Prospects for Political Reconstruction for Peace in Kashmir.

Prospects for Political Reconstruction for Peace in Kashmir.

Ashraf Jehangir Qazi

September 21, 2020

I have been asked to speak on Prospects for Political Reconstruction for Peace in Kashmir which sounds a bit convoluted. Moreover, I have only ten minutes. So I will try to outline an integrated and mutually reinforcing multi-track strategy for peace in Kashmir.

What is Peace in Kashmir? It should mean the implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir, including the exercise of the right of self-determination. Or, given current realities, something as close to it as possible.

What is meant by Political Reconstruction in the context of Kashmir? It should mean a change in Indian policies and in international attitudes towards the prospect of genocide in IOK, and conflict between the two nuclear armed parties to the Kashmir dispute.

It also entails recognizing that for Pakistan’s diplomacy to be effective against India’s greater strategic and economic weight, it is not enough just to have a superior diplomatic and legal narrative on Kashmir.

Pakistan must also project a political, economic, human rights, and national development image that reinforces its democratic credentials and its narrative on Jammu and Kashmir.

This is especially important in light of India’s attempts to undermine Pakistan’s arguments and national image through allegations of support for terrorism in Kashmir, India and elsewhere. India’s attempt to have Pakistan blacklisted by FATF is just one example.

India’s attempt is reinforced by international perceptions of structurally undemocratic, corrupt, and dysfunctional military dominated governance in Pakistan.

Accordingly, Pakistan’s Kashmir policy needs to be embedded in a national transformation priority. The entrenched status quo structure in Pakistan, however, is a major obstacle.

So, what are the current prospects for peace in Kashmir? Dim; very dim. But they will brighten very considerably if Pakistan can seriously, sensibly and sincerely tackle its vast range of mutually reinforcing domestic challenges.

What is the situation in IOK a year after August 5, 2019? India is getting away with murder! The Kashmiri Quislings, Mir Jafars and Mir Sadiqs who ruled IOK on behalf of Delhi but publicly repented their actions after August 5, 2019 are now crawling back to their Indian masters with pleas for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A in order to deceive the Kashmiri people again as “champions of Kashmiri autonomy.”

Modi, however, is committed to eliminating Kashmir’s political identity through security, demographic, administrative, economic and political policies or, if all else fails, through genocide.

India is internationally isolated over its Kashmir policy. It is angry and embarrassed. A global icon like Noam Chomsky has condemned India’s attempts to crush the Kashmiris. But India is determined to pursue its Kashmir policy to the bitter end because (a) it would be suicidal for any Indian government not to; (b) there is no country willing to compel India to reverse its policy; and (c) even if that happened it would only restore the status quo ante, most likely accompanied by massive pressure on Pakistan to accept the LOC as the international border.

India and Pakistan would then be expected to quell any significant Kashmiri dissent on their sides of the LOC! India would happily oblige. Pakistan would commit national suicide if it did so.

What is to be done? It is necessary to avoid both genocide in IOK and war with India. But limiting Pakistan’s Kashmir policy to frenetic but unavailing diplomacy and “lawfare,” is tantamount to a progressive surrender to India-created facts in IOK.

There are no risk-free or cost-free policy options for Pakistan on Kashmir. A de facto surrender could entail the ultimate cost for Pakistan. This situation has been created by Indian arrogance and obduracy, and Pakistan’s accumulated short-sighted policies.

Pas che bayad kard? A new phase of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy should be the focus of the PM’s address to the UNGA. An integrated six-track policy seems to me the only way forward.

The first track would, within the framework of UN resolutions, seek to restore dialogue with India in pursuance of a negotiated and principled Kashmir settlement in regular consultation with the Kashmiri resistance leadership. Such a settlement, if achieved, could be contained in a new UNSC resolution. An Indian refusal to respond would contrast with Pakistan’s constructive and peaceful approach.

The second track would seek to deter India from its current policies in IOK which include gross human rights violations, torture, and likely genocide according to the Genocide Convention of 1948 and the Genocide Alert issued by Genocide Watch on August 11, 2019, only six days after August 5.

The third track, in accordance with international law, would be to ensure the survival of legitimate Kashmiri resistance, including armed resistance, to Indian annexation, black laws, atrocities and genocide. To remain legitimate such resistance must effectively forbid all acts of terror against unarmed civilians.

A fourth track would need to address any division of Kashmiri opinion between the Pakistan and Azadi options on the basis of a proper understanding of Article 257 of the Pakistan Constitution. It reconciles the two options within the Pakistan option and denies India an opportunity to divide Kashmiri opinion. This, however, would require Kashmiri trust in Pakistan’s fidelity to its own constitutional obligation to the Kashmiri people.

A fifth track would involve an intensification of Pakistan’s diplomacy on behalf of (i) a principled and negotiated Kashmir settlement verifiably acceptable to Kashmiri opinion, especially in the Valley; (ii) Kashmiri political and human rights protections in order to avoid worst case outcomes towards which the current situation is rapidly sliding; and (iii) making the international community aware of its existential stake in restraining India.

The sixth track would integrate the five tracks into a comprehensive national transformation policy. This would transform Pakistan’s image, maximize its policy options, and render its voice far more resonant in the capitals of the world.

This is indeed a humongous task. But Kashmir has become an existential challenge for Pakistan along with climate change, nuclear conflict, dysfunctional governance, systemic and lethal inequalities, overpopulation, food and water insecurity, pandemics, etc. This task will never be cost and risk-free. But avoiding it risks Pakistan’s existence.

This policy recommendation will need to be fleshed out in considerable and consistent detail through continuous and nation-wide discussions. This should lead to an informed, educated and rational consensus on the way forward.

Existential challenges can be unique opportunities.