Fifteen Years after the Kargil War and the Kashmir Dispute

Fifteen Years after the Kargil War and the Kashmir Dispute

By Haifa Peerzada

It has been 15 years since Kargil War ended and yet there does not seem to be any substantial improvement in the estranged relations between India and Pakistan. Let us take a sneak preview of the last 15 years to see the recurring events and compare them with the fundamental trends. This is an essential exercise, to see where the existential rivalry between India and Pakistan stands today, which has not helped the resolution of the Kashmir dispute in so far as inter-state axis of the issue, is concerned. The so called peace process or the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan has been more of a roller coaster ride, as the obstacles in the peace process have not abated, even till date.

In that context, military crises between India and Pakistan are nothing new. Since the 1980’s, there have been four major military crises between India and Pakistan, which includes Brasstacks from 1986-87, the Compound crisis of 1990, the 1999 Kargil War and the 2001-02 crisis following the Indian parliament bombing. The Kargil War of 1999 which was construed as a limited war at the time as India did not declare an all-out war on Pakistan yet fought a war to defend its territory in the interest of national security. This was a watershed military crisis between India and Pakistan as it happened just a year after they tested their nuclear weapons in 1998. The apprehension of an all – out nuclear war between India and Pakistan, which also evoked an international response, forced the two to de-escalate the crisis and respect the ceasefire line as agreed upon during the Shimla Agreement of 1971.

The Kargil War also unveiled a disconnect between the civilian and military leadership in both the countries especially Pakistan, which culminated in a military coup in which General Parvez Musharraf took the reins of Pakistan in his hand. Before the Kargil War in 1999, India and Pakistan signed the Lahore Declaration, in which the two reiterated their commitment to peace between the two, while the Pakistani Army was preparing for an infiltration into the Indian Territory and the crisis began in May, 1999. Despite this, the willingness remained but it did not last long enough as again there were apprehensions on the Indian side that Pakistan is sponsoring terrorism on the Indian soil, which was followed by the 2001-02 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. India, however after this, conducted a mass military mobilization at the borders called Operation Parakaram. India considered this exercise of coercive diplomacy as a success but this did not serve any purpose rather wreaked havoc, as it could not prevent another terrorist attack from across the border in 2008 on Mumbai popularly known as 26/11. Therefore as a recurring event of this sort happened, it can be reasonably construed that the pre-emptive attacks from across the border did not abate, which stalled the peace process between India and Pakistan that began in 2004.

In 2009 during the Sharm-el-Sheikh accord between India and Pakistan, again the two reiterated their willingness to make peace and resolve the areas of discord between the two. However, this willingness did not get much domestic support in both the countries and also did not bridge the trust deficit between the two as the memory of Mumbai terror attack was still vividly represented in the collective conscience of India. In 2012, there was again hope of revival of the peace process between the two as they resumed the composite dialogue which was stalled in the wake of terror attack on Mumbai. However, since January of 2013 ceasefire violations became a common ground, further perpetuating the distrust and mutual hatred, shrouded in negativity. Media has its role to play in aggravating that perception of negativity which further does not allow the two to de-escalate the tensions between them. While media could have played a constructive role in crisis management and even peace building, but they have been presenting a distorted picture of the ground reality which is obvious in the way people continue to remain oblivious of the situation in Kashmir.

Now, the future of peace process between the two seems to be in doldrums again in the backdrop of continued ceasefire violations underscored by Government’s order UNMOGIP to end their mission in Delhi. The primary mandate of UNMOGIP of monitoring the ceasefire line between the two could play an important role in international crisis management which could provide grounds for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute as between India and Pakistan. Despite the limited mandate UNMOGIP  has, it has failed to deliver in the earnest after the Shimla Agreement of 1971, and in that sense has become irrelevant as far as the resolution of the Kashmir dispute is concerned. The significance of UNMOGIP as far as Kashmir is concerned remains a moot point, but the fact that it has failed to deliver on its mandate has put a question mark on its existence as the oldest peace keeping mission of the UN in the world, which was established in 1947. However symbolic its value has been for Kashmir, it does not concretise into something that would substantially help the peace process between the two.

In the end, it is important to mention here that symbolism that the UN represents in the minds and hearts of people of Kashmir has to be turned into something more concrete. The scrapping of UNMOGIP from Delhi evoked a lot of debate on its value and significance, but it is a non-issue if we look at the larger picture. The larger picture should comprise of an initiative from India and Pakistan as far as Kashmir dispute is concerned because without that even mediation would not help.

Mediation requires consent of the conflict parties involved and in this conundrum, India has always shown unwillingness of accepting any outside intervention, while Pakistan on the contrary always supports to internationalise the issue which may or may not be a stance taken by them for meeting the interests of Kashmiri people. However ambiguous the stance taken by the two is, the fact is and remains that negotiation continues to remain the best possible option to find a way out of the Kashmir dispute, provided the two don’t indulge in negative sum bargaining. Despite the willingness from both the countries to engage in a constructive peace dialogue, trust deficit, mutual hatred and suspicion between the two has hindered any steps towards resolving the issues between them. The two states should sincerely work towards the resolution of the dispute by keeping their inflated egos in check and by detaching themselves from the political symbolism attached to Kashmir coupled with confidence building measures which would bridge the trust deficit between the two. Without this any step towards resolving the dispute would be a non-starter and it is high time that we acknowledge it now.

What about the Women: The Missing Voice at the Peacemaking Table

What about the Women: The Missing Voice at the Peacemaking Table

By Sthelyn Romero

As war and conflict continue to plague our world and the international community attempts to negotiate peace, an important question to ask is where are all the women? It is clear that what is missing from the negotiating table is women. This highlights the growing gap between global commitments to peace and the harsh realities of the peace process itself. Many countries are starting to incorporate women into peace negotiations but is female participation effective? Can women influence the language that goes into these peace agreements?

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Grassroots Level Democracy in Kashmir

Grassroots Level Democracy in Kashmir

By Haifa Peerzada

As the elections are underway for a much awaited change of political leadership in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, some of the basic essentials of good governance have not been given much attention or they have been ignored. With the killing of a Sarpanch associated with PDP, the issue of fragile self-governance at local levels in Jammu and Kashmir has again come to fore. This issue cuts right at the core of a larger issue which seeks to devolve more powers to the local authorities which may in turn lead to better development and good governance, free of corruption. But even this seems to be co-opted by the power politics in which various political parties religiously indulge.

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Why A Referendum in Crimea?

Why A Referendum in Crimea?

By Irina Savchenko

NB: This is an updated version of the article posted earlier on March 13th, 2014

referendum is to take place in Crimea on the 16th of March, 2014, about whether or not the Crimean peninsula will join Russia. This was announced a mere ten days before the referendum date. The timing is of the essence obviously; the question is, why now? Why suddenly Ukraine became a physical play-ground between the West and Russia? Is it due to the long tensions building up between the USA and Russia or due to the recent overthrow of Mr. Yanukovich? These and many other questions need to be answered, as Ukrainian future is being shaped.

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Senate Strikes A Blow at the Heart of the US Criminal Justice System

Senate Strikes A Blow at the Heart of the US Criminal Justice System

by Ross Kleinstuber

It is rare that the US Congress can do anything that gets me riled up anymore.  I have come to expect so little from the institution, but today, the US Senate, by denying Debo Adegbile’s appointment to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, struck a blow at the heart of the American criminal justice system.

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Power Struggle over Ukraine: Systemic Observations

Power Struggle over Ukraine: Systemic Observations

By Zenonas Tziarras

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The Syrian civil war and now Ukraine. These are only two examples of crises over which the United States and Russia have bumped heads recently. Some might be tempted to call this a “new Cold War,” but it’s really not. Yes, the geopolitical competition and power struggle might be obvious and similar. And even the race for maximizing the spheres of influence. But the ideological context is different and therefore there is no clash of politico-economic systems, not to mention that calling the current international system “bipolar” is simplistic, to say the least. What we have now is a primarily intra-systemic, capitalist, geo-economic competition fueled and exacerbated by identity politics, history and national security considerations. Continue reading

Omar Abdullah on BBC Hard Talk

Omar Abdullah on BBC Hard Talk

by Haifa Peerzada

The BBC Hard talk with Omar Abdullah was quite intriguing, interesting and definitely elicits some reflection. In the first instance, what caught my attention was that the host, Stephen Sackur attributed the talk to the Prospects for Peace in Kashmir after introducing Mr. Omar Abdullah, the Chief Minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. So the impression that it gave me in the first place was that there would be an objective analysis of this long standing dispute with its chief minister. I was in fact hoping for it to be one of the milestone talks by Omar Abdullah that would create ripples in India and the world. Another thing that made it interesting was the location of the talk. This talk was held in front of an audience at Delhi. Though everyone told me not to expect much of objectivity from a politician speaking in New Delhi about “Kashmir”, yet I thought I must still watch it and without holding any pre-conceived notions I watched it. Following are some of my observations about the talk, which I thought I could share with everyone.

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The Hegemony of Money

The Hegemony of Money

By Zenonas Tziarras

A few days ago, Jon Steward hosted Mrs. Nancy Pelosi, a United States Congresswoman from the Democratic Party, to discuss with her American politics under the Obama administration. Her admissions and comments were very interesting as well as revealing about the nature not only of American economy and politics but also of the international political and economic system.

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Framing Environmental Degradation as a Security Issue: A Theoretical Inquiry

Framing Environmental Degradation as a Security Issue: A Theoretical Inquiry

By Ioana Cerasella Chis

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For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.

They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game,

but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.

- Audre Lorde

The sentiment expressed by Lorde[1] (made in the context of fighting different forms of oppression) is a sentiment that is shared by the argument developed in this paper. Whilst it is acknowledged that there is a lot of debate within security studies, as to its conceptualization of events, it is argued here that the whole paradigm of securitization is fundamentally misconceived. This argument is made in relation to securitization debates and practices concerning environmental degradation.

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Corruption, Stigmatization, and Innocence

Corruption, Stigmatization, and Innocence

by Begüm Burak

Turkey has been undergoing a serious transformation process identified with democratization policies under the rule of Justice and Development Party (JDP). However, certain turbulent affairs like that of Gezi protests have also been witnessed to have undermined democratization to an important degree. The hegemony of the JDP rule has been challenged in Gezi protests among different circles in the Turkish society. During the Gezi affair, liberals, environmentalists, hard-core Kemalists, and ultra-nationalists –a hybrid coalition—acted together to oppose the JDP rule.

After a few months, another issue has come to the fore. This time the JDP government has begun to lose hegemony among some other segments of society. The plan to shut down prep schools without fixing the problems of state schooling caused a large number of people’s worries and the attempt to shut down prep schools was treated as a blow to free enterprise and a blow to equality of opportunities in terms of education. Because in Turkey, centralized exams are taken in order to get university education, and despite the fact that state schools present quite different education levels, all students have to take the same exam to study in universities.

Education has been one of the critical areas through which the Gülen movement (Hizmet-Service movement) has been engaged in its dialogue-based activities. In Turkey, prep schools are important sites wherein the followers of the Hizmet Movement work as teachers. Thus, the government’s plan to shut down prep schools was naturally disliked by the Hizmet movement. That is why the newspapers close to the Hizmet Movement have continued to report and make news regarding education problems and prep school issue in Turkey. Also, on twitter, this issue has been made TT for several days.

Indeed, the Hizmet Movement is a non-state and non-governmental movement which has tried to keep away from daily political debates. However, the recent developments and corruption crisis occurred in Turkey has shadowed its apolitical character. Additionally, the political elites after the outbreak of the corruption scandal has stigmatized it as a “parallel state” structure hand in hand with the external forces to undermine the stability of the country. It should be stated that, the accusations made against Hizmet have also been produced during the February 28 Process (1997) when a post-modern military intervention took place in Turkey. However, this time the same scenario is drawn by different actors again labeling Hizmet as a crime unit.

Today, many think that the government is trying to cover up the corruption scandal by putting the blame on imagined enemies like interest lobby or crime units. Apparently, the executive branch is putting pressure upon the judiciary in addition to exercising a power over police force by removing hundreds of them. Unfortunately, the Hizmet Movement as one of the leading civilian movements contributing to intercultural dialogue and peace in the world has been labeled as one of the players to destabilize Turkey by the pro-government press too. This thesis was totally rejected by the Association of Journalists and Writers, an NGO affiliated with the Hizmet Movement. Here is what they declared the day before.

In short, Turkey has been going through hard days. I hope the New Year will bring justice for all and a strong democracy.