Brig Veteran Anil Gupta
Pakistan’s obsession with Kashmir is the main cause of its economic collapse and international labelling as fountainhead of terror. Pakistani political and military leadership continues to brainwash its “awam” (native people) with rhetoric like “Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of the partition”, “Kashmir is umbilical cord of Pakistan”.
Deep state’s obsession can be gauged from the fact that since 1947 it has fought three wars (not counting the Kargil Conflict) with India. Failing to defeat the Indian Army, it embraced the strategy of “Bleeding through Thousand Cuts” conceptualised by Zia ulHaq. It then launched a proxy war in Kashmir duly backed up with jihadi terrorismterming it “religious militancy.” It’s obsession with Kashmir has forced it to adopt terrorism as an instrument of state policy with the Pakistan Army maintaining the terrorists as the “strategic assets.”
Pakistan’s blind obsession with Kashmir has resulted in it losing friends globally particularly among the Islamic countries. To begin with, Pakistan enjoyed a little bit of international sympathy on the matter of Kashmir. But as Pakistan’s obsession grew stronger by the day and it set in motion the process to snatch Kashmir from India through any and every means particularly terrorism, it began to lose international support. The situation has reached to such a situation that barring one or two nations none is willing to support Pakistan on the K question with most of the countries dubbing it as an internal matter of India.
Reasons for this obsession are not difficult to gauge. First and foremost is Pakistan’s greed for the water of the Indus that flows through Kashmir. It is the life line for the Punjabis who rule Pakistan. Pakistan is not at all interested in the Kashmiris but is interested in Kashmir because of the water. Its sympathies for the Kashmiris is superficial and all pledges of support and celebration of Black Day on 05 August is just symbolic and amounts to shedding crocodile tears. Their fear lies in the fact that their canal network will be starved of water when India stops the excess flow of water without violating the International Laws on sharing the waters with the riparian state.Pakistan Army rules the roost in a democratic Pakistan. Pakistan Army’s authority over the populace & the democratically(?) elected Government will remain intact so long as they are successful in keeping Kashmir on the boil and sustain the myth that India as a ‘Hindu nation’ is an existentialthreat which suffers from “Islamophobia”. But for the Pakistan Army, India would gobble up their country and change the Muslim-majority identity of Kashmir. Though, this logic holds no validity since Pakistan through unilateral actions has not only changed the demography of the occupied territories of J&K, denied them civil and political rights but also illegally ceded parts of its territory to China. IfIndia is no longer seen as a major military threat, the army will lose its raison d’etre.
After losing its Eastern Wing in 1971 after suffering a humiliating defeat from Indian Army, it had nurtured the idea of taking revenge by annexing Kashmir.
Last but not the least, Kashmir acted as a glue to unite the otherwise disintegrated Pakistanis. Through emotional blackmail and speeches of atrocities on fellow Muslims, Pak leadership found this as a convenient method to divert the attention of their “awam” from serious domestic issues.Pakistan is almost a FAILED STATE and Kashmir issue fosters some JINGOISM in the hearts & minds of the people which keeps Pakistan intact. The day this jingoism vanishes, the country would get disintegrated.
With the “ends” defined clearly, Pakistan deep state has been employing all “means” including radical jihadi terror. Apart from direct and clandestine intervention in Kashmir, Pakistan for decades has tried to internationalise the problem in Kashmir to gain international support hoping it could change territorial status quo in its favour. But the events of 05 August 2019 including a few historical decisions taken by India including bifurcation of the state into two union territories took the sail out of the winds as far as Pakistan is concerned. India has not only made Pakistan irrelevant through universal acceptance of India’s stand of the issue being India’s internal matter but sent unmistakable signals of her claim over the occupied territories by Pakistan including the ones ceded illegally to China. Imran Khan and his military mentors were clearly taken by surprise by India’s move.
Thereafter, Pakistan went into a spin mode, desperation was visible in all its moves. It tried all tricks in its book including military build-up on the Line of Control (LoC), raking up the issue in United Nations General Assembly, appeal to Islamic nations, seeking emergency meeting of Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), pleading before the US President Trump, upping the ante of terrorism, increased ceasefire violations (CFVs) and global propaganda against India through its paid think tanks including social media jihad. But Pakistan suffered humiliation everywhere to the extent that its leadership had to eat a humble pie.
Meanwhile, India continued with its slew of measures to set the house in order in Kashmir through administrative reforms, anti-terror operations, employment generation, developmental projects and strengthening of grassroots democracy. Pakistan all the while kept interfering through its proxies to ensure that Kashmir continues to remain on the boil. Kashmiris’ rejection of Pakistan and Pak sponsored terrorism is evident from the fact that more and more Kashmiris are coming forward to share information about the terrorists with the security forces.
As a last ditch effort to display its relevance Pakistan decided to observe 05 August this year as a Black Day to show their “solidarity with Kashmiris” in order to win back the Kashmiris and garner global support. The celebrations include visit of foreign media, raising the issue at UN, statements by political and military leaders, panel discussions, special supplements in print media, visit of United Nations Military Observers to LoC, symbolic changes like renaming the Rawalpindi-Muzaffarabad Highway as Kashmir Highway and Muzaffarabad-Uri Road as Srinagar Road and finally the address of Imran Khan to POJK Assembly. The events proved to be a damp squib. Attempt to raise the issue at UN Security Council with help of China found no takers and both China and Pakistan were snubbed badly. CFV to coincide with the address of Imran Khan met with a strong response from India causing extensive damage to its military infrastructure.
Pakistan’s attempt to garner support from Islamic nations particularly Saudi Arabia failed to elicit favourable response. It failed in its effort to convene a meeting of foreign ministers of OIC. Saudi Arabia, once a trusted ally, has also turned hostile.
The danger of losing its prominence and supremacy continues to haunt the Pakistan Army. Through its selected Prime Minister it wants to keep the pot boiling in Kashmir despite indications to the contrary. Rather than accepting the writing on the wall, the army is compelling Khan and his government to continue with the Kashmir obsession.The moot question remains that despite all the odds why Pakistan continues with its obsession on Kashmir? After all, Pakistan needs an alibi to justify its failure in all spheres and Kashmir provides it just the recipe its need. Every failure is justified with the oft quoted alibi, “We are struggling for our Kashmiri Muslim brethren”. Time has come for Pakistan to end its obsession with Kashmir. It has lost the battle, it needs to admit. Instead it must concentrate on looking after its own “awam” which badly needs the attention of its political leadership. Pakistan is on the verge of implosion and that should bother Imran Khan. He himself has admitted on numerous occasions that international community backs India. He needs to understand the harsh reality that international relations are not build on emotions but on pragmatism. Pakistan Army will have to change its mind- set before it earns the wrath of the “awam” and then is forced to do so.
Kashmiris are very wise and practical. After initial resistance, since there is always a resistance to change, they will very soon accept the new order and work for their better future. They have discarded Pakistan for good. It’s for Pakistan to see the light of the day and stop wasting its energies in Kashmir.It needs to set its own house in order to prevent it from imploding. Instead of solidarity with Kashmiris it failed state needs to show empathy and solidarity withBaloochis, Pathans and the other minorities.
(The author is a Jammu based veteran, political commentator, columnist, security and strategic analyst. The views expressed are entirely personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Brig Veteran Anil Gupta