Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Peace through Truth and Reconciliation, Not Politics

The paring down of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s mandate by President Barack Obama regarding Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, especially regarding the issue of Kashmir, is a clear recognition of the new administration’s ability to learn quickly on extremely complex issues like the one’s being faced in South and Southwest Asia. A fundamental complexity that President Obama must come to grips with resides in an ability to understand the historical and ethnic complexities of the region if his new policy focus will result in a success. Of course, in the modern world, issues such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist outfits in the region are believed to rest in the hands of state actors, rather than direct engagement at the local level.

Micro level approaches can and will make the necessary progress for a viable outcome to come to fruition. Hopefully, the new administration will not wait as long as the Bush Administration waited in Iraq to realize the tribal and ethnic realities that existed prior to the invasion of Iraq. It was via a process of ‘truth and reconciliation’ between Shia and Sunni tribes that such outcomes became viable in Iraq, and through the usage of the same process in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Kashmir region of India, can success be found as well.

The necessary approaches to stem violence and regain public support of the people in the SWAT Valley and Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan, and the turbulent areas along the Afghan border rest in exploiting cultural ties, not altruistic beliefs of nation states. Many of the Al-Qaeda fighters found in the region are in fact not from the region, and are not viewed favorably by local tribes who view their guests just as abusive and oppressive as the government. In order to make gains in these turbulent regions, Pakistani and NATO forces need to utilize the connections that can be found among the people, rather than relying on military might by leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan long known to abuse the populations in these regions. Through the use of empathy and understanding of the proud history these tribes hold so dear. Only then when will elders accept the false jihad presented to them by outside forces.

By holding a Loya Jirga, or “Great Council” with the tribes in the region, this will allow military and diplomatic officials to isolate the outsiders who have held these people hostage for over a decade to this point. There is a specific reason why Al-Qaeda has chosen to recruit Tajik’s, Uzbek’s and Pashtun’s to engage in the majority of the fighting, and not Arab’s who fundamentally make up the leadership of Al-Qaeda. It’s called racism. During the Loya Jirga however, development assistance guarantees are a necessity that these tribes will require to insure that they will not be ignored or forgotten as they have in the past. Their sacrifices made during the 1980’s against the Soviets with US backing has not been forgotten, nor has the fact the US left them to deal with the leftovers like Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

Failure after failure can be found in the poppy fields, gun and weapons traders and Wahabbi schools throughout the region. Wahabbism originates from Saudi Arabia, and takes the view that Arabs are superior. Cracks in Wahabbism belief has already begun to reveal itself in the terror networks have expressed growing tired of Wahabbi rhetoric justifying the suicide bombing of other Muslims along communal lines. Should NATO and diplomatic entities begin to exploit this fundamental flaw in the militant ideology coming from Al-Qaeda and their associates, the tide may surprisingly turn quicker than expected. As much as President Bush and his Administration like to point to the military surge as the reasoning of diminished violence in Iraq, it was the “Sunni Awakening” negotiated by General David Patreus with tribal elders and showing empathy and respect for their tribal history, and emphasizing the lack of respect by Saudi’s and Egyptians whose ideology sought to oppress the Iraqi tribes, not liberate them. The same can be found in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The same approach must be taken at a micro level in Kashmir as well. Kashmir in and of itself remains a political problem created by forces in the Indian and Pakistani Governments. However, bringing the Dogra’s or Pandits of Jammu (Hindu), Hanji’s of the Valley (Muslim) and Ladakhi’s from Ladakh (Buddhist) together to reconcile their differences will force the hands of Indian and Pakistani authorities to resolve the issue to benefit the society as a whole. There is a shared history and culture of the three that continues to be recognized by all three communities and a desire to reconcile their differences. A truth and reconciliation format would be the best possible way to free the Kashmiri from differences that have been created at the nation state level, and not by the communal harmony that once existed prior to the uprising of 1989.

The Indian Government in a way of skirting the issue framed the conflict in the international media and community as a conflict along communal lines, and not the result of a rigged election. The Hindu population was essentially forced to flee to refugee camps in Jammu, which the State of India now subsidizes in an effort to keep the two communities from reconciling. Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yasin Malik, a secular Muslim leader in the Valley continuously visits the camps promising the safety of the Pandit community, and calling the lack of Pandit presence in the Valley a “cultural void that can only be filled by the Pandits themselves.” However, Hindu Nationalists continue to propagate Mr. Malik as a Wahabbi demon wanting to kill all non-Muslims, and force all of Kashmir to live under Sharia law. A fact easily disputed following his recent marriage to Pakistani artist Mushaal Mullick.

It was unfortunate that leaders such as Yasin Malik chose not to run in the recent elections in Jammu and Kashmir, because more than likely; they would have come out victorious, and truth and reconciliation could have taken place at a parliamentary level, as well as tackled the public works issues necessitated in both Jammu and Kashmir, and bringing the communities together to show that the Kashmir issue is indeed political, and not along communal lines.

In both cases, a truth and reconciliation format among tribal and communal leaders throughout South and Southwest Asian territories will allow peace and prosperity to finally occur in some of the world’s most impoverished areas. If 30 years of oppression by Saddam Hussein was unable to break the common bonds of the people in Iraq, I hardly doubt that the centuries old connections can be broken by decades of warfare, oppression and neglect as well. However, the only way to break the cycle is through truth and reconciliation.


Aditya Raj Kaul said...

Yasin Malik, the Butcher of Kashmir is a terrorist-turned politician.

There is a no crime known to mankind that Yasin Malik has not been involved in. You name it and he has done it all…killings, kidnappings, hawala, gun running. He is the one who along with Shawkat Bakshi pumped bullets into the then Director of Doordarshan (Srinagar) Lassa Kaul to silence the media once and for all. He and his JKLF goons are singularly responsible for the largest forced exodus of the modern history - that of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley.

Kashmiri Hindus were not the only victims of his communal killings but he was also involved in the killings of 4 Indian Air Force officers in the valley. He was also involved in the kidnapping of Rubiya Sayeed, the daughter of then Union Home-Minster Mufti Mohd. Sayeed. It was this kidnapping and the resultant release of hardcore terrorists like Hamid Mir, Javed Nalka etc. that emboldened the terrorists operating in the valley.

It would be interesting to see the political significance of Yasin Malik's strange step of marriage at a point when separatists and criminals like him are being ignored by one and all. Their shops are out of stock and on the verge of extinction. Least to say just as in the past, their ideas are as bankrupt. Wonder what you wanted to convey by such an elaborate on this worthless creature Yasin malik ? Shouldn't he rather respect the people for whom he claims to work; and take a bold decision to retire from 'Ego Politics' which Kashmiri Muslims are famous for? Enough of his PR hungry - hunger strikes to get International Attention. And, enough of his dramas of so called freedom. its time he surrenders for the crimes he committed against humanity.

He (Yasin Malik) has no right to even utter the words 'Kashmiri Pandits; from his filthy mouth. Kashmiri Pandits will return to the valley only after the painful death of this bastard Yasin Malik. He should know how it feels when bullet passes through his empty skull!

It is strange...Yes it very Strange why a Political Economy student of LSE would marry a third rate, uneducated, uncivilised, criminal and butcher - Yasin Malik. A lot must have happened behind the curtains in bygone months. It is important to note here that the would be wife's brother Haider is US based strategic expert.

And, Multah Mallick hasn't even landed in Kashmir that flowers have already started showering in. Asiya Andrabi being the very first in the over-crowded separatist band wagon to declare an unofficial fatwa on them.

Wonder if the nude paintings by Multah Mallick would be gifted to Syed Ali Shah Geelani to decorate his living room?

Neoriz said...

Mr. Wolfe your qualification is quite impressive, especially since you have emphasized on your degrees and alleged international experience yourself. Japan and India are not the same thing. Neither are Pakistan and Afganisthan anyway comparable to the Republic of India. I would recommend you to visit India and meet Kashmiri Pandits and the Muslim inhabitants too before making such profoundly intellectual statements. I would also like to inform you that your facts are distorted and your understanding of what you call the Kashmir Region of India, is quite skewed. It will do your journalistic abilities a lot of good, if you did not base your theories on the emails and websites that you have been directed to apparently. Contact me if you like and I will share with you all the facts about Yasin Malik and other separatists, who have multiple executions to their credit and were fugitives of law until less than a decade ago.

sugandhi Thusoo said...

Mr.Wolfe,the prerequisite before giving a solution to any problem is to know all the facts regarding one. I think you missed on meeting the people related and knowing the real history.

nerd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nerd said...

Respected Sir,
Although I personally agree with your saying the truth and reconciliation format will be the only solution to get the different communities of Kashmir together, I would also like to point out that 'truth' is a major part of this reconciliation.
A major truth is that Yasin Malik is by no means a secular person, he has used religion and mass murder as a means for self grandeur. If the Indian govt hadn't stepped in to protect him he would long have been made one of the 'martyrs' of this so called freedom struggle. Ironically, this 'freedom struggle' started with a call to join Pakistan with slogans saying that Kashmiris would like to go and join Pakistan 'with Pandit women but without Pandit men'.
Later when Yasin Malik's role as an armed militant came to an end thanks to the decimation by Hizbul, him and others started using 'azadi' or freedom.
As for him visiting the Pandit camps, it is the case of a crocodile visiting the left over bones of his hunt.
Coming back to Yasin Malik's role in making Kashmir a living hell, he has a long list of crimes to him like killing of four unarmed IAF officers
Some of his cases are also mentioned in the link below
I would also like to remind you that there was a time when he was just another gun running terrorist who had been captured by the Indian security forces. It is perhaps in Indian jails that he learnt the strategic skills that have been keeping him in such good stead
BBC Hard Talk (plays on real media player)
Though compared to your experience I am by no means qualified, I would still humbly request you to reconsider your opinions about the man or atleast try to take into consideration views of the other side as this gentleman has

Satish Kaul said...

Dear Wolfe,
It seems that you have not understood the real situation at all. Camping for sometime in Kashmir does not make you an expert on the Kashmir issue. Declaring Yasin Malik as a secular leader is a joke for me.Yasin Malik is a butcher of Kashmiri Pandits and even killed Indian Airforce officers, who were unarmed and waiting at the bus stop. He is involved in killing his own Kashmiri Muslims, who dared to raise their voice against him. He kidnapped Rubaiya sayeed to get five hardcore terrorists released against her release.He is a wolf is sheep's clothing.He is the one who spread Islamic fundamentalism and riots in the valley as he does not believe in so called Secularism at all.
Yasin has already converted the peaceful Kashmir valley into the hell ?

I am sure that You will change your statements after meeting the family members of the victims, who were killed mercilessly by Yasin .

As a true journalist , I hope you will muster the courage to do so.

May God give you the vision to see the truth...Thanks