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Does the Kashmir insurgency offer ISAF any tips? July 30, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Pakistan, Snedden, Christopher , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

Indian paramilitary forces have been trying to end the anti-Indian insurgency in the Kashmir Valley since it began in 1988. Nevertheless, this insurgency continues, with ethnic Kashmiris currently agitated again. Overall, however, casualties are down, tourists have returned in large numbers to the valley, and many Kashmiris are less inclined to support the militancy. This is partly due to war weariness. It also is partly because the alternative of joining Pakistan is relatively unattractive, while independence is totally unattainable. The Kashmir insurgency is very different from what the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confronts in Afghanistan.  Yet there are some similarities from which ISAF could learn some lessons.

First, from the outset of its troubles in the Kashmir Valley, the Indian government’s commitment in Jammu and Kahsmir (J&K) has been open ended. India has never set a date for the departure of its security forces. Repeatedly, it has made it clear that these forces will stay in the valley for ‘as long as it takes’. Conversely, governments reluctantly associated with ISAF want to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan as soon as possible or have suggested dates when exit strategies might commence. This has given the Taliban a powerful reason to conserve their resources and await their enemies’ invariable departure from Afghanistan after which, presumably, they will really assert themselves. (more…)

Some thoughts about the South Asian ‘region’ May 27, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Snedden, Christopher, South Asia - General , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

In April 2010, the body attempting to create a South Asian region—the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)—celebrated 25 years of existence. The fact that SAARC has existed since 1985 is an achievement in itself. SAARC members have few connections with each other apart from SAARC itself, some historical links with British imperialism, and geography.  South Asia is a long way from becoming a unified and coherent region.

SAARC’s most recent ‘Meeting of the Heads of State or Government’ was held in Bhutan from 28-29 April.[1] The summit’s (largely aspirational) ‘Thimphu Silver Jubilee Declaration’ was positively titled ‘Towards a Green and Happy South Asia’. Somewhat surprisingly, however, its third point ‘emphasized the need to develop a “Vision Statement” ’, something that should have been done a long time ago.  Furthermore, SAARC has held only sixteen summits in 25 years, despite its Charter stating that ‘The Heads of State or Government shall meet once a year’.  ‘Annual’ summits were not held in 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2009. More than one of these meetings was abandoned due to the parlous-to-poor state of India-Pakistan relations. (more…)