Pakistan Army wants to keep Kashmir issue alive: American scholar

Published May 29, 2014, 8:59 pm IST
Updated Apr 1, 2019, 5:01 am IST
The author argues that Pakistan's demand for Kashmir is not a security seeking demand
(Photo: AP/ File)
 (Photo: AP/ File)
Washington: Pakistan's Army does not want the Kashmir issue to be resolved as this would pose a serious challenge to their existence and their dominance in the country's political set up, a noted American scholar has said.
"They (Pakistan Army) are not going to do a settlement on Kashmir. Why would the Army allow a process to go forward that would obviate its own politics? I think that the best that India can hope for is some version of the status quo," said C Christine Fair, author of the 'Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War'.
Fair warned that the Pakistan Army would again try to scuttle the renewed peace initiative between the two South Asian neighbours, reflected in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's invitation to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif to attend his swearing in ceremony; following which the two leaders had their first bilateral dialogue.
"The (Pakistan) Army would undercut him (Sharif)... all they have to do is to have a Lashkar-e-Taiba attack...opportunity for spoilers," Fair told a Washington audience yesterday at the formal launch of her book organised by the Hudson Institute, an eminent American think-tank.
"I really do not expect much out of it (Modi-Sharif peace initiative). The attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat, which was very likely done by Lashkar-e-Taiba or Haqqani network, is a really good testing of those waters," said Fair, who is Assistant Professor in the Security Studies at Georgetown University.
Agreed Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistan Ambassador to the US.
"Nawaz Sharif genuinely wants an opening of economic relationship with India. But does he really want to take on the business of shutting down the jihadi groups, there is no sign thereof so far," he said.
In her book, Fair writes Pakistan's conflict with India cannot be reduced simply to resolving the Kashmir dispute.
"Its problems with India are much more capacious than the territorial conflict over Kashmir."
The book has been published by the Oxford University Press, which is also bringing its Pakistan edition, but only after changing the cover, which she said "mocks and ridicules" the Pakistani Army.
"Pakistan's revisionism persists in regards to its efforts not only to undermine the territorial status quo in Kashmir but also to undermine India's position in the region and beyond. Pakistan will suffer any number of military defeats in its efforts to do so, but it will not acquiesce to India. This, for the Pakistan Army, is genuine and total defeat," Fair writes.
Even if at some point in the past Pakistan's existential struggle with India could have been mitigated through a mutually agreeable resolution of Kashmir, this is certainly no longer true, she argues, adding that it is possible that any efforts to appease Pakistan through territorial concessions on Kashmir may actually encourage Pakistan's anti?status quo policies rather than temper them.
Giving a preview of her book, which hit the stores this week, Fair said that Pakistan has no claims on Kashmir. "There isn?t in the instrument of accession which was signed between the Maharaja of Kashmir and the Indian Government and there was nothing in the terms of the partition that says that Pakistan should get Kashmir," she said, adding Pakistan's sole claim to Kashmir derives from the notion of two-nation theory.
Fair argues that Pakistan's demand for Kashmir is not a security seeking demand.
"Their claims to Kashmir are ideological," she noted. Because the army's concerns and preoccupations are ideological as much as military in scope, the Pakistan Army views its struggle with India in existential terms, she said.
"For Pakistan's men on horseback, not winning, even repeatedly, is not the same thing as losing. But simply giving up and accepting the status quo and India?s supremacy, is, by definition, defeat. As a former chief of army staff explained to me in 2000, Pakistan?s generals would always prefer to take a calculated risk and be defeated than to do nothing at all.
"Pakistan's army will insist on action at almost any cost, even that of presiding over a hollow state. After all, if the Pakistani state were to make such concessions to India, it would no longer be a state worth presiding over," she said.
In her book, running into more than 300 pages, Fair said that the likelihood that Pakistan?s military or even civilian
leadership will abandon the state?s long-standing and expanding revisionist goals and prosecute a policy of normalization with India is virtually nil.
"The Pakistan Army has never ceased trying to seize Kashmir, nor has it ever been able to fathom the notion of normalization with India.
Neither the army nor the country's security managers have ever been able to see the events of Partition as Pakistan?s past; rather, Partition permeates the present and casts a long shadow over the future," Fair wrote.