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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Political courage, and the next step Permitting Musharraf to sell the notion that what could not be wrested from India in a decade and half long jihad has been obtained through diplomacy can help with this. Doing so would deflate the legitimacy that jihadi forces seek from their presence in Kashmir, says Firdaus Ahmed. 29 May 2005 - The late National Security Adviser, Mr. J N Dixit, was famous for his post-retirement pace of churning out a book a year. His latest: India's Foreign Service – History and Challenge, is a posthumous publication. In the book he refers to the Agra Summit revealing that 'the ministry's (Ministry of External Affairs) advice was ignored by the then minister Jaswant Singh because he was persuaded by arguments of the US government to hold such a summit meeting'. Despite warnings from the same quarters of a replay of Agra, described by Mr. Dixit as a 'fiasco primarily because India did not have a structured agenda or any clear idea of what was hoped to be achieved', Dr. Manmohan Singh went ahead with his April meeting with General Musharraf. This bit of political courage is the silver lining in the likelihood of more-of-the-same this summer in Kashmir.

See for balance article - http://www.indiatogether.org/2005/may/fah-nextstep.htm

There are several reasons for India to ensure that the peace process, acknowledged by Musharraf as having been begun by Vajpayee, remains 'irreversible'.
The anti-terrorist fence has snaked its way under the cover of the ongoing ceasefire from the International Border past Rajouri, Poonch and beyond. The military position is likely that with infiltration choked off by the fence, it is only a matter one more summer campaign before terrorists stranded on this side of the fence can be wrapped up.
Democracy as the antidote Sweeteners offered by Condoleeza Rice in the form of access to the high profile F series of aircraft - F16 for Pakistan and the more advanced F18 in keeping with India's self image - indicate an American interest in keeping India engaged. Musharraf's longevity and utility depends on his delivering on his side of the bargain on the 'war on terror'. For his part he would require the Americans to get India to oblige with some movement in its Kashmir position.
Secondly, there is a requirement of India putting Kashmir behind and in doing so transcending the Indo-Pak hyphenation if it is to be taken seriously as a candidate seeking a veto attached permanent seat at the UN high table.
Thirdly, while a democratic Pakistan is in India's best interest, to strengthen the forces in Pakistan against the jihadi threat is presently in India's national interest. Musharraf weighs in on the side of modernity in this equation and therefore both deserves and requires India's support.
Permitting Musharraf to sell the notion that what could not be wrested from India in a decade and half long jihad has been obtained through diplomacy can help with this. Doing so would deflate the legitimacy that jihadi forces seek from their presence in Kashmir. Their propaganda line is that they are at the vanguard where Islam is in danger and where fellow Muslims are oppressed.
The 'Islam in danger' line is already negated by the lived reality in Kashmir. India could however do more to dispel their second argument through easing the plight of the common man in Kashmir. The impression that Muslims are being oppressed can best be erased through professional conduct of counter insurgency by privileging the WHAM approach - 'winning hearts and minds'. That this change is already afoot is evident from the draw down the army's presence in Kashmir announced last year; the manner it has dealt with the Handwara molestation episode featuring Major Rahman, since cashiered from the Army; and from the 'velvet glove' policy dwelt on by the new Chief, General 'JJ'.
These beginnings need to be taken to their logical conclusion in the form of a selective internal ceasefire targeting Kashmiri groups. This would help induce 'surrenders' – an unfortunate term that could be changed to a more imaginative one as part of this package. Capturing the public imagination thus would help generate pressure on the Kashmiri political leadership in the form of a squabbling Hurriyet and the terrorist groups to respond positively. A reenergized Kashmir scene is not infeasible as an outcome.
The idea of a ceasefire has already been put within the knowledge base of India's security minders by one of India's leading columnists on security affairs, C Raja Mohan. These strategists require it to be sweetened in the language of real politik. That this would certainly save a considerable number of young Kashmiris from becoming part of the statistics industriously compiled in the North Block would not impress them. To them the ceasefire could serve the tactical purpose of splitting the foreign groups from the Kashmiri ones. While the earlier period of 'non-initiation of combat operations' that extended the Ramzan ceasefire of Year 2000 lapsed in a series of 'fidayeen' attacks, this time round combat operations need not cease since only a 'selective' ceasefire has been broached here.
Simultaneously, the initiatives of NN Vohra with respect to the Hurriyet and of the Oslo-like 'off the public gaze' talks need to be taken up from where Mr. Dixit let off. These can be resumed by the Deputy National Security Advisor, Vijay Nambiar, and an old MEA hand, appointed in wake of the death of former NSA, Mr. Dixit. The quid pro quo he needs to extract from Pakistan is restraint in infiltrating the hordes that the Defense Minister Pranab Mukherji warns about.
The PM could afford to permit General Musharraf some political and propaganda mileage for laying claim for military course correction by India. This would help keep Pakistan stable in ensuring the longevity of President Musharraf; even as India proceeds on a course it has set itself. ⊕
29 May 2005

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