Dear Mr Kristof

It’s 2008

You write (linkthanks Offstumped)

…we should push much harder for a peace deal in Kashmir—including far more pressure on India—because Kashmir grievances empower Pakistani militants. [NYT]

Now you are a perspicacious man. So it is baffling that you miss the point by a thousand kilometres. Because today Pakistani militants are far more empowered by Afghanistan, NWFP and Islamabad’s Red Mosque grievances than by anything else. Would you say that the United States should push for a peace deal in Afghanistan then?

Update: On his blog, Mr Kristof adds:

Many Indian readers are taking me to task over my suggestion that the U.S. put more pressure on Kashmir. Let me clarify that this is not just to “appease” Pakistan, but because India’s own behavior in Kashmir has often been shameful. Paying more attention to Kashmir and to human rights violations (in both Kashmirs) is not only geopolitically correct, but it’s also the right thing to do. Incidentally, I heard on this trip that Islamabad is now again allowing more Pakistani militants to infiltrate across the border into Indian Kashmir, which, if true, is a disaster that will aggravate Pakistani-Indian tensions and focus attention away from issues like education.[On the ground]

Mr Kristof ought to decide which problem he wishes to solve. Does he really mean to suggest that Pakistan sending terrorists across the border into Kashmir to set right human rights violations? It’s nearly headless, Nick!

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27 Responses to Dear Mr Kristof

  1. Bobcat 23rd November 2008 at 19:21 #

    Why are you so opposed to resolving the Kashmir issue? Or do you seriously claim that it is a closed matter with nothing left to resolve? If you are taking the ‘let us solve it bilaterally’ route, we have already had over a 130 rounds of dialogue with little progress to show for it. Maybe some American pressure will indeed help push things along…

  2. AG 23rd November 2008 at 19:36 #

    Nitin

    Kristof may be perspicacious but he’s also a bully. Or at least the representative of a bully.

    He only picks on those who don’t fight back; he knows all too well that Indian leaders will crawl when asked to bend, will give up territory when regaled with shibboleths like “your democracy is your greatest strengths”

    Afghan warlords, in contrast, will apprehend some western correspondent, behead him, and put the videos on youtube if Kristof and co even as much as attempt to lift a finger.

  3. Nitin 23rd November 2008 at 20:11 #

    Bobcat,

    Please prove that the Kashmir issue is not being resolved. Of course, if you claim that being resolved ought to mean be resolved in a way, manner and pace Pakistanis and separatists ought to be happy with then it’s a different matter.

    It’s naive to believe that if the Americans persuaded India to agree on a Magic Formula tomorrow, people will live happily ever after. Students of the subcontinent’s history will know what happens when you try and draw lines in a hurry.

    Normalcy will return to Kashmir issue has its own pace. The Americans should be worry about far more urgent things.

  4. Bobcat 23rd November 2008 at 21:43 #

    Nitin,

    >>Please prove that the Kashmir issue is not being resolved.>>

    Eh? Please show me some evidence that it is indeed being resolved. When did the current thaw between India and Pakistan begin? In the last days of the Vajpayee administration. It is almost five years since that time now. Have we seen any agreement on the principles of a settlement on Kashmir? Not a thing. So what exactly is this ‘progress’ that you are talking about? Only on the peripheral matters of trade, bus service, people-to-people contacts, etc. has there been any progress.

    >>Of course, if you claim that being resolved ought to mean be resolved in a way, manner and pace Pakistanis and separatists ought to be happy with then it’s a different matter.>>
    Kindly enlighten me what the ‘Indian way’ of solving the problem is. By claiming that it is just a figment of the imagination – that everything is actually hunky-dory in the valley (oh, never mind the huge protests that take place every so often)? By insisting on endless talks without ever making any commitment?

    Manmohan Singh is said to have agreed to Pakistan’s suggestions that the LOAC ought to be made irrelevant (see Kasuri’s interview in Frontline) and that back channels have made progress. But that is also true of issues like Siachen where an agreement was worked out as far back as 1989. Yet, has any Indian government ever shown the courage to sign anything? No. So the only thing I can say about this Indian approach to a solution to Kashmir is this – constant procrastination, prevarication, legerdemain and all round duplicity – in short, all gloss and little substance. Unless India has a worthwhile alternative to offer – which it has not so far – I see absolutely nothing to commend about it.

    I am frankly surprised that you have become a cheerleader for such a cul-de-sac that goes for a policy. American pressure played a significant role in bringing the two sides to the table several years ago. And one cannot deny that with the billions it is providing in aid to that country, it has more influence on Pakistan than we do. There is no reason to think that America will suggest some magical formula – that is not how diplomacy works. The Americans are smart enough to know what can and cannot be achieved and to do the groundwork without publicity behind closed doors. Nor is anyone talking about redrawing lines now – even Pakistan has stated its willingness to accepting a solution that simply renders existing lines irrelevant. We have all seen what leaving things to their own pace have achieved in over half a century. Given all of this, your case for American indifference is extremely weak to say the least.

    There is little reason to think that India is serious about resolving the issue. The least that American pressure can do is change that to push India towards a departure from the current unstable status quo.

  5. The Rational Fool 23rd November 2008 at 23:08 #

    Bobcat:

    Seriously, what has eleven administrations, trillions of dollars, and decades of American diplomacy, accomplished in the Israel-Palestine conflict? Why should we expect anything better in the Kashmir conflict?

    Diplomatic resources are not unlimited. In its own interest, the United States should focus on resolving the Middle East conflict, and stay out of the Kashmir conflict. And, that may open a better road to Kabul and Wazirstan: via Jerusalem, Jeddah, and Tehran.

  6. VR 23rd November 2008 at 23:38 #

    I agree with both sides. The US should stay out of Indo-Pak matters, that being said we need to be more aggressive in resolving the Kashmir Issue. There definitely has been a stale mate since Vajapayee left office.

    One could argue that this could be because of volatile situation in Pakistan, but we should not use that as an excuse. There is plenty India can do to stabilize the situation there, economic building, education etc…

    Yes, I know there are pitfalls in embarking on these ventures, but it is better than sitting idle and further antagonizing the already disgruntled people of Kashmir.

    Nitin, you make a good point in such a complicated geo-political environment one should not be hasty in drawing up new borders. But Kashmir should not be resolved at it’s own pace, India needs to dictate the terms and conditions.

  7. Nagarajan Sivakumar 23rd November 2008 at 23:40 #

    Bobcat,
    You could possibly have used the name Rip Van Winkle as well. The absurd nature of your question about when the “current thaw” began is in itself enough to make one go “Oh brother…”

    I read patiently through your post to see if you proposed any solution to the Kashmir situation. Other than proposing that America “bring the two nations together” on what is an essentially an intractable dispute, you had precious little to offer.

    Like you, many other people who call for a third party to enter have been totally oblivous to the amount of electoral participation in the first round of elections in Kashmir. Is it possible that the noisy pro-secessionist movement has nothing more to show than rallies whining about land purchases ?

    Who exactly made these people, “representatives” of Kashmiri public opinion ? Most definitely not the people of Kashmir. How difficult would it be for the pro-secessionists to win an election, if they are really as popular as they claim to be.? It should not be.

    So India is actually offering a way out of the present “status quo” that you are so tired of.Only ofcourse this is not palatable to the pro-secessionists – they want a country of their own, because they DEMAND SO !

    Let these people organize themselves – show that they can get more votes than any other existing political entity in the Valley -show that they are capable of decrying violence/terrorism against innocent Kashmiri’s that they so readily accuse the Indian Army of – but that would indeed be a farcical joke considering how Hindus,Sikhs have been systematically driven out of Kashmir by these very same people.

    Your comment about Americans being smart enough to recognize what can and what cannot be achieved is even more illuminating. After living in the US for the last 8 years and watching their domestic politics, I can assure you that your confidence on their “smartness” is downright NAIVE.

    You may want to read Daniel Larison at the American Conservative – http://www.amconmag.com/larison/2008/11/11/indian-reactions/
    You may also want to read some of the comments there by a person named Kumar who has actually lived in the state.

    Here is an American blogger who rightly warns about American involvement in this issue – and rightly questions how “smart” it would be. So in the US itself there is a lot of debate on what it should be doing. or more precisely whether it should even be involved in the Kashmir issue.

    The US is teetering on the brink of an economic situation that is going to bring atleast 5 years of global recession, if they are lucky. Their auto industry HAS FAILED. You may not know this but GM, Ford and Chrysler chief executives came to Washington DC this week BEGGING for tax payer money to protect themselves from collapsing completely.

    It was because of domestic union/labor politics and special interest groups that the country is finding itself in a positon where the Big 3 can vanish into obscurity in the next one month. And now American politicans are scrambling to find out what will keep these companies alive. even though they know that they are only prolonging its death.

    I am illustrating this situation just to give you an idea of how totally pigheaded politicians are EVERYWHERE, including in of all places, surprise, surprise the USA.

    Kashmir should be the LEAST of their problems – the USA is looking at a 53 trillion dollar deficit on entitlement programs from Social Security to Medicare, Medicaid. About 70 million baby boomers who will start retiring in 2017. Not to mention two ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.( Remember that place). And the possibility of a nuclear capable Iran at the turn of the decade. Did i mention that they have tried their hand at another intractable conflict called the Israeli-Palestinian problem for the last 30 years and have failed spectacularly each time.

    And we are now supposed to seriously believe that these are the smart people that will know exactly what to do that is agreeable to both sides of an intractable conflict that has been going on for the last 60 years – a conflict which is MUCH MUCH MORE than a mere territory dispute.

    I re-read your lines about how “even Pakistan has stated its willingness to accepting a solution that simply renders existing lines irrelevant. We have all seen what leaving things to their own pace have achieved in over half a century.”

    Sorry to trouble you with prickly questions, but the Pakistan that you are mentioning here, does it include their military and ISI or are you talking about their toothless civilian Government?

    And what about the Indian Government agreeing to the irrelevancy of these lines ? Hey thats a great idea -let’s have no concept of borders while talking about an issue that is about disputed territory.!! Attaboy !

    The situation in Kashmir is far better than any one gives it credit for. There is no serious problem to “resolve” here. Let the pro-secession fringe prove that it commands popular majority in the Assembly by winning at the ballot box – let them force the Indian Government’s hand in listening to its demands. And then we can talk all about what GOI can/should do.

    Otherwise they are no better than a noisy minority like Hyderabad elite was while while resisting to be a part of the Indian Union. It does not matter how many street protests and hartals they can intimidate people to follow as long as they cannot prove that they are the democratic representative of a broad swath of people in the Valley – forget about Jammu and Ladakh – those people know the true colors of the “freedom” crowd.

    Your fantasy solution of a situation where there no border lines, and both India and Pakistan agreeing to this quasi independent entity smack in the middle of a region that has three nuclear powers borders on naivete’. It takes no account of how public opinion in India would react to it – if you think that India is not serious about resolving this issue, you are only half correct – its not serious about a “resolution” that are against its interests and that which will provoke a public outcry.

    You could have been honest and argued for the Government pushing for a plebiscite IF the pro-secession elements can win a majority in the State elections. And that is of course a big IF.

    Of course, reasonable people can disagree with this proposal as it does raise thorny issues about the rights of minorities in Jammu and Ladakh – in fact the more you go into this, you could see them wanting to stay with India and the secessionists not agreeing to this proposal – they WANT the entire STATE to go their way or the highway.

    If you believe that India would give up its territorial claim on Kashmir, totally ignore the elections that are happening statewide, give up water resources, agree to the existence of an independent country that borders two nuclear powers other than itself and believes that this would be the “solution” that would bring about peace aftrwards, let me have some of what you are smoking.

    In short, no one can claim that they know something special about the situation in Kashmir when Kashmiris themselves are voting with the ballots and proving otherwise. We are not in 1989 any more. Kashmiris themselves are tired of the violence – whether it comes from terrorists or being caught in the cross fire between the Govt and these jihadis.

    If the seccessionist favoring crowd is so sure that it represents a majority of Kashmiri’s, let them PROVE IT. Nothing is stopping them from doing so.

    India is more than justified to continue with its approach of allowing more people to people contact, building confidence in the state about prospects for a better economic future and allowing people to vote, instead of having Governors rule.

    If you cannot accept the “status quo”, that’s too bad. Get used to it.

  8. Nagarajan Sivakumar 23rd November 2008 at 23:56 #

    Nitin,
    Please try to ignore Kristof – he is a good person and a humanitarian – but he has ZERO sense of the geo-politics involved in this issue, the history of this conflict etc – just like most American commentators who spout off their opinions about Kashmir are.

    Pakistan is betting on the US losing its will to fight in Afghanistan and retreating within the next 5 years. At this point i would say that its a very sound bet. US supply lines to troops in Afghanistan run through Pakistan and this issue alone is enough to seriously cramp American leverage in this country. These supply lines have been shut off twice in the last one month by the Pakistani side just to remind the US how they are never going to go anywhere without their help.

    Ofcourse the Karzai govt is pretty much useless and non existent with very few real allies who are ready to help it with economic development or security. The recent bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul was pretty much a mesage from the ISI as to how powerless the Afghan Govt is.

    All these rumblings about how Kashmir should be resolved is a sign of how desperate a situation the US finds itself in vis-a-vis Afghanistan. They are ready to throw what ever they possibly can to the ISI to bribe them into co-operating in their fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, NWFP and the rest of Pakistan.

    Obama has already talked about appointing Bill Clinton as a potential point person in resolving the Kashmir dispute – Clinton would be more than happy to oblige given that it provides a visible platform that he really craves for eight years after stepping down from power.

    Interesting times ahead.

  9. krishna 24th November 2008 at 00:21 #

    If Mr. Obama decides to meddle in this issue again, by appointing special envoys and such like, he is going to do considerable damage to relations between India and the U.S, which thanks to Mr. Bush, have improved significantly. Secondly, he must understand that raising this “Kashmir
    issue” to keep the Pakistanis happy will make american policy in the region, especially on Afghanistan that much more difficult to execute, since whether anyone likes it or not, India has considerable influence in Afghanistan.
    The “Kashmir issue” is pretty much dead as a bilateral matter, and is increasingly an internal matter for the Indian state. It is also very clear from the recent round of political events in J&K that “Kashmiri” sentiments have support only in the valley, if any, and the rest of the state wants to have nothing to do with any secessionist movements. Further, I think the ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri population over the last 25 years means that the Indian state will have to consider getting rid of Art. 370 of the constitution. In my eyes, at least the people asking for “Kashmiri independence” have completely lost legitimacy due to this process, since it is clear that their idea of independence is pretty specific to certain ethnic and religious groups. The ignorance of American policy analysts and opinion writers on this matter is pretty amazing, or maybe it is just desperation?

  10. Sanjay 24th November 2008 at 00:25 #

    Kristof is full of garbage. Pakistan’s creation of the Taliban has more to do with its fear of Afghanistan’s territorial claims against NWFP, with destabilization of Kashmir being only a secondary pursuit or bonus.

    Afghanistan’s claims against NWFP are much older than the 1948 Kashmir dispute, so how can Kashmir be claimed as the origin/genesis of Taliban?

    The Atlanticists, including Kristof, are groping for excuses and the convenience of scapegoating India.

    If the USA tries to destabilize Kashmir by poking its nose into a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan, causing a relapse of terrorism in J&K, then India should retaliate by putting troops back on the LoC. This will compel Pak to pull its troops away from NWFP/FATA/etc, with attendant consequences for US/coalition forces in Afghanistan. We should also move closer to Iran.

    If the Americans don’t like it, then tough luck for them. We’ll be buying French and Russian reactors, not American ones.

  11. Sanjay 24th November 2008 at 02:23 #

    You also need a “Dear Mr Margolis”, because that idiot is another perennial India-baiting blowhard:

    http://www.edmontonsun.com/Comment/2008/11/23/7505621-sun.html

    He’s always obsessing over India as a rising threat to the world.

  12. sud 24th November 2008 at 02:23 #

    Dilli should make it known that outside interference is not welcome in the valley. Period. Meanwhile, we adhere to the treaties we signed, such as the Indus waters treaty, under which we build dams and harness the hydel potential of the riverine systems there. We conduct peaceful electrions where people’s representatives govern their own affairs. We give full, free and equal rights (nay, the KMs are actually more than equal to the aam aadmi from Bihar or Andhra) to every citizen inthe land. Unless they happen to belong to the majority community, that is.

    Nobody, on whichever side of the issue they are on, mentions the displaced Pandits anymore. Its as if they can and have been wished away.

    The ‘moral’ case was lost by the aam kashmiri muslims in the valley when they allowed, nay facilitated the torture, murder, rape, and forced migration of a hapless model minority and the state (both J&K as well and delhi) could do nothing.

    Meanwhile, even as the KMs whine no end about temporary Amarnath pilgrimage facilities being some sorta of demographic invasion beachhead, Pakistan has happily forced out people native to the Northern Areas, indulged in oppression and disenfranchisement of Balwaris and settled Pakjabis by the 1000s into PoK. Meanwhile, US funded academics (and journos too, perhaps?) moan that India is doing a Tibet in the valley. I mean, really!

    We are willing to listen to fresh ideas. We are willing to acknowledge and correct mistakes made. But territorial integrity of this country is non-negotiable. has always been. Enough already.

  13. Bobcat 24th November 2008 at 06:47 #

    VR,

    India needs to negotiate with Pakistan – it cannot dictate terms and conditions. We are no doubt in a reasonable position today to do that.

    Nagarajan Sivakumar,

    There are numerous flaws in your arguments.
    1. You are simply echoing the delusion that electoral participation is an acceptable panacea for a solution. If that was the case, the Kashmir problem ought to have been history by now after all these elections we have had. Not only do the separatists continue to muster huge numbers for their rallies, they have even successfully gotten the mainstream political parties to change their stand to insist upon a resolution of the issue – both the NC and the PDP have taken that position of late. The last time the PDP won the election, it was because it had successfully appropriated many aspects of the separatist agenda and enjoyed the tacit support of hte HuM. Does any of this suggest even remotely that the separatist agenda has lost its flavor in the valley? Hardly. Let me reiterate – if this were simply about the political fate of the few who make up the Huriyat conference, no one would care. But their stance enjoys considerable traction in the valley. Neither New Delhi nor the Governor are fools to engage the Huriyat in dialogue if they did not enjoy any popularity.

    2. I agree with your point that the Huriyat ought to join the electoral process and compete. But the fact that it has not happened does not mean that we should put everything else on hold till it happens. Right from the time of Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah, every leader at New Delhi and J&K has been acutely aware of the need to have an agreement between India and Pakistan on the one hand and a second between India and J&K on the other to secure the future of Kashmir. There is no reason to believe that has changed now. It suffices to note that the issue cannot be resolved without the buy-in of both parties – (whether the Huriyat is actually involved or not is less important. The prominence the group has gained is because of our failure to reach an agreement with Pakistan).

    3. Governments do many things at the same time – that is why you have so many departments. There is no reason to believe that the economic crisis cannot be handled alongside diplomacy. The crisis is not anything unique to America. Nor has it led to a crisis of confidence in the American economy. The greenback is not about to fail nor is America’s preeminent position in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region in peril. It may be debatable whether Americans are smart but there is no doubt that American diplomats are – they have achieved much over the years to testify to that fact.

    4. We take the Pakistanis at their word as far as evolving the principles of a settlement is concerned. For example, everyone knows what the outlines of a settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians is. That is still a first but important step that has been accomplished. On Kashmir, we deal with whoever is in power in Pakistan (army/civilian). If the agreement is reneged upon, then we showcase that as an instance of Pakistani perfidy.

    5. Irrelevance of the borders does not mean no ‘concept of borders’. It means creating a system that bridges the two parts of the state politically. How that is worked out in practice remains to be made public (P.S.Jha had an article on this about a year and a half ago on the details of the proposal but nothing further has been heard upon the matter).

    6. As for the failure of American diplomacy in the Israel-Palestine crisis, America has played a prominent role in creating the problem and no small role in perpetuating it. The overarching influence of AIPAC upon domestic American politics has ensured that the American role remains lopsided. The question is whether the same analogy holds true for India-Pak as well. There is no reason to think so. India enjoys a growing profile in the US today. And US perception of Pakistan is way different from its view of India. The US enjoys enough influence on both sides and yet, neither can claim to have dominant control over US policy the way Israel has. Given these facts, any facilitatory role the US plays cannot be to India’s disadvantage.

    7. You point out that I did not propose a solution. True but that was not the intent of my comment.

  14. krishna 24th November 2008 at 07:54 #

    bobcat,
    I am curious as to why you think India “needs to” negotiate with Pakistan. India does not need to do any such thing and, yes, it is increasingly in a position to dictate terms. Further, why should India negotiate, when the only result of previous such “negotiations” has been an increase in Pakistani aggressiveness, and a rise in terrorism. There is only one party in this dispute that “needs” to do something, and this is Pakistan, which needs to stop sponsoring terrorism. The Kashmir conflict has slowly, but surely driven the Pakistani state to the ground, so it is upto them to realize this and decide between the unity of their nation, or the lost cause of Kashmir.

    What India does need to do eventually is get rid of Art. 370. It is discriminatory, and is a reason why ethnic cleansing of the sort seen in the valley could have been carried out with impunity.

  15. Sanjay 24th November 2008 at 09:10 #

    bobcat, that’s rubbish. Please don’t pose before us, like you have some automatic credibility, because you don’t. Your comments tell us more about you than about the subject you’re commenting upon.

    It’s Pakistan that’s burning itself out by trying to compete miltarily with India, as part of its revanchist mindset. These people can’t even competently manage their economy, and they’re trying to blame all their woes on India and Kashmir? Like I said, Pakistan’s territorial dispute with Afghanistan is much older and deeper than its dispute with India over Kashmir. Let Pakistan first settle its territorial dispute with Afghanistan, which is a far more serious and pressing issue, and then they can come talk to us about Kashmir.

    The fact is that Pakistan’s claim over NWFP has artificially divided the Pashtun people. This is what’s caused Pakistan to promote jihadism and Islamic nationalism as a subterfuge to distract Pashtuns from their natural desire to reunify and undo this artificial border created by the British.
    As a matter of fact, it’s no coincidence that the newly formed Pakistan quickly dispatched Pashtuns in particular to seize Kashmir from the perilous clutches of infidel rulers. Jinnah was mainly interested in providing the Pashtuns with a distraction.

    So the Afghan-Pak territorial dispute is the genesis of all other disputes in the region. That artificial bifurcation of Pashtunistan sticks out like an eyesore, and any rational person can’t help but notice it. It’s only shallow people like you who’ll turn a blind eye to it, bobcat. The foreign policymakers affiliated with the US Democratic Party are a bunch of Europe-tilting extra-territorialists who attempt to hide their Atlanticist leanings behind grandiose rhetoric of ‘enlightenment’, ‘internationalism’, ‘supporting democracy’, etc. Meanwhile they’re happy to do business with any Pakistani dictator they can find, and are not above using jihadism as a tool to advance their own blood-feuds with Russia. It’s no small coincidence that the Taliban rose to power during the Clinton years.

  16. Chandra 24th November 2008 at 10:23 #

    We need to put a stop the debate on Sri Kristof’s (and his type) terms. We need to put an end to his so-called human rights abuse falsehood. People take it as truth, without question, that J&K people’s, ie apparently only Muslim’s, rights are abused by a Hindu majority nation. What could be more absurd than this!!

    Which group was ethnically cleanest from Kashmir valley because of their religion? Are people in Pakistani side of J&K better off than Bharatiya side?

    The bogusness of human right groups and their mouths in media like NYT is obvious.

  17. realitycheck 24th November 2008 at 10:47 #

    The nuclear deal does not quite appear so sweet now does it ?

    India’s position on Kashmir is akin to a gel like substance. By agreeing that there is something that needs to be resolved inside its borders, you have lost the plot. The other side would press for international involvement at least as ‘moral support’ on its side only because it is all uphill from where they stand. India has no right to deny the other party seeking help from ‘interested’ third countries.

    The ideal stand of India must be – ignorance.

    There is nothing that needs to be resolved in Kashmir, at least nothing that should concern you as a foreign power. How about some more tea ?

    Wait ! But, the above stand will not happen. Firstly, there are issues like the threat of nuclear weapons, unchecked terrorism, threat of collapse in Pakistan. These issues have to be addressed by New Delhi if it had to harden its stance.The above requires a major coagulation of large interests in India.

    Let me play back my broken record. India is not set up today to handle it.. The next elections will make it worse, and the election after that will make the already worse worse. Remember, India is SOLELY represented by the set of human beings in parliament and state assemblies. If they are nothing but a federation of narrow interests, then so is this country. This cannot be papered over.

    So, what do we free agents – the 10% and falling – do ?

    We just hold on to these policies, such as the bilateral framework, for a while. Until the last few who hold such views in the state apparatus retire due to old age. Then America will inevitably get involved and broker a deal between the two countries. This will happen simply because it will be too much effort to prevent it from happening. You cant really fault people like Bobcat for saying, ‘Shoot, this is going to happen anyway. Why not do it now and save 10-15 years”

    Nitin,

    Apologies for this cynical post. But you know my views !!

  18. Nagarajan Sivakumar 24th November 2008 at 10:55 #

    Bobcat,
    1. “You are simply echoing the delusion that electoral participation is an acceptable panacea for a solution. If that was the case, the Kashmir problem ought to have been history by now after all these elections we have had.”

    I dont know how to put this to you but the second round of polling in Kashmir is now estimated at 65%. And it is very very clear why there has been an uptick in polls because people have now tired of the separatists ! they want to get on with their lives – look forward to something that involves progress, peace and normality. Secessionists have not exactly offered that – nor have they even ATTEMPTED to do so.

    Also, who exactly is offering a panacea ? I am sorry but what exactly is your idea of a democracy ?- it is not meant to be a cure all even in the best of times. It is a mechanism that attempts to help

    Nothing stops secessionist movements from directly participating in the elections – it is not enough to say that the PDP and the NC have taken their stance – that would be political smartness on part of those two parties. No one denies that the pro-secession crowd has supporters – the critical question is do they have the majority support in the Valley – if they do, they wouldnt be lamenting how Kashmiris have turned traitors to their “cause” and their call for boycotting elections would have had some resonance.

    But according to you, all these elections are useless and the solution is …. actually you still have not made ONE WORTHWHILE SUGGESTION. You know why ? You dont have one.

    I asked you point blank – why not be honest enough to demand a plebisicte as a solution to the problem. Why are you avoiding that ?

    2.”Right from the time of Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah, every leader at New Delhi and J&K has been acutely aware of the need to have an agreement between India and Pakistan on the one hand and a second between India and J&K on the other to secure the future of Kashmir. There is no reason to believe that has changed now. It suffices to note that the issue cannot be resolved without the buy-in of both parties”

    Let’s leave aside all arguments as to why India has a historical claim to Kashmir or the fact that out first PM was from Kashmir – or the fact that this region got its name from Sage Kashyap and has a history that is as old as the religion of Islam itself for a minute.

    If you really think that both parties to this “dispute” need to buy in to the proposed solution, please EXPLAIN why you are not advocating a plebiscite.? In fact that is all Pakistan is asking for – a right for “self determination” as they call it.

    If I now say that India wont buy in into it because of the fact that it has no obligation to listen to a minority how ever noisy and terrorist threatening it may be, what exactly are you going to propose now ?

    Please tell me how this fantasy of yours is going to come to life.

    3. “Governments do many things at the same time – that is why you have so many departments. There is no reason to believe that the economic crisis cannot be handled alongside diplomacy.”

    Bwahahaha !!! Thats why Governments have so many departments !! This is the cutest explanation that I have heard for a bloated and inefficient Government.

    It is easy for you to say that living in India – even as i type this, CitiGroup is now begging for a bail out for Washington. If you are keeping count Lehmann Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG have all ceased to exist in their present form – did I mention that Detroits car manufacturers are on the brink of collapsing ?

    You have NO CLUE about the enormous domestic and international challenges the United States faces – and yet you blithely believe that enough number of Government Departments should do it – to borrow a phrase, big Government is no panacea.

    Why dont you take the time to actually read some American opinion on this issue ? Daniel Larison is his name – Eunomia is his blog. He has a far better understanding of the sensitivity of the issue than some one like you who is seemingly in India. Shame.

    4.”We take the Pakistanis at their word as far as evolving the principles of a settlement is concerned.”
    You lost me at taking Pakistanis at their word. I have not heard a more clueless line of argument not to mention the shocking ignorance about how the Pakistan military always has play edup the threat of India to keep itself relevant. And how the military is bigger than any democratically elected civilian Govt.

    But hey sweep all those concerns under the rug. But here is the kicker – if “Pakistan reneges on its commitment” we show the world its perfidy !!! Yippee, problem solved – how did it work for us in Kargil ?

    Here in the US people are already talking about Pakistani perfidy vis-a-vis Afghanistan.

    And you believe that the world will see their perfidy if they go back on their word. Poor, innocent you. Tell me that you arent kidding me.

    5.”Irrelevance of the borders does not mean no ‘concept of borders’. It means creating a system that bridges the two parts of the state politically. How that is worked out in practice remains to be made public (P.S.Jha had an article on this about a year and a half ago on the details of the proposal but nothing further has been heard upon the matter).”

    Why would any one want to hear any proposals about building “bridges” to two parts of the state ? Pakistan claims the entire state – in fact India has flexible enough to allow for the LOC to be the border.

    You cannot possibly be this naive. I dont know what else to say.

    6. Your point about the US playing a facilitatory role in one intractable conflict (India-Pakistan over Kashmir) while simultaneously blaming it for the Israel-Palestine conflict (over the very idea of Israel) is mildly amusing.

    If you dont have a solution to propose for the problem AND YET at the same time adamantly refuse to be content with the status quo, why should any one listen to you ?

    What meaningful ideas or information have you contributed to this discussion ? Seriously, other than embarrassing yourself. were you just blowing out steam as to how “unjust” your country has been ? Assuming that you are actually Indian.

    I have an idea – lets exchange more corrsepondence on this matter – I live in Chicago – i wont tell you my exact address – you have to some how find that out and send me a letter any ways. Does nt make sense does it ?

    Neither does your stance of saying that both sides need to buy into a solution for this intractable conflict which has been raging for the last 60 years to be facilitated by a country that is on the brink of losing its super power status if it does not take care of its own enormous domestic problems.

    May be you should request the US Government to create a “Department for Kashmir affairs”. That would do the trick.

    Good luck.

  19. Nagarajan Sivakumar 24th November 2008 at 11:04 #

    RealityCheck,
    Calm down. You sweat too much.Trust me, Obama is more worried about the state of the US economy and the world economy than about an issue in which the United States has very little to gain and a lot to lose.

    As far as the nuclear issue goes, the US is not holding the resolution of the Kashmir issue as per Pakistan’s wishes as the condition for nuclear co-operation. They have an eye on the enormous business opportunities that come out of an energy hungry India. Opportunities that we will gladly give to the French and the Russians if the US does not play ball.

    I dont know which is worse – our lack of clarity or our excessive hand wringing or our always latent inferiority complex.

    Seriously. Get a grip. Please.

  20. realitycheck 24th November 2008 at 12:34 #

    I am calm as a palm.

    I did not say that Obama will meddle in Kashmir as soon as he sat at his desk. You do not seem to dispute my main point that the sum total of the Kashmir-issue interests which are nurtured by todays elected reps do not amount to much. This sum-total alone represents the Indian states position on Kashmir. As the effort required to stave off America rises beyond a point, there will not be enough juice left in the house. No one elected on a narrower-interest platform can afford to expend too much energy on larger issues.

    >> Seriously. Get a grip. Please.

    You mean a grip on reality ? I would be happy to take you on a tour on my blog.

  21. kvjayan 24th November 2008 at 15:47 #

    “The least that American pressure can do is…..to push India”. Is it so? “Push India” for what? One would like to know the locus standi of US in this matter. Perhaps the status of Pak being a long-stanidng client state lets the Americans poke their nose into our affairs.

    Kashmir is only one of the many issues that we have been facing, as byproducts of the partition fiasco. India may not be a big power in the eyes of the US and its surrogates. But, it doesn’t mean that we have to meekly ask/accept third party mediation on territorial issues with neighbours. The good old days of cold war, US playing self-appointed super cop etc. are gone long time ago.

  22. Bobcat 25th November 2008 at 04:36 #

    Krishna,

    What is the basis for this belief that negotiations will lead to Pakistani aggressiveness? It is true that Pakistan is in a weak position today but that does not mean India can dictate terms to them. Like any other country, they will not accept terms that are not acceptable in their interest (a good example is how a weak China walked away from a settlement with the powerful British on Tibet in 1914). What we must work for is a reasonable solution that saves face for both sides. The South Tyrol model has been suggested as a possible template to build upon.

    How is abolishing Art.370 going to solve the Kashmir problem? It will simply aggravate matters without bringing us any closer to a settlement. Any final settlement will have to incorporate a special arrangement for Kashmir that is consistent with a settlement we arrive at with Pakistan. That is all the more reason to retain Art.370.

    Sanjay,

    You make some novel assertions. If I understand you correctly, Pakistan’s backing for the anti-India insurgency is to distract Pashtuns from their own troubles with the Pakistani government. But if that was the case, that contradicts the well established fact that the Taliban which is entirely dominated by Pashtuns was aided and abetted by the very same Pakistani government – if they feared Pashtun rage so much, they would surely not have been so stupid as to empower the same people! Besides, a signficant part of the Pakistani army is made up of Pashtun and so is the Northern Light Infantry, a paramilitary organization. Clearly, there is more to Pakistani policy than a single minded focus on preventing Pashtunistan.

    Nagarajan Sivakumar,

    You ask why I do not demand a plebiscite. For the same reason that India has always refused to conduct it – the big fear of losing it. Neither India nor Pakistan can afford to lose on Kashmir, hence all the more reason to find a compromise that both sides can live with.

    I am unclear about your other points. Yes, I understand that the US is having economic problems but so are a lot of other countries on the planet. Yes, Pakistan has been caught playing a double game vis-a-vis the US. But that is not all that different from similar Israeli claims about Palestinian perfidy. Nevertheless, there is something of a roadmap towards a settlement in that case which is a significant first step. There is no reason that a similar set of principles cannot be laid out here that can be followed up provided other conditions are met.

    You seem to be writing on the premise that a compromise on Kashmir cannot be made without redrawing borders. That is not necessarily so. The question is how. Some people have suggested the South Tyrol option or a variant of the Dixon plan. There may well be other remedies but there is no reason to say that there is not any. As Mirwaiz Umer Farooq is fond of saying, imaginative solutions are more than possible.

  23. Nagarajan Sivakumar 25th November 2008 at 07:48 #

    Bobcat,
    “You ask why I do not demand a plebiscite. For the same reason that India has always refused to conduct it – the big fear of losing it. Neither India nor Pakistan can afford to lose on Kashmir, hence all the more reason to find a compromise that both sides can live with.”

    Oh boy, that took a long time to get out of you. Let’s review

    a. You fear that India would lose a plebiscite.

    b. You feel bad about the fact that there are big demonstrations about Indian rule. And yet you dont want to give them a chance at a plebiscite.

    c. You have pooh poohed away the elections saying that they dont really amount to much. You never answered why secessionists could take part in the elections themselves and prove that they speak for a majority of Kashmiris.

    d. For what ever reason, Farooq is the one who has imaginative solutions – not that he has ever proved anything about why we should even take him seriously.

    e. You still think that India and Pakistan can buy into a solution that both will be happy with – when Pakistan is under attack from jihadis internally, asking the IMF to bail it out and is at its weakest position in the last 15 years.

    Ok, you cleared things up – thanks.

  24. Nagarajan Sivakumar 25th November 2008 at 08:32 #

    RealityCheck,
    I will be blunt – i could nt make head or tail out of what you said.

    Since you seem to be of the view that you have a good grasp of reality, may be you understand the concept of leverage. Just may be.

    You also ignore the reality of the domestic economic situation in the US or the fact that it has about 6 months to turn around the fiasco that their Aghan occupation has become – otherwise, they have no option but to start drawing down. Obama could try to do something about Kashmir – out of deseperation, not out of a position of strength.

    So somehow a country that is losing its leverage in the international arena every day with its economic situation getting worse, is going to get itself into the middle of a situation that it could nt influence even at the best of times. Unless of course it was favorable to India (Kargil). And that too after the last 8 years of the Bush administration has lead the US to shed its hyphenated view of India for the first time.

    Even Pakistan knows how to use what ever leverage it has. And here we have people who are worried about how we are going to “stave off” America. Its all very scary. And i thought Halloween had already come and gone. Silly me.

  25. Nitin 25th November 2008 at 08:52 #

    Hi all,

    It appears many first-time readers and commenters have thrown their hat in this discussion.

    Please keep the discussion civil: thrash out arguments and don’t engage in personal attacks.

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