Human rights and the peacenik naivete

Will Pakistan and its jihadis stop their campaign if India goes after human rights violators ?

As Amardeep Singh points out, police and security forces in India often violate human rights, usually for non-ideological reasons. Pakistan with its Kashmir hang-up, naturally has been quick to cover up its own proxy-war and state-sponsored religious terrorism as a conflict against human rights violations by the Indian state versus a grassroots freedom struggle by indigenous Kashmiris.

Amardeep’s contention, part of which is echoed by Balraj Puri in the Hindustan Times, is that India should confront the human rights abuses by its security forces in Kashmir and turn the tables on Pakistan.

Eventually, differences developed even within the militant camp. When Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was involved in a case of torture and rape of one Mariam in Doda, the Hizbul Mujahideen is reported to have asked the reason. It was told, “You fellows are too soft. You start vomiting when we give such treatment to an informer. We know that Mariam was not an informer but her brother was.”

Pakistan is becoming impatient for a solution to Kashmir. Instead of evading a discussion on Kashmir and human rights violations, India should insist on making it the first item of the agenda. It is time to relax a ban on Amnesty International work in J&K, at least on a case-to-case basis. A word of condemnation by such an organisation will carry far more weight in the rest of the world than a diplomatic campaign by the Indian government.

In the first phase, India and Pakistan should agree to condemn killings of non-combatant and unarmed civilians for their religious or political beliefs by either the militants or the security forces. This should be followed by similar condemnation of collateral damage in armed operations, that is killing of innocents in cross-firing or Eid blasts that are aimed at the security forces. Finally, complete withdrawal by the militants and the return of the army to the barracks. Then would the stage be set for a discussion on the political aspects of the problem. [HT]

Confronting human rights violations by its own security forces is something India is quite capable of doing on its own, and indeed has been doing. Puri’s argument is quite all right insofar as it concerns India seizing higher moral ground by redeeming its human rights record in Kashmir.

But the peaceniks get it terribly wrong when they connect India’s human rights performace to cessation of proxy-war and terrorism by Pakistan and its jihadi handmaidens. While the Indian Army can get back to the barracks at the stroke of a pen, it is naive to believe that the jihadis would be so touched by Indian morality that they would just drop their guns and become peace-loving citizens. And what of Pakistan, which has spent every moment of its existence coveting territory in Kashmir? These quarters perceive Indian moralism as a weakness to be exploited. Pakistan did not start the proxy war because of concerns over human rights and is not going to stop it for the same reason.

India could stand to gain from a thorough and dispassionate examination of its human rights record in Kashmir (and why stop there, the rest of the country as well). It must do this because it is the right thing to do, and the tactical advantage in the propaganda war is secondary. But expecting that this will convince either Pakistan or its proxies to drop their terrorist campaign is delusionary.

4 thoughts on “Human rights and the peacenik naivete”

  1. Yeah, you’re right on. The jihadis will not stop until of India is under Muslim control again again. And an examination of human rights must be done because it is the right thing to do. However, I think there might be some strategic gain also through windfall. The ability of jihadis to continue their fight is dependent to a certain extent on sympathies amongst Kashmiris. Ever since the Indian government rigged the elelctions in Kashmir, many native Kashmiris do feel marginalized, especially in the Vale. And it is these Kashmiris who have been somewhat passive towards the jihadis (rather than actively against them). By showing the Kashmiris that the Indian govt cares about their human rights it might be possible to end the sympathies that exist in the Vale. This might encourage them to take an active stance against the jihadis, and make sure they don’t feel at all welcome there.

  2. My fear is that once anypolitical movement in moslem dominated regions gets hijacked by the jihadi card, no secular-democratic government (or even aithpritarian govt, going by Russia’s failures in Chechnya) has been able to successfully reverse the movement and bring back peace to the region.

    I can quote examples of genuine political movements that took up arms that could be pacified and reversed by genuine dialogue 9Laldenga in Mizram is a stellar example) but when these movements become criminalised and commercialised (in the black market) and become little more than extortion rackets, then its too late for politcal dialogue and human-rights moralising to help.

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