Dr. Anil A. Athale
The dispute over Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is one of the oldest unresolved post Second World War conflict. India and Pakistan, have fought two wars over it. The province is divided between India and Pakistan by a line of actual control and the two armed forces are deployed face to face. There are allegations by India that Pakistan is inducting armed mercenaries across this border. Pakistan alleges that Indian forces are carrying out brutal repression against the Muslims of Kashmir. Pakistanis claim that as a Muslim majority area it should rightfully have formed part of Pakistan at the time of independence in 1947. Merging Kashmir with Pakistan is termed as the 'unfinished business of partition'. Pakistan points out that under the instrument of accession and also the proposals of Commission of UN Security Council dated 13 August 1948, India had agreed to decide the future of Jammu and Kashmir according to the wishes of the people but the truce agreement was never implemented as Pakistan did not agree to withdraw its forces from the territory captured. India argued that the ruler of the state accepted merger in to India under the terms of the act of British parliament. Sheikh Abdullah, the popular leader and his party the National Conference also supported this move. According to the Indians in 1957 the duly elected constituent assembly of the state merged the state with India and the issue of ascertaining the wishes of people is no longer valid. Irrespective of the merits of Indian or Pakistani case over Kashmir, the undisputed fact is that tensions over this dispute has the potential to lead to a war between the two states. After the May 1998 nuclear tests by both, world fears that this dispute could well be the world's nuclear flash point. Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim Khan, the President of Pakistani part of Kashmir, told a seminar on 24 August 1997 that this problem is 'the cause' of Indo-Pak discord. 'Once the Kashmir dispute is resolved according to the United Nations resolutions, a genuine process of dialogue can begin in the subcontinent, and all pending matters can be resolved.' The other school considers it as a 'symptom' of adversarial relations between the two. The reality lies somewhere in between. A simplistic approach that ignores the past cannot succeed. Even the decision to bury the past must be based on the clear understanding of history of failed attempts to solve the issue. .
The problem of Jammu and Kashmir is at once an internal, regional and international problem. None of these factors operate in a water- tight compartment and often interact on each other. This has made the issue complex and has been responsible for lack of progress towards a solution. The whole gamut of issues would be tackled in two parts,
Part I Diagnosis and Analysis
Part II Analysis of Major Trends and Path towards Peace.
DIAGNOSIS AND ANALYSIS
A Brief Introduction to the Indian Subcontinent
The triangular landmass of Asia that juts into the Indian Ocean is India. Geography of partial isolation and protection offered by it gave birth to a distinctive civilisation. Ruins at Mohenjodaro and Harrapa are estimated to be nearly 5500 old. (1) (2)
The Indian history of the period till Alexander's raid in fourth century BC, is based on the Puranas and two epics, the Ramayan (story of Ram) and Mahabharat. Most Indian historical records are extinct as the cradle of Indian civilisation in the northern plains came under the rule of tribals. Libraries at Taxashila (near modern day Islamabad in Pakistan) and at Nalanda (in Bihar province of India) were destroyed and books burnt. (3) It is due to the oral tradition that some of the Indian heritage survived. Islam came to India in the eighth century but was confined to Sindh province. In 13th century, tribes from present day Afghanistan attacked and captured most of the northern plains. The period of Sultanates in Delhi ended when a Seljuk Turk Baber established a kingdom at Delhi in 1556 AD. Popularly called the Mughal Empire, this was to last nearly 150 years. These invasions were part of the tide of Islam that spread Islam from Europe to China in the Middle Ages.
However only the northern part of India came fully under Muslim domination for a long period. Significant part of the East and most of the south, maintained a tenuous independence When the invaders from Asia Minor were expanding in North, in South, powerful kingdom of Chola was colonising much of South East Asia. The last of the major Kingdom in South was that of Vijaynagar that lasted till 1588.(4)
There is much that separates the Hindus and Muslims and synthesis between them was slow to come. Yet it is clear that by 18th century, India had evolved a distinct style of architecture that was a blend of Indian and Persian, a new language Urdu that was a mixture of Sanskrit, Arabic and Farsi and even cuisine, often called the 'Mughlai' (or after the Mughals). The Indian classical music evolved absorbing Middle Eastern influences into a rich tapestry and Sufi sect of Islam and Bhakti cult among Hindus, preached the doctrine of love and human brotherhood. (5)
Politically, the Hindu as well as Muslim rulers made adjustments to the demography and were sensitive to the beliefs of their subjects. The Mughal's owed their conquests to the army that consisted of more than sixty percent Hindu Rajputs. Many Muslim soldiers and generals served the Hindu Marathas loyally even against their Muslim opponents. (6)
It was in west-coast province of Maharashtra that in the course of twenty-two years of guerrilla war in the early l8th century, the power of Mughal Empire was effectively broken. The Marathas from Maharashtra attempted to fill the power vaccum but were weakened in a war with Afghans in 1761. In this vacuum stepped in the British, first under the East India Company and later directly. India became a British colony in 1857.
The first serious challenge to the British supremacy was mounted by the dis-satisfied Indian soldiers of the British Indian army and some of the erstwhile rulers in 1857. Both the Hindus and Muslims fought unitedly, though unsuccessfully, against the industrial might of the British. Drawing a useful lesson from this near disaster, the British assiduously embarked on a policy of accentuating the Hindu Muslim divide in India.
After the unsuccessful effort at armed resistance, the British let loose brutal repression on the Indians. In its aftermath there was a major churning in the Indian society. The Indian renaissance took place mainly in the cities and was neither deep nor widespread. However, in its wake social reforms, English education and moderate politics came to the forefront..The Hindus were quick to take to this and soon a sizeable middle class emerged in India. With the exception of Sir Syed Ahmed and his Aligarh movement, the Muslims were slow to join this. The Muslim elite suffered as they lost their military jobs. The Muslim masses, mainly artisans and craftsmen, became victim of the British policy of deliberate destruction of Indian industry. The Muslim anger and frustrations and similar problems of Hindus in a colonial situation, often resulted in communal riots. Imperial rule impeded the natural process of cultural and political unity and perpetuated a communal divide
As the British grip over India weakened and independence became a possibility, many Muslims felt that their separate religious identity would not be safe in an independent democratic state as it would be dominated by the majority, Hindus. Out of this mindset was born the demand for an independent state of Pakistan. Poet Mohammed Iqbal became the vocal spokesman of the new state. He wrote,"A consolidated North Western Muslim state appears to be the destiny of Indian Muslims." At the height of Second World War, when Gandhi launched his quit India movement, Jinnah, the leader of Muslim League was quick to seize the opportunity and decided to co-operate with the British in return for the promise of an independent state of Pakistan at the end of the war. (7)
In 1950 India adopted a Republican constitution with federalism. The enforceable fundamental rights granted all citizens freedom of religion, speech and equality before law. The Indian constitution also gave special rights to the linguistic and religious minorities. The `ideal' of a just and equitable society has far from achievement in India but there has been an attempt to move towards this goal. At the time of independence, close to 11 percent of India population was Muslim. According to the 1981 census the number has increased. Religion wise statistics for the 1991 census are not available but it would be correct to say that the proportion of Muslims could have gone up to 20 percent. (8)
Pakistan lost its founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah early. The independent state of Pakistan that came into existence was a geographic anomaly with the two wings separated by 2000 kms of Indian territory. Early loss of pre-independence leadership early in its history plunged Pakistan in a political turmoil and led to military takeover. Ayub Khan, who took over reins in the early 50s gave the country a limited democracy. But he had to go in wake of popular agitation in 1968-69. In the meanwhile the tensions between the Eastern wing and Western wing of Pakistan came to a boil in 1970-71. Pakistan blamed India for its troubles. In December 1971, the Indian supported Bengali guerrillas and regular Indian armed forces acting in concert brought about independence of Eastern wing, now called Bangladesh. In 1973 Pakistan gave itself a constitution and became Islamic republic. It again came under militray rule in 1977-78. General Zia Ul Haq who came into power further Islamised the country by an ordinance on 1 April 1979. Zia Ul Haq ordered revision of text books and brought education on Islamic lines, established Sharia benches (religious courts) , enacted blasphemy law. (9)
Legacy of Mistrust
This brief survey of last 51 years of history of Indian subcontinent shows that the 1947 partition of India into two, and after 1971, three states has not solved the problem of historical animosities. Pakistan claims that India has never accepted the two nation theory that propounds that Muslims of the Indian subcontinent are a separate 'nation' and that Pakistan is their 'homeland'.(10) It feels that India has been doing everything possible to undo Pakistan. It blames India for separation of Bangaldesh. Not accepting merger of Jammu & Kashmir with Pakistan is another proof of Indian ill-intentions.
India argues that the conflict is not communal; it is a mini cold war between a secular, democratic & pluralistic society verus theocratic autocracy. Though it has accepted the partition as a fact it cannot accept the two nation theory as that would impact on the minorities in India. In view of the vast diversities, it can only survive as one entity on the basis of secularism.
It is this background of ever increasing spiral of mistrust between the two countries that makes the problem of Jammu & Kashmir even more intractable.
Geography and Demography of Jammu & Kashmir.
The province is divided into several distinct areas from racial, linguistic and historical point of view. The area of old principalities of Gilgit and Hunza that lie beyond the Karakoram (currently under Pakistan) have people of Mongolian race and are close to Central Asia. Area of the Indus and Jhelum valleys, to the west of Jammu, is linguistically and ethnically closer to Punjab than J&K. (11)
In the parts of province under Indian control there are three major divisions. Of the total population of 7.72 million nearly 50 % live in the Srinagar valley that comprises of 9 % of the total area of the state. Ladakh comprises nearly 46% of the state is predominantly Buddhist but sparsely populated, barely 0.3 million. The rest of the area is Jammu division, which accounts for 45 % population. In Jammu division, Hindus form a majority(about 51 % )while the rest are Muslims. In the state overall, Shias form 20 % of the population. There are many villages with mixed population throughout the state. Even in the predominantly Muslim Srinagar valley, Kashmiri Hindus (called Pandits) numbered 200,000 till 1990 when in wake of terrorist violence most of them had to leave their homes. These people are presently living in refugee camps near Jammu. (12)
The Kashmir valley at the height of over 5000 feet, that lies beyond Pir Panjal range is to the North bound by the Great Himalyan range and to the east and south by Ladakh and Zanskar range. Both these ranges rise above 18000 feet and are a formidable barrier to normal movement. The natural route to the Kashmir valley is through the Jhelum gorge that opens up towards the west. Kashmir valley is surrounded by areas that are ethnically and linguistically different. The mountain barriers ensured that Kashmir valley developed in isolation from the rest of the areas. Easy defendability and fertile land gave rise to a rich culture that produced some of the best literature in Indian history. Isolation and lack of external threat also made internecine quarrels frequent and the greatest threat to the political stability came from within.
Archaeological finds in the Chenab valley as well as at Harwan near Srinagar date back to the Mohenjodaro-Harappa period of 3500 BC.(13) Kashmir is fortunate in having an authentic source of written history. Kalhana wrote his work, 'Rajatarangini' between 1148-1149 AD. (14) He not only dealt with his own period but also compiled history based on available oral evidence of the happenings in the past centuries. Besides Kalhana, Chinese traveler Hsuan-tsang and Arab scholar Alberuni have contributed significantly to our understanding of Kashmir's past. In mid eighth century, Lalitaditya ruled Kashmir. The Martand temple built by him survives todate. The next important ruler of Kashmir was Avantivarman (AD 855-883). During his reign an engineer Suyya widened the gorge through which the river Vitasta (now Jhelum) flows out of the valley. With this brilliant engineering feat he solved the problem of water-logging and flooding in the valley. The next king of note was Zain -Ul-Abidin who ruled Kashmir from 1421 to 1472 AD. He was a tolerant ruler and encouraged the ancient arts and study of Sanskrit language. (15) Except for these periods, history of Kashmir reads like a chronicle of misgovernance. Weak rulers followed each other in quick succession. Bandits devastated the country and soldiers and landlords became the king-makers. In 1587 Mughal Emperor Akbar conquered Kashmir and brought it under his rule. There followed a long period of 200 years of peace under iron rule. In 1739, Kashmir came under the rule of Kabul. The 1819 a joint delegation of Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus went to Lahore, the capital of Sikhs, and sought help to oust the Afghans from Kashmir. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler, ousted the Afghans from J&K. In 1846 by treaty of Amritsar between the Sikhs and the British, Kashmir came into the possession of Sikh General Gulab Singh, a Hindu Dogra, who established the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The present shape and identity of the province dates back to this event. (16)
Major events in history could be attributed to large social forces, influence of individuals , conspiracy or pure accident. History of Kashmir's accession to India in 1947 had elements of all these aspects. The roots of current problems lie imbedded in the events of that momentous year.
The modern history of Kashmir is dominated by the personality of Sheikh Abdullah, a charismatic personality with an image of father figure. He was called the ' Lion of Kashmir (Sher E Kashmir)'. As much as he moulded the public opinion in Kashmir, their aspirations, urges and sentiments affected his politics. Abdullah dreamed of an independent Kashmir and influenced the thinking of people of Kashmir for several generations. (17) The Sheikh launched an agitation against the Dogra rule to get a better representation for Muslims in government jobs. Large tracts of land were similarly owned by the non- Muslims. To get national level support for his fight, he modified the constitution of his party, the Muslim Conference and converted it into a secular organisation called the 'National Conference' in 1939. In 1947 he tried to secure the agreement of Indian and Pakistani leaders to an independent Kashmir. The response of both the sides was negative. Pakistan was however not prepared to wait and launched a thinly disguised attempt to annex Kashmir by force. (18) from his pocket to facilitate the tribal invasion. Sheikh was in a dilemma, while he did not want to join India, neither did he favour joining Pakistan. He wriggled his way out of this by accepting a 'temporary' and limited accession with India and sought Indian help to protect valley from the depredations of unruly tribals. (19)
The events in Kashmir in 1947 were also propelled by historical forces. The main force was the unique character of Kashmiri Islam. Kashmiris are the most 'recent' mass converts to Islam in the Indian subcontinent. Largest majority were forced to give up the religion of their forefathers in the 17th and 18th century under the rule of Mughal Emperor Aurengzeb. Even todate, most common family name in Kashmir is Butt, a distortion of Bhatt, a Hindu surname most common amongst the Brahmins in India.
Kashmir has the largest number of Durgahs or graves of holy men, in total violation of the strict Islamic code that prohibits such practices. Many of the saints are worshipped by both the communities. The patron saint of Kashmir Nurrudin is known as Nand Rishi to Hindus. Sufi saints of Kashmir continued the tradition of learning and tolerance. A Kashmiri Islam is closer emotionally and culturally to secular India rather than a strict Wahaabi Islam that has come to dominate the Indian subcontinent.(20)
Merger of Kashmir and Seeds of Indo-Pak Conflict.
The British parliament passed the Indian Independence Act on 17 June 1947. Sir Cyril Radciffe , a London Barrister was appointed chairman of the commission that was to divide the British provinces of Punjab and Bengal. The Muslim majority provinces of Sindh, Baluchistan and North West Frontier along with the Muslim majority areas of Bengal and Punjab were to constitute a separate state of Pakistan.
In 1947, besides the provinces directly ruled by the British, India was divided into 562 principalities which were ruled by local chieftains (commonly referred to as Princes). The plan of division of India left the fate of these 'Princely states' undecided. Leagally, after the lapse of British imperial authority on 14/15 August 1947, these states would become independent. The British, at the behest of major political parties in India and Pakistan, advised the states to join either of the two. The British let it be known that they would neither oppose nor support move for independence. The decision to join either of the new states was left to the ruler. To facilitate the merger a department was set up with Mr V. P. Menon as its secretary. (21)
India and Pakistan followed different yardsticks for the merger of Princely states. Pakistan recognised the right of the ruler to decide while India asserted that the merger issue must be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people. According to the Indian view, the choice of people should be ascertained either through a referendum, views of the elected assembly (where such assembly existed) or by consultations with the dominant political party. Beneath the veneer of principles, Indian and Pakistani stands were based on hard political realities. Congress was the dominant political party in most of the princely states and felt confident that this will favour India. Pakistani support to the principle of absolute power of the ruler was based on the fact that a large number of Princely states had Muslim rulers and they were keen to join Pakistan. Where these states did not have a land link with Pakistan, Jinnah was quite prepared to bargain for an independent status. The differing perceptions were put to trial in case of Junagadh and Manavdhar states, both had a border with India and Pakistan and whose rulers opted for merger with Pakistan. But in both these cases with the help of popular leaders, India took action and merged them into India using overt and covert force. Maharaja Harisingh's inclination to join India was known for some time. From 17 August 1947 onwards it became clear that India was paving the way for merger of Hindu majority areas of the state into India. The actions of the Indian government were covert as outwardly India stood firm in rejecting the idea of partition of princely states.
These Indian activities sent alarm bells ringing in Pakistan. Preparations to militarily seize Kashmir began right in earnest. As there were many Indian army officers still located in Pakistan, the Indians knew these moves.
Nehru felt that the decision to merge with India must have the backing of National Conference. From September 1947 onwards Nehru insisted that the only condition on which the merger could take place was with sanction of Sheikh Abdullah. In second week of October 1947 Sheikh Abdullah came to Delhi. Nehru did his best to get Sheikh Abdullah to agree to an arrangement whereby Kashmir will retain its autonomy, just short of independence but would be under Indian influence. While Sheikh Abdullah was in Delhi, his trusted colleague G. M. Sadiq was in Karachi negotiating with Jinnah. , Ideally, Sheikh Abdullah, wanted Kashmir to remain independent with the recognition and approval of both India and Pakistan.(22)
On 22 October 1947, nearly 5000 tribals in 200 buses and under overall command of Pakistani officers 'on leave,' began advancing from Domel and Muzzafarabad towards Kashmir valley. The heavily outnumbered Kashmir forces could not stem the tide. On 23 October, a bridge over river Jhelum was blown up by Kashmir forces and the invaders had to cool their heels for one day. On 24 October the raiders reached township of Baramulla . The unruly tribals went totally berserk and began mass rapes and looting. The victims were Kashmiri Muslims as well as Hindus. Christian nuns at Baramulla convent were also not spared. The people of the valley turned against the raiders and its backer , Pakistan. (23)
The ruler of Kashmir dispatched his deputy Prime Minister requesting military aid. Menon flew into Srinagar, obtained the signature of Maharaja on the instrument of accession and returned to Delhi on the 26 of October. On the advice of Menon, Maharaja left Srinagar for Jammu on the same day. At the insistence of the Viceroy, the offer was accepted conditionally. The future of Kashmir was to be decided through a referendum to be held at a later date. To save time, a second instrument, already signed by Mountbatten and incorporating the condition of plebiscite was sent to Jammu for Maharaja's signature on 27 October and simultaneously the first Indian infantry unit was flown into Srinagar.
On the basis of its Muslim-majority and geographic contiguity with Pakistan, Jinnah and the people of Pakistan felt that Kashmir rightly belonged to them. Even the tribal invasion of Kashmir in 1947, must be seen in the light of what India was doing in Hyderabad and Junagarh. In these cases, Muslim rulers of predominantly Hindu populations, were coerced to accede to the Indian union through the use of overt and covert force. Pakistan lost Kashmir when the tribals, advancing towards Srinagar forgot their military objective and instead spent time in loot and rape. In less than two months time the raiders were driven out of the Kashmir valley. The areas of Poonch and Kargil posed many difficulties. In 1948, Pakistan dropped all pretences and its soldiers openly fought the Indian army. Poonch and Kargil were re-captured in 1948 and fighting ended on 31st December 1948 when India proposed a cease fire. Nearly one third of Jammu and Kashmir remained under Pakistani control. (24)
India took the Kashmir issue to the UN On 15 January 1948. It was the Indian complaint of Pakistani invasion of Kashmir that was the original issue. But the blasts of cold war and Indian decision to stay away from alliances infuriated the west. The original issue of Pakistani aggression and Indian complaint got converted into a dispute over the state of Jammu and Kashmir as a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. In 1947 Pakistan was militarily weak. It could not afford to risk its existence for the sake of Kashmir and it did not escalate the conflict. Once it became a western ally, the flow of modern arms began in 1956. India continued to neglect its defence. In 1962 when a border dispute with China erupted in an armed conflict, India suffered a major debacle. Pakistan, fearful of the subsequent Indian military build-up, launched a second attempt to annex Kashmir in August 1965. The operation codenamed 'Gibralter', envisage sending in armed infiltrators to the valley and Rajouri - Poonch areas. There, in co-operation with the locals, the infiltrators were to carry out sabotage, cut off lines of communications and take over the government. Pakistani army was to then march in to support the 'liberated ' Kashmir. Pakistan was encouraged to carry out this adventure by the chaos that had engulfed valley in December 1964 when the holy relic of Prophet Mohammed went missing for a period. The resultant civil strife convinced Pakistani leaders that Kashmir was ripe for a revolt. Indian army's dismal showing against China also gave encouragement to Pakistan. In the valley, infiltration began in the first week of August along the Pir Panjal route as well as northern gullies, with the objective of reaching valley. A smaller force also infiltrated in the areas of Rajouri- Poonch and occupied some hill features on the cease fire line as well areas in depth. (25)
The infiltrators did not receive much co-operation in the valley. Brigadier Gul Hasan (later Lt. General and Commander in Chief ) admits it as much in his memoirs. The infiltrators did receive some support in Rajouri- Poonch sectors and were given shelter by willing population. Another Pakistani miscalculation came to fore when the defences on the cease fire line held firm. On 28 August 1965 Indians captured the strategic Haji Pir pass on the main route of infiltration. Along with the capture of Raja post , north of Poonch, the Indian army eliminated the Haji Pir bulge and opened an alternate all weather route to the Kashmir valley. Indians inducted additional forces in the depth areas to deal with the infiltrators. The incessant operations launched from August onwards saw the infiltrators on the run. Out of the total force of 8000, nearly 1/4 were eliminated. Many captured men were publicly paraded in front of the media. On 1 September 1965, Pakistan attacked with regular troops with armour in plains west of Jammu.
In April 1965, Indian Prime Minister Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri, issued a warning to Pakistan that any attack on Kashmir will be considered as attack on India. On 6 September 1965, India launched an all out attack towards Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan. India thus widened the scope of the conflict and fighting in Kashmir assumed secondary importance thereafter. (26)
After 22 days of fighting a UN sponsored, cease-fire came into effect on 23 September. The cease-fire was observed only partially. The fighting stopped only after 10 January 1966 when an agreement was signed in Tashkent under auspices of Soviet Union. In Tashkent, both sides agreed to give up their respective territorial gains and promised to resolve the dispute peacefully. Next day, Mr. Shastri died of a heart attack and within two years General Ayub Khan, lost power. The Tashkent agreement remained a dead letter and Indo-Pak hostility continued unabated.
The third Indo - Pak conflict had nothing to do with Kashmir. The erstwhile East Pakistan, separated by 2000 miles of Indian territory, was restive right from independence. In the East, affinity for language; was a strong factor and imposition of Urdu in place of native Bengali sparked off first protests. In December 1970 elections , Sheikh Mujibur Rehaman' Awami League won all but one seat in East Pakistan for parliamentary elections and an absolute majority in Pakistani parliament. The ruling military junta did not hand over power to Mujib. Denial of power to Mujib and turning down of his demand for autonomy, led to an uprising in eastern wing in March 1971. The Pakistani army brutally suppressed the uprising and drove out nearly 9 million refugees into neighbouring India. (27) Since the early sixties militant tribals of Nagaland and Mizoram were being supplied with arms from East Pakistan. In 1971 India trained and supported, the Bengali separatists carry out an armed struggle against Pakistan. On 23 November 1971, after careful preparation, the Indian army went in support of the Bengali Muslims and in campaign lasting 23 days, liberated East Pakistan. A new nation of Bangladesh emerged on 17 December 1971 after the Pakistani army in east surrendered.
A peace conference at the Indian initiative took place in Simla in India in last week of June 1972. At the conclusion of this meeting, on 2 July 1972, the two countries signed an agreement that dealt with the consequences of 1971 war and envisioned a future that would see the two countries have peaceful relations. Both sides accepted peaceful methods of resolving conflict over Kashmir and agreed to deal with it bilaterally. Indian PM, Indira Gandhi, was keen to avoid the folly of treaty of Versailles and did not wish to force an unequal treaty on Pakistan. Kashmir issue was sought to be resolved after creating friendly atmosphere through extensive people to people contacts and normalisation of relations. Privately, Mr Bhutto, the Pakistani leader assured Indian that he would take steps to freeze the status quo on border. Erstwhile cease- fire line was converted into a Line of Actual Control and jointly demarcated on ground. (28)
Shifting Loyalties and Falling Icons.
Last fifty years have seen many violent shifts in public opinion in Kashmir. Immediately in the aftermath of the tribal invasion of 1947, anti Pakistani feelings ran very high. Soon the pull of Islam and constant Pakistani propaganda made for a sea change and by 1953 Nehru realised that in a referendum may well favour Pakistan. For close to two decades, due to his oratory and anti-India rhetoric Z. A. Bhutto was a popular figure in Kashmir. On 4 April 1979 when he was hanged on the orders of late General Zia of Pakistan, there were anti Pakistan riots in Srinagar. A congregation in Hazaratbal mosque held on 6 April thanked the Allah that Kashmiris made the choice of joining India and not Pakistan in 1947. (29) In 1987-88 the clock had turned full circle and General Zia and Pakistan were seen as saviours to bring 'Azadi' (Freedom) to the long suffering Kashmir. Zia's be-meddled photographs began to adore many public places in Kashmir. In contrast, rioting took place in Srinagar over installation of statue of Mahatma Gandhi.
Low Intensity War Since 1989.
Sheikh Abdullah and later his son Dr. Farrok, remained undisputed leaders in Kashmir right till the 1980s. But as the Sheikh's party, the National Conference tasted power and their rule saw widespread corruption and inefficiency, the support soon evaporated. In 1989, Shiekh Abdullah's birth anniversary was observed as a black day and his grave in Srinagar had to be put under massive security to save it from the wrath of people who intended to vandalise it. (30) The year 1987 marks the beginnings of the present cycle of violence in Kashmir. Essentially the revolt that began in that year, spear headed by Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was a home grown phenomenon. Kashmiris were tired of the mis-governance of Dr. Farook government. But even more fundamentally, the new generations of Kashmiris grew impatient with their lot. Kashmir has one of the highest rate of population growth of around 6 percent. The constitutional restrictions on investment under article 370 of Indian constitution had the effect of stalling any industrialisation in the state. The literacy rate in Kashmir is a dismal 18 percent ( as compared to the national average of 63%). The combination of these factors with the massive corruption in the administration ensured that nearly 20 billion Ruppes worth of developmental aid went into pockets of the few. Successive generations have seen their standard of living fall. In this situation, some politicians sold the dream of independence or a merger with Pakistan as the panacea solution and a revolt began.
Pakistan claims that the uprising in Jammu & Kashmir was a people's revolt and the Indians suppressed it with brutal force. The cause of merger with Pakistan was championed by the Muslim Conference. This had its popular base in the Muzzafarbad/Mirpur areas that are presently under Pakistani control.
The changes in Eastern Europe had their own effect in raising expectations of 'freedom' from Indian rule. At that time the violent campaign for an independent Sikh state in Punjab was also at its height. In an election held in 1989 a coalition government took over in Delhi and within a week Kashmiri separatists scored a major victory when they kidnapped the daughter of Union Home Minister (himself a Kashmiri Muslim). The new government in a weak-kneed move released several separatists who had taken part in violence. The expectations in the valley were that it was only a matter of time before Kashmir merged with Pakistan.
Pakistan decided to take full advantage of the situation and launched a major operation to help Kashmiri separatists. Pakistan was euphoric over its success in helping Afghans successfully fight the Soviet forces and was also confident of being able to take on ten times larger India in a military confrontation thanks to the massive American military aid that had flowed in. In Terms of deployable force and sophistication, by 1989 Pakistan had achieved near parity with India. Indian army's performance in Sri Lanka (1987-89), where in fight with Tamil guerrillas of the LTTE, Indian army suffered 1100 killed, had also not gone un-noticed in Pakistan.
In 1987 when Pakistan got actively involved in Kashmir, the late General Zia Ul Haq was very clear that this could only succeed if the Kashmiris played the major role. This was indeed the case till 1992-93. Over a period of time, though,the Kashmiris have taken a back seat, with the Afghans and Pakistanis fighting the Indian army in Kashmir. These foreign mercenaries have often carried out atrocities on the Kashmiris and rapes by the militiants are not an uncommon occurrence. The Indian security forces on a internal security duty also sometimes went beyond the bounds of necessity . Nearly two hundred soldiers and other ranks have been punished for their crimes. The reason for the quick change in public mood was that the firm handling of the situation in 1990 and 1991 had led to evaporation of the euphoria of 1989 when most Kashmiris expected a merger with Pakistan. The presence of army in the valley was also a new factor. Ever since 1947, the army presence was confined to the border areas and the valley was left alone. But after 1990 when the army's presence became a reality , many a shrewd Kashmiri revised his opinion about the efficacy of revolt.
In October 1993, in a major confrontation with the Indian security forces, over 20 militants holed up inside the Hazaratbal shrine in Srinagar, tamely surrendered. Just at the time when the attention of world was focused on the happenings at Hazaratbal,. Sopore town, the headquarters of the pro Pakistani Jamaat E Islami was cleared of all militants.
1993 also saw emergence of Hizbul Mujahideen as the most dominant group in Kashmir. The JKLF was the largest and the most active militant group till then, but relentless pressure by the army had depleted its strength. JKLF stood for `independence ' of Kashmir, while the Hizbul was in favour of merger with Pakistan. 1993 marks a watershed in the insurgency and the beginning of decline of violence. The surrenders were yet to start, but it would be safe to say that the seeds of loss of morale were sown in successful clearance of Sopore and Hazaratbal. (31)
After 1994, Harkat Ul Ansar has emerged as the strongest militant group in Kashmir. The strength of this outfit is estimated to be between 1500 to 4000. Majority of the members of this group are non-Kashmiris, Afghans, Pakistanis, Sudanese , Algerians and Egyptians. This has no local political affiliations and is instead linked to the pan Islamist organisations Harkatul Mujahideen and Harkat e Jihad e Islami. Both of these claim to be international organisations with branches and fighters in Chechniya , Bosnia and even Philippines. With this group becoming prominent , the ISI has taken a direct control of fighting in Kashmir. Their areas of influence are Doada, Annantnag and Batamaloo locality of Srinagar. Destruction of educational institutions and opposing all measures of normalcy , irrespective of the cost to the people has been their attitude and there have been frequent clashes with Kashmiri militants. This group is lavishly armed with rockets, machine-guns and efficient communications.
In the beginning of 1995, militants led by Mast Gul, Jamaat E Islami follower from Pakistani occupied Kashmir, entered Charar E Sharif, a shrine dedicated to patron Saint of Kashmir, Sheikh Nuruddin to Muslims and Nand Rishi to Hindus. Most of the militants holed up inside the Charar E Sharif were supporters of Jamaat E Islami. On 11 May 95, the militants set fire to the shrine and in ensuing melee , many including Must Gul manage to escape to Pakistan. This incident helped the average Kashmiri turn against the militants.
On 4 and 8 July 1995, militants of Al Faran , a front for the Pakistani controlled Harkat Ul Ansar, took six Western tourists hostage in the upper reaches of Pahalgam in South Kashmir. On 13 August , a Norwegian , Hans Christian Ostro, was be-headed and his headless body thrown out by the captors. His Jewish origin and also the fact that Norway is a small country apparently went against him. One American hostage managed to escape. Four more westerners , a German, British and two Americans have completed 3 years of captivity . On 26 August 1995, encouraged by the response to overtures, the government announced a generous surrender package. Cash rewards ranging from Rs.8000 for a machine gun to Rs. 1 per round of ammunition surrendered were announced. In addition the militants were promised vocational training for rehabilitation and a stipend of Rs. 1500 per month. During the last four years, over 1100 armed militants have surrendered. The Indian army has also been able to capture over 9000 AK-47 rifles, 900 machine guns and several rocket launchers from the militants.
In 1997-98, the militants have shifted their attention to area of Doda and Rajouri Poonch areas. They have also begun killing at random. In early 1998, marriage parties of Hindus were attacked so were the road construction workers killed. The tensions within the state and cross border movements of terrorists often leads to clash between the two armies deployed on the line of actual control. In the first week of August 1998, the two armies exchanged artillery fire across the entire stretch of the line of actual control (LAC). In this latest round of firing over 100 people died on the Indian side and an equal or greater number on the Pakistani side.
ANALYSIS OF MAJOR TRENDS AND PATH TOWARDS PEACE
Danger of Escalation
The entire stretch of the line of control between the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir and the areas of the state under Pakistani control is a soldier's nightmare. The line of control in J&K resembles thousands of 'Check Point Charlie' at the Berlin wall during the cold war. The line does not follow any well defined geographical feature and often a house has its courtyard in India and other rooms in Pakistan. For the last fifty years, the two armies are in an eye ball to eye ball confrontation. In this situation, border skirmishes and firing are the order and peace is a rare interlude. These clashes often lead to loss of life on both sides. Given the climate of hostility between the two countries, the media picks up even small incident and dramatises them as a major disaster. The adversary image is then further strengthened and emotions run high. Many of these clashes take place due to overzealous local commanders and are not planned military operations. But once the incident starts, the higher military echelons back their subordinates in interest of morale. This vicious circle is difficult to break and did create a situations where both the sides were propelled to graduate to higher levels of violence in a game of one- upmanship. (1)
Live issues like Jammu & Kashmir problem can easily fuel popular emotions and pose an ever present danger. Political leadership, even democratic one, can lose control over the situation in such circumstances. Bernard Brodie and Thomas Schelling had often expressed scepticism over the purely rational decision-making models of the cold war by asserting that war or conflicts is essentially a 'hot headed' activity and degree of emotion and irrationality is part of it. (2)
Nuclear Tests as a Watershed and Opportunity for Peace.
The nuclear test by India and Pakistan in May 1998 has understandably raised grave concern in the international community. There is great degree of apprehension due to the record of futile dialogue between India and Pakistan in the past. There is however ground for being optimistic. The developments of May 1998 could actually catalyse a movement towards flexibility and peace once the reality that military force as an option is now no longer available sinks in the minds of key decision makers. The analogy is somewhat similar to the situation in post 'Cuban Missile Crisis 1962'.(3) Many observers of international scene believe that the Cuban crisis marks the beginnings of the process of 'détente' between the US and the USSR. It needs to be emphasised that in reality all that the May 98 tests did was to bring out into the open the 'EXISTING' nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan. This weapon building capability existed in India from 1974 and in Pakistan roughly since 1985. Ironically, the tests have forced new responsibilities on the two states to prevent a nuclear confrontation or an accidental conflict. The current negotiations where issues such as 'no first use' or an offer of no war pact is being seriously discussed shows the effect of the newly created situation. Besides the appreciation of the new reality by the policy makers, international pressure on the two countries too, acts synergistically in this regard..
The nuclearisation of the sub-continent has brought to fore two parallel and yet interactive strands that are important in the interest of peace. The first is measures to get the two countries to participate in the global arms control and disarmament process. This issue has been adequately dealt with by Vas elsewhere. The second and equally important measure is to reduce tensions and bring under control the potential flash points that could lead to conflict. Jammu & Kashmir issue is of critical importance in this context. While the first measure may take longer, being a global issue, the second issue cannot brook any delay towards its resolution. Success on the second front will go a long way in ensuring peace in the region. Securing Foundations of Peace
The detailed survey of the fifty years of conflict in Jammu and Kashmir brings out certain facts that have to be kept at the back of mind while thinking of avoiding a future conflagration over this issue and working for a détente between India and Pakistan.
Some other steps to be taken in a regional framework are ;
There are many possibilities in areas of trade and commerce. The reality is that today billions of dollars of trade is carried out between two countries via Gulf countries. Direct trade will benefit all.
Once contact at people to people level is established, after five years time, the issue of what should be the status of Jammu & Kashmir should be re-examined. India and Pakistan should aim at a soft border like the one existing between the US and Canada. It should not be forgotten that in 1813 Canada had invaded the US and the two were once bitter enemies. If France and Germany can bury their hatchet, so could India and Pakistan. The measures suggested are only pointers and much work will need to be done to work out the actual modalities.
Many of the suggestions can be classed as 'small steps'. But even if some of these small steps are only partially implemented and successful, it will represent 'giant leap' towards welfare and peace for the people of the sub-continent.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
(Source: Registrar General and Census Commissioner, 'India series I, India Paper 3,' Govt. Of India Publications , New Delhi, 1984.)
COMPARISON OF GROWTH OF MUSLIM POPULATION IN INDIA (IN PERCENTAGE)
(Source: 'Seminar 322', June 1986, New Delhi. p. 33. Quoting from an article by O. P. Sharma, 'Growth Trends'. )
The definitive history of Kashmir dates back to the Ashokan era of 3rd century B.C. He is believed to have founded the city of Srinagar.His edicts and pillars found in the valley are evidence of the Buddhist influence.