LISA WEBINAR - Proxy Wars and Terrorism: Impact on security and stability in South Asia

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Mary Hunter:

Good afternoon and welcome to this webinar hosted by the London Institute of South Asia. My name is Mary Hunter, and I am a research fellow with the institute. Today, we are honoured to be joined by three distinguished speakers (Senator Javed Jabbar, Mr Ashis Ray and Mr Robert Gallimore) to discuss the subject, “Terrorism and Proxy Wars: A Threat to Peace and Stability in South Asia.”

I will start by introducing each speaker before allowing them 10 minutes to speak on the subject. Once all of the speakers have presented, we will begin the question and answer session based on any questions from the live audience. If you have a question as a member of the audience, please simply type your question into the comments section below. Please specify if you are asking one speaker directly or the entire panel. We apologise in advance if we do not get round to your question; we will try our best to address as many as possible.

Our first speaker today is Senator Javed Jabbar, a former Pakistani senator and minister having served in three Federal Cabinets. He is an internationally acclaimed public intellectual through his contributions to think tanks and research in a range of disciplines. Much of his time is devoted to voluntary work, including as the Chairman and Co-founder of the Social Policy & Development Centre, SOS Children’s Villages of Sindh, and the Strengthening Participatory Organisation. In addition to serving as the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Senator Jabbar has been instrumental in introducing reforms, including in the area of freedom of information, and in mediating media conflicts as commissioned by the Supreme Court and High Courts. His diverse work has seen him awarded in a variety of fields, such as receiving a Gold Medal from the Human Rights Society of Pakistan. Since 1993, he has been a member of the longest-running Pakistan-India Track 2 Dialogue, known as the Neemrana Initiative for promoting conflict resolution. Senator Jabbar has also produced award-winning books and films.

Welcome Senator, I am unmuting you now, you have the floor.

Senator Javed Jabbar:

Thank you, Miss Mary Hunter, for that very generous introduction and it’s a pleasure to be with you all in this seminar with these two distinguished other speakers. And unknown and unseen faces, my God this is very disconcerting when you don’t know who you are speaking to. You know, the secret of communication is to look at peoples’ eyes. Now I can see Mary Hunter’s eyes, they are very innocent, and they are very receptive. But what about all those dangerously unseen people on Facebook which I do not use. So, that’s the hazard as we step forward.

It is a challenge to address this issue that the London Institute of South Asia has formulated, and I look forward to learning from the other two speakers and from participants. Friends well, the subject is self-evidently important, but the formulation implies that states themselves create the support proxies when they do not want to engage in conflict themselves. And yes, in some instances, they do. But my perspective is going to be about the historical record which shows that there has always been a close nexus between units of power, whether they are known as kingdoms or convergences of power in different forms and later they were called states, and the use of terror, sheer terror to expand space, to procure, to obtain wealth by force, territory by force. So, any political system that exerts power, contains power, and uses force has throughout history, it is an ancient record of the nexus between the state and the use of terror. And it is not always connected to upheaval, such as happened in the French Revolution when terror actually acquired its modern name and connotation. Before Westphalia, perhaps, in the 17th Century, these units functioned. But after Westphalia, and the recognition that territories are sacrosanct and that borders have to be respected and that the state becomes the sole legitimate use of violence, the nation states have evolved their capacity in that respect. And has been used, states use terror both internally against their own citizens, as well as externally against combative neighbours or other states. So, states do not only use terror to undermine other states and I’m not being, in any way, pointing fingers. Unavoidably, one thinks of what marked the suppression of the Native Americans as America was expanding to become a nation state. The terror that was inflicted on them, the terror that was inflicted on the black slaves imported from Africa. And, in contemporary terms, what is happening in Israel. Therefore, when you look at the external dimension, you come to Asia, what the Japanese did in China, the massacres in Korea. So, you have both internal and external manifestations of state terrorism.

And then you have what has happened in the case of Indonesia in the 1960s where an extra regional state actually supports the large scale massacre of those suspected of being communists and you have the virtual extermination of the Indonesian Communist Party, which has no matching power to combat the state of Indonesia. In South Asia in the 21st Century, there are multiple factors and conditions, either each of them could trigger threats to peace and stability, or together, or an interaction between all of them. Now I will quickly run through my ‘dirty dozen,’ these ‘dirty dozen’ factors:First of all, unresolved disputes and the fallout from them, the denial of the right to self-determination.

  • The second, the arms build-up on the conventional level and I’m not even talking about nuclear weapons. A very disproportionate build-up of arms.

  • The third, economic deprivation on a mass scale.

  • Fourth, harsh inequalities, inequalities are not endemic to South Asia, it’s a worldwide phenomenon. But sometimes, the contrasts in South Asia are unrivalled.

  • Fifth, population pressure. Nowhere else in the world do we have this level of concentration of poverty in such large numbers of people and we have not witnessed the almost miraculous way in which China has lifted 5-600 million people out of poverty and relieved the tension that emanates from overpopulation.

  • Sixth, we have rapid urbanisation. My own country, Pakistan, is the fastest urbanising country in South Asia.

  • The neglect of the agricultural and rural sector, including non-firm labour.

  • Eighth, inefficient governance. Just no capacity to manage either the cities that are exploding into bigger cities or the neglected rural areas.

  • Ninth, the degradation of the environment that is displacing people, historically, whether it is along the coastal belt of Pakistan due to sea intrusion as tens and then hundreds of acres are lost forever to the sea. And you uproot peoples’ livelihoods.

  • Tenth, the rise of extremism, fanaticism, sectarianism.

  • Eleventh, ultra-nationalism from national chauvinism.

    And never to forget what the media do, the hype and the hysteria which the media themselves build-up from the fallout of these ‘dirty dozen’ factors, actually contributes to the aggravation of conditions.

    And then the role of non-regional states in South Asia, where we have a phenomenon where one state is using another state as a proxy. And ironically, the existence of democracy, the regularity of elections, the peaceful transition from one elected government to another, do not become deterrence to state terrorism. Make no difference, internally or externally.

    And South Asia, finally, is featured by asymmetry, when you have gross asymmetry, the consequence that both multilateralism as well as bilateralism are damaged. And we have this evident in the fact that SARC, the South Asian Regional Cooperation mechanism, has become completely pulverised and ineffective. As has the bilateral process symbolised by the Simla Agreement signed in 1972 between Pakistan and India. And one believes that this is due to the hegemonistic impulse arriving from asymmetry.

    In South Asia today, in 2020, Kashmir is the principle, potential causative factor for the breakdown of peace and stability. It’s been with us for 73 years, we have got United Nations security council resolutions on this subject. Kashmir remains on the UN SC agenda. For 31 years, since 1989, we have recurrent signs of what we call the uprising of the people and this certainly has triggered the formation of extremist groups who adopt the term, jihad, which is such a disservice to the concept of jihad. And the situation where Pakistan wants and permits the United Nations to post independent military observers on its own side of the LOC, alas this does not happen on the other side. We have daily, daily casualties across the line of control. Finally, in 2019, what has happened with Kashmir, the forced attempt to annex Kashmir, the division of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir sets the stage for a terrible future. And by coincidence today the newspapers carry a report of what the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, goes to the extreme saying that the average Kashmiri would much rather be ruled by China than by India. That is the level of alienation on which terrorism would thrive.

    Now, therefore, South Asia faces the formidable challenge how do you balance asymmetry, how do you reduce the arms build-up, how do you initiate dialogue without preconditions and how do you combine the use of possible top-secret backchannel diplomacy with public diplomacy, to move ahead of the quagmire? Because, if we do not start dialogue immediately, I think the threat to peace and stability with grow exponentially. And we therefore need to energise initiatives, both on the bilateral level and on the multilateral level. Thanks very much for your patience.

    Mary Hunter:

    Thank you, Senator, for your speech.

Now I will introduce our second speaker, Mr Ashis Ray, the longest-serving Indian foreign correspondent, having worked in this capacity for 43 years, mainly for the BBC and CNN. He was presenter of 'South Asia Survey' on the BBC World Service. He then became CNN's founding South Asia bureau chief and thereafter its editor-at-large in London. An award-winning broadcaster and journalist, he now analyses international affairs on the BBC and writes for The Spectator and the Business Standard, among various other publications. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed book, LAID TO REST: THE CONTROVERSY OVER SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE'S DEATH. He is also the director-editor of RAY EVENTS, a public conversation platform in London.

Mr Ray, I am unmuting you, please present your speech.

Mr Ashis Ray:

Let me begin by saying that even after 30 years there’s no guarantee as yet of a durable ceasefire in the civil war in Afghanistan.

In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers indulged in violent extremism for decades, which included the assassination of a former and would-be Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi. I have experienced both situations first-hand; and do not for a moment underestimate their seriousness.

In this instance, though, I would like to restrict myself to India-Pakistan circumstances, as relations between these two neighbours are today at rock-bottom.

The 1971 Indo-Pak war was a watershed in ties between the two nations. On the 27thJune 1972, on the eve of his departure for Simla for talks with the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in a broadcast on Radio Pakistan said:

“The war we have lost was not of our making. I had warned against it but my warning fell on deaf ears of a power drunk Junta. They recklessly plunged our people into the war and involved us in an intolerable surrender which lost us half our country.”

It took seven years and a coup d’etat for the Pakistani army to reassert itself; and with its recapture of power began a policy of trying to avenge 1971, not by war, but by chipping away at India with a proxy war.

In 1983, the National Conference party in Jammu & Kashmir won a second landslide victory in state elections. But their leader and chief minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, fell out with Indira Gandhi, who used her constitutional levers to dismiss his government the following year.

When Dr Abdullah subsequently patched up with Indira Gandhi, many of his supporters disapproved of the reconciliation. Thus, when fresh elections took place in Jammu & Kashmir in 1987, a significant segment of the National Conference’s traditional voters turned against them. The outcome, though, did not reflect this. In others words, it is widely believed the results were rigged. The parties that suffered went on to constitute the separatist All Party Hurriyat Conference.

In February 1989, Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan. People in Indian-controlled Kashmir were inflicted a view that if Pakistan could have defeated the Soviet Union, Indian soldiers would be no match for their Pakistani counterparts in the event of an invasion by the Pakistani army. Thus, even pro-India Kashmiris became nervous and felt it was better to be on the right side of such a war than the wrong one. It is in this fertile atmosphere of alienation and fear that an uprising occurred in August 1989 in Indian-controlled Kashmir. During the 1988 to 1992 presidency of George Bush Senior, the United States administration placed Pakistan on a preliminary watch list of countries potentially sponsoring terrorism, without designating it as a state sponsor of terrorism as such. So, I asked a senior American diplomat posted in Islamabad what persuaded President Bush to issue such a caution. He replied, the President had “credible evidence” to do so. I probed the diplomat further. He revealed US satellites had picked up movement of Pakistani army trucks delivering weapons close to the Line of Control with India in Kashmir. The weapons had been supplied by western countries to Pakistan for distribution to the Afghan Mujahideen. Instead, they were diverted to Kashmir. That, I believe, was the genesis of a proxy war, which has included the audacious assault on Mumbai in November 2008. As recently as the killing of Indian para-military personnel in Pulwama in Kashmir in 2019, Jaish-e-Mohammad released a video saying it carried out the attack.

It’s possible that since 1989 Indian agencies have retaliated and therefore been behind incidents in Pakistan. I recall one in Karachi in the 1990s where I suspected this could be the case. But in 1997, Inder Gujral as the Indian External Affairs Minister announced his doctrine for cordial relations with India’s neighbours. Together with this, came instructions to Indian espionage organisations to cut back on covert operations. Consequently, for a lengthy period thereafter India exercised considerable restraint.

Whether such activities have resumed under Narendra Modi, I can’t certify one way or the other. The truth is I don’t know. But what I am confident about is this: that Kulbhushan Jadhav, allegedly an Indian spy apprehended inside Pakistan, could not possibly have had the capability to single-handedly destabilise Balochistan.

During negotiations at the Simla summit, Bhutto floated the idea of the Line of Control in Kashmir being converted into a “Line of Peace”. General Pervez Musharraf’s formula in 2006 was broadly along similar lines. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government ultimately found it difficult to trust a man who was instrumental for the Kargil intrusion in 1999. Basically, there’s a trust deficit between the Indian establishment and the Pakistani military. Only by bridging this shortfall can there be any meaningful forward movement.

There’s an appreciation among Pakistan-watchers in India that the main political parties in Pakistan are not disinclined towards peacefully resolving differences between the two nations. This is also true among progressive parties in India. It was also the outlook of the otherwise anti-Pakistan Bharatiya Janata Party under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

It appears to be the belief in the power structure in Pakistan that militancy in Indian-controlled Kashmir is justified. I beg to differ. As the European Commission has echoed, where there’s an opportunity to enter office through the ballot box, violence is unjustified.

The Election Commission of India has ensured free and fair elections in Jammu & Kashmir since the 1990s. In India’s north-eastern states, separatist parties have fought elections and formed governments, like the Scottish National Party. Sinn Fein is a member of a ruling coalition in Northern Ireland. Therefore, the legitimacy of separatist forces in Jammu & Kashmir can best be established by proving they indeed enjoy majority support.

The one and only opinion survey carried out on both sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir – by King’s College London and Chatham House in 2010 – 44% of people in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir wanted independence as opposed to 43% in Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir. Merely 2% of people in Indian-controlled Jammu & Kashmir wanted to join Pakistan, compared to only 1% of people in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Such figures may have changed in recent years. But India and Pakistan are obliged to sorting out their disputes under the Simla Agreement, which states “the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations”. This Agreement is registered as a Treaty with the United Nations under Article 102 of the UN Charter.

So, are terrorism and proxy wars a threat to peace and stability in South Asia? They certainly are. And the sooner they are dispensed with, the better it will be for the region. 

Mary Hunter:

Thank you, Mr Ray.

The third and final speaker is Mr Robert Gallimore, who graduated from the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics. He is a former British Army Officer who served for 17 years in the Welsh Guards, during which time he took part in four tours of Afghanistan. As well as being a columnist for ‘Arab News,’ he is a security consultant focusing on Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Mr Gallimore is currently finishing his book on the Pakistan Army which is due to be published next year.

Mr Gallimore, I am unmuting you now, please go ahead.

Mr Robert Gallimore:

Thank you very much for those far too kind words, Mary. The Senator decried the Covid conditions because he missed the audience. I think a cricket sage and a Pakistani Senator, I rather miss the company of my fellow speakers where we could perhaps enjoy a glass of something afterwards. Sorry, that shows my selfish side. The problem with going last is all the clever points have been taken by the previous speakers. So, I’m left with perhaps the obvious and perhaps the wrongheaded which I might have come up with anyway.

Before sort of honing-in on South Asia, I think it is quite important to consider the nature of proxy wars or state-sponsored terrorism. And that is the law of unintended consequence with this idea that there is any Machiavellian thinking behind what ends up when you try to interfere via either state-sponsored wars and indeed state-sponsored terrorism, is wrong. You are dislocated from the evolution of the disruption that you start and ever was it thus, whether it be Louis 16th, the Senator made a reference to the French Revolution, Louis 16th sponsoring a state revolution in Holland that came back almost vicariously to play a part in his head being lopped off. Queen Elizabeth sponsoring the Dutch as well. Vietnam, Rhodesia, Angola, Nicaragua. So many times, we must remember those who sponsor terror or war don’t get what they want. I also think again applicable to globally rather than just in South Asia, the idea of the state when it comes to sponsoring actions in another country, it’s not a single entity. We have intelligence services, the Foreign Officer, the executive, the media with the media in some weird dance of something the people. You may have elements of that pushing, directing, wanting, not wanting action carried out in a way. We are not dealing with a single blob. And I think particularly when you come to India, we made reference to Pakistan’s rapid urbanisation with the potential offer of incredibly fruitful markets and resources in other ways, one cannot keep off the horizon the idea of transnational organisation seeking to affect perhaps nefariously.

Honing-in on South Asia, we’ve talked about some recent history but, as a British Army officer, if we look at the history of proxy wars in South Asia, the East India Company of John Company started doing it, the 7 Years War, Afghan entanglements of the 19th Century and then of the 1980s which have blighted Pakistan. The Western proxy sponsorship of jihadi organisations to fill-up a purpose in Afghanistan against the Russians and then leaving that untended proxy force to fester on the Afghan-Pakistan border and we’ve been dealing with ever since. And I think more recently, history I suppose we call it now, the alleged sponsorship of respective extremist groups in each other’s country, whether that be the attacks in Mumbai or the attacks in Lahore, or this idea of sponsoring groups in each other’s country, Kargil mentioned already.

I think the biggest concern when it comes to looking at any sort of proxy action in South Asia at the moment is the new geostrategic tapestry that is being stitched together as we speak. From where I see it, we have shaping up in the blue corner, this very strange coalition of the Americans, the Indians, the Saudis and the Israelis forming this weird nexus, facing up against certainly China and Iran, and I see it, Pakistan not through its own will but other people willing them that they are in it. People may have some words to say about that. I don’t sense any great desire beyond the immediate economic benefits of CPEC, any desire of Pakistan to be in with China and Iran but people are forcing that on them. But perception is everything here and if you have these two blocs facing up and if you have a sort of new Cold War between these two blocs that is the absolutely fertile land on which proxy conflict will grow. If there is a new local Cold War, as it were, in Greater Asia, I really think you are going to see proxy wars because that’s when they happen as they happened all the way through the Cold War.

I’m not sure we are going to see people in pyjamas with AK47s, or planting IEDs by the sides of the road. One suspects we will see a civil disruption and state-sponsored financial terrorism, electricity, water, that might cause actually as much death. But I think there will be a favoured method, as it were, where you will get in one or other of these countries, when we are focusing on Pakistan and India, you get what is ostensibly an irredentist movement, a movement that absolutely wants to be part of the other country or feels nationally at one with it, will masquerade as separatists because separatists are more acceptable. It gives that sort of two stages of separation from the state-sponsor. This will then all be hidden by a firewall of 15 different narratives being put out. My point is that any proxy war that breaks out in South Asia is going to be incredibly complex. The place is complex enough anyway, I’m sure as learned heads you all know that. But on top of it, there will be a conscious effort by whoever is trying to sponsor something to hide their role in it and they will take it from the Putin playbook. My point is, we owe it to the region and the world, we must really try hard to understand the true nature of any future conflicts there and to discriminate between those truths and lies will be very hard.

The baseline question, I think, for future proxy wars and proxy terrorism in South Asia is to ask yourself not who stands to gain from the end state or the stated aim of the group carrying out the action. But actually who benefits from the disruption, who benefits from the chaos. Usually the question is who benefits from what they say are going to end up. I think here it will be who benefits from the chaos. I was going to touch on where to watch but the Senator has done that fantastically. I think another thing for looking where to watch, I think conflict today, it has to be justified on identity/religious lines and I think, if you look in literature particularly in Indian literature, there’s a lot of this end of days about this inevitable clash. Economic motives are being express in this rather cataclysmic identity and religious ways. I think my biggest worry would be that an intranational conflict within one of the nations of India or Pakistan would be stoked by the other and it will become an international conflict and I wonder if that international conflict might actually be a proxy of those two blocs I described there. That’s my real fear, that these proxy games could blow-up into something far worse.

But hopefully, to end on a slightly hopeful note, I do think that despite the very noisy, violent fringe on both sides, Indian and Pakistan, in actual fact I think, not in a purely religious way, the secularisation and moderation of views, I think the silent majority are beginning to come through and actually what we hear is the more frightening stuff, the noisier fringe just trying to demand their moment at the microphone. So, hopefully, sanity, it’s hard to talk about sanity in these Covid days, sanity might out.

Mary Hunter:

Thanks, Mr Gallimore, and thank you to our panel for their insightful speeches, which highlight the continuing significance of terrorism and proxy wars and their implications for peace and stability in South Asia.

Now we will begin the question and answer session. Speakers, if you could please limit your responses to several minutes at most. If a question is directed to the entire panel, please just raise your hand if you would like to answer.

As the moderator of this seminar, I would like to begin firstly with my question, if I may, that I will pose to the entire panel:

  • Michael Kugelman, a senior associate at the Wilson Center, told the New Arab in July of this year: “A regional proxy war in Afghanistan is a real threat… One of the biggest concerns about a post-US Afghanistan is that regional powers will seek to pursue their respective – and often competing – interests and agendas through the use of proxies.”

  • Do you think Kugelman is correct in his analysis? Will there continue to be a rise in tensions or a détente between potential proxies, such as India and Pakistan?

  • I will let the Senator go first, if that’s ok, I’m just going to unmute you.

Senator Javed Jabbar:

First of all, I don’t think in a true sense there is a proxy war going on in Afghanistan. I think it’s a very major misrepresentation of the assumption that the Taliban’s struggle to assert their own sovereignty and I do not ideologically agree with the Taliban’s view of history and the view of what the world should be, is not a proxy for battle supported by Pakistan. Pakistan has paid the highest price for Afghanistan’s internal trauma created by the Soviet Union and then reinforced by the United States invasion of Afghanistan. So, I don’t think there is any scope for a proxy war in Afghanistan. In fact we now have the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan being supported by another country to our East which is creating problems within Pakistan. So, I rebut that completely.

Miss Mary Hunter, you see there are other points that were made by Mr Ashis Ray which needed a response. Whenever you think it is possible, allow me two or three minutes to respond to those.

Mary Hunter:

If I just let Mr Gallimore come in to respond to that question as well.

Robert Gallimore:

Yeah I am just backing up that view. I think there is a degree of proxy conflict is not really the word. The world’s perception of interference in Afghanistan, personally from my experience, is not what reality is. I think it was a LISA conference a few years ago, I made the point there was this desperate desire to see a degree of collusion between particularly the ISI and the Taliban which just simply wasn’t there. People wanted to see it and it wasn’t there. There is understandably, after the amount of blood and treasure Pakistan has spent on suring up its own security in the North West, there is a design. You can see it with the military visits to Kabul recently, their involvement in the release of the Taliban prisoners. The Pakistan state, the Pakistan military, are interested in the security there. I’m not sure that the interest goes much further than that. What is undeniable is Kabul has been sloshing in millions and billions of Indian dollars for the last ten years. There may not be much on the ground but, I think, to say there is no proxy in Afghanistan, I can’t believe the Indians have chucked in as much money as they have without wanting something out of it when it comes out. There are potential fracture lines within Afghanistan again. I can’t believe India would have chucked the money in that they chucked in there if they say ‘all we want is peace.’ I think they want influence as well and I think the concerns, the purely security concerns, that the Pakistan security forces had, just keeping their North West secure, their alert level might go up when we find out what that money was expected to buy off, whatever the Afghan government ends up like. So I just think it’s one to watch.

Mary Hunter:

Thank you. What I’ll do is I’ll let Mr Ray come in there and then I will let the Senator say what you’d like to say in response to Mr Ray’s speech.

Mr Ashis Ray:

It is undoubtedly true that India has invested billions in Afghanistan and this investment has purely been for development purposes. Now, it may be a valid argument that by investing that kind of money, you are also trying to gain influence so there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But let us not forget that Afghan-India relations have always been courted, have always been close. It’s not a new thing that India is trying to gain some superiority over others in Afghanistan. So, it has been very well-meaning investment of money which has in fact been carried out by the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and it has continued. Now, this cooperation is of course sometimes seen as cooperation against Pakistan in Pakistan and I can understand that. But, the unfortunate part is that there is this tussle for influence and control if you like in Afghanistan and this is not healthy at all. It’s unfortunately a fallout of the poor state of relations between India and Pakistan and I have always believed that India has an important role to play in the development of Afghanistan. India has not got involved in any military matter in Afghanistan. I am a little bit sceptical about the talks currently taking place in Doha between the Afghan Government and the Taliban. They are both under considerable pressure from the United States because there’s an election due on the 3rd November and therefore President Donald Trump wants to show this as some kind of a triumph if he can bring about peace. Whether they will result in durable peace, I have great doubts about. I have always been indeed a believer that China has an important role to play in Afghanistan. If China is allowed to play that role, then what will keep at bay is any temptation on the part of elements in Pakistan to control Afghanistan.

Mary Hunter:

Thank you, Mr Ray. I’ll let the Senator come in briefly for about two minutes if we can limit it to that so we can move onto our next question from the audience please.

Senator Javed Jabbar:

Well thank you very much. I want to first of all to Mr Gallimore’s point, I did not mean to say there are no other proxies. I only meant to say that Pakistan is not conducting a proxy process in Afghanistan, it is not in Pakistan’s interests and the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan is deeply rooted in ethnicity, in linguistic sharing, in demographics, which is fundamentally different to the Indian relationship with Afghanistan. We have villages on the Pakistan-Afghan border which are divided by the Durand line, so that’s how close the intimate relationship is with Afghanistan. There is bound to be tension, but Pakistan does not seek to promote a proxy war there. I want to return to the comments that Mr Ashis made earlier. I just want to say that it illustrates the incredible lack of mutual comprehension. We are at completely polar opposites, but purely factually, the reference to the quotation by ZA Bhutto before he set out for Simla is extremely misleading because it was not Pakistan who initiated the war in 1971. Indian troops invaded East Pakistan on the 21st November 1971. Pakistani troops did not intrude into Indian territory. It was a war imposed on Pakistan by India and a flagrant example of an external intervention into a domestic situation. The reference to Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 44% of people wanting independence, please remember that, since 1947 unlike India, Pakistan never integrated Azad Jammu and Kashmir into the Pakistani state or constitution. Whereas India did that, we did not. Azad Jammu and Kashmir is already independent, yes it’s heavily dependent on Pakistan but there is no concept equivalent to what India did with Jammu and Kashmir and what it did last year where it violated the UN Council resolutions, it violated its own constitution. And on a matter of fact, the Simla Agreement is not exclusively a bilateral agreement. Article 1a points out, preferably by bilateral means or by any other means mutually agreed. So, it was already acknowledged in Simla that there may be a possibility that bilateral negotiation cannot resolve a conflict. There has been a systemic misrepresentation of Simla as excluding multilateral intervention. Whereas Simla allows for the intervention of a multilateral process if bilateralism fails. And finally, I just want to say that the whole process of dialogue is so badly needed. I mean listening to Mr Ashis, it was astounding to me how little the reality of Pakistan and what the Pakistan Army wants and what the people want, we are still locked into these stereotypes of a ‘junta’ of the army because Mr Nawaz Sharif has recently called it a state above the state. These are such stereotypical formulations which disregard the reality of Pakistan. Yes, the Armed Forces are a major factor in Pakistan’s power structure, but look at the other facets of Pakistan’s desire for democracy to balance the hegemony or the militarist tendencies of any one institution. In election after election, Pakistanis have demonstrated their rejection of religious parties unlike the world’s largest democracy which has elected religious extremists to power. Not in a singe election in Pakistan has any religious party ever received more than 7-8% of the vote. So, to portray the military and segments of Pakistani society as if they are the ones supporting the Taliban or they are the ones promoting jihad in Kashmir is a very major misrepresentation of the psyche and the reality of the people of Pakistan. There is such a tremendous need for dialogue between Pakistan and India and a reduction of media hype and hysteria. Thank you.

Mary Hunter:

Thank you, Senator, and in relation to that about Kashmir, we had a question from the audience which I will pose to either Mr Gallimore or Mr Ray, whoever wants to jump in. They’ve asked: The struggle in Kashmir is considered by some to be a ‘legitimate freedom movement,’ whereas others designate it a resistance movement under the category of terrorism. How can the international community determine which one it is, especially given the lack of consensus over the definitions of terrorism?

Mr Gallimore, please.

Mr Gallimore:

For the objective, removed Brit, I think it’s really hard. If you looked at it in its own petri dish, if you just said ‘here are the metrics, here’s what has happened’ and gave a Martian what Kashmir is and gave it the immediate history. If you cut out any other history, anything else that has happened between India and Pakistan, I think you cannot but say it is a legitimate freedom movement. It just is. If you look at the demographics, the history of it, it can’t not be unless you had the most absolute draconian or absolutist draconian version of power, in that power should come from one single chap at the top all the way back, 70 years ago. It is a freedom movement but we are not looking at it in a petri dish and then it becomes so much more complex when you consider everything else that has happened between those two nations. It is really, really complicated and the fact that it isn’t in isolation and as much in the awful way that my own country handed it over. So, it can’t be seen purely as in now but, in isolation, I think it can only be seen as a legitimate freedom movement.

Mary Hunter:

Mr Ray, if you want to go.

Mr Ashis Ray:

Yes, it is undoubtedly true that there has been an aspiration for freedom for a very, very long time, nobody has ever denied that. But the King’s College Chatham House statistics, whether you accept them or not, testifies that 43% (and this was in 2010) of people in Jammu and Kashmir wanted independence and 44% in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir wanted independence. So, there is an aspiration for freedom on both sides of the Line of Control and, for a moment, I have never ever believed anything else. Except that what has happened since 1989 in particular is that this aspiration for freedom has been joined by a movement in the Kashmir valley which is aided and abetted by Pakistan and so it is a combination of the two which is today’s reality. Now, there was a reference by the Senator to what happened in India last year on August 5th in Jammu and Kashmir. Now, this is a situation where a lot of people in India are concerned about, it is an internal matter of India and it is something which is now in the Supreme Court of India and it will be argued as to whether the abrogation of Article 370 was legitimate or not and we will wait and see for that court order to be issued. There are, as I said, political parties in India who felt aggrieved, they are not just aggrieved about the autonomy being taken away as promised under Article 370 but also the fact that the state of Jammu and Kashmir, as controlled by India, has been further subdivided and the statehood status has also been taken away. But that has nothing to do with the India-Pakistan scenario and I would beg to differ on certain points that were made by the Senator and these are very simple. That the grant of independence to India and the birth of Pakistan was as a result of the Indian Independence Act, as passed here in the House of Commons. And what did that say. It gave the princely states and the princely rulers the right either to join India or Pakistan or neither. And as we know very well, and this is very well documented, that the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir wanted to take his time to arrive at a decision and therefore he offered a standstill agreement to Pakistan and a standstill agreement to India. Pakistan signed the standstill agreement and yet infiltrators entered the State of Jammu and Kashmir and, therefore, it is perfectly valid to say that Pakistan is in illegal occupation of the portion it controls as far as the State of Jammu and Kashmir is concerned. Whereas the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir signed a treaty of accession with India, and that was when Lord Mountbatten was still the Governor General of India. So, these are the facts, the historical, constitutional, so we have to go by history, I’m not saying that today I’m going to grab, or India should grab what is being held by Pakistan. It’s also true that the 1948 resolutions regarding plebiscite were absolutely dead by 1954, why were they dead? Because the United States, having tried hard between 1948 and 1954 to persuade Pakistan to vacate, the military in Pakistan to vacate the territory it had occupied because that was a precondition for a plebiscite. Failed to do so, and therefore the United States reported back to the United Nations to say that a plebiscite is not possible, so the plebiscite is dead as far as anything is concerned under international law. And, it is also true, I do agree with the Senator that there is that extra provision that you could have a bilateral agreement or by other means. But the other means have to be agreed between the two parties and then only can there be other means. The fact of the matter is there has to be today a resolution with a dialogue in good faith between India and Pakistan. And what I reflected, and some of the points I made, are not necessarily my point of view, but they are the point of view of the Indian Government, that they do not trust the Pakistani Army. So, that is a fact that we have to accept, that is a gap we need to bridge. But if we just start contradicting each other and saying you were wrong, and I was right and that is the fundamental wrongdoing that we indulge in if we are wanting peace in that region.

Mary Hunter:

I’ll let the Senator in but only for a maximum of 2 minutes, ok?

Senator Javed Jabbar:

I deserve an hour to rebut but you know the two statements are perfect illustrations of mutual incomprehension. There is a set of Indian facts and there is a set of Pakistani facts and there is a set, hopefully, of a third set of facts. That third set of facts can only be determined if India accepts the fact that bilateralism has failed. And to say this is dead is a travesty and a great injustice to the 8 to 10 million Kashmiris who have been made prisoners in their own territory for the past 13 months. Where a man who was accused of being pro-Indian now is obliged to say that we would rather be ruled by China. Now, this is the level of incomprehension in India about the reality of Jammu and Kashmir and they will have to pay a very bitter price for this lack of comprehension for the reality. As for the predominant role of the military in Pakistan, yes it intervened 4 times in 72 years, it should not have. But there is also the military in India which never intervened, but which has veto power on Kashmir, it has veto power on Siachen, it has veto power on Sir Creek. We have had instances where the Indian Foreign Sectary visits Islamabad, agrees about Siachen and goes back to Delhi and does a U-turn because the Indian military has put its foot down. My experience of over 20 years of Track 2 has proven to me that today, the Indian military is as powerful covertly as the Pakistani military is powerful overtly. We make no bones about it. But the Indians always present themselves as a civilian, political democracy and yet are unable to move an inch until the Indian military says yes. So, you know, only dialogue can bring this about. Please look at this reference to the princely states. The only state in South Asia that has actually expanded its territory since 1947, not only through princely states, through actual annexation, is India. Pakistan has lost its territory. India has problems with Bangladesh, it has problems with Nepal, it has problems with Sri Lanka. Which country is free? Bhutan can’t even sign a foreign policy-related document without India’s approval. And here is the situation where Pakistan is the only state in South Asia with the capacity to challenge this inherent hegemonistic impulse that drives India’s state policy. And I don’t want to demonise India, even now we want peace and dialogue. But these preconceptions and this lack of willingness to accept a third-party role is very very grim and it will not affect Pakistan’s stand and the people of Kashmir will remain committed. And it is India that will have to pay the price for this lack of realism.

Mary Hunter:

Thank you. Mr Gallimore, I was going to ask you a different question, but if you would prefer to answer that one, I’m conscious it’s to focused on India and Pakistan.

Mr Gallimore:

You can ask the second question, I just wanted to point out that I am a self-confessed friend of Pakistan. But I do think that, when it came to Kashmir, the Pakistanis used one of the most underhand and low terrorist tactics ever when President Eisenhower came to try and convince them to stand down. They made him watch a day’s test cricket in which Hanif Mohammad scored 40 not out in an entire day, you can imagine how tedious that was to the poor President to make him run away, rather than discussing Kashmir. Sorry, a sightly trite and silly line.

Mary Hunter:

I will just ask this final question for Mr Gallimore and we will close it there. You have experienced the consequences of terrorism and proxy wars first-hand during your tours of Afghanistan. How important do you think it is that former army officers such as yourself are involved in your country’s foreign policy approaches to countries like Afghanistan? Especially given the challenges facing civilian-military relations.

Mr Gallimore:

Wow, I mean funnily enough, I think it’s a good and a bad thing. The one thing you notice when you are trying to prosecute operations in another culture, in another land, is that the level of understanding of the people, the place, you never ever have enough. What’s frightening, I find, is when geo-strategists talk about Pakistan in particular, that’s where I have my interests, but particularly Pakistan and Afghanistan. Here, these big political hitters are boiling down these deeply complex countries down to a bullet point brief on a piece of A4, some really bad decisions are made. What I think former army officers can bring to the table is even, with language, I’ve spoken with Dari, I spent a lot of time there. Even with that, to quote Plato as well as Einstein, ‘the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.’ And actually to be really careful to meddle in such complex regions where your meddling, going back to my problem with intended and unintended consequences, can have really bad consequences. So, I hope that people who have lived and loved these countries could offer the council to some fairly ‘big hand on small map’ politicians, just go careful and listen to the experts. Because in actual fact, there aren’t any more experts and half the people, in the old days British officers, British politicians there were people who deeply understood Pakistan and India. There were Americans who were sensitive, clever orientalists. The American State Department who understood these countries as countries. Now, I think our Foreign Office, our State Departments who view these wonderful countries as canvases for a bigger game to be played out and that’s how you make your name. And I hope an army officer could maybe tell people to calm down, it’s not as simple as they think. Rather than sort of fighting the phantoms they see, they actually deal with reality and to deal with reality, you need to spend a lot of time there and know a lot about it. So, I think yes they have a role and that’s to urge caution.

Mary Hunter:

Thank you, Mr Gallimore. I’m afraid we will have to close the discussion there even though I think everybody would like to go on, as the Senator said, for another hour or so. But thank you so much to our speakers (Senator Javed Jabbar, Mr Ashis Ray and Mr Robert Gallimore) for participating today and for sharing your expertise on this subject of global significance. Thank you also to everyone who watched from home.

We at the London Institute of South Asia look forward to hosting our next webinar in October which will address a similarly challenging and relevant subject. Thank you