Homeland Security

J&K is much more than the Valley
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 10 Nov , 2015

J&K politics dominated by Sunnis of Kashmir have been completely insensitive to the pains and aspirations of Shias of the state. It is ironic that whenever there is talk of people to people contact, there is not even a faint mention about the desirability of connect between people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kargil region. It appears that there is tacit gifting of Gilgit-Baltistan to Pakistan, the same Pakistan which till 2005 designated the region as ‘Northern Areas’ and directly ruled it from Islamabad till 2009, as if it was an area without soul ‘for the military and by the military.’

J&K politics dominated by Sunnis of Kashmir have been completely insensitive to the pains and aspirations of Shias of the state.

This lack of sensibility to Gilgit-Baltistan seems to extend to the Indian establishment as well. Kargil conflict was perhaps the result of acceptance that nothing could be done to salvage the region from Pakistan. They thought it was fait accompli. This attitude or approach impaired our defence preparedness and Musharraf took advantage of it.

There are several reports to suggest that there is a concerted attempt by the Pakistani establishment to reduce the Shias to minority in Gilgit-Baltistan. Sunnis, as incentives have been given lucrative jobs to settle in the region. The Northern Light Infantry is being increasingly being manned by non-locals. The International Crisis Group report says: “Since 2001, Shia resentment over inclusion of Sunni religious rituals and perceived anti-Shia basis in text books in public school has resulted in school boycotts and occasional clashes and curfews”.

Pakistan’s treachery in not claiming the bodies of the soldiers of Northern Light Infantry, just because they were Shias belonging to the Gilgit-Baltistan region, did not stir the conscience of pro-Pak elements in the Kashmir Valley.

…there is absolutely no affinity, linguistic or cultural, between the people of Kashmir Valley and the PoK.

Kashmiris have no linkages with PoK(less Gilgit-Baltistan)

The map indicates the area of what remains part of the PoK in Pakistan which it refers to as Azad or Independent. When RazaMumtaz Hussain Rathore dared to take up issues concerning Gilgit-Baltistan, his PPP government was ousted by Nawaz Sharif in 1991. Then Islamabad blatantly rigged the elections later that year. Sacking of governments in PoK is notoriously usual feature. Between 1953 and 1962, three governments were sacked. In 1964, the first President of Azad Kashmir was sacked because he wanted a separate Indus Water deal with mainland Pakistan. In 1974, ZA Bhutto sacked the Qyaoom government and in 1977, Zia dissolved legislative assembly and established military rule. Even now the main center of power is not the Azad Kashmir government, but the Kashmir Council in Islamabad. Where is the ‘Azadi’ then, in PoK or the Kashmir Valley? The pro-Pak Kashmiris need to answer.

This tail to Gilgit-Baltistan is 400 km long and 16-32 km in width. The ten districts of PoK i.e.Bhimber, Mirpur, Kotli, Sudhonti, Poonch, Bagh, Muzzafarabad, and Neelam have negligible Kashmiri population. While the South PoK has distinct Punjab influence North PoK has half-a-dozen different languages, i.e. Pahari, Mirpuri, Gojri, Hindko, Punjabi andPashto.

The biggest lie that has been peddled by the pro-Pak Kashmiris in India is about their affinity with the people in the PoK. It is reiterated that there is absolutely no affinity, linguistic or cultural, between the people of Kashmir Valley and the PoK. The affinity is actually shared by the Gujjar and Pahari Muslims, who reside in the upper reaches of J&K along the border and the LoC. It is these people, who have been most affected by the Indo-Pak hostilities and division of J&K. While the Kashmiris of the Valley have been most vocal about cross-border linkages, they have minimally used the bus service between Srinagar – Muzaffarabad and Poonch (India) – Rawalkote. It is the Gujjars and the Paharis, who have been enthusiastically availing the facilities. Therefore, there is a formidable physical, social, cultural and linguistic wall between the Kashmiris and the PoK. It may also be mentioned that as per the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, Gujjars constitute 20 percent population of J&K. Since 2002, Gujjars and Bakarwals have been demanding a separate state, Gujristan. As per one estimate, the Gujjars influence 20 of 87 assembly constituencies.

Hafiz Saeed has played havoc by introducing jihadism in the region. The PoK is a major training ground for LeT cadres, who also use it as a base for terrorist operations against India.

A large number of people of PoK extraction have been forced to migrate to Britain because of poor economic prospects. This includes a large number of Mirpuris, who had displaced after the construction of the Mangla dam in the 60s. Over 280 villages and the towns of Mirpur and Dadyal were submerged and over 110,000 people were displaced. As per an estimate, nearly 8,00,000 Mirpuris, constitute 70 percent of British-Pakistani community. There is no such parallel in the J&K.

Islamabad has sought to change the demography of PoK by settling nearly 30,000 Afghan families. This is a clear pattern obtaining in Pakistan to settle Pashtuns to dilute ethnicity of Karachi, Quetta and now the PoK as a neutralizing feature against insurgency and separatist movements by the majority community. The presence of the Afghans poses the danger of inroads by Taliban. Compare this with the stance of pro-Pak Kashmiris in India, who consider few acres land allotted to Amarnath Shrine Board as colonization by their mother country.

Hafiz Saeed has played havoc by introducing jihadism in the region. The PoK is a major training ground for LeT cadres, who also use it as a base for terrorist operations against India. When the Pakistan military was found wanting in the relief operations in wake of massive earthquake in 2005 in which nearly 1,00,000 people lost their lives and three million people were rendered homeless, Hafiz Saeed and his organization JuD came to the fore and is considered to have made substantial difference. Later, however he extracted the price by turning the area into a jihadi laboratory.

The J&K problem between India and Pakistan is basically a Kashmiri Sunni narrative, which is scripted by a small segment of pro-Pak elements inhabiting a portion of less than 10 percent of the entire region.

The Islamic militancy agenda has weighed heavily on Islamabad while deciding on the type of dispensation in Azad Kashmir. Benazir Bhutto assumed power after demise of Zia in 1988. SardarQyaoom who ruled PoK for decades as President and PM warned about her ascension: ‘’to undo Islamic ideology and weaken Pak Army’’. Speculation was rife that she would sack the Qyaoom government in PoK. Curiously it was the pro-Pak leaders in Kashmir who prevented it. They met President Leghari during his visit to India and pleaded with him to ensure that Qyaoom continued in office as he critical to the survivability of the militant-network assiduously created over the years. The Qyaoom government completed its tenure till 1990. This explains the compulsions behind Pak dignitaries from foreign and security apparatus insisting on meeting the Hurriyat leaders visiting India. A lot of issues regarding militancy in are coordinated during these meetings.

Just as the Muftis and Abdullahas in the Kashmir Valley, the political landscape of PoK has been dominated by political empires setup by Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan and Mohammad Abdul Qyaoom Khan. But these PoK political families have assured that the interests of Pakistan reign supreme. They are not hostile to their own military. But the pro-Pak elements in Valley treat the Indian military as enemy even as it protects them from Pakistan and China in most trying conditions.

Conclusion

The J&K problem between India and Pakistan is basically a Kashmiri Sunni narrative, which is scripted by a small segment of pro-Pak elements inhabiting a portion of less than 10 percent of the entire region. It is a narrative that finds affinity with Pakistan just on the basis of Kashmiri variety of Sunni Islam. These Kashmiris have ensured that all other competing narratives and dissonant voices are crushed. It is for this reason that half a million Kashmiri Hindus were hounded out of the Valley in 1991. It is for this reason that till today more than 54,000 families, victims of partition and the wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971 have not been compensated, neither rehabilitated nor given the rights as in other parts of the country. These one and half million people are perceived as a threat by the Kashmiri leaders and the separatists.

The solution to the problem does not lie with Musharraf’s plan or Ambassador Lamba’s plan. The solution lies in calling the ‘bluff’ of handful pro-Pak Sunni Kashmiris in the Valley. The rest can be sorted out with Pakistan easily.

Courtesy: Geopolitics

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

RSN Singh

is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW and author of books Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and The Military Factor in Pakistan. His latest book is The Unmaking of Nepal.

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13 thoughts on “J&K is much more than the Valley

  1. Article 370 revoked by GOI. So a permanent solution in finally in sight. Hope it is peaceful one without any bloodshed and violence.
    It is an interesting article which opens the eye of the common man. The separatists have taken India for a ride and in Pakistan the Army has taken Pakistan for a ride.

  2. If the statics cited by the author are correct and h ave to be taken in to account to minimize the significance of Kashmir turmoil, then the question arises why has Indian been acquiescing to the blackmail of valley ruling class? Why is 60 per cent of planning allocated to Kashmir Valley? Why are innumerable perks and facilities provided to the valley population at the cost of other two regions? Why the revenue from Kashmir valley to the total income of the State is barely 35 per cent whereas from Jammu region it is nearly sixty percent? Why the number of employees in J&K Secretariat from the valley is almost 75 per cent?
    Again if the statistics presented by the writer are to be accepted, why does not a single tricolor flutter anywhere in any town or village or household in rural Kashmir and why ISIS and Pakistani flags are to be seen everywhere in the valley not only in downtown Srinagar?

  3. Only few % are hampering progress growth n prosperity in region this has to be explained to the people of J& K , these are selfish n greedy who are enjoying perks n prevail ages from both sides , are alive , they instigate other die n they enjoy ,army has lost so many ldr S as offs in valley but thes leaders will only make poor people die nth ey enjoy . They are nypocraets the sooner people of valley realise better it for them ,Remove Artical 371 of consition n all will smooth out .

  4. Brilliant analysis Col Singh ! Hear you a lot on national TV debates. Thanks for opening the eyes of Indian youth to the nasty pro pak establishments in India and to bring out the truth in the public domain which many uniformed people do not share because of the fear of such establishments. Would like to have your mail for correspondence .
    Regards

  5. This is an interesting take on Kashmir. It is valid because history has ended up making the valley’s population a geographical isolate. Article 370, the cleansing of Pandits from the valley, and the subsequent insurgency all contributed to greatly reducing the interaction the people of the valley have with the rest of Kashmir, much less the rest of India. So obviously given that this population has worked hard at not letting others have a stake in its settled zones, the old population weight argument cannot drive the socio-economics of J&K. Its various regions require local solutions to local problems. In any case, the valley was always likely to be densely populated since it has the most of amount easily accessible ground water owing to the rivers that drain it. But the headwaters of those rivers lie elsewhere. A point that people must understand while giving a valley centric majoritarian prescription for J&K’s future.

  6. Dear Ravi Sir,
    What you have highlighted is absolutely true. But there are still more disturbing issues. First is the gradual sunniisation of all non Sunni areas. During my travel to these areas I found that Kargil is slowly getting sunniised and so is Turtok area where Noorbakshis dominated. But money is an issue and slowly wahabbi funds are weaning them away with gratification by way of good education for the kids of rich while madrassas bloom for the poor. And I won’t be surprised if that map gets altered fully.

  7. The authors report about the insignificance of the valley in terms of the future of Kashmir is the upshot of this article. The separatist seems to have anointed themselves as the spokesperson for the entire region of Kashmir. It makes more sense to now consider them as agents of Pakistan with the only objective of someday turning Kashmir over to Pakistan. It is time the Indian government understand the game being played, relegate Article 370 to the dustbin and declare Kashmir as another state. For too long Kashmir has been a drag on the exchequer. It is time is they pull up by their bootstraps like any other state and the separatists need to be led to the border and kicked into Pakistan for good.

  8. I think Mohammad Yusuf Parray aliase Kuka Parry known as “king of counter-insurgency” operations in the Kashmir Valley belonged to one of the ethnic communities referred to above. He was groomed by Indian security agencies.He helped a lot to Security agencies to combat insurgency in Vally.He laid his life in an effort to bring back peace in J & K.

  9. What a marvelous piece by Col. Singh. His understanding of the Geopolitics complexities of Indian subcontinent is noteworthy.
    My only question: Are Shia Muslims of Kargil region not gravitating away from India? This is a query, not a premise.

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