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. Continue reading “Kashmir: Upheaval…and looking back”
Brookings India hosted the first session in its series “Back to the Future” on March 5, 2019 in New Delhi. The panel discussion examined the events leading up to the entrance and exit of the Indian Peace Keeping Force into Sri Lanka in 1987-90. Participants included four Indians who had been in critical policy-making positions in their government during this period, and Ambassador Teresita Schaffer, who provided a view from the United States, both on her own behalf and reflecting the experience of her late husband, Amb. Howard Schaffer. The discussion illustrates some of the different priorities in different parts of the Indian government; the sharp change in perspective when Ranasinghe Premadasa succeeded J.R. Jayawardene as Sri Lankan president; and a U.S. government position that supported the IPKF but remained quite detached.
A summary of the proceedings is here; a video of the session is here. Schaffer’s portion of the discussion is from 1:09 to 1:30 on the timeline of the video.
November 9, 2018: Among this year’s good reads on South Asia one is on Pakistan/Afghanistan, Steve Coll’s Directorate S, which picks up the story he began in Ghost Wars about the way these two countries and the United States interacted during the decade and a half starting in 2001. One is on India, a riveting addition to the “New India” literature by James Crabtree, former Financial Times correspondent in Mumbai, aptly titled The Billionaire Raj. The other three look at Pakistan and India: Spy Chronicles, an extended long interview by two former intelligence chiefs from the two rivals, which will probably tell you more about how each related to his own government than about how the two countries relate; The People Next Door, by a former Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan, with a sensitively drawn take on how the two countries look at each other; and Moeed Yusuf’s Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments, about the challenges that a multi-player environment adds to the Cold War era conventional wisdom about nuclear negotiations.
The suggested draft bill released in July by the Justice B.N. Srikrishna committee is the most recent contribution to a sprawling debate over electronic data that has been going on in India and elsewhere for some years. The report and the bill concern the privacy of personal data, but they are part of a policy discussion that goes much farther, encompassing essentially all data that are stored electronically. This is a classic example of the old adage: be careful what you wish for – you might be sorry if it comes true.
July 21, 2018: Since my last article on Pakistan, the election scene has shifted. At this point, it’s looking like an ugly election, and a decisive PML-N victory will be a surprise. The election is set for July 25.
The squeeze on former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his party has tightened. Nawaz and his daughter Maryam were sentenced to ten years in prison by an administrative anti-corruption court for possession of property in Britain beyond their known sources of income. Both returned to Pakistan July 13 from London, where they were accompanying Nawaz’s seriously ill wife. On their return, both were immediately transported to prison.
There are numerous stories in the press about intimidation of newspapers and of candidates from the PML-N. Some include references to “people in uniform.”