INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

February 27, 2021

THE OVERCAST ON K2

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 11:34 am

Samson Simon Sharaf

“John Snorri saved my life twice. Telling the truth is the least I owe him in return”

Tomaz Rotar

The extreme sport of high altitude mountaineering despite its characteristic of testing human endurance to extremities has its peculiar appetite for controversies. Like all sports, it breeds its own intense competition and sometimes jealousies. I will narrate two incidents.

Despite the discovery of body and funeral of Günther Messner in 2005, some 35 years after his disappearance on Nanga Parbat, critics still blame his younger brother Reinhold Messner for abandoning him for his own summit glory. I met Reinhold Messner in a camp on Abruzzi Glacier in 1982. He told me exactly what was ultimately revealed from 2000-2005. Reinhold was vindicated by facts but does that stop conspiracy theorists from spinning new yarns?

Same year, the Sardar of my expedition to Gashebrum 1 (led by Sylvain Sudain) was Chacha Muhammad Hussain. He with Amir Mehdi in 1953 had carried the Austrian mountaineer Hermann Buhl on their backs to the base camp from slopes of Nanga Parbat. Even though I saw Chacha Muhammad Hussain’s porter book pasted with him carrying Buhl, I see no photo in any book. Despite a first this expedition was marred by controversies.

Hussain and Amir Mehdi were hired again by Italians for the first K2 summit in 1954. Italians Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli reached the summit of K2 denying Amir Mehdi and Walter Bonatti the opportunity. To protect Campagnoni’s legacy, Italians made fall guys out of Amir Mehdi (maimed for life) and Walter Bonatti for over fifty years. In 2004, reminiscences by Lacedelli prompted an investigation that resulted in formal recognition of Mehdi and Bonatti in K2’s first conquest; but not an apology.

The first winter ascent of K2 and the tragedy of John Snorri, Ali Sadpara and Juan Pablo Mohr is no exception and shall remain a subject of intense debate for years to come. Events around the winter expeditions to K2 in 2020-21 are being marred by controversies targeting the Nepalis and also suggesting that Sajid Sadpara the only surviving member is not telling the truth. Eager theorist are piecing together information from different climbers (some now dead) to build a mystery around the events, some even questioning if the Nepalese summited at all?

The leading exponent is Tomaz Rotar from Slovenia who claims to be the only credible eyewitness other than Sajid Sadpara (not credible) of the fateful events ahead of Camp 4 on 6 February 2021. In his dispatch in Slovenian language read by me in Urdu, English and French translations, he depicts Sajid as the last straggler towards Camp 4. He asserts that the nasty crevasse ahead of Camp 4 was never surmountable and most likely, climbers fell to death into it.

This is why he insists that it is time to tell the truth meaning that Sajid is hiding something. Taking a hint from him, others suggest they drifted towards the Cesen re-entrat to nibble up to bottle neck and perished. 

Some of his assertions are confusing.

He says, “However, John Snorri saved my life twice. Telling the truth is the least I owe him in return”.

Having declared so, he ignored his moral and ethical responsibility when he abandoned John Snorri at the crevasse and is now in an act of contrition by calling Sajid Sadpara a liar, a hallucinating individual and someone he refused to share his regulator with and the Nepalese daemons who never left a ladder behind he was looking for.

Again, why did he fail to convince Ali Sadpara and Juan Pablo Mohar who also flew into eternity with John Snorri? Very self-serving and selfish litany of betrayals.

A small summit conference was the least he could have done; maybe a few minutes delay at Camp 4.  After all, his oxygen was good and he had no intentions but to stop at the base camp which he did after a tea break in camp 3.

The reasons for not pushing the summit with Nepalese are straight forward.

John Snorri’s team was at Camp 2 and needed at least a night to sleep at Camp 3, ideally climb up to camp 4 and retreat to camp 3 for rest and then begin a summit push in the late hours. This meant summit on 17 January. Logically, they were in no position to join Nepalese.

Recall, when Mingma G’s team was fixing ropes to Camp 4 on 15 January, having completed the task, they retreated back to Camp 3 for rest and recuperation. Going straight from Camp 2 to the summit is superhuman, which John Snorri and his team avoided on 14 January only to be forced into by events on 4-5 January. Given the jumbling at Camp3, a very tragic risk indeed? 

Here is the sequence of events.

On 3 February, John Snorri’s team reached Camp 2 from base camp and slept there.

On 4 February, his team joined the long que of climbers (not in control of Dawa Sherpa and Arnold Coster), some going up making solo deals with Sherpas and others coming down due to cold, a typical circus.  

John Snorri team reached main camp 3 after collecting oxygen (placed by Sajid on 14 January) from Japanese Camp 3. Muhammad Ali Sadpara reached main Camp 3 at 6 PM while John Snorri and Sajid Sadpara reached around 8 PM. They voluntarily on humanitarian grounds shared their only tent with three climbers from SST. There was no recuperation and much needed sleep that night.

They set off again from Camp 3 the same night; John Snorri at 11:30 PM, Sajid Sadpara at 12 midnight and Muhammad Ali Sadpara at 2 AM 5 February. Sajid insists they followed the Nepalese route without any confusion till the team met at Camp 4 and the crevasse ahead of it.  There was no drifting towards the Cesen re-entrat as suggested by Angela Benavides.

Barring John Sonori’s team the long line of climbers including Tomaz Rotar and Juan Pablo Mohr were attempting at their own risk accompanied by porters they had made deals with. Juan Pablo Mohr remained a loner after his climbing partner Tamara Lunger turned back.

Tomaz Rotar also blames the SST for the lack of supplies and failure in information sharing. To remind readers, he was part of SST and obliged to obey orders of Dawa Sherpa and Arnold Coster. Yet he admits to the briefing by both on 1 February but citing no information on any particular obstacle, such as the crevasse. Even if Mingma G shared no information, Sona Sherpa from SST also made it to the summit on 16 January and was obliged to share information with his team. Lastly, if he was indeed member of SST team, why was he making deals for the summit with Temba Sherpa?

Sajid maintains they were briefed by the Nepalese including the new route to Camp 4 and the crevasse ahead of it.

This reminds me about the observation of Kraig Becker,

“There are also a growing number of individuals who have no business being on the mountain and threaten to turn the entire affair into a three-ring circus. Worse yet, their lack of experience could also lead to disaster on a mountain that is already known as one of the most deadly in the world. … That means that most climbers have little to no winter climbing experience whatsoever, yet they are attempting the hardest winter climb of them all. This is largely due to Seven Summits bringing a sizable commercial team, which consists of a substantial number of people who have no business being on K2 under the best of conditions, let alone in winter.”

After discussions with mountaineers who have climbed and endured K2, a common conclusion is that most teams were short of experienced hardy climbers needed to tackle a winter ascent of K2. The only experienced person at base camp was Muhammad Ali Sadpara with his winter ascent of Nanga Parbat.

Mingma’s group of 3 was too small to deal with K2 in winter. Cleverly, he was quick to form an all Nepalese team with assistance from Dawa Sherpa of SST and Nirmal Purja bringing the total to 10. It was also Mingma G who set the pitch from camp 3 onwards.

It was the responsibility of Dawa Sherpa the leader of SST and his deputy Arnold Coster to prevent such a polarisation from taking place. They must clarify why many SST climbers were abandoned by an all Nepal Team who pushed ahead on 15 January.

Seen in this context, John Snorri’s team may have decided to wait out the all Napalese summit and later follow the same route. Had SST exerted better command and control, discipline on free loaders and ensured logistics, a second ascent of K2 was possible in the window of 2-5 February as planned by the two leaders of SST. This turned out to be John Snorri’s plan too.

In Tomaz Rotars own words, “It consisted of going to Camp 1 on February 2, Camp 2 on February 3. Then on February 4, we were to proceed to Camp 3, rest, then continuing to the summit with no Camp 4. We had to somehow manage to top out and return, hopefully back to Camp 2, as early as possible on February 5, because the winds would increase progressively that day”.

Why this plan was not followed is for SST to answer.

Certainly, it ruined the bid of John Snorri’s team to summit K2 in winter, causing three deaths around the summit and one below Camp 3.

It is written in scriptures that some men are saved by their acts alone. Rest in Peace John Snorri, Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Juan Pablo Mohr for leaving your tents with those freezing in cold at Camp 3 and etching a selfless chapter in history of mountaineering.

February 23, 2021

CLEARING THE PLUME: K2 Winter: 2020-21

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 2:17 pm

The Story of Les Homme Extraordinaire

Dr Jon Kedrowski

Samson Simon Sharaf

On 5 February 2021 as John Snorri, Muhamad Ali Sadpara, Sajid Sadpara and Juan Pablo Mohr were challenging K2, a plume of cloud hung over the summit. As events unfolded, this plume became the dreaded K2 weather. With many contrasting and conflicting statements by those who returned from Camp 3 and 4 on that fateful night, and the fake news media, my effort is to clear the ‘Fog of War’, dig out facts and tell a story closest to reality. 

At a time when film maker Elia Shakaly was thinking of survival in Japanese Camp 3, his friends were foraying into the dangers of unknown. I do not wish this pyre to smolder anymore. It means a closure for the families who must know that their loved ones were Les Hommes Extraordinaire,  set out to accomplish something superhuman; for Pakistan and annals of high altitude mountaineering. I wish to identify that quest for a bit extra, a final push and the extra mile. Some make it, others don’t. But there is always one common denominator. These men and women are extra ordinary.

As a keen follower, my anxiety grew when John Snorri’s GPS went a bit erratic and then switched off at 7:15 AM on 5 February 2021. Hours of climbing lay ahead and they were getting late. The cloud overhang was getting menacing. Unlike the Nepal-10 joint expedition that reached the summit on 16 January 2021 at faster pace despite rope fixing, the slowness and complete blackout on information raised alarms. The gathering clouds observed from base camp ran chills in spines.

The earliest they could reach the summit was around 5 PM. This meant ‘touch and go’ followed by the long traverse across the Shoulder in race against the deteriorating weather. Knowing the mountains, this was a very big risk the four had undertaken and they needed every bit of good luck and prayers.  Cognizant that the window of opportunity was extremely narrow, I tweeted “Allah Khair” meaning God protect and be with them. I also prayed for the tenaciousness of human valor and a miracle.

But all was not well. Trackers were dead and sat phones switched off. Even Sajid who parted company at 12 noon due to oxygen malfunction returned to Camp 3. Anxious and worried, he dared the climb back towards Camp 4 to find nothing in extremely poor visibility. Dawa Sherpa who had the latest weather reports advised him to descend immediately to Base Camp which he did by midnight. From Bottleneck to the long wait at Camp 3, then up looking for headlamps in vain and back to base camp must have been a lonely, painful and arduous descent for the young college graduate whose expedition partners including his father were missing.  The cause of motivation and strive an extra bit was gone. With such demoralization, the feat that he descended alone, tired, broken and depressed is another superhuman effort.

Confronted by lack of information and electronic data, there are only two types of witnesses. First,  those including Tomaz Rotar, Sherpa Timbo and others who retreated from the crevasse ahead of Camp 4. Thereon, only Sajid Sadpara becomes crucial to dig the truth. He was with the group till 12 PM. His evidence fills many gaps and dispels many doubts. My conversations with him give an impression that back at camp 3, he was aware of dangers and the tragedy that could have befallen.

There is a question repeatedly raised. Why John Snorri’s team missed the summit push along with the Nepalese, when it was already a shared summit? Competition according to Sonorri, , Mingma G and  Nirmal Purja was intense. Snorri also carried the scars of an aborted expedition on K2 with Tomaz Rotor and Mingma G last season.

But despite the past experience, new friendships were made. John Snorri’s team had fixed ropes up to Camp 1 and extended to the Japanese Camp 3 and also delivered 700 meters of rope to Mingma G at camp 2, who fixed it a day later to Camp 4 at 7,600 meters and beyond. Nirmal Purja also carried 200 meters rope to be fixed enroute to the summit. Rope fixing was a shared effort.

According to Mingma G and validated by Sajid Sadpara, the weather at Camp 2 on 15 January made a push dangerous, while Camp 3 and above enjoyed a good weather window. The Nepalese decision to summit was impromptu and needed convincing from Mingma G because reports from Dawa Sherpa, Nirmal Purja and John Snorri contradicted him.

Nepalese led by Mingma G took the risk and succeeded. He personally fixed ropes 50 meters short of Camp 4 including a passage on a nearly vertical wall of ice and rock. Sajid confirms the presence of ropes on this route used by his team and Seven Summit climbers. This includes Tomaz Rotar who went up and down these ropes.

That Sajid Sadpara and Tomaz Rotor mention the presence of ropes in the crevasse 50 M ahead of Camp 4 towards Bottleneck dispels many doubts. The last point at which Sajid Sadpara saw his team using the fixed ropes was where the narrow near vertical rock gully opens up into a couloir. This is the place where the route turns sharply left and follows along the icefall and serac to the summit slope. He and Tomaz Rotor mention dense powder snow. This historically facilitates the ascent to summit.  Sajid remains convinced that his team made it to the summit and tragedy struck on the descent.

Alan Arnette

According to Sajid, John Snorri left Camp 3 at 11:30 PM on 4 February. Snorri’s GPS switched on at 23:58 PM at an altitude of 7379 meters. By 3:49 AM 6 February he was at 7961 meters. It can be inferred that between this location and 4:55 AM he was on the gradual descent towards the Bottleneck. That is when he came across a big crevasse between Camp 4 site and the Bottle neck, and met Tomaz Rotar who was already there along with Sherpa Timbo. Both turned back while Snorri waited alone for his team. Tomaz Rotor avoids timelines in his narration but the light he talks about is certainly the false or early dawn and not a moon that was in the fading quarter.

Sajid followed Snorri half an hour later while Ali Sadpara left at 2 AM 6 February. Ali and Sajid were confident they would catch up John Snorri before the Bottleneck which they did. Sajid confirms that he met Tomaz Rotor below Camp 4 and insists that at that time his father had not caught up with him. He also confirms that he was using oxygen and he mentioned his regulator problem to Tomaz Rotor. He also confirms he saw many stragglers from Seven Summits including Sherpas descending from Camp 4.

According to Sajid, already a summiteer on K2 in 2019, the landscape ahead of camp 4 was completely different. There had been heavy snow and a big crevasse about 2.5 meters had opened up 50 M ahead of Camp 4 site and the Bottleneck. Sajid confirms that the Nepalese briefed them about this crevasse at the base camp but it had since widened. This is where he came across Juan Pablo Mohr who was without oxygen on a solo climb like he did on five 8000 meter peaks in the past accompanied by Ali Sadpara on two (Lhotse and  Dhaulagiri). He describes him as a very good and technical climber. After reconnaissance in daylight, all four sprinted and jumped across the forbidding crevasse that had opened up after the fixing of rope by Nepalese; called ‘glacial crack’ by Tomaz Rotor. Time according to Sajid was 9-10 AM and the sun was warming up.

So how does one explain litany of ever compounding risks? Travelling light, they left everything including the only tent at Camp 3 occupied by 2 Nepali and one European climber. There were no sleeping bags. Only Juan Pablo was carrying some rope.

Mountaineers by temperament and nature of challenge live on the edge and take calculated risks. Sometimes it works and at others, it ends in tragedy. Maurice Wilson, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine tried but failed. Similarly, a long list of climbers took bigger risks and succeeded. It worked for Mingma G and Nepalese but not John Snorri and his partners.

Daring the edge is cognitive and cannot be measured. Emotionally and physiologically, the level of motivation of the four climbers was extremely high. They had shot up their adrenaline and conquered fear of unknown. They dared the edge. The mission of this four man team was ultimately ‘do or die’.

They had no plans of an emergency bivouac. Climb quickly and sprint to Camp 3 was their only option. Fraught with risks, the forbidding terrain and weather of K2 did not allow it to happen. It overtook them.

Valour accompanied by risks is part of an adventurer’s spirit. This time, the luck did not favour the brave.

As the clouds over this tragedy clear, let us salute these men whose luck ran out.  Let us leave the departed in Peace, and acknowledge the great things they did and endeavoured.

Rest in Eternal Peace.

Please note that Sajid Sadpara’s account is contradicted by Tomaz Rotor


Tamara Lunger

December 4, 2020

PAKISTAN GATE CRASHES INTO PRESSURISED WATER NUCLEAR REACTORS

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 8:52 am

Samson Simon Sharaf

Islamabad. 4 December 2020

Pakistan has successfully begun the process of fuel loading at the 1100 MW K2 unit at the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP). If all goes well three more reactors will be commissioned in Karachi and one at Chasma.

For Pakistan, this is a big success despite being kept out of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and preferential treatment being accorded to India. The fact that this plant is jointly fabricated by China and Pakistan indicates high technological standards Pakistan has achieved in peaceful use of nuclear technologies.

This means that Pakistan has catapulted towards Hybrid 4th generation Power Reactors that are more efficient, much safer, easier to shut down in disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima and smaller per output. The technology is duel use for propulsion of ships, ice breakers and nuclear submarines. So for the future, Pakistan will keep options open.

Pressurised Water Reactors (PWRs) were initially designed to serve as nuclear propulsion for nuclear submarines and later adapted to power production. Most operating in the world are 2nd Generation by USA, Russia, France and Japan. France is operating many 3rd Generation reactors but the one by Pakistan is significantly advanced in technology.

To recap, nuclear fuel in the reactor pressure vessel is engaged in a fission chain reaction (bombardment of neutrons in controlled environments), which produces heat. Through the thermal cladding, this highly pressurized water is prevented from boiling at a very high temperature. It remains a liquid despite reaching a temperature up to 315 °C under 2250 PSI. This water slows neutrons in the reactor core and carries away heat. When this very hot water passes through the heat exchanger through hundreds or thousands of small tubes, the secondary water instantly turns to steam propelling turbines for power generation. This heat transfer takes place without mixing the two fluids, shielding the secondary coolant from becoming radioactive. After passing through the turbine the secondary coolant (water-steam mixture) is cooled, condensed and collected in a reservoir. This is pumped back into the steam generator after heating.

If converted to mechanical energy, it propels ships and submarines.

What does fuel loading mean and imply?

Fuel loading is a process prior to commissioning a High Pressurised Water Reactor. To build the reactor core, enriched uranium dioxide powder is fired into a high-temperature, sintering furnace. This creates hard, ceramic pellets of enriched uranium dioxide. These pellets or rods are clad in a corrosion-resistant zirconium metal alloy backfilled with helium to aid heat conduction and detect leakages.  These are then assembled into the main reactor core. The Reactor is then ready to go.

These reactors are more economical in use of Uranium (15%) and safer due to highly pressurized water running around the main core. They are far more advanced that Chernobyl Ukraine and Fukushima Japan and current 3rd Generation being developed world over.

Because of the compact and safe design, this hybrid of 3rd and 4th generation technology revolutionises the propulsion of nuclear powered ships, ice breakers and submarines, initially where they came from.

Though these projects had been undertaken a decade ago, fuel loading indicates that Pakistan has reached a very advanced stage of commissioning this reactor. This will be followed by more reactors, providing the country cheap electricity for its development.

Mastering the technology will help Pakistani scientist in developing small propulsion units for marine use in ships and submarines.  

While Pakistan used the Uranium-Plutonium route for its military and civilian use projects, India embarked on the ambitious Thorium Based cycles in view of its depleting Uranium resources. For a long time Indian scientists tried extracting Plutonium isotope of Thorium through these fast breeder reactors. Slow Indian progress provided crucial time to Pakistan to catch up and build its technologies.

India has been making advances in the field of thorium-based fuels, (518,000 tonnes) in the form of monazite in beach sands, as compared to very modest reserves of low-grade uranium working to design and develop a prototype for an atomic reactor using thorium and low-enriched uranium. The long-term goal of India’s nuclear program has been to develop an advanced heavy-water thorium cycle. The first stage of this employs the pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR) fueled by natural uranium and light water reactors, which produce plutonium incidentally to their prime purpose of electricity generation. The second stage uses fast neutron reactors burning the plutonium with the blanket around the core having uranium as well as thorium, so that further plutonium (ideally high-fissile Pu) is produced as well as U-233. In 2017, India Approved 10 New Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor Nuclear Units. India’s government has given the state-owned Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd. (NPCIL) the green light to develop 10 new domestically designed pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs).

India is also facilitated in imports of low enriched uranium through the nuclear supplier group to move towards Light Water Reactors. The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant Facilities are the first of 3rd Generation light water reactors in with Russian assistance. These mostly belong to the old vintage and technologically not at par with the latest Hualong One facility in Pakistan.

For a third World developing country, the achievement proves that state of art technologies and their advancements can only be achieved through government run institutions. Pakistan Atomic Energy with its well spread industry, production facilities running under the three services of armed forces, aircraft and tank factories, state of the art communication facilities and missile programs are all state run on minimum budgets. They provide a capacity and capability to Pakistan’s Defensive Deterrence, that the national economy does not keep pace with. Pakistan Automobile Corporation, Pakistan Steel, Pakistan Railways and Pakistan International Airlines are all projects that showed promise but fell victim to mismanagement, greed and corruption in a less disciplined and less controlled environment. Most, the public and private sectors do not believe in research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

October 24, 2020

INTERESTING TIMES MR. PRIME MINISTER!

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 9:24 am
Empties of ammunition fired at PTI

For Pakistan, the “Living in Interesting Times” curse does not seem ending.  Twelve years hence, what began as National Reconciliation in 2007-8 has moved beyond politics to haunt the military establishment in a series of events orchestrated by the Sharif Family? The reconciliation had guarantors.  President Musharraf became collateral casualty. The other casualty was the Daughter of the East, who once back home abhorred such an arrangement.

Unlike 2007-8, there is no national urge to restore the NRO equilibrium. Rather, it is the desire of corrupt elements to evade accountability and become relevant to national politics. The objectives of outside actors who facilitated this process create uncertainty and instability. Their utmost desire is restoration of equilibrium.

The Musharraf-BB nexus was short lived and smashed rather easily. The roles have now reversed.

Civil-Military Cooperation and Civil Ascendency is counter to the narrative building of Civil-Military relations, a hybrid of campaign against an institution by corrupt, desi liberals and 5th columnists. No wonder then, that the present Civil-Military Cooperation is being dubbed by opposition with acronyms such as Selected, Incompetent and Ladla etc. Opposition wants strife at its own terms. The government must not aggravate it.

With the government backing military and vice versa, the turnaround this time is ugly in which national interests and security considerations are held in contempt. The focus is to break this equation through rapid fires of slurs and accusations. Institutional confrontation is the norm. It is this glamour, that MNS sees his future in politics aptly portrayed by his daughter; a revolutionary in exile. The desired effect is weakening the government in which the knight would return in shiny armour?

Why does Nawaz Sharif feel betrayed and abandoned? For him malingering and dodging on way to London was not a favour. It was something his prowess deserved.  His megalomania exhibiting delusions of grandeur, exaggerated sense of personal worth, power and greatness inhibits his ability to look down his neck. Typically, he has built a team of courtiers who keep such illusions alive. So as long as he is out of the reach of law, he will continue to challenge everything that challenges his self-delusions.

In his Mafioso Perception, a quid pro quo should have come in his favour. For what or why is not known. His avenues asking reconciliation failed because he wanted it on his terms. Now, the Sicilian Empire is striking back in cooperation with major opposition parties, segments of media, outside actors with India acting as the teeth arm of aggression. For as long as he sits in London or abroad, and for as long the courts give relief to his daughter, the slurs and attacks will continue.

PPPP could limit itself to own specific objectives. Their own uninterrupted government in Sindh for over twelve years and ideological cadres in the fold are a limiting factor. But this is only an assumption. Much more has been sacrificed in the past that is precedence. So no hold bars.

Institution confrontation is now public and the opposition holds a carte blanche. The institution has limitations. Because the opposition narrative has to be defeated, the major onus falls on the government. How the government will assert this control is for it to craft. The response is not simple and must be crafted in entirety. Subtleness has a finesse that must be exercised.  

It does not imply sword for a sword. Rhetoric cannot defeat rhetoric. An eye for an eye will not work. Imran Khan must fight the battle on his own turf. The most potent part of this turf is the people who elected him to power. He must touch their hearts and synergise them into an effective counter punch. His governance model is neither IMF conditions nor the FATF regulations. Logically, he must use both to improve his cost effective governance model based on deliverance. He must prepare this wicket forthwith and then ask them to play on it.

Good governance is the most lethal counter attack and the government must deliver. It is not cost intensive. The federal government and governments in Punjab, KPK and Balochistan have to work in unison to put some basics right. They must focus on police and lower judiciary in cooperation with the high courts. District administrations must start delivering through monitoring and enforcement.

The three provinces must kick start the agriculture development.  

Grassroots economy has to be agitated while middlemen and black marketers have to be taken to task. Price hike in basic commodities and medicines must be brought under check.

It high time government starts concentrating on National Power. Then no one will listen to self-proclaimed spiritualists and heroes.  That’s the time Imran Khan must revert to people.

Mr. Prime Minister, do it and fight another battle on your terms. Don’t and you live to regret.

Samson Simon Sharaf

October 9, 2020

NAGORNO-KARABAKH: THE FLASHPOINT WITHIN DEVIL’S TRIANGLE

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:44 am

The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is heating up very much the way it did in Syria. Sworn enemies are allies and friends at the same time. Who is who, who supports who and who fights who is a mind boggling question. It is an affray and Royal Rumble to say the least.

Ethnicity, religion, sectarianism, geopolitics, economics, terrorism and leverages are inter-connected. According to Henry Kamens, an expert on Central Asia and Caucuses, “different actors have different reasons for wanting this conflict to either remain frozen or escalate, and what happens will be governed by how much these actors respect each other, or don’t”. Certainly thus, this conflict has not suddenly escalated due to the over blown will of the people. It is orchestrated.

Turkey and Israel are supporting Azerbaijan politically, logistically and physically despite being daggers drawn over questions of Palestine. Turkey keeps criticising Israel for its annexation policy while it also gets support from Israel to dampen allegations of Armenian Genocide between 1915-1923.

Azerbaijan never existed till 1918 when USSR created it. In 1921 Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and Bolsheviks used ‘divide and rule’ to place Armenian Artsakh inside Azerbaijan, even though Armenians constituted 95% of the population. He also put the Armenian territory of Nakhichevan under Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction. In 1988, Artsakh democratically voted to secede from Azerbaijan in accordance with Soviet law.  In 1991, when Soviet Union disintegrated, Artsakh voted for independence. Now Russia supports Armenia while through Georgia tacitly permits weapons to be slipped into Azerbaijan from Russia.

Turkey and Russia locked horns in Syria and Libya and may do the same in Nagorno-Karabakh. Surprisingly, Armenia also has US and Iranian support. The subject is hardy mentioned in presidential debates in USA implying that both Republicans and Democrats tacitly approve what Israel and Turkey are doing against Armenians. USA probably wants the same equilibrium that Stalin imposed in 1921. Armenia is also a NATO ally.

Zbigniew Brzezinski’s thesis ‘A Geostrategy for Eurasia’ described the region as ‘Axial Eurasia’. Back in 1997, the world was unipolar and he emphasized it was time USA made an integrated and comprehensive strategy for Eurasia. The message was well taken by Capitol Hill, Pentagon and Western Europe. Former Eastern European countries were integrated into European Union and some also became part of NATO. Eastwards expansion of NATO under the soft Russian under belly began. Countries held captive under Warsaw pact and authoritarian communist regimes were more than happy to do so. Finally, Russia check mated these expansions by taking control of Crimea. This is the European leg of the messy geostrategic tripod I call the Devil’s Triangle. The other two legs are Middle East and South West Asia (Pakistan-Afghanistan).

But Central Asian Republics did not enjoy the luxury of Eastern Europe. They are sandwiched between a resurgent Russia, a rising China whose major preoccupation is trade power, a resurgent Turkey reviving the Ottoman dreams, a politically divorced Iran and an unstable Afghanistan. They are landlocked geographically, isolated politically, pawns strategically and poor economically. By Brzezinski’s own admission, Eurasia accounts for 75 percent of the world’s population, 60 percent of its GNP, and 75 percent of its energy resources. His assessment was bloated because he was presenting a case against the rising Chinese, Indian and Russian domination.

This now transforms to BRI and CPEC. Inasmuch as China, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan are crucial to rapturing this containment ring, their own interests are often diabolically opposite within the Devil’s Triangle.  Nagorno-Karabakh Is a case in point.

Pakistan should rather concentrate on the Afghan Dialogue, CPEC, Kashmir and socio economic reforms. Like Armenia, USA may be too keen to pull back Pakistan into the old equilibrium. There are no heroes or villains in international politics. Interests and interests alone decide where to tick.

Samson Simon Sharaf

October 3, 2020

HURLY BURLY: THE NEED FOR THREAT AND RISK ASSESSMENT

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 10:25 am

Everything has lit up suddenly. Seems multiple tripwires are alight. It began with the Indian act of changing international boundaries in Indian held Kashmir and descended into the defiance by Mian Nawaz Sharif and other opposition parties. International and trans-boundary events resulted in policy shifts that directly affected the interests of political parties, especially those under the sharp eye of accountability and FAFT legislations. It has all become a mix and could spell dangers ahead. There a dire need of immediate Threat and Risk Assessment.

Why this assessment is essential; simply to ascertain in degrees of probability; for whom the bell tolls?

Pakistan may be going down a road whence cognitive perception could be distorted within the Corridors of Power by the twin factors of Power and Grandeur.

During crises, caught between the notions of indispensability and vulnerability, statesmen tend to miscalculate at their own peril; Grandeur, because the perceptions are continuously fed by patrimonial courtiers creating a grandiose aura that filters out stark realities. Conclusions and inferences derived may be far from realities leading to unexpected consequences springing surprises. Internalisation of indispensability gives rise to feelings of being attacked from multiple fronts. This in result affects decision making.

In game theory, an important aspect of politics, realistic cognition as also cognitive control is essential to positive decision making. Miss a note and the entire symphony becomes a comedy of errors.

This is exactly what happened to President Musharraf from 2006 to 2008. He was led to believe he was indispensable to the future of Pakistan irking in him a sense of vulnerability where he failed to perceive the game against him. The fall from grace was swift accounted by his actions and patrimonial courtiers who played both sides of the wicket. He was left alone on a dirt track that had no exit. For any statesman, it is important to factorise distortions created by Power and Grandeur.

In a worse case dangerous and least likely scenario, the ring of pervert politicians, outside powers and rising poverty inside Pakistan could accidently or manipulatively coalesce to create instability as stepping stone to a meltdown. This could create political unrest, agitations, and law & order situations all over Pakistan. The precursor could roll down from Balochistan into other provinces.

The language particularly against the military is explicit and aggressive. When it does, Pakistan may be caught napping with no contingency plans further aggravated by absence of leadership that is up to it.

The recent APC in Army House is overtaken by events not factorised. JUI, PKMAP, PMLN and BNP are coalescing in Balochistan. Punjab would be next. This is the game plan to power Pakistan into a nosedive of instability.  

Reverse engineering of Tom Hawk has already become a joke, but it is a serious matter. It will be followed by information on Pakistan’s top secret advance weapon’s programs. India will go aggressive on Line of Control. I reckon PPP will at some point side step this anti-Pakistan coalition. As a political party, their contributions to Pakistan’s Defensive Deterrence are stellar and they will not be part of it.

The recent clashes in Caucasus Region fracture the anti-containment ring from Turkey to Pakistan. Turkey, Iran and Russia are at odds. So far, Pakistan has shown political inadequacy in encashing its power potential and leverages linked to its National Power.

So the game is on. Not just the government but also the judiciary, NAB, patriotic political parties, the military and people of Pakistan have to counter this emerging threat.

President Musharraf failed to read the script because he was blinded by his advisors and courtiers. Once again the same regiment surrounds Imran Khan. If past is precedence, he should expect no good. He must dominate the situation.

The witch dance is gaining frenzy and the Shakespearean Hurly Burly with local clowns must be denied.

Samson Simon Sharaf

September 18, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: MARIA RASHID

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 11:29 am

DYING TO SERVE: MILITARISM, AFFECT, AND THE POLITICS OF SACRIFICE IN THE PAKISTAN ARMY

It was a rude shock for the Indo-Western world when Pakistan’s Law Enforcement Agencies successfully defeated the terrorism insurgency meant to make Pakistan unstable to a point that UN intervention would become mandatory. Peace and development was brought to these unsettled areas in double quick time. Political reforms were executed, bringing frontier regions into the mainstream. This does not augur well for the instability trajectories crafted by the West to see Pakistan go down timidly. This hard reality pinches decision makers from Paris to London, Washington and Delhi and therefore Pakistan’s success must be demonised. The book I review demonises the spirit of nationalism cum sacrifice as a tool to tighten grip of Pakistan army on society and country. It connotes that the high level of killed was a deliberately enacted policy to meet political ends.

‘Dying to Serve: Militarism, Affect, and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army’ is such an attempt by Maria Rashid in her book published by Stanford University Press, California. The familiar route she took to demonise the armed forces of Pakistan is all too clear. The book was her PhD dissertation at School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS) University of London, a notably leftist turned liberal institution notorious for its anti-Pakistan propaganda.  In the process, she has exploited her military linkages, demonised the country, its armed forces and even religion to appease her western institution, anti-Pakistan supervisors and play to the tunes of liberal left of Pakistan.

By all standards, Pakistan’s war against terrorism matched the ferocity of wars that defeated Soviet Union and USA in Pakistan. In large proportions, the foreign funded non state actors were the same. This outcome though least expected from resource starved Pakistan with superior execution of counter plans. This was despite the reality that Pakistan was contending with tens of hostile intelligence agencies.

Soviet, NATO and American assaults were by fire. Freedom fighters melted away to reappear at the time and place of their own choosing. These campaigns despite use of air power, missiles, daisy cutters and leading edge technologies without ‘Boots on Ground’ stalled into defeats. The picture of Mike Pompeo, U. S. Secretary of State with Taliban leaders some of who had undergone the torturous and inhuman incarceration at Guantanamo Bay amplifies it never worked. However accomplished it may seem, and however successful President Trump’s Peace Policy be, it remains a defeat.  

But Pakistan’s operational strategy was different. It involved encirclements (cutting off escape routes), fixations through fire, fire assaults and finally assaults with boots on ground. Thus Pakistan was able to dominate heights and spaces as a permanent feature while sweeping through hostile zones with observations, surveillance, fire and physical movements. Had Law Enforcement Agencies not taken such risks of casualties, with Officer to Sepoy Ratio less than 1:5, the outcome would have been no different than Soviet Union, USA and its Allies in NATO. Inability to hold ground over prolonged periods, followed by imposition of a credible political consensus remain the two major causes of failure for Soviet Union and the West. It is this victory that a recently qualified psychologist with no field and clinical experience and in complete disregard to Military Sociology is trying to willify.

Her entire context of reasoning is flawed and violated the basic premise of cause and effect, an essential ingredient of any scholarly work. Instead of being value-neutral, her arguments are biased based on fictitious interviews her supervisors had no means of authenticating.  Let’s analyse her first argument.

She argues that Pakistan military has used death in combat, particularly the Islamic concept of martyrdom, as a tool to extend its domination over the country’s political and civil society. But in her thesis, she evades the question about who imposed war of terror on Pakistan. With this flawed reasoning, she is singularly targeting the Pakistan Army and citizens who have stood like a wall against destabilisation.

She reasons that, “To understand the Pakistani military’s hold over the imagination and loyalty of the Pakistan society requires changing our focus from the coercive power of the military that’s on display every time a military regime takes over to its ability to shape sympathy and opinion during as well after military regimes leave”.

This is a sweeping generalisation as Pakistan has evolved uninterrupted in democracy since 2002, 10 of them shared by parties in opposition. Civilian leaders have appointed five successive military chiefs including extensions. Martial Laws in Pakistan as accepted by many military sociologists like Samuel Huntington, Stephen P Cohen, Morris Janowitz and Amos Perlmutter in the nature of political crises and national development. Pakistan Army by any sense of the word is not praetorian.

Had she read Military Sociology, her quest to foray into this field from a funnelled window of infant psychology would have resulted in different conclusions. As regards the WOT, she should have been astute to read and consult Bruce Riedal who has written extensively on the mock Afghan Jihad, US war in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s WOT. Nowhere in her book does she condemn CIA’s effort at revising the Islamic Syllabus at Nebraska and imposing it on Madrassas in Pakistan to fuel the fires of the mock Afghan Jihad.

Which country in the world does not have a monument for its martyrs? Graves of unknown soldiers’ world over are national monuments dignitaries visit. World over these are honoured with the Last Post and flag hoisting. Pakistan is doing nothing different. So why ridicule Pakistan’s honouring its martyrs.

Military ceremonies world over are the hallmark of military precision in drill square. Narrating how Shuhada ceremonies are coordinated, fine-tuned and staged should not have become a bone of contention for the author who has a military background and studied in military cantonments.  

On the sociology of military recruitment, she singled out one district in the Pathowar Plateau that was a recruiting ground during British Colonialism. This was true during British Raj. Pakistan has a national professional army. No one’s poverty is exploited. Recruitments are voluntary and more than 30% manpower comes from Sindh and Balochistan. About 10% soldiers volunteer from urban areas. Most it is a multi-religious army with Christian, Parsee, Hindu and Sikh combatants. No wonder that Bruce Riedal commented that Pakistan does not fail because it is one family and the armed forces are at the heart of it.

The author ignored that national character of the armed forces ‘in parenthesis’ to qualify her sacrilegious notions to please her masters at SOAS and Stanford. She has bitten the hands that fed her.

It seems that elements hostile to Pakistan have a penchant for picking young Pakistani ladies from military backgrounds and promoting them as academicians, scholars and opinion makers. This young author is another one in this long list of pseudo leftist liberals with assumed insights, spewing venom against the armed forces she saw from a distance.

Such propaganda is an aspersion on the academic credential of institutions like SOAS University of London and Stanford University. They have become part of the Hybrid Campaign against Pakistan.

August 12, 2020

CHRISTIAN IDPS OF PAKISTAN: A BLOT

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:24 am

Anthropology, genealogy and history suggest

they are the original and oldest people of the land

From time to time, I have highlighted the role of Christians to emphasise the inclusiveness of Pakistan. Christians joined Pakistan by choice and some also migrated from India. This decision was taken on behalf of over 500,000 Punjabi Christians by Christian leaders of the League. The Christian Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, SP Singha, Mrs. Ralia Ram and Mr. Fazal Elahi represented Christians before Radcliffe’s Boundary Awards in June 1947.

Ayesha Jalal, in her book ‘Self and Sovereignty’, writes that the practice of untouchability and the “Muslimised” culture of the Christians also played an important role in their support of Pakistan. She quoted SP Singha, “They (the Christians) trust the Muslim more. In their dress, poor economic status and religious beliefs, Christians in the Punjab were closer to the Muslims. The widespread practice of chhut or untouchability against Christians was ‘a great sore in their hearts’ and they had ‘suffered a lot from social prejudices’.” Had this not been the case, the division of Punjab would have tilted grossly in favour of India. This was the biggest contribution of Christians to Pakistan.

Other contributions include legislation, national development, foreign policy, education, health and defence services. The role of Samuel Martin Burke as election petitions magistrate in 1945 to raising of Pakistan’s foreign office and acquisition of nuclear reactor from Canada has no parallel. C E Gibbons as the Deputy Speaker of the Constituent Assembly vociferously presented Pakistan’s Kashmir case in United Nations. The contributions of the Christians of Karachi in setting up and administering this once beautiful port city also called Uroos ul Bilaad, the ‘bride of cities’ will never be rivalled. Post partition, along with Parsees, they set up refugee centers and education institutions. The scores of each instrument played in Pakistan’s national Anthem in a blend of Waltz and eastern music written by Tollentine a bandmaster in the Pakistan Navy. The gallantry of Christian officers and soldiers in the defence services are etched in gold in the military archives. The first Pakistani soldier to die at Pandu in Kashmir War 1948 was Lance Naik Yaqoob Masih. The first PAF Officer to die for the country was Pilot Officer Novan Theodore Fazal Elahi. Christian jurists like Cornelius, Constantine, PN Joshua and Mr. Gill are legendary.

But this story of unrecognized devotion, repeatedly written by writers and historians but eclipsed in Pakistani textbooks and official history does not reflect the isolation Christians faced in a Post Jinnah Pakistan for exercising their choice. Though ironic, the dilapidated condition of United Christian Hospital in Lahore set up in recognition of Christian services to Muslim refugees in 1947 represents the condition of the Christian people. They carry this stigma because they chose to become part of the Muslim Identity. In 1947, these 400,000 became the first group of internally displaced Pakistanis. The numbers of these homeless originals now swells to over 1.4 million. Most bonded labour in Punjab are Christians.

As events unfolded, Christians became the biggest losers in bargain for an elusive movement they thought would usher a classless society. Qaid e Azam’s 11 August speech to create this society evaporated in thin air. Cultural discriminations inherited from history were reinforced by religion and political exploitations to exclusion of Christians who genealogically are the original people of the land. The liberation from a Chhut stigma rather than bring relief made them homeless, menials and paleed. Christian’s liberation became an albatross that shamelessly hangs around their necks. This is despite Pakistan being signatory to numerous international conventions, agreements and treaties forbidding discrimination on ethnic, religious and other lines. Sometimes not by law but by convention and practice, this discrimination becomes a serious affront to human dignity. Pakistan stated in the United Nations in 2008 that it has no concept of Dalit and that it is free from such kind of prejudices, and the existing norms do not contain discrimination on the basis of caste or creed. However, in practice, Pakistan has pursued a discriminatory policy towards these displaced Punjabi Christians. CDA Islamabad in its report to Supreme Court shamelessly asserted that Christians in Islamabad pose a threat to Muslim majority in the capital.

Though Christianity in South Asia has historic roots via Central Asia, Taxila and Gilgit-Baltistan, they were too few before the British colonization of territories comprising Pakistan. According to Asif Aqeel a historian, “The 1855 census shows there were no native Christians in Punjab. With the efforts of missionaries, by 1881 there were only 3,912 native Christians who had come from various religious, social, economic and urban backgrounds… The landscape of Christianity in Punjab changed to homogenous and rural after a man from an ‘untouchable’ background, identified only by a single name, Ditt, converted in the village of Shahabdike in Narowal in 1873. Ditt invited others to convert to Christianity to get rid of untouchability and caste disabilities. Ditt’s people rapidly responded to the call and the number of Christians dramatically swelled in Central Punjab from 3,912 in 1881 to 511,299 by 1941.” These new converts were landless tillers of Sikh landlords.

Unfortunately, following the partition, the lands evacuated by Sikhs were allotted to Muslim migrants from India who with the help of the government started evicting these Christians from their ancestral homes. Mr. Singha protested in the Punjab Assembly that the ministers for refugee settlement and the revenue had approved three to four acres of land for each homeless Christian family of these villages. It was frustrating to know that these state documents had mysteriously gone missing from the secretariat. By 1951 the issue had assumed grave dimensions. In April 1952, C.E. Gibbon, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly stated, “I beg to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the grave situation arising out of the policy of the government in respect of the wholesale eviction of Christian Sepis, Athirst (atharhis) and tenants from their home holdings, thus rendering nearly 300,000 Christians homeless and on the verge of starvation, the consequences of which are too horrible to imagine.”

Tragically, these horrible consequences are being faced by Punjabi Christians through cultural influences and discriminatory state policies. Above speeches form part of parliamentary records, but no Pakistani government has shown the urgency to redress the wrongs.

The tragedy of the Christian landless is that they have endured multiple evictions. Initially, they travelled to deserts. When deserts became green, they were evicted.  Then they occupied government lands along filth drains. When cities expanded, they were evicted.  The exodus of Hindus in 1948, doing menial jobs in Sindh resulted in landless Christians taking over these jobs. The government rather than address the tragedy created conditions in which only Christians were recruited. According to Asif Aqeel, “the ruling Muslim League found Punjabi Christians a useful substitute for filling jobs left by fleeing Hindus.” The federal education secretary in 1980 was alarmed at the rising literacy rate amongst Christians for fear that ‘who would do the menial jobs’. The government hid land allocation files and uprooted hundreds of thousands of Christians from villages in the Central Punjab despite hue and cry by Christian legislators.  It is important to note that that most slums in Pakistan’s major cities are occupied by Christians of Central Punjab.

Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments need to dig out the parliamentary records and address the situation. Political parties and human rights organisations have to make this redressal a part of their manifestos. The media has to begin a national debate on this great wrong of history that stigmatises Pakistan Movement. New villages have to be raised for people who put their trust in Pakistan.

Samson Simon Sharaf

August 8, 2020

THE DEVIL AND DETAIL

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:03 pm

West, South and Central Asia have become a cobweb, intertwined with strings. These strings push and pull, prod and nod. Technology has shrunk distances. A flutter in one area generates reverberations everywhere. Every event anywhere in connected to power centers everywhere.

Major actors of the Great Game have not changed, the direction has. Minion nations have endured self-styled revolutions, civil wars, burnouts and clientele status. Most still remain ready at beck and call. Two secular countries in Middle East i.e. Iraq and Syria lie in ruins due to advent of democracy and Arab Springs. Post revolution Iran has not had respite since. Pakistan having endured the leadership of a Mock Jihad and then an insurgency of its own has also not had respite either. Like an angle that lost its wings, it keeps biting at itself. Home grown economic and political anarchists are its biggest tormentors. It is like a tiger trapped in a pit, fighting frantically with front paws whilst it hind legs are entangled in the cobweb.

Over the past century, the confluence of Three Asias has become one perforated cesspool of blood spilled in quest for dominance and high politics. In the past two decades wars in the misnomer of democracy are perennial. Because of the location, Pakistan dominates the access to Central Asia, its domestic and international politics are connected to the strands.

The bloodletting began with foreign sponsored coups in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Somehow, Pakistan managed to deter and dismember the forces of destruction. The springs never came. There has been no respite since.

British while leaving the subcontinent callously plunged it into the biggest genocide and trans migration of the world. They deliberately left a sore and bleeding wound of Kashmir as a plank of military imperialism. India and Pakistan have fought and are destined to do so in the foreseeable future. In the process, they will keep filling coffers of the military-industrial complexes. Both countries are in a melee of frenzies, one for its existence and the other for its global ambitions.

In the past three decades, both have reversed roles. Pakistan, once an ally of substance is now a frenemy. India, the midwife of non-alignment is now the staunchest ally of the Containment Bloc, once considered anathema.

Much of the future of the Containment Ring in Middle East depends on the trio of Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE. USA and its allies bet that this combination of military and economic clout provide it a stable platform to coerce and punish countries that defy its politics. While Iraq, Syria and Iran can be punished physically, Pakistan can be discredited and forced to aqusiese due to its economic and governance trajectories.

But there is a counter development in which Pakistan could play a major role. China’s CPEC offers it a role much beyond a transit facility. Yet being a frontline state in this rapture of the ring, Chinese investments in Iran outweigh Pakistan. The major reason is that Pakistan’s weak spots hold it hostage to the old order where countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE act as bullies. Pakistan calling out Saudi Arabia over Kashmir is a step in the right direction. Is this step sustainable? Only time will tell.

Pakistan needs to make its hind legs as strong as a zebra that can smash the skull of a lion. It has to start kicking with its own prowess to breakout of the shell. Only then would the Chinese breakout of defiance become fruitful.

Building national power is the call of the moment. It is only when Pakistan undertakes this challenge that the realization of it being facile will prevail. You cannot fight like a tiger if you are trained like a goat; you cannot fly like an eagle if you live amongst turkeys. National pride demands the last sinew to hold and the last drop to bleed. This is the gauntlet. Zabardast Pakistan needs a leap of faith and plunge into the unknown.

Governance, politics and statecraft are not a simple man’s tools. The devil is in the details. Once this is taken into contention, cognition alters plans. I hope Pakistanis have read the devil’s script and show the desire and determination to challenge it.

Samson Simon Sharaf

August 3, 2020

KASHMIR II: EVERY SINEW BLEEDS, EVERY HEART BEATS

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:34 am

Samson Simon Sharaf

Abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A open legitimate options for China and Pakistan. But in a Realist Paradigm, it is only the stronger who exercises legality. With support from the North and West, India calculated it enjoyed overwhelming support and embarked on the Kashmir II adventure.

As if its defeat at hands of China in Eastern Ladakh is no lesson, India will not resist going the edge. Intransigence is an oft repeated lesson about the rise and falls of empires.

The story of Kashmir is a tragedy in bloodshed for over a century; an endless tale of betrayals, British merchantilism, geo strategic intrigues and elastic ethics. Kashmir proves on a time scale that no military force or technology can subdue hearts and minds.

Kashmir dispute involves eighteen million people in a time warp for over a century. It is surrounded by four countries three of which are nuclear. It is larger than 103 and more populous than 129 countries. Since 1947 over 500,000 Kashmiris have died at the hand of the Dogra and Indian occupation. The killing fields are still live.

Kashmir is a leftover of the British Colonial legacy of 19th century. The state of Jammu and Kashmir came into being on 16 March 1846 when the TREATY OF AMRITSAR was signed between Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu and East India Company to settle a territorial dispute arising from the First Anglo-Sikh War. People were traded off as slaves. Prior to Partition, Britain allowed the Congress politicians to tamper with the partition plans and 1935 Act to facilitate occupation of Kashmir and other princely states.

But history as it reveals itself tells another story. The Cabinet Mission Plan of 1945.

“In agreeing to Jinnah’s project, the British also managed to whittle down Jinnah’s territorial demands to the minimum required for Britain to safeguard its defence requirements. Plan for smaller Pakistan was not worked out by Mountbatten in 1947 as generally believed but by Lord Wavell in 1945”

Narendra Singh Sarila ex ADC to Lord Mountbatten

Post-World War II, Pakistan was seen an important western ally in the evolving Cold War against Russia. India was drafted to contain China. As the geopolitics shifted, Kashmir was forgotten by the international conscience as it affected their global outreach.

Historians cite that Nehru’s agreement for the exercise of the right of self-determination was malafide and conniving. He was convinced Pakistan would fail in ten years. Plebiscite option was influenced by British. He failed to economically quarantine Pakistan. It is no coincidence that Nehru went back on his words in 1957 and then illegal legislations began. British archives made public indicate, that boundary lines were not drawn by Mountbatten but by Sir Frank Wavell. Britain therefore has a legal, moral and ethical responsibility.

Legally, the Indian argument can be challenged on many counts.

The amended Government of India Act of 1935 provided in Section 6 that “a princely Indian state shall be deemed to have acceded to either of the dominion on the acceptance of the Instrument of Accession executed by the Ruler thereof” as a logical heir to the British Crown was illegal. India excluded the phrase “will of the people”.

In the Madhav Rao case, the Supreme Court of India found it strange that India inherited any aspects of the paramountcy exercised by the British Crown.

Indian Supreme Court in Premnath Kaul and the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, in Magher Singh, observed that with the lapse of the British paramountcy, the princely Indian state of Kashmir became independent and sovereign in the fullest sense of international law a stand also taken by Pakistan.

It was Mountbatten’s responsibility as Governor General to ensure that clauses of the Legislative Act 1935 and Independence Act of 1947 should not have been tampered by India. He should have challenged the Indian claim of paramountcy and declared the Instrument of Accession illegal.

After amending the 1935 Act, India prepared the Instrument of Accession.  Manekshaw’s memoirs contradict the Indian assertion that the Maharaja wrote a letter on 26 October 1947 to the Government of India, incidentally the same day that Menon and Manekshaw landed at Srinagar. He also narrates that the entire entourage of Kashmiri Leaders led by Mr. Abdullah (allegedly threatening the Maharaja) India were present at the Srinagar Airport lighting the runway with pine torches to see off Menon. I will read an excerpt from Field Marshall Manekshaw’s memoirs:

“We went to the palace. I have never seen such disorganisation in my life. The Maharaja was running about from one room to the other. I have never seen so much jewelry in my life – pearl necklaces, ruby things, lying in one room; packing here, there, everywhere. There was a convoy of vehicles. The Maharaja was coming out of one room….Eventually the Maharaja signed the accession papers and we flew back in the Dakota late at night”.

It is pertinent to mention the congruency in the amendments to 1935 Act, Instrument of Accession and Indian constitutional legislation on Kashmir over a time line. Intention was to extend control of Kashmir to India.

Article 370 was inserted to support the idea of plebiscite. This made bulk of the Indian Constitution inapplicable to Kashmir and other princely states against the will of the people/rulers.

In 1964, India extended Articles 356 and 357 of the Indian Constitution to Kashmir to dismiss elected governments and impose central rule eroding Article 370. On 30 July 1986 India extended Article 249 to Kashmir. Now the Indian Parliament could enact laws on State list subjects. On 22 February 1994 Lok Sabha declared Kashmir an integral part of India. Finally on 05 August 2020, India annexed Kashmir.

These legislations were made in contempt to UNSC Resolution 91 and 122 that said that such acts do not make for a final settlement of Kashmir.

Since 1948, there are 10 UNSC resolutions specifically on plebiscite, negotiations and non-applicability of Indian sponsored legislations. There are four other UNSC resolutions that deal with UN observers. United Nation’s position is that UN resolutions can only be terminated through UN Security Council.

Led by the United States and Britain, UNSC adopted a resolution on 21 April 1948 which noted with satisfaction that both India and Pakistan desire that the question of accession should be decided through an appointed Commission of the United Nations, of which the United States became a member, to work out a plan for the demilitarization of Kashmir prior to the plebiscite.

UNCIP proposals led to resolutions that constituted an international agreement upon being accepted in writing by both governments. Part III of the Commission’s resolution of 13 August 1948, agreed by India and Pakistan, states:

“The governments of India and Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people and, to that end, upon acceptance of their truce agreement, both governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured.”

The United States, Britain and France were committed supporters. America’s President Truman and Britain’s Prime Minister Clement Atlee appealed that differences over demilitarization be submitted to arbitration by the Plebiscite Administrator, a distinguished American Admiral Chester Nimitz.

The American position was maintained equally by Republicans and Democrats. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles stated on 5 February 1957 that,

“We continue to believe that unless the parties are able to agree upon some other solution, the solution which was recommended by the Security Council should prevail, which is that there should be a plebiscite.”

In Britain, both Labor and Conservative governments consistently upheld the position that a plebiscite was the only way the dispute over Kashmir could be democratically and peacefully settled. Clement Atlee launched a conciliatory effort and conveyed to the Pakistani Prime Minister the assurance of the Indian Prime Minister that India would allow Kashmir’s status to be determined by the people’s vote.

Two years later, the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth informally proposed alternative arrangements for the demilitarization of Kashmir prior to the plebiscite. They suggested that a neutral peacekeeping force comprising either contingents from the Commonwealth countries or local troops from both sides under the control of the Plebiscite Administrator could be stationed to safeguard the state’s security. India rejected these suggestions.

On 15 June 1962, the American representative to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, stated that:

“The best approach is to take for a point of departure the area of common ground which exists between the parties. I refer of course to the resolutions which were accepted by both parties and which in essence provide for demilitarization of the territory and a plebiscite whereby the population may freely decide the future status of Jammu and Kashmir. This is in full conformity with the principle of the self determination of people which is enshrined in Article I of the Charter as one of the key purpose for which the United Nations exists.

Sir Owen Dixon, an eminent jurist from Australia reported to the Security Council on 15 September 1950 that:

“In the end I became convinced that India’s agreement would never be obtained to demilitarization in any form or to the provisions governing the period of plebiscite of any such character, as would in my opinion, permit the plebiscite being conducted in conditions sufficiently guarding against intimidation and other forms of influence and abuse by which the freedom and fairness of the plebiscite might be imperiled.”

During his visit to India in 2010, President Obama said, “Kashmir is a disputed territory and its resolution is in the interest of India, Pakistan and the region and the United States of America.’

The crises of Kashmir is best summed up by Professor Josef Korbel, Former Chairman of UNCIP – Father of Madeline Albright, Former US Secretary of State:

“The accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India cannot be considered as valid by canons of international law… The history of the case has made it clear that time has only aggravated, not healed the conflict; that neither the Pakistanis nor the Kashmiris will accept the status quo as solution… No high hopes should be entertained that bilateral negotiations will lead to a settlement… The United Nations has a principal responsibility to seek a solution.”

As noted by Sir Owen Dixon and Professor Josef Korbel, bilateralism is not a solution. If India is not ready to listen to the world, how will it to listen to Pakistan?

The UN Charter, International Law, Article 370 of the Indian constitution, judgements of Indian and IHK courts on Paramountcy and fourteen UNSC Resolutions provide sound reasons to the International community to force India to abide by its commitment to a plebiscite. Till such time India abides, its ambitions of a UNSC seat and prestigious international forums like NSG should be put on hold.

Crimes committed by India in the past 70 years should be brought before international courts.

In the interim, Pakistan’s should: –

Continue the political and moral support of the Kashmir cause.

Fast Track Socio-economic development that attracts trade and socio-economic linkages across the Line of Control.

Support a sincere and fresh blood leadership in Kashmir.

Address international sensitivities that give space to India to isolate Pakistan.

Through mobilizing international seminars, lectures and social media, organise the Kashmiri Diaspora world over into effective pressure groups.

Open a Kashmir Desk in every embassy of Pakistan.

Hold virtual real time plebiscites.

Synergise with Kashmiri politicians in western countries.

Coordinate all operation in Kashmir with China and its allies

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