Monday, December 26, 2005

Kashmir

Via Hindustan Times, India, Pakistan discussing Kashmir self-rule

This is sacrilege.

We've strongly opposed any discussion of Kashmiri autonomy. See also, No Autonomy For Kashmir -- Redux.

Update: Who needs self-governance? at The Acorn.

8 comments:

Kumar said...

PR:

I am rather skeptical about this report. If such substantive talks were indeed being held, I doubt there would be such public trumpeting. If anything, this is likely to delay such talks. Moreover, the spokesperson would hardly be rueing that "...expectations are high to move quickly but...this is not happening due to misunderstandings", if such talks were indeed being held.

I doubt that this public declaration will enthuse the GOI, let alone result in any substantive discussion of the matter. Recall, that just a few days ago, MK Narayanan (on NDTV, I believe) urged the Pakistani govt. to use 'back-channels' to specify what its self-governance proposal amounts to.

Such enthusiastic noises from Pakistan are self-serving, obviously; a transparent attempt to pressure the GOI into ultimately advancing a version of 'self-governance' along lines pleasing to Pakistan. And of course, it is also an attempt to portray the General's proposals as triumphing over Indian 'obstinacy'.

In any case, when such talks are held, given the GOI's stand (autonomy at most, with demilitirization only with a complete cessation of violence and infiltration), I doubt the Paksitanis will get what they dream about.

My skepticism is underlined by an earlier report on this matter (Seema Mustafa, Asian Age; 12/10/05):

"...despite claims from Islamabad that [self-governance] was being discussed...by the "back channels" ...the proposal has not been seen as worthy of discussion...with India’s strategic establishment strongly opposed to the move...The autonomy report prepared by the National Conference suggesting pre-1953 status...has also not been taken up...There has been some movement...on looking at regional autonomy within [J&K]..."

Of course, it's difficult to see how even regional autonomy can be carried out in J&K, without displeasing one or another faction. All the more reason, I think, to be sanguine about various announcements from Islamabad.

Kumar

Primary Red said...

Kumar:

You make an excellent point -- hopefully this is one more tired gimmick from the illegitimate Pakistani establishment.

Best regards.

Nitin said...

PR,

I agree with Kumar. Note that this report comes from the Pakistani foreign office spokesman. In addition to pressuring India, the statement could well be intended for domestic consumption. Evil Dictator is under seige on several domestic fronts, 'showing' some success on Kashmir works to strengthen him somewhat.

But yes, if the Indian government confirms that it is indeed being led to discuss 'self-governance', then it must be opposed.

Nitin said...

Bad news;

"India has finally disclosed that it has received Pakistan’s proposals for self-governance in Kashmir. In an interview to an Indian TV channel, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan has said that the two sides are holding back-channel discussions on the issue. He also said that diplomats on both sides would refine and hone the current proposals before they could become a part of the composite dialogue process for a more formal discussion and a possible decision. “We have a back channel. We have experienced diplomats as part of it and if they (Pakistan) come forward and give specifics about self-governance, then we can probably look at it,” Mr Narayanan was quoted by the channel as saying. However, Mr Narayanan ruled out any imminent move to de-militarise the Kashmir region, saying that violence and infiltration remained a major concern in Jammu and Kashmir. What should we make of this?" [Daily Times]

cynical nerd said...

We need to be extremely careful at this momemt. There is seething anger which is brewing in the various provinces of Pakistan.

- The Pakistani army is mercilessly conducting aerial bombardment against Baloch nationalists.

- Anti-Kalabagh dam protests are violently being suppressed in Baloch and Sindh (every political party is now opposed to the project, only the Pak Punjabi elite is pushing the project)

- In POK and Gilgit, there is a deep frustration at the Pak Army's hopeless incompetence in handling quake aid. Islamists group like JuD are in for resurgence.

- NWFP and Warzistan are as usual alive and kicking with Taliban and Al-Queda operatives with frequent attacks against Coalition Forces in Afghanistan despite the frequent Al-Queda #3 captures (for strict American media consumption only)

At this point, the only thing which holds the Pakistani national identity is its hatred against India. The wily Generalissmo will definitely use it to divert this anger against India. Watch out for indiscriminate border shelling or violent terror attacks in J&K. Calls may also be made to Chengdu Missile Complex for the latest version of M-11, oops repainted as Babur or Shershah!

Kumar said...

Nitin:

The GOI may yet 'discuss' self-governance but the Daily Times editorial isn't evidence that it has occurred/is occurring via back channels. The very MK Narayanan quote on which they base their editorial actually contradicts the editorial in every significant detail. Indeed, that is the quote I used to buttress my skepticism in the earlier comment.

Briefly, consider the quote: "We have a back channel. We have experienced diplomats as part of it and if they (Pakistan) come forward and give specifics about self-governance, then we can probably look at it".

There is no need for close reading here; attention to the '(future) tense' used by Mr. Narayanan suffices to discredit the conclusions of the Daily Times editorial. Consider--according to Mr. Narayanan, "...if..(Pakistan) come[s] forward...", then discussion will likely ensue.

But this means, of course, that India has not--yet--received proposals from Pakistan, directly contradicting the Daily Times editorial. Moreover, Mr. Narayanan adverts to the existence of back-channels simply to remonstrate the Pakistani penchant for public diplomacy.

Even if there is eventually a discussion on 'self-governance' (as I suspect will turn out to be the case) it is worrisome only to the extent that the GOI goes beyond 'autonomy', and moots its version of 'self-governance'. But I hardly think that likely, given the difficulty of making even 'autonomy' work in J&K. In other words, so long as Pakistan proposes and India disposes, there is not cause for undue alarm.

Kumar

Nitin said...

Kumar,

I'm glad you have a more sanguine take on this.

My fear is creep. From being dismissed at the very first mention, now 'self-governance' has been accorded a little more seriousness. It may even be discussed in future. And who knows how the political cards will be stacked then: some silly self-governance idea may actually get implemented. On one hand this is paranoia. On the other we have a history of shooting our own foot (just after we take it out of our mouths)

Hope you are right...

Kumar said...

Nitin:

I think your fear is far from baseless; 'creep[ing]' is also a worry I share. And the GOI has tended to shoot itself in the foot. However, I tend to be a bit more sanguine about this since ideas such as 'self-governance' are simply not workable given the ethno-religious layout of J&K.

The only way to make such a proposal 'workable' is indeed to redraw borders in one or another form--a concession that is impossible for any GOI to make, whatever its composition. As I wrote earlier, I tend to think that Mr. Narayanan pretty much dismissed the idea, albeit in a diplomatic manner.

And remember, C. Raja Mohan is wringing his hands (and he is quite enthusiastic about 'self-governance', in the mistaken belief that it's closer to the Indian idea of autonomy)...so things can't be all that bad!

Kumar

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