In the wake of weeks of widespread anti-Indian demonstrations in occupied Kashmir, which even New Delhi’s spin doctors have been unable to blame on Pakistan, India has deployed its top Russian-made fighter jets in the beleaguered valley, ostensibly for “better border management,” but analysts said the move was aimed at Pakistan after relations between the nuclear-armed rivals soured in recent months.
True to form, India blamed Pakistan for the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul in July this year, though there was not a shred of evidence to support India’s allegation. And now, some Indian officials in New Delhi are trying to lay the blame for the recent bomb blasts in the capital at Pakistan’s door – again, without any evidence to this effect. But, then, this is the same India that once even blamed Pakistan’s ISI for a train accident in the eastern Indian state of Assam! What possible interest could the ISI have in causing a train accident in Assam, is anybody’s guess.
A four-year-old peace process between the two countries has virtually stalled in recent months, ostensibly because of the string of bomb blasts in India and the bomb blast at the Indian embassy in Kabul. The main reason for the souring of relations, however, is the on-going anti-Indian demonstrations in Indian-occupied Kashmir, where tens of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims have taken to the streets in the biggest anti-Indian demonstrations seen in the valley since 1989.
It is against this backdrop that India’s deployment in occupied Kashmir of six Russian-made Sukhoi-30 jet fighters needs to be viewed. The jets are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. According to some analysts, the deployment of the Sukhoi jets is military posturing by New Delhi aimed at Pakistan.
“This forward movement is part of a deterrence for Pakistan, and to tell them that if they fish in troubled waters in Kashmir, India would be ready,” Major General (Retd.) Ashok Mehta, a defence analyst, told the Reuters news agency.
This Ashok Mehta, incidentally, is the same person that I last met in Lucknow in 1948, when both of us were 11-year-old boys. We used to go swimming in a pool at a club in the Lucknow Cantonment in those days. Little did I know back then that he would grow up to become a vociferous anti-Pakistan hawk.
Relations between India and Pakistan have further worsened in recent weeks due to a long-running dispute over the Baghliar Dam, which India is building on the Chenab River and which will reduce water flows to Pakistan by up to 7,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs), in blatant violation of the 1960 Indus Basin Water Treaty, which gives exclusive use of water flows in the basin’s three western rivers (the Chenab, the Jhelum and the Indus) to Pakistan.
On Wednesday, Islamabad said it intended to seek World Bank intervention on the Baghliar Dam issue because New Delhi had not heeded Pakistan’s repeated complaints on the issue. The World Bank is the mediator and co-signatory of the Indus Water Treaty.
In 2005, following the failure of several rounds of talks between the two sides over Pakistan’s demand that India should modify the design of the Baghliar Dam to ensure that no river flows in the Chenab were diverted to India, Pakistan had sought the World Bank’s intervention to stop construction of the Baghliar Dam and hydro-electricity power station that India has been constructing on the Chenab in the Doda District of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
A Swiss engineering expert appointed by the World Bank had allowed India to go ahead with the project after a few design modifications. But Pakistan has complained that though the World Bank expert had addressed some of the objections that Pakistan had about the Baghliar Dam, the post-completion ramifications of the project are affecting Pakistan’s irrigation system, which is a clear violation of Pakistan’s rights under the Indus Water Treaty.
Jamat Ali Shah, Pakistan’s commissioner on the Indus Water Treaty, said that despite repeated pleas from Pakistan, India did nothing to address the problem. “We have demanded the Indian commissioner for a visit to the site and a detailed report regarding the filling of the dam’s reservoir, but the Indian commissioner has not given any positive response yet,” Shah said in an interview with BBC radio on Wednesday. He said Pakistan would again seek the World Bank’s intervention if no resolution to the dispute was found.
Shah said that if India does not fulfill Pakistan’s demands, then Pakistan has the right, under the 1960 treaty, to put the matter for arbitration to any neutral expert. He added that Pakistan had demanded that India call for an emergency meeting between the two commissioners and their teams, as provided for under the treaty, and that India should hold the emergency session in New Delhi. “But no communication on this has yet been made by India,” he added.
India’s intransigence over the Baghliar Dam issue, its intransigence over the Kishanganga Dam it is building on the Neelum River (which the Indian’s call the Kishanganga River and which is a tributary of the Jhelum River) on the Indian-controlled side of the Line of Control in Indian-occupied Kashmir, and its deployment this week of nuclear-capable Sukhoi-30 jets in Indian-occupied Kashmir are all part of New Delhi’s pressure tactics against Pakistan.
India knows, in its heart of hearts, that the Kashmiri Muslims in Indian-occupied Kashmir do not want to become a part of India. That’s why it has reneged on its solemn promise to allow a UN-supervised plebiscite in Indian-occupied Kashmir to enable the Muslim population of the former princely state (who constitute over 80 per cent of the territory’s 8 million people); and that is also why it has stationed over 700,000 Indian army troops and Border Security Force personnel in the valley – the highest troops-to-population ratio for any territory on earth.
Back in 2005, then-President Pervez Musharraf was right in saying in an interview with Geo TV on January 11 that Pakistan would not accept any “India-made” solution to the Kashmir dispute. “We will not accept any solution of Kashmir with the stamp of ‘Made in India’ because this dispute cannot be resolved without the involvement of Kashmiris and Pakistan,” he said.
In fact, India has no political, legal or moral case on Kashmir. The only case it has is one based on the idea that “might is right.” But might has never been right, and never will be right. History is littered with examples of nations that thought they had might on their side, only to later realise that they didn’t and that tyranny can never endure.
India has long claimed that the Muslims of Indian-occupied Kashmir (who comprise the overwhelming majority of the state’s population) want to be “part of India.” Nothing could be further from the truth, as even India knows only too well. Hence, its persistent refusal to agree to the holding of a plebiscite in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
India knows that if a free and fair plebiscite were held under UN auspices, the majority of the state’s Muslim population would vote to join Pakistan. The so-called “third option” – an independent Jammu & Kashmir – is not really an option at all. It is, in fact, a tactical device that India itself began secretly promoting in the 1970s in an attempt to muddy the waters and divert attention away from New Delhi reneging on its solemn pledge to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir.
India figured that talk of a “third option” among some Kashmiri groups might help to foster doubts in Pakistan about what the people of occupied Kashmir really wanted, and that Pakistan might, therefore, be persuaded to soften its stand on a plebiscite and become more amenable to going along with the idea that the status quo in Indian-occupied Kashmir should be allowed to continue indefinitely.
But Pakistan has never fallen for this Indian ploy and has continued to press for a plebiscite.
Kashmir remains the only unfinished business of partition. The bottom line in the partition formula was that all the Hindu majority provinces of British India would become part of independent India and all the Muslim majority provinces would become part of the new state of Pakistan.
The only exceptions to this formula were the provinces of Punjab and Bengal, which had clearly defined Hindu and Muslim majority areas (and also a large Sikh population in the case of Punjab) and which, it was, therefore, agreed, would be partitioned, with East Punjab and West Bengal going to India, and West Punjab and East Bengal becoming part of Pakistan.
That the Radcliffe Boundary Commission Award gave some Muslim-majority parts of Punjab, in particular the key Gurdaspur District, to India instead of Pakistan, is another story – a story that has more to do with Indian chicanery than anything else.