of the valley have been cleansed out (killed or driven out) and to speak of secularism as a reference point, is it not a cruel joke?

An "independent" Khalistan did not happen. An "independent" Kashmir is nothing but an invitation for another partition and the secular-jihadi combine will have to take the consequences.

Pilid said...

If you believe that Islamist politicians 'have no place' in a democracy, there is little more to be said. It suffices to note that this claim is belied by all the Islamic democracies around the world.

That Geelani wants to be better than Osama is your erroneous interpretation of his words. All the Islamists including him have functioned as part of various political formations.

Anon,
Restoring the Pandits to their lives and livelihood is one of several legitimate interests India has in Kashmir. An independent Kashmir is not an option for any country in the region and I am not suggesting that - the comment I made was in the context of the political center of gravity of Kashmir.

The Khalistan demand was not pursued by the Akalis following the demise of terror. The issue had no traction with the public by 1992. If that was an enduring sentiment of Punjabis that found itself reflected in mainstream political parties, the GoI would have had no choice but to deal with it at a political level just as it has dealt with a number of regional demands from other parts of the country.

Dirt Digger said...

Pilid,
There are several points in this argument where your reasoning concurs with mine, but there are several others where it does not.
Let us look at the Kashmir issue from a different view. What do the key parties bring to the table here?
India brings a secular democracy with a flourishing economy.
Pakistan a floundering Islamic state on the brink of a protracted civil war.
The Kashmiri politicians, a muddled version of independence and visions of an Islamic state.
India has tried all alternatives from giving sops like Article 370 (boatloads of money, security) to appointing Kashmiri leaders like Abdullah, Mufti, Azad etc. to leadership posts within the state and in the central government.
What do we get in return? A state hemorrhaging money over the decades.
The tactics you've mentioned have been tried over the decades with little effect. The promise of plebiscite was one which reeks of stupidity thanks to Nehru and company. How many states would India have currently, if plebiscite was offered to them?
Secondly Pakistan is heading towards total decomposition into multiple states with the northwest already out of the army's controls and the Govt. having no control over the army as evidenced by the rap on the knuckles given to their PM by the army recently.
Having discussions with a country like that is akin to discussing the news with an insane person.
If jehad is declared against India, that will of course automatically shut down the dialogue process as it had done recently following the Pakistan Army's direct role in the Embassy bombing in Kabul.
What do you think has been happening over the last 5 years?
It is open declaration of jehad.
To deny it is naivety, to be inactive and continue with analysis paralysis is a sure road to failure and defeat.

Anonymous said...

According to the secular intellectual brigade, a "majority" of the Kashmiris want to get out of the Indian union and so it should be sanctioned, through a plebiscite.

There has never been a referendum on wheher India should be "secular" and it would be interesting to see what the people want to say about it, particularly in the north.

Thyagarajan said...

Reason,

Just an aside; would it not be more appropriate to have your monicker as belligerent? No offence meant.

Pilid,

The time has come for a fresh thinking on the Kashmir issue where we look at the problems, not from a Kashmir perspective but from the Indian perspective. Too much concessions have been given to these separationists who with the support of the border countries are indulging in balkanisation.The fact that their interest is not in aligning with these neighbouring Countries are not going to stop these nations from stopping their support. their intent sems to be that if India can be exasperated into taking a wrong decision, they could then step in and terrorise therse separatists into tacit approval of their larger plans. Succesive governments in our country have been pussy footing on this issue, instad of making way to some bold decisions. I think uniform civil code is one step in the right direction.

Essentially the GOI must mange matters in such a way that the centre of gravity between each state is brought to an uniform level and there must not be different pulls and pushes at various levels. The GOI must go for the entire country's mandate and must avoid politicking on such sensitive issues. It should be bold enough to quell violence using force if necessary. After all for lesser skirmishes like the Christian/Hindu issues it is willing to gird its loins and issue serious advisories.

Anonymous said...

A "majority" of the people living in the Telengana region of AP demand just a separate state (and not an "independent" nation-state!). During her time, Indira Gandhi crushed this "separatist" movement with an iron hand and till now there has not been a separate Telengana. Where are the seculars and liberals in respecting the "majority" sentiment? Why don't they seympathise with the people of the Telengana region who claim that their region is neglected and underdeveloped? Arundhathi Roy is perhaps waiting for an invitation from the people of Telengana.

Like this there are several major and minor regional imbalances. Of course, the secular response would be that Kashmir is a "special" case. It has been made into a "special" case by vested interests.

Pilid said...

DD,

>>India brings a secular democracy with a flourishing economy. Pakistan a floundering Islamic state on the brink of a protracted civil war. The Kashmiri politicians, a muddled version of independence and visions of an Islamic state.>>

True but political ideologies are not always very meaningful or workable; yet, when they command public support, they would have to be accommodated within the political system (just as bad communist ideas still find their expression in many governmental welfare policies). Politics is often a compromise between the possible and the ideal.

>>India has tried all alternatives from giving sops like Article 370 (boatloads of money, security) to appointing Kashmiri leaders like Abdullah, Mufti, Azad etc. to leadership posts within the state and in the central government. What do we get in return? A state hemorrhaging money over the decades.>>

True again.

>>The tactics you've mentioned have been tried over the decades with little effect. The promise of plebiscite was one which reeks of stupidity thanks to Nehru and company. How many states would India have currently, if plebiscite was offered to them?>>

Tactics/strategy is something the government has to make up as it goes along depending on the situation and exigencies of the day. I am talking about the framework of a political settlement here.

Why was plebiscite offered and why did India agree to it? The idea of popular sovereignty was ingrained in our national leadership as the basis of the new Indian nation. In 1946, Nehru declared that those states that voluntarily join the Union will together form the Union of India. The Congress embraced what seemed to a very sensible and democratic idea at the time that the choice of country (India versus Pakistan) ought to be governed by the wishes of the people of the princely states rather than those of their rulers (many of whom were unpopular with their subjects). This suited them well particularly with errant rulers who were brought around by pressuring them through popular Congress-backed agitations (so was the case with Junagadh where the Congress organized an uprising causing the Nawab to flee and the army to occupy the state; this was followed by a plebiscite which legitimized the new governing arrangement). For the same reason, Mountbatten was also in favor of this idea. Given that the partition had just taken place and the transition was still ongoing, British influence which was considerable on both sides as well as with the international community (as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a close ally of the US), it was important to stay in agreement with them. For all of these reasons, India agreed to a plebiscite, a view that only began to change in the aftermath.

I did not say that India should offer a plebiscite. Having taken a position against it for so long, going back is to effectively concede defeat, something India cannot afford to do. Secondly, plebiscite will involve a defeat for one side, an outcome which will have unpredictable and destabilizing consequences that are too dangerous and cannot be allowed. Having rejected that, the answer must be a negotiated settlement.

>>Pakistan is heading towards total decomposition into multiple states with the northwest already out of the army's controls and the Govt. having no control over the army as evidenced by the rap on the knuckles given to their PM by the army recently.

Having discussions with a country like that is akin to discussing the news with an insane person.>>

Pakistan is certainly in big trouble and much of it has to do with the forces it has assiduously nurtured over the last few decades. But there is also the fact that a weakened Pakistan may be more amenable to a resolution of the Kashmir question. Let us be clear – we are still a long distance away from any settlement. The Pakistan army does not appear to be convinced that these forces must be destroyed and still seems to remain of the view that they can be contained and managed to serve Pakistan’s strategic interests - which is why the government has been insisting on confidence building before taking any serious step on Kashmir, something that has not come about.
Again, all of these factors are important to determining strategy but do not significantly alter the contours of a final political settlement here.

>> What do you think has been happening over the last 5 years? It is open declaration of jehad.
To deny it is naivety, to be inactive and continue with analysis paralysis is a sure road to failure and defeat.>>

Much of this stems from the aggravation in FATA. As far as India is concerned, infiltration levels have significantly come down in recent years. Mainstream Jehadi organizations have become more circumspect than in the past and their modus operandi appears to reflect the increased pressures put on them – there have been reports that as far as Indian operations are concerned, the indigenous component has increased in recent times. India, perhaps with good justification, appears to believe that this is not anything more than a tactical retreat, so the goal is to try to keep the pressure and build on it.

It must be remembered that these radicals remain outside the reach of even the Islamist parties and do not constitute mainstream political sentiment in that country. And a radical jihadist takeover of Pakistan determined to wage war anywhere and everywhere in the service of a caliphate is still far fetched. The worst case scenario will still continue to be a calibrated jehad against India supported, managed and contained by the Pakistani army.

If things get bad, we may end up at war. But war will not solve the Kashmir problem which would still have to be resolved through dialogue.

Pilid said...

Thyagarajan,

India and Pakistan are said to have had over 130 rounds of dialogue on Kashmir since independence and yet we are not much farther from where we started. The problem is not a lack of fresh thinking – there has been plenty of free thinking in these various discussions – the trouble is less at the level of ideas and more at the level of decision making. Any settlement cannot be suddenly thrust on an unprepared public out of nowhere; the groundwork has to be done to prepare it for such an eventuality, something no government has ventured to do. For that, a roadmap outlining the framework of principles needs to emerge – even though there have been reports that India and Pakistan have agreed on one, none has been made public so far. So that is something that should be conceptually worked out as a priority.

The concessions given to Kashmir have been in the wrongheaded belief that the problem can be solved by buying people over. It does not appear to have dawned on the GoI even now that people cannot be bought over with tax relief, subsidies and huge development funds or perhaps it has – Manmohan Singh is too intelligent not to know – but is continuing it simply because no better alternative is immediately implementable and withdrawing them, it is feared, might aggravate matters further.

Uniform civil code is not an answer. This idea is again part of the secular agenda which is facing a crisis in Kashmir. Advancing it without Kashmiri buy in will do nothing to help solve the issues at stake there.

You are right that Kashmiri separatist sentiment is a fairly reliable bellwether of Pakistani politics and the India-Pakistan equation. That is also the reason Sheikh Abdullah was right from the beginning. A peaceful Kashmir that remains with India requires a governing arrangement that is acceptable to all three sides.

The center of gravity of Indian politics has not changed significantly since independence when the beliefs, values and ideals of the Indian state were laid down by Pandit Nehru. They remain the gold standard of mainstream Indian political discourse to this day. Even with the rise of the BJP which has important differences in practice on some of these issues, it has either been unable or chosen not to confront these core perspectives. As for bringing everyone in every state onto the same page, it is unlikely to happen in the near future. With different religions, regions, languages and historical narratives, politics in different regions will almost certainly continue to retain distinct local flavors. Managing those differences will therefore continue to be a significant challenge for the Center.

Anonymous said...

Chindu has not written an editorial on the Godhra Nanavati commission report yet.

On Jan 18, 2005, Chindu published the news of Banerjee commission report on Godhra, and on Jan 19 2005, they wrote an editorial bashing BJP based on this report -- LiC needed only less than 24 hours to read that two-volume report!.

On 26 Sep 2008, Chindu published the news on the Nanavati report. No editorial even after 3 days!

Remember, during the Tibet issue recently, every newspaper wrote editorial, but chindu did not do it for many days.

I guess LiC needs lot of time to concoct some stories!

Anonymous said...

Chacha Nehru was a master of "selectivism" in his governance. He practised selective secularism. He did not want to implement Uniform Civil Code. He was always eager to criticse only Hinduism for blind beliefs.

Similarly, Nehru willingly conferred special rights for Kashmir unlike other princely states which merged into the Indian union may be because Kashmir was a showpiece of secularism (according to his parameters).

May not be worth even a 14 carat stamp. Pehaps, gold-plated would be a better appellation for Nehru's standard of rule.

Anonymous said...

Pilid,

There is no solution to kashmir without the destruction of pakistan and physical elimination of hurriyat leadership and the terrorists.

Until then,stonewalling tactics onlee.

Dirt Digger said...

Pilid,
we both concur that solving this issue is in India's best interests, but fact is not solving this issues keeps the other parties happy.
The ISI wants to keep hemorrhaging Pakistani money and loans on Kashmir.
The Hurriyat and other morons don't have a clue of governance beyond some far fetched Islamic concepts.
The political framework you propose is great in principle, but will not work as these parties would love to keep the issue alive.
India is the only party with a vested interest to resolve this as its burning cash and soldiers on this issue.
Couple of points though,
1. The analysis of the Abdullah's treachery towards India is well documented (for example here)
2. The BJP has managed to make an impact into only the political arena, it has not been quite successful in managing the media or changing the education systems or managing popular culture.