The Kashmir Question
by Jennifer Kho,
Mike McPhate, and Melis Senerdem
Five top minds on the nature of the dispute spoke at UC Berkeleys
annual South Asian Conference in February. Here are some brief excerpts:
Pradeep Chhibber, UC Berkeley professor of political science,
argued that at the heart of the conflict is nationalistic anxiety among
leaders in both India and Pakistan.
"The single largest source of tension between the two is the fear
that territory is somehow going to be taken away and things like religion
and ethnicity merely fall as categories that could be used to mask this
essential territorial division
If the tension between the two nation
states was either of religion or ethnicity then, I think the conversation
would have revolved around trying to understand who the Kashmiris are,
what Islam is. But thats not the issue."
"When we think of the strategic balance in South Asia we have to
understand that tension exists because both nation states, even now, for
reasons good and bad understand their security in largely territorial
terms. And until they stop thinking in territorial terms, I think we are
in for the long haul."
Ahmed Khaled, a journalist with Pakistans The Friday
Times, discussed the role of Islamic intolerance in Pakistan.
"People have started saying in Pakistan that Pakistan is being Talibanized.
But if you talk to somebody like Karzai, the new chief in Kabul, he will
say, This Islam we have overturned. It came from Pakistan.
And I think its partly true because all these people were trained,
the Taliban were trained, even Mullah Omar himself, were trained in the
Pakistani seminaries and all these high church ideas went from Pakistan
"I think its is going to be very difficult for Pakistan to
turn back this tide [of Islamic extremism] because its integral to the
concept of an Islamic state and I think wherever Muslims live on this
globe this is a problem for them. They have no idea how to reinterpret
some of the laws to treat the non-Muslims minorities and they have no
idea how to reinterpret regional law and treat their women well."
Sumit Ganguly, professor of Asian studies and government at the
University of Texas-Austin, argued that no party to the conflict is representing
the wishes of the Kashmiris
"Today the [Kashmiri] insurgency is a far cry from its original
self in 1989. It no longer represents the outburst of a people who finally
felt they could no longer tolerate the yoke of Indian rule. Today it is
mostly a protection racket."
"There is ample evidence, this is not just a matter of conjecture,
that these insurgents no longer represent the pristine wishes of the Kashmiri
people. Rather, they represent no one but themselves. They are engaged
in murder, mayhem, rape and lots of other atrocities to boot and they
do not in any way represent the interests of the Kashmiris, however one
chooses to define those interests. These people would not be the liberators
of Kashmir by any definition and arguable would bring in an order much
worse than the one that exists in Kashmir which is repressive enough."
"Any settlement of the Kashmir dispute must include the two following
Unless one addresses or makes a concerted effort to
genuinely address the underlying grievances of the Kashmiris, especially
in the valley, the aggrieved population, Im afraid just like in
the bible The poor ye shall always have with you similarly
the Kashmiri problem ye shall always have with you."
Ganguly also offered some terms for a solution.
"By the same token India is going to make little or no effort to address the underlying grievance of the Kashmiris unless there is a decline in support for terror in Kashmir. We cannot keep brushing this under the snow in Kashmir. We have to forthrightly face that the Lakshar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and various other associated groups do not represent anyone but themselves and anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool or a naïve or both. I think both."
US Department official Neil Joeck discussed America's new relationship
with South Asian countries following 9-11.
"After September 11 significant changes occurred in some of our
policies. Initially, we were very appreciative of the very strong and
unstinting support shown by New Delhi for the US operation 'Enduring Freedom'
to respond to the attacks organized by al Qaeda against the World Trade
Centers and the pentagon, and to support us in our efforts in Afghanistan.
At the same time, as time went on, we strongly voiced our opposition and
concern about the terrorist attacks against India itself, specifically
on October 1st when the Srinigar state assembly was attacked and then
again on December 13th when the Indian parliament was attacked. That said,
we discouraged India and did not agree necessarily with India's approach
to seeking to resolve its problem with terrorism through conflict. The
US-Afghanistan problem we saw as quite different than the India-Pakistan
relationship and therefore have been engaged with India in seeking other
means to solve India's problem with terrorism than through conflict with
"With respect to Pakistan, policy changed significantly. Again,
Pakistan, after a week's time, voiced full support for operation 'Enduring
Freedom'. The president of Pakistan eliminated his chief of the Inter-services
Intelligence Directorate. He changed his policy, did a 180-degree change
with respect to Pakistani support of the Taliban. We very much endorsed
president Musharraf's rejection of supporting terrorism regardless of
where it emanated from. He banned Jaish Mohammed, he banned Lakshar-e-Taiba,
arrested over 2000 of their adherents, froze their accounts and, in general,
took significant steps to change Pakistan's support for those organizations.
We also took particular note and appreciated the speech he gave on January
12th where he challenged the Islamic world as well as the people of Pakistan
to refocus jihad, not to let the idea of jihad within Islam be hijacked
by terrorists and murderers such as al Qaeda but rather to refocus jihad
toward fighting illiteracy, toward fighting poverty, toward social reformation.
At the same time, he said he would not support infiltration across the
line of control and we look forward to full implementation of that policy."
"Regarding Kashmir we are very concerned after the December 13 attack
of the buildup of forces between India and Pakistan. Again, I would stress
the importance of president Musharraf's speech of January 13th in support
of a peaceful resolution of this and an end infiltration across the line
of control. In that regard, we have seen some encouraging signs regarding
the diminishing of infiltration and the lessening of violence and we encourage,
as we have before, that both sides to engage in dialogue. The threat of
nuclear exchange connected with this is of particular concern and draws
our attention all the more."Columbia Professor Saeed Shafqat argued
that political and economic reform in Pakistan is underway. And though
religious radicalism will be hardest to tackle, he said there is reason
"Will Pakistan be able to bring about the kind of changes which
internally it has been asked to and externally it has being suggested
to? That's the kind of challenge that one is really confronted with.
"If one is looking at the religious part of it then one has to see to what degree they will be able to really manage this. As I see it, in all probability there will be considerable tension within the country on this. Nevertheless, in countries like Pakistan public protest somehow or the other does not really influence much as far as the policy process is concerned. But if the policy is able to convince the public that it is in a position to redirect itself, that it is in a position to consistently make a case for this then you will begin to see some changes taking place."