|Husain Haqqani on the Kashmir issue
Daily: Daily Times
Pakistan’s ex-ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani’s recently launched book, India vs
Pakistan: Why Can’t We Just Be Friends? has several bits of poor insight. This opinion
piece will only debate his insights into the Kashmir issue.
Haqqani is of the view that the Kashmir issue is a symptom and not a cause of acerbic ties
between Pakistan and India, as mentioned on page 46, where he writes: “At closer
examination, Kashmir is not the cause of conflict between the two states but rather a
symptom of it.” That is, with the departure of bitter causes, the Kashmir issue being a
symptom would automatically dissipate. In other words, the solution to the Kashmir issue is
not an essential prerequisite for forging normal ties with India.
To substantiate his stance, Haqqani gives two main causes that engendered the conflict.
The first cause was the mass murder of refugees while crossing the borders of Punjab and
Bengal. For instance, on page nine, hewrites: “[T]he communal riots accompanying
Partition resulted in at least half a million deaths and 10-14.5 million refugees, Muslims
move to Pakistan and Hindus and Sikhs to India... Those affected by the Partition violence
in each country became a constituency for anger, bitterness and hostility towards the other.
In Pakistan’s case that included most of its early political leaders, senior civil servants and
many military officers.”
The second cause was India’s denying Pakistan the due share of assets. For instance, on
page 17, Haqqani writes: “The Partition Plan of 3 June 1947 had given only seventy-two
days for transition to Independence. But Pakistan, unlike India, did not have a functioning
capital, central government or financial resources.” These were the two main causes that
engendered bitterness, the expression of which was the Kashmir issue. Taken these two
causes together, Haqqani has presumed that if the refugees had not suffered and the
assets-delivery problem had not happened, bitterness in Pakistan against India would not
have prevailed, and consequently, there would have been no Kashmir issue.
Interestingly, in this context of cause and effect relationship, on page 22, Haqqani negates
a part of his own theory that the stoppage of the delivery of assets was the cause of the
Kashmir conflict when he writes: “For some the dispute over Kashmir was a godsend. Patel,
already unfavourably disposed to Pakistan, argued that Pakistan was now virtually at war
with India and no country could be expected to arm or fund an adversary in the middle of
war. This resulted in India withholding Pakistan’s share of assets located in India due to
them under the Partition scheme.” That is, by blocking the delivery of due assets — after
the Indian army landed in Kashmir on October 27 — India tried to stop Pakistan from or
punish Pakistan for sending its army to Kashmir. However, Pakistan did not care about that.
This point alone shows that the Kashmir issue was not the symptom but the third cause on
the list of sequential causes that contributed to the bitterness of partition. In fact, the first
war Pakistan and India fought in 1947-1948 was on Kashmir, and not on the borders of
Punjab and Bengal. Secondly, this war was fought on the land of Kashmir for Kashmir, after
India invaded Kashmir, and not on the denial of assets. Thirdly, this war was not only the
first Kashmir war between Pakistan and India but also the first Pak-India war on any issue.
Fourthly, Pakistan fought this war despite being deprived of military assets and a decade
before Pakistan joined defence alliances such as SEATO in 1954 and CENTO in 1955,
which flooded Pakistan with weapons.
The transfer of the Kashmir issue from cause to symptom or effect is a deliberate attempt to
reduce the importance and to attenuate the severity of the issue, the cost of which is being
borne directly by Kashmiris living in the Indian-held Kashmir. The rationale for Haqqani’s
such stance — the premise-conclusion relationship — can be understood when he
delineates an itinerary for the issue’s resolution, as on page 61, he writes: “The experience
of other countries embroiled in similar disputes indicates that the ‘friendship’ first approach
works more effectively than ‘settlement first’.” This was a borrowed idea originally
expounded by Professor Louis Kriesberg who invited attention of the world towards his
theory of deescalation, which he propounded in the beginning of the post-Cold War era.
In 1991, on page 17 of the introduction chapter of his book, Timing the De-escalation of
International Conflicts (co-ed with Stuart Thorson) Kriesberg writes: “The issues vary also
in perceived importance — from vital to peripheral matters... It appears that in the long
course of an international conflict relationship, effective de-escalation at the early stages of
accommodation is achieved more often in peripheral issues than vital ones. Once some
accommodative agreements have been reached, more significant ones can be attained ...
Linkage among many issues seems to work better after the overall intensity of a conflict has
been reduced.” That means that the effective approach to the resolution of intractable
issues is to resolve peripheral issues before the central issue. Kriesberg’s theory was
considered a prophetic solution to all international intractable conflicts. Subsequently,
everyone started seeing the utility of his theory in their sphere of study or concern.
Interestingly, over the period of two decades, Kriesberg has improved his theory, which now
calls for the necessary involvement of a third party (one or multiple) to mediate. In 2012, on
page 215 of chapter eight of his book, Constructive Conflicts: From Escalation to
Resolution (co-author Bruce W Dayton) Kriesberg writes: “Just a few decades ago
mediation as a formal conflict management method was limited largely to labour-
management relations. Today, mediation is applied across virtually all conflict domains...
Mediation is a conflict management process whereby an outsider intervenes in a conflict to
help the adversaries to negotiate an agreement themselves. Mediators are generally
expected to help the adversaries construct a mutually acceptable agreement and to avoid
being advocates for one side or one solution.” Hence, in his book, the mode recommended
by Husain Haqqani to solve the Kashmir issue is two decades old, and hence is insufficient
and inapplicable in today’s age. For its resolution, the Kashmir issue now necessarily needs
a third party intervention.
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