By K.N. Pandita
Indo-Pak watchers speak of a shift of sorts in their current relations. Nobody is certain about the reason or the purpose of the shift if any. Nevertheless, the proposition merits analysis.
In some sections of press reports have appeared of India and Pakistan almost converging on an agreement of enforcing a ten-year moratorium on Kashmir issue to allow sentiments return to equilibrium and the dust and din settle down after which a new effort in changed circumstances would be made to forge a final settlement of the issue. In other words put.
If that is a proposal on which some sort of agreement could take place, then the possibility of Kashmir issue still remaining there with its present dimensions is unrealistic. We are living in a century of fast changes, like it or not.
A close look at the current situation in Pakistan strongly indicates change in ground situation. What can be her compulsions for accepting a ten-year moratorium on Kashmir issue? Is such thinking palatable to Pak Army? If yes, then the simple inference is that Army will be deviating from its six-decade long diehard Kashmir policy. It will be a rare thing for Pak Army to do.
Souring relations between Pak Army and its buddies at the Pentagon and now also at the Capitol Hill on one hand and the deepening crisis between Pakistan Army and TTP on the other are driving Pak Army to the wall. Along with this double-pronged pressure, escalating insurgency in Baluchistan, which the GHQ is trying to crush as it has been doing in the past, has forced Islamabad rulers to do good deal of re-thinking about the integrity of the state in days to come.
Baluch’s’ struggle for independence of Baluchistan has gradually attracted the attention of world community. Previously, it would take Pakistan on its face value and endorse the wrong notion that Baluch problem was that of robbers and miscreants trying to disrupt and defy Islamabad’s rule.
The recent reports of two important NGOs, namely Amnesty International and World Watch have pilloried Islamabad regime for blatant violation of human rights in Baluchistan by Pak security forces. General Kayani fumed and fretted that Pakistan security forces were not at all involved in any violation in Baluchistan. But he has no takers.
Following the testimony of the two NGOs at the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigation at the US Congress, the Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced a House Concurrent Resolution in the US Congress seeking self-determination for the local Baluchs. Islamabad got knee-jerks and reached out to at least to ten channels to counter and contradict the report of the two NGOs made separately. Twice in one week did Islamabad summon its ambassador at Washington for consultations, and the government in Islamabad issued angry statements calling the NGOs as paid agents of the US working for furthering the interests of Pakistan. Readers would be reminded that these are the same NGOs that Islamabad trusted and quoted for so-called violations of human rights in Kashmir by the Indian security forces.
Apart from the impact of a resolution to the effect of seeking self-determination of Baluchs on the sovereignty and integrity of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the rulers in Islamabad found it to their utter consternation that their stand on Kashmir was likely to become counter productive. Would it be a good bargain to secure the right of self-determination for the people of the valley of Kashmir in exchange for the same right to Baluchs? Islamabad rulers including the Army found themselves on the horns of dilemma. Incidentally and not without sense, no such resolution was ever tabled in the US Congress in the context of Kashmir issue. It means that the US, despite considering Kashmir a disputed territory, did not endorse the view of violation of any human rights in Kashmir by the Indian security forces.
In all probability the US Congress will adopt this resolution. Baluchistan is emerging as very important South Asian location in the US regional strategy. Pakistan’s increasing collaboration with China in the building of Gawadar seaport on the Makran coast of Baluchistan is likely to pose a threat to the secure flow of the Gulf oil to world markets controlled by the US and European powers.
Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan is the headquarter of Taliban led by Mulla Omar and is dominated by the Taliban who enjoy cross border freedom over Pakistan and Afghanistan territories. At the same time, Baluchistan is divided between Pakistan and Iran and Pakistani Sunni fanatic group Lashkar-e Jhangvi has formed a group under the name of Jundullah to contain and fight, if need be, the Iranian Shia dominance in the region. In the past the Jundullah have massacred a number of Iranian Pasdaran and Teheran lodged strong protest with Islamabad which the latter promised to probe into.
In the backdrop of Iran-US hostility and deterioration of relations in the context of Iranian nuclear row, the US vigorously pursues the policy of isolating Iran. One can imagine some sort of new thinking in the US think tanks about the US intending to draw mileage out of Baluch crisis. Creation of a greater Baluchistan by uniting Pakistani and Iranian Baluchistan’s into one unit or confederation of sorts would pave the way for controlling anti-Americanism in Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan. Iranian Baluchs, mostly Sunni, had shown signs of dissatisfaction during the rule of the Shah. Their dissenting sentiment against the theocratic regime of the mullahs in Teheran has not really subsided but only put on temporary hold owing to brazenly repressive measures of the Ayatollah regime. Welding the two parts into one would also mean curtailment of Chinese influence and strategy in the Gulf region.
Indeed this scenario is quite alarming for Pakistan. Islamabad is seriously thinking of closing its eastern front, at least for some time, to let her have space to deal with much more serious threat emerging on the western front. Therefore the idea of putting Kashmir dispute into cold store for ten years is being floated in right earnest…
Pakistan seems to be seriously pursuing the option and that is the reason why its ambassador in New Delhi summoned the APHC (M) leader Molvi Omar Farooq to Delhi for talks. APHC leader was supposed to be accompanied by Shabbir Shah. His close advisor and the former President Professor Bhat had already conveyed his approval of Pakistan’s ten-year long moratorium formula to allow cool, considerate and dispassionate solution of the issue. This reminds us of exactly the same proposal floated by Hashim Qureshi thirteen years ago when he lived in exile in Amsterdam. Not delaying the proposal for thirteen long years could have saved wanton destruction of thousands of innocent lives of Kashmiris in the clashes. However, trusting that it is never too late to mend, it would be wiser for all stake holders to have a 20-year moratorium instead of ten year one. The way indoctrination of Kashmiris has been effected will take half a century for de-freezing the mindset. The hate-India campaign has gone deep into the veins of Kashmiris and they do not know why they are supposed to become its takers.