By Mano Ratwatte –
To start with a petty unprofessional controversial comment: isn’t it queer that India has got their Kachcheras in a Knot about Pakistan, when they at one time armed, trained and financed militants and separatists to harm Sri Lanka because of geo-political concerns during the Cold war? Maybe Karma is an ugly worm? It appears that Kashmiri terrorists, separatists and rebels have bases in Pakistan but just seems ironic here given all the South Asian geo political games over the past 30 years when Tamil tigers had bases in Tamil Nadu and they were trained by the Central government of India under Indira and Rajiv Gandhi’s auspices to rein in Sri Lanka’s foolish veering towards the USA under JR Jayawardene’s regime?
No one absolves or excuses the heinous crimes of Black July 1983; that is the incident that made the LTTE into a liberation movement. Those crimes should never be forgotten; they are like the crimes against Sikhs after Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 and India had a very black November as well. This writer lived in Punjab back then and remember the curfews and tension and absolute anger of Sikhs then and before that, during the disastrous “Operation Bluestar”, Khalistani actions during a summer of 23 hour curfews, powercuts in stifling heat, and news blackouts on the only TV station available those days : Doordarshan.
Onwards to media coverage in the west about the clashes. First world corporate “free” media really love to act as if all the people in the Third world are crazies waiting to lob nuclear bombs at each other, when the US is the only nation to have used not one, but two nuclear weapons. Such typical condescending western attitudes thinking only they can intervene and preach to India and Pakistan are once again doing the “expert circuit” on western television. On ABC news on 27th Feb Evening, the headline to the story said “Nuclear tensions rise” .
This writer finds some of the corporate “free” western media loves to hype up conflicts and cash in on wars and treat Leaders in India and Pakistan as somehow trigger happy goons relishing the thought of using Nuclear weapons. That is abhorrent. It is perturbing to see the doomsday purveyors and extremists trying to urge wars over Social media platforms in India and Pakistan as well. Twittersphere is raging. Hope Imran Khan and Modi know better. This too will pass. The Alternate ultimate nuclear holocaust will lay waste to entire South Asia. It is highly implausible and improbable. Both leaders are smart to know the holocaust they will unleash with no winners.
This amateur simpleton is going by his hazy memories from his incredible Indian days in Punjab, and chats with his buddies over Old Monk or Chai, and 25 paise Parle biscuits, and not from those NGO foreign funded, learned self- proclaimed academics and political scientists who write. This writer welcomes Indians attacking him or correcting him on the history of Kashmir. Let that then be more information for the learned intellectual well informed CT viewers on the complexity of the Kashmir issue for everyone to read and learn. It will be valuable to hear an Indian and Pakistani Kashmiri perspective.
Verbatim copied news : “History tells us that wars are full of miscalculation. My question is that given the weapons we have can we afford miscalculation,” Khan said during a brief televised broadcast to the nation on Wednesday. “I once again invite India to come to the negotiating table,” said Cambridge educated Imran Khan, who has called for dialogue with New Delhi in the past, said.-End
Does that sound like a crazy like strongman Trump’s deranged tweets? or Rightwing warmonger John Bolton Appuhamy’s threats? Gosh, if only Trump could be such a statesman with deep knowledge of the stakes. If Imran Khan is sincere, and not pulled by Islamist ideologues and radical groups in the government, and the few military personnel itching for war, they have a golden opportunity to end cross-border attacks by terrorists and also finally come to an agreement about the status of Kashmir; there is no military solution to the Kashmiri problem. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has also been extremely conciliatory and did not strike a belligerent tone. This augurs well to a quick sit down between high powered delegations from both sides.
Fact of the matter is there is sabre rattling but this time, Pakistani pride and egos are a bit happy because they shot down an Indian plane. Modi seems to be a bit irritated and has an eye on elections in 2 months. If all normal patterns are to be repeated, things will cool off after a few more skirmishes. Pakistan has always been smarting under 3 rounds of humiliating defeats in full scale wars with India. This will help assuage feelings.
Kashmir itself is contested by these two protagonists and also China. It is the most militarized region in the world. They really have to negotiate a long term settlement. More than 47,000 civilians have died (some say, double that number,) and massive human rights abuses have taken place there over the past 3 decades.
India needs to be cognizant of those tragic events, when it wags the finger at Sri Lanka. Most inhabitants of Jammu & Kashmir are Muslims(the old proud Kingdom which only became part of India under Maharaja Ranjit Singh the Sikh warrior only in 1819. But during British rule it was still considered to be a separate Kingdom ruled by Sikhs. Their status was extremely complex until partition.
Most inhabitants of Kashmir(one of the largest states) are Muslim(approx 68%) but distinctive Hindu, and even Buddhist groups also exist. Kashmiris as an ethnic group are a very distinctive group. Their history leading up to the partition and politics are complex. The legendary Sheik Abdullah preferred a union with India. Kashmir itself is contested by these two protagonists and also China. It is the most militarized region in the world.
Both sides have smart pragmatic leaders and senior political Advisers. They do not have a gung-ho belligerent National Security like John Bolton Appuhamy who goes around eager to intervene militarily, and threaten many nations including Venezuela and Iran. Miscalculations regarding Iran will have far greater consequences than a few skirmishes between Pakistan and India
Que sera sera?
This writer is confident, even as an amateur hack student of global events, both Indian and most Pakistani professional military men and civil servants know the stakes here and will never escalate this conflict to the point of no return frequently the point of discussion on western “free” corporate media. Even their central government cabinets have smarter more ethical people than Trump’s cabinet now. Indian External Affairs Minister has also made very positive statements.
In contrast to North Korea, Pakistan and India are democracies with civilian administrations and civilian oversight of militaries; but Pakistani government is still beholden to the military unlike in India. There is no military solution to the Kashmiri crisis; only a political one that respects the aspirations of the distinctive Kashmiri ethnic group.
Are there similarities?
There are similarities to the Tamil insurgency apart, there is no military solution to the Kashmir as it is geographically impossible to achieve it. But perhaps on balance, the Kashmiris are likely better off under Indian rule than a fundamentalist Pakistan, which is the only other possibility. Sri Lanka should remain neutral and urge peace talks. It can also be a genuine peace broker and invite people to come negotiate in Sri Lanka. India also does well to keep secret the festering problems in the N-E states.
May the war and status of uncertainty end; may there never be war and tears in Sri Lanka or Kashmir(a much longer conflict), and may the valid aspirations of the ethnic minorities in both places be resolved without further carnage. Let those living in Sri Lanka make the decisions like those living in Kashmir, India and Pakistan. Weren’t there 3 distinct kingdoms in Sri Lanka before the Portuguese plague? Ruhunu, Maya & Pihiti like the many Princely kingdoms of India before British rule brought them together? That is all a cowardly émigré such as this writer should say. Please do not get your Kachcheras in a Knot India.