OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.

Giving no assurance to PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on troop withdrawal from civilian areas in Jammu and Kashmir for the time being, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, however, agreed to continue discussions on the subject.  The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had asserted that the Centre will have to concede his People’s Democratic Party sending warning signals ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Meanwhile Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad rejected the demand for reduction of troops and withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Warning against demilitarisation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called for governor’s rule in the state.

Marginalised Hurriyat Conference is finding it difficult to counter the onslaught of PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who, they allege, has hijacked their agenda to stay afloat in Kashmir. Demilitarisation and withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act has been on the top of separatist agenda but it is Mufti who is championing the cause with vigour. Like in the case of the Afzal Death Sentence the Congress lead UPA Government had been hedging on the issue with Manmohan Singh’s heart on demilitarisation and Sonia Gandhi’s mind on the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

Offstumped examines when and how “Demilitarisation” entered the Kashmir lexicon and why talk of “Demilitarisation” is a self goal for India.

The word “Demilitarisation” first entered the Kashmiri lexicon in the 1950s following the UN resolutions demanding plebiscite. It is important to note that the 1948 resolution did not talk of “Demilitarisation”, in fact the language on troop levels was very precise.

the minimum strength required for the support of the civil power in the maintenance of law and order

It is only in the 1950 resolution that “demilitarisation” enters the lexicon. It was this and the subsequent 1951 resolution that saw the creation of the now largely irrelevant Military Observer Group to oversee the ceaefire. After the 1950s the word “demilitarisation” had pretty much disappeared from popular and informed debate on Kashmir and the India-Pakistan conundrum. So when and how did “Demilitarisation” get injected back into this debate and with what intentions ?

We fast forward to Circa 2004, that watershed year in Indian politics that saw the dramatic defeat of the Vajpayee BJP lead NDA Government in the Lok Sabha elections and saw a figure head Prime Minister in Manmohan Singh thrust upon the nation by a reluctant Sonia Gandhi who preferred to rule by proxy. So where does “Demilitarisation” come in ?

Well naturally from across the border. It is ironic that talk of “Demilitarisation” comes from the Military Dictator of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf.

Wonder why nobody talks of “Demilitarisation” of Pakistani politics.

Demilitarisation specifically got injected into the discourse when on 27th October 2004 Mian Musharraf called for a radical new approach to “change the status” of Kashmir when Musharraf called for “Demilitarisation” and threw in the carrot of “dropping all talk of Plebiscite”.

In the figurehead Manmohan Singh Government, Musharraf saw an opportunity to change the discourse on Kashmir and hence brought back talk of  “Demilitarisation” – a long forgotten and largely irrelevant term to fundamentally alter the terms of the debate.

It was now no longer about terrorism in Kashmir but suddenly it was about making democratic India the bad guy and about putting India on the defensive in all dialogue on Kashmir.

Since then “Demilitarisation” has found a permanent place in all public debate on Kashmir with doves like Mirwaiz Umer Farooque to wily Mufti Mohammad Sayeed using it as leverage at every opportune occassion.

Now we dont have a war like situation between India and Pakistan so what do these guys mean by “Demilitarisation” ?

Is it in consonance with the way the 1948 resolution specifically defined it in the context of a war like situation that existed at that point in time ?

 Apparently not.

In Musharraf’s lexicon “Demilitarisation” means complete withdrawal with no military presence.

It is no wonder Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has been opposing it for to him it is about the “minimum strength required to maintain civil law and order” which is the legitimate right of any sovereign nation.

What happened here folks is that in 2004 a clever Musharraf under the pretense of moving away from UN Resolutions actually went further to set the debate on terms that went far beyond even what the UN Resolutions expected of India.

This friends is what happens to Nations that allow the enemy to frame the terms of debate because you are then stuck in defensive postures making excuses for what the enemy wants you to do rather than what you want based on your supreme national interest. Also read Nitin for his take on Mufti’s demand.

Offstumped Bottomline: Talk of “Demilitarisation” is a self goal for it lends credence to the “occupation theory” and makes India defensive and fumbling for excuses to argue against it. It takes the focus away from measures to remove the percieved alienation as it reinforces the myth that a war like situation exists in Kashmir and the occuppier must leave for normalcy to return.

The focus in Kashmir ought to be on why the “percieved alienation” is a myth and why but for border restrictions to a part of Kashmir, Kashmiris enjoy more autonomy, freedoms and opportunities than ordinary Indians and on how they can do even better by fully immersing themselves in the Rising India Growth Story.

The only kind of Demilitarisation India should care about is Demilitarising Politics and Governance in Pakistan.

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