Posts Tagged ‘Kashmir’

Kashmir konflikt og kashmirernens politisk krav

March 31, 2009

Nasir Khan

Terrorangrepene i Mumbai i november 2008 ble fordømt av nærmest en hel verden. De minnet oss på, nok en gang, hvor viktig det er å bekjempe krefter som utfører politisk vold og etnisk/religiøst motivert terror på det indiske subkontinentet. Men de dype og underliggende årsake­ne til den elendigheten slike voldelige handlinger er et symptom på, blir ofte ignorert og underkjent. En av de viktigste årsakene er den uløste konflikten i Kashmir, som vekker sterke følelser av sinne hos millioner mennesker.

Problemene med vold og terror i denne delen av verden kan slett ikke løses slik Bush-administra­sjonen har forsøkt å gjøre det: Å gjenta mantraet om «krig mot terror» og samtidig planlegge og sette i gang massiv aggresjons­krig hjelper ikke det spor. Tvert imot har Bushs kortsiktige propa­gandatriks bidratt til å dekke over aggresjonskrigføringen og lagt grunnlaget for mer vold, fl ere massakrer. Hensikten er å fremme herredømme og imperia­listiske interesser: Den såkalte «krigen mot terror» er i virkelig- heten en forlengelse av USAs imperialistiske strategi for å nå egne mål i Midtøsten, men også langt utenfor regionen. Det er innlysende at ethvert seriøst forsøk på å bekjempe terror må ta terrorens årsaker i betraktning og ikke nøye seg med å angripe symptomene som ligger opp i dagen.

Den uløste konflikten i Kash­mir har siden 1947 brakt India og Pakistan stadig videre på en farlig konfrontasjonskurs. Dette året endte britene sitt styre i regionen, og som en siste gest mot sine undersåtter besluttet imperieherskerne å dele India langs etnisk/religiøse linjer.

Britene førte under hele proses­sen et dobbeltspill hvor de delte ut velsignelser og beskyttelse med den ene hånda og elendighet med den andre. Med sin grense­dragning mellom de to framvok­sende nasjonene i området åpnet britene en Pandoras eske for kommende generasjoner. De som hadde noe å takke for tjenesten, gjorde det til gagns: Britenes siste guvernør for India, Lord Mountbatten, ble utnevnt til det frie Indias første generalguver­nør. Den nøye utarbeidete og målrettede inndelingen skulle vise seg å tjene ett lands interesse på det andres bekostning.

På den tida India ble delt, var prinsedømmet Jammu/Kashmir styrt av Maharaja Hari Singh. Han var hindu, fra den etniske gruppa Dogra, og oldebarn av Gulab Singh, som hadde kjøpt hele Kashmirdalen fra britene som følge av den såkalte Amrit­sar-avtalen av 1846. Ettersom det store flertallet av innbyggerne i Kashmir var muslimer, var det ventet at Kashmir ville tilfalle det nye Pakistan etter delingen. Folk fra den delen av regionen som seinere ble kjent som Azad Kashmir («Fritt Kashmir») startet sammen med stammekrigere fra Nordvestlige grenseprovins (NWBP) i Pakistan en geriljaof­fensiv mot staten for å presse Hari Singh til å la Kashmir inngå i Pakistan. Herskeren ba da Lord Mountbatten om hjelp, og ble lovet det – på betingelse av at han sluttet seg til India. Dermed startet den første indisk-pakis­tanske krigen. Den endte i 1949 med en våpenhvile nedsatt av FN, som da nylig var stiftet, etter at India i 1948 hadde brakt Pakistan inn for Sikkerhetsrådet. Våpenhvilen innebar også etableringen av en delelinje, som har forblitt de facto grense mellom det indisk-kontrollerte Kashmir og Azad Jammu/ Kashmir (kalt pakistansk­okkupert Kashmir av inderne).

Sikkerhetsrådet vedtok tre resolusjoner i 1948/49 som også anerkjenner rettighetene til innbyggerne i Kashmir, hvis landområder de to nasjonene sloss om. Ifølge FN-resolusjo­nene skal India og Pakistan avholde folkeavstemning i Kashmir, slik at folk der kan få avgjøre sin egen framtid. Indias daværende statsminister Jawa­harlal Nehru lovet folket i Jammu/Kashmir uavhengighet så snart det ble fred i området. Dette løftet brøt han da kamp­handlingene tok slutt, og innhol­det i resolusjonene ble aldri fulgt opp. Derimot ga indiske myndig­heter Kashmir en særstatus som åpner for større grad av selvstyre i regionen.

Hensikten med dette var å pasifisere befolkningen når herskeren seinere lot regionen inngå i India. Løftet om folkeav­stemning er fortsatt ikke inn­fridd, og den ene indiske regje­ringen etter den andre har hardnakket hevdet at Kashmir er en del av India. Ethvert krav fra folk i regionen om folkeavstem­ning og enhver protest mot den indiske okkupasjonen har blitt ansett som et internt indisk anliggende. Ingen tredjepart er gitt anledning til å uttale seg på vegne av kashmirerne eller fremme de rettighetene som ifølge FN-charteret og resolusjo­nene fra 1948/49 er legitime. I stedet brøt det i 1965 ut ny krig mellom India og Pakistan om Kashmir.

I tiårene som fulgte har kashmirernes lidelse økt i omfang. De har utfordret legitimiteten til den indiske okkupasjonen, og i 1989 startet de væpnet kamp for å kaste okkupantene på dør.
Det indiske militæret slo hardt tilbake, med massearestasjoner, vold og forsvinninger som konsekvens. India har sendt flere enn 500 000 soldater for å undertrykke muslimene i Kashmir. I følge forsiktige anslag har indiske styrker tatt livet av rundt 70 000 mennesker og brutalisert en hel befolkning. Kilder i Kashmir mener tallet på drepte er så høyt som 100.000. I den væpnete kampen har hindumi­noriteten i området, panditene, blitt offer for opprørerne, og ifølge statlige myndigheter har flere enn 200.000 av dem fl yktet fra Kashmir. Noen har søkt tilflukt i Jammu, andre har dratt til India. Etter landfl yktigheten har panditene levd under sørgelige forhold. Men det er oppmuntrende å se at kashmir­ske muslimer og deres lederskap i sin helhet nå ber sine hindubrø­dre om å vende tilbake til hjem­landet.

Etter 18 års brutal militærok­kupasjon sto den indiske regje­ringen så overfor en ny situasjon: Jihad-rådet i Kashmir tok til orde for å avslutte den væpnete kampen og oppfordret alle militante til å bruke ikke­voldelige og fredelige metoder i kampen for frigjøring fra India. Ropet om frihet – azadi – har blitt høyere, og India kan ikke drukne det med sine maskingevær og plyndrende militærstyrker. Imidlertid har de indiske lederne vist liten vilje til å lytte til folket og har i stedet holdt Kashmirda­len under streng militær bevokt­ning.

Den pågående konflikten har ført til ufattelig stor nød og ødeleg­gelse i Kashmir. Samtidig er den en viktig årsak til spenningen India og Pakistan imellom. Rivaliseringen om regionen har ført de to landene inn i militær opptrapping og våpenkappløp – der anskaffelsen av atomvåpen er en del av bildet – som tapper begge for store ressurser. De to landenes myndigheter bruker et propagandaspråk mot hverandre som skaper fi endtlighet, mis­tenksomhet og hat og gjør at befolkningen på begge sider anser motparten for å være sin «dødsfi ende». Konfl ikten har forgiftet sinnene til både indere og pakistanere; den har pågått i mer enn seks tiår, og det er ingen løsning i sikte. I kjølvannet av situasjonen følger økt politisk polarisering og vedvarende spenning mellom de to folke­gruppene. Dette gjør det tilsva­rende vanskelig å løse uenighe­ten om Kashmir og andre konflikter og derigjennom normalisere forholdet mellom landene.

En annen urovekkende tendens er den økende politiske og religiøse ekstremismen i India og Pakistan. Denne utviklingen har i og for seg pågått i lengre tid; det nye er at ekstreme tendenser er allment akseptert som en del av det sosiale og politiske landskapet i begge land. Main­streampolitikken har blitt influert av gruppetenkningens og hatets predikanter og ypper­steprester.

Flere indiske partier står i nær forbindelse med Hindutva, den militante politiske hindunasjona­lismen, og organisasjonen Sangha Parivar fungerer som paraplyorganisasjon for partier som bekjenner seg til denne retningen. Hindutva-organisasjo­nene er influert av tanken om hinduistisk fl ertallsstyre, eller Rashtriya Swayamseval Sangh (RSS). Gjennom å identifi sere India med hinduisme og hindu­styre forsøker denne retningen å etablere en etnisk/religiøs dominans i landet. Det ledende indiske partiet Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) har stått i spissen for Hindutva-doktrinen og hinduise­ringen av landet som helhet. Jawaharlal Nehru advarte i sin tid om at dersom fascismen skulle gjøre seg gjeldende i India, ville det skje i form av majorite­tens (hindu-)nasjonalisme. I dag har hans ord og advarsler vist seg nærmest profetiske.

I Pakistan har fundamentalis­tiske religiøse partier forsøkt å ta monopol på islam. De har ikke på noe tidspunkt oppnådd særlig folkelig støtte og har gjort det tilsvarende dårlig i valg. Flere pakistanske religiøse ledere har imidlertid gjort seg notorisk bemerket med ukvemsord mot andre muslimer. Sunnipredikan­ter har rettet sin vrede mot de «vantro» sjiamuslimene, og sjia­predikantene har svart med samme mynt. Dette har forårsa­ket en negativ sirkel av vold og hatefulle beskyldninger i islams navn. Det er ingen tvil om at militante islamistiske grupper bidrar til denne negative utvik­lingen og utgjør en betydelig fare. Men Indias behandling av muslimene i Kashmir, samt landets uforsonlige holdning til konflikten, er noe alle pakista­nere ensidig fordømmer. Indias oppførsel provoserer også militante grupper som Lasher-e-Taiba; disse oppfordrer sine tilhengere til å hevne sine indiske religionsfellers lidelser, påført dem av militante hinduna­sjonalister – og til å slåss for Kashmirs frihet med alle midler, om nødvendig med vold. Angre­pene i Mumbai i november i fjor var et uttrykk nettopp for denne dynamikken.

De siste seksti årene har India opprettholdt sin okkupasjon av Kashmirdalen gjennom politisk manipulering og brutal militær­makt. Massakrene på kashmir­ske muslimer utført av indiske styrker vil under Folkeretten regnes som krigsforbrytelser. Men til sjuende og sist må lederne i New Delhi bære det endelige ansvaret for den folke­morderiske politikken. Indiske myndigheter kan ikke fortsette sin okkupasjon av Kashmir og tro at folk der – stilt overfor den militære og økonomiske stor­makten India, med imperialist-stater som USA og det sionistiske Israel som stadig nærere for­bundsfeller – skal gi opp sitt krav om frihet. Dersom okkupasjonen fortsetter, vil situasjonen garan­tert bare vil bli verre, og volden og terroren i området vil blom­stre.

De ti millioner muslimene i Kashmirdalen vil ha uavhengig­het fra indisk kolonistyre og undertrykking. Det mest fornuf­tige for India vil være å ta et oppgjør med fortidas politikk og erkjenne at folk i Kashmir har rett til sjølstyre. Dette vil ikke svekke India; tvert imot vil det demonstrere styrken i det indiske demokratiet og framheve den indiske kulturelle tradisjonens humane sider.

Hvorvidt befolkningen i Kashmir­dalen velger å slutte seg til India eller Pakistan – eller tar sikte på full sjølstendighet – bør være opp til dem å avgjøre. Uansett hvilken avgjørelse de fatter om sin egen framtid, bør den være deres alene, og dette er noe FN-resolu­sjonene gir dem rett til. Det er langt fra sikkert at folket i området velger å slutte seg til Pakistan, men i så fall har India ingenting å frykte. Da vil nemlig det hinduistiske Jammu-området og det buddhistiske Ladakh­området med all sannsynlighet bli en del av India. I stedet for å utsette dem for de militære styrkenes ydmykende og inhu­mane behandling, kan India gi folket i Kashmirdalen rett til å bestemme over sin egen skjebne. Med det kan de samtidig legge de politiske forholdene til rette for et godt naboskap mellom India og Pakistan. Dette vil imidlertid kreve både mot og klokskap fra indisk side.

Så fort det viktigste stridste­maet mellom de to landene legges dødt, kan de to tidligere rivalene og «fiendene» møtes som venner og konsentrere seg om å løse sine respektive sosiale og økonomiske problemer i en fredelig atmosfære. Nøkkelen til håp og godvilje i India og Pakis­tan ligger altså i opprettelsen av en uavhengig politisk enhet i Kashmirdalen. Ved å bilegge en konflikt som har skapt fi endskap og påført skader i uoverskuelig omfang, kan de to landene også bli i stand til å tøyle kraften i den religiøse fanatismen og etnisk/ religiøse gruppetenkningen som hjemsøker dem.

Nasir Khan, dr. philos, er historiker og fredsaktivist.

Oversatt av Cato Fossum og publisert i Klassekampen 17. Februar 2009

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Some pictures of  Kashmiris under Indian occupation

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The Kashmir question

February 7, 2009

Kashmir Watch,

As is the case each year, a day of solidarity with the people of Kashmir has been marked. On television programmes, at rallies and at other functions, the atrocities committed in that Valley of Tears has been highlighted and commitments given to ensure a just resolution to the dispute. Much of this talk has been heard before. But this time round there does seem to be some real hope that a solution may just emerge. A few months ago, Barack Obama had spoken of his desire to resolve the Kashmir issue. Other US officials too have mentioned this as a priority. And the British foreign secretary, in an article written soon after he visited Mumbai, called on India to step up efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue, given that it was a factor that fuelled extremism.

The Indian response has been one of angry dismissal. Officials, including the foreign minister and the national security adviser, have insisted that such comments amount to an intervention in India’s internal affairs. They have discounted the warnings about the degree of hatred Kashmir stirs up against Muslims. This is obviously unwise. There can be no doubt the terrible rights abuses we have seen for decades in Kashmir are a factor in the growth of militancy in the area. The future of that territory also hampers closer ties between India and Pakistan, constantly cropping up whenever the process of dialogue gets underway. For Pakistan, the renewed interest of the world in Kashmir is a positive event. It is quite apparent, given the unhelpful Indian attitude, that it will be possible to solve the problem only with the assistance of key powers. Given its own internal constraints, India obviously has no interest in any change in the status of the territory. Like other, unfinished business that lingers on since Partition, the Kashmir question needs to be solved. Pakistan has in the past made brave efforts to find a solution to the problem and by doing so bringing peace to the lives of Kashmiris who have suffered for years and borne the worst consequences of a dispute over land that divides families and communities. It must now step up efforts to find an answer to the Kashmir question and with the support of other nations work towards turning it into reality.

[editorial note-The News-Feb 6, 2009]

INDIA/PAKISTAN: Kashmir Jittery Over Prospect of War

January 20, 2009


By Athar Parvaiz | Inter Press Service


SRINAGAR, Jan 19 (IPS) – As war clouds hover over India and Pakistan, anxiety levels have risen in Kashmir, often described as the bone of contention between the South Asian neighbours

Bellicose posturing by the two countries, following the Nov. 26-29 terror strikes in Mumbai, has, according to analysts here, the potential of spiralling into yet another one of a series of wars fought over the territory by the two countries, created in 1947 following the decolonisation of the sub-continent.

”War between India and Pakistan appears to be a possibility given the course the two countries have taken,” Mohammad Sayeed Malik, a well-known, Srinagar-based political commentator told IPS. “If not checked, it may reach a point of no return and actual war would be impossible to avoid.”

The Mumbai attacks, which left 180 people dead, rudely interrupted the ‘composite dialogue,’ begun in February 2004 after the nuclear-armed neighbours restored diplomatic ties – downgraded in reaction to a similar armed attack on India’s parliament in December 2001.

Accusing Pakistan-based militant groups, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), for staging the attack on Indian parliament, India massed troops along the border in the largest military mobilisation since the two countries went to war in 1971.

The LeT, set up to fight Indian rule in Kashmir, has now been implicated in the Mumbai attacks as well by India and by United States officials and analysts who have also linked it to Pakistan’s shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence.

In the aftermath of the 2001 attack, war between the neighbours was avoided by intense diplomatic activity led by the United States. But it took until February 2004 before the composite dialogue process – a serious effort aimed at confidence building, normalisation of bilateral relations and dispute resolution – could be put into place.

The peace process brought better diplomatic, trade and people-to-people contact across the 298-km, fenced and fortified Line of Control (LoC) that divides Indian Kashmir from the Pakistan-administered part of the territory and has served for decades as the de facto international border.

Most significantly, for people living along the LoC, the peace talks brought about a cessation of the constant exchange of artillery fire by the Indian and Pakistani armies across the border. Scores of civilians have been reported killed, maimed or displaced by the destructive exchanges.

“After the ceasefire, we had been living in a comfortable manner without any fear, but now we might again have go through the traumatic times before the ceasefire,” Rustum Gelani, a resident of the border town of Tangdar, told IPS over telephone.

Reports from the other towns near the LoC such as Uri and Poonch suggested that people were close to panic. “We would appeal the two countries to maintain the ceasefire,” said Abdul Gafoor, a resident of Poonch.

People living along the road leading to LoC in Tangdar, Uri and Poonch have reported seeing deployment of troops and equipment for several days now. “More military and machines are being stockpiled on the LoC… it looks like war is brewing up,” said Neik Mohammed, a resident.

Army officials have downplayed the activity as part of routine exercises, normally conducted at this time of the year. But one defence source said the moves were ”precautionary measures as our neighbour Pakistan is mobilising troops on its side of the border”.

Malik said that should war break out between India and Pakistan, Kashmiris would be the worst sufferers; socially, economically and politically. “It would wash away all the gains of the five-year-old peace process. The positive mood in the aftermath of the peaceful elections in Kashmir may vanish into thin air,” he said.

“During and after Gen. [Pervez] Musharraf’s rule, Pakistan had made quite a lot of progress in disengaging itself from active involvement in Kashmir… a war could reverse it,” Malik added.

Civil society and NGOs have been busy urging India and Pakistan to work towards de-escalating tension and peace-building. “We call upon India and Pakistan to sign the convention and treaty to ban production, stockpiling and use of cluster munitions and landmines,” said ActionAid’s Arjimand Talib, a peace activist.

”A war would seriously dent efforts at poverty eradication in the region and shift focus from development to further militarisation,” Talib added.

“After India felt that international pressure had started working on Pakistan, it has helped bring down tension levels. This should have been enough, but since India’s elections are just round the corner, one can’t be sure that the war hysteria will come down,” said Malik.

Tapan Bose, secretary general of the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), told IPS that public anger projected in the media carried the danger of precipitating war, forgetting that ordinary people would suffer the consequences most.

“We have been so overwhelmed by the war jingoism of the media and sections of the state and upper middle class [because they were hit by the Mumbai attacks] that we forget what the peace process means for thousands of ordinary people,” Bose said. ”Who speaks for them?”

India’s Reckless Road to Washington Through Tel Aviv

December 24, 2008

By VIJAY PRASHAD | Counterpunch, Dec 23, 2008

On Thursday, November 27, in the middle of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Imran Babar, one of the terrorists, called India TV from Nariman House. He used a cellphone that belonged to Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, the co-director of the Chabad-Lubavitch Center. The following day, Babar and his associates killed Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. The phone call he made was not long. Babar opened with a comment that made little sense to most people: “You call [Israel’s] army staff to visit Kashmir. Who are they to come to J &K [Jammu and Kashmir]? This is a matter between us and Hindus, the Hindu government. Why does Israel come here?”

Little is known of Babar’s babbles outside the confines of Hakirya, the “campus” of the Israeli high command, and of South Block, which houses the Indian External Affairs and Defense ministries. What he referred to are the growing military and security ties between India and Israel. As well, he might have referenced the now rather solid links between the Hindu Right and the Israeli Right, and how their view of the conflicts that run from Jerusalem to Srinagar mirror those of the jihadis like Babar. Imran Babar and his fellow terrorists come to their critique from the standard anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism that blinds many aggrieved jihadis. Rather than make a concrete assessment of their grievances, they take refuge in as mythical a world as sketched out by the Israeli Right-Hindu Right, where Jews, Hindus and America are arrayed against Muslims.

That the terrorists attacked the Chabad-Lubavitch Center has renewed the call to see the commonalities between the victims of terrorism, whether those in a Haifa restaurant or a Mumbai train, between 9/11 and 11/26. To do so flattens out a significant differences, and reduces the violence to their acts themselves rather than to the social context that leads people to acts of terror. Mumbai provokes the Right to seek recourse to the solutions of war and surveillance, methods that might create a moment’s sense of security before the wily adversary finds a new technological means to strike back. There is no common technical solution: better sniper rifles or iris scanners, better intelligence databases or cattle prods. The weapons used to deal the fatal blow to the terrorists are also incubators of a new generation of terrorists. This is an elementary lesson, lost to those who seek the silver bullet.

Why Does Israel Come Here?

On September 10, 2008, Israel’s top army official, General Avi Mizrahi landed in New Delhi. He met with India’s leading army, navy and air force officials before leaving for a short visit to Jammu and Kashmir. Mizrahi, a long-standing officer in the Israeli Defense Force, lectured senior Indian army officers at the Akhnur Military Base, near the Indo-Pakistan border, on the theme of counterterrorism. Later, in Srinagar, Mizrahi and his Indian counterpart, Army Chief Deepak Kapoor agreed to joint counterterrorism activities, notably for Israeli commandoes to train Indian soldiers in urban combat.

The Mizrahi visit in 2008 is not extraordinary. He had been to India in February 2007. In June 2007, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky brought a team of IDF officers to Jammu and Kashmir, where they met senior Indian officials at the 16 Corps headquarters at Nagrota in the Jammu region near the India-Pakistan border. Kaplinsky’s team discussed the problem of infiltration, how militants from the Pakistani side enter the India. The 720-kilometer barbed wire fence, an echo of Israel’s wall, has not prevented the transit of militants. Kaplinsky came to push other, high-tech means, such as night-vision devices, to help interdict militants. En route to Israel, Kaplinsky’s team went to the Mumbai-based Western Naval Command.

In January 2008, to continue these contacts, the IDF’s chief, Brigadier General Pinchas Buchris came to India and met the top civilians and the top brass. They discussed the procedures to share intelligence on terrorist activity. A week after Buchris returned to Israel, India’s Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta spent time in Jerusalem, meeting IDF heads Gabi Askhenazi and Buchris. Between 2007 and early 2008, all three Indian defense chiefs visited Israel. The framework for these meetings is the 2002 agreement to form an Indo-Israeli Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, a long-standing attempt to create an entente between the armies of India and Israel, and to consolidate the immense arms trade between the two countries (India is now Israel’s largest arms buyer).

The impetus for the relations goes back to the 1990s, when the governing Congress Party began to dismantle the dirigiste Indian State and to withdraw from India’s long-standing non-aligned policy. The Congress government believed that it was time to reassess its relations with the United States, and that the best way to get to Washington was through Tel Aviv. Stronger ties with Israel might soften the reticence in Washington toward India, and lead it to loosen its bonds with Pakistan and China. India banked on Israel to play the broker with Washington. (This is the argument of my book, Namaste Sharon: Hindutva and Sharonism Under U. S. Hegemony, New Delhi: LeftWord, 2003).

In January 1992, the Indian government recognized the state of Israel. The next month, Defense Minister Sharad Pawar called for Indo-Israeli cooperation on counter-terrorism. Israel’s Director-General of Police Ya’acov Lapidot visited India for an international police convention, and returned to Israel with news that the Indian government wanted Israeli expertise on counter-terror operations. Government spokesperson Benjamin Netanyahu told India Abroad (29 February 1992) that Israel “developed expertise in dealing with terrorism at the field level and also internationally, at the political and legal level, and would be happy to share it with India.” In the Congress years, the main arena of cooperation came in arms deals, as India’s massive purchases provided stability to Israel’s previously volatile arms industry.

When the Hindu Right came to power in the late 1990s, it hastened both the economic “liberalization” policy (with a Minister for Privatization in office) and it shifted its attentions to Washington, DC and Tel Aviv: an axis of the three powers against what it called Islamic terrorism was to be the new foundation of India’s emergent foreign policy. The close relationship between Netanyahu (then Prime Minister) and L. K. Advani (the Home Minister of India, and a brigand of the Hard Right) smoothed the path to intensive collaboration. Advani admires Netanyahu’s personal history as a member of the Sayeret Matcal (special forces) unit of the IDF; Advani himself has no such on-the-ground experience. In 1995, when in Israel, Advani happily received Netanyahu’s new book, Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism.

Advani has since made it his practice to quote from the book, particularly the view that a “free society must know what they are fighting,” which is the “rising tide of Islamic terrorism.” This was all honey in Advani’s ear. He drew the central concepts of his counter-terrorism policy from his friends in the Israeli government: a wall at the border, threats of “hot pursuit” across it; demur against political negotiation, escalation of rhetoric; limits on civil liberties when it comes to suspects in terror cases. Netanyahu had purposely refused to distinguish between Iran and Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, the PLO and the Muslim Brotherhood. Advani too began to collapse the distinction between Kashmiri separatist groups and post-Afghan war terror outfits based in Pakistan, between aggrieved Indian Muslims and Pakistani proxy forces. As well, Netanyahu and Advani crafted a stage on which to enact an endless battle between Democracy and Terrorism, where the role of Democracy is played by the United States, Israel and India and where the role of Terrorism is played by Islam. It is all simple and dangerous.

During his June 2000 visit to Israel, Advani underscored his adoption of Netanyahu’s framework during a lecture at the Indian Embassy. “In recent years we have been facing a growing internal security problem,” he said. “We are concerned with cross-border terrorism launched by proxies of Pakistan. We share with Israel a common perception of terrorism as a menace, even more so when coupled with religious fundamentalism. Our mutual determination to combat terrorism is the basis for discussions with Israel, whose reputation in dealing with such problems is quite successful.” Advani invited a team of Israeli counter-terrorism experts to tour Jammu and Kashmir in September 2000. Led by Eli Katzir, an aide to Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the team conducted a feasibility study of India’s military security needs and offered suggestions for Israeli assistance. Three years later, Israel and India signed a military-arms pact that included a specific training mission. Israeli forces would train four new Special Forces battalions of the Indian Army; other battalions would learn the practice of “irregular warfare” and work with the Northern Command in Kashmir.

When the Hindu Right lost the election in 2004 to a Congress-led alliance, the pace of contacts lessened. With both Advani and Netanyahu in the shadows, the alliance lost its main champions. The Congress government recognized how toxic this alliance would be, unnecessarily inflaming an already difficult relationship with Pakistan. This was also recognized within Israel. Efraim Inbar, director of Israel’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, who is actively involved in the Indo-Israeli contacts, recognizes the political problem; “this kind of cooperation needs to be secret if it can be,” he told Newsweek. The military and arms deals between India and Israel continued, even if it was now treated as a sideshow. India remains a major importer of Israeli arms. What lingers in the shadows is the Israeli work in Kashmir. Little is officially revealed of it, even as leaks here and there hint at the extent of the contacts.

Technocrats of Terrorism.

Ami Pedazhur, a political scientist from the University of Austin-Texas, joins the chorus on the New York Times op-ed page with suggestions for the Indian government after Mumbai (“From Munich to Mumbai,” December 20). Rather than see anything new in the Mumbai attacks, Pedazhur conjoins it with an unbroken history that stretches back at least to the 1972 Munich attacks. What links Munich to Mumbai is neither the identity of those who kill nor those who are killed, but the means by which the killing occurs. Analysts of terrorism, like Pedazhur, are technocrats of counter-terrorist actions. They study how terrorists operate, and so what best security and military force can constrain them. The public policy that stems from this sort of technocratic view of terrorism has one end, to restrain the terrorist with more security checkpoints, more hot pursuit.

Why does the Indian government take advice from a government whose own security services have a dismal record of preventing terror attacks and whose own armed forces have failed to create stability on its borders? Israel’s weaponry works fine. But Israel’s counter-terror expertise is questionable. Pedazhur takes pride in Israel’s counterterrorism policy. What pride there can be in a regime that maintains its safety through a ruthless military strategy is questionable. The Israeli government, regardless of the party in charge, is conspicuous not only for its treatment of the Palestinians but also, significantly, for its failure to create a secure society for its own citizens. It is easy enough to make the Palestinians the author of the troubles, but this of course ignores the intransigence of Israel’s political leadership to produce a settlement. Because it cannot make a political peace, the Israeli authorities have perfected various technological means to minimize the consequences of its failures. This is what it wishes to export to India. For India, the imports signal the surrender of its leadership to the current imbroglio. Gated countries wallow in fear and hatred.

The costs of the Tel Aviv-New Delhi-Washington axis are too much to bear, at least for India. India cannot afford to mimic Israel’s failed neighborhood policy, nor can it follow the U. S. example that seeks to solve its problems by aerial bombardment. South Asia requires a regional solution to what is without doubt a regional problem, one with its roots in the Afghan jihad of the 1980s as much as the unresolved Kashmir question (with close to a million troops in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government runs what is tantamount to an occupation – they provide the opposite of security for the residents of the state). When the Afghan civil wars came to a unjust quiet in the early 1990s, the various foreign fighters returned to their homelands, emboldened by their self-perception of their victorious struggle: they went to Chechnya, the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and into the Kashmir struggle. Pakistan and India are equally victims of these veterans of the jihad, and both have a vested interest in their demobilization. But more than that, there is a danger that as the U. S. amps up its war in Afghanistan and treats Pakistan with contempt, the jihadis  will take out their wrath with the same kind of ferocity as they demonstrated in Mumbai. Rather than risk a failed military strategy against the jihadis, it is time for a regional conference on human security, one that includes better cooperation between the states and a program for the lives of those who are driven to the compounds of hatred through their many, many grievances.

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His new book is The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, New York: The New Press, 2007. He can be reached at: vijay.prashad@trincoll.edu

Mumbai attackers were ‘non-state actors’: Ambassador Haqqani

December 1, 2008

By Khalid Hasan | Daily Times, December 1, 2008

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s ambassador Husain Haqqani told ABC in an interview on Sunday that those who staged the Mumbai attacks were ‘non-state actors’ and this is no time for India and Pakistan to blame each other but to work together to fight terroism.

In answer to a question, Haqqani said if India moves its forces to the border with Pakistan, it will leave his country no option but to take steps to defend itself. Troops will have to be pulled back from the border with Afghanistan “and nobody wants that”. He said the democratic government in Pakistan led by President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani had “gone the extra mile” in reassuring the Indians that both countries being victims of terrorism, this was the time to forget past history and get together. In answer to another question about the initial Pakistani offer of dispatching the ISI chief to India, the ambassador said that the ‘rhetoric’ right now is such that it would not be the right time for a high-level meeting of that sort, but Pakistan has offered high-level intelligence cooperation to India. He added, “We will cooperate with the Indians in every detail if there is evidence that there is any link to anybody.” He said everyone in the world had come round to the view that the government and state of Pakistan and the military and intelligence services of Pakistan “are not directly involved” and that is the good news. If there are individuals, then there are individuals in the United States too, but that does not mean the United States is at fault. Haqqani said his government has gone the extra mile to reassure the Indian government that “we feel their pain”. He said there was ‘intelligence failure’ and “I think people have to look closer to home for that”.

Haqqani said the Mumbai attacks must not be viewed through the prism of past bitter Islamabad-New Delhi relations. “As two democracies we need to strengthen each other rather than fall into the trap of the terrorists who want us to fight with each other so that they can get greater strength,” he added.

Giving background, he said, “Pakistan and Afghanistan became the focus of jihad central many many years ago when they were all fighting the Soviets. So these people have roots in some remote parts of our country. They have spread those roots. Some of the efforts in the war on terror have not been successful. Our dictator, General Musharraf did not do the right thing to eliminating the terrorists but the new government is making its effort and our intelligence services are far better prepared. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. India is a victim of terrorism. The victims need to get together. Forget about our bitter history,” he said.
Asked whether a member of President-elect Barack Obama’s team would be welcome to broker a compromise on the disputed area of Kashmir, Haqqani said Sen Hillary Clinton, Obama’s likely pick for Secretary of State, or anyone else would be welcome. “I think it’s about time that people put those arguments behind us and if anyone can help us do that that would definitely be a good thing,” he added.

Palestinians Must Unite against Racist Israel

October 10, 2008

Dr Abdul Ruff Colachal

There is a striking similarity in the anti-Muslim policies of the so-called “democracies” like basically conservative India, Israel and USA, both at home and abroad. The anti-Islamic chord has worked quite well to the regimes in covering up their state corrupt and criminal activities in the country and abroad. Practices of anti-Islamism have kept these regimes in good stead at least outwardly. These racist and fascist trends continue to dominate the national politics and, as a result, have resulted in genocide, and torture and insults to Islam and Muslims. Leader after leader, Israel keeps its flock together on an emphatic anti-Arab platform. So much so, any move towards peace with Palestinians evokes loudest protest and regime change in Israel.

ONE:  Israel Racism and Terrorism

In 1948 Israel came into being on lands annexed from Palestine. Palestinians in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967. The settlements that Israel has built in the West Bank are home to around 400,000 people and are deemed to be illegal under international law. Leaders like Yasser Arafat sacrificed their lives for the establishment of Palestine state and safeguard the lives of innocent Palestinians living at the mercy of a terrorist Israel.  Israel under Ariel Sharon evacuated its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and withdrew its forces, ending almost four decades of military occupation. But after his disappearance form public scene, things have gone worse for the Palestinians. USA and Israel worked over night to split the Palestinians and they succeeded. After the Islamic group Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007 following the dismissal of its elected government by PLO President Mahmoud Abbas at the behest of the USA and Israel, Israel intensified its economic blockade of the Strip.

While Kadima is embroiled in peace talks with the Palestinians, Likud says it will wait until there is a stronger negotiating partner on the other side and try to boost the West Bank economy in the meantime. The Kadima party was formed nearly three years ago when then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon split from Likud in what has been described as a “big bang” of Israeli politics. Instead of throwing out the rebel leaders from his Likud party, he himself came out to float a new party Kadima and came to power in the next poll.  The issue that tore Likud apart was Sharon’s plan to withdraw, or “disengage”, Israeli troops and settlers, first from the Gaza Strip, and then from parts of the West Bank.  It was an abrupt U-turn from a man who had urged Israelis to “settle every hilltop”.

Israel considers the Palestinians as ‘terrorists” because they have been struggling to get back their lands form the terrorist Israel. Racist Jews have been cruel to the Palestinians. More evidence is available to show how shabbily Israel treats the Palestinians whose lands it occupies. An Israeli civil rights group, the Association for Civil Rights, has said racism against Arab citizens of Israel has risen sharply in the past year. In a report, it said expression of anti-Arab views had doubled, and racist incidents had increased by 26%. Christian or Muslim Arab citizens of Israel make up 20% of the population. But the civil rights quoted polls suggesting half of Jewish Israelis do not believe Arab citizens of Israel should have equal rights. About the same amount said they wanted the government to encourage Arab emigration from Israel.

TWO: Human Rights Evasions

Israel considers Arabs less clean and less intelligent than themselves and Americans. Anti-Arab policies being pursued by Israel for decades have created a wedge between them and Arabs. A prominent Israeli Arab politician, Mohammed Barakeh, said the poll results were the natural outcome of what he called the anti-Arab policies of successive Israeli governments. Commenting on the findings of the report, the association’s president Sami Michael warned: “We live in a democratic regime whose foundations are constantly weakening.”

Occupied territories Part of the group’s annual report is dedicated to the situation in Gaza and the West Bank. The report says: “Most of the human rights violations in the occupied territories are by-products of the establishment of settlements and outposts.” Restrictions on the movement of Palestinians designed to allow settlers “free and secure movement”, have virtually split the West Bank into six separate parts. The organization says that the West Bank barrier “does not separate Palestinians from Israelis, but Palestinians from other Palestinians”. The report also asserts that despite its withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Israel retains “moral and legal responsibility” for the Palestinians there because Israel controls access to the coastal territory.

As usual, a government spokesman Mark Regev responded that the Israeli government was “committed to fighting racism whenever it raises its ugly head and is committed to full equality to all Israeli citizens, irrespective of ethnicity, creed or background, as defined by our declaration of independence”. As Israel keep expanding its illegal settlement projects in Palestine, Israel’s Construction and Housing Minister Zeev Boim said the rights group’s report was biased and without credibility.

THREE: Palestine Unity

The success of the fascist and racist terror forces of India, USA and Israel has much to do with the global “terrorism” trend and inability of the Muslims under siege and tortures to unite against the global enemies. There are many freedom groups in Kashmir, though they have just one point program of gaining sovereignty back from occupying India. Similarly Fatah and Hamas have been waging a mutual war, instead of fighting the enemy tooth and nail. Islamic world is hopelessly divided amongst themselves and unable to fight the global terrorists USA, and its “allies” Israel and Hindu India.

Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – who is also leader of Fatah – ends his term in office on 8 January 2009. The parliament – which is controlled by Hamas – is currently scheduled to remain in power until January 2010. Hamas MPs have demanded Abbas hold presidential elections before 8 January, and said they would no longer recognize his legitimacy after that time. Many feel this would deepen the already-protracted rift.

There have been strenuous efforts from several quarters to bring about a unity among the Palestinian groups to force Israel to come up with a final settlement plan. Egypt, the mediator in the dispute, has proposed establishing a government of technocrats acceptable to all factions, re-organization of the Palestinian security forces, and new parliamentary and presidential elections. Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said the factions would form technical committees to discuss the issues. The committees will take their time, one or two or three months, these are issues that cannot be resolved in days or weeks. Another official from Gaza said: “We in Hamas accept that elections are on the table for discussion.” However, he expressed opposition to simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections for the Palestinian Authority.

Israel will finally concede and surrender the Palestinian lands only if they see the need and they are under international pressure to do so and a united force in Palestine. This writer had suggested way back for creating a Islamic Security Organization ISO (ref: Middle East Online) to defend the Islamic states and Muslims the world over from the anti-Islamic forces. Meanwhile the peace move from concerned Muslim nations could continue. Hamas officials in Cairo say they will meet representatives of the rival Fatah movement this month to discuss the timing of fresh Palestinian elections. Hamas leaders, the popular “militant” movement in control of Gaza, made the announcement after talks with Egypt’s intelligence chief in Cairo. Egypt hopes the Palestinian groups will reach a reconciliation agreement including elections and other reforms. But some analysts say there are few signs of a narrowing of their differences. Abbas should, without worrying about reactions form USA and Israel, take bold initiatives to unite the Hamas Fatah factions and form a government or hold the elections for smooth functioning of an elected government. As the senior most leader of Palestine, it is his duty– and has obligation — to take all factions into confidence in whatever he does about the establishment of Palestine state.

Dr Abdul Ruff Colachal has been a university teacher, and worked in various Indian institutions like JNU, Mysore University, Central Institute of English FL, etc. He is also a political commentator, researcher, and columnist. He has widely published in India and abroad, and has written about state terrorism.

Indian Muslims to fight vilification campaign

October 8, 2008
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New Delhi, Oct 7: Anguished by the victimization of Muslims by the security agencies during investigations into the serial blasts in various Indian cities, renowned Islamic scholars and religious leaders will meet here on October 14 to draw up an action plan to fight the vilification campaign against minorities.

The initiative to bring the leaders under one banner to end alienation of Muslims was taken by the Shahi Imam of Jamia Masjid, Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari, who had urged them to take serious note of anti-Muslim campaign and fight it out.

Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has been also invited to participate in the meeting to express his views on problems of Muslims and economic blockade of Kashmir by extremists during the Amarnath land agitation in Jammu.

Over 150 Muslims religious leaders and scholars, besides heads of madrassas have confirmed their participation in the meet, where fake encounters, bomb blasts in Kanpur, Malagoan, Nanded and anti-Muslim violence in Assam and Maharashtra will come up for extensive discussion.
Maulana Rabi Nadvi, president of the Muslim Personal Law Board, Maulana Arshad Madni, president of the Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, Maulana Salim Qasimi, Rector of Darul Uloom Deoband, Maulana Baduruddin Ajmal, leader of Muslim United Democratic Front of Assam, Maulana Asghar Imam Mehdi Salfi of Jamiat Ahele Hadith, Maulana Fuzalur Rehman of Markazi Jamiat Ulema Hind, Maulana Tauqeer Reza Khan, chief of the Barellevi sect, Maulana Muhammad Iqbal, Rector of Jamia Warsia Lucknow, Maulana Mehmood Daraibadi, Ulema Council Mumbai, and Maulana Nizamuddin, Amarat Sharia Bihar are some prominent persons to participate in the meet.

The hate campaign of Sangh parivar against Muslims will be debated by the leaders, who are unhappy with the role of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Home Minister Shivraj Patil in dealing with the communal groups.

Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari had met Prime Minister last month to take up the case of Abu Bashar, a resident of Azamgarh who police claims is the the mastermind of Ahmedabad blasts. It was after the Delhi encounter that the Imam got in touch with Muslim leaders to seek their support for galvanizing support against selective approach of the government, which targets only Muslims and ignores acts of arson, killing and loot by the likes of Bajrang Dal.

Pakistan insists no deal made with US on strikes

October 7, 2008

Pakistan says no deal on US strikes in its northwest, downplays president’s reported comments

NAHAL TOOSI | AP News, Oct 06, 2008

Pakistan insisted Monday it had no deal allowing the U.S. to fire missiles at militant hideouts after an American newspaper quoted the new president as suggesting otherwise.

President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly told The Wall Street Journal that “India has never been a threat” to his country, while calling Islamist militant groups in the disputed Kashmir region “terrorists.”

The reported comments could undermine Zardari just a month into his presidency, especially with Pakistan’s powerful military. The army’s top brass have traditionally viewed India as its top enemy and has denied any agreement with the U.S. on crossborder operations.

In the interview with the Journal reported on Saturday, Zardari is paraphrased as saying that the U.S. is carrying out missile strikes on Pakistani soil with his government’s consent.

“We have an understanding, in the sense that we’re going after an enemy together,” he is then quoted as saying.

Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Zardari, said the Journal writer had read too much into Zardari’s quote, and that the president was talking in generalities about fighting terrorism.

“The official position is that we do not allow foreign incursions into Pakistani territory,” Babar said.

The U.S. has long carried out missile strikes against suspected al-Qaida and Taliban hideouts in the northwest, but a recent surge in attacks has prompted official Pakistani condemnation. Washington complains that Pakistan is unwilling or unable to take strong action against the extremists.

At least 24 people, many of them alleged foreign militants, were killed in the latest suspected U.S. strike Friday in North Waziristan province, officials said.

Suspected militants also fired rockets at the home of the top provincial official in northwestern Pakistan, the latest in a surge of attacks that have rocked the lawless region bordering Afghanistan.

Three houses were damaged but no one was injured in the strikes in Mardan late Sunday on the home of North West Frontier Province’s chief minister, Amir Haider Khan Hoti.

Kashmiri leader: Make October 6 protest march a success

September 27, 2008

Make Lal Chowk march a success: Geelani

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Not Allowed To Offer Friday Prayers Again

Srinagar, Sep 26: Veteran pro-freedom leader and the chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G), Syed Ali Geelani, on Friday urged people to participate in the march to Lal Chowk on October 6 to show the world that Kashmiris were united in their struggle for right to self-determination.

Talking to Greater Kashmir this afternoon, Geelani said, “People from every nook and corner of the Valley should ensure their presence at Lal Chowk on October 6. They should follow the coordination committee’s call as they have been doing so far.”

Geelani stressed that people should be peaceful during the march and only raise the relevant slogans. “The more peaceful people would be, the more world attraction it will evoke,” he said. “It is therefore necessary that people should march peacefully and abandon from provocative sloganeering.”
Geelani was scheduled to offer prayers at Hazratbal, but was not allowed by the police as the leader continues to be under house arrest for the past 19 days.

He said every participant in the march should carry black flags with ‘we want right to self-determination’ written on it. “There should be no banners of any party or any organisation. People must follow the directions in letter and spirit.”

He said the slogans to be raised should be: “Hum Kya Chahtay Azadi, Islam Zindabad, Shohada Kay Waaris Zinday Hai and Awwaz Do Hum Ek Hain.”
Geelani urged people to go for a social boycott of the pro-India leaders who are desperate to see elections taking place in Jammu and Kashmir. “Kashmir is not the issue of elections or governance. It is an internationally recognized dispute which must be resolved as per the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Geelani said it was unfortunate to see some pro-India leaders advocating elections at a time when the whole Valley is up in arms against India. “Kashmir issue is the issue of India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir and not about elections. Kashmir is not a border dispute between India and Pakistan.”

Geelani reiterated that right to self-determination was the only solution to Kashmir dispute. “It is our obligation to free ourselves from the Indian occupation. The recent protests have given a new dimension to the freedom struggle and it is great to observe our youth realizing their insecurity under the Indian occupation,” Geelani said.

Geelani said it was shocking that he was not allowed to offer any Friday prayers during the holy month of Ramadhan. “It is my 20th day under house arrest and it is painful to observe that I am being barred from offering prayers,” Geelani said.

Meanwhile, Hurriyat (G) acting general secretary, Pir Saifullah addressed a mammoth gathering at Hazratbal shrine here, urging people to stand united in the struggle for freedom. “Anything short of self-determination is not acceptable to us as solution to Kashmir dispute. This basic right must be given to the people of Kashmir,” Saifullah said.

Saifuallah urged people to make the march to Lal Chowk on October 6 successful to show the world that Kashmiris were united. Saifullah strongly condemned the house arrest of Syed Ali Geelani, who was scheduled to address people at Hazratbal today.

Flanked by some other Hurriyat (G) leaders, Saifullah asserted that if Geelani was not released from house arrest before Eid-ul-Fitr, lakhs of people would offer themselves for arrest as a mark of protest.

Saifullah condemned what he called the daily police excesses on Kashmiris. “I wonder where these policemen will live when we will achieve freedom. The police excesses on Kashmiris must stop forthwith,” he said.

He said more than 80 Kashmiris have been killed in police action in the past two months. “In Jammu, police uses rubber bullets to break the violent protests, but when it comes to Kashmir, people are ruthlessly killed for holding peaceful protests,” Saifullah said.

He said unity among pro-freedom leaders was the need of the hour.
Later, Saifullah led a peaceful pro-freedom demonstration at Hazratbal. The demonstration was attended by thousands of people who raised pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.

Unarmed Kashmiri freedom fighters

September 19, 2008

Kashmiri Muslims have broken new ground by waging a non-violent separation struggle but the Indian authorities seem unsure how to respond

Flowing black beard, a headband with “Allahu akbar” (God is great) and a fluttering green flag. This has been the trademark picture of the recent azadi (freedom) processions of Kashmir, where hundreds of thousands marched the streets of this disputed Himalayan region seeking a separation from India.

From a distance, it seems as if the past has returned to Kashmir. But the present contains an irrefutable truth: in place of guns, the people carry slogans. The politics of protest this time is not about the argument of power, but about the power of argument.

Kashmir is the first conflict-ridden Muslim region in the world where people have consciously made a transition from violence to non-violence, and this includes the staunch Islamists too. In fact, the wisdom behind the use of arms to fight a political struggle was being silently debated within Kashmir ever since 9/11 blurred the lines dividing terrorism and genuine political movements. The deteriorating situation inside Pakistan too had tilted the balance towards a peaceful struggle.

Thus when Kashmiris decided to come out to demand azadi recently, there were no militant attacks or suicide bombings. It was through massive unarmed processions where people shouted slogans and waved flags. And when the government tried to halt them, the anger was only manifested through stone pelting. Sensing the overwhelming public mood, the militant groups immediately declared a unilateral ceasefire, admitting the insignificance of the gun for an unarmed people’s movement.

This major shift has not been registered even as it has already formed a new discourse for Kashmir’s separatist struggle. New Delhi’s response was usual – it again used its iron fist, killing 38 unarmed protesters and injuring more than a thousand and enforcing a strict curfew with a hope that the people will be ultimately cowed down. The separatist leadership too was rounded up.

This only shows that New Delhi is misreading the script. This time the authorities are not faced with gun-wielding men but unarmed people. A heavy clampdown keeping the population indoors only puts a temporary lid on the seething anger. Instead of a military intervention, New Delhi should have immediately attempted sincere political and democratic means to engage Kashmir and calm the tempers.

New Delhi’s approach to handling Kashmir for past two decades has been simple and straight: militancy is the only problem and that can be sorted out by stringent military measures. Though there have been several rounds of negotiations with a faction of the separatist leadership too, New Delhi used the process more as a photo-op than a serious effort to address the demands of the people. There have been half a dozen occasions when separatist leadership joined a dialogue with New Delhi to resolve the Kashmir problem amicably – only to find the exercise nothing more than a surrender and thus futile.

The distrust towards New Delhi had reached such proportions that when moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq decided to join talks with New Delhi, his uncle was murdered in Kashmir. Despite a serious threat to his life, he joined the talks directly with the prime minister of India. Again, the non-serious approach of New Delhi derailed the process, further eroding the credibility of talks with New Delhi in the eyes of Kashmiris. The public standing of separatist leaders who had agreed to talk to New Delhi also diminished substantially.

The recent protests by hundreds of thousands of unarmed people too don’t seem to have changed the mindset of New Delhi’s ruling elite. Instead of acknowledging the intensity of the uprising and the depth of the sentiment in Kashmir, New Delhi again refuses to face the reality and delays engaging in a sincere dialogue with the separatist leadership. The Kashmiris have overwhelmingly announced that peaceful processions and not guns are now their favoured means of protest. This needs to be encouraged and allowed to take firm roots because it could help to put an end to the bloodshed in Kashmir and make an amicable resolution of the problem easy. The phenomenon could also have a positive influence over a dozen such violent conflicts in other Muslim regions across the world. But if peaceful protests are crushed like armed movements, another wave of violence will take root, reinforcing the idea that the gun is mightier than a slogan.


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