Tag Archives: azad kashmir

What Kashmiris want?

In my new series “Question on Kashmir” I am going to interview political scientists to get an academic view of Kashmir issue. I will also try to explore what possible solutions are there in their view to resolve Kashmir issue. Series will be based on diverse questions varying from Kashmiri Identity to peace in South Asia, from nationalism to Kashmiri Kashmir and from Pakistani Kashmir to Indian Kashmir. Here is my first venture. Other day I interviewed Dr. Muhammad Mujeeb Afzal. He is an assistant Professor at School of Politics and International Relations at Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. Here is what he said.

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Pakistan and India do not know what Kashmiris exactly want says Dr. Muhammad Mujeeb Afzal

Kashmirica: What is the core of Kashmir Issue, why is it important for Pakistan and India?

Mujeeb Afzal: Kashmir is an existential issue for both Pakistan and India. India wants to keep it to justify its showcase secular democracy, and Pakistan wants to get it to prove its two nation theory as well as its apprehensions about the Hindu majority. Neither Pakistan nor India is prepared to give up its stance on Kashmir. India aims at expansion as it sees South Asia from New Delhi and wishes to control it from there like a hegemon; whereas Pakistan feels threatened by India’s desire to keep an unwilling Kashmir under its control and it perceives in its occupation the Indian expansionist design, which looks credible and quite legitimate after the fall of Dhaka and emergence of Bangladesh with the Indian armed assistance. Kashmir’s importance for both Pakistan and India is also strategic in nature. The Indian objective to have an India-controlled South Asia and Pakistani desire to be a meaningful – if not equal to India – partner in the South Asian state system can never be fulfilled without having Kashmir. The Kashmir region is also important in economic terms because of the waters; any state possessing Kashmir as its part would control almost all the water resources of the region. Therefore, Kashmir is vital for cognitive, strategic and economic reasons for both Pakistan and India.

Kashmirica: On what grounds Pakistan and India both claim Kashmir their part?

Mujeeb Afzal: Apparently both Pakistan and India do not know exactly the wishes of the Kashmiri people because they have never counted their opinion in this matter. Neither India has ever asked the Kashmiris whether they wanted to be part of the Indian Union or otherwise nor has Pakistan ever taken their consent. No empirical evidence is available on the options, whether the Kashmiris would like to be part of any of these two states or wish to live as an independent entity. So the whole process is assumptive and both states believe in their assumptions as true but the fear of losing Kashmir in case of any plebiscite on the Indian side, even though it also exists on the Pakistani side as well, because of Muslim majority of the region.

Kashmirica: Is peace in South Asia possible without the solution of Kashmir Issue?

Mujeeb Afzal: No, peace in South Asia is not possible without the solution of the Kashmir Issue because Kashmir is now a reason as well as a symbol of contention: reason in the way that Pakistan insists on redefining the borders in South Asia, and symbol in the sense that it provides the basis for Pakistan-India strategic competition. Kashmir is the center of competition between Pakistan and India.

Kashmirica: What Pakistan and India have gained and lost so far from their contest on Kashmir?

Mujeeb Afzal: Strategic issues are beyond gain and loss; competition is for the sake of competition. Many a time, competition at the strategic level can be endless. I see no solution of this issue in the near future which means there will be more competition between Pakistan and India.

Kashmirica: Incorporating Gilgit-Baltistan into Pakistan will make Pakistan’s stance of right of self-determination for Kashmiris baseless, what you say?

Mujeeb Afzal: Yes, in a narrow legalistic sense, you can say so but opinions are divided on this issue. Gilgit-Baltistan’s own popular opinion is in favor of incorporation. I think, where you place a region legally is not important; what is important right now, is the provision of basic rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan because as long as there is no permanent solution you have to find a temporary one. Pakistani state has to be innovative to incorporate Gilgit-Baltistan as India did in case of Jammu and Kashmir by granting Kashmir special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Pakistan has also developed such a mechanism to administer Azad Kashmir but provision of basic rights to the Kashmiris need to be guaranteed.

Kashmirica: Brad Adams the Asia director at Human Rights Watch has said in 2006 that although ‘azad’ means ‘free,’ the residents of Azad Kashmir are anything but, The Pakistani authorities govern Azad Kashmir with strict controls on basic freedoms, how you see human rights violation in Kashmir and particularly Azad Kashmir?

Mujeeb Afzal: It is virtually Pakistani territory for all practical purposes; therefore, Pakistan treats Azad Kashmir as an allied state. For strategic purposes it is defended, and perhaps only Kashmir is defended. So a strict control is necessary. Besides, Pakistan itself has faced strict control throughout most of its history under the military regimes.

Kashmirica: GB &Jammu has been practically detached from Kashmir, fact or fiction?

Mujeeb Afzal: Intellectual debates on this aspect are there but neither the Pakistani state nor the Indian state has taken any such position. Both the states maintain their original stated positions.

Kashmirica: What possible solution is out there for Kashmir issue?

Mujeeb Afzal: There could be more than one solution of the Kashmir issue but right now there is not a single constituency working for minimizing tensions and normalizing relations between Pakistan and India. Any solution depends on the nature of Pakistan-India relations.

Kashmirica: Dialogue on Kashmir, formal, back channel has been a failure to solve Kashmir issue, yes or no?

Mujeeb Afzal: Yes, officially no dialogue has produced any positive result. Unofficial records and public statements by the participants are available but all the formulas and talks have remained mostly for media consumption. Practically no progress has been observed on this issue so far.

Kashmirica: Independent Kashmir was never on the agenda of Pak-India negotiators, why?

Mujeeb Afzal: I think, ‘independent Kashmir’ is not acceptable to any of the two states, and the reasons are pretty obvious. Firstly if a plebiscite for an ‘independent Kashmir’ materializes, it will set a precedent for the disintegration of these states in future. Secondly independence of Kashmir can provide basis for demands of independence of territories both on the Indian side as well as on the Pakistani side.

Kashmirica: If Kashmir issue remains as it is from past half century how it will affect the socio-political and economic development of south Asia and how it will affect Kashmiri Identity and Kashmiri Diasporas struggle?

Mujeeb Afzal: I see it from a different angle. Structures which were supposed to build from Kashmir’s reference are there, they have been built. Pakistani Kashmir is virtually part of Pakistan. It is highly integrated into Pakistan and this process is going to be more embedded in future. The Kashmiris are perhaps the only community that is deeply integrated into Pakistan. Almost every Kashmiri family from Azad Kashmir has a stake in Pakistan. And you will see, Gilgit-Baltistan will be easily assimilated. The problem is on the Indian side, because Article 370 has partially served its purpose; and now it is being contested within India. I foresee, water shortages, Siachen issue and other smaller issues that are linked with the broader issue of Jammu and Kashmir will affect Pakistan. Pakistan will face concerns on foreign policy level and India at the domestic level. As far as identity is concerned, I see that the whole issue of identity exists on myths, and myths do not evaporate easily. They stay for long, even the contested Identities persist.

Interviewer/Writer is pursuing his Mphil at Iqra University Islamabad, blogs at Kashmirica.org and works with Institute for Social and Economic Justice (ISEJ). He can be reached at

@imrankhushaal
imrankhushaalraja@gmail.com
http://www.kashmirica.org

Why operation Zarb-e-Azb will not be a “success”?

By: Imran Khushaal Raja On: 18 July 2014

Pakistan Army’s latest initiative in Waziristan has got a lot of attention on both local and international spheres. The operation is satisfying some, irritating others; but whether they are in its favor or against it, it seems that just about everyone is keeping an eye on it. Media is reporting it with all its strength and debates are on full swing at iftars and dinners. 

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Some say Pak army is sacrificing its blood for the betterment of this country and no doubt this operation is a great breakthrough in this regard. But others in contrast not willing to forget the past, call them responsible for the creation of these non-state actors during their persuasion of strategic depth in Afghanistan, particularly against Russia on behalf of American intelligence i.e. CIA, after a communist revolution in 1978.  Regardless of these hot debate and discussion there are some ground realities that tell us whether this operation is going to be successful or not and in both cases to which extent. I found five reasons that you should know why operation Zarb-E-Azb is not going to be a smash success.

1. A very delayed operation

If it was necessary it should be done long ago. Soon after the 9/11 when Pakistan has decided to go for a war on terror, was a right time to initiate any of such kind of operations because the terrorist organizations got banned and have not proliferated and stretched yet not at least with suicide jackets and blowing stuff. One should admit that Pakistan has wasted a lot of its time in categorizing and separating the so called good Taliban from the bad and Punjabi Taliban from the rest. And if not then at least after the “successful” conclusion of Swat and South Waziristan Operations was comparatively more suitable time for heading towards North in Waziristan.

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. But Army Gen. of that time Gen. Kayani was not in agreement to his crew for this operation. As Maj Gen Ather Abbas (R) ex-DG ISPR revealed to foreign media that the military was prepared to launch the North Waziristan Operation by 2011 and that it was Gen. Kayani’s dithering that delayed the operation, thus allowing the militants to further entrench their positions.

2. Being conducted on one side only 

Such operations are hard to conduct and difficult to achieve the goals.  These are not war fight against outsiders where one have to invade and destroy rather win and preserve. These are more complex tasks to perform, against one’s own people where one have to win, not only the battle but the hearts of victims i.e. non-combat. Such operations need to be conducted on multiple fronts i.e. socio-religious and political along with military front.

549198-ImranKhanNawazSharif-1368546963-714-640x480Whereas in this case Pakistani society has mix opinion. Some support terrorist openly even on media, in public gathering and at universities. Other oppose but in low voices and synonymic writings. And remaining are confuse and muddled. Political governments are not in its favor. Punjab wants to maintain its supremacy and do not want to bother the Punjabi Taliban. KPK under the headship of Imran Khan always opposed such initiatives. Baluchistan and Sindh are encountered by their internal problems.  Gilgit Balistan’s opinion has no value and Kashmiri terrorists are inviting Al-Qaida and Taliban to join them in Azad Kashmir (truthdive.com). Although some liberal religious clerics like Tahir Ul Qadri has given “fatvâ’s” against these people but no religious front is equipped officially. That is why the religious institutions and authorities are confusing and misinterpreting the situation instead of giving a clear declaration against terrorist organizations.

3. Lacking International consciences and future planning 

The operation is lacking an international consciences on the prevention of possible inflow of militants into nearby countries through common borders particularly into Afghanistan. As it happens in 2009 When the Pakistan army launched a military operation against the Pakistani Taliban in northwestern Swat valley, Mullah Fazlullah, who is the current chief of Pakistani Taliban, fled to Afghanistan and still operates from there. So if the terrorists find a safe haven in Afghanistan with the support of some anti-Pakistan forces, as has been witnessed in the past, then the ongoing military operation will fail to achieve its goals. The possible measures should have been taken on diplomatic level with Afghanistan to eliminate the threat of future attacks on Pakistan’s soil from across the border.

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The operation will also have serious social, economic and human costs. The possible blowback could take the shape of more militant attacks in Pakistan, a country which has seen some 60,000 of its civilians killed in terrorism-related violence. The country is likely to witness more terror attacks, more bloodshed and more devastation of infrastructure in retaliation as Syed Fazl-e-Haider sees.

4. Not adequate facilitations for IDPs

After weeks into the ongoing military operation, the conditions of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) is getting worse as reported by AisaDespatch.com. In Bannu, where at least 600,000 IDPs are housed, over 80% of the families have refused to stay in camps, especially made for them by the armed forces as they argue that the camps are not big enough for their families, nor they are good enough to keep them safe from the blistering heat.

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Whereas having a joint-family system, one tribal family encompasses at least 15 people while it can also go up till 80 members. This situation doubts the government announcement of a compensation of PkR12000 per IDP family that if even this amount has surely given to them will it be sufficient for them.

5. See who is rescuing from whom

The first flex for the donation to help IDPs was displayed by Jammat-e-Islami and Jammat-e-Dawa, the welfare and political fronts of militants. On one hand Pak army is conducting a military operation against terrorist organizations whereas on other hand it is just letting going their recruiting agencies to interact with IDPs and gain their sympathies. Apparently nothing is bad in helping displaced people but it really matters who is helping. These are the religious exploiters and opinion makers for the militants.

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Till yesterday they had supported them by all means. They declared them true heroes of Islam and martyrs when they got shot by Pak army. If they are martyrs then what about Pakistan Army? This is not an incident neither some kind of sympathy. This is a shared ideology between these and those. As Awami Muzzamat a leftist paper says, “Extremism is a mindset and political thinking which can’t be change by bombing at distant areas of the country.”

Pakistan says Indian shelling kills child in Kashmir

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The photo shows an Indian soldier near the Line of Control. — Photo by Reuters

MUZAFFARABAD: Indian troops fired mortars across the disputed border in Kashmir on Friday, killing a child and wounding three other people, Pakistani officials said.

The incident took place in Nakyal sector, along the Line of Control (LoC), the heavily militarised de facto border between Pakistan and India, in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

“An 11-year-old boy was killed and three others including two women were wounded in the Indian shelling,” in senior local administration official Masood-ur-Rehman told AFP.

A senior police official in the area, Muhammad Amin, confirmed the incident and casualties.

The latest incident came almost two weeks after the prime ministers of the two countries pledged to restore calm on their disputed border in Kashmir, at a meeting in New York.

A deadly flare-up along the LoC in January brought a halt to peace talks that had only just resumed following a three-year hiatus sparked by the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Fresh skirmishes erupted on the LoC after five Indian soldiers were killed in a raid in August.

Delhi blamed that ambush on the Pakistan army, but Islamabad denied the claims and has repeatedly called for restraint and dialogue.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority territory, is divided into Indian and Pakistani-administered sectors but is claimed in full by both sides.

Reported AFP Orignally Published by DAWN