Tag Archives: Kashmir

Redefining national interest

Raza Rumi

Courtesy The Friday Times: —
The elusive quest for peace between India and Pakistan remains hostage to the military-industrial complex at both the global and regional levels. Such is the dynamic unleashed by two imagined “nations” that their existence as states is dependent on a perpetual state of confrontation. More so for Pakistan, given its deeply embedded paranoia, which has assumed a reality of its own. Sixty-two years ago, it was hardly envisioned that the two states would erect an iron-curtain and fight forever. From actual wars to propaganda campaigns the task seems complete now. The oft-repeated phrase ‘trust deficit’ is a natural culmination of this ugly process. Of late, another dimension has been added, i.e. information-deficit as India had marched towards a new phase of its economic development, it has stopped taking interest in transitional Pakistani society and kept the time-warped framework of understanding Pakistan. However, the situation cannot remain static. Policymakers are slow to catch up on both the sides.

Mumbai factor: Twenty months ago, the Mumbai attacks changed the atmosphere created by President Zardari’s unprecedented offers of peace, dialogue and cooperation. The day Zardari made his remarks in a conclave organised by the Hindustan Times in 2008, many observers saw a Mumbai coming. The jihadis of Pakistan and perhaps their counterparts in India were quick to stop this process. Ironic that PPP, a party fed on the Pakistani nationalist rhetoric, thirty years down the road had read the writing on the wall. Pakistan’s future and survival is dependent on a reduction of hostilities with India. More importantly, this also holds the key to correcting the endemic civil-military imbalance.

Zardari’s stride: Why would a national security state apparatus bloated by an Indian threat not react to Zardari’s statements: “I do not feel threatened by India and India should not feel threatened from us…today we have a parliament which is already pre-agreed upon a friendly relationship with India. In spite of our disputes, we have a great future together.” As if this was not enough, Zardari declared that Pakistan will not be the first country to use its nuclear weapons, thus undermining a carefully constructed Pakistani nuclear doctrine of first-use. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan

Devising a new framework for Indo-Pak peace

Raza Rumi

Today the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India will meet. This major development should be welcomed. Sceptical noises of distrust in both countries have been heard and the Kashmiri leaders have issued rejectionist statements.

Subcontinental leaderships have time and again floundered peace. Sometimes it is the recklessness on the Pakistani side and at other times the Indian officialdom chants the trust-deficit mantra. But this must end. Media wisdom about the BJP and the Pakistan military making a durable peace deal has not withstood the test of history. Democracy and peace are interlinked despite the compulsions of playing to the jingoists for electoral gains. In Pakistan, martial rule is over and a BJP government is unlikely in the medium term.

It is time for the two governments to take stock of their fast changing societies and economies. Unlike the mediatised versions, Pakistan is a transformational society. The old governance structures are decaying and power is now distributed among multiple centres, not unlike India. This is why the foreign ministers should negotiate the lifting of media restrictions and let the two countries and their people understand each other. Continue reading

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Filed under India, Pakistan, Pakistan-India Peace Process, strategy

Ambiguous citizenships

Silence on Azad Jammu & Kashmir in the Pakistani mainstream, other than the juicy breaking news, is a tacit acceptance of the marginalization of this area

Arundhati Roy has been exposing the brutalities of the Indian State in the ‘occupied’ Jammu and Kashmir. She has questioned the presence of over half a million Indian troops and the naked violations of human rights there. Roy’s the lone domestic voice that has earned the ire of the patriots and nation-state parrots. In Pakistan, we face a dilemma whereby commenting on the status and predicament of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) remains a forbidden territory. Any discussion on AJK has to locate itself within the narrow confines of the Partition mess. This is why a zone with ambiguous citizenship continues to exist next to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The current government has accorded a quasi-provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan but the state of AJK like its other strategic sibling, the federally administered tribal areas (FATA) is quite low on the national agenda. Indeed, the national security doctrines inform such discussions and leave little option for introspection, let alone deliberating policy shifts.  Ostensibly an autonomous state government exists in AJK with institutions of governance but their remit and outreach are limited. If anything, Islamabad is the real capital. Ironically, both the Indian and Pakistani states despite their rhetoric and habitual one-upmanship display the worst characteristics of their original cast – the colonial apparatus that constructed fragile and unsatisfactory notions of citizenship.There is a Constitution, Parliament, an AJK Supreme Court and a High Court. However, the Ministry of Kashmir affairs  calls the shots. Pakistan has diverted substantial funds for the development of the area but rampant corruption, a requirement to nurture a pliant political class, is the hallmark of governance. AJK’s Chief Secretary is posted from Islamabad and while he heads the local administration, his reporting authority sits in Islamabad. In fact, even a slight deviation from the central diktat, as the recent case of AJK Chief Secretary’s transfer demonstrates, the top-job can only be retained if Islamabad is happy with the incumbent. Continue reading

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Another “K” Word

By Wajid Ali Syed

http://www.thepakistanupdate.com/2010/04/another-k-word/

In almost every briefing pertaining to South Asia, the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke says that he won’t use the ‘K word,’ by which he means Kashmir. This is sensible of him, knowing that any statement could escalate into an exchange of hot words between India and Pakistan (and India has made it clear it has no intention of bowing down before an meddling intermediary). Hence Ambassador Holbrooke understands the seriousness of the situation and thus avoids the “K” issue.

There is another increasingly controversial “K” that U.S. officials should refrain from using, especially in a derogatory manner. And that “K” stands for Karzai. Until recently the United States has treated the Afghan President as a puppet without realizing that his power base has grown in Afghanistan. It’s true that when Karzai was installed by the Bush administration he had little to no support in the country. But just the Bush era has passed and America has voted in a new President, time has not stood still for Karzai. The sooner the US realizes this the better for the Afghanistan, the NATO, the British and the US army. Over the years Karzai made himself matter in the country while rumors of his impending political death continued to circulate. The first sign of Karzai’s power was evident last year when the West discredited him during Afghanistan’s presidential elections. His opponent Abdullah Abdullah was openly supported by the Obama administration. The conflicting reports coming out of Afghanistan made the geniuses in Washington conclude that an ethnic Pashtun shouldn’t represent Afghanistan. Karzai didn’t take the news well. On the ground the situation was quite different. An intelligence expert based in Afghanistan said that if Abdullah Abdullah runs again he will still lose to Karzai. The reason? Abdullah Abdullah is of Tajik ethnicity.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Democracy, Kashmir, Obama, Taliban, USA, War On Terror

Pakistan is in pieces

[There is plenty here to stimulate a robust debate; Not that surprising, considering who the author is. PTH does not necessarily agree with the views expressed in this article.]

Belfast Telegraph, Tuesday, 6 April 2010             By Robert Fisk

I tried, in Pakistan, to define the sorrow which so constantly afflicts this country. The massive loss of life, the poverty, the corruption, the internal and external threats to its survival, the existentialism of Islam and the power of the army; perhaps Pakistan’s story can only be told in a novel. It requires, I suspect, a Tolstoy or a Dostoyevsky.

Pakistan ambushes you. The midday heat is also beginning to ambush all who live in Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province. Canyons of fumes grey out the vast ramparts of the Bala Hisar fort.

“Headquarters Frontier Force” is written on the ancient gateway. I notice the old British cannon on the heights – and the spanking new anti-aircraft gun beside it, barrels deflected to point at us, at all who enter this vast metropolis of pain. There are troops at every intersection, bullets draped in belts over their shoulders, machine guns on tripods erected behind piles of sandbags, the sights of AK-47s brushing impersonally across rickshaws, and rubbish trucks and buses with men clinging to the sides. There are beards that reach to the waist. The soldiers have beards, too, sometimes just as long.

I am sitting in a modest downstairs apartment in the old British cantonment. A young Peshawar journalist sits beside me, talking in a subdued but angry way, as if someone is listening to us, about the pilotless American aircraft which now slaughter by the score – or the four score – along the Afghanistan border. “I was in Damadola when the drones came. They killed more than 80 teenagers – all students – and, yes they were learning the Koran, and the madrasah, the Islamic school, was run by a Taliban commander. But 80! Many of them came from Bajaur, which would be attacked later. Their parents came afterwards, all their mothers were there, but the bodies were in pieces. There were so many children, some as young as 12. We didn’t know how to fit them together.” Continue reading

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Filed under Army, Colonialism, Democracy, History, Identity, India, Judiciary, Pakistan, Partition

The Enemy Within

Terrorism and the denial problem

By Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi              crosspost from Daily Times, 28 March, 2010

The most serious threat to Pakistan’s political stability and economic development is the growing terrorist attacks by the various Taliban groups and other militant Islamic groups that use violence to pursue their narrow-based religious and political agendas.

        Gen. Zia ul Haque

    Pakistan army soldiers carry a coffin of a colleague who lost his life during a fight against al-Qaida and Taliban

Pakistan’s societal harmony and political stability is threatened by the complex challenges of religious intolerance, Islamic-sectarian violence, militancy and jihadi culture against the backdrop of the regional and global environment that is not always helpful. These domestic ailments have compromised Pakistan’s capacity to cope with global pressures and improve its bargaining position in international diplomacy. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, Democracy, Education, Islamism, Pakistan, Religion, state, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, War On Terror

Let’s refocus: Kashmir, not Kabul

We are publishing a Canadian view here at PTH. This op-ed was published today in the well respected Canadian Newspaper The Globe and Mail. It is written by Doug Sanders, Globe’s respected Pulitzer Prize winning Chief of European Bureau. Mr. Sanders urges the West to help resolving the Kashmir Issue. This issue has been used by Pakistani Army and the Establishment to keep the impoverished nation of ours mainly as an India competing nation. The issue has contributed towards our inability to focus on developing our society as a modern, progressive entity; a society that focuses primarily on protection, health and education of all of its members (PTH)

 

By Doug Sanders, cross post from The Globe and Mail, Published February 20, 2010

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/lets-refocus-kashmir-not-kabul/article1475138/

Acting like an especially convivial nightclub manager, Pervez Musharraf storms the room and opens with a joke: “You should come to Pakistan – it’s the most happening place in the world, where there’s never a dull moment!”

There is nervous laughter. The man who was the military ruler of Pakistan for seven years would like to get back into politics, this time by election. “I’m no longer a military man,” he says, “so I cannot take over anything.” Even more nervous laughter. The generals, in Pakistan, are never far from power.

For decades, Pakistan has served the world as a large and obstreperous military force that inconveniently happens to have a nation attached. Nowadays, as far as the West is concerned, it mainly acts as the denominator in what the military calls “Af-Pak,” the war against the Taliban.

The week began with an exceptionally non-dull moment that confirmed this view, and showed what has changed since Mr. Musharraf’s departure in 2008. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency said that, with the help of the CIA, it had captured the Taliban’s second-ranking Afghan leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in northern Pakistan. This was considered a huge aid to the current Afghan military surge, in which Canada’s soldiers are playing a spearhead role, and a new phase in Pakistani-Western co-operation.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Army, Democracy, Economy, Education, Identity, India, Islamabad, Kashmir, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Terrorism, USA