Skip to content

Rehabilitation Policy and Possibility of Reconciliation



While some surrendered militants have been accommodated and rehabilitated, majority of them still face difficulties on account of basic structural and institutional problems. Disillusioned by this, there is also a fear of getting thrown back to 1990’s. It is also facilitated as a part of a broader goal of long term settlement of the Kashmir Conflict by India and Pakistan. What will finally lead to the success of this rehabilitation policy and reconciliation?

On March 20, 2013, Delhi Police claimed to have arrested top Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Liaqat Ali in train from Gorakhpur on his way to Delhi. It was alleged that he was sent to launch attacks in the national capital of India just ahead of Holi, to create terror. This incident which did not get as much attention in the media as January skirmishes at the LOC and hanging of Afzal Guru, actually elicits the same attention as the former two as far as the intractable nature of the Kashmir Conflict is concerned. The event could be read as just another obstacle in the same line of transaction in which India and Pakistan have been involved for 65 years now – resolution of the Kashmir conflict. In this context, situation seems to be grim since January 2013, which had brought some hope last year when India and Pakistan resumed the peace dialogue, after it was stalled in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

This incident claims even more importance now as it happened just over a month after Afzal Guru’s hanging. These incidents are essentially rooted in the fear of fuelling terrorism and aiding of militancy from across the border. For the same reckoning, Liaqat Ali hailing from Kashmir was also arrested and booked under anti-terror laws, despite being a militant willing to surrender and return back to his homeland after years of exile. This has been however disputed by the Delhi Police while the Home Ministry at the centre ordered an investigation into the matter by the NIA, pressed upon by the Chief Minister of J&K, Omar Abdullah as well. The only thing different in this case was that no terrorist attack actually took place, which was supposedly foiled by the Delhi Police. Subsequently he was released on bail after investigations conducted by the NIA due to lack of evidence against him. This event has raised certain important questions which needs a deeper understanding – Is such a confidence building measure, where India is trying to rehabilitate and welcome the surrendered militants as a step towards reconciliation, possible? If reconciliation is not possible in such a case, what is the problem that is preventing it? What is the way out of it?


In 1989, many Kashmiri youth crossed the borders for getting trained in Pakistan Administered Kashmir and Pakistan for gureilla warfare against the Indian state. It is these people who we term as militants who tried to wage war against India for realizing their right to self-determination.  As the intensity of insurgency reduced many of them became weary of war and disillusioned by the sad state of affairs and their treatment in Pakistan, decided to return. Nevertheless war weariness also prompted them to give up arms and they renounced militancy with an urge to start their lives afresh.

Many of them who returned and surrendered stayed back and started their lives afresh, while others went back and took up jobs on the other side of the border. Many of those who stayed back were not afforded a life of dignity, free of fear and were always looked at with suspicion. Some of them were even indicted without any justifiable reason or fair trial and the most recent and prominent example would be hanging of Afzal Guru, which brought the Kashmir Conflict in the forefront yet again. With the arrest of Liaqat Ali and the subsequent accusation of the Delhi Police led many to question this rehabilitation policy in the light of Afzal Guru Incident.

Rehabilitation Policy – A bane or a boon?

Coming back to India through so called “illegal route” of Nepal is nothing new. Therefore discussing the alternative routes is not called for and is the most insignificant thing to be discussed this time. It had begun even before J&K government and the Central Government in India came to an understanding in 2009, to rehabilitate ex-militants who wished to come back. Even before formal negotiations between the Centre and the State on this issue began in 2004, a lot of ex-militants came back in 1990’s through this route. The four entry points for return include Wagah Border (Punjab), Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkote. Denying assistance or rehabilitation on the ground that they have returned from illegal routes not provided for is the most callous mistake or even a statement that Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah could have made in the State Assembly. Though the political symbolism attached to Kashmir still remains at the forefront of the conflict between India and Pakistan but theback channel cooperation of India and Pakistan on the issue of return of former militants deserves commendation. It was only with the concurrence of the governments in India and Pakistan that made the escape route for former Kashmiri militants and their families possible through Nepal.

It is also considered as one of the confidence building measures between India and Pakistan towards reconciliation for facilitating a successful process of conflict settlement of Kashmir through Alternative Dispute Resolution. This warrants more importance than anything else in the current context for the entire region. It clearly shows the intention of policymakers on both sides of the border to engage constructively in the peace process which could ultimately also lead to resolution of the Kashmir conflict. However the distrust, fear and mutual hostility between the two hinders that progress, especially with security and intelligence agencies of both the countries adding fuel to the fire. It is quite disconcerting to see that the policy making gets utterly influenced by the misguided presumptions of the security and intelligence communities. As absurd an allegation by the Delhi Police it may have sounded, that a person, potentially a surrendered militant, had come with arms and ammunitions with the intention of launching a terrorist attack in Delhi, it also brings in question the credibility of our security and intelligence agencies underscored by their structural fallacies. These fallacies find expression in the old structures that are yet to emerge from the British colonial legacy. This post-colonial scenario is postulated in the work of intelligence agencies being restricted to handling law and order problems and dealing with alleged spies from the rival countries. This has also led to reluctance on part of India and Pakistan to share intelligence information. Nevertheless there is disconnect not just between intelligence and security communities but also between security communities and the civilian leadership, which renders the system virtually infructuous to deal with such sensitive issues in both the countries. Therefore, when it comes to Kashmir, it seems the intelligence and security agencies in both India and Pakistan move forward with such acts on account of mutual hostility and distrust for each other. Such fallacies coupled with illegal detentions under anti-terror laws have become a common ground as far as Kashmiris in Kashmir or elsewhere in India are concerned. This in the long run would neither benefit the two countries nor the settlement of the Kashmir conflict.

While this aspect of the matter remains at the forefront, there are other equally significant institutional and structural problems that warrant attention for reconciliation to come to fruition. Not going to the numbers of how many former militants have been rehabilitated, it is well established that majority are still waiting to return, while others who have returned are disillusioned with the system and the way it is seeking to rehabilitate them. Internationally, it is in India’s benefit to rehabilitate the former militants and their families, as it can show to the world that insurgency is going down and normalcy is returning in Kashmir. However domestically it has created lot of difficulties for India, which is due to deficiencies in its institutional setup. For example one of such problems is with respect to unemployment and as a result such people are left with less money to sustain their lives among other problems of underdevelopment. There is also a problem with respect to giving citizenship to their spouses and families who are foreign nationals and India does not have such strong institutions and also support from Pakistan, to enable that. Such systems are not yet in place to facilitate successful implementation of this scheme. So far nothing seems to have been done. The very first principle of natural justice is justice should not only be done, but also seem to have been done. While this amnesty scheme has given hope to many to return to their homes, it has also left them disillusioned with the way the system works and has still not been able to assist them fully to rebuild their lives. This may have serious repurcussions in the long run and has a potential to throw India back to 1990’s as the relations between India and Pakistan remain fragile, especially with respect to the Kashmir Conflict.


Path to success

It is well established in academic and policy literature that national security and human security complement and are not in contravention with each other. It is pertinent to refer to this in finding a way towards successful process of reconciliation which cannot be achieved in the prevailing national security paradigm of India and Pakistan. In this context, it is important for both India and Pakistan to move beyond their old patterns of national security which is basically reminiscent of the British colonial legacy as described above. The world is moving beyond Westphalian conception of state and it is essential for both India and Pakistan to realize the importance of human security in this context. With insecure people, state cannot be secure, which has become a fact in the contemporary world. This is not to say that national security has lost its significance, but the fact that it needs to be modified with the changes happening in the 21st century.

In the context of Kashmir, national security imperatives cannot be achieved by bringing in more armed forces and paramilitary troops to curb any resistance, which exemplifies the post-colonial mindset of India in handling such a sensitive issue.  There has to be a modified understanding of national security which should primarily deal with improving the security and intelligence agencies and for them to move beyond the stereotypes. The structure of security and intelligence agencies could be improved through modernization by bringing in more professionalism through capacity building and training. While this is a necessary predicament, it is equally important to look at human security while filling in such contours of national security and building solid institutions to deal with the issues that the returnees are confronted with. In that context, also India will have to move beyond structural impunity by virtue of which people in the Kashmir Valley suffer institutionalized human rights violations, which only alienates them from the Indian state. All these aspects have to be considered and worked upon and only then reconciliation as a way for successful implementation of the rehabilitation policy will come to fruition and become an open ended process. This would potentially in the long run also lead to resolution of the Kashmir conflict.



Afzal Guru’s hanging in perspective and the Kashmir Conflict


On December 13th, 2001 there was an attack on the Indian parliament, when five terrorists opened indiscriminate firing killing 9 people and injuring over 15. Afzal Guru, (who hails from Sopore, a city in the Kashmir Valley) was hanged at 8.00 a.m. on February 9th, 2013. This has rightly evoked a debate on death penalty in India, and also puts forth a significant question; is it purely a legal matter or has a significant political dimension to it as well? What is that political dimension and what could be its likely potential fallout? The undesirable yet inevitable reaction of Guru’s hanging in the Kashmir Valley clearly reflects that the political problem attached to the issue is much deeper and deserves a much careful scrutiny, to nip the evil in the bud, which presupposes the resolution of the Kashmir conflict. In contrast to most of the debates and discussions in the mainstream Indian media ever since his hanging became public, it is important not to divert the attention from the main problem and dumbing it down as something insignificant.

Afzal’s hanging – only legal?

It is alleged that Afzal Guru  was not given sufficient legal representation, which both him and his family contended; the family also asserted that he had lost faith in the system which reinforces this fact. In other words, principles of natural justice were denied to him. As Indira Jaisingh rightly wrote about the fallacies of fair trial in the Guru’s case in 2007, “To send a man to his death without legal representation is not only unconstitutional but also barbaric”. Anjali Mody and Arundhati Roy among many others also endorse this opinion, while pointing out the lacunae in Afzal Guru’s trial which clearly did not warrant death penalty. In any criminal proceeding, the onus lies on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, which was not done in this case and clearly did not warrant death sentence on purely circumstantial evidence. While the Indian state has constantly asserted that Guru’s hanging was carried out following due procedure of law, not only was it discredited by was also characterized as unfair and inappropriate by many, including Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

It’s important to move beyond the rhetoric of examining the legality of this case especially given that it has been upheld by the executive; it would not produce any ostensible outcome in terms of rendering justice to the bereaved or bringing the one, who has already been executed, back to life. While some may argue that it has brought closure and justice to those who lost their lives in this attack, it may not be so for others. Death penalty awarded in any civilized democratic society is shameful and also shame on the collective conscience of any society; yet the Supreme Court of India, probably in its best wisdom, passed a judgement that it felt appropriate, given the complexities of the case and the highly culpable nature of the crime. As subjective as it may get, it is more important that we don’t get stuck in over speculating the situation, as everything was done in secrecy and therefore nothing can be verified, to the extent that his family was also not informed about it. Lack of credible leadership and national consensus with respect to the Kashmir conflict, coupled with the communalisation of Indian politics playing the ethnic or religious card to remain in power is nothing new. These are just the symptoms that provide a trigger to the main cause of the conflict. Therefore attributing injustice or bias, to the state; for showing double standards with respect to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, using Kashmir as a political scapegoat to appease the opposition as 2014 elections are approaching, or to the courts for not conducting a fair trial, or the civil society in the state and elsewhere in the country for being presumptuous, is not called for at this time and would only cause more confusion or possibly even strife. While all these may be true in their own right, there is a need to look at the deeper and wider problem to address the problem at its root, which is what adds a significant political dimension to the issue. This is postulated in the need to cure an epidemic that has plagued the state of Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the last three decades, and not just the symptoms that cause it.

In a letter written in 2011, Afzal Guru asserted the attack was in connection with the Kashmir conflict stating:

 “It is Kashmir conflict that led to the attack on Indian Parliament. Hanging me or holding me guilty will not stop the resistance or the attacks in future. In parliament attack case, first session’s court, and then High Court and subsequently Supreme Court has held me guilty. Now Congress government also thinks I am culpable. This is the reality. But martyrdom is my craving and wish. It will be my biggest prize.”

Profiling of a terrorist and identifying the problem:

Terrorism, coupled with the self-determination conflict against the backdrop of secessionist and irredentist claims, which also led to militancy in 1989, has been one of the crucial factors that exacerbated the Kashmir conflict, of which the major sufferers have been the people in the state of Jammu and Kashmir – people like Afzal Guru. The hanging of Afzal Guru who was alleged to be a terrorist involved in this heinous crime against the Indian state, gives us a fair chance to do his profiling which is similar to many of those who were in the same situation at the time, to get to the root of the problem. Afzal was a friendly young man from a well-to-do family, best student in his class and an aspiring doctor. In this pursuit he had joined a medical school in Srinagar, which he left and like many young youth in 1989 crossed the border to get training. He returned back, opened a small business and never indulged in any militant activities. However, the instances of unabated torture and harassment by the police never receded. (Jaleel, 2013) In his interview in Tihar jail in 2006, he told that he did cross the border, but after a few weeks he was completely disillusioned by the way the Pakistani government treated Kashmiris and returned back to his home to start afresh. He started his own small business, but he was not allowed to live in peace because of the regular torture and harassment meted out to him by the Special Task Force and was given no option to live a life of dignity.

It is known, the Kashmir conflict has been haunting the Indian sub-continent and the South Asian region for over 60 years. In the last few days, after Afzal Guru’s hanging, immense significance has been attributed to 1984, and 1989 which saw the hanging of Maqbool Bhat (another separatist who was sent to gallows) and the subsequent beginning of insurgency in Kashmir, respectively. These experiences were exacerbated by the political rigging during the 1987 elections to keep the Muslim United Front (MUF) out of power. This disgruntled group was organized as a political party, of which Afzal Guru was a member, in pursuit of achieving self-determination by negotiating a peaceful settlement, grew disillusioned. Eventually many started crossing the border to get trained for an armed struggle against the Indian state, exemplifying alienation on all grounds of the Kashmir Muslims which was further exacerbated by the unfortunate exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. While Kashmiri Pandits have also suffered a lot living a life in perpetual exile, Kashmiri Muslims within the valley are subjected to utter discrimination and alienation in all spheres of life. This is particularly significant now, as it seems to have recurred with Afzal’s hanging with an apprehension of revival of militancy as a long-term implication, which has plagued the Kashmir valley for the last 24 years. There are those who would argue that the Kashmir of 2013 is not the same as it was in 1984, which in the larger context is a misguided assertion as the roots of the conflict remain the same and reactions in the valley on Afzal Guru’s hanging bear testimony to that. The enforced calm and emphasis on tourism in the recent past after the 2010 summer protests, as signs of normalcy should not elude this fact. This brings us to the root cause of the problem, which is not to justify that he had no hand in the attack on parliament, but to give a broader picture of the main problem.

The roots of the Kashmir conflict and prospects for peace

The abovementioned cannot be seen in isolation, disregarding things that are negatively impacting the people in Jammu and Kashmir especially Kashmiri Muslims. The callousness and apathy that has seeped in the Kashmiri society is worth considering, as it has led to a strong sense of hypocrisy based on falsehood and immorality. This has clearly led many people in Jammu and Kashmir to base their livelihood on the conflict and would thus want the conflict to continue. However, this assertion cannot dilute the legitimate grievances of innocent people who have been suffering. Therefore in any conflict, there are bound to be spoilers as well but that does not mean everyone is a spoiler. Having said that, this sort of callousness and hypocrisy also has its roots in the way Kashmiri Muslims are treated. As Mattoo and Roy rightly enunciate, while India may blame the radical groups operating from Pakistan radicalizing the Kashmiri youth who claim self-determination, the fact is that the reason for this is more complex and finds expression in a strong sense of victimhood, discrimination, alienation, injustice and insecurity about their identity that has produced such anti-India sentiments over the years[1]. However, the involvement of Pakistan based radical groups cannot be completely ruled out since the genuine grievances of people in such ethno-nationalist conflicts are more often hijacked by such groups. In 1989, Pakistan took advantage of the situation and set up training camps to train Kashmiri militants who had crossed the border, in guerrilla warfare against India. With respect to Guru’s hanging, the terrorist group  Lashkar – e – Toiba has started sending out warning messages for a possible retaliation.

India’s inability or unwillingness to win the hearts and minds of the people in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is extremely significant in this context. Be it the working group recommendations which never got implemented, or the interlocutors’ recommendations which were categorically rejected by the Parliament, the people of Jammu and Kashmir already distrusted the governments at both the state and the centre. While this was the case, the situation was relatively calm and less violent, after the summer of 2010. There was still an iota of hope for resolution of the Kashmir conflict, even though the level of trust was decreasing since the level of violence was receding; additionally the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference showed willingness to participate in a dialogue process to reach a final settlement. However a major blow to that dialogue process, started with LoC (Line of Control) ceasefire violations and mutilation of army personnel on both sides of the border in January, 2013 and consequently, as the Defense Minister of India, A.K. Anthoy said, peace with Pakistan may also take some more time till things are back to normal. Till the time both internal and external hostilities retreat, it seems that the summer of 2010 will be repeated judging from the way the situation in Kashmir is spiraling, which will only reinforce the alienation of the Kashmiri Muslims. In that sense resolution of the Kashmir conflict still seems far-fetched and sustainable peace, an idealistic phenomenon.

Beyond intractability – Way forward

While it is a necessary predicament for India and Pakistan to sincerely cooperate in order to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir conflict, it is more important for India to reach out to the people of Kashmir than just paying lip service, which has been reiterated time and again but seems to be falling on deaf ears. Under this enforced calm, the conflict still simmers in need of just a trigger to erupt and Afzal Guru’s hanging just provided that. This finds expression in the perpetual offensive and brutal posture of the governments at the Centre and the State in controlling the Muslim majority Kashmir Valley. The national security paradigm in the main political discourse in India as far as Kashmir is concerned, emphasizes on sending in more army and paramilitary troops to maintain law and order. This in simple terms means enforcing peace and calm by imposing curfews with shoot at sight orders. Nevertheless it also entails collateral damage which can primarily be seen in the humanitarian crisis which ensue subsequently. This includes deaths of the innocent, institutionalized human rights violations, which are as grave as crimes against humanity, shortage of basic essentials and more importantly which gets adversely affected and is very significant- education in the valley. All this just induces fear, suspicion and mistrust in the minds of the people who over a period of time translate into people turning rebellious, to reinforce their identity. This is what Nitasha Kaul rightly calls, Mandarin-Machiavelli interaction. It is also important to note here that even in security dilemma approach of the contemporary conflicts, there is nothing that elicits exclusion of fear, suspicion and other psychodynamics, to understand and analyse the main causes of the conflict and deal with them[2]. This clearly exemplifies that human security and national security are complementary to each other, and need to be applied evenly for handling a given situation.

The pattern of governance and its interaction in the political institutions both at the centre and the state level have come to describe the prevailing condition of the Kashmiri Muslims. It can be described under two concepts. The one is the relative deprivation theory in which people feel that they are not getting the goods and conditions conducive for their living which they can rightfully claim and deserve. The other is the grievance based explanation of ethnic conflicts in which people feel that they do not have enough political rights and hence impinging on their political representation[3]. Therefore a significant emphasis on human security while filling the contours of national security is the way to go to handle this situation in short-term as well as long-term to reach a peaceful political settlement of the Kashmir conflict, with the participation of the Kashmiri people.

To put it simply, as Mirza Waheed claims:

 “Before India can even begin to contemplate negotiating a lasting political solution in consultation with Kashmiris it must act to deliver justice — for the parents of the disappeared; for the young lives brutally extinguished in 2010; for the innocent dead stealthily buried in unmarked graves in the mountains; for the Kashmiris languishing in Indian prisons without any legal recourse; for the exiled Kashmiri Hindu Pandits who fled in 1990 after some were targeted and killed by militants…”

It is important to note here that with insecure people, the state cannot be secure. In this context, a bare minimum should be fixed for providing people basic freedoms which is essential to live with dignity. While this should be realistically adapted, to make it work, emphasis should be laid on protection as well as empowerment with the civil society playing a positive role in such an endeavor. To suffice roots of the conflict should also be taken into due consideration[4]. This is the approach that India should adopt to deal with Kashmir and sooner they realize it, the better.


[1] Mattoo, Amitabh and Suresh Roy. “Summer of Discontent: Considering Conditions in Kashmir.” Harvard International Review (2011): 54-58

[2] Shiping, Tang. “The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict: Towards a Dynamic and Integrative Theory of Ethnic Conflict.” Review of International Studies 37 (2011): 511-36

[3] Theuerkauf, Ulrike G. “Institutional Design and Ethnic Violence: Do Grievances Help to Explain Ethnopolitical Instability?” Civil Wars 12 (2010): 118-120

[4] Fouinat, Francois.  “A Comprehensive Framework for Human Security.” Conflict, Security and Development 4 (2004)

Fear of escalation at the LOC: Risk and threat assessment




The January skirmishes on the Kashmir border between India and Pakistan have raised certain pertinent questions, which need a better understanding beyond that of the media and its anonymous sources. Who are the perpetrators and the stakeholders of peace? Will this military crisis derail the peace process between India and Pakistan to the extent of escalation to the level of an all out conventional or nuclear war? What implications will it have in the event of further escalation?

Allegations and statements between India and Pakistan are raising tensions between the two, proving to be yet another a roadblock in the peace process between India and Pakistan that resumed in 2012 after stalling following the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai. These exchanges, with brutal killings on both sides of the border, throws us back to the grim historical past of the ethnic, religious and territorial character of the Kashmir dispute. In this context, any form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), be it negotiation or mediation, has not yet led to any significant breakthrough, and the intractability of this conflict continues to haunt the two major nuclear rivals. At this point it is essential for India and Pakistan to keep their egos under check and continue with the peace process, which is significant not only for the two states but also for the South Asian region. Therefore to sift reality from rhetoric, it is important to refer to history so that we learn important lessons from past mistakes and view it in a holistic manner.

A history of brinkmanship

With the January crisis at the border, speculation of the possibility of another war between India and Pakistan was rife, so much so that India warned Kashmiris of a nuclear attack and suggested certain precautions. While the possibility of war between the two cannot be ruled out completely, it is essential to identify behavioural patterns and trends of past military crises to find a way out of the escalating rhetoric. Military crises between the two have become a common ground; there have been four major military crises between India and Pakistan: Brasstacks from 1986-87, the Compound crisis of 1990, the 1999 Kargil War and the 2001-02 crisis following the Indian parliament bombing, all of which remained on the brink of all-out war.

Referencing these crises crucially demonstrates that neither India nor Pakistan are interested in a war. Any aggressive stance by India, even through means of coercive diplomacy, has proved to be a complete disaster and has failed to prevent any pre-emptive attacks from across the border. One pertinent example would be Operation Parakram following the 2001 parliamentary attack, the first full-scale military mobilisation by the Indian army at the Pakistani border. Though considered to be a successful attempt at coercive diplomacy, it almost brought the two countries to nuclear war. In 2003, India and Pakistan entered into a ceasefire.  Before India could even sit on its laurels, ceasefire violations became a common occurrence and ultimately led to the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, which again shook the very foundation of the relative peace and trust that had been established.

After these attacks, India was on the verge of retaliation before Pakistan acquired tactical weapons, prompting India to exercise strategic restraint. Most importantly, international pressure on Pakistan to abstain from launching such heinous acts of violence coupled with India’s insistence on engaging in a peace process to live up to its image of being a responsible democracy – and the largest in the world – contained the situation. So, despite rhetoric indicating otherwise, any significant escalation of any of these crises was largely avoided. Significantly, it was ultimately the policymakers who took charge of the situation and prevented the escalation of the conflict on both sides of the border, not giving chance to ‘spoilers’ – those would seek to take advantage of the situation and further their own agenda, whatever it may be.

Pakistan has invested a huge portion of its national budget to enhance its military capabilities and develop tactical weapons to bargain from a position of strength. However, as India is focused on economic development, the significant rise of the middle class who most likely would not support war, and urbanisation, it seems highly unlikely that the government would risk another misadventure with its nuclear rival, especially with preparations underway for general elections next year. Equally, Pakistan is fraught with its own internal challenges of sectarian clashes, insurgency from its western frontiers, internal terrorism and crises in its leadership. The last thing Pakistan would want is another crisis on its eastern frontier with India. Though the strategic and security communities on both sides of the border may still be embroiled in fear and therefore may support an aggressive stance towards one another, the people in India, Pakistan, and Kashmir want peace.

Future war or future peace?

Peace assuredly acts as a defence for both countries on which the stability of the entire South Asian region depends. Despite the sabre-rattling in these strategic and security communities, policymakers have shown an unwillingness to become increasingly belligerent and rightly so. But relations between India and Pakistan remain fragile, and the parlous domestic situation in Pakistan may spiral the other way round in the event of further escalation. At this point in time however, any escalation of the crisis is not only uncalled for both India and Pakistan, but also unlikely to happen.

The unaccounted variable in this situation remains those ‘spoilers’ and perpetrators, who seek to provoke the situation through ceasefire violations and the brutal killings of soldiers on the border. India’s unwillingness to allow the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to investigate these incidents as an unbiased third party seems misguided, as a neutral, unbiased approach to addressing the issue is the need of the hour. Without the consent of the conflicting parties, mediation cannot come to fruition. But India considers UNMOGIP redundant, clearly expressed in its request to scrap it from Kashmir, and the utility of ADR has been further undermined throughout years of UN failure to mediate a goal oriented settlement of the conflict. However, this may prove pivotal not just in easing the tensions between the two but more importantly rendering justice for the bereaved families. Bilateral negotiations are the ideal method but when relations between the two are so hostile and distrustful, it is wise to investigate objectively with the help from an outside party.

However India’s unwillingness to internationalise the issue is not completely misguided, as the fundamental views of the conflict still remain vivid in South Asia’s dark history. The partition of India and the subsequent Kashmir dispute still remains at the forefront as Pakistan still supports a plebiscite solution, which, given the current context, is neither feasible nor desirable. The political symbolism attached to the territorial fixation of Kashmir has rooted conflict for both India and Pakistan, of which the recent border skirmishes are but one consequence. Pakistan has still been unable to give any leads to India to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice. That frustration, coupled with the Pakistani army’s refusal to handover known perpetrators to India, has added fuel to the fire. In fact the Indian army believes cross border shellings are a tactic by Pakistan to bring more insurgents into the Indian territory, at a time when reportedly number of rebels crossing the borders has considerably come down. The only way forward for India and Pakistan is to engage constructively with each other beyond security imperatives, distrust and floating conspiracy theories to build trust, stem violence at the borders and finally facilitate the resolution of the Kashmir conflict.

The resolution of the Kashmir conflict is as complex to comprehend as it is to resolve. It remains the main bone of contention between India and Pakistan even after 65 years of partition. Though the dimensions of the conflict continue to change, the situation remains intractable, with too many missed opportunities for resolution. Amid the belligerent rhetoric any resolution to the Kashmir conflict remains illusory. Especially at this time, as the US is preparing to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, it becomes all the more significant for both India and Pakistan to settle the conflict and not merely manage it, as the stability of the South Asian region depends on this. Or else as they say, history repeats itself.

Reorganisation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir

http:// history of Reorganization of the Indian states clearly shows that the Reorganization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is difficult due to the internal and external exigencies in J&K, which makes it a special case, prevents its reorganization, and history – both recent and past bear testimony to that. Nevertheless its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution of India for its integration into the Indian Union has made things even more complicated. While there is difference in perceptions as far as special status of J&K is concerned, there is national consensus for its fullest integration into the Indian Union.

With the decision on creation of Telangana, speculations were rife about demands for separate statehood to erupt in the State of Jammu and Kashmir as Omar Abdullah also remarked. There was also a demand for forming a fresh reorganization of states commission which did not happen and is also unlikely to happen. While there were protests by protagonists of Gorkhaland and Bodoland, no such protests erupted in Jammu and Kashmir or in other parts of the country where at least 14 demands for a separate statehood have been made from time to time. In the context of Jammu and Kashmir, things are different because of its complex web of internal and external exigencies, which is also connected with the Kashmir dispute since 1947. Reorganization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir has long been abandoned as it was never considered to be brought under the purview of States Reorganization Commission. It would be interesting here to trace the history of the reorganization of states in India to get to where we stand today.

History of Reorganisation of States

The political events that marked the first wave of federal reorganization was partition of the sub-continent in 1947, creation of a separate nation-state of Pakistan and the territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, which also led to the first inter-state war between the two. It is in this backdrop that the Constitution of India was framed which was more unitary in nature. This was driven by the intention to get together a diverse nation within the boundaries of the Indian state. In this context, the Articles 2 and 3 of the constitution of India gave unbridled powers to the Central government to alter or create new states. The first wave in reorganization was with respect to governance in order to accommodate the ethnic groups and communities, to have an unbiased government that is not prejudicial to the diversity of the nation and also for maintenance of good relations with its neighbours in the South Asian region, while reorganizing the states on linguistic lines. While, reorganization of states and autonomy on linguistic lines raised legitimate apprehensions of separatism and disintegration, the 1957 elections proved otherwise in which the Congress party won with a thumping majority. Nevertheless there was a tradition in India on creating states on linguistic basis. Also under the leadership of Nehru as India’s Prime Minister, there was a trend towards centralization in the sense of having large and few states than vice versa as was evident in the letter that he wrote to the Chief Ministers of the state at the time. However as the overwhelming opinion prevalent these days, is that more centralization means more authoritarianism which has led to less grassroots participation as well as oppression of the common man, precludes more decentralization and devolution of power at least within the Indian Union if not outside of it. This is also under consideration as a way of conflict settlement for a number of states in the Indian Union who are seeking separate statehood. While people may be asking for external self-determination, these complex forms of power sharing are seen as a way to accommodate the grievances and needs of the people so that they are able to realize their right to self-determination, which may prove to be a better option than excessive decentralization. These propositions continue to be a dilemma for India as it becomes difficult for India by the day to reconcile its national security with such demands.

The second wave in reorganization of states was with respect to the division of the state of Assam in Northeast India. Its reorganization on the earlier lines was not possible as its society represented a complicated mix of tribal and linguistic communities. The colonial legacy had created several territorial problems even beyond the borders of the state; so that part of India remained the least integrated and posed a threat to its internal and national security. Therefore out of compulsion, in order to reconcile security imperatives with democratic accommodation, Assam was divided into seven separate province states. Later on during Indira Gandhi’s period as Prime Minister, there was again a tendency towards centralization as merely creating new states on the basis of ethnic and linguistic affiliations did not suffice the purpose of reorganization, now people asked for greater autonomy which included more economic independence and promise of non-intervention by the host state. This was also the period when emergency was imposed – a major blot in the Indian political history. There was a third wave of democratization in 1990’s going on as a result of globalization and economic liberalization which played its part. That time politics was also postulated in the growth of caste based regional parties that became more closely aligned with the Central Government and started to have more say in policy making, therefore also marked a shift towards decentralization. The awareness about democratization continues to spread which in the current context finds expression in the recent protests in Bodoland for separate statehood, which was ofcourse opposed by the non-tribals in the region. This is what is deemed to happen when people’s aspirations are not taken into account, while proceeding on one’s own convenience in an effort to form a unified state or keeping the state from disintegrating. This also exemplifies the importance of human security as it precludes the shift from Westphalian to Post-Westphalian conception of the state.

The trends that had become prevalent in 1980’s and 1990’s which included decline of Congress, rise of Hindu nationalism and parties, emergence of coalition governments and regionalization of politics, led to a defacto dispersion of power. Nevertheless Indo-Pak relations worsened.  It is pertinent here to note that ethnic communities in three new states of Uttaranchal, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh were unconnected with foreign borders or cross border nationalities. Therefore political will rather than constitutional provisions decided the creation of new states to accommodate the interests of various ethnic communities while striking a balance between addressing their grievances and national security. This exercise was not possible in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Reorganisation of the State of J&K and Telangana

In the 1990’s, India was thrown back to the gruesome ethnic, territorial and religious character of the dispute in Kashmir postulated in its colonial legacy in the run up to the beginning of militancy in 1989-90. The decline of the Congress coupled with the decay of governance patterns which earlier found expression in “interlocking balancing and relational control” postulated in the domestic and external politics respectively, has been the deciding factor in India’s attitude towards the state and therefore its unwillingness to give it separate statehood either internally or externally. The internal and external dimensions of the conflict are so inextricably linked that we cannot read the two in disjunction to each other. These are just the pressure points in the same line of transaction in so far as granting separate statehood to J&K is concerned.

The timeline of events on creation of Telangana clearly demonstrates political will attached to it. The aftermath of decision on Telangana has also been peaceful, which is a prerequisite for reorganization of any state; however there are some who are peacefully agitating for a unified Andhra Pradesh. The reasons for addressing the needs and grievances of the people who agitated for creation of Telangana were internally driven and did not have any potential of spillover as was the case in Jammu and Kashmir. Though there has been a significant emphasis at least on papers on decentralization and devolution of power, the fact however remains that the Indian Union or the centre is very much in control. The creation of Telangana was apparently not seen as a step towards disintegration of the Indian state by the policy makers and hence also dictates the political will attached to it and the haste with which it was ultimately created to better govern the state and meet people’s demands. While some may argue that it might have been for political purposes but there are people in significant numbers who support this step taken by India and are happy with it. Whether this was a good step or not is outside the purview of this article but the decision on creation of Telangana has now become a fact.

In the backdrop of the issue of self-determination as far as the Kashmir conflict is concerned, different religious and ethnic groups have shown different aspirations and are driven by their own personal motivations and desire over a period of time. As fractured in their relations the people in the state are, they are as much deeply divided regionally within the state with Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir Valley as its constituent units. Hence, separate statehood for the State as a single unit remains out of question, due to communalization and regionalisation of politics in the state, within India, coupled with ethnic affiliations from across the border that has added fuel to the fire. The recent deadly communal riots in Uttar Pradesh bear testimony and present an alarming picture of communalization of politics and society in India, which is also a warning bell to other states of India and to India. This might as well prove to be a prelude to the disintegration of the Indian state including the state of Jammu and Kashmir, if left unchecked. The wave of communal violence in India that started in the 1990’s was underscored by the Ayodhya issue in 1992 which India was allegedly unable to deal with and continues to be under criticism for that.

Article 370

With respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, India had already given it a special status and autonomy in 1953 (Delhi Agreement) through Article 370 of the Constitution of India exercising its power that the Constitution makers provided for under Articles 1 to 4. It is also important to note here that legally and constitutionally it is because of Article 370(1) (c) that Article 1 of the Constitution applies to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In other words Article 1 applies to the State of Jammu and Kashmir because of Article 370. It arguably also means that in the event of abolition of Article 370 from the Constitution, J&K automatically would cease to be a part of the Indian Union. Perhaps majority in the policy making community in India understand the implications of removing Article 370 from the Constitution, that’s why despite the saber-rattling from the right wing national party (BJP) and its affiliates in J&K, on papers it still exists, as India considers, the State of Jammu and Kashmir its integral part.

Integration vis-à-vis Communal overtures

For BJP, who are also for the fullest integration of J&K into the Indian Union believe abolition of Article 370 would do the same. At the same time the party has shown reluctance to support separate statehood for Jammu which has led many to accuse BJP for having double standards as they still are silent on whether J&K would be brought under the purview of fresh reorganization commission if so formed. Be that as it may, this clearly demonstrates that integration of Jammu and Kashmir into the Indian Union that has a national consensus attached to it has been perceived differently in terms of employing means to facilitate that. Fuelled by fear of Pakistan’s involvement in Jammu and Kashmir, as it still supports plebiscite solution to the Kashmir conflict which was an essential prerequisite condition for operation of Article 370, India as a whole internationally is in favour of J&K’s integration into its union. It still exists as a temporary provision in the constitution but also integrates J&K into the Indian Union, while its erosion continues which finds expression in the conflict itself. All this in a nutshell, is postulated in the fact that none of the political parties want any major communal divide in so far as it may prove detrimental for the fullest integration of Jammu and Kashmir into the Indian Union no matter how much the state is regionally divided from within. Also at this point in time, this issue has not attracted much attention in the State or in India because there are other seemingly more important national and international security issues in connection with the state of Jammu and Kashmir that are taking the high ground. So bringing this issue on is not only uncalled for but also a fatal as well as futile exercise to even pursue in the prevailing circumstances.