The latest addition to Indian narrative on Kashmir, A.S. Dulat’s book titled “Kashmir The Vajpayee Years”, recently hit the stands. Kashmiris expected revelations because the author had formerly headed India’s premier intelligence agencies, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). But they were disappointed because the book does not offer much. They already know more than what is ‘revealed’ in the book.
Not only does the book contain nothing new, it makes sweeping statements, revealing the typical status quoistic establishment mindset of the author. According to the author, everything in Kashmiri is crooked except poplar trees and Farooq Abdullah; the falling apart of Sheikh Abdullah and Pt JL Nehru is inexplicable for him; Vajpayee would have resolved Kashmir dispute, but; etc., etc. As I went through the book I found out a devil’s mind in operation. What he could not achieve during his days of operation he is now trying to get it through his own hyperbole version.
He was a sweet-tongued Indian politician who could mesmerise anyone with his saccharine words. But in reality he was the RSS Pracharak who instigated demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid in 1992; and as the Prime Minister of India in 2002 allowed ethnic cleansing of Muslims to take place in Gujarat when he should have invoked Articles 356 and 357 of the Indian constitution, dismissed the Gujarat government and put down disturbances. He did nothing.
That he desired to resolve Kashmir dispute is a misperception. What he actually wanted was to introduce the Livingston Proposal (LP) so as to sidestep the self-determination discourse in Kashmir. My contention is based on this: When he visited Lahore during the launch of bus service between the two neighbours, he reached a private understanding with Nawaz Sharif on February 20, 1999, to find a viable solution of the Kashmir problem by the end of the year. Both decided to nominate one person each to discuss fresh conflict resolution approaches.
Niaz A. Naik and RK Mishra held nine rounds of discussions from March 3 to June 27, 1999. After considering various options, Mishra and Naik arrived at ‘Chenab partition plan’, which implied that the Valley of Kashmir, the main bone of contention, could become a part of Pakistan.
At this juncture Naik met Vajpayee, and broached the partition issue to him. Vajpayee didn’t say anything. He simply asked Naik to consider Livingston Proposal (Kashmir in the Shadow of War by Robert Wirsing; Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism by Hassan Abbas). However, after Kargil war India spread the word that Gen Musharraf’s misadventure sabotaged the resolution of Kashmir dispute. The fact is that Kargil war sabotaged Livingston Proposal. Indian state in any case was not interested to grant the right of self determination to Kashmiris.
Interestingly the same Musharraf adopted Livingston Proposal in 2003-4. But by then he was an international outcast keen on mending his own image. Besides the Kargil fiasco had given Pakistan a reputation of being an irresponsible nuclear power.
Musharraf rebranded Livingston Proposal as Four Point Formula. Many others cloned LP with a name of their own; in 2006 Sajjad Lone called it “Achievable Nationhood” and in 2008 Mufti Sayeed the “Self-Rule Framework”.
Livingston Proposal was the brainchild of Kashmir Study Group. A successful Kashmir-born American businessman, Farooq Kathwari set up the KSG in 1996 at Livingston New York. The KSG met in November-December 1998 and produced a one-page document “Kashmir – A Way Forward”. It proposed setting up in the former princely state of Kashmir a self-governing sovereign entity without international personality that would comprise of Indian administered Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir on either side of the LoC across which people could travel and trade (of course after being strip searched).
Establishment of a “sovereign entity one without international personality” is impossible because one of the cardinal attributes of sovereignty is “international personality”. The term “international personality” sounds bombast and incomprehensible. But if the term is properly used then it is easily understood. The actual term used should be “international legal personality” which signifies that the entity could sue and be sued under international law.
According to LP Kashmir would not be an international personality. Nor one entity. Because it would continue to be divided by LoC and administered by India and Pakistan on either side of this frontier. Therefore LP was status quoistic, of course with some cosmetic changes.
Since Indians feared that they may have to face the same terrible fate as Soviets faced in Afghanistan and Americans in Vietnam, they were very keen to clutch at straws like the Livingston Proposal. They didn’t actually want to give up Kashmir because of its water resources and hydropower potential; and because they thought it would be a great blow to their prestige to bow down to Pakistan which they arrogantly called “ek sala machhar”. Thus they were/are caught up in a dilemma.
Livingston Proposal gives out a semblance of resolution yet it does not entail ceding Kashmir. Therefore, the Indians became, since Vajpayee’s time, overly keen to see it implemented. Those who support it become their blue-eyed boys. For example, General Musharraf in spite of Kargil, Sajad Lone and Mufti Sayeed. But Kashmiris under Syed Ali Geelani’s leadership rejected it and Dulat accuses them of being crooks!
The falling apart of Sheikh Abdullah and Nehru
Their falling apart is easily explained. Sheikh supported India in October 1947 because in a Pakistani Kashmir he could not rise to power, even in a dream. The UNCIP’s Plebiscite Resolution of January 5, 1949, envisaged appointment of a Plebiscite Administrator (PA) with full powers which entailed prior dismissal of Sheikh. Plebiscite would have returned the verdict in favour of Pakistan. That would have been Sheikh’s doom. So he supported Nehru to the hilt to avoid the appointment of PA. Also he gave full support to Nehru in changing Kashmir’s relationship from Instrument of Accession to Article 370 of Indian constitution. During Constituent Assembly (CA) debates, 1949-50, it was made clear to him that under Article 370 Kashmir would be merged with India albeit gradually and with the concurrence of a provincial CA. He accepted even that because he was desperate to avoid plebiscite. Although UNCIP left the sub-continent by the end of 1949, plebiscite or regional plebiscites became a possibility in 1950 when UN Mediator Owen Dixon arrived. Instead of resigning from Prime Ministership to facilitate Dixionian Plebiscite he abolished jagirdari to turn the mind of Kashmiris from Dixon. Nehru condoned this action of Sheikh although it had hit Hindu jagirdars very severely because they were not paid any compensation.
Then together with Karan Singh and Nehru he enacted in 1951 a fraudulent CA election, which converted the general council of National Conference into CA without actual voting. Now was the time to work for the gradual merger of Kashmir with India as per the policy laid down in Article 370. But by now two things had happened. One, the talk of plebiscite had gone into cold storage; and two, Sheikh thought he was now an elected PM. And when Gopalaswami Ayyengar suggested in April 1952 that powers of Indian Supreme Court and Auditor General should now be extended to Kashmir, Sheikh lost his temper against New Delhi. He took the suggestion as an unwarranted encroachment upon his authority.
In this way Sheikh and Nehru fell apart. It was a clash between Nehru’s imperialism and Sheikh’s self-interest. There were no principles involved.
Endorsement of Accession
The CA passed a resolution on February 1954 in ratification of Accession. They were unelected. They had backstabbed Sheikh to whom they owed their existence. At the time of passing of this resolution Sheikh was in jail. Neither Sheikh nor the CA had any mandate to endorse the Accession on behalf of Kashmiris. For that matter the elected Muslim Conference members of Praja Sabha had, on July 19, 1947, passed a resolution in the home of Sardar Ibrahim of Rawlakot at Abi Guzar Srinagar, in favour of the accession of Kashmir with Pakistan.
Under the principle of self-determination the future disposition of Kashmir has to be decided by Kashmiris directly because it concerns the future of millions of people. It is not a matter of Johnny Walker Whisky.
Poplar trees and Farooq Abdullah
Since the time of first election in 1951 under Indian administration of Kashmir, it has been the IB that decided who would contest the elections; who would win; and who would lose; and who would rule; etc. During Vajpayee days they promised Farooq that he would be made vice president of India and his son chief minister of Kashmir. During that time Farooq regime crushed Kashmiris to pulp. But when the time of becoming VP came, nothing of the sort happened. Farooq even lost CM’s chair. Farooq blamed IB for this. So, calling everyone in Kashmir as a crook and describing poplar trees and Farooq as the only things that are straight is actually an apology to him by Dulat. But he perhaps forgot that while apologising to Farooq he grossly insulted the Kashmiri people who hold the same Farooq (along with Jagmohan Malhotra, Rajiv Gandhi, and Indira Gandhi) responsible for the wholesale destruction of life in post-1987 Kashmir.
Furthermore, Dulat has tried to malign all and sundry who do not agree with the Indian establishment’s point of view on Kashmir, be they resistance leaders who have undergone tremendous hardships while conducting self-determination movement; or be it Pakistan. Mr Dulat warns Kashmiris that Pakistan has no sympathies for Kashmiris; and that it has an eye on Kashmir’s waters. But the truth is that being a riparian state Pakistan has a natural right on Kashmir’s waters. God has made this dispensation. Man is not entitled to change it. Whether Kashmir continues to remain under Indian administration or not, Pakistan will always have equal rights on Kashmir’s waters. Kashmiris would never like to impound water to starve Pakistan.
Water never actually flows down the Jhelum. It moves in circles. It goes to Pakistan by land and returns to Kashmir by air. It is a relationship that God has created. Man cannot undo it, no matter how many maps he may draw on the face of the globe.
Mr Dulat diminishes the value of his own book by indulging in far-fetched accusations like the ones that General Musharraf had a hand in the hijacking of flight IC-814 from Nepal to Dubai, or in the Mumbai terror act of 26/11.
Kashmir police couldn’t have asked Afzal Guru to accompany someone to Delhi in 2001 without IB’s knowledge. If the IB had wished they could have exposed Shopian rapists of 2009 in a matter of days.
Who knows who were the hawks that lifted Kasab in their talons from Nepal in 2006 and dropped him in Mumbai in 2009? Only six persons had arrived in the terror boat of 26/11 via Arabian Sea. Yet, as per India, 10 terrorists were killed on that day. Where did the others, including Kasab, come from? Who knows who were the paymasters to instigate Jaish and other al Qaeda affiliates to launch terror in Pakistan? If Pakistan supported the Taliban in Afghanistan, who supported the Northern Alliance? Who supports Baluch insurgents? Who supported Karachi gangsters?
Throwing some light on these would have added tremendous value to Mr. Dulat’s book.