Published On: Mon, Dec 30th, 2013

Pakistan’s first line of defence?

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

Indian and Pakistani reference in the process and quality of life and in the resolution of the question of ‘equality’ and self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is a fact at home and abroad. The reference has shaped itself both de jure and de facto. We are living in different times than those in October 1887, when Nicolas Notovitch in his book “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ” has referred to the People of Kashmir as, “The once spiritual, beautiful and cleanly inhabitants have grown animalistic and stupid; they have become dirty and lazy; and the whip now governs them, instead of the sword.”

In October 1887 people of Jammu and Kashmir were one people and did not have an Indian or a Pakistani reference in their day to day and future lives. Today these people are distributed and respectively controlled on either side of the LoC. The Indian and Pakistani references have corresponding duties and responsibilities as well. Therefore, a better India-Pakistan equation in relations would pour out an illimitable benefit for the process and quality of life and in the resolution of the question of ‘equality’ and self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

It depends on the common sense and vision of the leadership and the desire of these people, whether they wish to remain in step with the changes that take place around them or not. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) in its study published on Thursday 26 December 2013 shows that  India has lost a place in the league table in 2013 to Canada and is now the 11th largest economy in the world. However, in 2028 India is likely to overtake Japan to become the third largest economy in the world after China and United States. In the 2013 league table, India is at the 11th place with a GDP of USD 1.7 billion, and by 2018 the country is likely to be at the 9th place with a GDP of USD 2,481 billion, and by 2023 it would be at 4th place, with GDP size of USD 4,124 billion, and it will claim 3rd spot with GDP of USD 6,560 billion by 2028. The United Kingdom would overtake Germany to become the largest Western European economy ‘around 2030’.

Pakistan does not feature in the league of top 29 economies of the world. It has failed to find a place in the Table of 2013 economies or the projected economies in 2028. Pakistan however, has decided to shape its future foreign policy on four key priorities. It has decided to build a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood, reach out to regional and international partners, focus on “trade, not aid” and lastly develop a consensus-based approach to counter terrorism.

Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif on Friday 27 December 2013 speaking at the inauguration of a new Foreign Ministry office building named the Sahabzada Yaqub Khan block very rightly said that to realise foreign policy objectives, Pakistan had taken important initiatives to resume dialogue with India, apart from improving relations with Afghanistan, strengthening strategic partnership with China and re-building ties with the U.S. He said Pakistan wanted to live peacefully and maintain friendly relations with its neighbours and with the world at large.

Prime Minister Sharif said, “Our message to the world is of peace and friendship. We seek cooperation based on mutual interest. Our effort is to transform the existing friendly ties into mutually beneficial partnerships.” He said that for any state, diplomacy was the first line of defence and diplomats, therefore, played an indispensable role in any nation’s efforts to promote peace, and foster regional and international cooperation. Conventional diplomacy had now acquired new dimensions.

The change in the foreign policy of Pakistan is a good news for the people of Pakistan, India and Kashmir. Unless Pakistan moves up in the ranks in diplomacy and economy of the league of nations, Kashmiris would not benefit from its reference at all. It does not mean that, in the otherwise, Pakistan does not have a reference accepted by India, the people of Kashmir and the world at large. A weak reference is never helpful and promotes frustration, as seen in early 1990s.

In order to keep a just and legitimate reference in Kashmir, Pakistan has to revisit the results of its Kashmir policy for Kashmiri people generally from November 1965 and in particular from early 1990. Indian army has expressed its concern in regard to disgruntled surrendered militants and returnees from AJK. In view of NATO troops pull-out from Afghanistan next year, Army has warned of ‘rebellious’ movement by surrendered militants and returnees from Pakistan Administrated Kashmir (PaK) and asked J&K government to take immediate measures to rehabilitate them.

One should appreciate the concerns of the Army in regard to the rehabilitation of militants. It is a genuine concern shown in the interests of internal security and prevailing peace in the Valley. However, most importantly it entails an issue of responsibility and humanitarianism as well. The recent figures released by the State Government show that currently there are 22000 surrendered militants, 17000 released militants, 376 active militants in hinterland and 56 Nepal returns.

Army has rightly said that it has a limited mandate in meddling into these issues. They couldn’t seek any nod from the government in this regard. “There is a complete absence of political and administrative will on ground to address this sensitive issue”. Even if the State Government gives a nod to army to assist in the rehabilitation of these militants, it would be at variance with their purpose of duty in J & K and at the same time prejudicial to the interests of these militants, waiting for a rehabilitation. Militants are State Subjects and it is the responsibility of the State and of those who out of self-serving interests or frustration introduced militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan has to take the lead responsibility, followed by India and the three Governments of Kashmir at Srinagar, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit in the rehabilitation of all militants in J & K and others stranded in AJK or anywhere. There is a debate that we may have erred in recruiting militants under the age of 15 years and may have incurred a criminal liability under international law as well. It is a war crime to use child soldiers in any militant mission.

Without prejudice to the fact that Pakistan and elements in the Government of Pakistan have a principal reference in turning a generation into militants and consigning them to categories as renegades, surrendered militants, released militants, active militants in hinterland, Nepal returns and stranded in AJK, the J & K Government has to address the matter under its “Rehabilitation Policy” and under various other programmes.

State Government can reach out to Delhi and Islamabad on the subject of this unfortunate generation of our youth for a specialised input and other assistance. It is encouraging to find that militants all across the State have organised themselves in a discipline and there are a few organised voices as well. The lead one is the “Voice of Victims” and “Ex Militant Organization”. It would be a serious mistake if the State Government or the various agencies go for a quid pro quo action and stitch the responsibility on an ad hoc basis. These disciplined voices need to be taken on board.

New Delhi has no reason to compromise its economic and diplomatic leadership by sitting idle and letting the situation deteriorate through ad hoc arrangements, any quid pro quo, or a neglect at home and abroad. It would be a serious mistake to take upon an ostrich like approach and try to bury in the sand, the terms of the bilateral agreement of 26 October 1947 with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, its application made to the UN on 1st January 1948 and the obligations under UNCIP resolutions in respect of the people and habitat. India has continued to miss the point that under its bilateral agreement of 26 October 1947 it has taken upon responsibilities for the territories defined in article 4 of J & K Constitution.

Delhi should live up to its promises made at the time of first cease fire announced by Hizb in June 2000 and subsequent cease fire announcements made by Prime Minister of India in November 2000 and the Hurriyat in November 2001. We have to admit that Kashmir has moved from the times of Walter Lawrence, Tyndale Biscoe, Nicolas Notovitch and from the psychology and fear of 1990 when it acted a scripted political and militant narrative in Kashmir. Therefore, India in principal and Pakistan in general have to consider their de facto and de jure references in Kashmir and the jurisprudence that supports the ‘equality’ and ‘right to self-determination’.

Any quick fix by Delhi in Kashmir and a continued denial by Pakistan to ignore the disastrous results of its frustration in Kashmir are unhelpful and likely to fail. The people of Kashmir need to be reflected in the 2028 economic leadership of India and in the four point foreign policy of Pakistan.

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