At the All-Kashmir People's Convention in 1968, a more understanding Sheikh Abdullah admitted that "it was fear and suspicions of one region regarding the other which apparently prompted Jammu to opt for merger with India against Kashmiris wanting to join Pakistan" and assured that their regional interests would be safeguarded. Times of India, October 25, 1969.

The winter of 1989-90 marked the onset of the Kashmiri insurgency, while the Ladakhi Buddhists began their violent agitation for status as a union territory in August 1989. The next few years witnessed a growing communalization of the political idiom, strategies, and goals of various political movements in the state. Where the Kashmiris cast their demand for secession in terms of a Hindu-Muslim divide, especially after the Pandit exodus in 1990, the Buddhists mobilized against the Kashmiris on the basis of a Buddhist-Muslim divide, which they also extended to the Shias of Leh, who are almost all of Balti stock and ethnically similar to Ladakhi Buddhists.

Significantly, the seeds of communalization were planted in the late 1960s when leaders in the Valley sought to undercut the political base of groups demanding regional autonomy by creating alternative political alignments along communal lines. The Congress Party, under Kushak Bakula, had been agitating for the restoration of a direct central administration in Ladakh. This was first introduced in the NEFA after the Chinese aggression in 1962. Under this system, Ladakh was manned by the Indian Frontier Administrative Personnel. The deputy commissioner-cum-development commissioner of the district and the assistant commissioners of Kargil, Nubra, and Nyoma were also drawn from the same service cadres. (See Karan Singh, Autobiography, Oxford University Press, 1994).

To scuttle this movement, Chief Minister Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq promoted a new leadership oflamas by favoring Kushak Thiksey over Kushak Bakula, and at the same time favored the Muslim leadership of Kargil over the Buddhist leadership of Leh. In the 1967 Legislative Assembly elections, the Congress nominated Kushak Bakula's nominee Sonam Wangyal for the Leh seat, but unofficially his opponent Kushak Thiksey enjoyed the patronage of the state government. The relations between Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq and Kushak Bakula were further embittered when Sonam Norbu, till then Ladakh's deputy commissioner, was nominated to the legislative council as a prelude to his inclusion in the state cabinet. Bakula's supporters perceived it as an attempt to divide the Ladakhi Buddhists by ignoring the claims of the elected representative.

Although 84 percent of the population of Leh district is Buddhist, Bodhi teachers were provided in only 32 of the 252 government schools. Despite specific recommendations of the Gajendragadkar Commission, the state government had not set up a degree college for two Lakh inhabitants of the region. The Jammu and Kashmir Secretariat had only one Buddhist employee, and there was no Buddhist among 18,000 employees of nine corporate sector units. (Hindustan Times, New Delhi , May 14, 1992).

Annoyed by some communal incidents in 1969 and fearful of being relegated to a minority within Ladakh, the Buddhist Action Committee decided to demand the status of a Scheduled Tribe. It also asked that Tibetan refugees be settled in Ladakh, the Bodhi language be made a compulsory subject up to high school, and that Ladakh's political representative be a full-fledged cabinet minister. Apart from the induction of Sonam Wangyal in the cabinet, most of these demands were rejected by the state government on account of strong opposition from the Muslim Action Committee, which feared that such changes would upset the ethnic balance in the region. As a result, the Muslims of Kargil, who were predominantly Shia, began to see their in terests inextricably linked to those of Kashmir, even though the vast majority of its Muslims were Sunnis. Sheikh Abdullah's decision to divide Ladakh into two districts in 1979-Leh and Kargil-created yet another communal fault line in Ladakh, between its Buddhist and Muslim identity. This became much more pronounced during the agitation in 1989.

The trouble began with a minor scuffle between a Buddhist and some Muslim youth in Leh market in July 1989, which then snowballed into a violent separatist struggle by the Ladakh Buddhist Association. Its members demanded that Ladakh be given separate constitutional status as a union territory, accusing the "Kashmiri Sunni Muslims" of inciting the local Argon Muslims, who were decidedly in the minority, to "dictate terms" to the Buddhist majority and thereby dominate both the administration and economy. Buddhists also complained that the rich Bodhi language was being suppressed in favor of Urdu, now being imposed on Ladakhi children. Ladakhis leveled an assortment of other complaints against the Kashmiri Muslims and the Kashmiri-dominated bureaucracy: they were accused of halting development contracts for the construction of buildings, roads, and bridges; of orchestrating the gross underrepresentation of Buddhists in the state services (of the state's 2,900 government employees, only 2 were Ladakhis); and of adopting unrealistic norms for the allocation of plan funds to Ladakh. Between 1987 and 1989, for instance, the state government had received more than Rs 100 crore from the prime minister's Special Assistance Fund, but Leh got only Rs 211akh. Under the J awahar Rozgar Yojna, the Valley was given Rs 7.2 crore, while Leh was given only Rs 20 lakh.Rs 25 crore was spent under the World Bank-aided Social Forestry Schemes, but Leh district was ignored. It had no share in the funds disbursed by the Central Land Development Bank and the Khadi and Village Industries Corporation in the state. For tourism development schemes in 1990, the sum of Rs 59lakh was earmarked for the Valley, whereas Leh was given only Rs 7lakh, and the neighboring Kargil district Rs 17 lakh. (Hindustan Times, May 15, 1992, and April 20, 1995).

More significantly, the systematic dismantling of important forums for Ladakh development (such as the Ladakh Affairs Department), the absence of Ladakhi representatives in Farooq Abdullah's coalition government, and the fact that Buddhists were given only one of Ladakh's four seats in the state assembly reinforced their belief that the Valley was still treating Ladakh "as a colony:' The Buddhist agitators called for a boycott of the Kashmiri Muslims. Valley traders soon vanished from the Leh market, and their hotels and restaurants were shut down. The machinery of government became paralyzed as Kashmiri officials fled the areas ofLeh, Khalsi, Nubra, and Zanskar. Denouncing "Kashmir's imperialism" and "hegemonism," LBA activists called on the local population to "free Ladakh from Kashmir." The LBA president asserted that "the Kashmiri rulers have been systematically eroding the Buddhists' ethnic and cultural identity for the last forty-two years and it can be saved only by making Ladakh a union territory." The social boycott against Kashmiri Muslims was soon extended to the local Muslims, rupturing the centuries-old bonds of amity.34 For the next three years, the Buddhists avoided Muslim-populated areas and did not enter hotels, restaurants, or shops run by Muslims. Farmers were prohibited from exchanging tools. No interreligious marriages were allowed, and meetings among relatives of different faiths were stopped. See Martijn Van Beek, "Dangerous Liaisons: Hindu Nationalism and Buddhist Radicalism in Ladakh:' in Religious Radicalism and Security in South Asia, edited by Satu P. Kimaye, Robert G. Wirsing, and Mohan Malik (Honolulu: Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, 2004, pp. 193-218.

Throughout Kashmir's history, the world's great powers-most notably the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China-have accorded the state a place in their strategic agendas only insofar as it served their global interests or concerned their respective regional partners. However, none were willing to be dragged into the Kashmir issue by those partners. Furthermore, despite Indian and Pakistani expectations, outside support for either side has been limited. All in all, no global power has high enough stakes in the Kashmir conflict or the leverage to arrive at a solution acceptable to all the principal players. More to the point as we have seen in P.1, the complex character of the Kashmir conflict does not make it amenable to an externally driven peace process.

With the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Kashmir became entangled in a dispute arising in part from two mutually exclusive ideologies. At the outset of its long period of turmoil, Kashmir's fate was neither preordained nor decided on ideological grounds. Being part of the subcontinent's princely order, the Dogra state of Jammu and Kashmir lay outside the domain of British India, which in 1947 was divided on the basis of the two-nation theory. At that point, Kashmir was not yet considered an inalienable part of either Pakistan or India but an important asset from the standpoint of geographical consolidation and the defense needs of the respective dominions. Hence the battle between India 's Congress and the Muslim League over Kashmir 's accession was fundamentally political in nature. Since independence, the two ideological rationales at the heart of the dispute have not gone unchallenged, both within and outside Kashmir. Pakistan, some argue, has not yet arrived at a clear formulation of its foundations, which are rooted in Islam. That is to say, the meaning, content, and relationship of Islam and state have never been systematically established. Pakistan has remained suspended between the ambiguity of the call for a Muslim homeland by its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and the varying expectations of the majority of the religious establishment and populace for an Islamic state. The continuing debate between modernist and orthodox interpretations of Islam within Pakistan mirrors this dilemma. From the earliest demands for a separate state and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Islam has been both a rallying force and a legitimizing ideology that along with the Taliban next, included a wide array of political and religious leaders. Modernists reject the notion that a state founded on Islamic principles must operate as a theocracy; rather, they identify Islamic ideals and principles with democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance, and social justice for all, including minorities. Orthodox opinions, most notably those of the Jamaat-i-Islami school of thought, equate the state with Islam and therefore would apply its guiding principles in all matters-legal, constitutional, and political-to the point of establishing Nizam-i-Mustafa (the Rule of Islam) throughout Pakistani society. Jihadi groups such as Lashkar-e- Taiba place yet another interpretation on Islam, emphasizing the integration of tabligh (education) and jihad (holy war) needed to acquire the military skill essential for wielding political power. In fact 2001-02, Pakistan was home to fifty-eight religious political parties;111d twenty-four armed religious militias, For details see Ayesha Jalal, Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: A Comparative and Historical Perspective, New Delhi, 1995, and Saeed Shafqat, "From Official Islam to Islamism: The Rise of Dawat-ul-Irshad and Lashkar-e- Taiba," in Pakistan: Nationalism without a Nation?, New Delhi, 2002, pp. 143-45).

The Kargil war of 1999 however was the one, military confrontation in a nuclearized South Asia. Although nuclear weapons were not used, nuclear capability unquestionably permeated the conflict, and there were reports that both India and Pakistan may have alerted or deployed nuclear weapons and delivery systems at the time. For reports that Pakistan prepared "nuclear-tipped missiles," see Bruce Riedel, American Diplomacy and the 1999 Kargil Summit at Blair House, Policy Paper Series 2002 (Philadelphia, Pa.: Center for the Advanced Study of India, 2002). For reports that India placed its nuclear arsenal at "Readiness State 3" (ready to be mated with Prithvi and Agni missiles and Mirage 2000 aircraft for delivery), see Raj Chengappa, Weapons of Peace (New Delhi: Harper Collins India, 2000), p. 437.

When Pakistan attempted to link its withdrawal from Kargil to negotiations with India on the Kashmir dispute, the Clinton administration clearly alarmed, insisted that Pakistan 's withdrawal be unambiguous and unconditional. In return for Pakistan 's pledge to take "concrete steps ... for the restoration of the Line of Control in accordance with the Simla Agreement," Clinton promised to personally encourage "an expeditious resumption and intensification" of Indo- Pakistani detente, "once the sanctity of the Line of Control has been fully restored." Spokespersons for the Clinton administration took pains to emphasize that its major concern in brokering the agreement was "the immediate crisis," in other words, Kargil, not the Kashmir dispute. The United States also garnered support from Saudi Arabia to nudge Islamabad into swallowing the bitter pill of a unilateral withdrawal. During the height of the Kargil dispute, China reportedly rebuffed Pakistan 's former prime minister' Nawaz Sharif, when he visited Beijing to seek political support in the ongoing conflict. Raj Chengappa, "Will the War Spread?" India Today International, July 5,1999, p. 14; and John Lancaster, " U.S. Defused Kashmir Crisis on Brink of War," Washington Post, July 26, 1999.

Elected representatives generally associate the Kashmir conflict with the insurgent movement of the 1990s and think the key to a just and lasting peace is to end the violence, initiate a dialogue with the separatists (including militants), and most important, develop new political and constitutional arrangements to meet popular aspirations for self-governance. People's faith in the electoral process as a legitimate instrument of political change is already on the upswing following the 2002 assembly elections, which ended twenty-seven years of dynastic rule through the ballot box.

The meeting between India 's prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan 's president General Pervez Musharraf at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Islamabad in January 2004 finally restarted the “peace process” known as the "composite dialogue." With Vajpayee's successor Manmohan Singh carrying it forward.

However elected representatives generally associated the Kashmir conflict with the insurgent movement of the 1990’s and think the key to a just and lasting peace is to end the violence, initiate a dialogue with the separatists (including militants), and most important, develop new political and constitutional arrangements to meet popular aspirations for self-governance. People's faith in the electoral process as a legitimate instrument of political change is already on the upswing following the 2002 assembly elections, which ended twenty-seven years of dynastic rule through the ballot box.

By 2004, political forces in Kashmir as a whole; could be roughly divided between traditional political parties such as the National Conference, People's Democratic Party (PIW), Congress, BJP, plus a number of elected representatives, separatist groups, plus minority groups. With the National Conference continues as the largest political party. In the 2002 State Assembly elections for eighty-seven seats, the National Conference polled 28.18 percent of the vote, while the PDP took 14.64 percent in the seats it contested, and just 9.28 percent statewide. Congress won 24.24 percent of the votes in the seats it contested and 24.24 per cent statewide. Praveen Swami, "The Question of Power" (!fl2220/stories/20051007004602900.htm).

By early 2004  then, a regional party the PDP  represented a class of political leadership whose pro-Kashmiri stance is trying to appropriate the Hurriyat's political agenda without the latter's secessionist overtones.Separatist groups however believe that Kashmir's final future remains to be decided along the lines of their ideological leanings, political strategies, and goals, but they have become a divided lot. The largest political body representing the separatist agenda and thus an important player during 2005 was  the Hurriyat Conference, but it is sharply divided between moderate and hard-line factions. Growing differences with other centrist leaders such as Yasin Malik hav" also depleted its already limited political capital. (See Hindu, Chennai, June 16,2005).

Soon after Hurriyat's first public foray across the Line of Control in 2005, Azad Kashmir's prime minister, Sardar Sikander Hayat Khan, questioned its credentials: "How can we accept any decision (on Kashmir ) by those who live under compulsions, do not have unity among themselves and are not representatives of all regions?" Hurriyat continues to grapple with a crisis of legitimacy in attempting to be the "sole representative" of Kashmiris. That is because it has always sought this status from the "top leadership" of Pakistan and India rather than earning it through a popular mandate. But if Hurriyat leaders did not toe the line, they were threatened, marginalized, or eliminated. The lesson has yet to sink in that if "sole-representative" status is bestowed from above, it can also be taken away by its patrons.

On the Indian side, too, Hurriyat had hoped the central government would acknowledge it as the representative of a de facto nation, something that no political authority in New Delhi is likely to concede. Hurriyat exercises no leverage over militants, either, as is evident from the United Jihad Council's public refusal to even meet Hurriyat leaders during their visit to Azad Kashmir and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen's outright dismissal of a Hurriyat plea to stop the violence and give peace a chance. The Hurriyat has not yet decided on a new agenda after Pakistan 's dismissal of the old proposal for a plebiscite, which was also rejected as obsolete by the international community. And the idea of an independent Kashmir is ruled out by both India and Pakistan. The mirwaiz-led centrist faction of the Hurriyat is now being coaxed into supporting Musharraf's proposal for an autonomous Kashmir, although the idea of self-governance or self-rule is far from a new one in the Valley's context. Much older and traditional players such as the National Conference, which have championed this cause since 1947, are clearly better equipped with the political skills needed to fight this battle. If Hurriyat were to abandon its separatist agenda, it would not only run the risk of being eclipsed as a political force but might also invite the wrath of Kashmiris for having misled a generation of young men and women and for sacrificing thousands of lives.

Finally, there are the jihadi forces, with the strength of more than one hundred organizations in Azad Kashmir. They are not much different in their character, goals, and strategies from the jihadi groups based in Pakistan.In the Northern Areas, political forces are broadly organized in two clusters.

The first contains sectarian Sunni and Shia organizations, which are politically very active with a substantial support base, though confined to their respective communities. While many sectarian organizations have been banned in the post-9/11 period, their political dynamics in the Northern Areas is very different from that in the rest of Pakistan. First, the entire spectrum of political issues ranging from school curriculums to fundamental rights, representation, and the constitutional and legal status of the region is framed and debated along the Shia-Sunni divide. In 2004-05, the controversy over the Islamiat curriculum in schools was explained as the administration's attempt to divert attention from the issue of representation. In the absence of traditional political parties, which were not allowed to operate there before 1994, the majority Shia community in fact do not have access to any well-established, alternative political platforms to voice its grievances. Because Islamabad is afraid that the local demand for a separate province-a Shia-majority province-is gaining ground, it is unlikely to reverse its policy of encouraging a Sunni influx in order to change the area's demographic character or seriously crack down on the Sunni sectarian organizations, which the administration relies on to undercut the Shias as well as to keep the population divided.

Meanwhile the Shia populace in the Northern Areas labors under oppressive state structures that have deprived this group of a constitution, fundamental rights, normal political channels of mobilization such as political parties (until 1994), and a locally accountable government. Not surprisingly, the "toothless" Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) drew a dismal voter turnout of 31 percent in the October 2004 elections, and local bodies less than 25 percent. This was because the NALC had no powers to address popular aspirations for better development, infrastructure, or jobs.

Having thus failed to recognize that the different communities living in Jammu and Kashmir interpret the right to self-determination differently, some Kashmiri leaders allow their thinking to become enmeshed in contradictions. Sheikh Abdullah, for instance, argued that self-determination was the inherent right of all peoples and demanded it for Kashmiris, yet denied the same to the people of Jammu and Ladakh. Jammu and Ladakh in turn demanded full and unconditional accession to India, but this acted as a countervailing force to the Valley's demand for independence. The current separatist leadership, including the Hurriyat Conference, faces the same dilemma. While it claims to speak on behalf of the "people of Jammu and Kashmir;' it represents the political interests of only a part of the majority community-Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley. Meanwhile, the minority social groups in Jammu and Ladakh seek autonomy from the Kashmir Valley. Clearly, the secessionist agenda underlying the demand for the right to self-determination lacks an inclusive character.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen by early 2006, was the only militant group with a substantial Kashmiri cadre, since its chief led an unprecedented hunger strike in Muzaffarabad in protest of the Musharraf regime's. Its dilemma however is twofold. First, it clings to Pakistan's old political line-being the only player to insist that New Delhi formally recognize that all of Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory-yet seeks the status of the principal interlocutor, which only India can concede (though precisely for that reason is not likely to do so). Second, like Hurriyat, the Hizbul expects to be rewarded, although it has little to offer in terms of ending the violence because in the past decade it has been marginalized by none other than its patron-the Pakistani establishment-in favor of Lashk-e- Taiba and Jaish-i-Mohammed, which have been at the forefront of the Kashmiri jihad. The field commanders of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen also feel that ‘the wages of war are greater than any payouts that may come with peace;' albeit for different reasons, which make jihad a lucrative proposition. Such entrenched vested interests in continued violence need to be taken into account in any initiative that seeks to bring Hizbul, especially its Valley-based leadership (of both factions), into the peace process.

Plus there are also the political leaders of the minority communities-the Kashmiri Pandits, Ladakhi Buddhists, Shia Muslims (of Kargil), Gujjars, Paharis, and Dogras- and other popular representatives of both parts of Jammu and Kashmir who to date (early 2007) never have directly, been  involved in bilateral negotiations mainly because it is assumed that only two seats are available at a single negotiation table, one for New Delhi and one for Islamabad.

Just before his first visit to the Valley, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a reduction in troop levels in the state. An army battalion numbering 3,000 soldiers was de inducted from the Khannabal area of Anantnag district in south Kashmir, followed by another battalion in the Sunderbani area of Rajouri district and 1,200 soldiers from Uri in Baramulla district. In February 2006, India 's defense minister Pranab Mukherjee announced the redeployment of another brigade-sized formation of 5,000 troops to the northeast.

In February 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next was the first, to hold a roundtable conference in Kashmir in February 2006, that  had the potential to recast the long-established hierarchies of power, spreading some of it to religious, ethnic, and linguistic groups as well as regions in Jammu and Kashmir . Here the Gujjar and Bakkarwalleaders for example, expressed their hope to see that the special needs of their communities are met, for example, through traveling panchayat systems move with their livestock across mountains, more funding for schools and colleges, and efforts to overcome backwardness in their communities. Around that time also President Musharraf presented a new focus on "maximum self- governance," a departure from Pakistan's traditional demand and closer to the Indian about offering Jammu and Kashmir maximum political autonomy. A terrorist strike in Mumbai in July 2006, led the Manmohan Singh government to suspend the peace process.

As for Pakistan and Kashmir, both mainstream political parties-the Benazir Bhutto-led PPP and the Nawaz Sharif-led Muslim League (PML-N)-are keeping aloof. This raises serious questions about how far General Musharraf can sell a Kashmir settlement to the domestic constituencies in Pakistan. Though dissenting voices underlining the costs of Pakistan 's Kashmir policy are, for the first time, being heard in the public discourse, whether they or General Musharraf will succeed in bringing about a paradigm shift remains open to question.

But today (early 2007) the deep pluralities of  Kashmir society and diverse nature of political demands-ranging from affirmative discrimination to more autonomy to a separate constitutional status within the Indian or Pakistani states or a sovereign independent state-preclude the possibility that a "single spokesperson" will not do anymore. A next step that will take a decade or so, will be to augment the levels of dialogue, so that exchanges occur between the Indian government and representatives of Jammu, the Valley, and Ladakh; between various representatives of Jammu, the Valley, and Ladakh themselves; between Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir across the LOC; between representatives of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Northern Areas; and between the Pakistani government and representatives of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Northern Areas.

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