KASHMIR – THE LIKELY PLAY OUT
Masood Sharif Khan Khattak
Former Director General Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan
A fortnight ago, an Indian propaganda video emerged in which an Indian TV presenter was propagating that Mirpur, AJK, is an Indian city. According to that presenter India would soon be annexing Azad Jammu and Kashmir. A few days after that the Indian Army Chief was reported to be saying that the Indian Army was ready to capture Azad Jammu and Kashmir and was only waiting for orders from the Indian Government.
In the days and weeks ahead this kind of Indian rhetoric and war mongering will intensify. Pakistan, obviously, will not let it go by default and will respond in the same and, possibly, more aggressive manner so as to dissuade the Indians from thinking that Azad Jammu and Kashmir is going to be a cake walk for them.
Pakistan should have expected that the Indians, after the annexation of Indian Held Kashmir, will not stop at that and that India will then threaten Pakistan with their intention to militarily capture the territories that are today under Pakistani control in the shape of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. If Pakistani decision makers did not visualize this then they lacked in comprehending things to come in the instant and the not too distant future.
India has moved a little faster than expected. Why did that happen is a question that now arises and needs to be evaluated in order to see how the Kashmir situation is likely to play out.
Some of the reasons that could have emboldened the Indian Government which spoke through India’s Army Chief when he said that he and his Army were ready to invade and capture Azad Jammu and Kashmir as soon as ordered to do so may be engulfed somewhere in between the lines of the questions given in the succeeding paragraphs. The answers may lie in just one of these questions or in a combination of some of these questions.
First, is it that India has been encouraged by the nonexistent response of the Muslim Ummah and its present day ‘pragmatically indifferent’ leadership towards condemning India and its atrocities against unarmed Kashmiris? Turkey and Iran were the only two exceptions and they condemned India severely. The reaction from Pakistan too has not been as strong as expected
Second, is it that India has been encouraged by the fact that the United Nations and the powerful countries of the world have not condemned India in a manner that has been anything more than perfunctory for annexing Indian Held Kashmir and for its tyranny against the Kashmiris of Indian Held Kashmir?
Third, is it because India has been tacitly assured by the powerful west not to worry about Pakistan but just to get on with the annexation of Jammu and Kashmir?
Fourth, in 1965, Pakistan was assured that India will not attack on the international borders and that the 1965 war will be restricted to the then Ceasefire Line. To its disadvantage, Pakistan had then believed that assurance and very nearly paid a huge price for having done so. Can it, this time round, be possible that India has received similar and very powerful assurances that Pakistan will not attack India at all? Is this, therefore, something that reassures India that the annexation of the Indian Held Kashmir is a foregone conclusion and it is time to talk about annexing Azad Jammu and Kashmir as well as Gilgit-Baltistan?
Fifth, is it that India may have naively assessed, rightly or wrongly (time will tell), that Pakistan has reconciled to a laid back role and will retaliate militarily ONLY and ONLY if Pakistan was directly attacked by Indian Armed Forces in Kashmir or on the international borders and that, thus, India’s annexation of the Indian Held Kashmir is, more or less, a mission already accomplished.
In the days to come, a lot will depend on what Pakistan does, or does not do, in the context of India’s brazen violation of the age old UN resolutions on the Kashmir dispute and its tyranny and oppression that it has unleashed on the poor unarmed Kashmiri people. Pakistan does owe the Kashmiris an obligation after having fought India over Kashmir in the 1947-48 Kashmir War and the 1965 War.
Given that history and the fact that the Pakistan Army has been deployed on the Line of Control for 72 long years because of its claim on all of Kashmir on the grounds of the 1948 ceasefire and the subsequent UN Resolution of 1948 Pakistan is not likely to allow itself to be a helpless ring side onlooker and just watch the massive genocide of the Kashmiris in Indian Held Kashmir.
What steps Pakistan will, or will not, take will now be something to watch with abated breaths. India has already played its best, or worst, cards. The world watches to see if Pakistan can still enforce a solution to the Kashmir issue on the basis of plebiscite which has been Pakistan’s stand ever since 1948.
In short, the situation is precarious for all of South Asia, in particular, and for the world at large, in general. It is, therefore, time for the entire spectrum of world powers, UN, EU and the ‘pragmatically indifferent’ Islamic world leaders to shake themselves awake and not take too much for granted.
The thought that the Indian Held Kashmir being forcefully annexed by India which may then attempt to militarily capture Azad Jammu and Kashmir will not lead to a much wider conflict that will have nuclear ramifications can only be nurtured by a very naïve mind.
Peace is South Asia and the world’s ONLY option. I propose and stand for peace in South Asia and for that peace, by extension, to be achieved for all of humanity the first step will have to be a step that gives the oppressed people of Indian Held Kashmir their right to self-determination which will now be possible only through a proactive effort of the world leaders.
The biggest factor in this whole situation will, however, be the Kashmiri will and motivation to fight on till the last man, woman and child for the freedom of Kashmir from India. It is thoroughly obvious that the leaderless Kashmiris have chosen this path.
If this determination of the Kashmiris is, unexpectedly, broken by India it would have carried the day and the annexation of the Indian Held Kashmir would then be fait accompli. To the contrary, if the Kashmiri determination and will to fight for their freedom remains steadfast over a long period with the live possibility of an armed resistance India will find itself in a deep hole and its integrity will then be prone to more challenges elsewhere in India. The latter eventuality looks like the more probable outcome of the current events unleashed by India in Indian Held Kashmir.
However, the degree of the Kashmiris determination and motivation to fight forever till they achieve their freedom from India will depend, largely, on the kind of support they receive from Pakistan. If that support is meek and timid in nature it will have an adverse effect on the Kashmiri determination and motivation to fight indefinitely against heavy odds such as they are facing today. That the Kashmiris will fight to the end and will either perish or will win is something which no one should doubt. Freedom is their ultimate objective.
However, if Pakistan’s support to the Kashmiris is more forthcoming and is extremely bold in nature it will have the potential to awaken the world to a horrible crisis brewing in South Asia and thus force the UN and the world to step forward and help in bringing about Kashmir’s liberation from India in a peaceful manner.
With that kind of bold Pakistani support, the Kashmiris will also, in turn, be massively reinvigorated and India will then have no chance to subjugate the Kashmiris who now possess an intensely burning desire for freedom.
Contrarily, if Pakistan somehow remains laid back and its support to the Kashmiris is limited to somewhat very obvious cosmetic acts the Kashmiris morale will be adversely affected. Should this happen or, hypothetically speaking, Pakistan totally forsakes the Kashmiri cause, it still looks most likely that the Kashmiris will continue their fight and may, someday, still have the last laugh.
In such an eventuality the Kashmiris will not owe anything to anyone, not to Pakistan and not to India. Kashmiris will then be free to make their own choice with no obligations to any other country. That choice of the Kashmiris will then, in all probability, be their opting for an independent Kashmiri State.
Presently hypothetical, but if that situation actually occurs, the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan will also then want to shun accession to Pakistan to become a part of that Independent Kashmiri State. Pakistan’s hierarchy, therefore, may soon have no option but to stand up to be counted with the Kashmiri cause – a cause that Pakistan has sacrificed so much for in the past 72 years.
Many can and will, presently, rubbish such an eventuality but those who do so must understand that the powers behind that option of an independent State of Kashmir, at that point in time, will be far too powerful for both, Pakistan and India, to resist.