Some US lawmakers including Senators Elizabeth Warren (also contesting next presidential election) and Mark Warner, both Democrats, have expressed concern over the slow pace of normalization in the Kashmir Valley. The House Foreign Relations Committee has also joined their chorus by saying, “India’s communication blackout in Kashmir is having a devastating impact on the lives and welfare of everyday Kashmiris. It’s time for India to lift these restrictions and afford Kashmiris the same rights and privileges as any other Indian citizen.” It is natural for the Democrats-led House Foreign Relations Committee to support the calls of their presidential candidate but does Ms Elizabeth Warren understand the basic fact that the whole exercise of the Indian Government in revoking Article 370 was to afford Kashmiris the same rights and privileges as any other Indian citizen?
Before discussing US concern about communication blockade in J&K, the US needs to look at its own history. William Blum, US historian who had also worked in US State Department, wrote sometime back, “Since 1945, US has tried to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democratically elected; grossly interfered in 30 countries; bombed the civilian population of 30 countries; interfered in elections in 30 countries; used chemical and biological weapons; and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders. “In many cases Britain has been a collaborator”. Obviously US never needed to clamp down on communications because open communications are big assets in aggravating mischief, mayhem and bloodshed; achieving whatever the US aim – regime change, capturing strategic territory and/or energy resources, increasing weapon sales, avenues for reconstruction and checkmating geopolitical rivals.
Warren, Warner and Co are obviously eyeing the votes of 700,000 plus US citizens of Pakistan origin (700,000 was the 2016 estimate), as also of others siding with Pakistan whatever be that number. Campaigning for president’s post is hardly cheap. In the 2016 US presidential elections, Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton spent $768 million. According to Candice Nelson, professor and chair of the Department of Government at American University in Washington, “2020 will be the most expensive presidential race ever.” That is why candidates are openly soliciting donations. And, Pakistan’s ISI would ‘donate’ millions of dollars to buy opinion in the US even though Pakistan’s economy is in doldrums. This would also enable Pakistan continue on ‘grey’ list of FATF despite poor statistics – US Congress help them avoid the ‘grey list’?
Ironically, the US feels that Pakistan is the key to reduce killings of Americans in Afghanistan, despite the continuing double-game Pakistan is playing including the theatrics of bringing Taliban into the reconciliation process. Have Warren, Warner and Co expressed concern over the China-backed Pakistani genocide in Balochistan and what the numbers of killings, rapes, disappearances, abductions and torture have resulted till now? Yet there are concerns only about Kashmir. On the contrary, US has placed the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) on the terrorist list but has nothing to say about the Pakistani military-run concentration camp at Awaran in southern Balochistan (one among four such concentration camps) that also doubles up as a training camp for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). What about Pakistan’s atrocities in FATA, and denial of fundamental rights and military courts in Gilgit-Baltistan?
Let us now examine US concerns about the communication blackout in J&K, which anyway is not total. But first, how does the US view this, as they say “devastating effect” compared to its own aerial and artillery bombings in Iraq-Syria, Afghanistan, and innumerable aerial strikes gone completely awry in Afghanistan killing innocent civilians, with even hospitals struck, and a simple “sorry” absolving the US. Compared to this, India has never used air or artillery in J&K, not even attack helicopters. Would the US have liked India to wipe out the militants in J&K like Sri Lanka did to the LTTE? The problem in J&K today is only in a small part, portions of which Pakistan has managed to radicalize over the years, plus arming and financing militancy.
Presently, hundreds of terrorists are in forward launch pads in Pakistan occupied J&K (PoJK) seeking chance to infiltrate into India – by one report some 725 in seven launch pads. Pakistan continues with ceasefire violations and protracted infiltration attempts, in addition to fake propaganda of atrocities in Kashmir, which is fanned by tabloids in the US and UK. Does the Warren, Warner and Co and the House Foreign Relations Committee have the will to tell Pakistan to stop all this – of course not.
India is normalizing the situation in J&K with a pace that will get Kashmiris to enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other Indian citizen earliest without least inconvenience and hiccups (read violence). Pakistan is looking for any and every opportunity to orchestrate violence. Hence, any time the communication blackout is lifted, a terror attack is launched forcing re-imposition of communication restrictions. This normalization process will take time but it is for the safety, security and better life for the Kashmiris lying ahead. Restrictions on politicians have been eased and the Union Home Minister has announced that J&K will be given full statehood as and when situation permits.
America needs to look itself in the mirror very seriously. Its dubious history in destabilizing countries and regions described by William Blunt has been mentioned above. Together with this is its pathetic record of dropping allies at the drop of a hat. The latest chapter has been opened after the Trump-Erdogan meeting of October 6; with the US giving a free hand to Turkey in launching an offensive against the Kurdistan SDF who till now were vital partners in the five-year long US operations against the ISIS and the Syrian regime. Erdogan has commenced airstrikes in Northern Syria and the offensive ‘Spring of Peace’ has begun. Tanks and armoured vehicles from the area of operations of ‘The Euphrates Shield’ and ‘Olive Branch’ are to be used to repel any attacks by Kurdistan SDF.
It appears more than likely that during the next meeting between Trump and Erdogan scheduled on November 13 in Washington, Trump will assign Kurdish areas captured by Turkey till then to Ankara. But would all this, including the charade of announcing that US is not with Turkey in its offensive against the Kurds, absolve the blood on US hands of the Kurdish people that would be killed, maimed and raped in the Turkish offensive – that too of those who recently were US allies.
How this will help Trump’s presidential bid for a second term is for the Democrats to examine. What a turnabout from when US invaded Iraq and established an exclusive Kurdish enclave in Northern Iraq. As to the claim of dismembering ISIS, they are already attacking Iraq again, besides ‘being inducted’ into the Badakshan region of Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan and in proximity of the Wakhan Corridor.
Finally, India is lifting the tourist advisory for J&K. It would be good for Warren, Warner and Co to get off their high horse, visit J&K as simple tourists and mingle with the Kashmiris to see what is good for them rather than counting who is donating how many pennies for elections.