India, Pakistan and Kashmir: Dramatic Reversal

President General Pervez Musharraf’s January 12 speech can safely be described as an epitaph for Pakistan’s decade-long strategy of helping Kashmiri insurgents. Islamabad allowed its territory to be used by militant-Islamist groups engaging Indian security forces in the disputed region of Kashmir. The speech came in the wake of the biggest ever military build-up by India along its border with Pakistan and was clearly aimed at defusing the immediate crisis. But it has effectively reversed Pakistan’s role as a force-multiplier for the Kashmiri insurgency. Why was the strategy so dramatically reversed and what now for Kashmir?

The World Today
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Ejaz Haider

News Editor, The Friday Times

Since the nineties Pakistan’s Kashmir policy can be described as a compellence strategy pegged to the diplomacy of violence. Given India’s refusal to accept that there is a dispute over Kashmir and honour its earlier commitment to a plebiscite under United Nations Security Council resolutions, Pakistan chose to exploit and sustain the insurgency. That burst out in December 1989, following decades of Indian misrule in the state.

Initially, Islamabad was happy to support indigenous Kashmiri insurgent groups, allowing them to set up bases in Azad Kashmir – technically not Pakistani territory – and their cadres to travel to Afghanistan for training and arms. At the same time it used the unrest to launch a diplomatic offensive on New Delhi, pointing out Indian excesses at various international fora and lobbying friendly governments to force India to concede mediation.

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