An Indian Reply to President Zardari:
Rewarding Pakistan for bad behaviour leads to schizophrenic relationships
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent argument in the New York Times resembles closely the well-known publications of his ambassador to the United States, Mr Husain Haqqani. Unfortunately, this Zardari-Haqqani thesis about Pakistan’s current predicament in the world and the world’s predicament with Pakistan is shot through with clear factual and logical errors. These need to be aired because true or useful conclusions cannot be reached from mistaken premises or faulty reasoning.
1. Origins of Pakistan, India, J&K, and their mutual problems
Mr Zardari makes the following seemingly innocuous statement:
“…. the two great nations of Pakistan and India, born together from the same revolution and mandate in 1947, must continue to move forward with the peace process.”
Now as a matter of simple historical fact, the current entities in the world system known as India and Pakistan were not “born together from the same revolution and mandate in 1947”. It is palpably false to suppose they were and Pakistanis indulge in wishful thinking and self-deception about their own political history if they suppose this.
India’s Republic arose out of the British Dominion known as “India” which was the legal successor of the entity known previously in international law as “British India”. British India had had secular governance and so has had the Indian Republic.
By contrast, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan arose out of a newly created state in international law known as the British Dominion of Pakistan, consisting of designated territory carved out of British India by a British decision and coming into existence one day before British India extinguished itself. (Another new state, Bangladesh, later seceded from Pakistan.)
The British decision to create territory designated “Pakistan” had nothing to do with any anti-British “revolution” or “mandate” supported by any Pakistani nationalism because there was none. (Rahmat Ali’s anti-Hindu pamphleteering in London could be hardly considered Pakistani nationalism against British rule. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s Pashtun patriots saw themselves as Indian, not Pakistani.)
To the contrary, the British decision had to do with a small number of elite Pakistanis — MA Jinnah foremost among them — demanding not to be part of the general Indian nationalist movement that had been demanding a British departure from power in the subcontinent. Jinnah’s separatist party, the Muslim League, was trounced in the 1937 provincial elections in all the Muslim-majority areas of British India that would eventually become Pakistan. Despite this, in September 1939, Britain, at war with Nazi Germany, chose to elevate the political power of Jinnah and his League to parity with the general Indian nationalist movement led by MK Gandhi. (See, Francis Robinson, in William James and Subroto Roy (eds), Foundations of Pakistan’s Political Economy: Towards an Agenda for the 1990s.) Britain needed India’s mostly Muslim infantry-divisions — the progenitors of the present-day Pakistan Army — and if that meant tilting towards a risky political idea of “Pakistan” in due course, so it would be. The thesis that Pakistan arose from any kind of “revolution” or “mandate” in 1947 is fantasy — the Muslim super-elite that invented and endorsed the Pakistan idea flew from Delhi to Karachi in chartered BOAC Dakotas, caring not a hoot about the vulnerability of ordinary Muslim masses to Sikh and Hindu majority wrath and retaliation on the ground.
Modern India succeeded to the rights and obligations of British India in international law, and has had a recognized existence as a state since at least the signing of the Armistice and Treaty of Versailles in 1918-1919. India was a founding member of the United Nations, being a signatory of the 1945 San Francisco Declaration, and an original member of the Bretton Woods institutions. An idea put forward by Argentina that as of 1947 India and Pakistan were both successor states of British India was rejected by the UN (Argentina withdrew its own suggestion), and it was universally acknowledged India was already a member of the UN while Pakistan would have to (and did) apply afresh for membership as a newly created state in the UN. Pakistan’s entry into the UN had the enthusiastic backing of India and was opposed by only one existing UN member, Afghanistan, due to a conflict that continues to this day over the legitimacy of the Durand Line that bifurcated the Pashtun areas.
Such a review of elementary historical facts and the position in law of Pakistan and India is far from being of merely pedantic interest today. Rather, it goes directly to the logical roots of the conflict over the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) — a state that itself originated as an entity in the world system a full century before Pakistan was to do so and more than half a century before British India did, but which would collapse into anarchy and civil war in 1947-1949.
Britain (or England) had been a major nation-state in the world system recognized since Grotius first outlined modern international law. On March 16 1846, Britain entered into a treaty, the Treaty of Amritsar, with one Gulab Singh, and the “State of Jammu & Kashmir” came to arise as a recognizable entity in international law for the first time. (See my “History of Jammu and Kashmir” published in The Statesman, Oct 29-30 2006, available elsewhere here.)
Jammu & Kashmir continued in orderly existence as a state until it crashed into legal and political anarchy and civil war a century later. The new Pakistan had entered into a “Standstill Agreement” with the State of Jammu & Kashmir as of August 15 1947. On or about October 22 1947, Pakistan unilaterally ended that Standstill Agreement and instead caused military forces from its territory to attack the State of Jammu & Kashmir along the Mansehra Road towards Baramula and Srinagar, coinciding too with an Anglo-Pakistani coup d’etat in Gilgit and Baltistan (see my “Solving Kashmir”; “Law, Justice & J&K”; “Pakistan’s Allies”, all published in The Statesman in 2005-2006 and available elsewhere here).
The new Pakistan had chosen, in all deliberation, to forswear law, politics and diplomacy and to resort to force of arms instead in trying to acquire J&K for itself via a military decision. It succeeded only partially. Its forces took and then lost both Baramula and Kargil; they may have threatened Leh but did not attempt to take it; they did take and retain Muzaffarabad and Skardu; they were never near taking the summer capital, Srinagar, though might have threatened the winter capital, Jammu.
All in all, a Ceasefire Line came to be demarcated on the military positions as of February 1 1949. After a war in 1971 that accompanied the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan, that Ceasefire Line came to be renamed the “Line of Control” between Pakistan and India. An ownerless entity may be acquired by force of arms — the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir in 1947-1949 had become an ownerless entity that had been dismembered and divided according to military decision following an armed conflict between Pakistan and India. The entity in the world system known as the “State of Jammu & Kashmir” created on March 16 1846 by Gulab Singh’s treaty with the British ceased to exist as of October 22 1947. Pakistan had started the fight over J&K but there is a general rule of conflicts that he who starts a fight does not get to finish it.
Such is the simplest and most practical statement of the history of the current problem. The British, through their own compulsions and imperial pretensions, raised all the talk about a “Lapse of Paramountcy” of the British Crown over the “Native Princes” of “Indian India”, and of how, the “Native Princes” were required to “accede” to either India or Pakistan. This ignored Britain’s own constitutional law. BR Ambedkar pointed out with unsurpassed clarity that no “Lapse of Paramountcy” was possible even for a single logical moment since “Paramountcy” over any “Native Princes” who had not joined India or Pakistan as of August 15 1947, automatically passed from British India to its legal successor, namely, the Dominion of India. It followed that India’s acquiescence was required for any subsequent accession to Pakistan – an acquiescence granted in case of Chitral and denied in case of Junagadh.
What the Republic of India means by saying today that boundaries cannot be redrawn nor any populations forcibly transferred is quite simply that the division of erstwhile J&K territory is permanent, and that sovereignty over it is indivisible. What Pakistan has claimed is that India has been an occupier and that there are many people inhabiting the Indian area who may not wish to be Indian nationals and who are being compelled against their will to remain so ~ forgetting to add that precisely the same could be said likewise of the Pakistani-held area. The lawful solution I proposed in “Solving Kashmir, “Law, Justice and J&K” and other works has been that the Republic of India invite every person covered under its Article 370, citizen-by-citizen, under a condition of full information, to privately and without fear decide, if he/she has not done so already, between possible Indian, Iranian, Afghan or Pakistani nationalities ~ granting rights and obligations of permanent residents to any of those persons who may choose for whatever private reason not to remain Indian nationals. If Pakistan acted likewise, the problem of J&K would indeed come to be resolved. The Americans, as self-appointed mediators, have said they wish “the people of the region to have a voice” in a solution: there can be no better expression of such voice than allowing individuals to privately choose their own nationalities and their rights and responsibilities accordingly. The issue of territorial sovereignty is logically distinct from that of the choice of nationality by individual inhabitants.
2. Benazir’s assassination falsely compared to the Mumbai massacres
Secondly, President Zardari draws a mistaken comparison between the assassination last year of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, and the Mumbai massacres a few weeks ago. Ms Bhutto’s assassination may resemble more closely the assassinations in India of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
Indira Gandhi died in “blowback” from the unrest she and her younger son and others in their party had opportunistically fomented among Sikh fundamentalists and sectarians since the late 1970s. Rajiv Gandhi died in “blowback” from an erroneous imperialistic foreign policy that he, as Prime Minister, had been induced to make by jingoistic Indian diplomats, a move that got India’s military needlessly involved in the then-nascent Sri Lankan civil war. Benazir Bhutto similarly may be seen to have died in “blowback” from her own political activity as prime minister and opposition leader since the late 1980s, including her own encouragement of Muslim fundamentalist forces. Certainly in all three cases, as in all assassinations, there were lapses of security too and imprudent political judgments made that contributed to the tragic outcomes.
Ms Bhutto’s assassination has next to nothing to do with the Mumbai massacres, besides the fact the perpetrators in both cases were Pakistani terrorists. President Zardari saying he himself has lost his wife to terrorism is true but not relevant to the proper diagnosis of the Mumbai massacres or to Pakistan-India relations in general. Rather, it serves to deflect criticism and condemnation of the Pakistani state’s pampered handing of Pakistan’s terrorist masterminds, as well as the gross irresponsibility of Pakistan’s military scientists (not AQ Khan) who have been recently advocating a nuclear first strike against India in the event of war.
3. Can any religious nation-state be viable in the modern world?
President Zardari’s article says:
“The world worked to exploit religion against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by empowering the most fanatic extremists as an instrument of destruction of a superpower. The strategy worked, but its legacy was the creation of an extremist militia with its own dynamic.”
This may be overly simplistic. As pointed out in my article “Pakistan’s Allies”, Gregory Zinoviev himself after the Bolshevik Revolution had declared that international communism “turns today to the peoples of the East and says to them, ‘Brothers, we summon you to a Holy War first of all against British imperialism!’ At this there were cries of Jehad! Jehad! And much brandishing of picturesque Oriental weapons.” (Treadgold, Twentieth Century Russia, 1990, p. 213). For more than half of the 20th century, orthodox Muslims had been used by Soviet communists against British imperialism, then by the British and Americans (through Pakistan) against Soviet communism. Touché! Blowback and counter-blowback! The real question that arises from this today may be why orthodox Muslims have allowed themselves to be used either way by outside forces and have failed in developing a modern nation-state and political culture of their own. Europe and America only settled down politically after their religious wars were over. Perhaps no religious nation-state is viable in the modern world.
4. Pakistan’s behaviour leads to schizophrenia in international relations
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