Introduction to Richard Bonney, Tridivesh Singh Maini, and Tahir Malik, eds., Warriors after War: Indian and Pakistani Retired Military Leaders Reflect on Relations between the Two Countries, Past, Present and Future, Studies in the History of Religious and Political Pluralism. Vol. 6 edited by Richard Bonney (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2011), 377 pages.
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The inspiration for this book arose from the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus route on 7 April 2005, the first direct link between the two parts of divided Kashmir since 1947. The original impetus for change in the region arose not from politicians but from ex-military figures in Pakistan and India who had made a direct approach to the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD), an independent, not-for-profit organization in the United States headed by former US Ambassador John W. McDonald. Most of the twenty-six retired military figures from India and Pakistan interviewed in this book accept that with both countries possessing nuclear weapons since 1998, choosing war to resolve outstanding disputes is no longer a sensible or realistic option. They differ greatly, however, in their analysis of the opportunities and pathways towards a sustainable peace in South Asia, with the greatest divergence of views on the Kashmir dispute. The material contained in the interviews is enhanced with biographical and other notes, along with a comprehensive introduction and conclusion. The detailed Appendices provide an analysis of religious-based extremist violence in Kashmir and Pakistan.
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One of the editors, Tridivesh Singh Maini, is the representative in India of the Institute of Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD), an independent not-for-profit organization in the United States headed by former US Ambassador John W. McDonald. In 1995, Ambassador McDonald was visited by two lieutenants-general, one from Pakistan and one from India. They had just retired from the military and were in Washington DC for a month when they heard about IMTD. ‘They came to see me and within two minutes asked me to solve the Kashmir conflict. I laughed and said I can’t do that,’ Ambassador McDonald recalls. ‘Still, these were very serious men with a great deal at stake. The[ir countries] had fought [three] bloody wars against each other over Kashmir.’ ‘The Generals approached IMTD’, he continues, ‘because we are a small and non-threatening NGO with the international legitimacy necessary to intervene.’
Two years passed before IMTD was able to raise the funds. Then, in 1997, IMTD went to New Delhi, Bombay and Lahore and over the next several years developed relationships and carried out training in Track Three Diplomacy with the business community in India and separately in Pakistan. IMTD urged both communities to invest and reinvest in both sides of the Kashmir problem. On 7 April 2000, Ambassador McDonald was invited to make a speech in a refugee camp in Azad Kashmir just outside the capital city of Muzaf farabad. A thousand refugees were there who had f led from the Indian side. The ambassador spoke about the politicians’ bus trip which had taken place the year before. The Prime Minister of India took a bus from New Delhi and went to Lahore and met the Prime Minister of Pakistan to discuss Kashmir, but nothing materialized. ‘So I proposed on that day in 2000 that we start a people’s bus just for the people of Kashmir who had not been able to visit each other since 1947,’ states the ambassador. The people in Azad Kashmir thought it was a wonderful idea. The travel restrictions from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to Indian-controlled Kashmir stem from differences in travel documents needed to cross the border. India insisted that Kashmiris had to obtain a visa to enter India. In Azad Kashmir there was an insistence that Kashmir was still a disputed territory according to international law and therefore Kashmiris would only have to provide local identity documents for travel. As a result, travel between the two territories of Kashmir had been halted since Partition in 1947.
After the proposal, the IMTD team flew back to Washington and returned to work on other projects. The ambassador continued to make speeches about the people’s bus and had the idea publicized in the press in India and Pakistan every time he visited the subcontinent. Five years to the day, on 7 April 2005, the first people’s bus took to the road, when 31 passengers from Muzaf farabad and 19 from Srinagar crossed the Line of Control with only local identity travel documents. The Prime Minister of India and the head of the Congress Party flew to Srinagar to wave goodbye to the bus. The Prime Minister of Pakistan met the bus from the other side in Muzaf farabad, Azad Kashmir.
The bus exchange between Srinagar and Muzaf farabad is still taking place and now they have added trucks and there is even a railway crossing. ‘So we were able to change the whole concept of the subcontinent by this first rebuilding-confidence project. And it has been working ever since,’ states Ambassador McDonald. [The story is recounted at http://imtd.server295.com/?page_id=1084.] Tridivesh Singh Maini recalls that part of the inspiration for this book arose from the history of this incident, and the fact that the original impetus for change had arisen not from politicians but from ex-military figures in Pakistan and India. Subsequently, he carried out the interviews with all the Indian ex-military figures for this volume, while his colleague in Pakistan, Tahir Malik, carried out all but one of the interviews with Pakistani ex-military figures (Brigadier Shaukat Qadir was interviewed by Richard Bonney).
It is difficult to emphasize sufficiently the uniqueness, importance and timeliness of this volume. Relations between Pakistan and India were strained from the outset as a result of the events of Partition in 1947, when the mass migration of the populations in opposite directions and the slaughter that occurred on both sides led to mutual recrimination. The ideology of Pakistan was predicated on the idea that Muslims and Hindus formed in some way two ‘separate nations’ (the ‘two nations theory’) and a constitution which proclaimed Pakistan as an Islamic Republic was likely to emerge at a future date (though it remained – and continues to remain – a controversial subject, as the first constitution of 1956 has been replaced more than once and constitutional amendments are still being discussed today).
Once Dr Ambedkar had drafted India’s constitution by 1950, it was clear that India would – as had been expected – be committed to the principle of ‘secularism’, which in the context of the subcontinent meant Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and others living side by side without religious discrimination and, at least in principle, without the ascendancy of any one religion over the others. In practice, Hindus were in the numerical ascendancy and have appropriated many of the most important and politically sensitive positions, while Muslims have been treated as second-class citizens. Indeed, the poor status enjoyed by the religious minorities is a matter of concern in both India and Pakistan.
The former British-controlled Army of India was divided at Partition in 1947 on the basis of roughly one third to Pakistan and two thirds to India. Tensions between the two states rapidly developed into war over Kashmir in 1947–8, and there were further wars in 1965 and 1971, the latter leading to the independence of former East Pakistan as Bangladesh (an event which was master-minded by the Indian Army and was very much in India’s strategic interests). There were further crises between India and Pakistan in 1999 over Kargil (usually termed the Kargil war) and in 2002 following the attack on the Indian Parliament the previous December by terrorists allegedly trained in Pakistan. But by this stage the two states, as a result of nuclear tests held in 1998, were declared nuclear powers, and the stakes for the rest of the world were very high if open conf lict were to break out once more as it had done in the past. Since 2004 there has been a ‘composite peace process’ in progress but the process has been stalled since the terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008, which again was blamed by the Indian government on a group operating from Pakistan, albeit not with the support of the Pakistan government.
This book has no rival in the field, since interviews with senior military figures who are retired usually are undertaken on an individual and ad hoc basis. There are studies of the Pakistani and Indian armies as institutions, and in the case of Pakistan as a force in politics. But there is very little literature on the views of the military on the security challenges facing South Asia, yet this is of obvious importance given their experience and understanding of the issues at stake.
Can one of the most volatile regions of the world emerge from the present state of stalled peace negotiations and enjoy the fruits of a true peace? What are the long-standing issues at dispute between the two countries? Are they so profound, and so deeply rooted, that ‘peace’ itself will remain elusive and the best that can be expected between the two nuclear powers is an armed truce? What role is to be attributed to religious and ideological division, and what to territorial disputes and disputes over water resources? Does the possession of nuclear weapons by the two states act as a force for stability – because the risks of any conf lict leading to nuclear retaliation are just too high to be considered – or are nuclear weapons profoundly destabilizing?
Many issues thus arise from the ref lections of senior military personnel about the history of conf lict between the two countries. There is no unanimity of views. On the contrary, a surprising – almost astonishing – diversity of views between ‘warmongers’ and ‘peacemakers’ emerges. The intractability of the problems is thus matched by a variety of possible responses to the prospect of peaceful engagement and dialogue between India and Pakistan.
Finally, a note on the methodology for the interviews. The Editors recognize that the choice of interviewees was largely adventitious – we interviewed those who we found were willing to have their views made known to the public – as was the choice of questions. If the interviewee had heard Jinnah’s speeches in the 1940s – as was the case with Major-General Syed Wajahat Husain – then it made sense to ask him about the contrast between the type of Islam stressed by the Founding Father of Pakistan compared with that of President Zia-ul-Haq and his Islamization policies. Where an interviewee had some knowledge of the back channel negotiations between India and Pakistan – as was the case with Major-General Ashok K. Mehta – it was appropriate to ask him for his ref lections on the peace process. We have ended up with 26 interviews, 13 Indian and 13 Pakistani, which ref lect a wide diversity of viewpoints, and we have not sought to impose any editorial control over the views expressed except with respect to factual accuracy.
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Table of Contents
- General Editor’s Introduction 1
- Introduction 33
- Biographies of the Three Editors 39
- List of Abbreviations 41
- Part I Indian Interviewees 43
- Interviewee Biographies: India 45
- The Interviews: India 55
- Part II: Pakistani Interviewees 139
- Interviewee Biographies: Pakistan 141
- The Interviews: Pakistan 147
- Conclusion 279
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