“Confusion” as statecraft We better throw the debate open for al I



It is none of my concerns. It should not be. Who visits which country and meets whom? It would be intruding into personal affairs of a leader – tall or dwarf, “theorist or disciple”- if I question his visit to any country-, Pakistan included. It is not my cup of tea to snoop or tab a leader’s visit but for it affecting me or my progeny as an individual, as a member of a society or a nation. If it is not   aimed at weaving cobwebs around  well defined people’s narrative’, and creating confusion for some short-term personal gains.

History testifies “confusion” has been used as   a ‘diplomatic’ weapon to procrastinate resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Sometime back, in this newspaper I quoted in detail from Prem Bhatia’s book, about Swaran Singh using the ‘weapon of confusion” to outwit the wittiest Z.A. Bhutto.  The weapon of confusion has not   been used only at the diplomatic level but also at the political level by creating alternative discourses to defeat the people’s narrative and strengthen the “dominant narrative”.  A closer study of sixty-five years political history bears witness that how different ‘alternative discourses’ were conjured at different points of time to subvert the people’s narrative. I do not know if Kashmir leadership was sucked into these ‘alternative discourses’ weakening the ‘main narrative’ out of naivety or out of intent – it is a matter of research. The toxic ‘alternative discourses’ have harmed the peoples’ cause.  Moreover, these have also delayed the resolution of the problem. History also testifies that Kashmir leaders have been like   big rodents that need just a small bait to find themselves in a mousetrap. Nevertheless, it makes no sense getting remorseful after being trapped to death. In 1968, one sentence of J.P. Narayan at the State Peoples Convention organized by Sheikh Abdullah was sufficient to derail the ‘people’s narrative’.  This sentence (also   epitaph for the Plebiscite Front movement ) caused the 1975 Indira- Sheikh Accord.  Sheikh Abdullah ‘lamenting this accord on his deathbed’ or his nephew stating after thirty-seven years that he had not been signatory to the agreement for power cannot now alter the course of history or repair the damage. 

   Likewise the Musharraf formula was nothing but as the saying goes, “a clever General in the face of a defeat declares victory and retreats.” It was as good a booby trap as Indira-Sheikh agreement that ensured nothing but status quo. Pakistan former Ambassador Munir Akram in his article “Kashmir in Cold” published in The Dawn on 1 April 12, called the 2007 situation in Pakistan as ‘blissful for Kashmir’. To quote him: ‘The efforts by Pakistan to evolve a bilateral solution through ‘back-channel’ diplomacy were equally ill-considered. The ‘solution’ would have legitimized the status quo and forever forsaken the rights of the Kashmiris. Blissfully, it was spurned by India as Pakistan descended into political chaos after 2007.” Many eminent Pakistan experts saw it as cheating Kashmiris of their rights. Surprisingly minus a few powerful dissenting voices the Musharraf formula was supported by leaders both pledged to ‘right to self-determination’ and finality of accession with India. Ironically     some leaders across the divide including M-5 continue to be under the spell of 4pt- genie and   are looking for some Aladdin’s lamp to resurrect the ghost.

The state of perplexity of the APHC (M) about remaining relevant is understandable and its urgency of sending team of five to Islamabad does not seem contradictory to its dilemmas.  The APHC (M) leaders   visiting Islamabad is not something new. The hullaballoo has been over the statements relating the visit made by some of vocal members of the conglomerate. These statements when read between the lines seem a deliberate attempt at confusing the people and using the trusted ‘weapon of confusion’ for rerouting the ‘main narrative. Taking refuge under phrases like “geo-political changes” it has been very subtly suggesting the irrelevance of the UN resolution and availability of unidentified options:  “we have many options to explore.” Its main agenda will be to tell “Pakistan to legitimize Kashmir as third party,” as “United Nations resolutions talk about only of two options.”  True, sounds  naïve asking Islamabad to amend the international agreements on Kashmir arbitrarily but by all stretch of imagination, there seems a method in this naivety. This naivety borders on the make-believe that people cannot understand the underlying meanings of such statements.

Even simple downtown boy understands “in accordance with UNSC “agreements”, Kashmir and Kashmiris are already the central party to the dispute as they alone can decide their future through an impartial plebiscite.”  “The resolution of the UNSC, agreed by and thus a binding upon Pakistan and India.” To alter these agreement the five member APHC(M) team, M-5 as it has come to be known will have to persuade Pakistan or any other country including USA that has been co-sponsor to the 1949 UN resolution on Kashmir to introduce a fresh resolution in the UNSC to amend the international “agreement” on Kashmir.

The mission of M-5, to Pakistan for asking them to recognizing Kashmir as third party is like putting cart before the horse in as much as the Constitution of India does not regard the state of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory. The article one of the Constitution like all other states recognizes Jammu and Kashmir as its territory – ‘integral part’. True, with Article 370, conferring it  a status- a bit different from many other states.  This article stands only in name, in his book Article 370, A. G. Noorani in great detail explains the “ineffectiveness” of this article. Long before Indian Home Minister Nanda had said   only “shell” of 370 exists.  The Constitution of Pakistan (1973) looks at it differently.    Article 257 of Pakistan constitution says, "When the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and that State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State." Former Pakistan Foreign Secretary, Shamshad Ahmed commenting on this provision writes, “A careful reading of this Article would confirm that the final arbiters of the future of Kashmir are the Kashmiri people without whose participation in the settlement there will be no solution of this problem.” 

Seeing the whole exercise of the M-5, as confusion worst confounded, without concluding- I leave the debate open.

(Feedback at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com