10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 30, 2002
Continued from front page
Ideology is the basis of the conflict. Pakistan,
founded a day before India on Aug. 14, 1947 as a
homeland for the subcontinent's Muslims, was built
on the foundation of a million lives claimed by a
bloody partition. Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Mus-
lim state ruled by a Hindu Maharaja at the time, was
given a choice to accede to either India or Pakistan,
and opted for the former under circumstances which
are disputed by the latter. Nonetheless, Kashmir is the
"k" in Pakistan. The country was founded on the
ideals of Muslim sovereignty and nationhood, and
claims the state on that principle.
Meanwhile, a Muslim-majority Kashmir (the only
such state in the union) is the last bastion of Indian secu-
larity. That country gained independence on the grounds
of Indian nationalism, where shared culture and geogra-
phy matter, not religious affiliation. As The Economist
recently put it, India's "one nation" and Pakistan's "two
nation" ideologies form the core of this issue, and the
battle between the two is as fierce and fundamental as
that between communism and capitalism.
But what about the here and now. The current tension
started escalating last Dec. 13 when armed militants
(who India claims were Pakistan-backed) stormed the
New Delhi parliament in a suicide attack that could
have eliminated the Indian leadership but only claimed
a few lives. After exchanging fierce rhetoric, the Indian
leadership gave the orders to mobilize the military.
By the time I arrived a few days later, the Indians
were mounting the largest troop movement on the inter-
national border since 1971, the last time the two coun-
tries had gone to war. My stepfather, an airline pilot,
was worried about the prospects of his employer, the
national flag-carrier PIA, all of whose flights over Indi-
an airspace had been banned, crucially affecting rev-
enue and jobs. My TV, usually brimming with Indian
networks, was showing only local and Arab channels,
for the Pakistani government had banned all cable ser-
vice for Indian stations to stop the "propaganda": a
claim, I have observed, that is not without merit.
In Islamabad and New Delhi, another sort of service
was being disconnected. Embassy personnel were
being recalled by the respective foreign ministries of
the two countries. Rumors such as that the Indians were
burning classified documents in their embassy entered
my chat-rooms. That's when it really started to seep in.
Embassy personnel usually are withdrawn and docu-
ments are burned when countries go to war.
Thus, geo-political precedents set by Sept. 11 are
being played out in a strange political snake dance in
the subcontinent. The cause of Kashmiri liberation
relies heavily on violence, some of which could proba-
bly b termed as terrorist. Pakistan, though a claimant
of "moral and diplomatic" support to the struggle, has
probably provided financing, training and refuge to
active militant groups involved. Using Dec. 13 as its
own Sept. 11, along with its own conventional force
advantage, India's government is now trying to coerce
Pakistan into banning such groups, but not without the
overarching aim of shutting down the uprising in Kash-
mir, whose intensity, death-toll and other logistics make
it worthy of being called a revolution of sorts.
But there is already a revolution brewing in Pak-
istan. Pervez Musharraf, the self-appointed yet highly
popular and praised Pakistani president, has respond-
ed to Indian guns and Western diplomacy by further
clamping down on extremist-groups, a process he had
started even before Sept. 11, but has had to accelerate
the process due to current realities.
This is a landmark in Pakistani history. It is difficult
to recall a moment in recent times when the head-of-
state of an Islamic republic, maybe not since
Mustapha Kemal Ataturk and Gamal Abdul Nasser,
had gone out of their way to actually introduce a more
progressive version of Islam in their country. The
opposite of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 was hap-
pening here. Of course, there is a price attached to
such fundamental change.
A picture of
Laden, leader of
4 network, is
seen on a
. 1package of
kulfa candy In
r, Bin Laden has
operating in the
clamp down on.
Traveling on an Airbus-310 with my stepdad, (who
was captaining the PIA flight from Karachi to Islam-
abad, the capital) I found myself flying with the interi-
or minister, Moinuddin Haider. He is the man
currently in charge of implementing all the changes
proposed by Musharraf, a counterpart to U.S. Director
of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. An outspoken crit-
ic of Islamization, he also has a tendency to enjoy the
aerial view from the cockpit instead of his usual first-
class seat. All three of us were on the flight deck over-
looking the Indian border to the East, chatting
informally, when my stepdad asked the outspoken
Haider about his most current statement against the
mullahs in that day's newspapers. The headlines had
been glaring with a defiant Haider saying "We won't
let a few illiterate mullahs take over the country!"
Why such a direct confrontation with a dangerous
group, asked my dad. Was he (Haider) not risking
high costs attached to such a method? Were the mul-
lahs not supposed to be crazy?
"No high costs we can't manage," Haider responded
bluntly. The mullahs had to go.
Two days later, Moinuddin Haider's elder brotlier
was shot dead in Karachi by assailants with automatic
weapons. At least nine bullets pierced his body.
To prove my earlier point, these are the costs of a
brewing revolution. In the face of war and uncertainty,
the Pakistanis have embarked on a brave stage to pro-
gressive Islam and secularity, where life, not just the
way you live it, is at stake. My dad could lose his job. I
had already lost my TV channels. But the interior min-
ister of the federal government had lost his brother.
That's a conflict within a conflict which is being over-
looked. More importantly, the process is nowhere close
to the simplicity India and the West are envisaging it as,
and pressuring an angry nuclear state might not suffice
"India wants folded hands," said Enver Ahmed, vet-
eran bureaucrat and columnist for The News, one of
Pakistan's most respected newspapers. I was meeting
him in his office in Islamabad, having green tea and
craving a cigarette over the now firmly implemented
no-smoking rule in government offices (that in itself is
a big social change in a country where most men
smoke and have little regard for government rules).
When I prodded further with that had Pakistan not
crossed the line with its backing of militants in Kash-
mir, he partially agreed.
Photos yVWJ SPE/Daily
Pishin Scouts, paramilitary forces in ceremonial dress, which are stationed on the Afghan border are expecting to be moved to
the Indian front. Recent terrorist attacks In India have increased tensions between the two nuclear rivals on the subcontinent.
has been adven-
turous, so to say,
in its involve-
ment with Kash-
mir. But India
has never both-
ered to come to
table with this
India, Kashmir is
not a part of
problem or the
sort of sense
does that make?"
Ahmed is cor-
rect. Too many
Indians think that
problem has been
almost by accident. Last week, U.S. spy satellites
detected an unusual forward breach by a Indian strike-
corps commander in one of the deployments which is
aimed at southern Pakistan. The Pentagon warned
India and notified Pakistan, and the general was
sacked. Still, possibilities of critical escalation exist. If
there is a war, winners and loosers will be decided by
"In almost every war-game scenario I have seen
drafted on paper between India and Pakistan, every
time we see ourselves in a tight spot, we nuke," said
n Air Force Wing
Obaid spent 15
Mirages and F-
16s for Pakistan,
means of deliv-
_ ery of nuclear
system. Obaid is
now an airline
th a trailer full of textiles confiscated pilot, albeit a
from Afghanistan into India and beyond. pessimistic one.
operating between India and Pakistan. "I don't believe
both sides when
they say that they're not going to use nuclear weapons.
I don't believe the governments and I don't believe the
media. The information system in this region is faulty.
Even that could lead to war."
According to many Pakistani, Indian and American
war-game scenarios of a conventional war in the
region, Pakistan loses. If it loses, it possibly resorts to
nuclear weapons, having the capability to strike most
northern and western Indian cities, including New
Delhi and Bombay. In response, a debilitated but not
destroyed India nukes back, destroying all of Pakistan
(which lacks, to use a modern military catchism,
But that holocaustic argument is, thankfully, losing
credibility. Command and control structures within
both countries have been improved. The masses might
get excited in the streets, as I saw through graffiti in
Karachi where the country's nuclear arsenal was
called the "Islamic Bomb" aimed at an "Infidel India,"
but the leadership of both countries does seem com-
mitted to a semblance of caution.
Still, some analysts here argue that deterrence is a
white elephant in the subcontinent - a useless, imag-
inary phenomenon. There is no ocean of separation
like there was for the U.S. and the Soviet Union, nor is
there a Europe in the middle to act as a buffer zone.
Bombing Karachi is bad news for Bombay. Millions
will die or suffer from fall out on either side, regard-
less of who bombs who. But then again, China and the
USSR had both contiguous borders and nukes, and
they never resorted to going nuclear when they fought
a border war in 1969. Still, the aims -and rhetoric of
that conflict were considerably less than this one.
So, why the fatalism? Why do people, my own fam-
ily included, resort to nuclear discourse like it was a
tax-hike debate? Too bad it's gonna happen, but you
gotta deal with it anyway, so why make a big deal?
"Its about fear," said Maj. Gen. Mohammed Tas-
neem, in a plush General Headquarters office in
Rawalpindi, the seat of the Pakistani military estab-
lishment. Tasneem is currently the chief of military
ordnance, the man who keeps tracks of all the missiles
and warheads. "You see, in conventional war, there is
a constant fear of loss. You lose a hand. Or a leg, or a
wife, or a son, or a mother. You have to live with the
pain and fear of such loss.
"In nuclear war, the one we are possibly facing,
there is no such concept of loss. Everything is gone.
Everyone is dead. No one is left. Thus there is no fear.
.That's where your fatalism comes in."
But fatalism is a large word. The political mood in
the country varies, but many believe that there isa
solution. Kashmir might be the "k" in Pakistan, but
there are other dimensions to the country's social
political mould which need urgent reform. Military
officials are talking about decreasing the incapacitat-
ing defense budget. Politicians are reconsidering
shelving the hostile Kashmir rhetoric. Secular criti-
cism and policy is actually being implemented, and
one can see it in TV dramas, in presidential speeches,
and in a very free press. Pakistan is at the crossroads
of a secular revolution, and its people and leadership
are willing to talk. Maybe India, and the world, should
A Pakistan Frontier Corps guard stands wi
from smugglers attempting to move them i
There is a $2 billion black-market economy
conjured by Pak-
istan. Sure, Pakistan may have backed the Kashmiri
insurgency, but India deserves to share the blame as
well. India has not ruled Kashmir properly. Too many
elections have been rigged, too many promises broken,
the most important one being more than 50 years old,
when Kashmir was assured to decide its own future
through a plebiscite. Indian soldiers have committed
outrageous human rights abuses there. Indian central
governments have conveniently locked out state legisla-
tures too sympathetic to autonomous causes. And India
has never bothered to implement the U.N. Security
Council resolutions on the area or bothered to approach
a negotiated settlement with Pakistan. Hardly surprising
that the Indians have got themselves an uprising to deal
What about worse-case scenarios? With more than a
million troops poised at the borders, war could start
Waj Syed can be contacted via e-niail at wa firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the entire three-day series online at
Graveyards in tribal
areas like this one
Pakistan, are the
final resting places
of many young
tribal men who
embark on "Jihadi"
tribal areas are
for terrorist groups
like ai-Qaida as well
as other militant
fighting the Indian
"" jKashmirl secession.
Continued from Page 1
Political science Prof. Kenneth Lieberthal, a
former special assistant to President Clinton at
the National Security Council, agreed "Usually
a country that is in the position that Pakistan is in
would not shift to a level that would ensure their
total destruction," Lieberthal said, making note
of India's considerably larger nuclear arsenal.
"American intervention is another reason not
to expect nuclear war" Varshney said. "If any-
thing has happened since September 11, it is
that the command control system has strength-
ened. The trigger is in very safe hands."
Rit the lonnhhil of nucear war done
Since the Dec. 13 attack on the Indian parlia-
ment attributed to Islamic militants based in Pak-
istan, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has
agreed to Indian demands that he crack down
more harshly on such groups, which before had
been allegedly supported - or at least not ham-
pered by - the Pakistani government.
"I think Musharraf has genuinely turned on
the jihad groups in Pakistan. My impression is
that most people in Pakistan are pretty happy
about cracking down on Muslim extremists.
They never got more than about 4 percent of
the vote when they stood for election. Despite
the perception from the outside, the main-
stream of Pakistani Islam is pretty moderate,"
said historv Prof uan Cole.
an troops have been killed in the last 12 years is
ongoing. But with both sides massing troops at
the border in response to recent tensions, the.
potential for escalation rises.
"Many of the shots being fired over the last
seven years have been cover for infiltrators,"
Varshney said. "Very little is known about how
good the intelligence is on each side. In all
probability, the intelligence is not very good.
"Kashmir is a problem
that has no winners.
Each possible victory
Ln n ~ . r -rn - / - a i
crack down, and now the Pakistani government
has its own reasons for doing that," he said.
"But the second kind of conflict is the kind
of sub-nationalism where entire people are
essentially rising up against what they perceive
to be a colonial domination by a foreign power
or a neo-colonial one, and in that category we
can put Northern Ireland, Palestine, Kashmir,
the Philippines, and those conflicts can go on
and on for literally hundreds of years. So to the
extent that India and Pakistan relations are dri-
ven by the Kashmir problem, I think relation-
ships are going to remain tense."
"I think its more of the same until something
happens to change the dynamics of the issue,"
Cole added. "I think this will remain a potential-
to the table with Kashmir as the only issue;'
Varshney said. "Trade, people-to-people
exchange or simply nuclear safety procedures
are also important."
Varshney said the two countries carry on
about $200 million in trade with each other
annually, a figure dwarfed by an estimated $1
billion to $2 billion in black market goods
crossing the border.
"We don't start talking about Kashmir with-
out improving the atmosphere," Varshney said.
"I don't think anyone has figured out how to
make full resolution," Lieberthal said. "India
and Pakistan have fought three wars, and in
each country it is a highly emotional issue. I
think the best that can be accomplished is mea-