The Pulwama attack and its Aftermath

Last week the world media was gripped with the news of Indian airstrikes inside Pakistan followed a day later by Pakistani figher jets (which allegedly included F-16s) apparently intruding or flying very close to the LOC and atleast one of the Indian jets, MiG 21, pursuing the Pakistani fighter planes getting hit with both the plane & its pilot falling into the PoK region.

Initially the Pakistani army & political establishment claimed that they had downed two Indian jets and that they had 2 Indian pilots in their custody but this was corrected a little while later to the claim the custody of only 1 Indian pilot.

Two days later the Indian pilot was handed over to India after the Pakistani PM Imran Khan made an official announcement within their parliament. The prompt release of the Indian pilot is considered by some to have gone a long way in de-escalation though heavy shelling at LOC from both sides appears to be still ongoing.

The Background

However, behind this unfolding story that dominated International media for a few days, there are other developments preceding and succeeding it which also need to be looked into.

The reason why India was forced to carry out the airstrikes deep into Pakistan in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the massive suicide attack on a CRPF convoy of about 75 buses transporting 2500 soldiers back to the borders after their holidays. This attack martyred more than 40 Indian soldiers and caused a huge uproar across the nation. The Indian government was quick to point to Pakistan for the attack and as per The Hindu newspaper, the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack with the suicide bomber being a local Kashmiri youth.

The NDA government in India under Narendra Modi had so far tried to project a no-nonsense image against terrorism, especially in Kashmir. As a result, the Uri attack was followed by what India claimed was a major ‘surgical strike’ across the border into PoK that apparently left many dead in the terrorist lauchpads. The recent Pulwama attack was bigger than Uri and so the Modi government was expected to do something akin to the ‘surgical strike’ or maybe bigger. Modi warned of a retaliation and the air was thick in anticipation. The Balakot airstrikes followed 12 days later.

The Pakistani narrative all along has been that there is no proof of Pakistani involvement in the Pulwama attack and that it was willing to act upon the terrorist organisations inside Pakistan if India provided them ‘actionable intelligence’. The Pakistani political establishment argues that given the precarious economic position Pakistan finds itself in, it is in no position for adventurism  and carry out the Pulwama attack and create more problems for itself. It has been also preaching peace non-stop. The release of the Indian pilot was also apparently meant to further this Pakistani objective.

Who’s behind the Pulwama attack ?

In consonance with the Pakistani establishment preaching peace and innocence has been the narrative within Pakistan which suggests that it is Narendra Modi & his Govt consisting of Hindu fundamentalists who want war and bloodshed and who are just looking for an excuse to start a war. Apparently this war hysteria & jingoism across India against Pakistan is Modi’s own making which he has created to help him win the upcoming elections which he would otherwise lose. Infact the demonisation of Modi in Pakistani media has been a constant feature ever since he became the PM candidate from the BJP for the 2014 polls. In newspapers like the Dawn, there does not pass by a week without atleast a couple of articles about the ‘misdeeds’ and ‘mal-intentions’ of Modi & RSS/BJP .  This has been happening for 5 years now. You are unlikely to find a single Pakistani who has some good to say about Modi. Thats the kind of propoganda the Pakistani media has run against Modi & BJP/RSS with a lot of help from their liberal leftist media friends in India. Many in Pakistani are quite convinced that the Pulwama attack itself was done at the behest of Modi so that he could create a war hysteria and use it to his benefit in the elections.


Nevertheless, the Pulwama attack was not the only major terrorist attack in the region in the past few weeks. Just a day before the Pulwama attack which happened on February 14, there was an identical terrorist attack in Iran where a suicide bomber in a car/van attacked a bus of the elite Revolutionary guards of Iranian armed forces in the Sistan province in which as many as 27 of these soldiers were martyred. The attack was claimed by Jaish-ul-Ahd, a group operating from within Pakistan just like the Jaish-e-Mohammad. It is likely that Jaish-ul-Ahd has links with Lashkar-e-Taiba & the Pakistani establishment.

 

The Iranians have vowed revenge and they also appear to put the blame on Pakistan.

The extemely identical nature of these terrorist attacks in Iran & India separated by a mere day, and targetting the security forces of these countries travelling in convoys, by jeeps/vans driven by suicide bombers, suggest that these attacks may even have been planned together. If so, it raises the question – could Pakistan have the gumption to carry out such dastardly attacks at the two ends of their neighbourhood ? And to what avail ?


If Pakistan is given the benefit of doubt, it still does not mean that groups based within the Pakistani soil did not carry out these attacks. But could it be there is some external agency or power involved which has enough reach in the South Asian region in general and also in Pakistan, that backed these groups to carry this out ?

The responses of the Iranian leadership immediately after their armed forces were attacked is worth a read.

As per their Supreme leader Khamenei, “It is certain that the perpetrators of this crime were linked to spy agencies of certain regional and trans-regional countries and Iran’s relevant organizations must focus on that and seriously pursue it.”

Their President Rouhani while blaming the US & Israel as the “root causes of terror” in the region, urged Iran’s neighboring countries to “fulfill their legal obligations” within the framework of the principle of good neighborliness and prevent the terrorist groups from using their soil to launch attacks against their neighbors. In this last bit, the neighbouring country he had in mind appears to none other than Pakistan.

Could the Iranian leadership be onto something here and could it be that other more formidable powers with interests in the region, especially in Afghanistan & Pakistan, had a role in the twin attacks ? Surely one should not let Pakistan off the hook. It appears that even Iran argues about Pakistani complicity in the attack on its forces,

“Pakistan’s government, who has housed these anti-revolutionaries and threats to Islam, knows where they are and they are supported by Pakistan’s security forces,” said Revolutionary Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, referring to terror group Jaish al-Adl (“Army of Justice”). 

“If (the Pakistan government) does not punish them, we will retaliate against this anti-revolutionary force, and whatever Pakistan sees will be the consequence of its support for them,” Ali Jafri warned. 

However, could it be that the terrorist organisations and their military/ISI backers are a law unto themselves who perhaps do not even willingly answer to the Pakistani establishment and are willing to do the work of the highest bidder ? In such an environment, an external power can certainly find much opportunity to further its own ends.

The Aftermath of the Indian air-strikes

Apparently, after the air strikes, there was also a threat of a missile attack on Pakistan, as claimed by the political leadership of Pakistan (Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi), a perilous situation that was subsequently diffused. It also appears that the US among all the external players involved in the region, has played the most active and significant role in diffusing the situation between India & Pakistan.

The statement by Donald Trump from Hanoi, Veitnam of some “reasonably attractive” news coming from India-Pakistan followed by the release of IAF pilot as well as the Pakistan Foreign Minister profusely thanking the Americans in playing the lead role in diffusing the tensions is clear pointing to such an inference.

As per Qureshi, “I would especially like to thank US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. By utilising private diplomacy, the US has played a very positive role. I’d also like to mention the efforts of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and the UAE for trying to defuse the situation through diplomacy.

The response from China has been on the other hand quite muted. It has also refused to take sides with Pakistan, whether in defending it from the Pulwama attack accusation or after the Balakot airstrike. China has merely asked both the countries to sort out the differences between themselves.


It could very well be that sensing an opportunity in the ongoing crisis to further its own ends, the US forced itself into the mediation between the two countries. In response to relieving the pressure from India, Iran & Afghanistan, India would have likely asked for strict concrete steps being taken against LeT & JeM and their leaders. However, it is also certain that the US would also have asked for its pound of flesh in the bargain in the form of Pakistani support in the US activities in the region, such as in the US talks with the Taliban. It may also have been a way for the US to convey to Pakistan that in a crisis with India, it was only the US and not China that can help it. If Pakistan has acquiesced to the US demands, we may even see some economic aid given to them by the US pretty soon.

What can India do ?

It seems to be clear that the US and Indian interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan are not converging.  In the current flare-up, the US appears to not be completely on the Indian side. While it has condemned the terrorist attack, batted for India’s right to respond and asked Pakistan to act against the terrorists on its soil, it has taken an attitude of reconciliation rather than confrontation with Pakistan.

As far as India is concerned, one of the things that has changed from the Indian side is that it has shown a willingness to respond to a cross-border terrorist attack with significant escalation. This raises the stakes for all those countries with interests in the Af-Pak region such as the US, Russia & China as well as for the wider international community. India’s entreaties to other countries about terrorism emanating from Pakistan which harms it, will henceforth be taken with a greater urgency. The airstrikes did not just send a signal to the Pakistani establishment and they may have also served to remind the world community that India is in no mood to take this lying down and if they want things to run smoothly, they ought to exert pressure on Pakistan.

It appears now that Pakistan has for the time being at the very least started acting against the terrorist organisations if the news coming out of Pakistan is to be believed. Besides the Indian pressure, the imminent blacklisting under FATF is also hanging like a Damocles’ sword on Pakistan’s neck. But India remains unconvinced because it has often seen such actions being reversed in the past.

It remains to be seen what the larger Indian objective is and how will it be achieved. One likely strategy is to bring Iran & Afghanistan on the same page as India and portray them as victims of Pakistan based rogue elements. How much support does India get from the US in this is anybody’s guess.

While the Imran Khan government has unequivocally said that it wants nothing but peace with India, it has still made all efforts to highlight the Kashmir issue and sell its narrative of Indian atrocities in Kashmir. So, it is clear that though Pakistan seeks peace it still wants it on its own terms. As long as Pakistan maintains this obstinacy peace in the region will remain elusive.  If Pakistan is sincere about peace, it should stop its focus on Kashmir. If India-Pakistan relations improve it is quite natural that the terrorism in Kashmir and alleged Indian atrocities are going to die down. So why does Pakistan not see this ? Perhaps because it still harbors a desire of wresting Kashmir out of Indian control, if not as a Pakistani province than as a independent country under its absolute influence. This will quite obviously not be acceptable to India at any cost. The sooner the Pakistani establishment lets go off this, the better it would be for peace in the region.

In the long term, the South Asian region needs to come together as one block if it wants World powers to stop meddling in the region. The biggest stumbling block is the Indo-Pakistani conflict on Kashmir and Pakistan’s willingness to act as a client state of world powers like the US and China who are only chasing after their own interests. China has a firm handle on Pakistan at the moment and it is unlikely that China will let go off it anytime soon but the Pulwama crisis has left the Chinese in an awkward position. With Pakistan giving the lion’s share of the credit for de-escalation to the US, the Chinese have had to themselves come forward and claim that it too played a ‘constructive’ role in the de-escalation. What this means for the future is anybody’s guess.

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43 Replies to “The Pulwama attack and its Aftermath”

  1. “It seems to be clear that the US and Indian interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan are not converging”

    I would argue that the values and long term interests of Afghanistan, India and the US are almost completely aligned.’

    America often acts against American interests. Perhaps Americans need to be reminded of what American interests are.

    In the latest exchange, Trump appears to have been cheering India on to the degree he was interested in keeping track. Trump is not the administration. But Trump’s position is worth noting none the less.

    The Pakistani Army has been lying to, playing and manipulating China, America, India, Russia, Iran and the entire international community for a long time while supporting Jihadi Islamism in every part of the world. The world is starting to catch on.

    The Pakistani civil war (and the closely linked de facto war between Pakistan and Afghanistan) is likely to continue for some time to come. The world needs a long term synchronized strategy.

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  2. Indian “atrocities” in Kashmir are not a Pakistani “narrative” but a reality. Indian paramilitaries have killed Kashmiri men in “encounters”, raped Kashmiri women etc. The Gawkadal massacre is only one example. The Pulwama attacker was radicalized by the humiliations he suffered at the hands of Indian forces (not that that is an excuse for his actions). I do not approve of Pakistan’s use of proxy war but India must recognize that there is an internal problem in Kashmir. Ignoring the core issue in the dispute is hardly going to help resolve anything.

    I really wish people here would stop with their totally uninformed and biased views about Pakistan. What the hell is the “Pakistani civil war”? India is not in a position to shape the society of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan–airstrikes or no airstrikes.

    Liberal Pakistanis like me want both sides to move on and live in peace. We have a shared culture and history. But this will not happen if the elephant in the room (the freedom struggle in Kashmir) is ignored. Also, military action on our territory only brings all Pakistanis together. All political differences are left aside when the homeland is threatened.

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    1. JeM has been involved in attempted terrorist attacks against many countries all over the world. JeM is a global Jihadi Islamist Takfiri organization whose long term objective is a global Caliphate that rules the world. JeM attacks “lesser muslims” and fake muslims and any muslim that isn’t extremist Islamist Sunni outside of Pakistan. The Pakistani Arm limits their ability to organize terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

      A Kashmiri ethnocentrist nationalist can join many Kashmiri ethnocentric organizations and pressure India through them. Most Kashmiri ethnocentric nationalists oppose JeM.

      JeM is not a Kashmiri organization. JeM wants to conquer Kashmir and add Kashmir to the global Caliphate (that they hope will one day rule the world.)

      JeM’s presence in Kashmir is opposed by Kashmiris who support Kashmiri independence.

      JeM has had a major presence for many years in Iraq and Syria. [The Iraqi Army has had an urgent need of Urdu translators for a long time.] JeM has been a major participant in Chechnya Jihad, Bosnian Jihad, Kosovo Jihad, Filipino Jihad, and African Jihad.

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      Some reasons that the elected state and district governments of Kashmir do not formally request independence include:
      ——external Jihadi threat that would slaughter an independent Kashmir
      ——deep dependence on large annual transfers from the Indian central (federal) government to the Kashmiri state government
      ——deep economic interdependence with the rest of India. Many Kashmiris who favor independence prefer to retain a European Union like common market and currency union with India. They don’t want to lose access to the Indian economic miracle.

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      1. The elected government of Kashmir doesn’t represent the aspirations of the Kashmiri people for independence. In order to be elected, politicians have to work within the Indian Constitution, according to which Kashmir is an “integral part” of India. The aspirations for independence are represented by the Hurriyat.

        If you are so convinced that Kashmiris want to stay with India, surely you will have no problem with holding a plebiscite to confirm this fact.

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    2. Kabir, I don’t know why you even waste your time trying to engage with the commentators here.

      You are dealing with people who believe the Aryan Migration is just a European conspiracy. Who think the international recognition of Indian-atrocities in Kashmir is somehow just covert Pakistani propaganda. Who regularly advocate for the “Rakhine Solution” (genocide) to be implemented visa-vis Muslims in India.

      Judging from their posts, they also appear to be reading/writing at the level of a 12 year old.

      Just focus on the podcasts and stuff from Razib. Otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy, as engaging with these types is akin to trying to teach Algebra to a rusty door knob.

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      1. “people who believe the Aryan Migration is just a European conspiracy”

        Have not met them. Please introduce me to them! 🙂

        Some are open to the possibility that the Arya came to SAARC in multiple waves. Including AASI (more than 50 K years ago) and R1 (more than 9 K years ago). SAARC folks love immigrants and welcome them to leadership and respected positions in SAARC society.

        “Who regularly advocate for the “Rakhine Solution” (genocide) to be implemented visa-vis Muslims in India.”

        Have not met them. Please introduce me to them! 🙂

        “Judging from their posts, they also appear to be reading/writing at the level of a 12 year old.”

        Have not met them. Please introduce me to them! 🙂

        “Just focus on the podcasts and stuff from Razib. Otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy, as engaging with these types is akin to trying to teach Algebra to a rusty door knob.”

        Where is the compassion (karunaa)? Our elders and wise ones should teach us! We want to learn from you. 🙂

        FYI,

        Kabir you gotta love Razib. Practically a genius. And the compassion. Right?

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    3. Find myself right in the middle of opinions expressed here.

      Agree with Kabir and IndThings that the post author puts out BS when he rules out any possibility of native Kashmiri disaffection, and claims the issue purely a Pak invented one. This is ahistorical and in conflict with India’s formal position.

      When one starts from such erroneous primary assumptions, it is then a straight line to the Modi doctrine on Kashmir- an amateurish, short sighted policy that has done serious political damage in 4 short years, and may have forever trashed any goodwill sections of the Central government carried in Srinagar. Classic case of penny-wise-pound-foolish.

      While the very smart commenters at BP have predictable blind spots regarding Savarkarite Nationalism, was still surprised how much conspiratorial theories reg. international press has mainstreamed into this particular bubble! That all negative stories about the Indian execution post-Phulwana is because of personal/ institutional dislike of Modi at NYT / WaPo / Economist editorial offices 😀 Seems a new low in SN conspiracy theorizing- what I would previously have considered preserve of online Islamists/jihadis or InfoWars/blue collar Trump types.

      Risking hyperbole and Godwin’s disaffection, this phenomenon reminded of this tweet (the minority being of reasonable folk : )

      Fascism begins its journey with the impossible task of convincing the majority that they at risk. Once it achieves that through fantastically fabricated lies, it's a smooth road to destruction of any minority they choose.— Sandeep Manudhane (@sandeep_PT) February 12, 2019

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  3. Its not about Razib being smart or compassionate. Its about him being genuine and serious.

    Most commentators here aren’t that, which makes them impossible to have a productive discussion with. They do also happen to be legitimately stupid and mean people, but that’s not why I dislike them.

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    1. “Genuine” or authentic is the ancient concept of Satya or truth.

      Truth is compassion (Prema) in thought.
      Peace (Shanti) is compassion in feeling.
      Dharma is compassion in action
      Ahimsa flows from truth.

      Razib has many of the best qualities (Tattvas) of spirituality, religion, atheism, science, secularism, pluralism. Or what some call Hindustani (or Bharatiya or Hindu or Arya varsha or Deshi or Swadeshi or SAARCi) culture. Or what some might call call pan Islamic syncretic culture.

      Or the commonality that correlates with Hindustani culture, Bengali culture, American culture, pan Islamic syncretic culture and global culture.

      Razib . . . don’t read this. Wouldn’t want any “delusions of grandeur”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyVDASOhC7o
      “You are not a Jedi yet.”
      :LOL:

      “Most commentators here aren’t that, which makes them impossible to have a productive discussion with. They do also happen to be legitimately stupid”

      Most people are caught in subconscious patterns (or habits or auto-reflexes) in their brains and nervous systems and not free. Most can be manipulated into doing almost anything an exogenous agent (who has hacked their brain and nervous system) wants them to do. Most people are in a de facto virtual prison that they don’t know exists.

      This is a central observation of many streams of eastern philosophy (including Taoism, Ajivika Darshana, Buddhist Darshana, Kashmiri Shaivism, 18 Siddha Siddhanta, Nath Sampradaya, Rudra Sampradaya, Maadvacharya, Ramanujam, Shankaracharya and many others).

      Would the compassionate, genuine and serious thing to do be to facilitate others freeing their own brains and nervous systems?

      “mean people”

      Do you think others are mean? Or do you think they are trapped by patterns in their subconcious, brains, nervous systems that they are not consciously aware of?

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  4. Indians are not neither naive nor delusional. They know that Kashmiri Muslims are completely disillusioned with India, and what to break away. They get it. Unfortunately there are no good solutions here. Let’s analyze the perfect world solutions of both sides.

    1. Preferred Kashmiri/Pak solution – India just packs its bags and leaves Kashmir valley, retaining just Ladakh and Jammu. Kind of like voluntary Roman withdrawal from Britain. Result? Welcome to the chaos that erupts in India. A precedent has been set. A firestorm of secessionist insurgency breaks out in North East and Punjab. The position of Muslims in India becomes even more precarious. Why on earth will India even contemplate such an option?

    2. Preferred Indian solution- Separatists movement simply dies down through exhaustion and attrition. (A La Khalistan movement). Kashmiris resign to their fate and and go about living their life grudgingly accepting their status as Indian citizen. Chances of this happening? Zero. If it hasn’t happened in 30 years, it is not going to happen now. Khalistan movement petered out in less than a decade. Kashmiri insurgency has lasted 3 decades and shows no sign of abating. India should just abandon this hope.

    So it is obvious that maximalist positions of either side is unrealistic and just not going to come to fruition, so there is no point in fatasizing about them. Obviously a middle ground has to be found.

    Also, the status quo is not working either. Hawkish Pakistani view is that they are bleeding india by “thousand cuts”. The reality on the ground belies the facts. In the past 30 years India’s economic and military power has actually strengthened significantly. Kashmiris, the beneficiaty of this so called moral support from Pakistan have only seen misery in all these years. Their thriving tourism industry lies in ruins. And the radicalization of Hindus caused by the Islamic terrorism have made Indian Muslims even more marginalized.

    Pak/Kashmiri clique has not appreciated the fact that India has refrained form implementing the Xinxiang solution in Kashmir. Otherwise it doesn’t take long for a country of 1.3 billion people to change the demographic balance of a tiny mountain valley.

    I think a solution will emerge when all parities realizes these blunt facts. Pakistan should realize that their thousand cuts have only bled Kashmiris and not Indians,; India realizes that “Kashmir Ki Kali” kind of idyllic Kahmir is lost forever and not coming back, and Kashmiris realizes that India has shown some level of moderation by not implementing the solutions states like China or Israel would have implemented. This will be starting point of getting to a solution.

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    1. We need high resolution detailed solutions.

      Your suggestion is to partition the Kashmir Valley way from the rest of Kashmir?

      How popular would this be with most Kashmiris?

      If your idea was implemented, presumably everyone in the Kashmiri Valley would get dual citizenship (Indian and Kashmiri Valley).

      The Taliban (or Daesh) would invade and quickly conquer the Kashmiri Valley unless India provides massive military help to the Kashmiri Valley. Your idea would doom the Kashmiri Valley to being an Indian protectorate in perpetual war with the Taliban (or Deep State GHQ). Likely the local economy would collapse because of this long term war.

      Do you propose that India continue providing massive financial transfers (grants) to the Kashmir Valley forever? [Currently Kashmir is deeply dependent on massive financial transfers from the center.]

      Do you support creating an EU type custom and currency union to combine the Kashmir Valley with the rest of India indefinitely? Do you propose a free investment zone between Kashmir and the rest of India?

      How would you persuade the Pakistani Army to not try to destroy the new autonomous Kashmiri Valley region?

      The entire world has failed to persuade the Pakistani Army not to try to destroy Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Army. [Pakistan has done this at enormous expense using money they don’t have, and sacrificing the lives of an unknown number of Pakistani sons. Likely tens of thousands of Pakistani men have died fighting Afghanistan.]

      The Pakistani Army is likely to similarly sacrifice for victory in the Kashmiri Valley.

      The Hurriyat is deeply concerned about Pakistani Army aggression against them and against Kashmir. The Hurriyat cannot defend Kashmir from the Pakistani Army without massive long term international assistance (similar to Afghanistan).

      This is why the Hurriyat wants independence long term but in the short run and intermediate run demands massive Indian help.

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  5. To add to what Lizard Catcher says:

    I’ll start taking calls for Kashmiri independence from folks in the Islamic world (liberal or otherwise) seriously when they also start to advocate for Kurdish independence and Baluchi independence, among others. Otherwise, I’m going to treat calls for Kashmiri (and Chechen and Kosovar) separatism as being driven purely by Islamic revanchism, targeted at Hindus and Christians (non-Muslims generally.)

    Secession is not something to be taken as lightly as people like Kabir and IndThings do. Not every part of the world is like Western or Central Europe, which has passed through many trials of fire in the past few centuries and arrived at a place where borders are irrelevant. For people living in stable OECD countries like these people do, it’s easy to virtue-signal about “self-determination”, as if maximal independence for no reason other than demand will solve all problems. It won’t. There are good reasons for sub-ethnicities to suppress their collective egos and join forces with larger entities, at least for a while for the purpose of human development. Once these countries “get to Denmark”, they can let people go their own ways. but not until then.

    On Kashmir, the locals therefore bear as much responsibility for the continuing strife as the Indian military authorities. Stop fighting and trying to secede (at least for a couple of generations) and start working building up society. The state will stop “oppressing” people then.

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    1. Numinous, I think that when foreign muslims love Kashmiris and want to help Kashmiris, we should celebrate.

      They should be invited to come as social workers, volunteers, teachers, professors, and development workers. They should be invited to network with Kashmiris to facilitate business development, cross border product development, trade and investment. They can lobby MNCs to do as much business in Kashmir as possible.

      Kashmiris would likely to grateful. And India will benefit.

      “On Kashmir, the locals therefore bear as much responsibility for the continuing strife as the Indian military authorities. Stop fighting and trying to secede (at least for a couple of generations) and start working building up society. The state will stop “oppressing” people then.”

      This strikes me as slightly unfair. I don’t know enough anecdotes to respond to you definitively . . . but this is not my observation. Kashmiris deserve love and respect.

      If not for the Pakistani Army messing with Kashmiris, Kashmir would likely be a lot richer and more successful than they currently are. Many Kashmiris are sad that so many Kashmiri Pundits, Shia, Sufis, Buddhists and Sikhs have fled.

      The catastrophe of 1989-1990 was externally orchestrated by the Pakistani Army and Afghan Mujahadeen.

      I suspect that many Kashmiris would prefer surging long term capacity, competence and merit. And then use their socio-economic clout and leverage to nonviolently achieve greater autonomy.

      It is wrong to blame Kashmiris for the crimes of the Pakistani Army and Taliban.

      There have been decent honorable people in Hurriyat. People who love and respect India and Pakistan and want to negotiate a win win deal with India and Pakistan in good faith. Sadly this is part of the problem; and why Jihadis attack Hurriyat members so much. 🙁

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    2. Numinous,
      Perhaps you don’t realize that many of us Pakistanis are actually ethnically Kashmiri? We will naturally be concerned about our brothers and sisters on the other side of the LOC.

      Your analogy with Balochistan is completely flawed. Balochistan is not a disputed territory and the Baloch were never promised a referendum. Kashmiris were promised a plebsicite by Pandit Nehru, the tallest leader India has ever had.

      One person’s “secession” is another person’s “liberation”. Pakistanis think that East Pakistan seceded while Bangladeshis think Bangladesh was liberated. East Pakistan was not disputed but was constitutionally part of Pakistan. Yet India helped break it away from Pakistan. It was West Pakistan’s treatment of the East as a colony which led to the disaffection which made India’s actions possible. Similarly, Pakistan would not be able to fan the flames in Kashmir if there was not deep alienation due to what the locals view as India’s Occupation of their land.

      The argument that Kashmiri people should sacrifice self-determination for “development” is a neocolonial one. Dignity and freedom often trump purely economic benefits.

      The Kashmir dispute has existed since 1947 and the insurgency/freedom struggle only began in 1989. Perhaps you should think about India’s actions during the intervening four decades and how they served to alienate the Kashmiri people?

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      1. Are you making an ethical argument or a legal one? I know about Nehru’s promises, but the conditions that created those promises went faded out of relevance a LONG time ago (Pakistan failed to honor its promises too.) I’m trying to think about what’s right today, for Indians, Kashmiris, Pakistanis.

        Where does the logic of self-determination end? If Kashmir becomes independent, and let’s say some village there wants out of Kashmir on the grounds of self-determination, would Kashmir be duty-bound to let, say, Gulmarg become its own nation? What I’ve been trying to argue is that the Indian Constitution allows states to live about as freely as they would if they were independent countries, AS LONG AS they don’t keep fighting for de jure secession. If the urge for such a fight were to disappear, what cause would Kashmiris have to feel discontented being in India? Cause the army would then cease to remain in the valley as well.

        Anyway, I think I’ve said my piece. We are probably going over well-trodden ground now.

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        1. Kashmir is a special case and is not just any Indian state. It is the only Muslim-majority state in India and borders both India and Pakistan, meaning it could have gone either way in 1947. Since the Maharaja was a Hindu Dogra and not a Kashmiri Muslim, he was not inclined to join Pakistan. Sheikh Abdullah was attracted to Nehru’s beliefs and thus was also inclined towards India. Kashmir only acceded to India and did not merge. Article 370 meant India was only supposed to be responsible for defence, currency and foreign affairs while everything else was supposed to be left to Kashmiris. This clearly got whittled down in practice. Sheikh Abdullah was jailed. Elections were rigged etc.

          Since India has become increasingly saffronized, it’s not hard to understand why many Kashmiri Muslims have no interest in being part of the country. Indians are really winning hearts and minds by attacking Kashmiri traders in Lucknow. It’s increasingly clear that India wants the land of Kashmir and really does not care about the Kashmiri people.

          What is best is if India and Pakistan negotiate with the Kashmiri people and find some solution that everyone can live with. Whether that is autonomy for the Valley within India, merging the Valley with Azad Kashmir and leaving Jammu and Ladakh to India or something else I don’t know.

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  6. Find myself right in the middle of opinions expressed here.

    Agree with Kabir and Indthings that the post author puts out BS when he rules out any possibility of native Kashmiri disaffection, and claims the issue purely a Pak invented one. This is ahistorical and in conflict with India’s formal position.

    When one starts from such idiotic primary assumptions, it is then a straight line to the Modi doctrine on Kashmir- an amateurish, short sighted policy that has done serious political damage in 4 short years, and may have forever trashed any goodwill sections of the Central government carried in Srinagar. Classic case of penny-wise-pound-foolish.

    While the very smart commenters at BP have predictable blind spots regarding Savarkarite Nationalism, was still surprised how much conspiratorial theories reg. international press has mainstreamed into this particular bubble! That all negative stories about the Indian execution post-Phulwana is because of personal/ institutional dislike of Modi at NYT / WaPo / Economist editorial offices 😀 Seems a new low in SN conspiracy theorizing- what I would previously have considered preserve of online Islamists/jihadis or InfoWars/blue collar Trump types.

    Risking hyperbole and Godwin’s disaffection, this phenomenon reminded of this tweet (the minority being of reasonable folk : )

    Fascism begins its journey with the impossible task of convincing the majority that they at risk. Once it achieves that through fantastically fabricated lies, it's a smooth road to destruction of any minority they choose.— Sandeep Manudhane (@sandeep_PT) February 12, 2019

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  7. Its amusing to hear Indians adopt the same apologies for imperialism that were formerly used against them by the British, and by Europeans generally against much of the colonized third world. Says a lot about India today.

    Kashmir should give up independence for “development”. Christ. This malicious line was thrown at the Indians by the British so often, it was basically a national sport. Indians, much like Kashmiris, were too stupid to know what was good for them. If they could just pipe down and enjoy the benefits of glorious European development, they would eventually realize British-rule really was for the best.

    As for Kashmiri independence being contingent on what random Muslims across the world are doing, this again echoes a European colonial trope, namely the response of the British/Dutch to the anti-Apartheid movement in South-Africa. Black resistance to the colonial regime in South-Africa was deemed inadmissible by the ruling whites, because there happened to be other human-rights abuses going on across the African-continent perpetrated by Africans.

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  8. “Kashmir should give up independence for “development”. ”

    India is saying this line just to be polite to Kashmiris. I mean, wouldn’t it be awfully rude to tell Kashmiris on their face that India holds Kashmir because it can. 🙂

    In reality, nobody is fooling nobody. Everybody knows that India is in Kashmir thru brute force. The problem for India is that it is not possble to walk away from Kashmir just like that. As Numionus pointed out in an earlier post, India is not post WW II Europe, who understood the pointlessness of borders after paying a horrendous price in blood.

    Also, I know of no Muslim majority country who has been genuinely accepting to its non-Muslim minority. Kashmiri Hindus were chased out even before Kashmiris Muslims dreams of independence were anywhere close. May be that should prompt some reflections.

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    1. When it comes to statecraft its assumed that countries askew morality for naked self-interest. The various apologies crafted to give a veneer of respectability to the horrors that accompany traditional nation-states is expected from government surrogates and a few true believers.

      What alarms me (and many who worry about such things) is the degree to which the general Indian populace is imbibing this nonsense. The level of rabid nationalism seen, particularly in the North, is reaching pre-WW2 Europe levels. And in case anybody accuses me of being coy, yes, I mean Fascist Germany and Italy (which uncoincidentally are the societies the early Hindutvas idolized and based their movement off of).

      With nukes, I’m afraid Pakistan and India won’t have the opportunity to engage in destructive conventional war, and then come to their senses like Europe. They will more likely just destroy each other (and potentially radically destabilize the world).

      Also, the fact that most Hindus were driven out of Kashmir prompts about as many reflections for me, as the fact that most Muslims were driven out of Jammu. These things are common in independence struggles.

      Also, India ranks lower than most Muslim countries in terms of religious hostility towards their minorities (according to Pew’s exhaustive study which I’m linking). http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2018/06/19152145/APPENDIX-C-1.pdf

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      1. Most Hindus (including Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains) don’t understand the concept of “religion.” They have no word for “religion” in their native languages. Most Hindus don’t understand the concept of exclusive religion and think all religions are true and basically the same.

        Because of this, any polls about religion in India are suspect.

        There is extraordinary freedom of thought, feeling and religion in India. Far more than in Europe for example. I think this is a major reason why so many European post modernists criticize India so much.

        Free trade and globalization are more popular in India than in Europe or America.

        “The level of rabid nationalism seen, particularly in the North, is reaching pre-WW2 Europe levels.”

        I don’t understand what this means.

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        1. @AnAn: “They have no word for “religion” in their native languages. Most Hindus don’t understand the concept of exclusive religion and think all religions are true and basically the same.
          Because of this, any polls about religion in India are suspect.”

          This may have been a good argument if the Pew poll had found religious hostilities to be *unusually low* in India, right 🤔

          ‘ “The level of rabid nationalism seen, particularly in the North, is reaching pre-WW2 Europe levels.”
          I don’t understand what this means.’

          I know you mean this sincerely- big part of the problem.

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          1. They wouldn’t understand the question the poll is asking them.

            Have you talked to Indians in India about religion? Most Hindus know next to nothing about Abrahamic religions. Most Hindus vaguely assume that all religions are mostly the same. They don’t understand why the Bible is any different from one of their own spiritual books. [Hindus literally have hundreds of thousands if not millions of holy spiritual books.]

            Some Hindus have now learned that muslims don’t like them reading, writing and speaking about the holy Koran (especially since they understand the Koran through a very eastern philosophical lens.) But many Hindus still have no idea. Many Hindus end up praising the Koran and Mohammed pbuh as they would masters and revealed wisdoms from their own tradition. Completely unaware that they are causing offense. This still happens daily.

            How do you poll a question when the people who are polled don’t understand the question?

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      2. “Also, the fact that most Hindus were driven out of Kashmir prompts about as many reflections for me, as the fact that most Muslims were driven out of Jammu. These things are common in independence struggles.”

        That is nonsense. Unfortunately, that is the status quo in fundamentalist islamic countries due to islam’s fundamental anti-kuffar ideology. But not all Muslims were chased out of India, showing that it’s not hard to protect minority rights if the majority of people really want to.

        Partition was an unique time in Indian subcontinent. If the Muslim league did not instigate the first genocides in Bengal and West Punjab, I doubt the counter genocides would have taken place in East Punjab and else where.

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      3. That is laughable to quote those stats. Everyone knows being a Hindu in Pakistan and Bangladesh is like being garbage in many instances. The status of christians, parsis, ahmadis and shias in sunni dominated pakistan is also far from ideal. Islamic fundamentalism with regards to kuffars has increased in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and the old sufi influenced coexistence has been killed.

        India varies within itself. The fact is Muslims in south india have no minority right problems, and they are a higher % than Hindus in Muslim South Asian countries.

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  9. The English imposed post modernist structuralist marxism on their colonies to colonize their minds with inferiority complex and guilt to damage self confidence, divide and conquer. To keep their subjects down and weak.

    The English imposed big government license Raj fabian socialism on their colonies to keep them poor.

    The English did not allow meritocratic promotion in their colonial institutions until the 1930s, damaging their competence and capacity.

    At home English taught their own people European enlightenment classical liberalism. At home England had low regulation, simple regulation, low government spending, low taxes.

    England did not give massive foreign aid to their colonies.

    This hypocrisy–one rule for you and another rule for me–was extraordinary.

    Indians regard Kashmiris as their own people and treat Kashmiris like their own people. Kashmir’s elected state government and districts enjoy extraordinary autonomy. India gives Kashmir vast financial transfers every year.

    This is a mixed blessings since India exports Indian dysfunction to Kashmir.

    Indthings and Lizard Catcher, how would you persuade the Pakistani Army not to try to destroy Kashmir, including a possible future independent Kashmir?

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  10. I think India has achieved some sort of equilibrium in Kashmir. It has done its calculations, and realized that if it keeps 100 thousand troops in Kashmir, and is willing to absorb the loss of a couple of hundred security personnel every year, it can keep Kashmir forever.

    Come to think of think of it, it is still much less than what China is paying to keep Xinjiang. In addition to the cost of the army, China is also paying for the re-education of a million Uighurs, presumably picking the tabs for their “dorm” housing in and tuition fees. 🙂

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    1. “Come to think of think of it, it is still much less than what China is paying to keep Xinjiang”

      It s a wrong view, long term the Chinese solution is a better one. What Xinjiang is today , Tibet was yesterday. Do you hear more of those inflammable Tibetan monks anymore? Xiajiang is similarly just a 10-20 year old problem (or perhaps even less) for Chinese and then it wont be.

      Whether India can do it or not that’s a different matter altogether

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  11. The essence is an anachronistic, anti-civilisation’s movement which suppresses any freedom, where you do not have two guys who can think differently (women not allowed to think at all), where the term intellectual is a grotesque oxymoron, which has a mafia rule that you cannot leave and eventually move to any other movement, where you have morons who believe that if they die for the movement, 77 virgins will wait them up there making grandpa Hajj very busy in his scouting job.

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  12. Responding to the analogy between Indian administration of Kashmir and the British Raj:

    The British claimed to be civilizing India, not developing it, whatever “development” might mean. In fact, for most of the Raj, Indians were next taxpayers to the Empire, which in India was run on a shoestring budget. Compare that to the millions the Indian state has poured into Kashmir for decades (just counting the non-military expenditures.)

    The British also never acquiesced in de jure or de facto racial equality between Indians and their white rulers. Indians, and the Indian Consititution, has abjured any form of racial inequality or suppression of ethnic particularities (like religion or language.) Kashmiris have the same rights in India as any other Indian, should they choose to claim them.

    I’m not denying that Kashmiris feel oppressed by the Army presence in their daily lives, but that presence is a response to the secessionist impulse, rather than the impulse being a reaction to the oppression.

    All in all, flawed analogy.

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    1. “Indians were “NET” taxpayers to the Empire, which in India was run on a shoestring budget. ”
      Nicely said. Precious little development happened in India during the Raj. England’s post WWII competent administration on Hong Kong is not how the English governed India 1858-1947.

      ” Kashmiris have the same rights in India as any other Indian, should they choose to claim them.”

      Many Kashmiris do use their rights. Many Kashmiris study at Indian schools and universities and conduct business in India. The Kashmiri economy is almost completely integrated into India. Some parts of Kashmir even have a gentrification challenge! [Albeit more gentrification would be nice.]

      From 1989-2001 the war in Kashmir was heavily driven by foreign Jihadi Islamist fighters. After 9/11 violence in Kashmir fell about 90% to 95% since the Taliban redeployed from Kashmir to fight the emerging Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

      Kashmir has many different factions. Global Jihadis backed by Deep State. Proxies of the deep state who are not interested in a global caliphate. Kashmiris who favor independence, Kashmiris who favor autonomy. Kashmirirs who favor staying in India. Kashmiris who have other preferences.

      Global Jihadis and the deep state attack Kashmiris who favor independence and Kashmiris who favor autonomy.

      This is why Kashmiris who favor independence and Kashmiris who favor autonomy tend to be anti Pakistani Army and anti Jihadi.

      However they also have grievances with their own elected state and local governments and with the central government.

      Jihadis (backed by Deep State) are one of the largest reasons the Kashmiri economy isn’t more prosperous and one of the largest reasons why Kashmiri institutions are not more competent.

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      One analogy for some districts in the Kashmiri Valley might be the case of Fallujah in Iraq from 2004 to now. Many Fallujans did not like the central Iraqi government and most Iraqis and the Iraqi Army. Fallujah wanted autonomy. However when the Iraqi state (and in 2004 US Marines) pulled back, Fallujah was conquered by Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda’s long term goal was and is to conquer and rule the world. From Fallujah Al Qaeda organized many terrorist attacks that killed vast numbers of civilians in the rest of Iraq and outside Iraq. Eventually the Iraqi public demanded that the Iraqi state re-conquer and re annex Fallujah. The Iraqi Army in collaboration with US Marines re-occupied Fallujah.

      But by the time Fallujah was re-occupied, 95% of the local population had fled the rule of Al Qaeda or been slaughtered for being lesser muslims. Fallujah was almost completely destroyed by the time Al Qaeda was driven out.

      Today Fallujans still have mixed feelings about the Iraqi Government and Iraqi Army, but understand that they need the Iraqi Army to avoid being slaughtered by Daesh/ISIS/Al Qaeda.

      If districts in the Kashmir Valley get independence then they are likely to be conquered by global Jihadis (including the Taliban) who favor a global caliphate. A genocide is likely to be organized against “lesser muslims”. And by the time these areas are liberated from Jihadi occupiers, these areas might be destroyed.

      For this reason giving districts in the Kashmiri Valley independence is impractical in the short run. Which isn’t to say that many Kashmiris don’t favor long term independence. Their feelings about the Indian Army are mixed.

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      The term Taliban is nebulous. For this reason many call Al Qaeda “Arab Taliban.” Many call JeM, LeT, LeJ, Sipah e Sahaba, Jundullah etc. “Punjabi Taliban”. IJU/IMU might be called central Asian Taliban. There are also many Chechen Taliban and Uighur Taliban.

      For the moment the Taliban are busy fighting the Afghan National Army. But should some of them redeploy to fight in Kashmir (as was the case 1989-2001), Kashmir is likely to explode.

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  13. Kabir, Pakistani professions of genuine sympathy and identification with Kashmiris would carry some weight if young folks spanning class and region were crossing the border. But they are overwhelmingly, poor, marginalized Muslim youth, mainly from south Punjab.

    The Pakistani elite is making cynical use of Kashmiri diasaffection with the Indian state and the desperation of its hapless mass to fight India. I still remember the pronouncements from various Pakistani leaders and journalists that bomb blasts in Mumbai and Delhi were happening to due to ‘mistreatment of Muslims in India’. Pakistan also supported the Khalistan violence, despite Punjab not being a ‘disputed territory’.

    This cynical use of the Muslim mass as a bulwark and weapon against Hindus has deep structural roots in the absence of genuine democracy in Pakistan and the scriptural sanction for violence on the slightest provocation. This is further buttressed by notions of racial and cultural superiority.

    Basically, Pakistan’s Muslim elite see their own mass as expendable and Hindus as subhuman. The Kashmir situation and other Hindu-Muslim tensions in India become a platform for them to express their violence and contempt.

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    1. Go ahead and ignore the elephant in the room. Kashmiri Muslims hate India, which they see as Occupying their land. India must address the alienation in Srinagar. But of course it’s much easier for you to lecture us about Pakistan’s problems.

      It’s not Pakistan that makes Hindu Indians attack Kashmiri Muslims in mainland India and film it.

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      1. The vicious snake in the room is Pakistan’s army which already has the blood of 3 million Bangladeshis and 1 million Afghans on its sordid hands, not to mention the lives of all the Pakistanis it has ruined. Only those Kashmiris poisoned by its venom ‘hate India’.

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        1. Sure its all Pakistan’s fault. I guess expecting you to have the ability to introspect is too much.

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  14. I think after the whole event i feel, at least for India, this whole thing of “We won the war , but threw away on the diplomatic table” thing would stop (1965, 1971 Pakistani POWs). Even after Mumbai they sort of pushed the narrative that they were ready (to hit Pak) but the politicians were not. While the politicians too pushed the narrative thru media channels that it was the opposite.

    Perhaps for the first time the IAF is seen as incompetent , either for missing the target/not causing enough damage, or coming second best in the subsequent fight with PAF. Then they see as their actions reflect poorly on the politicians who gave them a go ahead, and still international observers are sort of less than impressed of what they achieved. So the onus is on the politician(Modi) to fashion a military stalemate/failure into a strategic/diplomatic win. This has created a image that a politician has to carry their water, perhaps unheard of in India’s civ-mil history.

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    1. Saurav, why do you see the IAF as incompetent? Is the problem that most civilians understand practically zero about military matters?

      My observation is that over 80% of journalists who extensively cover military matters (for example journalists who embed with militaries) understand very little about how militaries work. They are similar to 4 year olds sitting in in an academic conference where PhDs and professors are discussing high resolution details.

      [FYI, the Pakistani Air Force is very competent.]

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  15. Check out this video in which an apparently high ranking Pakistani Army officer is “consoling” the families of the people killed at Balkot. In reality, just brainwashing and misguinding them in the name of Islam.
    The video has been leaked by a Pakistani American activist.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q5J0x0wyEE

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