Musharraf’s Kashmir solution Balkanizes Kashmir

Secularism may be too difficult a concept for the US State Department to fathom

General Musharraf’s latest ‘off-the-cuffsolution for Kashmir lies in its Balkanisation on religious lines, in ‘a mischievous attempt to open up the now-healed wounds of Partition and create a huge rift in communal relations’ in India. Luv Puri substantiates this in Frontline, writing how such an obviously communal plan goes against the fundamentally secular nature of Jammu & Kashmir. The point is, India’s only Muslim-majority state is also its most secular (even after the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists).

The Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir has consisted of well-defined regions, namely Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, which are secular in character and are based on culture and geography. Pro-Pakistan groups in Kashmir and Hindu communal forces in Jammu have been consistently trying to undermine the regional identities and replace them with religious identities. Both get indirect support from some American think tanks, which have not realised the strength of the cultural diversity of the State. The State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Mohammad Yosuf Tarigami, says: “It is no wonder that the U.S. State Department has hailed the latest formula of President Musharraf, which replaces regional identities by religious identities. This would not only be dangerous for the secular basis of the State but also pose a serious threat to the very basis of the Indian nation, which is based on secular values.”

Both uninformed international observers and US State Department officials (who hopefully do not belong to the first category) rely on the comfort of maps which are shaded according to simple, mutually-exclusive criteria — usually religion or ethnicity. And this often causes the ‘Sunni Triangle‘ effect. Most Iraqis were perhaps unaware of the existence of this enormous ethno-geometrical entity in their midst until the Americans liberated them. Something similar happened in India too, a long time ago, in 1947 — also the reason why it must not be allowed to happen again.

Indians are just about as enthusiastic about another Partition as Jews in another Holocaust.

8 thoughts on “Musharraf’s Kashmir solution Balkanizes Kashmir”

  1. nitin:

    Upon re-reading the state dept.’s reaction, it strikes me as being closer to the usual diplomatic pablum than I initially thought. And I’m not alone in thinking that the int’l reception to Mush’s proposal was less than enthusiastic. In any case, given the Indian reaction (especially that of the media), it’s DOA, or so I hope. Given the (more than) occasional amateurishness exhibited by Indian diplomacy, I’m keeping half-a-finger crossed that Mush’s proposal won’t be revived.


  2. I think PM Singh’s response yesterday was correct — but it took so long in coming, creating a perception that India is now backtracking. Anything just outside off-stump must be dispatched to the boundary; umpires, even presumably neutral ones, dont always call wides when they should.

    India rowed back on Monday after voicing readiness to look at all options for a solution to the long-running dispute over Kashmir, balking at Pakistan’s suggestion that the Himalayan region could be demilitarised.

    “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and therefore this question of deployment of troops in our own country is not a subject matter of discussion with outside agencies,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

    Speaking at a news conference in the Netherlands after meeting senior European Union officials, Singh was also dismissive of ideas floated informally by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf during a Muslim fast-breaking meal last month.

    “If you are referring to what General Musharraf said at an Iftar party, well I don’t consider it as a proposal,” he said. “When we receive any formal proposals we will, I think, react to that in an appropriate manner.”[Reuters]

  3. Nitin:

    Yeah, unfortunately, that is the perception left by the PM’s remarks. The blame lies with both the PMO as well as reporters eager for ‘statesman-like’ (read Chamberlinesque) remarks. But the PMO surely knows how easily silence and an accommodating public attitude are likely to be misread in Islamabad–let alone by reporters–and should be especially cautious.

    These platitudinous observations are surely not beyond the grasp of New Delhi’s politicians. What is going on? Bumbling on New Delhi’s part is one possibility. A more intriguing possibility is that New Delhi’s studiously bland public remarks were accompanied by a private rebuff, in the hopes of preserving the ‘dialogue’. Given the competence of J.N. Dixit, I’m inclined to think the latter is more likely.

    That sort of policy involves taking a number of risks, as you write. But the PM’s remarks suggest he’s aware that, sometimes, lines must be drawn in public. Let’s hope he continues to do that when needed, albeit in a more timely fashion.


  4. I certainly hope Mr Dixit can fix it, privately or publicly, when Mr Armitage calls on him.

    US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has praised Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s idea of dividing the Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control into seven regions, demilitarising them and granting them the status of independence or putting them under the United Nations’ mandate.

    “I was very much interested in the proposals that President Musharraf made and looked to me that it was being very forward thinking,” Armitage, currently on a visit to Pakistan, told the state-run PTV.

    “I think he has caused a great deal of thinking both in India and here in Pakistan about the way forward,” he said.[Rediff]

  5. Nitin:

    Thanks for the link. Armitage’s comment made for amusing reading. I take it his aides hadn’t shown him the Reuters copy of the PM’s remarks.

    But suppose, for the moment, that the State Dept. will enthusiastically back Mush’s plan. What will come of it, really ? Nothing much, I would argue.

    The American govt. doesn’t have the ability to persuade India to come around to partitioning India. Certainly, the Americans could use force–economic &/or military–to coerce India. But the cost of that sort of enterprise would be quite high. Not least, it would destabilize the region and hamper the U.S.’s ability to destroy Al Qaeda.

    I suspect that the State Dept. flacks, much like the int’l press, read far too much into the GOI’s refusal to disavow Mush’s proposal publicly. Now that the PM has finally spoken, I think State will pull back.

    All that State wants is to safeguard American interests. In Pakistan they take that to mean Mush’s well-being. And they thought that the Indian govt. was going to be quite accomodating.

    I’ll be very interested in reading Armitage’s remarks in New Delhi. I suspect he’ll be rather more, ummm, circumspect. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays to the establishment in New Delhi, just as he did to the Pakistani establisment in Islamabad. In any case, let’s wait and see.


  6. Nitin:

    This just in, as they say. We won’t get the pleasure of reading Mr. Armitage’s reaction in New Delhi. He has canceled his trip to India to attend the funeral of the UAE’s ruler who died last week, according to the Telegraph (Calcutta).

    The Americans say the cancellation was Armitage’s initiative. That’s probably true. The report however hints that there were other reasons. Specifically, it suggests that the GOI would prefer to deal with the new team supposedly coming into State, and so it wasn’t unhappy over the cancellation.

    Idle (and no doubt unlikely) speculation: I wonder if Armitage’s comments had anything to do with the change in his itinerary. Surely the State Dept. knew about the Sheikh’s death last week, and could have arranged an earlier change in itinerary. Moreover, no other member of his delegation (which includes C. Rocca) will stop in Delhi, either. At the least, his comments would explain Delhi’s lack of irritation over this change.


  7. Kumar,

    I cant think which is more unlikely: the Indian government delivering a snub or bureaucratic bungling over dates? Even Occam’s razor does not help 🙂

  8. Nitin:

    The final word on this episode will go to the GOI, albeit anonymous senior officials. According to the TOI ( ), the GOI is quite angry at Armitage’s comments. In the course of rejecting this bit of nonsense from Mush, they suggest that the American tilt towards Pakistan (ah, the ’70’s are back) will end India’s acceptance of American “facilitation exercises”. So, maybe something good will come of Armitage’s misadventure in Islamabad, after all!


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