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Old Wednesday, December 14, 2005
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Default The Indian scheme of things

Shireen M Mazari
It has been apparent for some time now that since the dialogue process recommenced between Pakistan and India, the latter has adopted a devious and indirect approach — the line of least resistance on the part of Pakistan, as Liddell Hart would have put it — towards seeking resolution of Kashmir on its terms. There have been multiple tacks on this approach, some overt and some covert — but all aimed at getting de facto recognition of the status quo given that de jure recognition of the same is not a possibility even in the most conducive of atmospherics that could possibly be created.
In terms of overt efforts, while Pakistan has moved to demanding demilitarisation and self-governance as interim measures, which could create a better climate in which to seek a final resolution of the Kashmir conflict, the Indians are making the self-governance issue an end in itself — even as they continue to ignore the demilitarisation CBM sought by Pakistan. The latest salvo fired in this regard came from Kuldip Nayyar, in Islamabad, when he suggested that self-governance was the only possible way to resolve the Kashmir issue! What exactly is meant by self-governance? The Indians are very clear that it refers to autonomy for the Kashmiris, but under the Indian Constitution — a situation that prevailed in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) till 1953. Pakistan has accepted the self-governance principle for AJK, as an interim measure which is why it has never sought to bring AJK within the permanent purview of the Pakistan Constitution.
Under this framework, all that self-governance would do is at best create a more conducive political environment for the Kashmiris, but within the prevailing control structure of the Indian Constitution for Kashmiris in IOK and AJK’s linkage with Pakistan. So self-governance does not in any way deal with the issue of the Indian occupation of Kashmir and the right of self-determination of the victimised Kashmiris –- all necessary to resolve the conflict. Therefore, at best, it can be an interim measure. But again we in Pakistan need to be careful when we talk of self-governance for Kashmiris. We can ensure this in AJK but we can only express a hope that India will do the same, as an interim measure, in IOK. If we make this a formal issue to be discussed between the two states, then we are giving de facto recognition to the Indian Occupation of Kashmir — which is exactly what India would want. Hence their efforts to submerge us in this self-governance issue, with our refrain of "interim measure" soon becoming a mere whimper, lost to all but the keenest of ears — and we know the international community lacks such acute sensitivity. So we need to continuously point to the limitations of this notion even as we commend it temporarily to provide greater political breathing space to the Kashmiris.
Incidentally, Mr Nayyar’s claim that the partition of Kashmir along religious lines goes against the secular policy of New Delhi is nonsensical because India used the religious argument to take control of Hyderabad and Junagadh, so where it suits India, it is quite happy to use religion despite its claims to secularism. Indians also seem to suffer from a convenient amnesia regarding the reality of the LoC — that is, it is merely a ceasefire line and not a border, so it can be neither a "soft" nor a "hard" border.
Linked to the self-governance issue is the issue of movement of people across the LoC. Pakistan has rightfully been pushing for greater access to Kashmiris across the LoC — especially in the wake of the earthquake tragedy but if Indians and Pakistanis are going to cross the LoC this raises a series of legal issues. Will they use passports? If so, then they will be giving de facto recognition to the sovereignty of Pakistan and India over AJK and IOK. If such movement is allowed, then investors and traders will also begin coming across the LoC so we would have Indian investors in AJK — the likelihood of Pakistanis investing in IOK will not be a possibility for some time given the Indian Occupation and emergency rules. At the end of the day, such developments will also create a de facto recognition of the status quo as a solution since there will be no impetus for seeking another solution with trade and political movement being conducted across the LoC as if it were a border! The Indians know the logic of the policy of opening up of the LoC to non-Kashmiris including political elites from Pakistan and India but are we also now prepared to go along with this ploy which will inevitably bolster the status quo?
Another ominous development is the statement coming recently from New Delhi from the IOK’s Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad that international flights would start from Srinagar in two years. This would clearly give legality to India’s occupation because any foreign airliner that landed in Srinagar would be accepting the writ of the government there — that is, the Indian occupying force. Once India has notified the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) of the airports available for international traffic, through its national civil aviation authority, it will be on the ICAO list of international destinations with ICAO determining air lanes and so on. Even unused airports are in the ICAO log book, once their name has been sent there. There is a need for Pakistan to do something to counter this indirect approach of India to get legal recognition for its occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. This must be opposed in ICAO. At the very least a letter should be sent to ICAO in the form of an indemnification document to protect our legal position on Kashmir.
Worse still, if Pakistanis, and one hears some are contemplating this damaging move, were to fly from within Pakistan directly to Srinagar, we would have played the game India wants us to play. That is why foreign policy must be guided clearly from one central source and not be decentralised or privatised.
Of course, there is also talk of Muzaffarabad becoming an international airport. We should not expect the Indians to protest because this would only bolster the Indian position of seeking the status quo as a solution to the Kashmir conflict. But again our position will certainly be compromised. Unless we are extremely careful on how we move on Kashmir — and there is no reason for us to show an unseemly haste — we can be in danger of allowing state practices to gradually dilute our legal position on Kashmir to an extent where the status quo and Indian occupation of Kashmir becomes a legal reality for all intents and purposes.
Tailpiece: It was interesting to see one retired bureaucrat supporting another. As long as the bureaucratic brotherhood overrides rationality, the PCB chief can break all propriety, as he did recently in hiring, against the advice of the PCB sub committee, Mushtaq Ahmed as a bowling consultant and the wife of the Pakistani team’s physio as the new physio for the women’s team. We also seem to have a penchant for hiring wives of foreigners working in Pakistan!
The writer is director general
of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad
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