Tag Archives: J&K-ites

Is Kashmir actually the jugular vein for Pakistan? 13 May 2014

General Raheel Sharif, with stick, surveying the Line of Control, December 2013. http://kashmirglory.com/pak-army-chief-visit-loc/

Is Kashmir actually the jugular vein for Pakistan?     13 May 2014
Surprisingly, the leader of the Pakistan Army, General Raheel Sharif, once again recently talked about ‘Kashmir’ being the ‘jugular vein’ for Pakistan. Given that the ‘k’ in the acrostic ‘Pakistan’ stands for ‘Kashmir’—i.e., the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) popularly called ‘Kashmir’ after its most famous part, the Kashmir Valley—General Sharif’s statement appeared significant. But was it?

The jugular vein is important, even vital, to a human being’s wellbeing. It is a highly significant vessel that transfers a human’s blood between two major human organs, the brain and the heart. Sever this vein and a human being will die, or can be killed, exceedingly quickly. One way to sever the jugular vein is by cutting someone’s throat. A victim dies quickly after such a brutal action, with significant medical attention needed almost immediately in order to save them. The importance of the jugular vein therefore suggests a number of things re J&K and Pakistan. First, that they share the same, indeed identical, blood. Second, that they are part of the same body and are joined or unified by this important blood vessel. Third, that should this ‘vein’ ever be severed, both the ‘upper’ region of J&K and the ‘downstream’ or geographically lower nation of Pakistan will quickly die.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah possibly first publicised the seemingly biologically-significant relationship between J&K and Pakistan. He apparently first used the ‘jugular vein’ term to describe the inalienable link between princely J&K and the new nation of Pakistan. Allegedly, Jinnah said that “From the political and military
standpoints, Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan. No independent
country and nation can tolerate the handing over of its jugular vein
to the enemy.” I say ‘allegedly’ as the founder of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Amunallah Khan, contests this statement, claiming that Jinnah favoured independence for J&K. Khan is partly right: the All-J&K Muslim Conference, which was heavily influenced by, and ostensibly subordinate to, Jinnah’s All-India Muslim League, only came out in favour of J&K joining Pakistan as late as 22 July 1947, less than four weeks before the British left India. Beforehand, the (seemingly biologically-ignorant) Muslim Conference had favoured an independent J&K. Afterwards, in the minds of Muslim Conference and Muslim League members, J&K and Pakistan became vitally and inextricably linked. This transplanted the J&K-Pakistan relationship.

Thus, from late July 1947, pro-Pakistan J&K-ites and Pakistanis considered J&K to be of vital importance to Pakistan. Some reasonable reasons existed for this belief. First, J&K was a 77 per cent Muslim-majority princely state whose people Pakistani politicians (falsely) believed would naturally favour J&K joining Muslim Pakistan—not secular India, as finally happened, chiefly because the accession decision resided with the ruler of J&K, Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, not J&K-ites. Second, three of the major rivers that flow into Pakistan and provide it with vital irrigation water for agriculture and human survival flow through J&K: the Chenab, Jhelum and Indus. Third, on 17 August 1947, when the India-Pakistan border was officially announced, J&K obtained a long border with Pakistan and a short one with India, suggesting that J&K would unite with Pakistan. This situation changed dramatically when Hari Singh acceded to India on 26 October 1947, after which J&K in its entirety legally became part of the Indian Union. Actually, fighting that had started as early as August 1947, and which increased dramatically thereafter, had already divided the princely state into pro-Pakistan and pro-India areas. A few J&K-ites favoured independence for J&K. Post-accession, Indian J&K actually comprised Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh; Pakistan-Administered J&K consisted of Azad (Free) Kashmir and the Northern Areas (now called Gilgit-Baltistan). Since 1947—and despite J&K’s supposed vital importance to Pakistan—this nation has survived reasonably well politically, economically and socially without possessing all of J&K, or its most prized part, the Kashmir Valley.

How could this be? One major reason is because the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan has successfully regulated, and minimised, water matters between them. Basically, this treaty has taken the heat out of the water issue (to mix a metaphor), with upstream India consistently providing downstream Pakistan with agreed amounts of water annually, for over 40 years. This has largely placated Pakistani fears that India may turn the water off, or on, depending on the issue and time of year. A second reason is that, for both Pakistan and India, the area of desire, and contestation, has always been the Kashmir Valley—even though most Kashmiris probably don’t want to join either nation. Pakistanis have never really been interested in obtaining the Indian-controlled areas of Hindu-dominant Jammu and Buddhist-Shia-populated Ladakh. Thus, if ‘Kashmir’—by which Islamabad invariably means the Kashmir Valley—is the jugular vein, then these ‘lesser’ or non-Muslim-majority areas are expendable limbs the loss of which won’t kill the body.

This suggests that ‘Kashmir’ is Pakistan’s ‘jugular vein’ almost exclusively in Pakistani military minds. They demand such a scenario. Without the bitter, expensive India-Pakistan contest over Kashmir, Pakistan would not need to maintain an expensive, aggressive, politically-interventionist, essentially uncontrollable standing army of 550,000 soldiers and 500,000 reserves. Pakistan would still need an army, but this force would be smaller—and less influential. Therefore, General Sharif was using the ‘jugular’ term to remind three ‘constituents’ of the Pakistan Army’s importance, intentions/desires, and/or ‘spoiling’ power: Pakistani politicians, who need to remember their (inferior) place; Pakistani soldiers, who need to ensure their (superior) place; and India, which needs to understand that the Pakistan Army still desires Kashmir. In reality (and mauling some English), for the Pakistan Army, Kashmir is the ‘pugular’ vein (as in pugilism or fighting), ‘mugular’ vein (as in treating a person—in this case, the average Pakistani—as a mug, or idiot) or ‘tugular’ vein (as in a tug-o-war). Kashmir is not, and has never been, of vital life-or-death significance for Pakistan. The proof is that this region has been effectively and successfully separated from Pakistan since October 1947.

Christopher Snedden
13 May 2014


Is there a J&K Identity? 7 February 2014



Is there a J&K Identity?     7 February 2014

A big South Asian issue is people’s national identity. Individuals, states, or disgruntled citizens aspiring to acquire statehood, all have some factor that encourages, causes or forces them to cohere. This factor may be shared history, geography, religion, culture or language—actual or perceived. Sometimes, however, people’s identities, and their associated aspirations, are contested, unrequited or suppressed by the state. Some subcontinental instances include Sikhs in India, Pakistani Muslims, and J&K-ites in militarily- and politically-divided Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Historically, as the British departed the subcontinent in August 1947, they imposed new identities on subcontinentals, all of whom previously had been ‘Indians’. Local politicians, chiefly in the Congress Party and the Muslim League, agreed to this imposition. One significant group that lost out in 1947 was Sikhs, with large numbers (along with Hindus) moving from western Punjab, which became part of Pakistan, to join brethren located in northern India. The Sikhs’ move occurred partly because, unlike Hindus and Muslims, they failed to obtain a separate homeland in 1947. Given their stark choice of staying in ‘Islamic’ Pakistan or joining ‘Hindu’ India, Sikhs in western (Pakistani) Punjab chose India. They felt more compatibility with Hindus than with Muslims, partly because many Indians considered the Sikh ‘religion’ to be a sub-set of Hinduism, even though Sikhs had sought to assert themselves otherwise from the 1900s. Some Sikhs thereafter displayed disgruntlement with New Delhi a number of times. In 1966, the Indian Government placated this identifiable, and militarily- and economically-important religious minority by dividing greater (Indian) Punjab into a smaller Sikh-dominated state of Punjab, and the neighbouring states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. In the 1980s, motivated by religion and feeling alienated, some Sikhs sought an independent Sikh nation of Khalistan, or the Land of the Pure, a slight to Hindus’ desire to practice ritual purity and to the Urdu meaning of the word ‘Pakistan’. In 1984, New Delhi militarily defeated these Sikhs by storming the Golden Temple and, thereafter, by utilizing effective, but often brutal, police actions. Placated, Sikhs currently appear to be content being Indian citizens.

Sometimes a group’s identity may be contested. This is currently happening with considerable violence in Pakistan. For many years after 1947, Pakistanis debated whether Pakistan should be a state for Muslims or an Islamic state. During General Zia’s rule of Pakistan (1997-1988), Pakistanis increasingly appeared to want Pakistan to be an Islamic state. In recent years, the debate has been to determine the version of Islam that Pakistanis and their nation should follow. Concurrently, Pakistani Muslims of various persuasions and intensities have been seeking to impose their interpretation of Islam on the nation and its people, 95 per cent of whom profess to be Muslims. Some groups, such as Sufis or moderate Muslims, have engaged in a non-violent struggle. Other groups comprising Sunnis, such as the Taliban or the anti-Shia Sipah-e-Sahaba (the Army of the Prophet’s Companion), motivated by ‘fundamentalist’ interpretations of Islam such as Deobandi, Salafi, Wahabi, Ahl-e-Hadith or even Barelvi (which supposedly is more tolerant), have been seeking to impose their will by violent means. Increasingly, these hardline Islamic elements have brutalised Pakistanis. Particular targets have been Shias, who comprise some 20 per cent of Pakistanis, and Ahmadiyyas, both of which groups are considered to be apostates by hardline Sunnis. Sometimes Christians and Hindus have been targetted, including by invoking Pakistan’s (pro-Islam) Blasphemy Law. In some areas, Islamic hardliners also have targetted liberal or moderate Pakistanis engaging in activities deemed to be unacceptable. This includes ‘shrine worship’, dancing or movie-going. Similarly, deadly terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, collaterally have killed or harmed innocent Sunni Pakistanis. The Taliban’s violent anti-social campaign has been so successful that its representatives are now engaging in peace talks with the Pakistan Government.

Although the issue of how ‘Islamic’ the Islamic Republic of Pakistan should be is far from resolved, the Pakistan Government-Taliban talks legitimize and empower the Taliban. Conversely, they make moderate Pakistanis—who comprise the bulk of Pakistan’s citizens—nervous. The serious issue of Taliban-type violence could claim further ‘victims’, physically and politically, in Pakistan. Caution is required. As disgruntled East Pakistanis/Bangladeshis showed in 1971, Islam is not a monolith. Similarly, disgruntled Muslim Balochis, some of whom, despite their religion, want independence from ‘Islamic’ Pakistan, could further split this nation. The Balochis’ cause would be enhanced if ever the Pakistan Army has to fight its various opponents—Taliban; Balochis; Indians; anti-Pakistan forces in Afghanistan; even hardline Islamic elements in Punjab—concurrently on numerous fronts. Time will tell.

Sometimes a group’s identity may be foisted upon it. Consider India’s Untouchables or Dalits and Pakistan’s Mohajirs (refugees from India and their descendants). A third ‘group’ is J&K-ites whose circumstances since October 1947 have compelled them to regard themselves as Indians or Pakistanis. Recently, when talking in Islamabad with some J&K-ites from both sides of the Line of Control (LOC), I (surprisingly) discovered that they have a sense of a distinct J&K identity. This arises because their forebears were subjects in the unified princely state of J&K that existed from 1846 to 1947. (Interestingly, J&K’s total ‘age’ of 101 years makes it a third older than post-partition India and Pakistan.) Over time, the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front’s pursuit of independence for all of the former princely state has helped to rekindle a J&K identity. J&K-ites have been coalesced by India and Pakistan’s inability to resolve the Kashmir dispute—to J&K-ites’ detriment. A final, and important, factor has been the India-Pakistan agreement to open crossing points in J&K to allow J&K-ites to travel to, and trade with, the other ‘side’. This has enabled J&K-ites to get know one another again.

Any development of a post-1947 J&K identity has ramifications for India and Pakistan, particularly should this identity become widely entrenched among J&K-ites. Both nations may find themselves having to deal with an increasingly ‘together’, in more ways than one, group of J&K-ites. This, vicariously, could weaken their respective positions in relation to obtaining control of this bitterly contested region.

Christopher Snedden
7 February 2014

Has the Kashmir dispute been temporarily resolved? 29 January 2014

Has the Kashmir dispute been temporarily resolved?     29 January 2014

Having been in Islamabad for a few days, I have been pondering whether the Kashmir dispute has been temporarily resolved. In the last few years, we have seen little substantial diplomatic movement by either India or Pakistan to actively try to resolve this vexed and seemingly intractable issue. Indeed, India-Pakistan relations have worsened in the last year due to some serious and unsavoury incidents across the Line of Control that have upset Indians, particularly some in the Indian Army. Most recently, in J&K itself, trade across the Line of Control has ceased due to India’s arrest of a truck driver from the other ‘side’ who allegedly has smuggled narcotics. In response or retaliation, Pakistan has detained 27 truck drivers from the Indian side. Trade has been suspended for two weeks as officials locally and in New Delhi and Islamabad try to resolve the matter.

More broadly and despite Pakistan’s new leadership, New Delhi has been occupied dealing with other international and domestic issues. Internationally, India is engaging with, and being wooed by, an array of nations seeking to couple their bilateral relations with, and to benefit from, India’s seemingly slow but inevitable progress towards being a great power. Locally, Indian politicians have been positioning themselves and their parties for the forthcoming Indian elections. Consequently, New Delhi seemingly has little time or interest to deal with Islamabad in a serious or substantive way on advancing any of the major India-Pakistan issues, with the possible exception of trade. Similarly, some Pakistanis are concerned that India’s potential prime minister, Narendra Modi, who they believe is a hardline anti-Pakistani, may not ‘give an inch’ on any issue, especially J&K.

It is too early to predict the outcome of the Indian elections. Furthermore, given the nature of politics, it remains to be seen how hardline Mr Modi will, or actually can, be, should he become India’s prime minister. Currently, however, Islamabad has not been able to advance the India-Pakistan relationship, except rhetorically. Nawaz Sharif has talked of wanting to normalise Pakistan’s relations with India, which has been helpful. Yet, despite being a businessman and politician, he has not been able to bring himself to grant India the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status that would normalise the India-Pakistan trade relationship. This is partly because some Pakistanis object to this terminology, believing (incorrectly) that such a move will grant India special privileges. Equally, Sharif’s seeming reluctance to deal positively with India may partially be explained because he is waiting to see which Indian leader with whom Pakistan will eventually have to deal.

Sharif’s reluctance also reflects some indecisiveness in Pakistan as it grapples with a number of other issues. These include whether to fight the anti-social Tehreek-e-Taliban (Pakistan Taliban) or to negotiate with them or to undertake both activities simultaneously; how to successfully, and as painlessly as possible, address Pakistan’s major internal economic, social and political woes, particularly in places such the ethnic and political hotspot of Karachi, the backward and Taliban-infested Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and in perennially disgruntled Balochistan; and, dealing with the inevitable tension and instability that will arise in post-ISAF Afghanistan and which invariably will impact on Pakistan, most probably negatively.

The serious matter of post-ISAF Afghanistan is, arguably, the issue engaging Islamabad’s strategic planners the most. It seems to me that they are very concerned about Pakistan having to deal with some potentially serious instability on its western wing while still having to confront a somewhat assertive India on their heavily-militarised eastern border. The recent United States-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue will make Pakistanis feel a little more comfortable with their strategic situation—but only a little. They remain terribly concerned about, and focused on, India, about which they obsess and to which they invariably, but unnecessarily, compare Pakistan.

As a result, we are seeing a short term, and somewhat clever, strategy by Pakistan in relation to the Kashmir dispute. This strategy involves seeking stability in the east by not pushing to resolve the J&K issue with India while, concurrently, saying publically and more often that Pakistan does not want J&K but that, instead, it wants ‘Kashmiris’ to be able to have an act of self-determination to decide their international status. By Kashmiris, the Pakistanis seemingly mean all of the people of J&K, although Islamabad’s focus appears to be on the Indian-controlled Kashmir Valley and the serious human rights violations there. This is the clever part of the strategy: Pakistan is attempting to take the ‘high moral ground’ by focusing on what it considers to be India’s serious and diabolical actions in the Kashmir Valley against ethnic Kashmiris. New Delhi is assisting Islamabad by not actively and openly pursuing human rights violations and by recently allowing the Indian Army to close an investigation into five soldiers accused of killing five supposed ‘terrorists’ in Anantnag in 2000.

Equally, clever, Islamabad is magnanimously wanting to empower the long-suffering but politically-expendable people of J&K (particularly those in the clearly non-pro-Pakistan regions of Jammu and Ladakh) to let them decide their fate. This makes Islamabad appear to be a paragon of virtue in relation to empowering ‘native’ peoples (i.e. J&K-ites) and their inalienable rights to self-determination. Nevertheless, only two options appear to remain available to J&K-ites: join J&K either with India or with Pakistan. Independence, which some, perhaps many, J&K-ites desire for J&K is not an option.

Pakistan’s strategy is likely to be in place until Afghanistan becomes sufficiently stable or until a regime emerges in Kabul that is to Pakistan’s liking. While clever, it could backfire as others highlight Pakistan’s own human rights violations and/or lack of allowing self-determination to people in places such as Balochistan. In relation to the Kashmir dispute, it means that we are unlikely to see very little movement in the next few years. This could change if there is a major post-election political and mindset shift in New Delhi. Otherwise, there is no pressing imperative for India and Pakistan to resolve their dispute over J&K. Therefore, effectively—although neither actually nor efficiently—the Kashmir dispute would appear to be ‘resolved’ for the next few years.

Christopher Snedden
29 January 2014

Is generational change the key to resolving the Kashmir dispute? 11 June 2013


Is generational change the key to resolving the Kashmir dispute?    11 June 2013

Recently, I returned from New Delhi where I launched a book I have written called Kashmir: The Unwritten History (published by HarperCollins India). To my pleasant surprise, my book has been well received in India. Since its release, it has been on India’s ‘Top Ten Non-Fiction Best Selling List’, rating as high as three at one stage.

My book may be popular because it is controversial. Using primary sources, I have discussed how people in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) started the dispute over J&K’s international status (the so called ‘Kashmir dispute’) in 1947—and not outsiders, as India has long claimed and in which claim Pakistan surprisingly has acquiesced.

The people of J&K instigated the Kashmir dispute by undertaking three significant acts in 1947:

  • soon after partition on 15 August 1947, some Muslim ‘rebels’ living in the south-western Poonch and Mirpur areas of the Jammu Province of J&K mounted an uprising against the ruler of J&K;
  • in September-October 1947, residents of Jammu Province (‘Jammuites’) engaged in serious inter-religious violence throughout Jammu Province, as a result of which many people in all communities (Hindu, Sikh, Muslim) were killed, or were forced to flee to other areas;
  • Poonchi and Mirpuri ‘rebels’ created the Provisional Azad (Free) Government in those areas that they had successfully liberated or ‘freed’ from the ruler’s control, with this area quickly becoming known as ‘Azad (Free) Kashmir’.

Significantly, all of these three actions by the people of J&K (who collectively I call ‘J&K-ites’) occurred before the ruler of J&K, Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, acceded to India on 26 October 1947. Surprisingly, they have received scant—or even no—attention in most histories about the Kashmir dispute.

Nevertheless, these three actions importantly confirm that the people of J&K not only have long been stakeholders in the long-running Kashmir dispute, but also that they actually instigated this serious, ongoing, matter. This conflicts with the official Indian version that Pukhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan instigated all of the violence and troubles in J&K in 1947 when they invaded Kashmir Province on 22 October. Most Pakistanis also have ignored the significant events that preceded the embarrassing (for Pakistan) tribal invasion.

While some Indians have called me a rebel, or they think that I am pro-Pakistan, or that my ‘revision’ of history will empower Pakistan, many subcontinentals are pleased to hear that there is more to the Kashmir dispute than has been enunciated in Indian and Pakistani histories. In particular, J&K-ites have been pleased to see their forebears’ side of the story revealed in a comprehensive way for the first time. Some have informed me that they have found my book empowering.

One Indian reviewer believes that my book was based on a false premise: that the Muslim League and Muhammad Ali Jinnah were responsible for organising whatever negative (that is, anti-maharaja or anti-Indian) events happened in J&K in 1947. Interestingly, he did not provide a shred of evidence to support his position. This reviewer also stated that my book ‘flies in the face of historical facts’. I agree with him. Indeed, this was always my intention: to provide a more complete picture of what happened in 1947, rather than to selectively relate historical ‘facts’ advantageous to India (particularly) or to Pakistan.

Another reviewer claims that I have not accessed any Indian documents about these events. I did actually do so, including some that show that Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel were aware in late September/early October of what was happening in J&K, including in the Poonch area, and, more pointedly, that they both knew that the Pukhtoon tribesmen were planning to invade Kashmir Province.

Interestingly, there seems to be a generational issue involved in people’s acceptance or rejection of my book. Many younger people—those under about 45 years old—appear more prepared to consider the book’s contents on its merits. People older than 45 tend to want to apportion blame for what happened in J&K in 1947.

This possibly suggests that, in terms of resolving the Kashmir dispute, a resolution may happen more easily when the older generation that directly experienced or that strongly remembers partition in 1947 has moved on. In Pakistan, most such people have passed away. In India, there are still many alive, with some serving in important political positions. This includes the current Indian President, Prime Minister and Defence Minister.

My sample has been small, but perhaps younger people in the subcontinent might be more amenable to resolving the Kashmir dispute than the older generation?

(Kashmir: The Unwritten History, published by HarperCollins India in 2013, was first published by Hurst and Co., London, and Columbia University Press, New York, as The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir. The title was changed to take account of the Indian Government’s sensitivity in relation to the use of the term ‘Azad Kashmir’, which region India considers to be under Pakistan’s ‘occupation’.)

Christopher Snedden

11 June 2013