Citizens must master empathy to reclaim our humanity against terrorism

BY SHASHIKUMAR VELATH

The terror attack across multiple locations in Paris is a declaration of war by the Islamic State. It must be seen as such because 9/11 terror (2001) attack in the United States was a deadly riposte by Al Qaeda and Taliban to draw the Western hemisphere in a bloody “Us versus Them” conflict across the Islamic arc from West Asia to Afghanistan-Paksitan. The 26/11 terrorist attack (2008), preceded by the 1993 bombings and several other terror strikes, in Mumbai (India), were an extension of a proxy war strategy of Pakistan military establishment carried out by terrorist groups supported by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). In South Asia, Mumbai was the most favoured terror target by Pakistani military terror planners. Now Paris has emerged as the most favoured terror target by the Islamic State because this city is the birthplace of the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity, ideas that are repugnant to Muslim religious extremists. This is why it is a declaration of war by the Islamic State and the world and its citizens must rise up to this challenge.

President Francois Hollande has declared that the French response will be “merciless” and “pity-less”. Countering violent extremism requires a democratic civilizational confrontation between citizens and terrorists. Citizens across the world, irrespective of the political systems they live in, must shed their religious identities and fight the demons within their communities. Irrespective of where they live and what their governments believe in, Muslims, Christian, Hindus, Jews and all other religious groups must resolve to weed out terror from within their communities. Governments across the world can hardly do anything to stop the cowardly terrorist attacks by religious extremists, if citizens do not help in countering violent extremism.

How can citizens across countries help? They should reach out to communities that are experiencing marginalization and radicalization to embrace them and their problems. Citizen groups must work pro-actively with their governments to help communities facing marginalization and radicalization and help those communities stem the tide. Citizens must reach out to those who are angry and susceptible to joining extremist violent groups and persuade them to join the mainstream. Extremism can be withered, shrunk and eventually annihilated through citizen-centric and citizen-powered empathy strategies.

Governments cannot fight religious radicalization. They can, however, make enabling policies and environments for citizens to take the fight to terrorists by engaging radicalized youngsters through empathy. Places of worship, ghettos and community gatherings across the world which could be potential sites for recruitment and radicalization must witness battles of ideas powered by empathy. Citizens in multi-cultural and multi-religious countries must preserve their progressive and liberal ways of life by persuading and bringing those who are angry, dejected into their enlightened mainstream. Only genuine embrace of differences and deep empathy can persuade people of different religions to accept that religion does not have any authority over individual choice and freedoms.

All citizens across the world must understand that countering violent religious extremism is mandatory to defend and protect democracy. Religious extremism is premised on an ideology of dictatorship and tyranny. That is why it is critical for 21st Century to outlaw religious extremism and create an impregnable wall of agnosticism around fundamental rights and freedoms for all humans on planet earth. For this governments across the world must quickly and urgently arrive at a universal understanding and declaration of terrorism. Apologetic clichés such as one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter has no place in our 21st Century discourse. Instead, the governments across the world must create enabling conditions for citizens to mobilize around empathy strategies in order to reach out of those who support terrorists or are amenable to terrorism or are radicalized but silent supporters of terrorism. This is the surest way to outlaw terrorism because when citizens claim their citizenship, they claim it for everyone including those who are angry, disenfranchised and violent.

Meanwhile, the governments across the world must set a clear deadline to countries that support terrorists and terrorism related ideologies. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Israel and Iran must be told to rein in and eliminate their State sponsored use of terrorism, which serve their national interests. Saudi Arabia under the Saud family promoted the dangerous ideology of Wahabism and Salafism, which provide the dangerous intellectual rationalization for Islamist terror groups. The global community must bring overwhelming pressure on the United States of America to withdraw its protective arm around the House of Saud. Riyadh’s petro-dollars funded the rise of Islamic extremism powered by the magnetic pull of radical Wahabism and Salafism, channelizing the disenfranchised frustration of Muslim citizens across the world towards extremely violent religious radicalization.

The fight against Islamic State must begin at Riyadh and Islamabad. These are the original places where the foundational pillars of the global Islamic terror infrastructure were first sunk by the disastrous diplomacy of the United States in the decade between 1980 and 1990. The trigger that shield’s Saudi Arabia and Pakistan’s complicity in promoting violent Islamic extremism is embedded in Washington’s long standing support for terror-supporting Saud Family and Pakistan’s military establishment. The fights against the Islamic State need a unified global action by governments and citizens. Governments must unapologetically annihilate political – security establishments supporting terrorists and their infrastructure. Eventually, it will be citizens who will help governments win this war by squeezing out radicalization and terrorism from society through empathy, compassion and consciousness.

(Shashikumar Velath is an investigative journalist and led CNN-IBN’s Special Investigation Team from 2005 to 2009. He is currently a Leadership Group Member in Ashoka – Innovators for the Public. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

The other fringe elements of India

BY RSN SINGH

There are so-called fringe elements in every free society, free and liberal country. To be possessed, freedom and liberalism must be regulated; otherwise it may yield to anarchy. Even the judiciary in India has justifiably, sought to partially insulate itself by the provision of ‘contempt of court’.

Assault on Indian Constitution

The makers of the Indian Constitution were so conscious about liberalism that they even did not prescribe any ‘ism’ while adopting multi-party democracy. Dr BR Ambedkar, when suggested to add ‘socialism’ in the preamble to the Constitution, had said during the Constituent Assembly debate that:

“…If you state in the Constitution that the social organisation of the State shall take a particular form, you are, in my judgment, taking away the liberty of the people to decide what should be the social organisation in which they wish to live. It is perfectly possible today, for the majority people to hold that the socialist organisation of society is better than the capitalist organisation of society. But it would be perfectly possible for thinking people to devise some other form of social organisation which might be better than the socialist organisation of today or of tomorrow. I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves….” 

For the same reason, the word ‘Secular’ also did not feature in the Constitution, as it was taken as intrinsic to the religious ethos of the majority community of the new nation-state. On the other hand, those who did not believe in it asked for Pakistan and were rewarded. The compulsions for moving away from India were best summed up by Iqbal. In a speech he emphasized that unlike Christianity, Islam had its own ‘legal concepts’ with civic significance and with ‘religious ideals’, inseparable from ‘social order’. He further said that “…the construction of a policy on national lines, if it means a displacement of the Islamic principle of solidarity, is simply unthinkable to a Muslim.” Therefore for Iqbal political unity of Muslims was not enough. Muslim societies even if united could not blend with a society not based on Islamic principles.

A nation-state is based in various measures on geographical unity, cultural unity, linguistic unity, social unity, historical unity, and of course religious unity. Given the mélange of these in the Indian context, it was felt that a civilizational country like India was inherently secular and undue emphasis on any terminology in this regard would be provocative and counterproductive.

Nevertheless, Dr BR Ambedkar’s intellect was assaulted in 1976 during Emergency, when a scared and subverted parliament introduced the 42nd Amendment Bill and introduced the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ into the Preamble.

Weapons to bleed India

Ever since then the Leftists in India have used these two terms ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ to wreck India from within. The pioneers amongst these Leftists were trained and subverted mainly in Cambridge and Oxford, wherein their intellectually perverted mentors had mastered the art of subversion. Their intellectual forefathers were James Mills and Charles Grant, who in 1808 were appointed to write history of India, who consciously did not visit India, lest they got influenced.

Their leftist progeny in India belonged to the same English speaking class, who post-independence India, were on the fringe of the society but began to dictate the national discourse.

Gradually, apart from universities, it is these fringe elements that occupied the so-called creative and intellectual spaces in Bollywood, parallel cinema, theatre and in the art of subverted writing. None of these so-called creative people have done one pioneering work, which has reduced our technological dependence on the West and alleviated or elevated the state of the people of India. All that they have done is to peddle falsehood through stories, plays, films and novels.

India must salvage UK and US

A sizeable number of these people form part of NGOs engaged in ‘derailing India’ at every level. Many of these have been banned and that is why they are now insidiously on an overdrive to malign the Indian state. They have no qualms about abusing their motherland for benefit of foreigners. These anti-nationals and their benefactors in the Western countries need to answer as to why UK continues to be an uncivilized country in the sense that it has been sheltering the most dreaded criminal and inhuman organizations of the world, like the Khalistanis, JKLF, LTTE, Naga insurgents, Mizo insurgents, Maoists etc. Most of these terrorist organizations, criminal outfits including Dawood’s D-Gang have footprints in London. It is a huge financial windfall for UK.

These so-called intellectuals should also answer that despite all the ‘liberalism’ and ‘tolerance’, why the British Muslims are joining ISIS in such large numbers. Currently, our Prime Minister is on a visit to UK. Indian journalists accompanying him should ask the UK authorities to respond to the news about a Maoist cult leader Arvind Balakrishnan having raped several women followers over several years by brainwashing and intimidating them. He kept his daughter imprison for last 30 years. This Maoist leader perpetrated the rape in the name of destroying ‘fascist-state’. This activity and excuse is not alien to the leaders in India’s Red-Corridor. It is also not alien to their overground cadres, who speak English and masquerade as ‘Intellectuals’.

Had this happened in India and not London, imagine the contrived public discourse in India and internationally. Imagine also the upheaval in India if the Prime Minister had declared something as did David Cameron: “Yes, we are a nation that embraces, welcomes and accepts all faiths …But we are still a Christian country”.

This author is pained at the human rights abuses in the US. I implore the Leftists – so-called intellectuals, to share my concern. I am anguished at the fact that one out of every three women in US is raped. I am deeply anguished about the ugly and wide-spread phenomenon of rape of step daughters by their fathers in US. Since 2013, nearly a thousand cases of mass shootings have taken place in US, more than 300 in this very year. In some of these shootings, the worst kind of intolerance was witnessed; victims were segregated, and spared or killed as per their religion. So let us as Indians work together in disabusing these countries of barbarism and human rights abuses.

Dawood’s tryst with intellectuals

Many of these so-called intellectuals and creative people have been on the payroll of Dawood Ibrahim. Some of them from the Bollywood have been performing for Dawood’s entertainment in Dubai and elsewhere, since the 1993 blasts in Mumbai. It comprised actors, actresses, singers, musicians and directors. Readers can view these clips on YouTube. In fact, one of the performers went on to become a Member of Parliament. The entire network of Dawood amongst these white-collared criminals was exposed during the run-up to the hanging of Yakub Memon. This network apart from Bollywood, extended to journalists, lawyers and social activists.

Whenever characters like Arundhati Roy (the one book wonder) smell an opportunity to harm India, they become intellectually very prolific. She and the intellectuals of her ilk have been painstakingly trying to put all the anti-national elements on one platform like the Hurriyat, the Maoists, and the insurgent groups of Northeast, that too brazenly in Delhi.

Girish Karnard’s exemplary tolerance

Girish Karnard’s ‘tolerance’ was at its best when he abused the Nobel Prize Laureate VS Naipaul during a function in November 2012 in India. Karnard behaved like a street ‘goonda’. The festival director Anil Dharker said: “We were all taken aback by Girish Karnard’s attack on VS Naipaul. After all, we had invited him to speak about his journey in theatre and Mr Naipaul had nothing to do with that. Even the packed audience had come to listen to Mr Karnard talk about theatre… I am all for free speech, but free speech presupposes a dialogue.” Karnard abused Naipaul for being ‘anti-Muslim’, little knowing that he was married to a Muslim (Nadira) and her two children were being brought up as Muslims.

But then subverted people like Karnard seldom read what does not conform to their anti-national ideology. His play ‘Dreams of Tipu Sultan’ written in Persian by Tipu himself was translated by a British Major. In the entire document, there are numerous derogatory references to Hindus and Christians. It is the same Tipu, who invited the Afghan King Jamal Shah and the Caliph of Turkey to invade India. It is the same Tipu, who in 1796 burnt the entire literary and scientific treasure of the Mysore Palace, which included invaluable ‘Palm leaf manuscripts’. The evidence of linguistic intolerance of Tipu Sultan persists even today, like the Muslims of Malabar and Muslims of Tamil Nadu, who speak Malayalam and Tamil respectively, the Muslims of Karnataka do not communicate in Kannada but in Urdu.

I am sure Girish Karnard does not find the Portuguese traveler Father Barthoelomeo also a religious fanatic, who in his book, ‘Voyage to East Indies’ has the following to write about Tipu:

“First, corps of 30,000 barbarians, who butchered everybody on the way – followed by Field Gun Unit under French Commander M Lally – Tipu was riding on an elephant with another Army of 30,000 soldiers. Most men and women were hanged with their children tied to necks of their mothers. The barbarian Tipu Sultan tied naked Christians and Hindus to legs of elephants to move around till the bodies of victims were torn to pieces.”

Who are Anti-Nationals?

The litmus test for differentiating between an anti-national and a well-meaning activist is that the latter will talk of reconciliation, development, will highlight weaknesses and suggest ways to overcome them, will applaud the good efforts of the State, will create institutions and will develop local talent and leadership rather than trying to garner all the publicity and media attention.

Unfortunately, most activists who have been in the news in the recent times seem to belong to the category of enemies of India, certainly at the behest of inimical agencies and countries.

They are anti-nationals because they do not believe in the liberal Indian system and are propagating the violent cause of the Maoists to turn India into a totalitarian state. They are anti-national because they are trying to push the Kashmiris into the folds of totalitarian and fundamentalist state like Pakistan. They are anti-national because their current stance on Kashmir has been designed to detract the growing Chinese occupation of Gilgit-Baltistan. They are anti-nationals because they are engaged in linking all anti-India groups, so that the leverage on each-others expertise in violence and terror.

Conclusion

India knows the real face of these activists. There are many who advise that the best course is to ignore these activists. How can one possibly ignore them when a segment of mainstream media devotes half their space for writings by such anti-nationals?

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

Calling the Pro-Pakistan Kashmiri bluff

BY RSN SINGH

final Kashmir Map

The deceit of Kashmiri leaders and separatists in the Kashmir Valley, rooting for Pakistan, has acquired outrageous proportions. These elements largely belong to five districts in Kashmir Valley and constitute not more than 15 percent of the Sunni population. These include pro-Pakistan manipulators like Yasin Malik, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, Shabir Shah, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Asiya Andrabi, and some politicians from the Valley centric political parties. The pro-Pakistan machinations of these politicians, circumvents public scrutiny because of their art of duplicity, mastered over the years. Beguiling both Delhi and Islamabad, their forked tongue articulations has kept the Kashmir pot boiling. It is not uncommon for the father to speak in favour of Pakistan and separatists, even as the political heirs, son or daughter, adopt the contrary stance and vice-versa. For some 60 families in the Valley, the industry of ‘Kashmir Problem’ is a huge financial windfall.

The map above exposes the geographical and sociological fallacy of the anti-India and pro-Pak industry in the Kashmir Valley.

Hijacking of Jammu and Kashmir

The map above reflects the reality of Jammu and Kashmir, Indian and Pakistan Occupied territories combined. This reality has all along been ignored or misinterpreted by vested interests. Out of the total area of 2,22,236 Sq.Km, the area presently held with India is approximately one lac Sq Km. The various regions within the Indian territory, as part of the total, measure as follows:

Map Reference Region Area (Sq.Km) Percentage
(1) Ladakh 45,110 20.3
(2) Kargil 14,036 6.3
(6) Kashmir Valley 15,948 7.2
(4) Jammu 26,293 11.8

Note: The regions have been divided and numbered for ease of understanding of geographical and demographic character. They do not strictly follow geographical and political demarcations. In the Kashmir Valley, Badgam has been shown as separate entity because of its Shia majority. The upper reaches of Kupwara district are inhabited by Gujjars/Bakkarwals/Pahari Muslims (3). The areas of Poonch, Rajouri have also been indicated under Reference (3), as they too have majority comprising Gujjars/Bakkarwals/Pahari Muslims/Hindu/Sikhs and others. Parts of Doda have been included in Reference (4), as more than 40 percent population is of Hindus and majority of rest being again Gujjars/Bakkarwals/Pahari Muslims. The percentages of various regions as indicated are approximate guidelines purely for purposes of analysis.

From the Map it is evident that within the overall territory of J&K, the Kashmir Valley constitutes less than 10 percent of area, overwhelmingly inhabited by Sunni Muslims. In the East, it is impacted by Gujjars/Bakkarwals/Pahari Muslims of Doda region and further East by a huge mass of Shia majority Kargil. Beyond Kargil in the East, is Buddhist Ladakh, which when combined with Aksai Chin is the largest geographical entity of J&K. In the South it is impacted by Hindu majority Jammu and Doda region. In the Southwest of Kashmir Valley are the regions of Poonch and Rajouri, where Gujjars/Bakkarwals/Pahari Muslims/Hindus/Sikhs are in majority. In Kupwara, Baramulla and the higher reaches in the North, are areas dominated by Gujjars/Bakkarwals/Pahari Muslims. Further North is the Shia majority area of Gilgit-Baltistan, gobbled by Pakistan.

From the map therefore, it can be averred that the Kashmir Valley (135 km long and 32 km wide), constituting less than 10 percent of the area, is circumscribed demographically by Gujjars/Bakkarwals/Pahari Muslims, Shias, Hindus, Sikhs and further beyond, Buddhists. These religious and ethnic communities are devout Indians and are repelled by the idea of Pakistan. Geographically almost 90 percent of Jammu and Kashmir weighs on the Kashmir Valley. Yet, it is the Sunni Kashmiris, who have been dominating the J&K discourse. In debates on all television channels there is no or little representation from the other four larger entities.

It is a geographical truism, that larger and elevated landmass determine the ecological wealth of valleys and the plains, and sustain much large and dense populations. Compared to the Kashmiris, the inhabitants of the elevated regions of Ladakh and Kargil, and Pir Panjal range have as much, if not higher stakes in the J&K discourse, as in the Kashmir Valley.

Even in financial terms the mountains and hills are a bonanza for the state apparatus dominated by Kashmiris. About two million people visit Amarnath every year. On the other hand, every year, Vaishno Devi attracts 10 million pilgrims. The past religious umbilical with the Indian mainland serves the Kashmiri Muslims in many ways.

Border Sensitivities

The map also depicts the manner in which the Kashmir Valley is circumscribed by the people of Gujjars/Bakkarwals/Pahari extraction on higher reaches, and non – Sunni Kashmiri majority regions of Jammu, Poonch, Rajouri, Kargil and Ladakh regions. They are defenders of their motherland. In all wars with Pakistan the Gujjars and Paharis have served as eyes and ears of India. Jihadism emanating from Pakistan has been spurned by them, but embraced by the Sunnis of Kashmir. It is these people, who face the depredations and difficulties of living on the border. People living in the Valley are immune to these difficulties. Unencumbered by hostile borders and tough livelihood, the 60 odd families of the Valley enjoy the bounties of India in terms of indulgence and development.

The Christian missionary schools and other educational institutions have ensured that most people with articulation skills in English to be concentrated in the Valley. Probably apart from India, the bounties of nature, Pakistan and ISI have made some of them self-serving indolent anti-nationals. In the Valley these are essentially centered around the districts of Srinagar, Pulwama, Anantnag, and lower reaches of Kupwara and Baramula.

These are the people who scream about their border sensitivity even as people of other extractions suffer on the border areas, both on the Line-of-Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB), i.e. 1,216 km (of which 790 Km run along the LoC). Once the militants sneak through the higher reaches and descend into the Valley, they enjoy the hospitality industry created for promotion of jihadi terror not only in J&K but whole of India. Every major terrorist attack in India, including 26/11 had Kashmiri footprints. The separatists of the Kashmir Valley are oblivious about the people of Ladakh and the 1750 Km border with China they have to contend with, in terms of threat and harsh environment. When most Kashmiris talk about their being border sensitive state, their horizon is limited to only a small part of PoK which very naturally discounts Gilgit-Baltistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan – a forgotten territory

The area of Gilgit-Baltistan has never figured in the J&K discourse in India by the self-appropriated Kashmiri spokesmen. It did not matter to the Kashmiri leaders when in 1949 the region was incorporated into Pakistan by way of Karachi Accord. No tears were shed when 80 percent of the PoK was hived off. No Kashmiri politician even moaned when in 1963 Pakistan ceded 5180 sq km of this territory to China. Even now there is no concern about the heavy presence of Chinese in the region, and the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor that has the potential to permanently alter the discourse of geography and sociology. As per reports China is investing $100 billion in Gilgit-Baltistan, $18 billion on tunnels alone. The announcement by Chinese President about Silk Route connecting Pakistan with Central Asia has disconcerted them, rather than enthused. People in the region continue to clamour for constitutional rights. The elections held under the GIilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Government Order of 2009 in June this year have not assuaged their political aspirations. Politicians and Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir could hardly be bothered!

J&K politics dominated by Sunnis of Kashmir have been completely insensitive to the pains and aspirations of Shias of the state. It is ironic that whenever there is talk of people to people contact, there is not even a faint mention about the desirability of connect between people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kargil region. It appears that there is tacit gifting of Gilgit-Baltistan to Pakistan, the same Pakistan which till 2005 designated the region as ‘Northern Areas’ and directly ruled it from Islamabad till 2009, as if it was an area without soul ‘for the military and by the military.’

This lack of sensibility to Gilgit-Baltistan seems to extend to the Indian establishment as well. Kargil conflict was perhaps the result of acceptance that nothing could be done to salvage the region from Pakistan. They thought it was fait accompli. This attitude or approach impaired our defence preparedness and Musharraf took advantage of it.

There are several reports to suggest that there is a concerted attempt by the Pakistani establishment to reduce the Shias to minority in Gilgit-Baltistan. Sunnis have been given lucrative jobs to settle in the region as incentives. The Northern Light Infantry is being increasingly being manned by non-locals. The International Crisis Group report says: “Since 2001, Shia resentment over inclusion of Sunni religious rituals and perceived anti-Shia basis in text books in public school has resulted in school boycotts and occasional clashes and curfews.”

Pakistan’s treachery in not claiming the bodies of the soldiers of Northern Light Infantry, just because they were Shias belonging to the Gilgit-Baltistan region, did not stir the conscience of pro-Pakistan elements in the Kashmir Valley.

Kashmiris have no linkages with PoK (less Gilgit-Baltistan)

The map indicates the area of what remains part of the PoK in Pakistan which it refers to as Azad or Independent. When Raza Mumtaz Hussain Rathore dared to take up issues concerning Gilgit-Baltistan, his PPP government was ousted by Nawaz Sharif in 1991. Then Islamabad blatantly rigged the elections later that year. Sacking of governments in PoK is notoriously usual feature. Between 1953 and 1962, three governments were sacked. In 1964, the first President of Azad Kashmir was sacked because he wanted a separate Indus Water deal with mainland Pakistan. In 1974, ZA Bhutto sacked the Qyaoom government and in 1977 Zia dissolved legislative assembly and established military rule. Even now the main center of power is not the Azad Kashmir government, but the Kashmir Council in Islamabad. Where is the ‘Azadi’ then, in PoK or the Kashmir Valley? The pro-Pak Kashmiris need to answer.

This tail to Gilgit-Baltistan is 400 km long and 16-32 km in width. The ten districts of PoK i.e. Bhimber, Mirpur, Kotli, Sudhonti, Poonch, Bagh, Muzzafarabad, and Neelam have negligible Kashmiri population. While the South PoK has distinct Punjab influence, North PoK has half-a-dozen different languages, i.e. Pahari, Mirpuri, Gojri, Hindko, Punjabi and Pashto.

The biggest lie that has been peddled by the pro-Pakistan Kashmiris in India is about their affinity with the people in the PoK. It is reiterated that there is absolutely no affinity, linguistic or cultural, between the people of Kashmir Valley and the PoK. The affinity is actually shared by the Gujjar and Pahari Muslims, who reside in the upper reaches of J&K along the border and the LoC. It is these people, who have been most affected by the Indo-Pak hostilities and division of J&K. While the Kashmiris of the Valley have been most vocal about cross-border linkages, they have minimally used the bus service between Srinagar – Muzaffarabad and Poonch (India) – Rawalkote. It is the Gujjars and the Paharis who have been enthusiastically availing the facilities. Therefore, there is a formidable physical, social, cultural and linguistic wall between the Kashmiris and the PoK. It may also be mentioned that as per the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, Gujjars constitute 20 percent population of J&K. Since 2002, Gujjars and Bakkarwals have been demanding a separate state, Gujristan. As per one estimate, the Gujjars influence 20 of 87 assembly constituencies.

A large number of people of PoK extraction have been forced to migrate to Britain because of poor economic prospects. This includes a large number of Mirpuris, who had displaced after the construction of the Mangla dam in the 60s. Over 280 villages and the towns of Mirpur and Dadyal were submerged and over 110,000 people were displaced. As per an estimate, nearly 8,00,000 Mirpuris constitute 70 percent of British-Pakistani community. There is no such parallel in the J&K.

Islamabad has sought to change the demography of PoK by settling nearly 30,000 Afghan families. This is a clear pattern in Pakistan to settle Pashtuns to dilute ethnicity of Karachi, Quetta and now the PoK as a neutralizing feature against insurgency and separatist movements by the majority community. The presence of the Afghans poses the danger of inroads by Taliban. Compare this with the stance of pro-Pakistan Kashmiris in India, who consider few acres land allotted to Amarnath Shrine Board as colonization by their mother country.

Hafiz Saeed has played havoc by introducing jihadism in the region. The PoK is a major training ground for LeT cadres, who also use it as a base for terrorist operations against India. When the Pakistan military was found wanting in the relief operations in wake of massive earthquake in 2005 in which nearly 1,00,000 people lost their lives and three million people were rendered homeless, Hafiz Saeed and his organization JuD came to the fore and is considered to have made substantial difference. Later, however, he extracted the price by turning the area into a jihadi laboratory.

The Islamic militancy agenda has weighed heavily on Islamabad while deciding on the type of dispensation in Azad Kashmir. Benazir Bhutto assumed power after demise of Zia in 1988. Sardar Qyaoom, who ruled PoK for decades as President and PM, warned about her ascension: ‘’to undo Islamic ideology and weaken Pakistan Army’’. Speculation was rife that she would sack the Qyaoom government in PoK. Curiously it was the pro-Pakistan leaders in Kashmir who prevented it. They met President Leghari during his visit to India and pleaded with him to ensure that Qyaoom continued in office as he was critical to the survivability of the militant-network assiduously created over the years. The Qyaoom government completed its tenure till 1990. This explains the compulsions behind Pakistan dignitaries from foreign and security apparatus insisting on meeting the Hurriyat leaders visiting India. A lot of issues regarding militancy in Jammu and Kashmir are coordinated during these meetings.

Just as the Muftis and Abdullahs in the Kashmir Valley, the political landscape of PoK has been dominated by political empires setup by Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan and Mohammad Abdul Qyaoom Khan. But these PoK political families have assured that the interests of Pakistan reign supreme. They are not hostile to their own military. But the pro-Pakistan elements in the Valley treat the Indian military as enemy even as it protects them from Pakistan and China in most trying conditions.

Conclusion

The Jammu & Kashmir problem between India and Pakistan is basically a Kashmiri Sunni narrative, which is scripted by a small segment of pro-Pakistan elements inhabiting a portion of less than 10 percent of the entire region. It is a narrative that finds affinity with Pakistan just on the basis of Kashmiri variety of Sunni Islam. These Kashmiris have ensured that all other competing narratives and dissonant voices are crushed. It is for this reason that half a million Kashmiri Hindus were hounded out of the Valley in 1991. It is for this reason that till today more than 54,000 families, victims of partition and the wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971 have not been compensated, neither rehabilitated nor given the rights as in other parts of the country. These one and half million people are perceived as a threat by the Kashmiri leaders and the separatists.

The solution to the problem does not lie with Musharraf’s plan or Ambassador Lambah’s plan. The solution lies in calling the ‘bluff’ of these handful of pro-Pakistan Sunni Kashmiris in the Valley. The rest can be sorted out with Pakistan easily.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)