Kashmir – The Endgame?

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Don’t’ bother probing for shards of wisdom or planks of reason from this piece, it is more of rhetorical gibbering of unfulfilled desperate who wintered a lifetime of a clueless barrage of an irrational logic of the sane. Wondering, when will be the time to raise the ante? Questioning when will be the time to shake the ground. When will silence be broken? When we will put the hammer down?

In chess, the endgame is the stage of the game when a few pieces are left on the board. The line between middle game and endgame is often not clear and may occur gradually or with the quick exchange of a few pairs of pieces. The endgame, however, tends to have different characteristics from the middle game, and the players have correspondingly different strategic concerns. In particular, pawns become more important as endgames often revolve around attempting to promote a pawn by advancing it to the eighth rank. The king, which has to be protected in the middle game owing to the threat of checkmate, becomes a strong piece in the endgame. It is a textbook definition of endgame, does it Sounds familiar? I think so too, this exactly what happening in the region, especially in the context of Pakistan, India and Kashmir.

Weather in Indian occupied Kashmir is shifting. The heatwave has passed and there is an extensive aridness in the ranks. Occupying mafia has decided to avail this dryness to their favor until the approaching winters chill the blood in veins.  In the middle of substantial de-escalation in Afghanistan, India’s recent move of intensifying military presence and declaring a de facto state of emergency in Kashmir has astounded many; the surprised party not only includes the gentlemen in Islamabad and Rawalpindi but also the so-called moderates in coffee shops of Delhi and Mumbai. The reaction from most of the stakeholders has an evident sense of awe. PM Modi for the first time in his tenure has able to perpetrate a surprise. Given the recent buildup in the region, no one was expecting something like this from the little man. Major General Asif Ghafoor should give the devil his due.

India had already done something similar to the Khalistan uprising earlier in the eighties. The military operation in the golden temple during a significant religious gathering was a massacre on a large scale. It was a symbolic display of an oppressive regime to showcase its might over the dissidents without any remorse or regret. It worked pretty well for the Indira Gandhi regime until the flames of the backlash consumed her. Something similar seems to be transpiring in Indian occupied Kashmir.

So what we know up till now? Indian forces have already raised the stakes on the LoC in the pretext of the security threat from the state-backed non-state actors from Pakistan. India has already revoked the clauses from its constitution granting Kashmir especial status; it might annex Jammu & Ladakh with UP perhaps and deal with the Valley through Delhi’s appointed governor. In addition, to suppress any local rebellion against the decision they already have a heavy military presence. Surely, Kashmiris will not go down gently and will rise against the occupying forces with everything they got against a 700 thousand strong-armed union of oppressors; hence, a bloodbath is in the making.

Question is What Pakistan is going to do about it. Should we continue to reprise our lame and toothless stance of “undying political & diplomatic support” for the cause or is it the time do something more? Something elemental, something terrifying? A tricky notion of the question indeed considering 70 years of half-assed approach to the problem has led us to the middle of nowhere with four wars and over 200 thousand dead both in the valley in our own ranks. Mere intention of waiting for it out until status quo shifts it balance in our favor, an expectation of one in a billion fluke we are anticipating to materialize. 

Our intelligentsia often describes the dispute over Kashmir as the “core issue” between India and Pakistan, our policy is driven by a deeper fear of India and about Pakistan’s national identity. Pakistan’s approach to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute has been characterized by a series of tactical moves, lacking a coherent strategy or a planned end game. This approach believed that only a sustained peace process could address the multiple factors that give rise to Indian and Pakistani suspicions about each other’s intentions and Pakistani tactics designed to prolong the conflict in the hope of eventually altering the status quo. It needs to be said, Pakistan does not have clearly thought out endgame in Kashmir and attending to its uncertainties could be one of the ways of ensuring the emergence of a realistic endgame without violence.

In case of a military onslaught on Kashmiri population, Implication and consequence for India could also be dire in nature. Try to put it in perspective, sooner rather than later the rise of Hindutva in mainland India will give way to an equal and opposite reaction in the marginalized minorities. Which are mainly Muslims, in that backdrop, use of extensive military might suppress (to an extent) a native-localize independence movement in the Kashmir valley could open the floodgates of global jihad. Evaluation of the regional dynamics will also help in shaping the scenario even more conducive for establishing a global jihad HQ in India as just few hundred miles north of it, Chinese state prosecution of Uighur Muslims is sowing the seeds of rebellion on religious grounds. Now try to connect the dots. It is a complete recipe of chaos. Something which will give the global powers a considerable amount of leverage over India and China, Pakistan could end up siding with either camp.

What can be done from Pakistan’s perspective to limit this atrocious notion is a million-dollar question. Certainly, a diplomatic offensive should be on the cards despite the fact it will probably go in vain because Indian leverage on the global stage is sleeker than ours. In search of a sustainable solution, the line of respective objective reality between the two parties was blurred for a long time, but it almost vanished after 26 February. The quick exchange of the pawns has pushed the middle game towards the grand finale as the ecstasy of new normal has overtaken the Indian policymakers. Pawns will have to play the role of their lives and King has to come out of the den. Indeed, surely, we are in the endgame now; so if you were trying, don’t bother probing shards of wisdom or planks of reason. It has become more of rhetorical gibbering of unfulfilled dreams of desperate who wintered a lifetime of a clueless barrage of irrational logics of the sane. The only thing left to be done now is to raise the ante, now is the time to shake the ground just as it is time to break the silences. Right here, right now, it is time to put the hammer down.

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Ahsan Malik is an IT professional with a passionate & candid version of his own on national and international issues relating to Pakistan, he tweets @MohdAhsanMalik and can be reached at m.ahson.malik@gmail.com

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