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An analysis of the Kashmir issue

An analysis of the Kashmir issue

Author: Praveen K. Murthy
URL: http://ptolemy.eecs.berkeley.edu/~murthy/kashmir.html

As an Indian citizen, I have been troubled and frustrated at the lack of clarity with which the whole Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) issue receives treatment in the Western press. In light of 9/11/01, and the Dec. 13th parliament attack in India, with the subsequent war mobilization in both India and Pakistan, the J&K issue has been on the front pages of most western newspapers. So it is perhaps timely to visit this issue, and present an analysis of it without mincing any words or indulging in any propaganda.

A history of the Jammu and Kashmir issue

As is well known by now, the J&K issue arose in 1947 when the maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, did not make up his mind on whether he wanted to join India or Pakistan, as was required of some 500 princes, nawabs, maharajas, and kings in the Indian princely states.

These kings were absolute rulers, and hence their decision on whether to join India or Pakistan was considered final, without any regard to any "will of their subjects". Of-course, under the imperial British and other colonizers, this was also standard practice at the time as there was no "democracy" in any of the colonized lands. We will visit the issue of the events leading up to the partition shortly, but what happened in 1947 is that Hari Singh, who was a Hindu ruling a kingdom where the majority of the people were muslims, dreamt of independence for his kingdom, and joined neither India nor Pakistan as the other 500 odd rulers had done. As the deadline approached, Pakistan, which had been formed as the homeland for subcontinents muslims, expected Kashmir to accede to Pakistan since Kashmir had a muslim majority, and was geographically contigious with it. Since Hari Singh held out for independence, Pakistan broke the status quo by sending in an irregular army of Pashtun tribals from its Northwest Frontier Province to take Kashmir by force. As Hari Singh saw his kingdom being swallowed up rapidly, he appealed to India for help. India agreed, but at the price of his accession to India. He acceded the state to India, India airlifted troops to Srinagar and saved the 50% of the state that it controls today. In fact, had the Pashtun tribals not wasted time looting and plundering, they would have probably had the entire state today. As it was, the Indian army was able to hold on to the 50% controlled by India today before a ceasefire agreement was struck, and the present line of control (LOC) was established.

After this, Nehru, India's first prime minister and a Kashmiri Brahmin himself, took the issue to the United Nations because in India's view, the entire state had been acceded to India and Pakistan should have rightfully vacated the land they had siezed illegally, by force and blood. Of-course, in Pakistan's view, they had been cheated out of land they thought rightfully belonged to them on the basis of the partition logic, despite the fact that for people in pricely states like Kashmir, the rule was for the king to decide regardless of the demographics or other considerations. The UN resolutions that were passed in 1950 were inconclusive, and required there to be a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the people to determine the future of the state. However, there were certain preconditions that were to be fullfilled before this could occur; one was for Pakistan to withdraw all of its forces and to restore the state of Jammu and Kashmir to its original, undivided status. This never happened. As Pakistan started tilting towards the US in many cold war pacts, Nehru became increasingly suspicious of Pakistani intentions, and proxy Western intentions for Kashmir, and dug in his heels regarding the plebiscite, and eventually renounced it on the theory that Pakistan had not kept its end of the bargain, that elections held under the Indian constituition in Kashmir already established that Kashmiris had a valid and effective democratic voice in the Indian union, and no further action was necessary. From the Indian point of view, Pakistan's bad faith had been permanently established: first in their invasion of a sovereign state (that they demand today rather hypocritically!), and the fact that Pakistan did not withdraw and restore the state to its original status.

The idea of India

Before we proceed any further in assigning blame or suggesting solutions, it is necessary to describe the whole logic of the partition of British India into present day India and Pakistan. The entire idea of a nation-state is a fairly modern one that has its orgins in 17th and 18th century Europe where countries like France overthrew their monarchies and became republics. Prior to this, regions existed as empires, kingdoms, principalities etc, with geographical boundaries that were determined by the fortunes and misfortunes of the endless wars waged by the rulers. In this sense, the idea of India as a nation-state is fairly new since for large parts of Indian history, the Indian subcontinent has existed as numerous warring kingdoms. To be sure, various rulers at various times had succeeded in bring most of what we think of India and Pakistan today under a unified rule; the British in the hundred years that they had control over India, largely had much of India under their control except for the hundreds of petty kingdoms that although free nominally, were still subservient to the British in the sense of having peace treaties etc.

When India won its independence in 1947, it was after nearly 800-900 years of foreign rule. For much of the last millenium, India had been attacked by Islamic armies from the middle east and central asia, and these invasions and attacks have been traumatic, to say the least, on Hindu/Buddhist civilization on the Indian subcontinent. Hundreds of temples were destroyed by fanatic muslim invaders, millions of people slaughtered and taken as slaves; in fact, what had occurred was a veritable rape of India. The recent destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban should give some indication of the savagery that must have gone on centuries ago, as the ancestors of the very same people were then ruling large parts of India. So it is of some surprise, and great credit to Hindus to note that much of India's independence Hindu leadership wanted to implement India as a modern secular, democratic, multi-religious, multi-ethnic state, instead of a "Hindu" state bent on seeking revenge for its past. In one fell swoop, the more than 500 kingdoms were absorbed into the republic of India. Today it is fashionable to call Nepal "the only Hindu kingdom in the world", as if this is some sort of historical rarity, but one forgets that fifty years ago, even in British India, there were hundreds of Hindu kingdoms. It is one of the subcontinent's singular achievements to have converted *all* these kingdoms into one modern republic. Even rational, advanced Britain still keeps its dowdy old queen around! Despite the vast tryanny that had gone on for much of the last millenium, India's Hindu leaders like Gandhi and Nehru were adamant that India should not become a "Hindu" state, but consider even its traumatic history as part of the Indian fabric. After-all, India's muslims are today as much Indians as anyone else. Nehru's vision of India was based on what he termed "5000 years of continuous Indo-Persian civilization".

India consists of numerous subcultures, religions, languages, and even races, although Indians have never differentiated themselves in any recent times on a racial basis (the way it's understood in the West for instance). Yet, the idea of India is that these differences are transcended by the overall shared culture of the Indian subcontinent as a whole. If this was the radical vision of India offered by the (mostly) Hindu leaders of the Congress party that was instrumental in the independence movement, the Indian muslim league opposed it and argued that Indian muslims were a separate nation and could never co- exist with a Hindu majority. Their argument was precisely the opposite: where Nehru/Gandhi sought to unify based on a shared Indian culture, the muslim league lead by Jinnah argued that such unity was silly because of the great heterogeneity. However, the heterogeneity was not of consequence as far as muslims were concerned because it was felt that Islam was such a great unifier that muslims on the Indian subcontinent would be one nation. Eventually, this issue could not be resolved, and the British agreed to partion India into India, that chose to follow its Nehru/Gandhian ideals, and muslim Pakistan.

The Pakistani mindset

In my opinion, and the opinion of many Indians, the real reason for a section of the muslim population arguing against the unity of India lies in their imperialist longings and delusions. As already mentioned, before the British, the muslims had been ruling India for much of the last millenium, and ruling rather violently at that. Many of these ruling class muslims harbor a feeling that Hindus are nothing but slaves who deserve and ought to be ruled over. In fact, this minority of ruling-class muslims felt that they were the natural "heirs" to India after the British left, since the British had "taken" India from them. For them, Hindus, these idol and cow worshipping Kafirs, can never be considered equal to muslims, and it is an abject shame for a muslim to have to live side-by-side, even as equals, with Hindus. This is the real crux of the problem. Now in other societies, such as the US or South Africa, undoubtedly a minority of the ruling class whites have felt similar hatred towards people whom they once considered inferior and sub-human. However, in the US they have been marginalized and wield no power or influence any more (and are even hounded by the FBI), and in South Africa, they have probably emigrated after blacks took over democratically. However, on the Indian subcontinent, these people got a neighboring country of their own, Pakistan, and their visceral hatred and distrust is kept alive because it is precisely this ruling, feudal class that rules Pakistan today, and keeps up the military-terrorist kleptocracy.

Why Kashmir is part of India

So now we can address the issue of Kashmir. Kashmiri claims of "separateness" from India have no basis because the Kasmiri subculture is just as similar to the overall idea of "Indianness", and is just as different as any of the other dozen or two subcultures in India. In other words, there is nothing more unique about Kashmir, then, say, Kerala, or Karnataka, or Bengal, or Punjab, all of which have their own unique subculture as well. In fact, Kashmir is central to the Hindu-Aryan culture that has been mytholized so much, and it has historically been a great center of Hindu/Buddhist learning. Even the islam practiced in Kashmir is mostly of the Sufi variety; Sufism is remarkably broad-minded, and accepts the validity of a variety of Hindu ideas and is quite different from the intolerant, Sunni Islam of Pakistan. If Kashmiris are not Indians, then a rather profound question arises as to who is. So for India, Kashmir is an existential issue that threatens to undermine the whole idea of Indian nationhood. Coincidentally, the Indian idea is quite similar to progressive pluralistic societies everywhere including the United States. Afterall, the modern American is no longer characterized simply by race, national origin, ethnicity, or religion. If America is to survive, we had better hope that there is a sense of "being American" that transcends all these other, more tribal, identities. I believe there is: perhaps rugged individualism, die-hard belief in democracy, market captitalism, that "frontier spirit" etc. And unlike Pat Buchanan et. al., who are threatened precisely by this multiculturalism that they see as undermining America, I believe that America was always a multicultural society; after all, it had native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and European Americans even 200 years ago. It had a constituition that theoretically upheld the equality of all citizens. That this wasn't implemented due to white tyranny should be considered a perversion rather than being seen as America's reason for being. So returning to Kashmir, India, which has never subscribed to the idea of religion being the basis of nationhood, cannot abandon the idea that Kashmir is not Indian just because parts of it have a muslim majority. In any case, the whole idea of Kashmiri independence smacks of hypocracy: would Kashmiris then hold plebiscites to determine whether the Hindu and Buddhist minorities (who are majorities in subsets of the state) want to stay? Where does one draw the line?

A negotiation of Kashmir within the Indian union opens the pandora's box of Balkanization of India into its many constituent subparts. Given that endless, unproductive internecine warfare has been the bane of the subcontinent, and that true greatness was only achieved in periods of unity, no sensible Indian can agree towards such a dissolution. And I think that Indians like the possibilities that a united India offers; a united India has the real potential for becomming a superpower, something that no Bangladesh or Pakistan will ever be. Indeed, Indians want to put aside these unproductive debates about identity and move towards economic prosperity. This is yet another reason why Kashmir is unnegotiable from the Indian point of view.

Death of the two-nation theory

The two nation theory has already been relegated to the dustbin of discarded lies of the twentieth century anyway: Bangladesh's secession from Pakistan proved that. Bangladeshis apparently felt that their common Bengali culture and language was more important to them than any Islamic "brotherhood" with west Pakistan. In any case, if Islamic unity was possible, why are there so many Sunni Arab states in the middle east? Pakistan, created as a homeland for Indian muslims, now has fewer than 33% of the muslims of the subcontinent. So all of this gives lie to the whole theory of "Indian muslims are one nation", and instead confirms my theory that the real reason for Pakistan's existence is that a small minority of ruling-class muslims cannot get used to the idea of the equality of mankind, and more particularly, the idea that muslims do not have some God-given right to rule non-muslims, plain and simple. Having read Pakistani newspapers continuously for three-four years now, I have seen these attitudes expressed so often by a parade of retired military generals and marshalls and lietuentants that there is no doubt about it.

In addition, Pakistan has struggled and failed to form any sort of identity in the last 55 years of its own. They have tried desperately to spin the illusion that Pakistan, in fact, belongs in the Middle East. Indeed, any Pakistani worth his salt will strenuously deny that his ethnic origin is of the Indian subcontinent, and instead claim that he is of Arabic or Turkish, or Persian ancestry (if he is Shia). The fact that the average Pakistani looks no different from the average Indian will not demonstrate the idiocy of his claim to him. I am reminded of the landmark documentary on Africa that Professor Gates, of Harvard university, did recently, where he talked to the people of the island of Zanzibar off the Tanzanian coast. This island was invaded by Persians or Arabs many centuries ago, and the population is largely muslim now. However, the inhabitants are just as African looking as Tanzanians and other Africans, and have skin that is just as dark, and hair that is just as curly. And yet, these people would argue strenuously with Gates that they were in fact, Persians. Gates would point out that their skin was even blacker than his own, an African American, and yet, no, they are Persians. Perhaps it is this sort of empirical evidence that has lead the author VS Naipaul to conclude that Islam is such a disruptive religion that it literally forces the converted people to abandon their own history and ancestry, and makes them slaves to Arab or Persian imperialism.

It is rather instructive to contrast this behaviour with the behaviour of the Hindu fundamentalists in India: these people want to debunk the existing idea that the Vedic Aryans, who are the supposed "ancestors" of most upper caste Hindus, were invaders who originated from Europe. For these Hindu fundamentalists, this idea flies in the face of their desire to present Indians as the permanent children of India, and not as "originating" from anywhere else. While I do not support the idea of rewriting history or distorting facts, whatever they may be, I just want to present this contrast: Hindus who want to insist that their ancestry is purely Indian, Pakistanis who want to insist that their ancestry is anything but Indian! On the internet, this sometimes leads to rather hilarious exchanges, like the one where one peace-loving Indian appealed to his "Pakistani brothers" to unite with Indians as "children of India", while a Pakistani immediately responds by saying "well, my family are actual descendents of prophet Mohammed, so I am not a 'child of India'"!

Today, Pakistan teeters on the verge of collapse, is ruled by a military dictatorship, and has had almost no democracy for much of its existence. Its former rulers and prime ministers have all either been murdered, or arrested, or exiled. I do not recall when a Pakistani leader was able to retire peacefully and lead a normal life in Pakistan. Yet, strangely enough, Pakistan talks about plebiscites and democracy in Kashmir! The Pakistani military, supposedly the only functioning instituition in Pakistan, is a miserable failure: they have lost three wars with India, and more than half their country. In fact, the 1971 war, where they lost Bangladesh, must have been such a humiliation considering that they lost to an Indian, Hindu, Kashmiri, Brahmin, WOMAN (Indira Gandhi)!! For a Pakistani of this afore-mentioned ruling class, it is difficult to think of a more humiliating scenario. And yet, even today, Pakistanis will boast of their fighting prowess, and how "Hindus are cowardly", and how one Pakistani soldier is worth ten Hindu soldiers! The delusion never ends, and perhaps it has to continue as that is the only reason for Pakistan's existence. Afterall, their entire military-terror complex has a vested stake in hostility towards India, as that allows them to spend most of their money on defence, and line their pockets in the process. Many a general in Pakistan has become impossibly rich, as have many politicians. It is a rather sad state of affairs.

For the feudal ruling class of Pakistan, destabilizing India is one of their main objectives. The existence and success of a secular democratic India flies in the face of the "two-nation theory", and sets a dangerous example, in their eyes, by causing their own citizens to ask: what was the purpose of Pakistan and partition? Hence, to propagate the myth of the two-nation theory, and Pakistan's raison d'etre, this ruling class has a vested interest in destroying Indian secularism, democracy, and balkanizing it so that they can say "we told you so". This is yet another reason why Indians cannot trust Pakistani claims on Kashmir; what happens to the other Indian muslims after that? Surely Pakistan would try to start making that an issue? In any case, one does not have to go that far: Pakistani strategy assumes that Kashmir's secession will itself pave the way for Indian collapse. This is another delusion that this class persists with.

So, I would say that the India-Pakistan conflict is quite a deep conflict that goes to the heart of identity, reading of history, and how each nation perceives its destiny. The Kashmir dispute is hardly about territory.

Debunking some persistent myths

Myth #1: They are so alike, why can't they just get along

One of the things that constantly annoys me is the mindless bleating you hear of in the Western press of how Indians and Pakistanis "are cousins", and "look alike", which somehow makes it all the more silly that they should be in constant conflict. In one sense, this reflects a racist and patronizing attitude towards all non-European peoples, whose conflicts are somehow seen as really silly and inexplicable as it supposedly has no rational basis at all. It also makes me wonder: so is it somehow more understandable if people kill only people who DON'T look like them? One would think, with all the progress we have made, that an appeal for peace should be on the basis of a shared humanity, rather than any nonsense about "being cousins" or "looking very similar". Most conflicts in the world occur between people who are quite similar! Can anyone outside Northern Ireland tell apart a Catholic Irishman from a Protestant one? Does anyone care? What about Turks and Greeks over Cyprus, or Israelis and Palestinians (recall that genetic study that showed that even European Jews were closer to Palestinians genetically than other non-Jewish Europeans). How about the Chinese versus Chinese in Taiwan. Hutus and Tutsis. In fact, what about the whole American-Soviet cold war; can the 90% of the world that is non-white tell the difference between a white American and a white Russian? Even culturally, Russia and the US are quite similar insofar as both are part of "Western, European civilization". Would the average American family have any problems getting along with the average Russian family, even during the height of the cold war? The fact is, if India is going to get into a fight with anyone, it's probably going to be someone in its neighborhood, like Pakistan, or China, or Bangladesh. What reason on earth would it have to get into a fight with Mexico, or Germany?

The above observation also applies on an individual level. After all, if you are going to get into a deep bitter, long-lasting conflict with anyone, it's likely to be a family member: a divorce with a wife/husband, a fight with parents over some disagreement, fights with siblings over inheritence or property etc. Why would one get into a fight with someone quite arbitrary and unrelated? Similarly, one might get into a dispute with one's immediate neighbors because of noise, or dogs defecating on the lawn, or garbage etc. Why would one get into a fight with the guy down the street?

So enough with the "they look alike and yet they fight" already!

Myth #2: Average Indians and Pakistanis in Hackensack, New Jersey get along, so why don't the countries

Another frequent bit of mindless drivel reported is "that people on both sides want peace. Here in the US, Indians and Pakistanis get along quite well and can't understand why their governments don't". This angle is frequently used by the Western press to reinforce the stereotype that clearly these Third World countries don't know how to behave and are sooo uncivilized. Look: their own citizens say that they can get along.

Of-course, I have never heard of a Jewish-Muslim riot in the US either, and yet noone asks why Israel and Palestinians can't get along. And I am sure there are plenty of Jewish families in the US who get along quite well with their Muslim, even Arab, even Palestinian friends. I haven't heard of any Catholic Irish Americans and Protestant Irish Americans getting into a fight either. Why don't they get along in the UK then? So the patronizing, subtle racism when it comes to the India-Pakistan conflict is quite clear from this. However, even taking the question at face value, I would like to observe that what the average person thinks in any society doesn't really matter! After all, these decisions about "national interests" and "civilizational values" are all articulated and determined by an elite group in any society. American foreign policy is made by PhDs from Berkeley and Harvard sitting in Washington think-tanks, not Joe Sixpack. I mean, during the cold war, could the average American argue rationally why communism was bad, and capitalism good, other than mouthing some platitudes? What percentage of the American population would have read deeply, Marx's manifesto? As already mentioned, would the average American family have had any trouble getting along with the average Russian family, that would have had pretty much the same desires, goals, practices, diet in day-today life? Even in a democracy as advanced and literate as America, these decisions are assigned to people presumably much smarter and wiser and knowledgable than the average person. If that is true of America, it is even truer of a democracy like India where a much greater percentage of the population is illiterate and unsophisticated. And it is orders of magnitude truer in countries like Pakistan that are even more illiterate, and that don't even have any sort of representative or consensual government. At least in a democracy, there is some possibility that a range of opinion can emerge, and even find itself in power. That is quite impossible in dictatorships. So it is of no consequence what the average person thinks or wants, particularly one living 10,000 miles away. The average person is not in charge of security or "implementing the national vision", so the fact that he can "get along" with another such average person doesn't really mean much. If all existence could be boiled down to simply a search for food, shelter, and a decent slice of Tiramisu, there would be no conflicts or wars or killings at all! We could all eat marshmellows and be happy!

Myth #3: Indo-Pak conflict is the cause of poverty

Another piece of nonsense thrown about is that the "India-Pakistan conflcit is keeping both countries in poverty". Hmm, let's examine this hypothesis by looking at other countries on the Indian subcontinent. Take Bangladesh. Despite having a homogenous population, despite not having any "Kashmir problem with India", despite not being obsessed with weapons of mass destruction, why is Bangladesh in such poor shape? Or consider Nepal, another basket case that cannot decide whether it wants to be a monarchy, a democracy, or Maoist dictatorship long after Mao is dead (long live Mao!). Or how about Sri Lanka: 18 years of civil war and no end in sight. And the best of them all: Afghanistan! 'Nuff said.

The fact is that, at least for India, Kashmir's problems hardly make a difference. During the 1990's, when the Kashmir rebellion was in full swing, India grew its economy at the rate of 6.5% per year on average, one of the fastest in the world. In fact, a 20% increase in efficiency and a 20% reduction in corruption would probably do far more for India than any peace dividend in Kashmir. This is not to suggest for one moment that peace there is not desireable or needed--of course it is--but let us not overstate the problem and somehow assume that the conflict there is holding all progress hostage. That is simply nonsense. It is also instructive to realize that the Kashmir conflict is being fought mostly with bullets, grenades, and guns. These are the cheapest military equipment there are, and their cost pales in comparison to nuclear weapons, second-strike capability, a blue- water navy, long range missiles and ICBMs, advanced fighter jets, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and spy satellites. It is highly unlikely that India would forego any of these things even with peace in kashmir, since these are all things that a big country like India ought to have in order to maintain balance with unpredictable, totalitarian states like China. So the idea that without Kashmir, India would suddenly become the United States is rather silly. What India needs, and indeed all of the Third World, is good governance, responsible civic-minded leaders, good, sensible economic policies, transparency, and no corruption. These are the things that will make the real difference, regardless of whether there is peace in Kashmir or not.

Myth #4: Pakistan's break from jihad signals a turnaround

Much has been made of Musharrafs Jan. 12th, 2002 speech where he supposedly signaled a break from the fundamentalists. While this might be great for Western interests, it should hardly be of any real comfort to India since all it signals is the , perhaps, the end of the means, and not necessarily the ends. There is no indication that Pakistan intends to change the whole way in which it percieves itself vis-a-vis India. That it now finds the jihadi means to be ineffective might simply mean that it will look for alternatives. The real problem is the feudal, hate-mongering class that rules Pakistan, and this group has never been the fundamentalists themselves. Fundamentalist Islam has been used by this class very cynically to provide a cheap source of canon fodder for their deadly game. Indeed, the Pakistani military today has no capacity to fight the Indian army to save its life. So the establishment has been using their illiterate rabble as their canon fodder for fighting the Indians. It is difficult to think of a case where a population has been exploited more callously than this. Thousands of these jihadis have died like cockroaches in Kashmir, with scarcely even an acknowledgement by the establishment (afterall how can they: that would be an admission of guilt). After the rout of the Taliban, and another unceremonious slaughter of hundreds of Pakistani fodder, in Afghanistan, one wonders how long the Pakistani underclass will continue to be fooled by their mullahs and government agencies. Already there are demands for apologies and renumeration for those killed by these Pakistani policies and lies. Hence, the abandonment of the jihadi strategy is necessary for the military, since it's going to happen sooner or later anyway. In light of this, it is necessary for India to keep the heat on, and judge by actions rather than words. Long term peace will not come until Pakistan is rescued from the clutches of this hateful class.

Pakistan's culpability for 9/11

IN FACT, I believe that Pakistan's ISI has at least some responsibility for the 9/11 attacks in the US. There is just too much of a fishy smell the way that Omar Sheikh Saeed, an ISI agent and terrorist who wired money to Mohammed Atta has been covered up by the media. In fact, the day before 9/11, the head of the ISI, Mahmud Ahmed WAS IN WASHINGTON meeting senior CIA officials. Not only does Ahmed have links with Sheikh, we know he had met Bin Laden many times, and was DISMISSED from his post soon after 9/11. For some reason, this never been reported much in the media. Why doesn't the US push for Ahmed's extradition? What did the ISI know about the 9/11 plot? Can we imagine that had the head of Iraqi intelligence been involved in this manner, Iraq would not have been attacked by now? Anyway, here is a website that explores the links between the ISI, 9/11, and Omar Sheikh. If that link is broken, here it is, reproduced: Local copy.

In my opinion, I would not be surprised if elements in the ISI were actively involved in the 9/11 plot. One possible motive for them would be to ingratiate themselves with the US afterwards to start pulling in aid and military supplies, just as it's happening. Also, one sees that dictator Musharraf has managed to cement himself into power in a way that would have been much more difficult without 9/11. Not only has he thwarted democracy by changing the consituition to his hearts content, but he has guaranteed that the military remains the supreme force in Pakistani politics. Before 9/11, this would have been extremely difficult, with all of the economic sanctions and more sanctions if anything like this usurping of power had occured (or that fraudulent "referendum" that was held in April 2002). However, now, with Bush declaring that "he's still tight with us in the fight against Al Qaeda", he has been able to do what all this easily, while continuing to get billions of dollars in loan writeoffs and aid.

Pakistan's manipulation of the US is a classic case of "pissing on someone's leg and telling them it's raining". That's exactly what the Pakistanis have been upto.

The biggest beneficaries from 9/11 has undoubtedly been the military-terrorist regime in Islamabad. It's difficult for me to believe that this Bush administration is that gullible. Or is there a more serious case of blowback at work here, with the CIA's unholy alliance with the ISI coming home to roost? Whatever the case, it all smells worse than an open sewer in a Karachi slum.

It's also appropriate here to demolish another little ditty that's bandied about: "In Pakistan, fundamentalists have never won more than 3% of the vote in any election". This is cited often to prove that Pakistan is a "moderate" state. First of all, there haven't been that many elections in Pakistan to really know one way or the other. The few elections that have taken place have been so fraudulent that one of these "elections" was even the cause of the 1971 civil war that resulted in Pakistan's dismemberment at the hands of India. Secondly, Pakistan was established as an "Islamic republic" which means that even the baseline state is far more fundamentalist in comparison to secular democracies like India and the US. Afterall, in an Islamic republic, non-Moslems are second class citizens to begin with. In fact, in Pakistan, even a group that believes in the Koran and Mohammed is classified as non-Moslem because they do not believe that Mohammed was the last prophet (the Ahmediyyas), and thus second class citizens. In light of this, the word "moderate" needs to be redefined. In a secular country like India, you can run on an anti-Hindu, anti-religion platform as many parties do (for instance, the various communist parties that rule states like Kerala and West Bengal, or the 'Dravidian' parties in Tamil Nadu that are based on the foundations laid by Periyar who hated religion, Hinduism in particular). Such a party in Pakistan would be unlikely to even open an office, let alone run for power or win. Taking comfort in the fact that religious fundamentalists haven't won more than 3% in a few rigged elections is a bit like taking comfort in the fact that the latest mafia don only has two hits to his name and not fifteen like some others.

Myth #5: Indians should reach out to Pakistanis and establish brotherhood.

I am not quite sure how to put this, since I am not against any brotherhood or friendly relations. However, what I am troubled by is that a section of the Indian population continues to believe that Pakistan is India's little sibling, and that if we just reach out to them, they will see that they too are children of the Indian subcontinent. This leads to ludicrous things such as the whole "south asian" movement in the US. In my opinion, Pakistanis have rejected the Indian label long ago. So I do not see why Indians should persist in trying to assimilate Pakistanis under the Indian identity. They do not want to be a part of it, they do not believe in the entire range of multicultural plurality of the Indian subcontinent, so why keep trying. In fact, it's all rather pathetic: while these Indian peaceniks try to "reach out" to Pakistanis, the same Pakistanis are convinced of the diabolical nature of Indians who they percieve as wanting to steamroll all identity that is not Indian. This attempt at assimilation is precisely what they hate, so I have never understood why these Indians even try. I think that Pakistan and Pakistanis should be left alone to forge their own identity, and they are free to make it as non-Indian as they like!

I suspect that this impulse for brotherhood on the Indian side, even though it is rejected outright by even the most liberal Pakistani, comes from those Indians who feel the most ethnic kinship with Pakistanis. These Indians are invariably Punjabi, or from Western UP or Kashmir, and traditionally they have dominated Indian national politics. So their ethnic ties with punjabis on the Pakistani side, for instance, has to be admitted. However, the percentage of Indians who are from these parts of India is miniscule, and they do not speak for all Indians. Indeed, the most dynamic parts of India today are the south, and the west, and I suspect that most people in these parts do not feel any kinship with Pakistanis at all. Unlike Lucknow, where Urdu is an important part of the local culture (Urdu is a language like Hindi, but has been assoicated with Muslims in India for a long time. Urdu was basically born of Hindi and Persian during Moghal rule, although I am sure a Pakistani will strenuously deny any links to Hindi!), Urdu is not of much consequence in the south or west. As a south indian, hindu vegetarian myself, I have nothing in common with the muslim punjabi Pakistani. The same could be said for an Indian muslim punjabi as well, but we do share the belief in India! That is the central difference: identity is not based on ethnicity or language, but ideals, or even a belief in geography, or a sense of shared history. These are precisely the things that have been rejected by Pakistanis. An analogy would be: does a white American feel greater kinship with a black American (ok, let's say an assimilated black American) than, say, a Polish person? Now, a Polish American might indeed feel some affinity for Polish people, but that does not extend to all of America. To me, the Indian who wants to establish brotherhood with the Pakistani on the basis of ethnic ties is doing it all wrong: the Indian identity is not about tribal/ethnic ties, and the Pakistani rejects precisely those types of ties. So what is the point? I suspect that as the south and western parts of India surge forward, surely this will have an impact on the Indian leadership as well, and we can formulate more rational, and less emotional policies towards Pakistan and Pakistanis, and stop trying to assimilate them.

In the US, this attempt at brotherhood has lead to the "South Asian" identity being adopted by some second generation immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. I question the need for this identity: what purpose does it serve? We already know that any Pakistani who admits to a commonality with Indians is going against the grain of his entire identity; hence, most so- called "south asians" are actually Indians! Besides, in the US, old-world politics is of no concern. (If it is, then how can one ignore the radically divergant politics of the Indian subcontinent and treat it in a unified way?) So in what sense should this identity be helpful? If skin color is the driving force, then there are many other groups with brown skin now: hispanics, Vietnamese, mulattoes etc. Cultural similarity is nonsense, since religious and other differences limit any similarity to only common ethnic groups like Punjabis. As a Hindu, I probably have more in common with the 5-10 million Americans who practice Yoga, are into "eastern spirituality", flirt with vegetarianism, meditate etc, than any second generation Pakistani. So as far as identity goes, I believe that Indian-Americans should have the Indian one as the ethnic tie, and simply expand that to American for dealing with things American. Intermediate groupings like "south asian" or even "asian" make little sense. Leave the Pakistanis alone (and Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans etc -- everyone who hates association with India and Indianess anyway)!

This appears to have dawned on Indians in Britain, who are now demanding that the "Asian" grouping there be dropped since they don't want to be confused with the rioting Pakistani and Bangladeshi youths. The difference in levels of assimilation between Pakistanis/Bangladeshis, and Indians can be seen in the following sort of example: Nassir Hussain, an Indian-born muslim, and Omar Sheikh, a Pakistani-born muslim, were both brought up in England and attended the London School of Economics. After that, Hussain became the captain of that most English of instituitions, the England cricket team (and true to form, Hussain has been whining about the weather during the recent India tour, as any good English captain should), while Sheikh has joined various jihads, fought in Kashmir, and was one of the terrorists released by India in 1999 during the Indian airlines hijacking. Sheikh is also suspected of wiring $10,000 to Mohammed Atta in days leading up to 9/11, and has been "found guilty" in the murder of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter.

Myth #6: A stable and prosperous Pakistan is in India's best interest

This is another bit of 'truism' that is thrown around, without any analysis of its validity. I am not completely sold on this cannard yet, since I would like to wonder aloud, if it is so true, why the same does not apply to Cuba for instance. Here is a state that is communist and is ideologically opposed to the US, but is still so weak that it could never do the US any real harm. And yet, for decades, the US has operated on the principle that it must destroy the Cuban regime before it allows Cuba any room for prosperity; hence the trade embargo and inclusion of Cuba as a "terrorist state". If this policy works for the US, why is a reverse policy needed for India? The Pakistani regimes, as already mentioned, have *always* been ideologically opposed to India. They have *always* crafted, as a matter of policy, the destruction of India. So why is a "stable prosperous Pakistan" in Indian interests? I believe that as long as Pakistan remains ideologically opposed to India, India should treat Pakistan the same way the US treats Cuba, and India should work to actively to destabilize the Pakistani regime and work to usher in a government there that is friendly towards India and does not debate and fight over existential issues like identity and geographic status quo. In fact, I would argue that the US obsession with Cuba is quite ridiculous; Cuba has no capacity to threaten US security in any way. Pakistan, however, threatens Indian security very much, especially with weapons of mass destruction. Hence, the stable, prosperous myth needs to be shattered, and Indian policy should be one of intolerance for anti-Indian regimes on its borders.

Myth #7: US support of dictatorships in the ME leads to terror

This is a bit tangential to the whole Kashmir issue, but is a cannard that's been thrown around liberally since 9/11. People point out that the US supports "unsavoury, undemocratic regimes" in places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt and this is why terrorism flourishes. The fallacy with this argument, it seems to me, is that democracy does not exist in the Islamic world period. Syria has been at odds with the US for the longest time; Hafeez Asad was no ally of the US, and yet where is the democracy in Syria? The US has had Syria on its list of "terrorist states" for the longest time. Same with Saddam Hussein's Iraq: for at least 12 years now, the US does not support him. When Musharraf seized power in Pakistan, there was no US support for him, or for Pakistan for that matter. Ditto with Iran, where the US is no friends with the mullahs. Or Libya? Reagan bombed Tripoli and Khaddafi's house way back in 1986! But he is still the dictator of that country. Other examples that have no US support include Sudan, and Somalia; neither is a functioning democracy either. In contrast, in Serbia, after the bombing there, they have overthrown Milosevic and are on their way to democracy. This is not to defend US foriegn policy; the US has certainly supported plenty of unsavoury charcters throughout, but that hardly suggests that without US support these places would have necessarily become beacons of democracy.

A call for peace

Finally, one wonders why Kashmiris would do a better job of governing themselves. After-all, the other Muslim nations on the Indian subcontinent have proven far more inept than even India! To wit: Afghanistan, a spectacularly failed state, Pakistan, a state on the verge of collapse that is regularly called one of the top five most corrupt states in the world, and Bangladesh, that last year was called the most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International! If India has rigged elections in Kashmir, consider that Pakistan has barely held any elections at all, and has supressed "freedom" movements in places like Balochistan far more brutally than anything India has done in Kashmir. The Pakistani army killed between 1.5 million to 3 million Bangladeshis in 1971. For any Kashmiri to think that their future belongs with Pakistan is foolishness of the highest kind. In fact, the syncretic Kashmiri sufism is far more compatible with the inclusive secular ethos of India, and not the satanic Wahabi poison practiced by many Pakistanis. To be sure, India has governed Kashmir badly, but then the same can be said of most states in India. This is why India is still a developing country! Allegations of election rigging happen everywhere in India. And with 650 million eligible voters, it is difficult to imagine it not happening somewhere, although remarkable improvements have been made. Taking up violent struggle for percieved "bad governance" is quite inexcusable, and Kashmiris have to realize that they should fight for good governance and freedom from corruption; that is a fight all Indians will agree with. It is quite clear that once peace comes to Kashmir, India would be more than happy to live up to its ideals, and Kashmiris would be the biggest benificaries. Also, the type of politiking that was present when the Congress was the dominant party, is difficult to imagine now since no party has that sort of power any more, and is unlikely to. With coalition governments being the order of the day in Indian politics, I am quite sure that Kashmir, as any state, is much less likely to have interference from Delhi.

So in summary, India will never give up Kashmir, and never should. Kashmiris should abandon their deadly violence, and work to make India live up to its ideals, and no, democracy does not mean the right to secede. Pakistanis should take control of their country from the hateful, feudal class that is choking it to death, and pursue a sensible path of progress based on existing borders. The LoC (line of control) should be converted to the permanent border, so that everyone can move on.

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