December 2003 News

Kashmir: Views From Islamabad And New Delhi And Learning From The Past

4 December 2003
International Crisis Group

Brussels: The International Crisis Group today publishes three new reports on Kashmir, for half a century the major point of confrontation between India and Pakistan. Kashmir: The View from Islamabad and Kashmir: The View from New Delhi* lay out the public and private positions of the Indian and Pakistani governments, their politicians and the media. The third report, Kashmir: Learning from the Past,* examines the history of the crisis and evaluates past efforts to resolve it. An earlier ICG report examined views from within the Kashmir Valley. Taken together, the series analyses the positions and looks at the constraints in terms of ending the conflict, as they are perceived on all sides. 'Mutual distrust and hostility remain high, and both countries' substantive positions are rigid', says Robert Templer, Director of the Asia Program at ICG. 'In the meantime, the Kashmiri people continue to be caught in the crossfire between the militants and the Indian security forces'. Pakistan insists that India has no legal or moral right to Muslim-majority Kashmir and rejects attempts to gain international acceptance of the territorial status quo. India's bottom line on Kashmir has remained unchanged over the decades: the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union, and any settlement of the crisis there must be effected within the confines of the Indian constitution. However, in both Pakistan and India, differences abound within and outside policy circles on the future shape of a possible solution. While Pakistan rejects any option other than a referendum in Kashmir for the territory's accession to either India or Pakistan, it is also exploring, albeit unofficially, other solutions, including the possibility of restructuring the current Line of Control. In India, there is a still private but increasingly apparent shift in official policy towards recognition of the Line of Control as the international border. If history is a guide, any sustainable solution will be complex and will require leadership and compromise on all sides as well as international mediation and assistance. A subsequent final report in this ICG series will offer extensive recommendations on how to move forward with a process of reconciliation between India and Pakistan and within Kashmir. 'India, Pakistan and the various elements of Kashmiri political opinion will have to reconsider current policies and preferences if they are to embark in earnest on a peace process', says Samina Ahmed, South Asia Project Director at ICG. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY More than five decades after independence, Pakistan is no closer to a resolution with India of the dispute over Kashmir. Pakistan and India have fought three wars, two of them over the status of Kashmir. They have been on the brink of war on several other occasions, including in Siachen in 1987 and in Kargil in 1999. From December 2001 to October 2002, the nuclear-armed protagonists came close to war once again when India mobilised along its international border with Pakistan following the terrorist attack on the parliament in New Delhi. Intense diplomatic and political pressure by the U.S., in coordination with other G-8 countries, averted what could have been a catastrophic clash. The agreed ceasefire at the Line of Control (LOC) produced by Pakistan's unilateral announcement on 23 November 2003 and India's acceptance the following day, and confidence building measures (CBMs) proposed by India in October 2003, have raised hopes of an improved environment for negotiations. Nevertheless, the potential for yet another Kashmir crisis that could result in armed conflict looms large, since mutual distrust and hostility remain high, and both countries' substantive positions are rigid. Meanwhile the Kashmiri people are caught in the crossfire between the militants and Indian security forces. This report lays out the public and private position of the government in Islamabad on Kashmir and relations with India. It also examines the way the issue is tackled by Pakistani politicians of all parties and the media. ICG is releasing simultaneously reports that look at how the conflict is seen in New Delhi and at the history of the crisis and past efforts to resolve it. An earlier report examined views from within the Kashmir Valley. Taken together, the series analyses the positions and looks at the constraints in terms of ending the conflict as they are perceived on all sides. A subsequent final report in this series will offer extensive recommendations on how to move forward with a process of reconciliation between India and Pakistan and within Kashmir. Islamabad is under military and diplomatic pressure from India and the international community to stop the infiltration of militants across the LOC into Indian-controlled Kashmir. Stressing that his government has lived up to its pledges to prevent cross-border incursions, President Musharraf has asked India to reciprocate by engaging in a substantive dialogue on the Kashmir dispute, which, his government believes, India has thus far avoided. In the perceptions of influential international actors as well as India, however, Pakistan has yet to curb all cross-border infiltration across the LOC. Pakistani governments have depicted the Kashmir conflict as a clash of the same competing national identities that lay behind the creation of two separate states, India and Pakistan, out of British India. Pakistan insists that India has no legal or moral right to Muslim majority Kashmir and rejects its attempts to gain international acceptance of the territorial status quo. Pakistan's policy towards Kashmir is shaped by perceptions of an Indian threat and a history of war but also by the wider question of its relations with India. It is also influenced by domestic imperatives. The conflict is placed on the backburner when relations improve. Some governments have used the Kashmir conflict to reinforce Pakistani nationalism and others to strengthen pan-Islamism. Pakistani governments have also used the dispute to acquire domestic legitimacy or to ensure regime survival. Pakistan governments would prefer the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions that envisaged the Kashmiri people determining in a plebiscite, under UN auspices, whether to accede to Pakistan or India. Conscious that a plebiscite is unacceptable to India, Pakistan is also exploring, albeit unofficially, other solutions, including the possibility of restructuring the current LOC in a way that would best promote Pakistan's strategic and political interests. Any progress towards a negotiated settlement of the dispute with India, however, depends on a Pakistani reassessment of the internal and external costs of the confrontation, including the growth of sectarian violence, a by- product of Islamabad's support for religious extremists in Kashmir. Above all, the military would have to abandon the belief that the insurgency in Kashmir benefits Pakistan by undermining India, politically, economically and militarily. While sympathy and support for the Kashmiri people is fairly widespread in Pakistan, the politically dominant military and the religious parties are the strongest proponents of claims to the state. Previous attempts by elected governments, headed by centre-left or centre-right parties, to normalise relations with India have been derailed by the military. Since the Pakistani military continues to dictate Kashmir policy, its retention of power and the increasing salience of the religious parties after the October 2002 national elections have further complicated relations with New Delhi. Conversely, a democratic transition in Pakistan would likely improve the prospects of a substantive and sustainable dialogue between Pakistan and India on all contentious issues, including Kashmir. The international role could be crucial. The Security Council's aversion to mediating the Kashmir dispute notwithstanding, influential actors, particularly the U.S., have been pro-active in reducing tensions between Pakistan and India, given the risk of nuclear war. U.S. facilitation could help to create an enabling environment for negotiations on the Kashmir dispute. The ultimate responsibility for resolving the dispute will depend, however, on reciprocal willingness by the two parties to bridge the wide gap in their positions. Kashmir: The View From New Delhi EXECUTIVE SUMMARY For half a century Kashmir has been the major issue of contention between India and Pakistan. In India's view, the conflict in the state of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes a major internal security threat and is driven by Pakistani interference. No solution is possible, according to the Indian leadership, until Pakistan ceases its support for militants there. The ceasefire at the Line of Control (LOC) established by India's acceptance on 24 November of Pakistan's announcement the previous day of a unilateral measure and confidence building measures (CBMs) proposed by India in October 2003 have raised hopes of an improved environment for negotiations. Nevertheless, the potential for yet another Kashmir crisis that could result in armed conflict looms large, since mutual distrust and hostility remain high, and both countries' substantive positions are rigid. Meanwhile the Kashmiri people are caught in the crossfire between the militants and Indian security forces. This paper lays out the public and private positions of the government in New Delhi on Kashmir and relations with Pakistan. It also examines the way the issue is tackled by Indian politicians of all parties and the media. ICG is releasing simultaneously reports that look at how the conflict is seen in Islamabad and at the history of the crisis and past efforts to resolve it. An earlier report examined views from within the Kashmir Valley. Taken together, the series analyses the positions and looks at the constraints in terms of ending the conflict as they are perceived on all sides. A subsequent final report in this series will offer extensive recommendations on how to move forward with a process of reconciliation between India and Pakistan and within Kashmir. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has traditionally pursued an uncompromising attitude on Kashmir, favouring a military solution over a political resolution of the conflict. Although it has moderated its views in government, the pressures of electoral politics and, to a lesser degree, its ideological preferences, will continue to constrain its decisions. Internal constraints in resolving the Kashmir conflict extend beyond the conservative political parties to encompass an array of rightist forces. Within Kashmir, despite divisions between hardliners and moderates, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference still represents Kashmiri separatism. Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri militants pose formidable hurdles to conflict resolution. Any movement forward on Kashmir is made even more difficult by the lack of a national consensus on how the conflict within Kashmir and with Pakistan should be addressed. In general, public opinion is not set against an agreement and is supportive of peace initiatives since Kashmir, for most Indians, is not the most pressing of the country's major problems. However, popular sentiment hardens during crises, influenced by official and media rhetoric. There is then a tendency to move away from support for a negotiated settlement to preference for a military solution in dealing with Pakistan and the militants. India's bottom line on Kashmir has remained unchanged over the decades: the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union, and any settlement of the crisis there must be effected within the confines of the Indian constitution. However, differences abound within Indian policy circles on the future shape of a possible solution, from support for incorporating into India all of Jammu and Kashmir, including territories presently under Pakistani and Chinese control, to the territorial status quo, to the increasingly apparent shift in official policy for recognition of the Line of Control (LOC) as the international border. Indian perspectives are moving in the following direction: that a holistic solution must include recognition that it is impractical at this late date to conduct a plebiscite; that New Delhi cannot avoid providing maximum autonomy to Srinagar; and that converting the LOC into an international border is necessary on pragmatic grounds. The Indian government remains publicly opposed to any international involvement in the dispute although it has urged the United States to press Pakistan to end support for militants. Statements by Indian officials on all these matters are split. Most accept in private that a solution is possible along the basic lines just described. However, few have yet acknowledged this in public. Kashmir: Learning from the Past EXECUTIVE SUMMARY While its roots predate Indian and Pakistani independence, the Kashmir conflict's current directions can best be understood in the light of the nationalism and state building that followed the end of British colonial rule. Domestic factors, including the imperatives of regime legitimacy and consolidation, remain important influences in both countries. Evaluation of the failure of past and present Indian and Pakistani approaches suggests caution about any strictly bilateral process that disregards the regional and international dimensions of the crisis. Nor is any solution viable that ignores the sense of historical unity that underlies the social and religious diversity across the current Line of Control (LOC) dividing the former Dogra kingdom into Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir. This report examines the history of the crisis and past efforts to resolve it. ICG is releasing simultaneously two additional reports that lay out the public and private positions of the governments in Islamabad and New Delhi respectively on Kashmir and bilateral relations. An earlier report examined views from within the Kashmir Valley. Taken together, reports in this series analyse the positions and look at the constraints in terms of ending the conflict as they are perceived on all sides. A subsequent final report will offer extensive recommendations on how to move forward with a process of reconciliation between India and Pakistan and within Kashmir. Past international endeavours to resolve the Kashmir crisis have failed largely due to Indian and Pakistani domestic constraints. Bilateral efforts by the parties have faltered in important part because Kashmiri representatives were excluded from the negotiating process and subsequent settlements. Given Kashmir's internal dynamics, present Indian and Pakistani unilateral approaches also face serious obstacles. While international actors such as the United Nations can play an influential role in buttressing a peace process, any viable solution will ultimately hinge on the two parties' domestic dynamics, particularly their willingness and ability to negotiate and then implement a compromise solution that also takes into consideration the nationalist aspirations and demands of Kashmir's diverse population. India's preferred solution (privately but not yet publicly embraced) involves transformation of the LOC into an international border; internal reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Union; reconciliation through autonomy and elections; and reliance on coercion to quell Kashmiri dissent and demands. The 2002 elections within Indian-administered Kashmir helped restart the political process, but on their own they are no solution. They failed to satisfy Kashmiri demands for consultation and participation on the many issues that divide New Delhi from the political and armed militants in Srinagar and the Valley. Islamabad's unilateral measures to integrate Pakistani-administered Kashmir have been accompanied by attempts - mainly through support for the cross- border insurgency - to force India to the negotiating table. Pakistan's preferred approach has failed to gain any tangible concessions from India and indeed has been counter-productive. Its proxy war in Kashmir has undermined international support, and in the post-11 September environment, Pakistan faces increased international pressure to change its Kashmir policy. If history is a guide, any sustainable solution will require Indian, Pakistani and Kashmiri negotiators to adopt a novel and far-reaching approach to the interlinked territorial and constitutional issues. A solution will have to take into consideration the two countries' political and security interests as well as Kashmiri aspirations. Strategies for peace will be complex and require leadership and compromise on all sides. The concerned actors - India, Pakistan and the various elements of Kashmiri political opinion alike - will have to reconsider current policies and preferences. Pakistan's military leadership will have to change its policy of support for militant groups active in the armed struggle against India across the LOC and responsible for the continuing violence against civilians within Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan will have to assert control over the militant organisations and persuade them to opt for talks instead of violence in their dealings with New Delhi. India will have to rethink its reluctance to accept Pakistan as a genuine party to the conflict and restart a peace process in Kashmir with it. India will also have to follow up its promising recent offer to engage in a dialogue with the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) by demonstrating that it is prepared to make genuine concessions to that group as well as other Kashmiri political representatives. Abandoning the emphasis on coercion by its security forces, India should support the Sayeed government's efforts at political reconciliation, including by releasing militants held without trial. Recent initiatives announced by the two sides, in particular India's offer in October 2003 of a series of confidence building measures and Pakistan's announcement on 23 November 2003, subsequently accepted by India, of a ceasefire along the Line of Control, have been universally welcomed though their substance remains to be tested. If and when India and Pakistan embark in earnest on a peace process, with Kashmiri consultation and acceptance, that process would benefit from international mediation and assistance. UN, U.S. and EU involvement, including the facilitation of communications and verification of implementation, could play a vital role in overcoming impediments during and after the negotiation process.

 

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