Why occupation fails in Afghanistan but succeeds in Kashmir and Palestine August 22, 2014 5:25 am in Opinion On July 31, 2014, Kashmir entered its 27th year of armed conflict with the Indian state. While armed struggle has receded over the years, the power of the Indian state has increased in Kashmir. In another part of the world, Palestine was pounded by the Israeli state. They have also been under occupation since 1947 and haven’t been able to end it, despite a galaxy of international intellectuals supporting their cause.
Contrast that with Afghanistan. In 35 years, Afghans are on the verge of successfully throwing another superpower out of their country. When Russia invaded it in 1979, Afghans, with the aid of the United States, defeated the erstwhile USSR. In 2001, US-led NATO forces – comprising the most powerful and militarily-sophisticated nations in the world – invaded Afghanistan. Thirteen years later, the US is trying to find a graceful excuse to exit the country. The question is, why has occupation failed in Afghanistan but succeed in Kashmir and Palestine?
The answer is that in Afghanistan, all invading forces failed to build government institutions, while in Kashmir and Palestine such institutes are aplenty. It is through government institutions that every state derives its power. It is institutions that give legitimacy to states. It was institutions in the Indian subcontinent that helped the British colonise it for so long. Through these government institutions, the British controlled India without a huge army. The 1911 census reveals there were 164,000 British in India. Of those, 106,000 were employed, out of which 66,000 were in the army and police and only 4,000 in the civil service. So ingrained were British institutions in the Indian psyche that independence leaders saw any armed movement against them as terrorism. Mahatma Gandhi did not press for the release of Bhagat Singh and his cohorts when the British held negotiations with him because they had attacked an important institution of the state.
What world powers failed to develop in Afghanistan, poverty-ridden India has been successful in perpetuating in Kashmir. The Indian state works through these institutions, a strategy it inherited from British colonialism.
An army of government employees is a perfect example of fostering colonisation. They are the shield that colonisers use successfully. Every person working in any government office is assisting in colonisation. Government employees in Kashmir are paid to become a sore on society. Afghans were successful in throwing away the yoke because they treated everyone working for the occupiers as collaborators. They didn’t allow any institution to flourish. There were no men going to courts for PILs or to seek justice. There was no human right commission to dictate to the government to look into matters. Afghans did not demand a commission to probe innocent killings at the hands of occupying forces. The Taliban loathed everyone who worked in any capacity for the occupying powers. Taliban ontogenesis can be measured that they realised it is the lower rung people in institutions that are dangerous as compared to officers. Officials of the institutions form plans and give orders, but it is the lower rung people who execute them to attain those objectives.
Any high-ranking official from the police, army or civil administration – his eyes, ears, hands and limbs are lower-rung people. That is why the Taliban’s sword fell more on the people carrying out orders of officials rather than the officers themselves. Without cadres, every officer is vermin.
But here in Kashmir, even the pro-Azadi camp goes to state courts to file cases. Ask them who they are fighting against when they have no qualms in seeking help from state institutions. If one reposes faith in the legal system of the oppressor, then revolution by the oppressed is difficult. The court is an extension of the state. When the oppressed takes complaints to court, it means they have belief and faith in the system of their oppressor. The pro-Azadi camp and their advocates are yet to realise the difference between civil liberties and secessionist movements.
In Kashmir, those who are hoarsely crying that resistance should be institutionalised are moving the movement toward a civil rights one. They want to hold on to their jobs, engage with pro-India people, attend the functions of their activists, host former Indian army officials and receive awards while claiming to be the part of pro-Azadi camp. In which part of the world do people who call themselves secessionists receive awards? How many people in the world working for secessionist movements have had awards bestowed upon them? Awards are given to tame people. By accepting awards and invitations to speak in Indian seminars, who is giving legitimacy to whom?
If India feared that Kashmir was slipping away in the early 1990s, it was because the armed movement had delegitimised state institutions. This delegitimising was the work of the pro-Azadi camp winning the early battle. The state brutally killed Kashmiris and yet no one visited courts to seek justice because people at that time realised the cost of independence. While the State maintained killing graph yet its institutions were getting eroded. The then-governors, Jagmohan Malhotra and Gen K.V. Krishna Rao, focused on providing good roads, better electricity and employment incentives.
The first serious blow to the armed movement came when shills encouraged Kashmiris to accept blood money. In his book, “My Kashmir: Conflict and the Prospects for Enduring Peace,” the former Divisional Commissioner for Kashmir, Wajahat Habibullah, states his joy when one woman named Mehbooba came to him seeking compensation, the first such instance.
“Does Mehbooba know,” writes the shrewd Habibullah, “that she initiated the first hesitant step towards the restoration of peace in Kashmir?”
It was a sign of victory that people were starting to trust an institution of the state against which they were fighting. Other victims followed and in two years time, militancy was delegitimized from people and Kashmir saw the rise of state-backed gunmen infamously called Ikhwanis, who excelled in killing, torture, rape, extortion, kidnapping and hooliganism. After the renewed uprising in 2010, Kashmiris expected severe retribution. Indeed, it was cruel. State police, along with Indian troops, exemplified retaliation toward youth. Many videos and pictures went viral on social networking sites. These pictures show the Jammu & Kashmir police committing horrendous crimes against humanity. Youth were stripped and made to walk naked. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAVGu_KBy70
). Young people arrested by the police were allegedly used for sadistic pleasure. Pictures of police beating kids and handcuffing them are available on the internet.
Protests between 2008 and 2010 also made the state aware that schools, colleges and university students do take active part in the freedom struggle. To curtail hatred toward the police department, officials can now be seen attending school functions as special guests where they distribute prizes. The strategy is to penetrate the minds of impressionable kids.
Nobody can beat the police in terms of importance. They are a source of strength for most of governments of police states. And every oppressor gives the police liberties to suppress dissent. Even the army knows the importance of policing. That is why they have huge respect for the police. Without the support of the local police, Kashmir’s rebellion could not be controlled. It is the police that acts as the eyes and ears of the Indian administration. Because usually it consists of the local populace and they get to know many things without being cocky about them. Conversely, armed militants had the upper hand in Kashmir precisely because local police did not act against them. But once the police rebellion was quelled, they were lured to act against their own people. Police, in any conflict, is then the first renegade force used against popular sentiment.
Today the police at the forefront of quelling protests have mostly come from the assimilated notorious Ikhwanis or the Special Operation Group, which were shadowy militias until the Mephistophelian Mufti Sayeed decked them out in government uniform. He institutionalised Ikhwanis.
Even some Kashmiri journalists, who have reported on and understand state machinations, now provide legitimacy to institutions that have been created to promote “Sufi Islam” and “eliminate insurgency.” They go to such institutions as guest speakers, in the process legitimizing a centre that is considered pariah.
Assembly elections in 1996 were considered a major step toward reviving a crucial state institute in Kashmir, though it was a sham.
(http://www.nytimes.com/1996/05/24/world ... votes.html
pagewanted=all&src=pm). The old collaborator party, the National Conference, once again came to power in Kashmir. Those begging for votes were not delegitimised or ostracised from society. At that time, the then-united Hurriyat Conference leader Abdul Gani Bhat said elections are a non-issue for them. That non-issue helped validate pro-India politics. In the next two assembly elections, people realised the Hurriyat leaders’ doublespeak and voter turnout was higher than average. In that process, not only was pro-India politics legitimised, but pro-Azadi sentiment – dominant in the Valley – was relegated to a sect. Today the pro-Azadi camp condemns the arrest of its own leaders. Why they do this is befuddling. If those who claim to leaders of a secessionist movement are not arrested, then who will be?
In 2008, when Kashmiris protested in unison against the occupation, the state announced election dates in Kashmir. Polls saw people queuing up to vote for state institutions. That same year, massive protests erupted against the controversial Amarnath shrine board’s decision to grab 800 kanals of land. Amidst that agitation, a subtle campaign was launched through SMS where youth were prodded to crack the civil service exam to “secure the interests of Kashmiris” and in future avoid the mistake of handing over land on a platter. It was superbly crafted bait. Since 2008, it has been a rat race to the bureaucracy in Kashmir. After qualifying for the civil service, most candidates naively say they want to help Kashmir develop. If all of Kashmir plunges into the civil service, the system is such that draconian laws such as PSA and AFSPA will never be repealed, much less any progress on development. But by congratulating people through newspapers, one is giving legitimacy to the institutions of the state.
Intellectualism is the primary problem of Palestine and Kashmir. Rather than fighting Israel, Palestinians were manipulated to pick up the pen and write their pathos. You can’t beat missiles with books. What is the worth of books for slaves? Much favourable literature, protests, boycotts, prayers have been offered for the Palestinian cause but it has not liberated them. And it won’t. You can’t fight missiles with books. Even if all the intellectuals of the world came together in support of Palestine, they wouldn’t be able to retrieve an inch of land from the occupier. The power of intellectuals is like the wool of sheep that can be sheared anytime by the powerful.
No one supported Afghanistan and no one supports them even today, yet the US and its allied forces are packing up. If Afghans had been writing books they would have met the same fate Kashmir and Palestine are witnessing.
From KashmirDispatch: http://wp.me/p6XoZF-wLp