Virtual Homeland of Kashmiri Pandits

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Volume 3, No. 11 - May 2004

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Revisiting India’s North-Western Frontier Policy
K.N. Pandita

Implications of partition of India in a manner that allowed Pakistan the control of northern and north-western Kashmir were not seriously taken into account. Historical record dealing with Nehru’s handling of partition and later on the Kashmir issue gives only a faint indication of his concern on this count. He had other serious and crucial matters to attend. In the process he could not concentrate on Indian dominion’s new northwestern frontier.

Others in Nehru’s cabinet were ignorant of the dangers, which the partition would ultimately pose. They had no idea of what sort of political philosophy the nascent State of Pakistan would adopt although they were fully aware the role of the imperialists in partitioning India. Nehru’s mishandling of Kashmir issue threw up a new dimension of the vulnerability of India’s northwestern frontier. Cease fire at the present LoC was a big strategic mistake that has made us pay heavily. It was a decision taken half-heartedly and obviously under the British pressures. History tells us that with Lord Mountbatten in the seat of Governor General, played a very dubious role. He served the imperial interests in fractured sub-continent. Nehru became a timid schoolboy in the face of Mountbatten’s shrewd diplomatic maneuvering.

The rise of Islamic jihadist movement with its epicentre in Pakistan -Afghanistan region, and unstinted support from the Muslim world, has posed serious questions for the policy planners of India. Something beyond military solution to the problem is needed.

The Indian state has reconciled to the Islamization of Kashmir. In other words, India is holding Kashmir by a slender thread. The local leadership has sharpened its tools of blackmail. Complacency is disastrous and immediate planning is needed as a response to the rising crescendo of jihadism.

Pakistan has only one way of survival and that is of fueling the fires of jihad. Her military regime is clever enough to mask her real intentions. Great powers have their ax to grind. As long as their purpose is served, jihadism or Islamism or militarism whatever is acceptable.

The future does not bode well for India’s security planning at least in her north-western border. Indian planners are living in fool’s paradise if they depend on the elusive peace process. They must plan and plan ruthlessly.

North-Western frontier security planning has two dimensions. One is Kashmir and the other is beyond Kashmir. In regard to Kashmir, the basics are that the sham democracy is a patent instrument of blackmail, whosoever the actor. Kashmir is a sore and it has to be declared a sensitive and strife torn region. It has to be declared the operational field of jihadis.

As such the Constitution of India has to be invoked and the State is to be declared a disturbed and vulnerable region and as such is to be placed under military rule for next twenty years. Military rule does not mean unleashing of brute force but flushing out the jihadis and their cohorts and sympathizers. It means stamping out blackmail, the dirty instrument of Kashmir political parties and their sympathizers in the rest of the country. It means ridding Kashmiri society of corrupt governance. It also means educating Kashmiris about secular democracy, rule of law, good governance and their civil and political rights.

Military rule means a combined administrative structure in which the final authority remains in a joint civilian and military executive body making the bureaucracy answerable to it. In the second phase, India has to ascertain its legitimacy in destroying the training camps in PoK. In doing so, India has to ask the US to use the same logic with Pakistan’s military rulers, which the Americans have used in their operations in Waziristan.

The jihadis and terrorists area threat to Pakistan also. Pakistani General has openly stated that. Involvement of Kashmiri jihadis in two attempts on the life of General Musharraf is a known fact. The General should welcome India playing the same role in PoK as the Americans are playing in Waziristan and for the same purpose viz. securing their country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. There should be no doubt that General Musharraf will be willing to cooperate with India in uprooting the jihadi bases in PoK.

Having done so, India should seek international commitment to the building up of an overland link between Kashmir and Chitral across the northern part of NWFP. This is a military and security requirement. This link will ultimately be extended to Central Asia where the American and Indian military bases are already in place. If Pakistan wishes, she can be a part of the frontier strategy.

This is the only option of survival for a fast collapsing Pakistan. That country is yet to witness the disastrous backlash of Waziristan operations. One should not think, and much less the Pakistani rulers, that with the surrender of a dozen or two Taliban remnants and tribal warlords, the game of attrition in NWFP is over. General Musharraf has announced reduction in the strength of Pakistan military to a tune of 50,000 at the tail lend. It should not be forgotten that a large chunk of Pakistani army personnel has been the former student of religious seminaries with diehard indoctrination in jihadi philosophy. It is this element that the Pakistani General wants to weed out. But who knows before the drop scene is reached, there could be many a slip between the cup and the lip.

India will need to create a new military command called North-Western Frontier Command with its headquarters on the banks of Kishanganga (Neelam) river over-reaching Muzaffarabad and beyond. The Sharada belt has to be converted into South Asia’s biggest military base, one that can be a challenge to China. This base has to be linked up with the allied bases in Central Asia -- Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. A network of roads, airstrips, bridges, missile launching bases and even nuclear sites have to come up there. It should be the world’s biggest and most sophisticated anti-terrorist base impregnable as the Maginot line of the World War II.

A the same time, the network of roads and bridges with solid support structure in the military base, will be converted into commercial highways bringing back to memory the days of the fabulous Silk Route. Brisk commercial activity along these roads will dramatically revolutionize the economy of the whole region that is steeped in backwardness and poverty.

Flourishing commerce will bring about a sea change in the psychosis of the people of the region. In this immensely bizarre but highly pressing adventure, Washington, London, Moscow and Beijing will have to cooperate not for the sake of India or Pakistan but for their own security and survival.

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