On ‘entrenched military rule’
Western journalist moving from the Middle Eastern beat to the subcontinent must be put through a transition programme, mostly requiring them to read history and the daily news. Perhaps then, like a certain Graham Usher, they won’t write a sentence like “military rule in Indian-occupied Kashmir remained as entrenched as ever” in between 2004-2008. Sure, the writer is based in Islamabad, so it is understandable if he chooses to use the word like Indian-“occupied” Kashmir, but entrenched “military rule”? Mr Usher claims ‘entrenched military rule’ in Jammu & Kashmir is one reason why the bilateral back channel talks over Kashmir broke down. He must be ignorant of facts, terribly confused or engaged in wilful misrepresentation: for the only part of Kashmir where military rule is entrenched is the part that Pakistan occupies. Surely, Mr Usher can’t have missed the fact that Jammu & Kashmir had very successful elections in 2002 and again in 2008, where a large number of people turned up to vote. That’s even before the ‘peace process’ started in 2004.
The article itself is a regurgitation of the delusional thinking that prevails in the Pakistani military establishment and the kind of line that comes out of the Pakistani foreign office. Sure, the writer is based in Islamabad, but the level of credulousness is astonishing.
Update: K Shankar Bajpai’s masterful deconstruction of the vacuous argument:
If Kashmir underlies Pakistani policy, again it is not Indian but Pakistani designs that will shape events. It is not India that is trying to change the situation. Pakistan will say we are missing the point: all their provocations arise from India’s greater provocation, the “wrong” we continue in Kashmir. Public versions of back-channel achievements are wrong in major ways, but demonstrate one great reality: even this issue can be resolved bilaterally if Pakistan is willing.
We have been through all this endlessly, Pakistan will no more believe our version than we can theirs; but, knowing both, Washington still defers to Pakistani obsessions. Catering to delusions does not dispel them: progress depends on uprooting them. This Herculean work (which we will be pressed to facilitate) is surely the first priority. Washington cannot work miracles: even if imagined. There is the reality of Pakistan professing fears, but don’t call them “legitimate”. [IE]