INDIAN HEGEMONIC DESIGNS AND THE FUTURE OF KASHMIR Introduction 1. India’s hegemonic designs have always generated intense academic, intellectual, and strategic interest and controversy. Historically, Indian expansionist psyche can be traced back to the concept of ‘Vishal Bharat’ or Greater India. Since its independence, Indian leaders have exhibited a distinct role consciousness – a deep seated desire to play a central role in the region and in due course assume the status of global power.
Of late, the rapid build-up of Indian military muscle along with its ambitious nuclear and missile pursuits is also being viewed as a vindication of the role and status consciousness of India. 2. Most political scientists agree that Indian hegemonic attitudes have left indelible impression on her foreign and security policies. Is India, the land known for Gandhian non-violence and Hinduististic passivity and renunciation, really a hegemonic state? Is Kashmir linked to, or indispensable for realizing Indian hegemonic designs?
A hegemonic state would not like to see a piece of land, howsoever disputed this may be, go out of its fold. This makes the search for a solution of the Kashmir issue that much more difficult. Is there, then, a solution of the Kashmir problem that would satisfy India, Pakistan, and the Kashmiri people, and not become a victim of the Indian hegemonic ambitions? I would hypothise that despite heavy odds there is a way out of this grueling impasse. Aim 3.
To explore the basis and manifestations of Indian hegemonic designs, their implications for Pakistan, future of Kashmir issue in this grand design of regional hegemony and proffering recommendations for the resolution of issue. INDIAN HEGEMONIC DESIGNS Historical Perspective 4. Hinduism preaches a life of passivity; Gandhi ostensibly stood for non-violence. The image of Hindus in general is that of a peace-loving and non-violent people. This has been disputed by scholars like Nirad C.
Chaudhry, a renowned Indian writer, who believes that “in reality, however, few human communities have been more war-like and fond of bloodshed”. This facet of Hindu behavior is rooted in a legacy of fear from the invasions of the Subcontinent from the North West starting with the Aryans around four thousand years ago; the Greeks, the Huns, the Mongols, the Afghans, the Persians, the Turks and the Arabs. The last one thousand years witnessed the Muslim invasions. Incidentally, Pakistan thus symbolizes the character and direction of that great Indian fear.
This fear generates a serious complex in an Indian, leading him to assume an aggressive posture. Thus in modern India, this complex has led to the generation of one of the biggest war machines of the world. The image of non-violence associated with Hindu India is shattering rapidly. 5. The Indians are also conscious of the fact that in its recorded history, India has never been a single nation state, and has, instead, always consisted of small and big states mostly at war or in conflict with each other. Not even rulers like Ashoka or Aurangzeb could bring entire Subcontinent under their sway.
Only the British united this vast stretch of land through a brutal use of force and a robust administrative and military control. Owing to a wide diversity of race, color, creed, religion, culture and language, the factors that make up a nation, there have always been strong centrifugal forces in India, with no shared bonds of nationhood or oneness. The Sikhs, the Kashmiris, the people of the southern states of India, the Assamese, the Nagas, the Mezos, the Tripurans, have all exhibited strong desire for separateness.
The fears generated by inherent and generic divisive pressures have also affected the mindset of Indian leadership and its elite, who are willing to go to any limit to ensure the unity of India. This deep-seated fear of national disintegration also contributes to shaping up the Indian hegemonic designs and ambitions. 6. Though rooted in history, the role consciousness of India has been shaped largely by the modern Indian leadership through a conscious effort, particularly by the Nehru dynasty.
Pandit Nehru claimed that India was destined to play a great role in the world. The Indians started regarding themselves as the inheritors of the glory of British India, from where the British dealt with most of Asia including China and Russia. India signed early treaties with its smaller neighbors, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan, to assume a position of some eminence in the Subcontinent. For quite some time, it remained under the illusion that the nascent state of Pakistan would collapse under the weight of its own problems and fall back to the Indian fold.
The policy of bilateralism, which India espouses so passionately, also seems to have hegemonic roots as it places India in obvious generic advantage over its smaller neighbors. Strategic Dimension 7. Ever since the end of the cold war and the demise of the Soviet Union, which remained India’s steadfast strategic partner for four decades, Indian strategic and security policies have come under a major review. Now, it is the Indo-US relations that constitute the most important factor shaping India’s foreign Policy.
India has been successful in realizing unprecedented bilateral collaboration with the US, while maintaining, in essence, the tone and tenor of its traditionally strong ties with Russia. On its part, the United States too has decided to qualitatively transform its relationship with India, primarily for two reasons: containment of China; and the economic and commercial interests of the US in the vast Indian market. President Bush’s last visit to the region and conclusion of a “strategic partnership” provided undeniable evidence of Washington’s tilt towards India.
This warming up of relations with the sole super power of the world is being perceived by Indian policy makers as an acceptance by the world community of India’s role as a major regional and global player. 8. India is well aware that China can be a real obstacle to the realization of India’s regional hegemony. Indo-China relations have traditionally been soured by the still unresolved border conflict of the past and the regional ambitions of India. However, both China and India, and especially China, have found it prudent to cooperate, at least in the short-term.
China has been wary of US attempts to enlist India in its “containment of China” policy; accordingly it has visibly taken steps to improve and stabilize relations with India to weaken the Indo-US alliance. On its part, India too has made conscious efforts to improve relations with its giant neighbor across the Himalayas. 9. With a strategic partnership with the US, and having normalized relations with China, India has developed a tremendous strategic space to maneuver and consolidate its hegemonic agenda.
It has moved swiftly on all fronts. It has successfully maintained its close relations with Russia after the break-up of the Soviet Union. The EU is emerging as India’s major economic partner. India is a dialogue partner with ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and an active member of IORARC (Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation). India has literally rendered SAARC ineffective in favor of bilateralism where it has a distinct advantage over all of its smaller neighbors. 10.
A stage has thus been set in the strategic landscape of South Asia and the Indian Ocean for India to flex its muscles, particularly the military muscle, to realize its long sought after ambition of regional hegemony as a prelude to becoming a global player. The Military Muscle 11. The most ominous manifestation of Indian hegemonic designs is its relentless persuit of milirary might. Having started with a modest armed forces in 1947, it has come a long way in creating huge paraphernalia of strategic and military armed forces equipped with nuclear and missile technology.
India has ambitious nuclear weapons and missile development programs. In the past decade, India has been trying with limited success to develop a nuclear weapon infrastructure, including weaponized warheads, delivery systems, command and control structures, early warning facilities and an institutionalized working linkage between nuclear scientists and the military hierarchy. 12. India has publicly dismissed the idea that Pakistan was the motivating factor behind its nuclear policies and cited its conventional superiority in this regard.
If one were to believe the Indian claim, the question arises as to what then is the objective of Indian nuclear program. Indian military planners do not envisage any realistic nuclear conflict with any other power. China could be a target, but given the trend in the evolution of Sino-Indian relations, the possibility of a major conflict between them in the near future is less than remote. Both China and India adhere to a nuclear policy of no first use. What then was the main objective behind Indian nuclear program?
On closer scrutiny, it becomes clear that apart from serving as a show of force towards Pakistan, the program is part of the Indian quest for a big power status. The ever growing Indian defence budget and recently concluded military hardware purchase plan to the tune of 5 billion dollars bears testimony to this fact. Implications for Pakistan 13. Having surveyed in the preceding paragraphs historical evolution of Indian psyche, the strategic game plan of India, and its obsession with building up its military muscle, it would be logical to infer that Indian leadership is determined to settle outstanding issues by hook or crook.
India continues to create instability in Pakistan by supporting many dissident and sub-nationalists groups. But nowhere is this power politics more evident than in Kashmir where India has resorted to a consistent and brutal use of force to suppress the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people for a right to self-determination. 14. The pressure tactics, such as amassing of troops along Pakistani borders, which have been repeated periodically ever since the first deployment of Indian troops along our borders in 1950-51, has major implications for us.
Apart from obvious security implications, this has tremendous financial and economic implications for Pakistan. There is a widely shared perception in India that by increasing its defense spending, India could increase the costs for other South Asian countries and make them economically vulnerable. Pakistan and other South Asian countries have a far smaller economy than India’s, and would exhaust much earlier should they choose to match Indian defense capability. THE FUTURE OF KASHMIR UNDER INDIAN HEGEMONISTIC DESIGNS
Quest for Solution- An Overview 15. Kashmir is a longstanding dispute between India and Pakistan which originated when the people of Jammu and Kashmir, a state with a Muslim majority, were denied the option to join Pakistan in 1947. Apprehending foul play by the then Hindu ruler of the State, the people of Kashmir rose against him forcing him to flee from Srinagar. On 27 October 1947, the government of India sent in their forces and occupied a large part of the State against an utter disregard of the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
Thus started a dispute which to date has bedeviled relations between the two countries despite repeated attempts during the past five decades to resolve the issue. 16. India contends that the resolutions of United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) required withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Jammu and Kashmir before holding the plebiscite; since Pakistan did not withdraw, the plebiscite could not be held. This is a distortion of the provisions of the UNCIP resolutions. The demilitarization of J&K was to take place in a synchronized manner on both sides of the cease-fire line.
It was in fact India which refused to implement the process of demilitarization. 17. It is an indisputable fact that Pakistan, despite its preference for a solution under the UN auspices, has, in deference to the Indian desire, given full chance to the bilateral route. After a hiatus of several years, during which the relations between the two countries witnessed many vicissitudes, India at last has accepted Kashmir as bone of contention between the two countries. 18. Besides the official channels, both under the UN auspices and bilaterally, there have been sporadic attempts to resolve the dispute through the non official channels as well.
An overview of the attempts made to resolve the Kashmir issue either under the UN auspices or bilaterally reveals that the Indian position on the question of Jammu and Kashmir has progressively hardened. The Indians regard Kashmir as integral part of the Indian empire, and have never engaged in a serious dialogue to even consider any formula that would allow Kashmiris an opportunity to decide about their future. Some political scientists justify the Indian attitude on the ground that separation of Kashmir from India could become an incentive for other separatist movements in the country.
Whatever be the reason for continued Indian rigidity on the Kashmir question, the history has shown that India regards Kashmir critical to its hegemonic and expansionist designs in the region. Is There Any Solution? 19. Let us first look at the Indian official position. India regards the state of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of the Indian Union since accession of the state to India on 26 October 1947. It believes that the UN Security Council resolutions of 13 August 1948 and 5 January 1949 or any other instrument does not modify or alter Indian sovereignty over the state.
The future of the state is an exclusive domestic matter to be resolved within the framework of the Indian constitution. The issue must be resolved bilaterally with no third party mediation whatsoever. This official position has been parroted by the Indian leadership and its officialdom year after year. 20. Behind this bellicose, chauvinistic, and hegemonic position, there are certain apprehensions and calculations in the minds of the Indian leaders. It is important to have a fuller understanding of the dynamics that are shaping the Indian rigid stance.
The Indians believe that inclusion of Kashmir, a Muslim majority state, in India confirms India’s secular credentials and refutes the two-nation theory which formed the basis for Pakistan movement. The Indian political gurus share an assessment that time is on their side. They believe that the worst is over, and like movement in Punjab, separatism in Kashmir would be fully crushed. In the context of CBMs with Pakistan, the objective is to buy time through tactics like isolating Pakistan internationally, defaming the freedom struggle as Pakistan sponsored terrorism, exhausting Pakistan economically through an expensive arms race, etc. 1. Options Available. Over the years, Pakistanis while maintaining their position that the people of Kashmir must be granted their fundamental right to determine their destiny, have shown signs of flexibility in terms of the approach to be followed in finding a solution of the Kashmir issue. Government of Pakistan is quite willing to consider new and innovative methods to ascertain the will of the Kashmiri people. Even the President of Pakistan has been giving workable formulae for the resolution of this issue. The different options which can be tabled for the resolution of the issue: – a.
Maintaining Traditional Policies. The option of maintaining traditional policies has its pros and cons. For Pakistan, this means not giving up our legal position and continuation of all existing policies to maintain Kashmir issue alive on the regional and global scenes until it is resolved on terms acceptable for Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. The flip side of this option is that we have seen that the traditional methods of resolving the issue either bilaterally or multilaterally have not worked; the result has been an expensive stalemate which is keeping both countries on high state of military preparedness. . Freezing the Issue. The proponents of this option argue that Kashmir should be put on the back burner for some years, and the intervening period should be used for domestic consolidation and economic revival. Since freezing of the Kashmir issue would be without prejudice to the legal position of each party, at an appropriate time in future, our claim could always be revived for a final settlement. Within the confines of this option, some analysts branch off to another route.
Their contention is that the intervening period should not only be used for domestic consolidation but also to build up bridges of confidence between India and Pakistan through trade, cultural exchanges cross border travel, etc. An interactive mode would generate anti war lobbies and vested commercial interests that would help build up the requisite confidence and trust between the two countries. When the mutual fears and suspicion have sufficiently receded, an attempt could be made to find a final settlement of the dispute.
The critics of this option believe that evading the issue is no solution and amounts to ostracizing the problem. If a dispute is allowed to simmer without addressing its root cause, as has been the case so far, the problem would never go away; it would get under the rug only to come out at the wrong time in a worse form. Essentially what this option entails is that the territorial status quo would prevail and the LOC would become a de facto border. c. Partial Plebiscite.
A plebiscite could be held in the areas where there is doubt or dispute in regard to the wishes of the Kashmiri people. In other words, areas where it is there is no doubt about the wishes of the people, there would be no plebiscite; these could be Northern Areas (Pakistan), Jammu district (India), Laddakh except Kargil (India), while plebiscite would be held in the Valley of Kashmir along with some areas of Azad Kashmir. A plan involving a partial plebiscite under recognizable fairness and impartiality could have greater chances of acceptability.
The flip side of this option would be that Kashmir would be permanently divided. The counter argument is that if so many other areas of India and Pakistan are divided, why not Kashmir. Those who favor this option argue that ideally Pakistan would like to have the accession of the entire state to Pakistan, but if that has become unrealizable, for whatever reasons, the option of a partial plebiscite has better prospects than the present tense, costly and unstable status quo. d.
Power Sharing or Joint Sovereignty. It involves some kind of system of joint sovereignty of India and Pakistan over the Valley of Kashmir, or a confederation or any other power sharing formula for the Valley for a limited period until conditions have been created for holding a plebiscite or a referendum to ascertain the final verdict of the people of the Valley on their future. The option would involve the softening of the LOC, which in turn would pave the way for economic and social integration of he people of Kashmir. Given our close proximity to the Valley, and the deep cultural and religious ties between our people and the people of Kashmir, the Valley would be gravitated to the economic, social, political and cultural orbit of Pakistan. On its part, India would have the satisfaction of keeping a formal control over the Valley. It looks like a win-win situation; however, this option is too sophisticated and unusual; and it appears to be extremely complicated. e. Partition along the LOC.
Partitioning of the state along the LOC is an option that in the ultimate analysis might be acceptable to India, but poses major difficulties for Pakistan. This would conclusively place the Valley of Kashmir under the Indian sovereignty, thus bringing a heroic fifty year long struggle to a shameful end. f. Independent Kashmir. An option which would not be acceptable to either of the parties under the obtaining environment. Future Outlook 22. For over fifty years now, neither India nor Pakistan has been able to impose a solution of the Kashmir dispute on its own terms.
The declared position of each party is totally unacceptable to the other. Given the dismal track record of bilateral talks, the prospects of finding a solution bilaterally are minimal. In view of the nuclearization of the region, a military solution is not an option worth its consideration. 23. Recommendations. The biggest hurdle in the path of creating the right atmosphere is India’s status consciousness and its corresponding hegemonistic thinking, in which the smaller countries of the region do not enjoy a relationship with their larger neighbor based on parity or equality. This attitude must change.
The Indian leadership needs to rise above their complexes, their prejudices, and scale down their hegemonic ambitions on the basis of ‘live and let live’ philosophy before they expect to be treated as a big brother of the region. The following recommendations have a strong bearing on improving atmospherics of hostile relationship between the two countries:- a. Continued Normalcy in Relations. The foremost requirement is to continue with normalized relations to at least the level of civility and civilized behavior. Until a relationship based on civility and mutual respect is created, misunderstandings would only grow.
The two countries need to learn lessons from several recent examples where age old animosities have given way to unprecedented cooperation and collaboration. Lately, the credit for making consistent attempts to normalize relations goes to Pakistan; India ought to stop the politics of Pakistan-bashing to seek petty domestic political benefits. If anything, it is proving counter productive. b. Demilitarization of Kashmir. While keeping in mind the legitimate security needs of the two countries, Kashmir must be demilitarized to the minimum possible extent leading to restoration of normal life in the state.
India must take visible steps to improve the record of human rights violations by its security forces; visibility of these steps is important as this would serve to make progress in negotiations with Pakistan on other areas of bilateral interest to the two countries. c. Creation of an Atmosphere Conducive for Sustained Dialogue. Mutually hostile propaganda must stop either by implementing the agreements already signed on this question or within the context of SAARC agreements. Interactions amongst journalists of South Asian countries could be increased to promote better understanding and create an atmosphere conducive for sustained dialogue. . Role of Kashmiris. Besides official channels, all other avenues of communications between the two countries should be given a fair chance. This should include contacts between academics, journalists, politicians, and more importantly Kashmiri representatives. This would broad-base the talks, and can help create better understanding of each other’s view point and compulsions. e. Role of UN. Peace along the LOC is of crucial importance. UNMOGIP has the wherewithal to effectively monitor the LOC and thus help keep peace. This would have many long term dividends particularly as and when a solution comes in sight.
CONCLUSION 24. The Indian hegemonic designs manifested most vividly by its obsession to build up huge war machine and its condescending attitude towards the regional countries coupled with its overt and covert attempts to sow trouble in each of its neighbors have created a deep sense of insecurity in the region. This has also plunged the region into a vicious cycle of insecurity, defense preparedness, and poverty; each factor feeding the other. Pakistan being the symbolic and the most potent obstacle to Indian hegemony continues to bear the brunt of the Indian muscle power.
This has obvious implications for Pakistan as well as for the people of Kashmir. Since the time the United Nations pronounced itself on Kashmir in the form of several resolutions, India has deliberately and systematically resisted all attempts to engage in a meaningful dialogue to resolve this issue. It has either categorically shot down any constructive proposal or blocked initiatives that had the potential to commence the process of conflict resolution. In reality, India, being a hegemonic state, as discussed in the initial part of this article, does not want to let Kashmir go. 30.
The question then arises that will the hegemonic India; agree to any solution of the Kashmir issue? Yes it would, because the benefits accruing to India, as indeed to all concerned parties, from a mutually acceptable final settlement of the issue far outweigh the costs associated with the status quo. Both sides have learnt from a bitter and costly stalemate in Kashmir that neither India nor Pakistan can impose a solution on exclusively their own terms. An innovative solution involving face-saving for all parties could therefore have a greater chance of acceptability today than in the past. End Notes 1.
Report of National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine, August 17, 1999. 2. Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India, website: www. dae. gov. in/ 3. Indian military Revival by G. D. Bakshi. 4. Indian Foreign Policy in the 1990s by K. Raman Pillai. 5. Strategic concepts of the Indian Ocean, by Syed Akhtar Husain. 6. Kashmir Virtual Library: www. clas. ufi. edu/users/gthursby/kashmir 7. The US and Pakistan, 1947-2000, by Dennis Kux. 8. The New York Times on the web: www. nytimes. com 9. The Washington Post on line: www. washingtonpost. com 10. The News: www. jang. com. pk/thenews/ 11. The Hindu: www. hindu. com.