India Pakistan conflict By Babar Ayaz

Recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan who does not tire in saying that he and the army are on the same page when it comes to foreign policy, said that a vote to Modi would be a vote to Pakistan. The logic of his statement was that only a right-wing nationalist party can take bold decisions to solve the complex Kashmir problem between India and Pakistan.
This logic is amusing as Modi has a track record of being anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan. His election manifesto, instead of solving the present impasse in Kashmir, talks about doing away with Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution which gives more autonomy to the Kashmiris.
We don’t know if there any secret talks between India and Pakistan which has led the prime minister to issue a controversial statement that Modi’s re-election will help in solving the Kashmir issue with India.
On the other hand, India is violating the human rights of Kashmiris and Imran Khan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently said in a press conference that India might attack Pakistan to re-enact the failed Balakot attack.
There was talk of India and Pakistan coming close to resolving the issues between them during the regime of Pervez Musharraf. His foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, wrote a whole book on this subject – Neither a Hawk Nor A Dove.
Kasuri identified some factors of the framework for a Kashmir settlement through backchannel talks. It included demilitarisation, centres to wean militants away through DDR, self-governance and a control on insurgencies from non-state actors among other factors. He wrote that both nations decided, after protracted negotiations, to agree on a reduction of armed forces in the AJK region. “It was also agreed that this reduction would be brought about gradually, in consonance with the improvement of the situation on ground,” he wrote.
According to Khurshid Kasuri, India delayed the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh because the Musharraf government was destabilised by the lawyer’s movement for the restoration of some judges. Some sources say that Musharraf’s intelligence agencies helped the lawyer’s movement destabilise his regime. Mr Kasuri also confirmed that his interactions with the military generals on Kashmir’s issue supported out of box solutions which were developed through backchannel diplomacy talks.
Musharraf, who was the architect of the Kargill attack, surprisingly took a U-turn and went to the extent of finding a solution to the Kashmir issue. He proposed four out of box solutions:
The first was to identify the geographic regions of Kashmir that need resolution. At present, the Pakistan part is divided into two regions: Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. The Indian part is divided into three regions: Jammu, Srinagar and Ladakh. Are all these on the table for discussion, or are there ethnic, political and strategic consideration dictating some give and take?
The second was to demilitarise the identified region or regions and curb all militant aspects of the struggle for freedom. This will give comfort to the Kashmiris who are fed up with the fighting and killing on both sides.
The third was to introduce self governance or self rule in the identified region or regions. Let the Kashmiris have the satisfaction of running their own affairs without having an international character and remaining short of independence.
The fourth, and most important, one was to have a joint management mechanism with a membership consisting of Pakistanis, Indians and Kashmiris overseeing self governance and dealing with residual subjects common to all identified regions and those subjects that are beyond the scope of self governance.
If the issue of Pakistan is to secure its water sources, then it is faced with the fact that nature is secular in giving the resources to regions. It is not by Pakistan’s position that it would like to have Kashmir, but the real purpose is to secure its water sources. The Indus flows through the biggest Ladakh and the Chenab, another river which is allocated to Pakistan, forms in the upper Himalayas in the Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh and flows through Jammu, where majority of the population is Hindu, into the plains of Punjab. Jhelum is a tributary of the Indus River which passes through the Kashmir Valley.
A horizontal analysis of Pakistan’s public opinion over its conflict with India:
Balochistan has never been anti-India but doesn’t really care much about Kashmir. Sindhis want good relations with India and the Urdu speaking led by MQM also support normalisation. They are also not sentimental about Kashmir. Southern Punjab (the Saraiki belt) also is supportive of normalisation moves. But there are reservations on giving up the Kashmir issue by big landlords in Southern Punjab because they worry about India stopping water of the rivers allocated to it-Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. Central Punjab leadership has moved to industrialists who support peace initiative with India as they understand the economic benefits for both counties. Only a small, but powerful lobby of Jihadis and religious parties are against the peace move unless the core issue is settled.
Meanwhile, let’s look at both issues taking a vertical view of Pakistan:
The Army has moved away from its historical stand on Kashmir by almost 180 degrees – from Kashmir is part of Pakistan to the solution acceptable to Kashmiris. Big businesses want to open the trade with India but are concerned about non-tariff barriers in India. The feudals and agriculturists are worried on change of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir because they look at it as giving control over water resources to India – Baghlihar and Krishan-Ganga dam has not helped.
The major political parties would go along with any solution which would be acceptable to majority of the players in Kashmir. All are on record in favour of normalisation of relations with India. But the Jihadis are a major threat, they are challenging the government in their propaganda and are likely to free lance for a long time even if both the parties resolve the issue.
There is growing realization among the ruling classes of Pakistan that relations with India should be normalised as the tension between the two countries is a drag on our economy. The army leaders now think that Pakistan’s immediate threat is from terrorists in the country and are in favour of ‘diffusing tension with India’
There is also realization that the militant movement in Indian Kashmir is not sustainable in the long run. India has to now play the big power role and meet Pakistan half way. PM Khan is committed and eager to normalise the relations, but the Jihadis will continue to sabotage the peace process.
We have no option but to continue our peace efforts not to play in their hands by slowing down or stopping the peace march.
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