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Tag Archives | Kashmir

Gen. Kayani’s extension

Beware the General with the extended contract.

When Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani announced his government’s decision to extend COAS Gen. Kayani’s term for another three years, he was merely formalizing an arrangement that many had already foreseen months ago.  Media reaction to Gen. Kayani’s extension in Pakistan has swayed from grudging acceptance (The News) to complete endorsement  (نوائے وقت, ایکسپریس).  On the face of it, this is a matter internal to Pakistan, and the Government of India has rightly chosen not to comment on the extension.

Three issues, however, feature prominently in Pakistan’s press on favoring an extended tenure for Gen. Kayani — the war on terrorism, upholding the laws of the nation, and security.  It is the third that should be of concern to India; indeed, if history has taught us one thing, it is that secure generals in Rawalpindi have taken decisions that negatively impact India’s internal security.  Men in power at GHQ have historically been poor judges of how far they can push the button, either internally or as it relates to India.  We need not delve too far back into history to realize that precedents exist.  The events leading up to October 1999 serve as a reminder.  Nazim Zehra explains:

Musharraf had then clearly stayed away from the political situation as journalists had queried about the ability of the present system’s ability to ‘deliver’ given Pakistan’s major problems. His response to a question related to constitutional change was unambiguous. This relates to constitutional changes, an issue which only the country’s political leadership can address, he had definitively said. He was straight and honest recalling that when he had taken over as the COAS people around me held different views about Nawaz Sharif ‘s relations with the army leadership.

What was striking about the general was how he related to the team around him. Not only did he ensure the presence of at least half a dozen of his key lieutenants through his press encounter, he also let them speak. More so let them interrupt him, correct him on occasions. Only a general, secure about his authority would allow such public display of freedom of expression from his men. Musharraf had come across as a secure general; a team player. [Defence Journal]

Then there was Kargil.

The difference between 1999 and 2010, of course,  is that in Parvez Musharraf, you had a general who had no backing from the United States (up until the events of 9/11), while Kayani today enjoys popular support from folks in Arlington, Vir. And the U.S. is notorious for its weakness for scotch-drinking Pakistani generals; even more so when they are graduates of army colleges in the U.S.  Gen. Kayani is described in the U.S. as a “soft-spoken intellectual” and “apolitical.”  As if this “soft-spokenness” is a virtuous quality.

Yet, of all the 14 chiefs of army staff to have served Pakistan, only one man holds the distinction of having commanded both Pakistan’s premiere intelligence agency, the ISI, and the Pakistani army.  That man is Gen. Kayani.  That Gen. Kayani played an integral part in ensuring that talks between S.M. Krishna and his counterpart in Pakistan failed should be no surprise.  What Gen. Kayani does or doesn’t do within the confines of Pakistan’s political environment is a matter entirely internal to Pakistan.

However, “secure” Pakistani generals have displayed a knack for misunderstanding their relative power within the Pakistani establishment and misconstruing their ability to force India’s hand on “unresolved issues.”  And this is something that India needs to be wary of.

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Link Digest: July 10, 2010

Kashmir, Afghanistan, Indo-Pak dialog, Naxal insurgency and Bharat bandh.

Your weekly link digest:

  • The making of Srinagar’s teenage martyrs: Praveen Swami on the rioting in Kashmir and what the administration must do to address macro issues in the state.
  • It is time to be realistic about Kashmir: Vir Sanghvi opines on the ongoing violence in Kashmir in the larger context of India-Pakistan peace talks.  (h/t @pragmatic_d)
  • Pakistan-India uninterrupted and uninterruptable dialogue, impossible: Smita Prakash on the on-going India-Pakistan dialog and terrorism.  Are there irreconcilable differences that cannot be addressed by insulating dialog with an impotent civilian administration from terror perpetrated by the MJC?
  • Analysts: Postwar Afghan political landscape unclear: Dr. David Kilcullen asserts that India’s “increasingly assertive bids” to exert influence in Afghanistan has made Pakistan “very nervous.”  Also see my INI colleague Dhruva Jaishankar’s response to the interview.
  • Push into Naxal territory: IAF plans to build a new airbase in Chhattisgarh in the event that a larger role for the air force is envisaged to counter the Naxal insurgency.  But given the nature of the conflict, where is the need for an 8 sq. km. air base which would include 3,500 yards of runway?
  • Protest, softly: Pratap Bhanu Mehta asks what role social protests such as “Bharat bandh” serve in today’s India in addressing very legitimate grievances.
  • The return of the Ottoman: Some shameless self-promotion.  My piece on Turkey’s reorientation post l’incident flottile and how this impacts India and the subcontinent.
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Syed Salahuddin’s ultimatum

With or without you.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s ameer Syed Salahuddin issued an ultimatum to the Pakistani establishment: support us in Kashmir, or pursue peace talks with India. One or the other — not both. Roznama Ausaf’s editorial advices the Pakistani government:

Syed Salahuddin asks of our government where its loyalties lie —  “if Pakistan intends to pursue friendship with India, then let it stop advocating on behalf of Kashmiris.” Our leaders must understand that rekindling talks with India will not result in peace with that nation, but with it renouncing its support for Kashmir’s independence. [روزنامہ اوصاف]

The ultimatum itself is meaningless, given that the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is a fully owned and operated entity of the ISI and that Mr. Salahuddin has lived in Pakistan for well over ten years. The group’s role in the on-going security situation in J&K is an act of direct provocation from Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex. The Indian government would do well to consider to what extent it can afford to “insulate dialog from terror,” given the structure of the ongoing India-Pakistan talks and the probability of further state-sponsored attacks in J&K, and perhaps even in major Indian cities.

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Peace process, redux

What will Manmohan Singh’s legacy be?

In the U.S., the President spends his second term contemplating his legacy and how history and America will remember  him.  In India, it appears that our Prime Minister, who may or may not bow out before the next general elections, wants to leave behind a legacy of peace between India and Pakistan.

It is a noble vision, and one that has preoccupied many a past Indian Prime Minister. But it is also unsustainable given that Pakistan’s Military Jihadi Complex (MJC) remains structurally adversarial towards India.  This is a reality that India has had to live with for over sixty years, which no amount of cricket, Bollywood, mangoes or poetry has been able to obscure.

Even as Nirupama Rao prepares to travel to Pakistan next week as a precursor to S.M. Krishna’s July trip, there are several indications that Pakistan’s MJC plans to step up attacks in India.  Prior to the Pune attacks, the JuD held public rallies (اردو) in Lahore and Muzzafarabad, which were attended by the whos-who of the jihadi umbrella, including Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, Syed Salahuddin and Abdul Rehman Makki.  JuD held another public rally on June 14 in Lahore, where Indian, Israeli and American flags were uniquely treated to a “chappal ki pooja.”

At the rally, Hafiz Saeed accused Israel of trying to convert Pakistan into a “barren land by constructing dams on its rivers.”  What is or isn’t part of madaaris curriculum may be debatable, but it should be pretty apparent now that  elementary geography doesn’t feature in any meaningful way. The absurdity of Hafiz Saeed’s accusation however, illustrates how symptomatic Kashmir was (and the “issue” of water now is) to the root cause of Pakistan’s unwillingness to live in peace with India.

And Matt Waldman’s report ( PDF) , while doing a decent job in highlighting the ISI’s relationship with terror groups, is found wanting in its policy recommendation, at least where India is concerned.  Mr. Waldman falls for the same tired argument of a “regional peace process,” and U.S. involvement in resolving Kashmir.  As The Filter Coffee has blogged before, the argument is fallacious.

The UPA’s vision for peace with Pakistan can last only as long as the lull before the next terror attack in India.  Pakistan’s unwillingness to abjure terror combined with the fact that civilian government neither crafts nor implements foreign policy in Pakistan essentially means that nothing has changed.  When will the Indian government realize that merely talking to Pakistan can’t be a  tenable solution for peace in the subcontinent?  If the UPA hopes to secure India, then its efforts are best directed towards strengthening the country’s internal security, while ensuring a capacity to challenge terror infrastructure where it stands.

You cannot seek peace with an entity when that entity’s idea of peace involves your dismemberment.  Instead of suffering grandiose visions of Indo-Pakistan peace, Mr. Manmohan Singh would do well to focus on leaving behind an India that is capable of defending itself at home and deterring the designs of those plotting to hurt India from abroad.  Indeed, it will be a legacy worthy of a man who, as a Cabinet Minister, laid the foundation for India’s meteoric economic rise.

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