Kashmir: denouement or sell-out?

By Iqbal Akhund


THE Musharraf-Manmohan Singh agreement is one that, leave alone the Kashmir dispute, says nothing even about Siachen or Baglihar or other side issues of the dispute. It proposes to add truck trade to the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service and to start similar services between other towns and regions of the divided state. All this softening of the LoC, does it not amount, in practical terms, to giving it durability, if not legitimacy of a sort?

True, the agreement does say that the two countries will negotiate a final solution of the Kashmir issue but that has been said a number of times before. In the face of Indian assertions that borders cannot be changed, is this not just a play with words? On the face of it, the logical answer to these questions would seem to be, yes, Pakistan has given in, we have accepted the Indian position.

However, to view the matter in perspective, one ought first to examine what exactly is, or was, the position on Kashmir that Pakistan can be said to be giving up. There are three aspects of the question — legal, political/diplomatic and what is delicately referred to as the ground reality. In legal terms, the matter of the accession of princely states either to India or to Pakistan (with no third option) as set out in the independence/partition arrangements, was that the decision was to be made by the ruler and not by the people.

It was the Quaid who insisted on leaving it to the princes, while the Congress proposed referendums in cases where there could be a dispute on the matter between the ruler and the people. The Quaid did so on legalistic grounds but really in order to allow the Nizam to make Hyderabad independent. As for Kashmir, he must have thought that geography and other factors left the Maharaja with no option other than accession to Pakistan.

The Congress proposal was ostensibly democratic but was intended essentially to foreclose the Nizam’s options. India’s case on Kashmir is based wholly, if not solely, on the instrument of accession signed by the Maharaja. Pakistan argues that a successful popular revolt having caused the Maharaja to flee the state, he no longer had the legitimacy to sign the instrument of accession.

Alastair Lamb, in his books on Kashmir, has indeed raised doubts about the authenticity of the instrument India claims to have in its possession. It is also relevant that when India went to the UN Security Council with a complaint of Pakistani aggression against the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Council (implicitly) ignored this point and managed to get India (and Pakistan) to agree to let the people of the state decide the matter through a plebiscite.

India’s case was further weakened by the emphatic and repeated official declarations, made often by Prime Minister Nehru, that the final decision on the state’s accession would be made by the Kashmiri people themselves. It is another matter that Nehru did not really mean to let them do so except if a positive outcome (to borrow a phrase from the late Ziaul Haq) could be assured through Shaikh Abdullah or by other means.

If there existed an effective and functioning international judicial system, the question of accession could be referred to it for decision. But the Hague court jurisdiction is not compulsory nor can its decisions be enforced.

On the diplomatic/political front, Pakistan could not have obtained a better result than the proposed plebiscite and the elaborate arrangements for holding it, set out in the Security Council resolutions of 1949-50, clarified and reaffirmed unequivocally right up to the sixties.

However, the problem of implementing them arose almost as soon as the ink was dry on the resolutions. For when it became evident that even Shaikh Abdullah was not going to be able to pull off the plebiscite for India, the Indians set about finding one issue after another to thwart and undo the plebiscite agreement over whose troops and how many would remain in Kashmir during the plebiscite.

The legal position is that resolutions adopted under chapter VI of the UN Charter, as were the Kashmir resolutions, have the force of recommendations and are not binding like those under chapter VII. Not that there was ever any question or possibility of the Security Council applying military or economic sanctions against India. In any case, for long years, the Soviet veto made the position safe for India in this regard. What is more, as time went on, we found it increasingly difficult to muster even a simple majority for resolutions on Kashmir.

Our own attempts to settle the dispute by force proved inconclusive. The 1965 war fell between the two stools of fighting the war to a finish and provoking international intervention; the three more or less identical attempts at guerrilla war (in 1948, 1965 and 1989 onward) show above all a lack of originality in Pakistan’s strategic thinking. As for Kargil, the tactical cleverness of the operation was nullified by the absence of a strategic objective. Now that there are nuclear weapons on the scene, any idea of using force is out of the question.

Thus our options are reduced (and have been so for a good while) to staying put on our position or playing the field as it lies. But when one talks about sticking to our principled stand on Kashmir, exactly what does that mean in specific terms? The one immutable principle underlying the Kashmir case (and not only because it is embodied in the UN resolutions) is the principle of self-determination and that rules out a settlement along the LoC over the heads of the Kashmiri people. From the beginning India has favoured dividing up the spoils on this finders-keepers basis, now there are some well-meaning peaceniks in this country who are prepared to go along. But assuredly, Pakistan has no legal or moral basis formally to endorse and accept India’s grab of Kashmir and no pragmatic, political reason to do so in exchange for keeping our own piece. General Musharraf has affirmed clearly enough and more than once that a deal of this kind is not on.

So, where do we go from here? OIC resolutions, joint communiques, etc, are all very well but they have little effect on the situation. Our diplomats are often urged to forcefully reassert our case and they have been doing so for 50 years and more. The rights and wrongs of the case are well known in the foreign ministries that matter, but the simple fact is that every country has its own interests to promote and few are prepared to take sides over Kashmir. Sadly, it is a world of double standards as one saw when Secretary General Kofi Annan said with a straight face that the Kashmir case was quite different from that of East Timor.

Boycotting trade and cultural exchanges with India (which to some extent do go on clandestinely), discouraging people-to-people contacts, these measures were left over in the aftermath of the 1965 war. They reflect our frustration with the Indian intransigence but do not serve to break it down, specially when our own interests are hurt in the process, as when we buy industrial raw materials or machinery from third countries instead of less expensive Indian products. Restoring these links is not going to pave the way for a Kashmir settlement — let us not kid ourselves. But in revising policies that do not work, Pakistan is not giving away anything.

No doubt, a good deal of hype and atmospherics surround the Delhi agreement but atmosphere is not without importance in relations between countries whose people are given to emotional outbursts that can swing quickly from one extreme to the other. CBMs such as the opening up of a bus service and trade routes in Kashmir will not resolve the Kashmir dispute. They are a beginning whose denouement cannot be foreseen; interaction between the divided Kashmiris could create a dynamic of its own. For India too has to face a ground reality and recognize its implications. This is that 50 years of talking about Kashmir as India’s atoot ang has not changed the fact that India’s hold on Kashmir remains as tenuous as ever.

Progress on Kashmir in any case is not going to be linear, and admittedly, in negotiating with India, Pakistan is not playing on an even field. What you play on the diplomatic field is not cricket. One cannot count on a diplomatic Inzamam to hit a four with the last ball and bring the trophy home.

The writer is a former foreign secretary.

Winged victory

A CROWD of onlookers gathered to applaud and cheer as the Airbus A380 took off on its maiden trial flight the other day. A project of enormous complexity and economic cooperation was finally making it off the ground.

The giant A380, able to carry more than 800 passengers in some configurations, is a muscular symbol of what a united Europe can achieve. One aeroplane does not make a miracle, of course, but the state of European politics looks shabby by comparison. The plane and its manufacturer remain at the centre of an incipient trade row with the United States and its leading airline maker, Boeing. That rumbles along, while the US appears to be applying its “soft power” to encourage Canadian, Indian and Korean airlines to make some big orders with Boeing for its latest 787 jet. Such is the success of Airbus, though, that European governments can probably withdraw their various forms of subsidy, and the company should still thrive.

The latest Airbus deserves a better name — one with more magic than A380 or “Superjumbo”, more on the lines of Concorde. Why not dub the new aircraft Mercury whose attributes make him appropriate as a signifier for a grand European project: to the Romans he was also the god of commerce and travellers.

— The Guardian News Service

A model for humanity

By Prof. Mohammed Rafi


IN contemporary times, people in general and Muslims in particular need to emulate Mohammad’s (peace be upon him) humane and practical approach to life. He showed that Islam is not a theoretical philosophy. He preached and practised a code of life, its commandments and prohibitions, and rendered good actions and service to mankind in all spheres of human activity.

Within a short span of time, he had successfully ushered in an era of tolerance and liberalism and had revitalized a decadent social order. He was able to mould the character of his fellowmen, reform them and change their thoughts, put new ideals before them and elevate them to the higher plane of a better, harmonious life. Subsequently, the Muslim ummah, not based on relations of blood, race, colour or class, came into being through sheer adherence to permanent divine values.

He never compelled anyone to become a Muslim. Through his exemplary behaviour people were drawn to him. He lived for 40 years among the people before inviting them to Islam. It was quite difficult for them to accept a human being like them as a nabi. He would plainly say that he was but a man like others and that he had no treasures, nor did he claim to know the secrets of the future. The Quran testifies to this: “Say (O Muhammad) I am only a man like yourselves” (18:110).

The Prophet always showed composure and balance while confronting the tribulations of life. The insistent demand of the people that he should work miracles to convince them made him despondent. He changed the attitudes and characters of people through his behaviour. They were astonished to see his reaction towards the citizens of Taif who had been very unkind to him. He did not curse anyone, but prayed “may Allah guide the people of Taif”. Following the defeat at Uhud, the companions asked him to curse the people of Makkah. He said, “I was not sent to curse people. I was sent as an inviter to the truth and as a mercy to the people.”

Edward Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) writes, “Even at the zenith of his worldly power the good sense of Mohammad despised the pomp and royalty — he submitted to the menial offices of the family, he kindled the fire, swept the floor, milked the ewes and mended with his own hands his shoes and his woollen garments. He observed the abstemious diet of an Arab and a soldier.”

How many of us claiming to be his followers practise these? His life was very simple. He would put on whatever kind of cloth he could get. He would eat whatever was placed before him. He would sit wherever he could find room, whether on a mat, carpet or the ground. He was a model family man, very loving to the children.

As a role model we must remember that he taught us to obey Allah’s commands, give alms, speak the truth, to give back safe and whole what is entrusted to us by others, to be affectionate to our neighbours, to shun wicked acts and to avoid bloody quarrels.

To the Christians of Najran and the adjoining areas he promised the security of God and his own pledge. “No cross or image shall be destroyed, they shall not be oppressed, they shall not be required to furnish provisions for the troops” were his standing orders.

Contrary to some modern-day notions, he disliked wars and when he migrated to Madina he brought an end to the tribal wars which had been rampant for more than a century. He invited the followers of all faiths and advised them to unite and establish a city-state to forge a common defence and security against all adversaries. Surprisingly, his advice was readily accepted even by the tribes of Aws and Khazraj.

The Meesaq-e-Madina (charter) is the first constitution of the world. Today, as the world’s population is increasing and the number of people adhering to different faiths continues to grow, this document should be widely propagated. It stifles all forms of priestly and clergy rule. Following this ideal, the Islamic commonwealth included within its fold Jews, Sabians, Christians and others as citizens like the Muslims. They were accorded religious, social and political rights through this charter.

Today, when extremism and fanaticism have engulfed all faiths, it must be remembered that Mohammad strictly obeyed the divine command, “Revile not those unto whom they pray besides Allah, lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance” (6:109). But Muslims seem to have forgotten this important aspect of Islam, and as a result, we see many bloody conflicts and the needless loss of life in the name of Islam. Mohammad had taught that the greater holy war is the war inside us against our own weaknesses and failings.

One of his sayings shows his respect for all religions. “When the bier of anyone passes by thee, Muslim or non-Muslim, rise to thy feet”. As a result of his teachings which laid the foundation of human rights and values, Muslim communities all over the world, even as far as China, India, Japan, Africa and the West, show that Islam still has the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If Muslims truly follow his teachings in all aspects of social life, the opposition between eastern and western societies can be replaced by cooperation.

Islam upholds the dignity of labour and Mohammad himself worked along with others in the construction of the first mosque at Quba and in the digging of the trench in the battle of Khandaq. He emancipated slaves and women from bondage. The slaves were placed on an equal footing with their masters and they were elevated to the rank of generals and commanders. Bilal was appointed the first muezzin of Islam and was respectfully addressed as Syedna (chief) Bilal. Women were given the right of divorce and inheritance in the property of their deceased husbands and fathers.

The Prophet was successful in bringing into existence a new type of man — self-respecting, self-reliant, conscious of his worth and desirous of enhancing it with the ambition to set up a better social order in the world. Jeffery Lang in his book Struggling to Surrender writes “To swear that Mohammad is the messenger of God is to accept his life as an example and to affirm that his actions set the standard for mankind’s conduct regardless of time and place. If Muslims are to convince western civilization that Islam provides a better way, then they would have to either soften their commitment to Mohammad’s example or invest their time and effort to argue their case convincingly.”

A model which can serve as a standard for every class of people under different circumstances and states of human emotions will be found in the life of Mohammad. For the rich there is his example as a tradesman; for the poor is his example as an internee of Shu’ayb Abi Talib and the emigre of Madina. For the vassal, there is the man who endured the hardships imposed by the Quraish of Makkah; for the conqueror there is the victor of Badar and Hunayn. In defeat, one can take a lesson from the discomforted at Uhud. As a teacher, one can learn from the holy mentor of the school of Suffah; as a student from the man who sat before Gabriel.

As a preacher, direct your vision to the man delivering sermons at Madina; if you are an orphan, do not forget the child of Aminah and Abdullah left to the tender care of Halimah. As a travelling salesman, cast a glance at the leader of caravans on the way to Basra; as a judge or arbiter, at the Prophet entering the Kaaba before sunrise and installing the Hajr-i-Aswad. If you are married, draw a lesson from the behaviour of the husband of Khadijah and Aisha; if a father, go through the biography of a tender and loving man who rejoiced at the birth of girls.

Whenever anyone came, he moved quickly to give him a seat. He was quick to smile and greet the person, and was never harsh or offensive, and rarely angry. He was generous in praise, averse to conflict or too much comfort. He always rose to the challenge of history.

Abdullah Ibne Ubaiy withdrew one-third of the Muslim army in Uhud, but Mohammad did not seek slaughter or vengeance. He said, “We will have mercy and treat him kindly as long as he remains with us”. Fadallah came with the intention of killing him and felt nervous when Mohammad met him with calm and a smiling face. Mohammad advised him kindly to seek God’s forgiveness and Fadallah lived the rest of his life saying, “I came to kill him and left with no man more beloved and dear to me.”

In short, whoever and whatever you may be, you will find a shining example in the life of Mohmmad. All that Muslims need to know of him is readily accessible. There was never a span of time, howsoever small, that he spent away from the gaze of his companions.

Mohammad laid the greatest emphasis on human rights and tolerance. He made his followers realize the importance of observation and knowledge, and was able to divert man’s attention to the vast and limitless universe and find the clue to God’s greatness. He disclosed a concept of life compatible with nature. Through his lifetime of struggle and exemplary behaviour he emphasized that the Quran was not a collection of dogmas, but a code of life which regulated everything that involved human life. He never preached what he could not practise. His last words were not about property, dominance or kingdom, but the protection of the weak and downtrodden. Today Muslims all over the world are miserably placed. This is because they have failed to live up to the ideals set forth by Mohammad.

Scarcity of social capital

By Dr Akhtar Hasan Khan


THROUGHOUT history and until about 40 years ago, capital was viewed in terms of physical and monetary assets. With the deepening of human knowledge two other concepts of capital emerged. The first was human capital and the second social capital.

Physical capital represents machines and the equipment used for the production of goods and services. Economic textbooks describe it as “produced means of production”. It is a factor of production that is neither found in nature, like land and minerals, or in materials like plastic and chemicals which are transformed and totally absorbed during the production process. From a stone cutter to complicated computer machines, physical capital depreciates but does not disappear during the production process.

Human capital is the education, health and skills embodied in the population in general but the workforce in particular. The concept of human capital was developed by Nobel laureates Becker and Schultz (both from the University of Chicago) in the early 1960s, and within a few years, it became textbook knowledge in economics. They correctly pointed out that increased production not only required more physical capital but also enhanced human capital. Labour productivity, which is essential for sustained economic growth, requires an educated, healthy and skilled labour force. No nation has enjoyed prolonged economic growth unless its literacy level has crossed 70 per cent and the population has been free from enervating diseases. Rapidly advancing technology also requires a high degree of skills.

The concept of social capital is more difficult to explain. Its origin can be traced to French philosopher Rousseau’s concept of social contract — an implicit agreement among members of a society to cooperate for the common good. The World Bank defines social capital as the “trust, shared values and expectations which facilitate cooperative relationships — a social consensus in favour of creating more productive society and from widely held perceptions that the processes and outcomes are legitimate in the sense that they are consistent with social norms, values and beliefs”. Social capital is the compact among the population at large on the existing division of political and economic power.

Social capital is evident (but difficult to measure) in a nation from the dedication and resolve with which the leaders and the population work for common national goals — a feeling of devotion to and pride in the group or nation one belongs to. Imbued with this esprit de corps, one is prepared to sacrifice personal interests for social or national objectives. Social capital can also be understood as the sum of Quaid-i-Azam’s trilogy of unity at the workplace and as a nation, faith — in Islam with its moral imperatives and in one’s nation — and discipline in all walks of life.

It is the widespread opinion about Pakistanis that they are brilliant individually but far below par collectively. They lack group synergy. Whereas four Pakistanis working individually produce five units each, but if one puts them together, their combined output will be less than 20. They fail to harmonize, and instead of facilitating each other, they obstruct one another. Gallup Pakistan asked its sample group as to what motivated them most in work. The most common answer was recognition. If all four members work for recognition instead of a common goal, there is bound to be friction and lack of group synergy.

The Pakistan cricket team in India was the underdog with all the odds stacked against them. But they performed beyond expectations with excellent teamwork. Having lost the first two ODIs they won the next four, beating a better rated Indian team with ease on its home ground. Members of our team were clicking with each other and the fall of one or two early wickets did not lead to a rout. It was correctly observed “Coach Woolmer emerged as the man who can bring method to Pakistan’s individual madness.” There was a sudden upsurge of social capital in our team.

The reasons for scarcity of social capital are diverse and manifold. There are deep sociological and historical causes but some reasons are strikingly apparent.

The first major factor is feudalism that has been identified as a stumbling block obstructing Pakistan’s progress in all sectors. For social capital to develop, there must be justice and equity. The relationship between master and serf is neither just nor egalitarian. The master gets half the produce of the land and does not consider his serf to be his equal as a productive human being. He uses his strong economic and political position to exploit the peasants who get no protection from the administration or judiciary. They can be no Rousseau’s social contract in feudalism.

In fact, Rousseau’s writings, which contributed to the French Revolution, were more against the feudals than the monarchs. He observed, “Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains”. Feudals have been abolished or downsized in almost all countries. But in Pakistan they are as strong as they were in 1947 despite a few half-hearted land reforms.

The common man in Pakistan views his country as a state being run by an unsavoury mix of landlords, traders, industrialists and military elements in which his interests are not taken into account at all. The governor of the State Bank of Pakistan terms Pakistan as an “elitist economy”. It has been statistically proved that half the benefits of rapid economic growth are going to the top 20 per cent of the population and the bottom 20 per cent gets only eight per cent. Crushed by poverty, inflation, injustice and poor public services, the common man in Pakistan has become disillusioned and cynical. The milieu has become unfavourable for motivating people to work for common national goals.

The second important reason is our hypocritical attitude towards Islam. We follow only a few Islamic precepts such as fasting and prayers, and do not give equal importance to all aspects. For instance, in the Quran, salat and zakat are equally emphasized 64 times. But many who observe salat do not pay zakat regularly or adequately.

At another level, jihad is interpreted as militant struggle against oppressors, but the Islamic concept of jihad prioritizes the struggle against injustice, poverty and illiteracy. If we were an Islamic state, the crime rate would be amongst the lowest in the world as it is in Saudi Arabia. But Pakistan’s crime rate is very high. We fail to realize that the Prophet’s (PBUH) mission was not only ideological but social as well and he condemned hypocrites as much worse than non-believers.

The third reason is that Pakistanis (rightly) have no pride in their leaders, with the exception of the Quaid, or in their institutions. In India, there is an inhumane and degrading caste system, horrendous religious discrimination and more abject and visible poverty than in Pakistan but it seems that

the Indians are more nationa-listic with greater social capi-tal, because they are rightly proud of their leaders and institutions.

Kalam, a Muslim and the son of a fisherman is the president and Manmohan Singh, a Sikh and bureaucrat, the prime minister. Both are held in high esteem by the common man in India. India’s sustained democracy with the peaceful transfer of power and the integrity of their institutions gives Indians ample grounds for rallying round their leaders.

The progress of a nation does not depend on the growth of physical capital alone. Pakistan’s policymakers have always emphasized physical capital more than human capital, whereas all analytical studies of economic growth have proved beyond doubt that human capital is as important, if not more so, as physical capital. The recent Medium Term Development Framework (MTDF) is a welcome change which emphasizes knowledge-based economic growth.

Social capital is indispensable for eliciting commitments and sacrifices for attaining national goals in all walks of life. Our lacklustre political history, feudalism and an emphasis on rituals rather than the spirit of Islam have prevented the growth of social capital — an indispensable ingredient of commitment by all Pakistanis towards common national goals.

The writer is former secretary, planning.

Updated Apr 29, 2005 12:00am

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