February 2004 News

New Phase Of Kashmir Cause

6 February 2004
The Daily Times

Islamabad: President Pervez Musharraf, addressing the Azad Kashmir Assembly on Solidarity with Kashmir Day, said Thursday that Pakistan had not abandoned the cause of the Kashmiri people and would always support their struggle for self-determination. He added that in the Islamabad Declaration with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee he had got India to admit that the Kashmir issue was a dispute and that Pakistan was a party to it. The relevant portion of the Declaration was India's commitment in writing that it would discuss the issue along with other bilateral issues. About the commitment from Pakistan that it would not allow its territory to be used for cross-border terrorism, he said this undertaking had been repeated by Pakistan earlier many times and was a permanent stance of the country. As for the definition of terrorism, he said Pakistan's position was that struggle for self-determination could not be included in it. The most important part of the presidential address was that Pakistanis must learn to look at the Kashmir issue 'realistically' and not consign it to mere emotion or follow blindly the way shown by politicians who, as the Punjabi witticism goes, 'will neither play not let the others play'. With due respect to the president, the truth is that all longstanding disputes become difficult of solution because they become politicised over time and are made instrumentalities of state propaganda. Not only politicians are to blame for the politicisation of Kashmir, the army too has been using Kashmir as an instrument of pressure on politicians, especially during the years of jihad through militias which did not always strengthen the hands of the political parties in power. President Musharraf therefore is not fighting against the politicians now standing in opposition to him but also the past legacy of the propaganda build-up in no small measure backed by the army. When an issue is made a part of the popular imagination and public support is sought on the basis of such an issue, it becomes difficult to apply closure to it when the time requires it. There were three aspects to the Kashmir issue as understood in Pakistan, but only one aspect related to popular emotion. The first aspect related to the overall plan formed by the strategic elite of the country: when to start agitating for the solution and how to impose on India the solution favourable to Pakistan, and then how to make an exit from the plan if it was not successful within a given timeframe. The second aspect was related to international opinion because the foundational building block of the Kashmir issue was international law derived from resolutions of the UN Security Council. This law was hinged to the support of the international community since its enforcement depended on another Security Council resolution forcing India to abide by the earlier resolutions. This meant that at all times Pakistan was dependent on international support for the resolution of the dispute. The third aspect was related to public support at home, built up on the basis of nation- building and textbook indoctrination. In the decade of the 1990s, the first two pillars of the Kashmir policy began showing signs of weakness. It appears that the strategic elite, after having decided the initiation of the policy was no longer in control of it, especially as the 'low-intensity war' with India was carried out with 'proxy' mujahideen whose agenda, while converging with that of the state, went beyond that and clashed with what the state thought was the ideological future of the country. The introduction into this jihad of an international brigade of private fighters, often alienated from their own states, complicated matters further and took international support away from Pakistan. This happened gradually but for some reason the strategic elite in Islamabad was not able to devise an exit strategy from a policy that now required lateral thinking, not merely abandonment of policy. Here one agrees with President Musharraf that 'politicisation' played an important part in 'freezing' the belligerent status quo. Hence when in 1998 Pakistan crossed the nuclear threshold overtly by testing at Chaghai, it was not prepared to observe the first rule of 'nuclear balance': freezing of the political status quo with India. Today Pakistan has been asked to take corrective measures in double time. Because Pakistan had failed to 'manage' a policy in the 1990s it had to turn on a dime in the face of public wrath. Today it stands at the threshold of another phase of its relations with India. The acceptance of the universal principle of 'normalisation first' was the right thing to do. Pakistan must continue the advocacy of the rights of the Kashmiris who have been brutalised by India for the past decade partly because of a policy mismanaged by Pakistan. The atrocities that Pakistan could not stop with its 'support' to jihad must now come to an end and the Kashmiris must engage in a political dialogue with India and Pakistan in conditions of peace. How this is achieved depends on how well the Indo-Pakistan equation settles in the days to come. * Malika Pukhraj 1911-2004 Many will say that she was the real 'malika'. Nur Jahan became famous for her popular singing. Malika Pukhraj remained true to her semi-classical inheritance and stayed out of the movies. She will not be surpassed in the rendition of her lines. She gave the impression as if she understood and felt the lines she sang. She was a stylist and that set her apart from the rest. Her period of peak performance was in the 1940s. When Pakistan was created she was already a legend. She sang the classical poets; she sang Iqbal and Faiz, but never forgot the folk songs of Kashmir from where she had migrated to Delhi. The state honoured her. The people of Pakistan loved and respected her for her gift and for having lived with dignity and honour in their midst.


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