Kashmir kept in Cold Freezer
By Asif Haroon Raja
When it comes to the question of honour and dignity, then the tangible superiority, or diplomatic and economic superiority doesn’t matter. For the defence of the motherland and to protect the dignity and honour of the nation, all materialist ambitions and internal feuds should be set aside, and everything in hand sacrificed to push out the offenders and to eliminate the conspirators.
The Afghan Mujahideen did it in the 1980s and the Afghan Taliban repeated it in 2021. On both occasions, the Lilliputians defeated the Goliaths because of their cohesion, unity and abiding faith in Allah. The leaders and the led fought hand in hand and they braved the difficulties equally. The TTA achieved the miracle on their own and without external support.
During Napoleon’s campaign in Russia, when the Corps of Marshal Michael Ney was encircled while withdrawing from Leningrad to Moscow and was asked to surrender, he replied, “Marshal’s do not surrender”, and he fought his way out of the encirclement after a savage fight.
When ten times superior Indian forces invaded the encircled and isolated EP, although the heavily outnumbered troops fought with extraordinary grit and determination despite the extremely heavy odds, the senior leadership buckled down and drowned their sacrifices in the sea of humiliation. The defenders of Hilli who had blunted repeated attacks of Indian 20 Mountain Division from 21 Nov till 4 FF was ordered to withdraw on 11 Dec, had to bear the shame of surrender. Lt Gen AAK Niazi in command of 45000 regular and irregular forces could have made history had he opted to die fighting like a tiger instead of surrendering. Defiance might have opened an honorable avenue of exit and possibly a political resolution of ‘confederation’.
India, supported by the USSR, annexed East Pakistan in Dec 1971 through treachery and subversion. No Pakistani leader pledged to avenge the defeat and wash off the humiliation. All aspired for friendship with India and went an extra mile to keep India appeased.
Pakistan didn’t untie the knot with the duplicitous USA despite its betrayal in the 1965 war and in the 1971 war. A policy of one-sided appeasement was adopted.
With this mindset, Kashmir which had emerged as the unfinished agenda of the Partition and the chief bone of contention between the two neighbours was never taken seriously and was put in the cold freezer. No long-term Kashmir policy was framed and India was given a free hand to consolidate its hold over the disputed territory. Only a reactive policy was adopted. Even on the diplomatic front, no meaningful effort was made to counter the Indian narratives and the disinformation campaign.
Without Kashmir, Pakistan is incomplete and without the free flow of water in our rivers, Pakistan’s survival is impossible. India was allowed to build over 60 small, medium and large dams over the three eastern rivers and to indulge in water terrorism.
It is dismaying to know that all our civil and military leaders did politics with Kashmir. Many in the army earned promotions by posing as peacetime Napoleons while some made profits.
The game started when Liaqat Ali Khan accepted Jawahar Lal Nehru’s request for a ceasefire at a time when our brave hearts had turned the tide of the 1948 war. Maj Gen Akbar who wanted the war to continue and had made plans to interdict the vulnerable lines of communication was court martialled and imprisoned.
Nehru duped our leaders by making a false pledge that he would resolve the issue by granting the right of self-determination to the Kashmiris. Thereon he kept buying time and absorbing Kashmir into the Indian Union through fake elections, buying the loyalties of puppets in Kashmir and affecting changes in the Indian Constitution. The UN and other world powers remained tilted towards India.
Field Marshal Ayub Khan was the only leader who made an earnest effort to liberate Kashmir through use of force, but luck didn’t favour him and Op Gibraltar and Op Grand Slam couldn’t meet its planned objectives. Yet he had made Pakistan armed forces a robust fighting machine which was able to defeat the nefarious designs of six times superior Indian armed forces that had vowed to destroy the Pak military in the battle of Chawinda in the 1965 War. He has several other feathers in his cap for which the nation should remain grateful, but the chronic army haters paint him in black.
Tashkent Accord was not a sell off of Kashmir as falsely alleged by ZA Bhutto, but Simla Accord in 1972 was the first sell off. Bhutto agreed to convert the ceasefire line in Kashmir into Line of Control (LOC), and both mutually consented to convince their respective people to accept the LOC as a permanent border between the two Kashmirs’. Third party involvement was replaced with bilateralism which favored India since it could buy time and parry the UN intervention.
Gen Ziaul Haq was the only leader who had a vision of liberating Kashmir. While he mandated the ISI to carry out biggest proxy war in Afghanistan in the 1980s without the involvement of any other agency, he triggered the Khalistan movement and fixed his periscope on Kashmir. After the defeat of the Soviet forces in 1988 and their readiness to quit in Feb 1989, it was very easy to take on Kashmir. India was internally at its weakest in the late 1980s and Pakistan had acquired weaponized nuclear capability. Gen Zia had planned to link Khalistan movement with the Kashmiri freedom movement. After the ten-year experience in covert war, the ISI was in sound position to push out the Indian occupying forces from IOK; Gulbadin Hikmatyar had pledged to send one lac Mujahideen to the aid of Kashmiris who had taken part in the Afghan Jihad.
Gen Zia had gained tremendous influence and popularity in the Pashtun belt of Afghanistan, and was all set to introduce Islamic system. This was not to the liking of the western powers and it became obligatory to bump him off. He along with many generals were killed in an air crash in Aug 1988. His departure was rejoiced by Russia, India, and his detractors at home which included the PPP and the liberals.
After his death, all the plans made for the liberation of Kashmir were shelved. Benazir, Nawaz Sharif (NS), Gen Musharraf and Zardari favored friendly ties with India and played politics to damage Kashmiri freedom movement. None exploited the armed uprising in IOK which had nailed down 7 lacs of Indian forces in the narrow Kashmir Valley. All favoured converting LOC into a permanent border, not realising that it would not quench the thirst of expansionist India. None took the Kashmiris in the loop while engaging in peace talks with India.
NS claimed that Kashmir resolution was round the corner when Vajpayee visited Lahore in Jan 1999, but lamented that his hand-picked Gen Musharraf stabbed him in the back by launching Operation Dras-Kargil on his own. In his second tenure, he cultivated personal friendship with Indian PM Gujral, and in his third term he established business ties with Modi and business tycoon Jindal. Gen Musharraf took the steam out of Kashmiri freedom struggle after signing peace deal with India in 2004, allowing India to fence LOC, floated the out of box solution and divided APHC. Zardari declared the Kashmiri freedom fighters as terrorists. To restart the suspended composite dialogue that were snapped after the Mumbai attacks in Nov 2008, NS agreed with Modi at the Uffa meeting in 2015 to accord higher priority to terrorism over Kashmir. Imran Khan (IK) desired friendship with Modi soon after he took over in 2018, but the latter declined to meet him. Reportedly, both IK and Gen Qamar Bajwa tried to arrange Modi’s visit to Pakistan in April 2021.
When India illegally annexed the disputed territory of IOK on Aug 5, 2019, that was the time when Pakistan should have gone all out to free Kashmir from the cruel clutches of fascist and racist India. Nothing else should have mattered after the jugular vein was severed. At least covert operations should have been stepped up in Kashmir and some other disturbed regions of India.
But like the former leaders, IK and Gen Bajwa favoured a similar outcome of the Kashmir dispute as envisaged by the predecessors and they continued with the old apologetic and defensive policy in spite of India’s intense firings across the LOC and Working Boundary, surgical strikes and other offensive acts.
A tacit understanding was given to Trump and Pentagon during the visit of the two to Washington in July 2019. Trump’s mediation offer was meant to guarantee the safety of AJK and GB. Both were informed about Modi’s plan of changing the special status of IOK and they were told to control the people. 21-gun salute to Gen Bajwa by Pentagon, who was retiring in Nov that year, was a clear indication that he had consented, and it was decided that he will be given a three years extension.
It is most distressing that Pakistan’s policy makers allowed India to usurp IOK without a whimper. The Indian brutes were permitted to carry out genocide and rapes of locked down Kashmiris in the biggest military garrison and open prison. Encouraged by pacifist response from Pakistan, Modi went ahead with his plan to change the demography and culture of Kashmir by settling non-Muslims and letting them buy lands and marrying Muslim Kashmiri girls. He is now welcoming foreign business tycoons as well as G-20 to invest and build business empires and resorts in the Kashmir Valley.
The abject plight of the Indian Muslims, rendered stateless and treated as 2nd rated citizens of India and brutally oppressed, doesn’t bother the insensitive elite class in Pakistan, which is smug in their money-making ventures, and in infighting for power. They are least concerned about the dangerous designs of India wanting to fragment Pakistan into four parts.
The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence, security & political analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan & director Measac Research Centre. email@example.com