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July 05, 2020

India - Pakistan Relations and Pak's Role in Kashmir

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Essay on Indo-Pak Relations and Kashmir

The unrest in Kashmir, and the violence there, are the result of a series of deceits and aggressions by Pakistan, as follows :
  • It has provoked four wars :
    1. The initial one in 1947-48
    2. The 1965 war
    3. The 1971 war and
    4. The Kargil war of 1999
  • It has supported and promoted terrorism in India, especially in J&K, by terrorists trained and funded by its intelligence agency ISI, and its Army, most of the terrorists being non-Indian citizens. Some recent examples are the Parliament Attack (2001); the Mumbai terror attack (2008); in 2016-17, attacks on Pathankot Air base; and attacks on Uri and Nagrota bases of the army. 
  • Though it was agreed, in the Shimla Agreement of July 1971, that both nations would treat the Kashmir issue as a purely bilateral one, it continues to try to internationalise the issue using political, religious (and even terrorist acts) tools; 
  • Active support, funding training and providing human manpower for terrorist organisations, such as "Jammu and Kashmir Libertion Front" (JKLF), "Hizb-ul-Mujaheeden" and several other terrorist organizations. 
  • Providing refuge to terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed, who has a bounty of $10 million announced by USA and JKLF "President" Amanullah Khan.
  • In 1999, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee undertook a journey by bus to Lahore to meet his counterpart Nawaz Sharif. The "Lahore Declaration" was signed in February 1999 to 
    • Start a dialogue for solving all issues between the two countries and 
    • Not to interfere in each other's affairs. 
  • The Pakistanis reponded by the deceitful Kargil invasion, with the military objectives of cutting NH 1A (that joins Kargil and Leh) and occupying Indian Territory south of LOC (Line of Control). The Kargil War ensued, which India won, forcing Pakistani withdrawal from the areas they had occupied. 
  • It has ceded a part of J and K, the 1942 sq km Shasgam Valley to China. 
The upshot of all this is the two nuclear nations (both have nuclear weapons) remain hostile, and a permanent peace between the two seems elusive for the reasons largely revolving around Kashmir, as follows :
  • Jinnah then, and Pakistan even now, believed and believe in the "two-nation theory", of separate nations for Hindus and Muslims and, apart from strategic reasons, claim Kashmir because of its Muslim-majority population. This is not at all acceptable to India and is, in fact, anathema to it because of its belief in secularism and a secular state, as evidenced by its Muslim population of 15%.
  • As Pakistan commentator Khaled Ahmed has noted, Pakistani nationalism comprises 95% of "India hatred". They call it Islam because that is how Pakistanis have learnt to differentiate between India and themselves. The hatred extends to banning Bollywood movies.
  • The real power in Pakistan lies with the Army. The raison d'etre for its pre-eminent position is the threat from "enemy" India. Democracy and elections are a farce, as elected governments have no say in Pakistan's policy towards India, and Pakistan Army's budget. (In any case, Pakistan has had several military coups and many Generals like Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Pervez Musharraf have ruled the country). Whenever an elected government tries to make peace with India, it is deposed, as the case of Nawaz Sharif twice, once after the Kargil War and once recently.
  • Peace with India would hugely undercut the Army's importance and its budget. Ayesha Jalal, a Pakistan historian, wrote in her book The Struggle for Pakistan, that 'in 1973, a disproportionate 90% of the federal budget went to military ends'. The Pakistan Army today is also Pakistan's largest company, having shares in businesses ranging from clothing to ships. It has, therefore, often been said that every state has an army, Pakistan Army has a state!
  • Pakistan is over invested in Kashmir, calling it Pakistan's "jugular vein", and "partition's unfinished agenda". It also seeks revenge for its humiliating defeat in the 1971 war wen Bangladesh became independent and India took over 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war (whom India graciously returned). 
  • Hatred towards India and the Kashmir issue also serve to unite Pakistan in the face of both Baluchi and Sindh Secessionist movement. 
Conclusion : In conclusion, peace between India and Pakistan seems implausible, at least in the medium term future, especially as the Kashmir issue seems intractable in view of the interests of the all powerful Pakistani Army, and its spawning of terror and unrest in India, especially Kashmir.

Unfortunately, as the ex-Prime Minister Vajpayee quoted, "we can change our friends, not our neighbors", stands true in our condition. 
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