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Shaukat Qadir |

It took all these years of death, torture, rape, and mayhem on the hapless people of Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) for the world to finally awaken to their sufferings at the hands of Indian state forces.

Ironically, just as the world seems to have awakened, Pakistan seems to have lost interest. One can only wonder why?

When the indigenous uprising against Indian rule in IHK took everybody by surprise, it was led by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front which, as its name suggests, sought a unified, [Independent] Kashmir.

IHK went through numerous transitions. At its inception, IHK had its own flag, its own Prime Minister [not Chief Minister], and its own judicial system. It was, in all but reality, an independent state.

In 1965, when Pakistan undertook its ill-advised, ill-planned and disastrous venture to liberate it, the people of IHK had reconciled to being under Indian rule. They did not merely refused to support their so-called liberators but even proactively supported Indian troops.

Read more: Why isn’t the world talking about Kashmir?

In 1989, when the indigenous uprising against Indian rule in IHK took everybody by surprise, it was led by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front which, as its name suggests, sought a unified, [Independent] Kashmir. Since a separatist movement did not suit Pakistan, JKLF was deliberately undermined and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference came into being.

In an effort to support Indian Kashmiris, Pakistan also helped give their movement an Islamic hue, which encouraged Muslim freedom fighters to join their cause. This was destined to be a disastrous move.

Foreign Muslims had no empathy for local people — their cause and conditions. Many among these fighters merely sought to win support by ‘terrorizing the locals more than Indians’. And, consequently, alienated them totally.

A few years later, Indian Kashmiris were getting fed up of both countries.

The uprising is led by Kashmiri youth. These are youngsters who hid and saw their mothers and sisters raped and buried their tortured fathers, uncles, and brothers. They won’t give up.

The Kargil misadventure was the final straw. Kashmiris had enthusiastically rallied to this when it began. But, when it ended as disastrously as it did, the Kashmiri people finally lost all hope from Pakistani support.

The most recent uprising in IHK is again a separatist movement. What is more, it’s one that has deliberately and, as a matter of policy, spurned any assistance. Consequently, only a few of the fighters possess weapons. Most people are armed with stones and sticks.

Read more: Is Kashmir slipping away from India?

The uprising is led by Kashmiri youth. These are youngsters who hid and saw their mothers and sisters raped and buried their tortured fathers, uncles, and brothers. They are not prepared to be ruled and/or subordinated by either country. And they won’t give up. I wrote a couple of years ago that, ‘if we offered support, the stones and sticks may be turned on us as well’. Perhaps that answers my initial question about why Pakistan is not as involved as it should be.

In 1965, when Pakistan undertook its ill-advised, ill-planned, and disastrous venture to liberate Kashmir, the people there had reconciled to being under Indian rule.

Whereas, there is no doubt in the sane minds in India, Pakistan, or anywhere else that, if the Kashmiris have reached this level of determined weapon-less struggle for liberty, it is because consecutive Indian governments have driven them that far. There is also little doubt that Pakistan’s repeated errors have also disillusioned the freedom fighters of any Pakistani ‘assistance’.

This has been among my principal reasons for doubting Indian accusations of fighters penetrating the manned and fenced Line of Control (LoC) from Pakistani side to execute attacks on Indian troops and posts.

Having some humble experience of this kind of warfare, I am fully conscious that despite fencing, installing alarms and lights, and manning of the LOC, any small, determined, and well-trained group can always infiltrate. The problem in such ventures invariably is in the extraction stage. That is virtually impossible without visibility — in the form of air/artillery support or local support which, given the current mood, is bound to be in extremely short supply. Even if some sympathy were, very reluctantly, available, these individuals run the terrible risk of being locally ostracized. An unacceptable risk.

I must admit being deeply troubled by one odd aspect. For some time now, it seems that whenever our Prime Minister is at odds with the Army, the LoC heats up.

Consequently, when the Indian state and armed forces accuse Pakistan of being militantly active in IHK, I find that very difficult to swallow.

However, given our history of mutual mistrust, errors of judgment, misadventures, and the immediate support from masses that an accusation against Pakistan can still arouse in India, I can understand that finding another made-to-order scapegoat in Pakistan is always useful, especially with the ‘ever-loyal’ Indian media that will buy and sell such an accusation enthusiastically.

Read more: Kashmir: An integral part of India, the most militarized zone in the world

But, I must admit being deeply troubled by one odd aspect. For some time now, it seems that whenever our Prime Minister is at odds with the Army, the LoC heats up.

This has been particularly visible since the Indian accusation of an attack at Uri last year when Gen Raheel Sharif’s departure was due. This was soon followed by DAWN Leaks. Again, when DAWN Leaks was back in the headlines recently, Indian hostility over the LOC peaked.

I am not a ‘conspiracy theorist’ and, I am the last person to think that there might be a collusion between the PMs of the two hostile states. Furthermore, I have repeatedly asserted that of the available choices, in my view, “our current PM does my country the least damage”. But, I am also very skeptical about repeated coincidences.

Perhaps, it may be a coincidence but perhaps there are some Indian individuals who, without our PM’s knowledge, seek to reduce the weight on him when he is under pressure. And, very recently, there was the mysterious visit by Mr. Jindal; and now, the even more mysterious poor defense of our case against Jadhav before the International Court of Justice.

If, I repeat, if there is an Indian interest in unilaterally ‘assisting’ the current government, the billion dollar question is: why?

A puzzle I cannot solve.

Shaukat Qadir is a retired brigadier. He is also former vice president and founder of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). This article was first published in Daily Times and is republished here with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Shaukat Qadir is a retired brigadier. He is also former vice president and founder of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI).

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