On the Husain Haqqani’s Revelations

If what has been written by Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistan Ambassador to the US in his book ‘Magnificent Delusions’ is true, then those who have been saying that militancy has done more harm than good to the ongoing movement for the ‘right to self determination’ in Kashmir, stand vindicated. Though Haqqani’s revelation regarding President Obama’s offer to “nudge” New Delhi to negotiate on Kashmir, provided Islamabad stops supporting militant groups fighting in Kashmir, is an important disclosure, but what he has now revealed is nothing new. Readers would recall that Washington has long been sending this ‘message’ across and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s famous remark comparing Pakistan’s patronage of militant groups with “keeping snakes in the backyard”, is just one such example. 

There is no doubt that in keeping with its self-assumed image of an international ‘peace-maker’ as well as the ‘champion of liberty’, America would be interested in seeing both the Kashmir issue resolved as well as amity between India and Pakistan restored. And with the influence that Washington wields over both New Delhi and Islamabad, ‘persuading’ (or ‘arm-twisting’), both countries to sit down and seriously negotiate the Kashmir issue is no big deal. So, why is Washington reluctant to play a more decisive role to achieve this? The answer is simple- having proclaimed its consummate commitment to ‘wage war against international terrorism’, America cannot let itself get involved in Kashmir, as long as what it perceives as ‘terrorism’ prevails in the troubled State. And herein lies the problem- while Islamabad considers the ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir as ‘legitimate indigenous resistance’ against the ‘occupational forces’ of India, Washington views it purely as ‘terrorism’. 

It is unfortunate but true that in today’s modern world, the age-old cherished ethical and moral values no longer matter and instead, the medieval age law of ‘might is right’ reigns supreme. The same Americans, who themselves had no inhibitions in creating  an irregular army of ‘mujahideens’ to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan and eulogised their acts of terror as deeds of righteousness, now perceive the ‘freedom fighters’ in Kashmir as ‘terrorists’. However, Uncle Sam can afford to do so as in the era of ‘might is right’, it has emerged as the ‘mightiest’ and thus America’s writ runs unchallenged. The way it has scornfully disregarded international concerns regarding the exceptionally large number of innocent men, women and children being killed in US drone attacks just goes to prove this point!     

President Obama’s purported ‘deal’ to “nudge  the Indians toward those (Kashmir related) negotiations” once Pakistan ends its support to terrorist groups operating in Kashmir, is logical and makes practical sense, because once ‘terrorism’ in Kashmir ends, Washington will be on a higher moral ground to compel India to negotiate. However, as per Haqqani, Islamabad turned down this offer and if this is true, then it is not only very unfortunate but also extremely damning as demolishes Pakistan’s claim of its firm commitment towards the early resolution of the Kashmir problem. And this brings us to the million dollar question- is Indo-Pak animosity because of Kashmir or despite it?

Even if one was to discount Haqqani’s revelations as being motivated or prejudiced, Pakistan’s ambivalent   attitude towards resolution of the Kashmir problem does raise some serious doubts regarding its commitment to the Kashmir cause. While there is no denying that Pakistan has been vociferously raising the Kashmir issue in various international forums, it is also true that Pakistan has remained unconcerned about the Kashmir issue being repeatedly put into the back burner during Indo-Pak talks. Islamabad emphatically reminds the international community that tension in the region is solely due to an ‘unresolved’ Kashmir and calls for immediate international intervention to prevent this ‘potential flashpoint’ from triggering a nuclear war. However, there seems to be no sense of urgency on Pakistan’s part for resolving the ‘K’ issue as it appears to be content with the mere mention of Kashmir in joint press statements issued after each round of Indo-Pak talks, even when it is just in the form of a non-committal and passing reference.

Even if Islamabad genuinely desires an early resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio, no government in Pakistan can afford to abandon support to militants fighting in Kashmir, as it would mean antagonising its military as well as the powerful lobby of radicals and thus could prove to be a politically disastrous decision. Until Pakistan stops aiding militants fighting in Kashmir,  there is no question of America getting involved in facilitating resolution of the Kashmir problem and with American intervention ruled out, it would ultimately boil down to India and Pakistan sitting down to discuss and decide on the Kashmir issue. Unfortunately, since Kashmir has become a symbol of nationalism in both countries, neither government can risk entering into any negotiated settlement. So, even after all the blood, sweat and tears shed in the ‘armed struggle’, we today find that getting the Kalashnikov into Kashmir has neither done the ‘K’ cause nor the Kashmiris any good and on the contrary has become a hurdle in the resolution process!

Even though the prospects of an early resolution of the Kashmir problem may appear to be bleak, there is still a ray of hope.  The struggle for the ‘right to self determination’ being a non-violent movement can easily generate a favourable public opinion in America by creating awareness regarding  human right violations and repression in Kashmir and this will  force  Washington to intervene on humanitarian grounds. However, we have ourselves foreclosed this possibility by burning our boats through some ill- considered acts and decisions, like the Hurriyat (G) chairman SAS Geelani eulogising Osama bin Laden by proclaiming that “Osama has died a martyr,”  adding that “He fought US and its imperialistic designs”. To make matters worse, the Hurriyat (G) chairman, though asserting that, “We, Hurriyat Conference, favour peaceful struggle and we will continue to fight peacefully,” has by declaring that, “We never denied or ignored the role of gun in our struggle,” unwittingly endorsed the conglomerate’s approval of violence as means for attaining the ‘right to self determination’.

While many may share the Hurriyat (G) chairman’s hatred towards America for its dubious dealings, but with the experience of more than six decades, none can deny the fact that no resolution of the ‘K’ issue is possible without ‘third party’ intervention and that America is the only country, which can facilitate this. Therefore, it is for our leadership to decide – either to continue with its confused strategy of leading a peaceful movement that paradoxically also approves of violence in the form of an ‘armed struggle’ and consequently remain deprived of support from the international community, or pave the way for international intervention by disassociating itself completely from the ‘armed struggle’ . There is no doubt that this is an extremely difficult decision, but then, do we have any other choice?

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