Archive for the ‘Kashmir’ Category

Kashmir: Upheaval…and looking back

August 8, 2019: On August 6, the Indian government abolished the special status and limited autonomy Jammu and Kashmir had enjoyed since soon after India became independent. The action was generally popular in India, but was greeted with shock and anger among Kashmiri muslims and in Pakistan. This article gives you my take on this recent action.

But we also offer a look back. As many of my readers know, Howard Schaffer tracked developments in Kashmir for much of his long Foreign Service career. The account he gave of his first trip to the Kashmir valley in 1964, linked here from the Web site of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, is fascinating in light of the subsequent history. Read more

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Siachen Back in the News – but Don’t Look for Peace Yet

From Kashmir Study Group, via Wikimedia Commons

February 17, 2016: A deadly avalanche that killed ten Indian soldiers earlier this month on the disputed 20,000 foot high Siachen glacier in Kashmir received extensive coverage in the Indian and Pakistani media. The avalanche prompted some commentators in both countries to call for an early settlement of what seemed to them and to many others (including ourselves) a senseless dispute.

Their voices were largely drowned out in India by an outpouring of patriotic fervor that cast the dead soldiers as “Bravehearts” who had died for their country. The Indian Defense Minister publicly dismissed pleas that both sides pull back from the 47-mile long glacier where they have confronted one another since 1984. Possibilities for a settlement seem remote.

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The Kashmir Issue: What is America’s Role

From Flickr,

I always enjoy coming back to the Boston area. I spent four happy years here as an undergraduate at a college on the Charles in the late ninety-forties. This is something that Harvard fund-raisers and football team promoters never let me forget.

Coincidentally, it was during those times so long ago that Kashmir first came to the world’s attention. A classmate, one of the few Indian undergraduates then studying in this country, assured me that the problem was the result of Pakistani mischief, that India was completely in the right, and that the United States was at fault in not recognizing these verities. I am sure that if there had been a Pakistani in my class at Cambridge – unfortunately there was not – I would have gotten a very different story. India and Pakistan have embraced sharply conflicting narratives of what happened way back in 1947 and 1948. Their ideas on the role the United States should play have been similarly at odds with one another. As we’ll see, this U.S. role has taken many different forms and shapes over the years, sometimes to the liking of one side or the other, sometimes to the liking of neither, as far as I can recall never to the liking of both.

Read Howard Schaffer’s talk at Boston College on the history of the Kashmir problem and the modest prospects for a U.S. role in the future.

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The Kashmir Interlocutors Report – But Who Will Listen?

By Jenny Mackness,

June 1, 2012: In the summer of 2010, riots of youth throwing stones and calling for “azadi” – freedom from Indian rule – convulsed the Valley of Kashmir. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pleaded eloquently to “give peace a chance,” and appointed a panel of three “Interlocutors” to assess public opinion in the state and make recommendations to resolve its seemingly intractable problems. On May 24, the Indian government finally released the report the panel had submitted to it seven months earlier. The long delay suggests that the report, despite the good sense in many of its recommendations, will join a long list of missed opportunities to transform political relations between New Delhi and Srinagar.

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U.S. Kashmir Policy in the Obama Administration and Beyond

Dal Lake, Kashmir. Photo by babasteve,

Neither India, nor Pakistan, nor the Kashmiris seem to understand the major change in the international community’s view of the Kashmir issue brought about by the introduction of nuclear weapons into South Asia. The specter of a catastrophic nuclear war between India and Pakistan has made regional peace and stability the primary goal the United States and other interested outside powers now pursue in Kashmir.

Read Howard Schaffer’s article published in the January 2012 issue of South Asia Journal.

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Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir: A grand bargain?

Khyber Pass, photo from flickr,

Kashmir, photo from flickr,

With U.S. relations in Pakistan at a low point and the two countries’ strategic disagreement over priorities in Afghanistan on full display, it is time to review U.S. strategic options. One that deserves a close look is a grand bargain: give Pakistan what it wants in Afghanistan – but on two conditions: Pakistan assumes responsibility for preventing terrorism out of Afghanistan, and Pakistan agrees to settle Kashmir along the present geographic lines. This is not a panacea, nor would it be easy to execute. But it addresses the principal stumbling block to the current U.S. strategy, and provides an incentive to settle the region’s longest-running dispute.

Read our article published on October 20, 2011.

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Pakistan: Don’t Get Distracted by the Fai Case

July 20, 2011: Veteran Kashmir-watchers like ourselves were amazed to find that today’s New York Times and Washington Post gave front-page coverage to the arrest of Ghulam Nabi Fai, the longtime director of the Washington-based Kashmir American Council. Fai and another Pakistani-American were charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign principal – the Pakistan government – without registering with the attorney general. They were also charged with concealing the fact that Pakistan was funding and directing the KAC’s lobbying and public relations campaigns in the United States. The funding allegedly included campaign contributions to members of Congress known for their pro-Pakistan positions on the long-standing Kashmir dispute.

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India’s Kashmir Policy

Howard and Teresita Schaffer’s comments on the Indian government’s latest initiatives in Kashmir. February 27, 2011.

After a summer of anguish and unrest in Kashmir, punctuated by an eloquent plea from the prime minister to “give peace a chance,” the Indian government in October appointed three non-officials to serve as “interlocutors” with all shades of opinion in Kashmir… Long-time observers of Kashmir argue that after the traumatic developments of last summer, people in the Valley are looking for ways to move forward toward more acceptable political arrangements. But they also caution that further incidents such as those that sparked last summer’s clashes could again inflame the situation. It is important in this context that the Indian government not again delude itself into thinking that the quieter atmosphere means that meaningful steps are no longer urgently needed.

Read the full commentary.

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Avoiding Disaster in Kashmir

An article by Teresita C. Schaffer and Howard B. Schaffer on actions India, Pakistan, and the United States can take to quell the crisis in Kashmir.

Since mid-June, over 50 civilians, many of them teenagers, have been killed in clashes between stone-pelting protesters and police in the streets of Srinagar and other towns in Kashmir. This could pose a serious threat to peace in South Asia. India needs to address both the domestic alienation in Kashmir and its 60-year-old dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir’s future, issues it has rarely before tried to deal with at the same time. The United States can play a useful but very limited role in this dangerous drama.

Originally published August 20, 2010 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Commentary. Read the entire article.

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The Limits of Influence: America’s Role in Kashmir

Written by Howard B. Schaffer and published by the Brookings Institution Press in 2009.

Before the 1947 partition of India, few Americans knew or cared about the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Tucked away in the high western Himalayas, Kashmir, as it was commonly called, was an amalgam of territories widely varied in language, culture, religion, ethnicity, and economic development. Its disparate regions had been cobbled together by the dynastic ambitions of the state’s rulers abetted by British imperial design. In the first half of the nineteenth century, these maharajas,Hindus of the Dogra ethnic group based in the Jammu area of the state, had with British backing created one of the largest states in Britain’s Indian empire. Situated along India’s border with China, touching Afghanistan, and close to the Central Asian regions of Czarist Russia and, later, the Soviet Union, it was also one of the most strategically placed.

To order the book, contact Brookings Institution Press.
Indian edition available from Penguin Viking.

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