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Table of contents :
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
1 - Identity and the Politics of Security
2 -
National Identity Narratives in India: Religious-Cultural and Secular
3 - National Identity Narratives and the Politics of Securing Jammu and Kashmir
4 - Pakistan: Signifi cant Patterns in Relations with the Most Important External ‘Other’
5 - Relations with China:‘Hindi Chini Bhai-Bhai’?
6 - Conclusion: Identity Matters, But ...
About the Author
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Indian Identity Narratives and the Politics of Security


Indian Identity Narratives and the Politics of Security

Indian Identity Narratives and the Politics of Security


Copyright © Gitika Commuri, 2010 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. First published in 2010 by Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd B1/I-1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area Mathura Road, New Delhi 110 044, India Sage Publications Inc 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, California 91320, USA Sage Publications Ltd 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road London EC1Y 1SP, United Kingdom Sage Publications Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd 33 Pekin Street #02-01 Far East Square Singapore 048763 Published by Vivek Mehra for Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd, typeset in 10.5/12.5 pt Georgia by Star Compugraphics Private Limited, Delhi and printed at Chaman Enterprises, New Delhi. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Commuri, Gitika.   Indian indentity narratives and the politics of security/Gitika Commuri.     p. cm.   Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. National characteristics, East Indian. 2. Nationalism—India. 3. India—Ethnic relations—Political aspects. 4. India—Foreign relations—Social aspects. 5. India— Foreign relations—Pakistan. 6. Pakistan—Foreign relations—India. 7. India—Foreign relations—China. 8. China—Foreign relations—India. 9. Jammu and Kashmir (India)—Politics and government. I. Title. DS428.2.C64954—dc22



ISBN:  978-81-321-0521-3 (HB) The Sage Team: Rekha Natarajan, Vikas Jain, Amrita Saha and Deepti Saxena

Contents List of Tables List of Abbreviations Prologue Acknowledgements 1. Identity and the Politics of Security

vii ix xi xiii 1

2. National Identity Narratives in India: Religious-Cultural and Secular


3. National Identity Narratives and the Politics of Securing Jammu and Kashmir


4. Pakistan: Significant Patterns in Relations with the Most Important External ‘Other’


5. Relations with China: ‘Hindi Chini Bhai-Bhai’?


6. Conclusion: Identity Matters, But . . .


Bibliography Index About the Author

282 309 315


Indian Identity Narratives and the Politics of Security

List of Tables 2.1 Identity Discourses and Key Categories 3.1 Central Themes of the Religious-Cultural and Secular Discourses Regarding Kashmir 3.2 Strategies Deployed by the Indian Government: 1990–2003

78 111 135


Indian Identity Narratives and the Politics of Security


All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam All Parties Hurriyat Conference Asian Regional Forum Association of South East Asian Nations Bharatiya Janata Party Confidence Building Measures Chinese Communist Party Cabinet Committee on Security Critical Discourse Analysis Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia Communist Party of India-Marxist Central Reserve Police Force Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Directors General Military Operations Defence Research and Development Organization Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Hindu Mahasabha Indian Council of Historical Research International Relations Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Jammu and Kashmir Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Joint Working Group Line of Actual Control Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Line of Control Memorandum of Understanding Jammu and Kashmir National Conference



Indian Identity Narratives and the Politics of Security

National Democratic Alliance North-East Frontier Agency Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Peoples Democratic Party Pakistan Occupied Kashmir Prevention of Terrorism Act Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Social Identity Theorists Special Operations Group Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act Telugu Desam Party Vishwa Hindu Parishad



his study is based in the constructivist literature which argues that identity conceptions influence state behaviour. Identities (understood as self-other relations) are seen as foundational to state interests, both in terms of end goals and strategies. In this study, I examine the construction of the secular and religious-cultural self in India, and the implications of these national discourses for engagement with others. Thus, the study focuses on discourses of national identity (1926–2003) and events (1990–2003) to understand if, and in what manner, conceptions of national self have influenced engagement with others. The study examines India’s relations with Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and China. The findings of this study are surprising. Briefly, both secular and religious-cultural conceptions of the self, perceived Pakistan and Kashmir as dangerous, as they challenged not only Indian identity but also territoriality. China, on the other hand, is the historical political other. In the instance of Kashmir, the policy implications of such a convergence of national discourses led to the adoption of similar strategies of force and negotiation. But in the case of Pakistan and China, while political parties influenced by religious-cultural identity appeared to be more conflict prone than parties influenced by secular identity, they were also more cooperative in other circumstances. These findings lead us to make the following observations that contribute to our understanding of the role of identity in international relations: that the relationship between internal and external others must be treated with caution as the treatment of internal and external others may vary; that different identity


Indian Identity Narratives and the Politics of Security

discourses may lead to similar perceptions of threat though not necessarily similar policies; that secular, inclusive tolerant identities do not necessarily engage in more cooperative action as opposed to religious-cultural, exclusive identities; that under certain circumstances, identity conceptualizations (especially religious-cultural) may lead to more conflict-prone action; and finally, that while identity discourses help us understand broad goals of the state, they do not necessarily explain the strategies adopted in dealing with the national or international other. The findings also caution us against making assumptions about Indian security and foreign policy practices in the context of national identity discourses.



owe a debt of gratitude to my graduate mentor Dr Hayward Alker, who was and still remains an intellectual presence in my work and life, even though he is no more. I am also grateful to Dr Laurie Brand and Dr Philippa Levine for their constructive encouragement and support. This work would not have been possible without them. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Rajen Harshe who introduced me to the fascinating world of international politics and encouraged me to be intellectually curious. I also consider myself fortunate to receive the advice and mentoring of Dr Rajat Ganguly. Along the way, my friends and family have supported me in numerous ways, too numerous to mention. In particular, my husband, Dr Chandrasekhar Commuri has been a true partner and friend. He has been subjected to every single argument, word and countless drafts of this work, and is in a sense, a co-author of this body of work. I would also like to convey my appreciation to the anonymous reviewers, and the editorial team at SAGE, in particular to Ms Elina Majumdar, who through her questions and suggestions, enabled me to refine my arguments. I would also like to thank Mr Vikas Jain.


Indian Identity Narratives and the Politics of Security

Chapter 1 Identity and the Politics of Security


n recent years, observers of Indian politics have been remarking upon and discussing the shift in the nationalist discourse1 from secular, pluralistic and inclusive to religious-cultural and exclusive Self.2 The rise to power of political elites that represent the latter discourse has given these musings a particular relevance. More so, since subsequent events, such as the Ramjanambhoomi movement,3 the Godhra incident in Gujarat,4 the rewriting of history textbooks,5 the assertion of ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Hinduness’, and the often violent rhetoric of those associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are events that compel recognition and have been related to the rise of the religious-cultural organizations and parties.6 Indeed, the assertion of a ‘Hindu rashtra’ (nation) immediately raises implications for both domestic and international politics. While others have written on these contending discourses of the nation and their implications for the Indian polity, there is a dearth of literature on the ways this kind of change in identity politics has shaped the internationally oriented (in)security management of the Indian government. This book thus seeks to examine the relationship between national identities and national and international security policies in India. Specifically, it examines whether the security and foreign policy concerns and actions of the Indian government vary with a shift in the narratives of the national Self—from secular to religious. Briefly, this is achieved by focusing on narratives of identity by using



thematic discourse analysis and by attempting to correlate discourse to events using historical narrative strategy. The concerns identified above are embedded in the broader field of International Relations (IR). Theorists of IR have, broadly speaking, attempted to understand why states act the way they do and the implications of such acts thereof for people, states and for the international system at large. This is indeed the central concern for IR scholars encompassing issues of power, war, peace and development. The answer to these questions has varied depending on the ontological and epistemological assumptions of scholars (at least in the post-World War I AngloAmerican scholarship)—whether they focus on the unit (state) or the structure, whether they use positivist or non-positivist modes of thought or examine material as opposed to ideational aspects. Each of the different theories and paradigms attempt to explain the puzzle; although, as Ruggie says, we are yet to figure out what makes it all hang together.7 The present book is an attempt in the direction of figuring out a part of the puzzle, focusing specifically on the significance of national identity in shaping security and foreign policy actions of states. Thus, in the sections that follow, I intend to examine the understanding of the concept of interest, which is seen to be the fundamental basis of state action, and especially to explicate the contribution to IR made by the constructivists who have seriously questioned and challenged the perceived wisdom, arguing for a re-evaluation or reformulation of the bases on which interests and action are understood. They focus primarily on identity as the source of interests and establish a relationship between identity, interests and action. After discussing the interconnections between identity and interests as per the constructivist understanding, I focus on works that explore the implications of identity understood as the relationship between the Self and the Other. I then focus on literature that examines the significance of religion and on the construction of the secular and religious-cultural Self in India. This rich discussion leads to a consideration of previous works that have examined the relationship between Indian identity and foreign policy, and to locate this study in that debate. This present chapter thus



lays the theoretical foundation for the discussion that follows in the subsequent chapters. I believe that such a discussion is necessitated by the fact that the study seeks to shed light not only on our understanding of Indian foreign policy, but also on the theoretical contributions of constructivism, as it explores the place of identity in interstate interaction.

DERIVING STATE INTERESTS The dominant but not uncontested theories in IR have been those of Realism, Neo-realism and Neo-liberalism. Realism offers an explanation of IR that focuses on the state as a unitary actor which is impelled by power and national interest. In explaining the actions of states, Morgenthau, who is considered the pre-eminent American figure of classical Realism, proposed that we should focus on the concept of national interest defined in terms of power.8 At the same time, Morgenthau and many of the classical Realists were sensitive to the significance of motives, ideological preferences, national character, norms and values. Nevertheless, in their view, state action deriving from interests is to be understood in the context of anarchy in the international system, wherein states are competing for survival. Thus, states are assumed to have one ultimate interest, that is, survival. The acquisition of power (military or economic) is an immediate interest or a means to an end. Interest was thus self-evident. Neo-realism evolved as a purportedly more scientific version of Realism. Kenneth Waltz, who first set out the characteristics of Neo-realism, shifted focus to the structure of the international system, which was then seen to influence the behaviour of states.9 In conditions of anarchy, it was the distribution of capabilities or the balance of power that then became the source of interest, and subsequently, the source of action. The position of the state in the international structure thus influenced the actions of the state. States were deemed to be selfinterested, self-reliant actors. Both Realists and Neo-realists



stress the significance of material conditions as opposed to ideational. Neo-liberal theorists challenged the anarchy assumptions of the Realists (though only to an extent) as they explored co-operative behaviour. Neo-liberal explanations focussed, in particular, on the significance of institutions.10 However, as Baldwin has argued, these theories have much in common between them.11 Even as these theories diverge on the significance of relative or absolute gains, they converge on the rationalistic perspective as the basis of state action. Simply put, states are considered rational entities that could calculate the outcome of alternate choices and subsequently engage in action. Thus, interests and preferences could be explained through an assumption of rational behaviour. While this is a rather simple summation of the rational perspective, the fact is that even as rational choice theorists presented more sophisticated models, core assumptions of rationalism remained firm. While much of this discussion has focussed on material explanations, idealist explanations have always been in the background, whether it is the idealism of Carr (also considered a dialectical Realist) or later the English School, which specifically raised the issue of the context of international society within which states operate.12 They challenge the fundamental conception of anarchy but do not engage in explicating the notion of interests. Ideas and culture have also been examined for their role in explaining state behaviour.13 Goldstein and Keohane, for instance, explore the impact of ideas on policy outcomes.14 However, the rationalistic perspective informs their analysis, and while they interject ideas as intervening variables, they do not question where interests are derived from in the first place. Thus, while they may help us understand why one policy option was chosen over another, they assume interests as given. Since the late 1980s, there has been a surge of interest in examining the impact of ideational elements (culture and identity) on international politics.15 Identity has emerged as an area of interest within this literature and is the focus of this study, especially national identity. The argument forwarded



by constructivists examining identity is that it is through an understanding of identity that we can understand the construction of interests. The constructivists challenge the understanding that interests are a given, and an objective condition which is self-evident and is essentially enduring across context and time. Prior to discussing constructivist understanding of interest, I will briefly consider the concept of identity.

UNDERSTANDING IDENTITY While there is much debate about the usage of the concept of ‘identity’ in terms of its slipperiness and vagueness,16 the fact is that the concept remains a tool for scholars as they attempt to unravel bits and pieces of the world. Scholars have attempted to rid the concept of ambiguity by specifying its usage; first, by clarifying what they mean by the concept, and second, by specifying the context within which they deploy the concept. Regarding the definition of the concept, scholars have sought to come to terms with it in various ways. Hopf, for instance, finds that identity addresses the question of who one is. In another sense, it can be seen as congealed reputation, that is, the ‘closest one can get in social life to being able to confidently expect the same actions from another actor time after time.’17 Similarly, Wendt uses identity in a philosophical sense: ‘…identity is whatever makes a thing what it is.’ And then goes on to specify it ‘as a property of intentional actors that generates motivational and behavioural dispositions. This means that identity is at base a subjective or unit-level quality, rooted in an actor’s self-understandings…’ which have an inter-subjective quality.18 Identities are thus quintessential expressions of the Self: a Self that evolves in a societal context. More recently, Abdelal et al. discuss identity in terms of four categories that are mutually non-exclusive. They thus differentiate between identity as constitutive norms, as a social purpose, as a relational concept and as a cognitive model.19 In this study, I begin by understanding identity as a



relational concept. Abdelal et al. note that ‘the content of a collective identity is …relational to the extent that it is composed of comparisons and references to other collective identities from which it is distinguished.’ And further that, ‘the relational content of collective identities can be thought of as the discursive formulations of the relations between groups of people that compose social reality.’20 Thus identity is understood in terms of the relationship that a collective actor assumes vis-à-vis another. It may be based on roles or on an image of the Self in opposition to the Other, though in this study, it is the latter. Identities define who we are and thus distinguish ‘us’ from ‘them’. Regarding the context within which the concept is deployed, the Self that is the focus of this body of work is the nation-state.21 I agree with Katzenstein that while it is difficult to see states as ‘selves’, the fact is that ‘nations do construct and project collective identities, and states operate as actors.’22 Clearly, the concept of national identity is widely used in popular and academic contexts. In spite of the problematic nature of the term as exemplified by the existence of multiple nationalities within state boundaries and the questionable coherence represented in the nationalist discourse in that it is fractured along the lines of gender,23 class, caste and province,24 I use the concept because it comes closest to enabling us to understand the relationship between a people and the modern state. Further, while I acknowledge the contention that concepts such as nation and national identity are Western concepts and not applicable in third world contexts, I argue that the concept of nation itself is not a static concept but has been evolving and has come a long way from its original usage.25 Also, nationalism is seen to have variations indicating the flexible application of the term.26 Lastly, third world scholars, and specifically in this case, Indian scholars and the political elite have themselves used the term consistently to refer to the identity of the people vis-à-vis the state, as will become evident in the chapters that follow.



The concept of a nation is distinguished from that of the state in that the latter is understood as ‘an organizational actor embedded in an institutional-legal order that constitutes it with sovereignty and a monopoly on the legitimate use of organized violence over a society in a territory.’27 While definitions of a nation abound, presently there is consensus that a nation evolves around a group of people occupying a specific territory, bound by common history, language, myths and religion.28 All these elements may or may not be present in shaping the character of the nation. For instance, a nation may emerge where there are religious differences, but there is a common sense of history or language that make the people believe that they constitute a nation. The term may also be understood as a group’s definition of itself, ‘as having certain enduring characteristics and basic values, its strengths and weaknesses, its hopes and fears, its reputation and conditions of existence, its institutions and traditions and its past history, current purposes and future prospects.’29 A nation, as Anderson so persuasively argues, is an ‘imagined community’ that emerges through networks of communication and awareness that may incorporate all the elements of a nation or only some of them.30 Clearly, individuals, groups, elites, communities and states have become intensively engaged with defining themselves in a certain way in the modern age. People seek to represent themselves as a nation, and states strive to define themselves in terms of national communities.31 They do so through the maintenance and reproduction of values, symbols, myths, memories and traditions that constitute and are specific to a nation.32 But national identity is not merely the constitution of a community through identification and valourization of certain unique but common characteristics, but one that is constructed in opposition to others. In this book, the concept of national identity is specifically understood as the sociohistorical delineation of the national Self in the presence of Others, both internal and external. As national identity



discourses converge on the unique characteristics of the community, they distinguish between those who belong and constitute the nation and others who do not. Since discourses are flexible and evolve depending on the context, discourses of national identity may vary. Since the elite play a significant role in articulating and moulding these national self-understandings, they are the focus of considerable attention in this book, as I analyse discourses of national identity in the context of India. The construction of national identity is seen as a process of collective self-identification, an articulation of who ‘we’ are. It is the result of historical interpretation, an arena that is a site of contest among the elites. As McSweeney observes: [C]ollective identity is not out there, waiting to be discovered. What is ‘out there’ is identity discourse on the part of political leaders, intellectuals and countless Others, who engage in the process of constructing, negotiating, manipulating or affirming a response to the demand—at times urgently, mostly absent—for a collective image.33

It is the fixing of stable meanings about who belongs and who does not in a situation inherently uncertain and ambiguous.34 As Wodak argues, nations are both systems of cultural representation as well as political constructs, and elites play a critical role in such constructions.35 Such a focus on the elite role in nationalist historiography is contested by the subaltern school, which critiques bourgeois–nationalist elitism and focuses on the people as an autonomous force.36 While acknowledging that, the properties of national identity discourses of political elites remain the focus of this book. I have focussed on elites because elites are at the forefront of persuading and moulding identities though they are, at the same time, constrained by the masses and historical memory (or the lack of it). Indeed, as Waever, McSweeney and Wodak point out, the role of elites in shaping identity, given that societies are differentiated and hierarchical, cannot be overlooked.37 Elites are also at the forefront of policy formulation.



CONSTRUCTIVIST UNDERSTANDING OF THE ROLE OF IDENTITY IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS While constructivism is often posited in the discussions in IR alongside Realism, Neo-realism, and other such theories and paradigms, the fact is that constructivism is not a theory or a paradigm so to speak. Constructivism is, in the words of Adler, a broad framework or orientation. He sees it as a threelayered understanding involving metaphysics, social theory and IR theory.38 Constructivism is also not a unified field of inquiry. The fact that there are different kinds of arguments made within constructivism indicates the variety within it.39 Nevertheless, these different kinds of constructivist arguments concur upon and emphasize ‘the social construction of knowledge and the construction of social reality.’40 The core assumptions of constructivism are those of inter-subjectivity, contextuality and co-constitution of agents and social structures. The world according to the constructivists is intersubjectively and collectively constituted. It is as a result of our interpretations that are located in certain social and historical contexts, that facts become facts.41 Language is critical to the constructivists, as it is through language that we construct the world and communicate, thus, providing the basis for shared understanding. However, even as the constructivists focus on discourse and hence the ideational world, they do not disregard the significance of material explanations. Within IR, constructivists have examined norms, rules and identity to understand the influence these have on states.42 These scholars have used the insights of constructivism to argue that the logic of interstate interaction is not predetermined as suggested by Realists and Neo-realists but that it emerges out of certain processes, and it is constructed and constituted through politics of the Self that anchors interests and strategies of engagement. Constructivists do not repudiate the dominant assumptions within the field of IR; rather, they examine how these came to be. Specifically, many constructivists examining identity in IR have combined the



strengths of sociology with those of mainstream IR. Their unique contribution lies in inserting themselves into the dominant debates in IR by directly taking on the core assumptions of Realism and showing how these in turn are shaped by identity. Thus, constructivists examine the concepts of anarchy, balance of power and national interest, and argue how these concepts, far from being objective facts, are in fact social facts and the result of inter-subjective understanding. Wendt, for example, in his much acclaimed work, questions the notion of anarchy that is central to the Realist argument and contends that anarchy is ‘what we make of it.’43 Further, constructivist scholars contend that threat and danger, the stuff of IR, the perception of an enemy and an ally are matters of interpretation, of meaning making and these acts of perception, interpretation and making sense are crucial to understanding a situation or context and thus engaging in action. As Weldes argues, ‘threats and the corresponding national interest are fundamentally matters of interpretation.’44 These interpretations are grounded in a certain ‘social imaginaire,’ which is itself rooted in a variety of identity constructs. Weldes thus argues that national interest does not emerge from the anarchic conditions of the international system but is the consequence of interpretations by those representing the state and that these interpretations are in turn a reflection of the representation of the Self. Weldes does not challenge the concept of national interest. Rather, acknowledging the criticism levelled at the concept, she argues that national interest remains useful, as it is through this concept that policy makers understand and frame goals to be pursued, and it functions as a rhetorical device that generates legitimacy for state action. What Weldes does point out is the vagueness of the concept and the epistemological underpinnings of Realist arguments. Interests are not just ‘there’, as a given. It is who we are that determines what our interests and preferences are. Thus, constructivist arguments are able to provide an understanding of interests that is historical and contextual as opposed to the more enduring and timeless conception forwarded by the Realists. At the same time, states do seem



to have some interests in common. Wendt classifies them into objective and subjective interests, with the former referring to those interests that are needs or functional imperatives and the latter ‘to those beliefs that actors actually have about how to meet their identity needs and it is these which are the proximate motivation for behaviour.’45 In the case of states, their objective national interests are tied to the survival of the entity and are physical (territorial) survival, autonomy, property/development and collective self-esteem.46 Subjective interests determine how these goals are to be achieved and, though Wendt does not mention, the degree to which the above goals are to be met as well as their relative priority. Interests in the constructivist worldview are understood as the product of social construction, emerging as a result of inter-subjective meaning that is grounded in identity. While these arguments establish the link between identity and interests, there is still the question of the link between identity, interests and action, which relates to the issue of how the goals set by the state are to be met. As discussed earlier, in the Realist paradigm, states are seen to maximize their interests. They are deemed rational actors, assessing different options and choosing the most efficient means to achieve their ends, and are thus guided by the logic of consequences in their actions. Constructivists, however, contest such an explanation of state action. Instead, they argue that states or individuals act according to their interpretations of the world. Both the material and social worlds are understood through acts of interpretation that are grounded in inter-subjective understanding. They argue that identity is crucial to the act of interpretation and understanding. How exactly does identity work? How does identity lead to action? This understanding depends, among other things, upon the definition of identity that is used by the scholar—whether identity is understood as a relational social category defined in terms of role performance (as in Wendt) or as in Self–Other oppositions. In the former, individuals and states perform certain roles, thus, their behaviour is guided by certain norms of behaviour. In case of the latter, it is the relationship between



Self and Other, the condition of difference that motivates action. Identity thus conventionalizes and categorizes objects, people, and events. According to Hopf, ‘Identities simplify and homogenize by making the unfamiliar familiar in terms of the identity of the Self.’47 They act as cognitive structures, scripts or schemas. Identities, in the case of Weldes, provide warranting conditions. That is, they make ‘a particular action or belief more “reasonable”, “justified”, or “appropriate”.’48 Identity is like a script or schema ‘about who we are and what we should do in a certain context.’49 As Weldes argues, clarifying ‘who and what “we” are, who and what “our enemies” are’ allows states to make sense ‘in what ways “we” are threatened by them, and how “we” might best deal with those threats.’50 Essentially, identity guides interpretation of reality and helps state officials (politicians and bureaucrats) make sense of the political situation. The interpretative framework allows states to make sense of the kind of threat they face but also becomes the basis for action. As O’Hagan notes, ‘Discourses of identity play an important role in framing and constituting the political. They not only help to constitute actors, they establish what is possible, what is legitimate and what is desirable.’51 Clearly, discourses of identity become influential or powerful when they are carried by certain segments of society, essentially political leaders and state officials. Thus, in this study, it is the articulations of the Indian political elite (essentially leaders, ideologues, members of political parties) that are to provide us with an understanding of national self-conceptions. Relational collective identities provide each state with an understanding of other states, their nature, motives, attitudes and probable actions. However, as Hopf says, there are no a priori or theoretical reasons for the Other in constructivist discourse in IR to be a different state.52 The Other may well lie within the boundaries of the state. It is not merely physical boundaries, state territories or place that establish the internal–external divide and hence the Self–Other nexus. The Other can be a historical past, a people or an idea and thus can exist within a society and state. Unlike Wendt, who argues for an identity (state) that emerges in interstate interaction,



Hopf focuses on the domestic realm, the internal space as the location where articulations of the Self and Other begin to emerge, contending that he aims to show how a state’s collection of identities and its understanding of itself ‘can affect how that state, or more precisely its decision makers, understands other states in world affairs.’53 It is the society within states that is the locus of identity. Hopf’s arguments weave a relationship between internal and external Others. The significance of the Other increases when there are deep and enduring connections between internal and external Others. I draw upon Hopf’s examination of internal Others and the bearing these have on the construction of the national Self and subsequent relations with external Others. To conclude, identities are thus seen to imply interests in the sense that they frame the terms of our engagement with the Other. They shape not only what we want, but also the manner in which these interests and goals are fulfilled. Identities are seen to perform three necessary functions: they tell you and others who you are, and they tell you who others are. In so doing, identities strongly imply a particular set of interests or preferences with respect to choices of action and subsequently the course of action.54 Identities lead to action through the logic of appropriateness. Such logic implies that states are rule followers and act out of habit or in response to a role or identity.55 Given this logic, should not different identities imply different interests and actions? This question constitutes the core of this study and will be discussed further in the section that follows where I examine how previous works using the concept of identity as the dynamic between the Self and the Other understand IR.

SELF–OTHER CONSTRUCTIONS AND POSSIBILITIES OF ENGAGEMENT Constructivists have used the dynamic tension between the collective Self and a collective Other to understand



interstate interaction. This paradoxical relationship between the Self and Other presents us with several possibilities in terms of engagement with the deemed Other—the Other may be annihilated, assimilated, treated with indifference,56 or even desired and imitated, thus, engendering cooperative or conflictual relations. In IR, scholars have used this understanding of the constitution of agents (essentially states) and their unique identity constructs to examine their relations with other states. Campbell, for instance, focuses on the foreign policy of United States and explores how it is constructed along Self–Other dimensions, thus, leading to more aggressive engagement against Others and even to the necessary construction of ‘dangerous’ Others.57 More recently, Weldes examines the Cuban missile crisis and argues that it needs to be understood in terms of national interests that came to be constructed in a very specific manner as a result of a certain security ‘imaginaire,’ which itself was the result of representations of Self.58 Other scholars such as Hopf and Neumann similarly contribute to our understanding of the role of identity. Hopf, for instance, examines the construction of Soviet identity along the lines of class, modernity, nation, the New Soviet man and great power during the years 1955 and 1999. He focuses on the linkage between internal and external Others and provides us with an understanding of how these identity constructions impact foreign policy practices. Similarly, Neumann argues that understanding the Self–Other nexus offers us important clues to understanding ‘who “the actors” are, how they are constituted, how they maintain themselves, and under which preconditions they may thrive.’59 His study examines European identity formation and its emergence in relation to changing perceptions of Turkish and Russian ‘Others’. Neumann’s study is complex as it shows that the representation of the Other varies depending on liberal, conservative or radical perspectives of the Self. Thus, the European Self itself is differentiated and further fragmented by regional consciousness. Of particular interest in these constructions of the Self–Other is the condition of liminality and the perception of the Other as identical or similar. In such a situation, the Other does not



appear as dangerous as it may otherwise be deemed, though Norton argues that those similar to us may represent the greatest threat.60 In the post-colonial world, this may turn even into a desire to emulate the Other, or even be the Other, though such a move is fraught with tensions. Post-colonial literature has explored this complex dynamic between the colonized Self and the colonial Other. The struggle of the Self to define itself in the presence of an overwhelming Other in the colonial context may require either annihilation, violent removal of the Other as discussed by Fanon,61 or an emulation of the Other. This latter condition has been the focus of interesting work by Nandy62 and Chatterjee.63 But other writers such as Bhabha see a process of hybridization.64 For those interested more specifically in interstate interaction, the post-colonial condition is seen to structure the engagement of states in a very specific way. Briefly, this line of thinking, at least in the context of India, examines the post-colonial identity of the state as located in its adoption of the Western-modern paradigm and the politics that emerge from it.65 While I acknowledge the contributions of post-colonial scholars, this study is not an extension of that line of reasoning. This is primarily because while the narratives of identity focussed upon are post-colonial (in the sense that they emerge within the colonial context and continue to persist in various forms beyond it), I did not want to restrict my understanding of Self–Other conceptualizations of identity to that defining moment. While I have not adopted a specific post-colonial lens to examine the narratives of national identity in a state that is beyond doubt a post-colonial state, I have at the same time been open to the possibilities that this condition might present. As the previous discussion establishes, scholars such as Campbell, Hoff, Neumann and Weldes, among others, persuasively argue that identity influences interests, and consequently, state action. These scholars enhance our understanding of IR as they address different cases, show different kinds of relationship between collective Self and collective Other, show that conceptions of Self and Other are dynamic and not static, and show that there is a relationship between internal and



external selves. The core assumption underlying these works is that different identities will imply different interests and hence different modes of engagement with Others. Drawing on this rich debate on identity, I examine the above stated assumption in the context of religious and secular articulations of the national Self. The fact is that while constructivist literature is rich in its discussions and understandings of the role of identity, there is little discussion about religion specifically and whether there is a difference between secular and religious articulations of the national Self, especially in terms of Others. There are two other reasons for focusing on religiouscultural conceptions of the collective Self. First, religion seems to have become increasingly salient in the public sphere in the last two or three decades. For example, the use of religious icons in social as well as political contexts has increased dramatically. Political leaders seem to have become more comfortable with deploying religious metaphors, terms and references into the public discourse. Such political mobilization on the part of political elites often stresses the distinctness of a religious community creating boundaries of Self and Other. This is incrementally resulting in a porous boundary between political and religious spheres. Significantly, religious beliefs have and continue to exercise considerable influence in shaping the social (as in gender relations), economic (zakat) and political (role of clergy) institutions. Second, the Indian case presents an important opportunity to examine competing secular and religious discourses of the national Self. The conflict and tension between those that want to define ‘India’ in secular terms and those that want to define it in religious (especially Hindu) terms, has consistently played out in Indian politics with one or the other discourses being predominant at different times.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RELIGION Religion is receiving more and more attention from scholars in IR. Previously, it was believed that the Peace of Westphalia



and the rise of the modern state had relegated religion to the background, as part of internal affairs of the state, thereby considerably reducing its political significance. Religion was safely assigned to the private sphere. However, there is now renewed appreciation of the role of religion within and across states.66 Religion is seen to undergird the civilizations that Huntington sees as clashing and defining the conflicts of the present.67 For Jurgensmeyer, it emerges as the cause of the new Cold War.68 The appeal of religion as a marker of identity and differentiation is of such significance that it can be easily and dramatically transformed into an object of securitization with serious consequences for local and international politics.69 Waever and his co-authors have used the concept of securitization to argue that security consists neither of objective threats nor subjective perceptions and that it is through intersubjective understanding that threats are established ‘with a saliency sufficient to have substantial political effects.’70 Thus, actors posit something (a referent object) as threatened and claim the right to use extraordinary measures to defend it. For Laustsen and Waever, religion emerges as the referent object and a particularly strong one, though they explore beyond that which is ‘explicitly religious to understand what role religious discourse plays in sectors that are ultimately about something else, such as political rule or societal identity.’71 Specifically, they explore the religious dimensions of political ideologies, in that they examine the use of characteristics that are specific to religion in political ideology and the implications this has for the ideology and religion. In an argument similar to this, Smith discusses the relationship between religion and nation. He points out that not only do nations draw upon religious symbols, motifs and rituals, but more importantly the nation itself is conceived of as a sacred communion of its members. Such a nation is characterized by such properties as ethnic election, sacred territory, a golden age and national sacrifice.72 Religion also emerges as a part of the nationalist discourse when the nation becomes associated with a specific religious community, as in the case of India. The Self and Other distinctions thus come to hinge on religion. What is clear is that group identities



in the modern world have converged around the nation, and to an extent, faith. Both nation and religion have enormous appeal and power. For scholars of IR, religion represents greater potential for violence and conflict.73 Such a concern can be seen in the arguments of Huntington and Jurgensmeyer, both of whom see fissures along religious lines as lines of potential conflict. Similar conclusions appear to be drawn by Fox whose work has focussed on the interrelationship between religion and ethnicity, and their role in the emergence of intra-state conflict.74 Fox examines the ways in which religion can become involved in conflict (addressing the ‘how’ question)75, as well as the significance of religion in ethnic conflicts. He concludes that religious issues are salient only in a minority of ethnic conflicts; however, when they do become an important part of ethnic conflict, they dramatically affect the nature of that conflict in terms of increasing the level of political, cultural and economic discrimination and rebellion. In another recent study, Fox examines the role of religion in ethnic nationalism and revolutionary wars between 1945 and 2001. He concludes that since the 1980s, religious nationalist ethnic groups have been responsible for increasingly more violent conflicts as opposed to non-religious nationalist groups.76 We gather from studies of Fox, and Hasenclever and Rittberger that the potential for violence is greater when the elite mobilize people along religious lines.77 Laustsen and Waever similarly conclude that ‘religiously based securitizations have a special proclivity for violence due especially to the logic of cosmic war.’78 Clearly, there is consensus among the works discussed above that mobilization of religious sentiments, symbols and groups enhances the potential for violence and conflict both within and outside of the state. In the international arena, the threat from ‘fundamentalism’ has given much cause for concern. While in recent years the focus has primarily been on the violence of Islamic fundamentalism,79 there is concern with the influence of evangelical faiths as well.80 In this context, it becomes important to understand the rise of the Hindu right in India and the implications of a national discourse constructed along religious differentiation. Thus, this study examines the



religious-cultural and secular constructions of national identity in India and the impact these have on engagement with other states.81

DISCOURSES OF NATIONAL IDENTITY IN INDIA: SECULAR AND RELIGIOUS-CULTURAL The discussion regarding Indian identity has come to centre around two kinds of articulations of the collective Self.82 The first is a secular identity characterized by pluralism and tolerance as exemplified by Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress party.83 The other is Hindu nationalism that seeks to assert the predominance of the Hindu majority. These articulations of the Indian Self anchored to secular or religious-cultural cores have been and are the subject of considerable debate inside and outside India. Much of this discussion has focussed on the reasons for the emergence of the Hindu right parties converging around arguments about the changing nature of secularism, the organizational decay of the Congress party and the organic crisis of the Indian state.84 Prior to engaging with the complexities of this debate, it is important to recognize that identity in India has also been constructed along other dimensions. Thus, the claims of oneness, of constituting a single people fail to divulge the negotiations constantly engaged in and around the issues of caste,85 language86 and region.87 No doubt, in India, there are the divisions of region, language and gender along with caste that at some level fragment the notion of an Indian nation. Yet, since this study is interested in examining the role of the Indian state as a player in regional and international politics, it confines the examination of discourses to those that at some level bind the several fragments into a whole and yet create distinctions of us and them. As Naipaul points out, there are in India a million little mutinies but also a ‘central will’ and a ‘national idea’.88 Further, while the political elite in India have acknowledged the challenge of forging a unified national identity against the reality of an extremely plural and sometimes



divisive domestic polity, they have, nevertheless, consistently sought to project India as a nation that is unified while being diverse. To reiterate, then, this study focuses on the discourses that bind the Indian nation and state into a whole, even as constructions of Self and the Other are articulated. As the literature on nationalism makes us aware, the construction of a nation is an extremely arduous and tenuous process, though the nation seemingly appears solid. It is here that the presence or absence of religion as a glue that binds the Indian nation becomes significant. Those who focus on the secular Indian Self examine the construction of the Self as tolerant, diverse but united, as representing a syncretic past (a mixture of races and religious communities) and with reference to a sacred territory. Nehru is seen as an exemplar of the secular national discourse. Significantly, such a Self does not make appeals to religion as an organizing principle of the nation. It is this—the relationship between religion and politics—that is most complex and controversial. It is the idea that religious differences will not be mobilized for political purposes and that religious differences are inconsequential for the construction of the Indian secular Self. Such a conception of a secular Self emerged at a time when a counter discourse constructed along religious lines was emerging as significant and resulted in the partition of the subcontinent. This particular conception structures the formal relationship between state and religion in India. The construction of a secular national Self has been problematic for two reasons. First, the idea that there would be no mobilization of religious communities for political purposes has been corrupted. As Varshney points out, this has varied in practice. He distinguishes between three kinds of secularism in India—secular tolerance implying pluralism and non-use of religion for political purposes (as represented by Nehru), secular arrogance involving the use of the believer by the politician for secular-political purposes (as represented by Indira Gandhi),89 and secular innocence (exemplified by Rajiv Gandhi) wherein the state leaned in favour of religious groups, as in the controversial cases of Shah Bano 90 and



Ramjanambhoomi.91 In fact, even prior to Independence, the use of myths, references to historical figures such as Shivaji (the Maratha ruler who fought against the Mughals), popularization of Ganesh festivals by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and the evocation of mythical figures like Ram by Gandhi was seen as an appeal to Hindu elements.92 Clearly, in order to create a sense of unity and oneness among a mass of disparate but deeply religious people, the Congress evoked Hindu myths and symbols. Indeed, given the dominance of a certain civilizational commonality, it could hardly avoid doing so. At the same time, the Congress did not represent a discourse wherein the Indian nation was constructed along religious divisions; at least, that was not a dominant strand of secular discourse, though there were instances when the political elite indulged in rousing communal passions. The second reason relates to practices of the Indian state vis-à-vis majority and minority communities, and it is paradoxical and contradictory. A discussion of this critique will require a slight digression into the specific understanding of secularism in India. The principle of secularism was adopted after Independence, though it formally came to be included in the constitution in 1976. There is no definition of secularism. However, in practice, it is understood that secularism does not imply separation between the ‘church’ and the state or the neutral stance of the state, but rather respect for all religions (sarva dharma sambhava).93 Thus, citizens of India are guaranteed freedom of religion, equality and non-discrimination on the basis of caste, sex, religion, race or place of birth. The state, it is said, has no religion, and the different communities in India are free to practice, manage and propagate their religious beliefs. But in actual practice, the Indian state has interfered to reform the rigid practices of the Hindu community while refraining from any interference in the matters of other religious groups such as Muslims and Christians.94 It has also made special provisions for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. This has led to the allegation that the secularism of the Indian state is deficient95 and further to the contention of the Hindu right wing that the secularism practiced by the Indian state is ‘pseudo secularism’



and that they, in turn, offer a vision of positive secularism wherein all citizens, minorities or others will be treated equally. The Hindu national identity is built around an exclusive Hindu nation wherein a Hindu is defined as one to whom the land between the Indus and the seas is both fatherland and Holy land.96 It is a fact that in the case of India, religion has emerged as a significant marker of a distinct identity.97 Nevertheless, in India, the resurgence of interest in religion is not in the direction of retrieval of ancient texts, laws and codes of conduct that then become the focus of the religious community. The demand for Hindutva does not include: ...legislative enforcement of ritual or scriptural injunctions, a role for religious institutions in legislative or judicial processes, compulsory religious instruction, state support for religious bodies, censorship of science, literature and art in order to safeguard religious dogma or any other similar demand undermining the secular character of the existing Indian state.98

Bose writes that Hindutva politics is more an ‘explicitly modern interpretation of pan-Indian nationalism than a manifestation of atavistic “religious fundamentalism”’ (emphasis in the original).99 Rather, the assertion of religious identity is characterized by an increasing elision of religious and national identity as represented by the prominence of such political and cultural organizations as the BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS),100 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and others (collectively referred to as the Sangh Parivar), which have politicized religious symbols (saffron colour, lotus, trident) and gods (Ram, Sita) and roused religious sentiment of the Hindu population as in the case of Ram temple in Ayodhya. Such a conception of the Hindu national Self is based, not only on the mobilization of certain common symbols and memories, but also on the distinction from Others, mainly Muslims whose loyalties are assumed to lie outside the Indian state as evinced by the fact that they refuse to agree to a common civil code,



refuse to denounce Muslim invaders such as Babar and others, and do not openly partake of the pre-Islamic heritage of the Indian nation. While these organizations and articulations have acquired increasing salience in Indian politics in the recent years, religion has long played a crucial role in defining Indian identity, as evinced in the discourse of social reform movements in India such as the Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj and in the works of Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo Ghosh, Tilak and Gandhi, to mention a few. In fact, the redefinition and reinvigoration of the Hindu community is a deep concern and needs to be situated in the context of British colonial rule and historical Muslim political supremacy. Among the first articulations was that of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, who in the late nineteenth century wrote popular and influential novels (Anandmath, for example) in the vernacular that integrated historical, religious and fictitious elements. The significance of his work lies in delineating the Muslim Other and in attempting to reinvigorate the Hindu people to throw off the foreign British rulers. The song ‘Vande Mataram’ (‘Hail Motherland’) that is emblematic of the present day religious-cultural nationalists was penned by Chatterjee. But it was Aurobindo Ghosh,101 Swami Dayananda Saraswati102 and Swami Vivekananda who were critical in reinterpreting the Hindu religion, converging on the Vedas and Upanishads as religious texts, highlighting its liberal traditions, seeking to instil pride in being a Hindu, and invoking a sense of patriotism and nationhood. Sharma argues that these thinkers and activists were critical for the ‘systematic marshalling of a Hindu identity in the service of Indian nationalism.’103 As they sought to foster a sense of unity and oneness in a diverse and plural society, they also distinguished the Hindus from Others such as the Christians and Muslims. However, the relationship with the Others was complex in the sense that features associated with them as single God or text, the sense of unity and brotherhood were both admired and sought to be imitated but at the same time derided as well. It is during this time that Hinduism began to be shaped as a more



homogenous religion, though in the hands of the religiouscultural nationalists, this is a much more serious project and predominantly a political one.104 As Chatterjee notes: ...the idea that ‘Indian nationalism’ is synonymous with ‘Hindu nationalism’ is not a vestige of some pre-modern religious conception. It is an entirely modern, rationalist, historicist idea. Like other modern ideologies, it allows for a central role of the state in the modernization of society and strongly defends the state’s unity and sovereignty. Its appeal is not religious but political.105

As scholars attempt to untangle the different dimensions of these varying discourses of the Indian nation, there is recognition that there are some common elements as well. Bose points out that both discourses have a unitary, monolithic, state centralist conceptualization of Indian nationalism.106 Varshney sees the nation as constructed along geography, culture and religion. In his opinion, the Hindu and secular articulations of the nation have a common understanding of the sacred geography of the nation. Both these observations emerge in the identity narratives examined in Chapter 2. As the previous discussion indicates, there is a rich debate amongst scholars about the articulations of the Indian Self and the implications thereof. While scholars recognize the ambiguous nature of secular articulations in India, they are wary of the cultural or Hindu nationalism as strongly espoused by the BJP and other groups. Internally, there is much concern about the impact on minorities such as Muslims and Christians, both in terms of overt violence against them and covertly through the Hinduization of the state. Externally, the history of the Indian subcontinent bears testimony to bloodshed and violence as a result of different conceptions of national selves, resulting in the loss of half a million lives and more during partition and after.107 Aside from this founding moment, there is concern that an India governed by a political elite articulating a religious-cultural identity will have different security and foreign policy orientations. I briefly examine this literature in the section that follows.



IDENTITY AND SECURITY POLICY IN INDIA Much of India’s security and foreign policy behaviour has been analyzed in terms of the strategic imperatives of the state. India’s security concerns are seen to emerge from the threats posed by external powers and internal stability. 108 Since Independence, India has had four major wars and a major skirmish. In 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999, fighting broke out with Pakistan. In 1962, India was attacked by China as a result of a border dispute. Its security concerns thus are seen to stem from these states and the possible intervention of outside powers, particularly the United States, especially its strategic alignment with Pakistan and later China.109 While the discussion of the impact of Indian identity on foreign policy in general and security policy specifically is rather limited, scholars have examined different aspects of Indian identity and its implications for engagement with the world. For instance, Krishna examined the significance of India’s post-colonial identity in its relations with Others, while Banerjee understands the partition of the subcontinent as a consequence of different articulations of the Self, one exemplified by Jawaharlal Nehru and another by Mohammed Ali Jinnah.110 Banerjee also examines the implications of the construction of India as a non-aligned, secular state.111 Amidst this discussion regarding Indian identity, there is also an enduring concern with the possibilities presented by the rise of the Sangh Parivar that has made assertions of Hindu nationalism. The earliest effort in this direction focuses on the different foreign policy orientations of the Congress and the Jana Sangh.112 While being interesting, it is essentially a discussion of the party agenda of the Jana Sangh, which dissolved in the late 1970s, as an opposition party. More recently, Malik and Singh discuss the secular and religious-cultural national ideology and, very briefly, the foreign policy implications of such ideological foundations. Much of their work revolves around the ideological orientations of the Congress and the BJP, as well as their party structures



and electoral strategies. Malik and Singh briefly discuss the policy concerns of the BJP, like the secessionist movements in Punjab, Assam and Nagaland; the infiltration of immigrants from Bangladesh; and the threats from Pakistan and China. The authors note that unlike the centrist parties, BJP is more likely to adopt an aggressive posture in its security and foreign policy thinking. This is an important observation. While both these works are important for the attention they bring to the connection between identity and foreign and security policies, they are limited by the fact that their research is confined to the early 1990s, when the Hindu right wing was still in the process of emerging on the national political scene. That said, the increasing articulation of Hindu nationalism has continued to evoke the interest of several scholars. Jurgensmeyer, for instance, while examining the rise of Hindu nationalism (as exemplified by the growth of the BJP, RSS and the VHP) wonders whether ‘[a] merger of the absolutism of nationalism with the absolutism of religion might well create a rule so vaunted and potent that it could destroy itself and its neighbours as well.’113 Even as the author cautions us about the implications of religious nationalism, Sandy Gordon provides a more thorough analysis of the rhetoric of the Hindu right and its foreign policy implications.114 He briefly discusses secular and Hindu nationalism represented by the Congress and the BJP, respectively. He contends that while secular nationalism (under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi) emphasized the new military, scientific and industrial power of India and the potential of the nation to be a great regional power, the nationalism represented by the BJP focussed on Islam as the pre-eminent outside threat and viewed the Muslims within as a fifth column. India’s destiny was seen to lie with the Hindus. Such a conception of the nation, according to the author, was fuelled in part by the increasing Islamization of Pakistan and Bangladesh, both of which declared themselves to be Islamic states. Gordon examines the relationship between the military in India and the Hindu right in the context of communal riots, relations with other South Asian nations and the international context. He concludes that there is likely to be little change in



the security polices of India given that it is embedded in a certain global economic order.115 Change may, however, be possible in the South Asian theatre as a result of the intermeshing of the internal and the external. To quote Gordon: Indeed it is difficult to see that Indian foreign and security policy, as it relates to the wider global theatre outside South Asia, would be significantly altered in its formal content by a BJP government. It is, rather, in terms of the effect of changes within the Indian polity itself and the implications of those changes for India’s relations with its immediate neighbours that we should look in examining the implications of the coming to power of a BJP government. It is in terms of the growing profundity of linkages between internal politics and neighbourly relations throughout South Asia and between South and South West Asia that the possible advent of a government of the Hindu right becomes a subject of interest in international relations.116

While Gordon perceives minority relations within and outside India to influence the security and foreign policy actions of India, I focus on the construction of the Self and the Other in the two dominant discourses of the Indian nation, which in a sense hinge on the incorporation or exclusion of the minorities and the implications this has for the security and foreign policy of India. The works discussed above, while integrating the growing phenomenon of religious nationalism in India, remain limited, not least by the fact that they do not incorporate the last few years when the Hindu right wing has come to power as represented by the BJP. Much of this literature examines the statements and rhetoric of the Sangh Parivar in its role as an oppositional presence in the Indian political landscape and during the time Jana Sangh was in power in the late 1970s as a part of the Janata coalition government. As is evident from the previous discussion, there has been in recent years an interest in the various national identity articulations. The literature points to the deep and widespread implications of identity discourse themes in the practice of everyday politics. Identity discourse themes shape the imagination of one’s role in the political world and the expectations from



one’s own community as much as they shape relations between neighbours. The different ways in which the identity themes constitute the national Self and the Other have implications for the different ways in which actors will act towards Others. This study is concerned with identifying the dominant identity discourse themes in India and in identifying the ways in which the Indian government articulating different identity discourse themes interacts with significant Others in post-Independence Indian history, specifically during the years 1990 and 2003. The literature reviewed earlier suggests that even as the secular discourse articulated by the political elite is problematic, the religious-cultural identity as articulated by the political elite conceptualizes the collective Self as more exclusive and less tolerant of deemed Others than the secular identity. Therefore, we may expect governments espousing the latter identity discourse to engage in more confrontational and oppositional politics and produce more conflict prone actions towards the Other, while also less likely to engage in cooperative actions. While this is what the secondary literature suggests, the next chapter examines the themes of discourse and lays out the various elements of the dominant conceptions of Self.

SOME METHODOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS The question for those examining the relationship between identity and action is how to establish the relationship between identity, interests and action. Discourse analysts argue that it is possible to establish this relationship by laying bare the discourse that shapes these events and by extracting reasons and warrants embedded in discourse or through process tracing. Thus, the process requires a retrieval of rationale (stated or implied) that lies buried in discourse and that then connects discourse to action.117 I argue that relying on discourse analysis is useful under two circumstances: when there is data available (as in crucial documents), and when the phenomena observed is of limited nature (as in short time span, a specific event, or a speech). On the other hand, when examining extensive time



periods, as in this study, and when there is no access to crucial data (as in government documents), it is useful to examine both discourses (which are the expressions of identity) and events (which are the observable aspects of actions). To the extent possible, an effort is made to interlace discourse with events to establish more firmly the relationship between identity and action. The rationale for doing so is that while the thematic focus on discourse allows us to recover the Self–Other identity dynamics, events are used to understand the influence that these discourses have on the decisions of key actors as they engage with the Other. Other scholars in IR have used somewhat similar strategies. For instance, Hopf uses both discourse and events analysis, as he examines Soviet conceptions of Self as opposed to the Other and juxtaposes these identity narratives against events.118 In a more recent article examining Sino-Soviet relations, Hopf examines ‘material breaches’ in Sino-Soviet relations, such as the end to military cooperation, the winding down of economic relations, the redeployment of military forces and armed clashes, ‘that follow changes in identity relations’ (emphasis in the original). He states, ‘Therefore, it is possible to have some confidence in the argument that identity causes changes in interests.’119 I argue that similar strategies have been adopted by other constructivists such as Weldes or Neumann, both of whom examine discourses in the context of certain events.120 This study thus examines a broad stream of events without any preconceived notions as to their significance. The cases are carefully constructed from an examination of events for a period of thirteen years in three different domains of security: Jammu and Kashmir (JK), Pakistan and China. The 1990–2003 period was chosen for studying the relationship between identities and security policies as it best allows us to compare the actions of recent Indian governments articulating either secular or religious-cultural discourses. During the years 1990–97, parties influenced by the secular discourse were in power, while during 1998–2003, the religious-cultural discourse’s influence over state policy was felt when the BJP was the predominant member of a coalition government. The BJP did lead a coalition government for a brief period of 13 days



in 1996. Thus, the time frame may be differentiated into two phases: phase one from 1990 to 1997 and phase two from 1998 to 2003. I also felt that the time period of 1990–2003 provided for a balanced comparison in terms of duration in power (various parties influenced by the two discourses formed the government for approximately the same length of time) and that external conditions in terms of the end of the Cold war, gradual integration into the global economy, relations with Pakistan, conditions in Kashmir and gradual improvement with China allowed for a comparison of discourse and practice. In this study, the recovery of Self begins internally within the society. As Hopf argues, examining a society’s identity generates an account of a state’s identity independent of foreign policy and ‘affords the least risk of a tautological specification of a state’s identity.’121 However, even as I focus on the Self–Other distinctions internally, I also examine how these distinctions emerge and evolve in the context of the external Other and shape the relationship between the two. The data for elaborating the identity discourses will come from texts. In speeches, statements, political manifestoes and other writings, Indian political ideologues and elite have carved out the shapes of different identity formations. I confine my examination to those parties and allied organizations that have come to power and have constituted the Indian government between 1990 and 2003. The two dominant parties in this context are the Congress (Indian National Congress currently led by Sonia Gandhi) and BJP which held power from 1991 to 1996 (P. V. Narasimha Rao as Prime Minister) and 1998 to 2003 (Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister) respectively. Both these parties have had an enduring presence in Indian politics with the Congress playing a more significant role than the BJP. The BJP has its roots in the erstwhile Jana Sangh and the RSS. It is also allied with a host of other organizations that are tied to the RSS such as the VHP, Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini. BJP’s links with core Hindu cultural and political organizations have been the subject of considerable interest to scholars for the implications it holds both domestically and internationally. The Congress, too, has had a chequered history and has morphed and split into



several parties. Nevertheless, Congress (I) continues to represent to a great extent the tradition of Nehru, who is considered an exemplary leader of the party and a secularist. However, the time frame of this study (1990–2003) incorporates other parties such as the Janata Dal, which was the dominant party in the coalition governments of the National Front when V. P. Singh (2 December 2 1989 to 10 November 1990) and Chandra Sekhar (10 November 1990 to 6 March 1991) were Prime Ministers and United Front when H. D. Deve Gowda (1 June 1996 to 21 April 1997) and I. K. Gujral (21 April 1997 to 19 March 1998) were Prime Ministers. Since most of these were coalition governments, it can be argued that they were too fragmented and had too many disparate interests and identities to be classified as articulating one or the other identity. However, an analysis of the leadership, the historical backgrounds of these parties, and their ‘texts’ (as in speeches by key members, party manifestoes) and actions undertaken allow for a consideration of these parties as articulating the secular national identity.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY The importance of this study lies in the fact that it contributes to the existing literature on identity and security policies and, broadly, on foreign policies in IR and Indian politics. Briefly, it does so by examining the secular and religious constructions of national Self and by raising questions and concerns about the posited relationship between identity and interests. It follows in the tradition of Banerjee, Katzenstein, Larsen, Berger, Weldes, Krishna, Hopf and Neumann, among others, who have studied identity and state practices.122 These scholars explore different parts of this puzzle and help further our understanding of the relationship between the collective Self and the Other, and of the implications of this for state behaviour. The assumption underlying these works is that different identities will imply different interests, and hence, different modes of engagement. These scholars addressed different cases



and have shown the different kinds of relationships between Self and the Other. They also showed that conceptions of Self and Other are dynamic and demonstrated that there is a relationship between internal and external selves. They, however, did not specifically address the implications of constructing the Self along religious or secular dimensions, which gap will be explored in this study. As we will see through later chapters, the key findings of this study—that different identities could result in similar practices and that assumptions about the implications of religious-cultural identity were not unambiguous and only partially realized—allow us to question or problematize constructivist explanations about the nature of IR. More specifically, the findings that emerge in the cases cast doubt on the constructivist contention that it is through identity that interests emerge. Further, this study contributes specifically to our understanding of the relationship between Indian identity and foreign/ security policy. It elaborates on the secular and religious-cultural narratives of the Self and examines how the construction of internal Others influences actions against external Others in at least two of the three domains of security. We thus have a better understanding of the relationship between the internal and external Others and also of the policy implications of the political elite influenced by these two kinds of discourses, especially in the context of politics in South Asia.

STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK This book is divided into six chapters. In Chapter 2, I elaborate upon the secular and religious-cultural identities. The chapter is devoted to understanding and laying out the conceptions of Self. These conceptions are seen to converge around certain themes, and briefly, these are: India as a great civilization; India conceptualized as an ancient nation defined by its timeless existence and space; discussion regarding the original inhabitants of the nation and their relationship to Others; and conception



of the Indian Self as tolerant, peaceful and inclusive. An examination of the discourses reveals both the Indian Self and the dangerous Others. Some of these Others that are thus revealed become the cases for this study. The next three chapters constitute the case studies for this study: JK, Pakistan and China. The choice of these cases— especially JK and Pakistan—is determined by the fact that these are, in a sense, exemplary Others in the national identity discourse and have been the focus of security concerns since independent India emerged in 1947. China has been the other (historical as opposed to cultural) significant power in the Indian imagination. The analysis of these cases is restricted to the years 1990–2003. Thus, the focus of the third chapter is JK. JK lies at the edge of the internal and external boundaries, and presents complex security problems to the Indian state. In the discussion, I summarize the history of integration of JK into the Indian Union, its special status and the gradual abrogation of its special privileges. But more importantly, I focus on the strategies deployed by governments representing the secular and religious–cultural national discourses in dealing with the insurgency in JK. Specifically, I examine the strategies of force, negotiation and granting of autonomous status to the state of JK. In Chapter 4, I examine the relationship between India and Pakistan in the context of what India calls cross-border terrorism. The focus is on crisis and agreements (concluded and offered) that occurred during these years, thus allowing for a comparison of actions and reactions of the Indian government, wherein the political elite is seen to articulate either a secular or religious-cultural identity. Thus, I examine three crisis events that occurred in 1990, 1999 and 2002, and also consider the various agreements that were concluded and offered regarding Kashmir, military and non-military confidence building measures (CBMs). Chapter 5 focuses on Sino-Indian relations. The chapter begins with a discussion of the significance of the case and a brief summary of the relationship between the two countries since India’s independence. As in Chapter 4, I then examine crisis events, and military and non-military CBMs. The concluding chapter



discusses the findings from the cases and the implications these have for understanding the significance of national identity on Indian security perceptions and practices and further ruminate on the role of identity in international relations.

NOTES 1. The word ‘discourse’ is used to refer to a series of statements that are connected or to themes that present a frame of reality and in doing so construct that reality. I draw upon Titscher et al. (2000) for this specific understanding of the term. 2. Arguably there are two important conceptions of the national self—secular and religious-cultural. These have been the focus of much attention by authors such as Varshney (1993), Malik and Singh (1994), and Gordon (1996) among others, and are the focus of this study. However, there are other identities. For instance, separatist identity, which is the focus of authors such as Varshney or Behera (2000), examines the fragmenting elements of the Indian Union and is region specific. Similarly, caste as an identity is mobilized for local interests and is not a feature of state identity. I argue that what differentiates these works from the present study is the focus on national identity. It focuses on the biding elements of the Indian state, while these other works focus on fragmenting elements. 3. The Ramjanambhoomi (‘land of Ram’s birth’) movement has been simmering since prior to Independence but gained increasing attention since the mid-1980s. It contends that the fifteenth century mosque, Babri Masjid, in Ayodhya was built on the ruins of a temple commemorating the birthplace of Ram, a God in the Vaishnav tradition of the Hindu pantheon. In late 1992, the mosque was destroyed by Hindu activists who sought to build a new temple. The issue has not been resolved to date but is the source of considerable communal politics, tension and violence. 4. On 26 February 2002, a carriage of the Sabarmati Express train carrying Hindu activists was attacked by Muslims at Godhra in the western Indian state of Gujarat, with the result that 58 people were killed. This resulted in bloody reprisals causing the death of more than 1,000 Muslims by Hindu activists, allegedly aided by the state machinery of Gujarat. See, Kumar (2002) and Dugger (2002). 5. Efforts to rewrite history to highlight the contributions made by Hindu kings and their struggle against Muslim invasions have been made by the Sangh Parivar. See, Menon and Rajalakshmi (1998), Muralidharan (1998), and Muralidharan and Pande (1998) and Rajalakshmi (2001).



6. While these events make the last few years look particularly alarming, the fact is that communalism has been a legacy of the partition of the Indian subcontinent. The presence of a sizeable Muslim community in India, the logic of democratic decentralized communal politics, and the presence of Islamic states on its borders have inevitably created certain tensions within the Indian polity. Violence has been targeted not just against the Muslim community. In 1984, Indira Gandhi’s assassination was followed by violence against the Sikh community and as many as 2,000 were reported to have been killed. 7. Ruggie (1998). 8. Morgenthau (1967). It is to be noted that the reading of such allegedly classical Realist authors such as Thucydides has been the subject of challenge and debate. 9. Kenneth Waltz (1979). 10. See Keohane and Nye (1977) and Gilpin (1981). This work was followed by neo-liberal institutionalism. 11. Baldwin (1993). 12. Bull (1977), Watson and Bull (1984), and Gong (1984). The English school was seen as a precursor to social constructivism in IR, with its focus on rules and institutions. 13. Haas (1990) for instance, discusses Asian (Chinese and Indian) cultural values in the context of conflict resolution. 14. According to Goldstein and Keohane (1993), ideas influence behaviour in three ways: as roadmaps, as focal points and through institutional rules and norms. 15. Interest in culture has been a part of IR theorizing since the end of the World War II. Desch (1998) traces three waves of such theorization: during World War II, Cold War phase and post-Cold War. Neumann (1999) refers to the surge of interest in culture and identity in the 1990s. Hurrell (2002) similarly talks about the renewed interest in culture. 16. Fearon (1999) lists 14 definitions of the term in his paper. In fact, Brubaker and Cooper (2000) have gone on to point out the slipperiness of the concept and propose replacing it with other concepts. While the arguments of Brubaker and Cooper are considered significant, scholars have also pointed out that the solution is not to do away with the concept of identity but to make it more precise. See Goff and Dunn (2004) and Abdelal et al. (2006). 17. Hopf (1998: 12). 18. Wendt (1999: 224). Wendt (1992: 397) has also defined identity in role specific terms as ‘relatively stable, role specific understandings and expectations about self.’ 19. Adbelal et al. (2006). 20. Ibid. 698.



21. While scholars have attempted to understand the identity of social collectives through concepts such as ‘civilizational identity,’ ‘national character,’ ‘political culture,’ ‘strategic culture,’ in the context of domestic and international politics, I focus on the concept of national identity. 22. Jepperson et al. (1996: 59). 23. This study does not include an understanding of gender as an aspect of national discourse. This is not intended to question the significance of gender in such discourses. In fact, women have invariably emerged as a project for the discourses of Indian identity and the self–other constructions are oftentimes structured along gendered demarcations. Examining these is a project in itself. 24. In the context of India, Prakash (2000) provides a brief overview of the different kinds of nationalist historiography in the case of India: colonial orientalist, Marxist, subaltern, social historians. 25. See, Hutchinson and Smith (1994). 26. For instance, Kohn (1945) distinguishes between Western and Eastern nationalism though it was pointed out in very pejorative terms, and Anthony D. Smith (1991) differentiates between civic and ethnic nationalisms. Without engaging in this debate, the point is to note the fact that different features characterize nationalism. 27. Wendt (1999: 213). Wendt uses Weber’s definition of the state. 28. Anthony D. Smith (1991: 14) defines the nation ‘as a named human population sharing an historic territory, common myths and historical memories, a mass public culture, a common enemy and common legal rights and duties for all members.’ 29. Kelman (2001: 191). 30. Words such as imagined and invented are not used literally. The fact is that nations are phenomena that emerge out of a strange amalgam of fact and fiction, of forgetting and memory. The real or imagined nature of the nation is still under consideration as evinced by recent debates. See, Anderson (1991), Smith, Anthony D. (1996) and Gellner (1996). 31. Hobsbawm (1983) examines how the invention of tradition and the creation of a common identity becomes the project of the state. 32. Anthony D. Smith (2000: 796). 33. McSweeney (1999: 78). 34. Doty (1996). 35. Here, Wodak (2002) quotes Stuart Hall. 36. Guha, Ranajit (1982, 2000). 37. See Waever (1995), McSweeney (1999) and Wodak (2002). 38. Adler (2002). 39. Scholars such as Adler, Hopf, Kublakova and Ruggie have distinguished between the various kinds of constructivist arguments. Hopf, for instance, distinguishes between conventional and critical constructivism. This seems to parallel Ruggie’s (1998) distinction of neo-classical constructivism


40. 41. 42.

43. 44. 45. 46.

47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56.



and post-modernist constructivism. Ruggie also has a third category— naturalistic constructivism—based on scientific realism. Vendulka Kublakov distinguishes between soft constructivism (Wendt, Hopf) and the linguistic constructivism represented by what is called the Miami group of scholars led by Nicholas Onuf. Adler divides constructivist work into modernist constructivist (Adler, Barnett, Checkel, RisseKappen, Katzenstein, Wendt), modernist linguistic (Onuf), radical (Doty, Der Derian), and critical (Linklater, Cox). This study employs soft constructivism or what Adler calls modernist. See Hopf (1998), Ruggie (1998), Kublakova et al. (1998) (2001) and Adler (2002). Adler (2002: 95). Ibid. In an edited volume, Katzenstein (1996) discusses the value of norms in shaping security choices. Others such as Finnemore (1996), Keck and Sikkink (1998) have focussed on rules or institutions in the shaping of international relations. Wendt (1999). Weldes (1999: 7). Wendt (1999: 232). This is similar to the notion of societal security used by Buzan et al. (1998: 67) who conceive of societal security as concerned with ‘identity, the self conception of communities....’ In this context, Waever discusses the threat or fear of being subsumed as a result of immigration, integration or cultural imperialism. Hopf (2002: 6). Weldes (1999: 13). Wendt (1999: 230). Ibid. 283. O’Hagan (2004: 28). Hopf (2002). Hopf (2002: xiv). Hopf (1998). Fearon and Wendt (2002). Todorov (1999), for instance, analyses three levels of engagement (anxiological, epistemological and praxeological) and indicates a range of engagement from identification to assimilation and from annihilation to indifference. Campbell (1992: 8) ‘proposes that United States’ foreign policy be understood as a political practice central to the constitution, production and maintenance of American political identity.’ For Campbell, the production of difference is central to the production and maintenance of the identity of the United States, and this process occurs in the realm of foreign policy, which emerges as both a place of production and of state action. Campbell’s work is significant, as it is among the first that points to the co-constitution of identity and foreign policy.

38 58. 59. 60. 61.






Weldes (1999). Neumann (1999: 37). Norton (1988). Interestingly, Fanon (1967) argues against the politics of self-discovery, the search for authentic traditions as a pointless exercise resulting in dialogue more with the colonizer than with the fluid lived culture of the nation. Interestingly for Nandy (1988a), the recovery of the self is seen through the masculine–feminine dichotomy and the appropriation of both in search of an authentic self. Nandy is concerned with understanding the identity dynamics and the co-constitution that emerges in the engagement between India and England. Nandy postulates the self in terms of feminine–masculine dichotomy and argues that as a result of interaction, Victorian England came to be constructed as increasingly masculine, while the Indian self in its effort to overcome its subject position cast itself in the similar mode. However, he argues that the authentic Indian self lay in Gandhi’s attempt to appropriate both the masculine and the feminine self. What these works indicate is the struggle for identity in a context where the people are a subject people. The power equation is critical to the concerns of identity. Chatterjee (2001: 30) argues that nationalism ‘produced a discourse in which, even as it challenged the colonial claim to political domination, it also accepted the very intellectual premises of “modernity” on which colonial domination was based.’ The central contradiction for the author is the assertion of freedom from European domination by erstwhile colonized societies and yet the embedded nature of their discourse in post-Enlightenment rationalist discourse. Using India as a case, Chatterjee tries to show how the nationalist thought, despite its attempts to constitute itself as a different discourse, remained dominated by the very structure of discourse it sought to repudiate. As a result, third world nationalism was transformed by the ruling classes into a state ideology legitimizing their own rule, appropriating the life of the nation and moving it along the path of universal modernization. What emerges from Chatterjee’s arguments is an attempt by the elite at conflation of the state and nation for constructing a unique identity and for the independence struggle and then the marginalization of the nation (rural majority). For Bhabha, imitation does not necessarily mean a loss of the self. Bhabha sees the possibility of resistance and argues that ‘the process of replication is never complete or perfect and what it produces is not the perfect image of the original but something changed because of the context in which it is being reproduced.’ What emerges is hybrid, ambivalent and is a subversion of the master discourse (Loomba 1998: 89). Krishna (1994 and 1999).



66. Marty and Appleby (1991–95), Kepel (1994), Fox (2001), Johnston and Sampson (1994), and Sahliyeh (1990). 67. Huntington (1996). 68. Jurgensmeyer (1993). 69. Carsten and Waever (2000). 70. Ibid., 708. Also, see Buzan et al. (1998). 71. Carsten and Waever (2000: 725). 72. Smith (2000). 73. Scholars have argued that this understanding ignores the potential for peace that religion also represents. See Johnston and Sampson (1994). 74. Fox (1997 and 1999). 75. According to Fox, religion influences international politics in three ways. First, religious views and beliefs of policy maker’s affect foreign policy. Religious views constitute a part of the worldview, meaning system or a frame of reference, and are thus seen to influence the outlook and behaviour of policy makers. Second, religion is a source of legitimacy for supporting and criticizing government behaviour locally and internationally. Thus, war or humanitarian intervention may be justified in terms of religious beliefs. Lastly, religious disputes spread across borders. Fox points out that such a categorization is arbitrary since there is an overlap between the categories. 76. Fox (2004). 77. Hasenclever and Rittberger (2000) focus on the conditions under which religion has an escalating or de-escalating effect on conflict. 78. Carsten and Waever (2000: 739). 79. Lewis (1992). 80. Martin (1999). 81. While the discussion in this section has focussed on studies that increasingly show the relationship between religion and conflict, it is worth noting that historically even secular identities were and are associated with conflict as exemplified by the imperial policies of secular Europe or those of the United States, Soviet Union and China (the last two representing exemplar secular states, given their ideological orientations). 82. The debate regarding the diverse articulations of nationalism in India may be seen in other works such as Kishwar (1998), Basu (1996), Seshia (1998), Ghosh (1999), Bose (1997) and Varshney (1993). These works also attempt to understand why there are these shifts in Indian identity. 83. In so far, Nehru saw Hindu religious cultural ethos as primitive, backward, as problematic in a nation striving for modernity and seeking to rise above the supposedly narrow beliefs and practices (Malik and Singh 1994). 84. Kishwar (1998), Basu (1996), Seshia (1998), Bose (1997) and Varshney (1993).



85. The Hindu majority was fragmented along several lines and, even prior to independence, negotiations and compromises had to be made between the backward castes (dalits) led by B. R. Ambedkar and Jyotiba Phule, who sought separate representation in the electoral process. In 1932, Ramsay McDonald announced his communal award, wherein the separate Muslim electorate formula was to be extended to the Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans and the depressed classes. Gandhi negotiated with Ambedkar that the depressed classes should remain a part of the Hindu community. Ambedkar criticized Gandhi and denounced Hinduism for treating untouchables as lepers. Nevertheless, the two came to an agreement in the Yervada jail wherein depressed classes would be assured 147 seats on provincial councils rather than the 71 promised by the Prime Minister’s scheme. They would also hold 18 per cent of the central assembly seats as long as they did not make demands for a separate representation. Gandhi felt that the Hindu community could not afford to be fragmented along caste lines. 86. The issue of language, another characteristic of the Indian state, went through similar complex processes resulting eventually in the linguistic reorganization of states in the early 1960s. 87. At the regional level, authors such as Varshney (1993) and Behera (2000) argue for the presence of separatist nationalism represented by the movements in Kashmir and Punjab. 88. Naipaul (1990). 89. In her attempts to gain control in Punjab, Mrs Gandhi encouraged fundamentalist Sikh groups, eventually leading to a crisis in the state, while in JK she fanned the fears of the Jammu Hindus. The nation was deemed to be in danger from the Sikhs, Kashmiris and Muslims. See Varshney (1993), Jalal (1995) and Bose (1997). 90. The Shah Bano case involved the appeal by the divorced and aged Shah Bano for maintenance by her ex-husband. Under the laws of the Muslim community, she did not have any rights to seek maintenance. The case eventually went to the Supreme Court where the judgment was in favour of protecting the rights of Shah Bano under a uniform civil code. This no longer remained a personal and social concern but became a highly debated political issue. Eventually the verdict of the Supreme Court was overturned by a legislative act. 91. Babri Masjid–Ramjanambhoomi issue emerged prior to Independence and had been languishing in court since 1950. The Hindu right wing claims that the Babri Masjid (mosque alleged to have been commissioned by the invader Babar in the fifteenth century) was built on the birthplace of the mythical King and God Ram after the destruction of an existing temple. These groups thus claim that the mosque should be removed and a temple dedicated to Ram built instead. VHP started an agitation in 1985 and a court order opening the premises for worship was









issued soon. Hansen (1999) argues that the swift action was prompted by the Congress which attempted to influence the rapidly growing militant Hindu community. Rajiv Gandhi openly appealed to communal sentiments in Faizabad in 1989, using a language similar to the BJP. Jalal (1995) argues that Gandhi’s embedding of politics in religion, resulted in the widespread perception by the Muslims that the Congress was a Hindu organization. In fact, the secular nature of the Indian state has been debated on both ends of the spectrum; that it is not a secular state as asserted by Luthera (1964) and that it is, as argued by Smith (1963). In 1947, the Madras Devadasis (Prevention of Dedication) Act was passed and made law. In the same year, the Madras Temple Entry Authorization Act was passed which made it an offence to prevent any person on the grounds of untouchability from entering the temple. In 1950, the Madras Animal and Bird Sacrifices Abolition Act was passed, preventing sacrifice as part of religious ritual. The Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act in 1951 provided an opportunity for state involvement in the affairs of temples. Among the most comprehensive of these acts was the Hindu Code bill passed in 1955 which governed marriage, succession, adoptions, maintenance, and so on. The contradictory application of the principle of secularism in India has led to a debate among Indian academicians about the relationship be-tween religion and the state. See Nandy (1988b) and Madan (1987). Both the authors critique modernity and its concomitant secularism, and argue that violence and intolerance is the result of the separation of politics and religion. See also Chatterjee (1994) and Pantham (1997). This is the assertion of V. D. Savarkar who is seen as the ideological guru of Hindu nationalists. Pandey (1993) points out that such a conception of a Hindu is vastly different from the earlier understanding that Hindus were those who lived in Hindustan and had little to do with religious orientations. Pandey also points out that in the twentieth century, it was still a question whether Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, members of the Bhakti cults, tribals and untouchables were Hindus. It must, however, be noted that prior to Independence, religion was a significant source of distinction vis-a-vis the British. This will be further clarified in the chapter that follows. It is interesting to note that much of the discussion about engagement with the Other in the context of India remains confined to British colonization. There is little debate, perhaps because of paucity of material, about previous encounters with other civilizations; for instance, the Mughals. Nirmal Verma notes that this silence or evasiveness may be attributed to lack of interest, selfcontainment and more importantly ‘the fact that the “other” was never a source of reference to define their own identity as it was for the Europeans’ (Verma 1998: 329) and further that ‘unless the “other” is in


98. 99. 100.



103. 104.


some way assimilated or internalized within its system, it does not acquire the weight or visibility of a system to which it could make a meaningful response’ (Verma 1998: 330). I find this problematic and also think that there is another dynamic operating here. It could be argued that Western engagement with the Other required the deployment of a specific kind of discourse, one essentially evolving around rationale or justification for colonization. This may be evident in arguments about the civilizing mission of the European states. Such discourses in time compelled the Other to engage in the dialogue and either accept the categories imposed or to become defensive and display their superiority vis-a-vis European powers. See Dallymayr and Devy (1998). Chatterjee (1997: 229). Bose (1997: 145). Regarding the central position of the RSS in articulating the Hindutva movement, see Anderson and Damle (1987), and Basu et al. (1993). For Jana Sangh, see Graham (1990). Aurobindo (1872–1950) argued that ‘Nationalism is not a mere political programme: Nationalism is religion that has come from God...’ and then again ‘nationalism is not politics but religion, a creed, a faith. I say it again today but I put it in another way. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Santana Dharma which for us is nationalism’ (Hay 1992: 152, 54). Later, on Aurobindo devoted his energies towards spiritual realization and human unity. Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1824–83) was the founder of the Arya Samaj, an organization that sought to reform Hinduism by reinterpreting the Vedas. The Samaj sought to infuse Hindu religion with liberal practices (did not recognize untouchability, promoted widow remarriage, education on the authority of the Vedas). With Dayananda, there was a shift in dealing with the challenge of Christianity from a defensive, assimilative attitude to an aggressive, masculine one. Dayananda condemned theological quarrels between various religious sects and sought to unify the pluralism and diversity inherent in the Hindu religion. He was critical of the previous nineteenth century reform movements and argued that they were too ignorant of the ancient Indian values and traditions. Sharma, Jyotirmaya (2003: 4). Thapar (2000), in a chapter titled ‘Imagined Communities? Ancient History and the modern Search for a Hindu Identity,’ indicates the prevalence of several beliefs that eventually came to be constituted as ‘Hinduism.’ Thapar argues that this was the result of various factors such as the role of Christian missionaries who saw Indian practices as primitive, Orientalist scholarship that sought to impose a model and make religious practices comprehensible, Indian reform movements that looked at Semitic models and the eventual politicization of Hindu/ Muslim communities.



105. Chatterjee (1995: 126). 106. Bose (1997: 157). 107. Communal riots between Hindus and Muslims have continued to contribute to violence in India and erupt periodically, as in Bombay (1993), Godhra (2002) and on countless other occasions and cities. 108. Reference is here made to the Punjab Boundary Force 1947, Junagarh Deployment 1947, Hyderabad police action 1948, Liberation of Goa 1961, Operation Bluestar in Punjab 1984, and anti-insurgency operations in Nagaland 1954–74, Mizoram 1965–67, Tripura and Mizoram 1971, Assam 1991, and JK 1989–2003. In fact, it is feared that the internal problems in many instances are the result of tacit or overt support by its neighbours. India has contiguous borders with all South Asian states: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, China and Sri Lanka. Thus, in realist terms, India has to contend with anarchy within and without. 109. Kavic (1967), Chari (1987), Singh (1999), Bajpai and Cohen (1993), Rajan and Ganguly (1981), Ganguly (2001) and Nayar and Paul (2003). 110. Banerjee (1997: 32). 111. Banerjee (1994). 112. Kishore (1969). It should be clarified that Jana Sangh came to power in coalition with other parties only in 1977 and this analysis of Kishore essentially focuses on the manifesto of the party and its position on issues of foreign policy as evinced in debates and speeches. 113. Jurgensmeyer (1993: 41). 114. Gordon (1996). 115. Ibid. 116. Ibid. 268. Bajpai and Cohen (1993) also briefly raise the issue of the rise of Hindu feeling in India with the possibility of damaging relations with Pakistan and Bangladesh. 117. Kublakova et al. (1998, 2001). Kublakova et al. are only a representative sample in this vast body of work. 118. For example, this is evident in his examination of Khrushchev’s speech signifying a certain Soviet identity and the changing nature of Soviet Union’s engagement with India in 1955 (Hopf 2002). 119. Hopf (2004: 12). 120. Hopf (2002), Neumann (1999) and Weldes (1999). 121. Hopf (2004: 3). 122. Banerjee (1994, 1997), Katzenstein (1996), Larsen (1997), Weldes (1999), Krishna (1999), Hopf (2002) and Neumann (1999).

Chapter 2 National Identity Narratives in India: Religious-Cultural and Secular INTRODUCTION


his chapter examines two conceptualizations of national identity in India that are understood to be dominant and enduring. Identity is a multi-faceted and dynamic concept, and there are several regional, linguistic, gender and caste identity discourses in India that are sometimes articulated in opposition to each other or those that sometimes nest within a broader identity. For instance, there are identity discourses based on language (Tamil Nadu), religion and language (Punjab and Kashmir), and caste (as exemplified in the politics of northern India). However, in each of these discourses identity comes to exist in a localized political context. Several of these identity discourses do not consent to the idea of India as a single geographic and cultural unit. My focus is, however, on understanding unifying identities at the level of the Indian state; identities that project a certain conception of ‘India’ and which, therefore, indicate how such an India should interact with others. Thus, in spite of the diversity of discourses of identity, this study examines Indian national identity as represented by two discourses: one, religious-cultural, and the other, secular. The focus of this chapter is the delineation of the characteristics and dominant themes of these national discourses which,



through the process of creation of the national Self, create the Others. Such a dynamic between the Self and the Other is both internal and external to the Indian state, and the two are not necessarily distinct. In fact, often it is the internal Other that makes for the significance of the external Other. The purpose of clarifying the boundaries and distinctions between the ‘national Self’ and the internal/external Others in these dominant discourses of identity is to understand how—and if—these different conceptions of Self and Other affect the engagement with the Other. The discussion in this chapter is, however, limited to understanding different constructions of the national Self vis-à-vis the Other.

THEMES OF DISCOURSE ON INDIAN IDENTITY In order to understand the themes around which the Self– Other constructions converge in the secular and religiouscultural discourse, this study focuses on certain key texts that constitute the ideological foundations of the above mentioned discourses. These texts are works of leaders, Parliamentary speeches, party/organization resolutions as well as party manifestoes and statements in the press. Before delving into the specific discourse themes, I would like to clarify two issues related to the question of consistency of themes in the sources used and shifts in discourse. Regarding the first, while the themes discussed in the following section appear in many of the various texts used (though the context of discussion may change), it is also a fact that they are not always present across texts. Thus, some texts may be comprehensive, incorporating all the themes, (such as Discovery of India, Hindutva, or Bunch of Thoughts), or they may be theme specific (this is more the case when the relevant source is a speech or statement). Further, specific issues within themes might differ. For instance, in the texts that are seen to articulate the religious-cultural discourse, the dangerous Muslim Other may emerge in different contexts, such as in refusal to follow a common civil law, population



control, conversion of temples into mosques and conversions to Islam. Similarly, V. D. Savarkar’s notion of Hindutva is different from that discussed by L. K. Advani. Thus, depending on the context, the text (understood as written and oral material) might emphasize one issue or the other, though the underlying theme of the dangerous Other remains consistent. Thus, the context of the theme may change, and sometimes, there may be a shift within the broad theme as well since discourses are not static and may shift. For instance, while Nehru was anti-religion and saw it as a dark, irrational force, Congress members in the more recent past (and even earlier) do not carry such sentiments towards religion. More significantly, leaders like Indira Gandhi did not hesitate from mobilizing communal sentiments for political gain. At the same time, parties such as the Congress and others like the Janata Dal (more so) do not broadly participate in a discourse that makes religion or the religious political community an issue for Self–Other distinctions. These changes in the nature of either discourse have been recorded and incorporated in the study. Textual analysis reveals certain common and consistent themes in the narratives of Indian identity. While certain articulations of the Indian national Self for both the secular and religious discourses are the same, there is also considerable difference. This difference emerges with considerable force on the question of who belongs to the nation and in the assertion of the primacy of the Hindu people, an assertion which is seen predominantly in the religious-cultural discourse. At the same time, both these discourses contain within them certain tensions and contradictions that make these articulations complex and ambiguous. Briefly, the discourse themes identified through thematic analysis are as follows. The first revolves around the theme that India is a ‘great civilization.’ It, therefore, emphasizes achievements of the past and claims that the seeds of the modern are visible in one of the most ancient sites of the past.1 It also claims that historically, India had wielded cultural and political influence in Asia, and out of this, flows the argument that currently India has an important role to play as a great



power on the world stage. The second theme emphasizes that the Indian nation has existed for thousands of years and is not in fact a creation of British colonialism. The third theme seeks to delineate the original or authentic constituent peoples of this nation; it seeks to identify the ‘original’ inhabitants of India, and it is in this discourse that culture and religion play an important role. It is also in this discourse that clear distinctions are drawn between Self and Other. A fourth discourse portrays the Indian Self as a tolerant, inclusive and peaceful persona as opposed to the aggressive Other. It seeks to argue that India has historically been invaded and violated, but it itself has never been an aggressor. Within this discourse theme, there is also an emphasis on understanding India as a non-materialistic and spiritual entity, thereby making it unique on the world stage. In these discourses, we shall see an articulation of what ‘we’ are and associated with that an implicit or explicit understanding of what ‘we’ are not.

India as a great civilization Within this broad theme, three strands can be discerned: that of great achievements of the past, India’s influence on the world, and the seeds of modernity that are embedded in India’s past. The narrative revolves around the contention that the Self is great and has consequence. The Self, in both religious-cultural and the secular discourse themes, is cast as a single homogenous Self. Both discourses essentially focus on the great achievements of the past in the fields of science, literature, architecture, art, language, philosophy, and productions of goods, trade and finances. There are references to ancient works in mathematics, political philosophy, drama and the immense contribution made by Indian civilization in all spheres. Thus, for instance, Nehru in his Discovery of India states, ‘In this way period succeeds period with bursts of creative effort in the fields of thought and action, in literature and the drama, in sculpture and architecture, and in cultural, missionary and colonial enterprises far from India’s borders.’2 In this reading of the past, India was understood to be as advanced



industrially, financially and commercially as any other country prior to the Industrial revolution. A similar understanding pervades the arguments of the religious-cultural nationalists. M. S. Golwalkar, for instance, contends that people in the precolonial era, specifically ancient times, were happy and content, highly virtuous, generous, a virile powerful race, wealthy and wise. Further, delving into the past, he notes that Indians were proficient in medicine, metallurgy, science, art, and so on. This understanding is not limited to Golwalkar alone but pervades much of the cultural nationalist discourse. Both the discourses— one subtly and the other not so subtly—express nostalgia for a Hindu past. It is usually the accomplishments of a past prior to the Islamic invasions and settlement that are a part of the lore of the glorious past, especially in the religious-cultural discourse. The narrative of a great civilization includes a reference to the cultural and colonial enterprises of India. Both the religiouscultural and the secular nationalists refer to this aspect of Indian history and civilization. In Discovery of India Nehru writes: From the first century of the Christian era onward, wave after wave of Indian colonists spread from East and southeast reaching Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Siam, Cambodia, and Indo-China. Some of them managed to reach Formosa, the Philippine Islands and Celebes... There appear to have been four principle waves of colonization from the first century AD to about 900 AD... All this indicates an expanding economy and a 3 constant search for distant markets.

Nehru then elaborates on the cultural and religious influence exercised by India in distant lands, both Buddhist and Brahamanical. In order to emphasize the significance of this influence, Nehru cites Rene Grousset’s work Civilizations of the East 4 and argues how Indian influence spread from Iran in the West to China, Japan and Malaya in the East.5 He writes, ‘India left the indelible impress of her high culture not only upon religion, but also upon art and literature, in a word, all the higher



things of spirit.’6 This influence is particularly evident today in art and architecture. Nehru’s writing is sprinkled with citations of prominent Orientalists who praise the achievements of India. For instance, Nehru quotes Dr G. H. Quaritch Wales’s work Towards Angkor, ‘It is true that Kymer culture is essentially based on the inspiration of India, without which the Kymers at best might have produced nothing greater than the barbaric splendour of the Central American Mayas.’7 There is in these articulations a representation of the classic post-colonial anxiety wherein validation is sought from the West for the significance of the Self. These conceptions of greatness are not unique to the secular discourse but emerge in the articulations of religiouscultural nationalists as well. For instance, Golwalkar writes: Our arms stretched as far as America on the one side—that was long, long before Columbus ‘discovered’ America!—and on the other side to China, Japan, Cambodia, Malaya, Siam, Indonesia and all the South East Asian countries and right up to Mongolia and Siberia in the North. Our political empire too spread over these South East areas and continued for the 1,400 years, the Shailendra empire alone flourishing for over 700 years—standing against Chinese expansion.8

While Golwalkar clarifies that such extensive influence did not mean domination or exploitation since ‘those people were grateful to us,’ this pride in the colonial political and cultural influence seems contradictory to the otherwise pervasive theme that India has always been non-violent and tolerant.9 In other words, the construction of Self as non-aggressive, peaceful and harmonious is problematic. There is in these arguments an undercurrent of the ‘civilizing mission’ wherein India’s influence is seen in benign terms, and it infuses both the secular and religious-cultural discourses. It is ironic that these early articulations of the Indian Self resist Western notions regarding their ‘civilizing mission,’ and yet at the same time, they use it to understand past ‘Indian’ engagement with other countries. Lastly, for Nehru, the greatness of the Indian civilization also lies in the fact that he perceives the roots of the modern in the



very beginnings of the Indian civilization. He looks at the Indus Valley Civilization and sees the seeds of a modern civilization in organized urban constructions, the laying of the streets and the drainage system. It is interesting to note that at this dawn of India’s story, she does not appear as a pulling infant, but already grown up in many ways. She is not oblivious of life’s ways, lost in dreams of vague and unrealizable supernatural world, but has made considerable technical progress in the arts and amenities of life, creating not only things of beauty, but also the utilitarian and more typical emblems of modern civilization—good baths and drainage systems.10

There is an attempt here to associate past glories with that which is modern (modernity being desirable). Nehru seems to be making the assertion that we were modern and will be modern again. This fits in with Nehru’s general quest to be modern, to do away with that which was non-modern and hence primitive or backward. Thus, for Nehru the Self and the Other came to be distinguished along the lines of that which is modern and non-modern. Interestingly, the construction of the Self–Other as Hindu–Muslim, and hence, along the boundaries of religion emerges in Nehru’s works as modern–non-modern. Discussing Islamic invasions of India, Nehru writes: The moslems who came to India from outside brought no new technique or political and economic structure. In spite of a religious belief in the brotherhood of Islam, they were class bound and feudal in outlook. In technique and in the methods of production and industrial organization they were inferior to what prevailed then in India. Thus their influence on the economic life of India and the social structure was very little. This life continued of old, and all the people, Hindu or Moslem or others, fitted into it.11

This is once again a pervasive theme in the discourses of identity in India. Even the religious-cultural nationalists assert the developed, progressive nature of the ‘Hindu’ civilization and do so by pointing out the accomplishments of their civilization



as opposed to Europe during the Dark Ages and implicitly against the Muslims by simply ignoring their contributions to the Indian civilization. The evocation of the past is that of a very specific past: one that is dominantly understood to be ‘Hindu.’ This capacity of the Indian civilization to extend political and cultural influence is seen as testifying to its greatness. It could be argued that this aspect of Indian history and understanding is closely linked to the condition of greatness and to the present belief in the significance of the Indian state on the world stage and to assertions of destiny. There is a constant refrain in both the discourses about how India cannot play a secondary role in world affairs and that the welfare of the world requires India’s presence. In this regard, Vijaylakshmi Pandit’s statement—that ‘[a] free India becomes a power for the forces of progress.... India has the right to lead because of her heritage”12—is emblematic of the general belief of the political elite. It appears that to a great extent, the regional dominance of the Indian state and the desire to play an active role in world politics emerges from these conceptions of Self. The question, then, is: what was the cause of decay or decline of the Indian civilization? For Nehru, the answer lay in rigidity in the social structure and opposition to new ideas. He writes: [S]o long as India kept her mind open to the world and gave of her riches to others, and received from them what she lacked, she remained fresh and strong and vital. But the more she withdrew into her shell, intent on preserving herself uncontaminated by external influences, the more she lost that inspiration and her life became increasingly a dull round of meaningless activity.13

Nehru does not clarify why there was this inward turning, though he does hint at external invasions. In Nehru’s view, India’s greatness can be realized once again by returning to its modern roots, by adopting a rational secular worldview wherein modern technology helps carve the path towards progress and its symbols (such as the Bhakra nangal Dam) become the modern temples of a resurgent India. On the other hand, the religious-cultural discourse is distinguished by the contention that the greatness of Indian



civilization suffered a blow because of the articulation of nonviolence by the Buddhists and Jains, thus weakening India internally and making it susceptible to violence from invaders. It is only with the resurgence of the Hindu (Brahamanical) faith that India was and could be defended.14 Thus, for those articulating the religious-cultural narrative, revival of Hindu pride and Hindu nationalism is necessary for a return to greatness. A part of this revival lies in not only valourizing the achievements of the Hindu civilization but also in the acquisition of modern technology , which is most significantly seen in the assertive need for the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Thus, within both the discourses, there is an emphasis on harnessing modern technology, and while it may appear that such acquisition of technology is benign in the case of one and destructive in the case of the other, that is not necessarily the case.

Time (Ancient Lineage) and Space (Territory) Define India The conception of India as a timeless entity with a specific spatial presence is a theme that is common to both the discourses on the Indian nation. The legitimacy and solidity of the nation is sought to be established by the fact that the nation is ancient; so ancient in fact that it is timeless. Both the discourses refer to this aspect of identity and feel it necessary to stress that the Indian nation has always existed. Like most national narratives, these narratives locate the nation in an immemorial past. In India’s case, such an assertion also appears to have been motivated by the necessity of rebutting the British contention that there was no Indian nation and that the state itself was a creation of colonial power. Thus, references to ancient past may partly be seen as a response to an attitude summed up by John Strachey’s declaration ‘there is not and never was an India, nor even any country of India, possessing according to European ideas, any sort of unity, physical, political, social or religious; no nation, “no people of India” of which we hear so much.’15 However, Nehru among others argued that ‘nationalism was and is inevitable in the India of my day; it is a natural and



healthy growth.’16 He further declared that ‘If nationalism is still so universal in its influence even in countries powerfully affected by new ideas and international forces, how much more must it dominate the mind of India?’17 The observation was intended to imply that there was almost a timeless, organic relationship amongst the people exemplified by the historic Indian nation, the boundaries of which were seen to extend from the Himalayas to the seas. Similarly, the religious-cultural nationalists assert that ‘In a way, we are ‘anadi’—without a beginning. To define such a people is impossible ... we existed when there was no necessity for any name.’18 Savarkar argued that nationality or the sense of cultural self-consciousness has existed for 4,000 years and that ‘no people in the world can more justly claim to get recognized as a racial unit than the Hindus and perhaps the Jews.’19 Golwalkar writes, ‘This is our sacred land, Bharat, a land whose glories are sung by the Gods.’20 India was the chosen land (punyabhoomi) and the holiest of all lands (tapobhoomi). The myth of existence incorporates not only a sense of timelessness but also becomes associated with the divine and with a certain territory. The contours of this ‘sacred land’ from the Himalayas in the north to the oceans in the south are attested to by Chanakya (author of the political treatise Arthashastra),21 who lived in 300 BC, and by Kalidasa, an ancient poet.22 For the cultural nationalists, ancient India was inclusive of Afghanistan (Upaganasthan), Kabul (Gandhar), Burma (Brahamadesh), Sri Lanka (Lanka), Assam (Pragjyotish) and Iran (Aryan). Such cartography of the nation is based on the fact that these places were mentioned in historical texts, inscriptions and ancient epics such as The Mahabharata and The Ramayana.23 This territory is often referred to as Akhanda Bharat (‘Indivisible India’), and at times, emerges as the ideal territory of the present Indian state in the religious-cultural discourse. In fact, one of the aspirations of the Jana Sangh was the return of the conceived boundaries of the Indian nation. More recently, while the more conservative members of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have stated that India will unfurl the tricolour



(the Indian flag) in Pakistan or that India should incorporate the two divided regions of Kashmir (Pakistan occupied Kashmir [PoK] and Jammu and Kashmir [JK]), there is in general a consensus regarding the present boundaries of the state.24 The significance of this theme (both secular and religiouscultural) lies in the fact that the solidity and unity of the nation, in fact its very presence is sought to be asserted by associating it with an ancient past and within a certain territory—both time and geography testify to the existence of India. However, this territorial Self is seen to be threatened when regions within India seek greater autonomy (for example, JK) or independence (for example, JK and Punjab), when India’s sovereignty is challenged by other states (Pakistan’s support to insurgents in JK), or when the borders are porous resulting in flow of illegal immigrants and refugees (for example, from Bangladesh). This latter challenge to the body of the nation in particular has received considerable attention from the religious-cultural nationalists and may be seen in their demand for identity cards.25

The constituents of an original nation This is the most significant and controversial aspect of the discourse on identity. The discussion about original inhabitants of the nation and those who eventually came to constitute the nation is complex, eliciting divergent views from the secular and the religious-cultural identity perspectives. Those articulating a secular Self regard the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization as the original inhabitants. In his Discovery of India, Nehru asserts this as a fact. He then goes on to discuss the cultural fusion and synthesis between the Aryans and the Dravidians who, according to Nehru, were probably representatives of the Indus valley. The Aryans in this discourse are seen as people coming from Central Asia and eventually displacing the indigenous population to occupy the fertile plains of the Indus. There has been, until recently, consensus on this interpretation of Indian history. There is in this discourse a perception and acceptance of the fusion and synthesis of different races that eventually came to constitute the Indian nation. In fact, for



those articulating the secular national discourse, the question of original inhabitants is not of primary significance and is not pursued assiduously. Nehru’s thoughts are an exception and he writes, ‘She [India] was like some ancient palimpset on which layer upon layer of thought and revery had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously.’26 Thus, the nation becomes a much more ambiguous thing and is constituted by a mixture of races: Aryan, Dravidian, Turanic, Semitic and Mongolian, and by people of a variety of religious faiths who nevertheless became distinctly Indian. But at the same time, this nation did not incorporate the British as they remained outsiders and alien, unwilling to Indianize and making India into a ‘typical colony of the modern age, a subject country for the first time in her long history.’27 Thus, while the Self was amorphous, it was nevertheless not without some constraints—boundaries that established a distinct nation. No doubt Nehru’s views in this regard can be located in the struggle against the British, making such Self–Other distinctions almost inevitable. While these ideas are not articulated by members of parties such as the Congress or the Janata Dal, they are not challenged either, and I argue that silence in this regard is an affirmation of Nehru’s beliefs. Further, the extent of their legitimacy and strength may be testified to by the fact that this is the dominant view in history school texts used in India. But what constituted this Indianness? For Nehru, the essence lay in some ‘impulse,’ ‘inner urge,’ an Indian geist. He writes, ‘Though outwardly there was diversity and infinite variety among our people, everywhere there was that tremendous impress of oneness, which had held all of us together for ages past.’28 The defining spirit of India was in its unity and tolerance. Nehru never really clarified what it was that created this distinct oneness. More importantly, unlike the religiouscultural nationalists, he was careful to avoid seeing the essence of Indianness in Hindu religious identity. Nehru defined Hinduism in broad and inclusive terms: ‘Hinduism as a faith is vague and amorphous, many sided, all things to all men. It is hardly possible to define it.’29 At times, it was seen as a way of life.



Such an inclusive understanding was all embracing. Nehru further argued: ‘The correct word for “Indian” as applied to country or culture or the historical continuity of our varying traditions is “Hindi,” from “Hind” ... “Hindi” has nothing to do with religion.’30 Seth points out the ambivalent or problematic nature of Nehru’s relationship with the past. While Nehru sought ‘Indianness’ in the past, he also sought to either abolish or transform much of that past. Indianness lay neither in Hinduism nor in the elements of the great traditions, for these were archaic.31 This articulation of the nation in vague but more inclusive terms was very much an aspect of the secular discourse. For instance, S. Radhakrishnan, philosopher and President of India, argued in the Parliament that ‘[a] nation does not depend on identity of race, or sentiment, or on ancestral memories, but it depends on a persistent and continuous way of life that has come down to us ... the same great culture is represented among Hindus and Muslims.’32 At the same time, for Nehru and others, the binding factor of the masses was the common cultural background, the myths and the legends, saints and heroes, and this was essentially Hindu. Much as Nehru sought to locate the nation outside of the Hindu ambit, it nevertheless remained a part of it. And yet, for Nehru, the nation could not be defined in terms of religion. In his perspective, nationalism and Hinduism had aligned earlier during the Gupta period (300 AD) and under the Maratha ruler Shivaji, during the seventeenth century. However, Nehru was wary of religion. It was too closely associated with ‘superstitious practices and dogmatic beliefs and behind it lay a method of approach to life’s problems which was certainly not that of science. There was an element of magic about it, an uncritical credulousness,’ and yet at the same time, it had provided some values to human life.33 On the other hand, it was knowledge tested by reason, practice, and experimentation that one must hold on to.34 Nehru’s views on religion not only served to keep separate the Indian nation and religion, it translated into disdain for communal organizations such as the Muslim League or the Hindu Mahasabha, which he saw as feudal and



conservative elements that could not understand the spirit of India and were not interested in India as a nation. It appears that for Nehru, they were rapidly emerging as the internal Others in so far as they sought to construct exclusive nations around a religious core. Banerjee, while discussing the Self– Self opposition, contends that Nehru distinguished between the wise ancient Indian Self (understood to be secular) and the violent, intolerant, ignorant mob (which was his understanding of the communal).35 However, this disdain for religion no longer informs the Congress discourse or that of other parties such as the Janata Dal, as seen in the debates in the Lok Sabha. In these articulations, members of these parties not only refrain from any expression of sentiments akin to Nehru (religion as a dark, unreasonable, pre-modern force) but acknowledge the significance of religion, while attempting to keep separate the spheres of religion and politics, relatively speaking. Like Nehru, they continue to view the activities of the Hindu right as deeply detrimental to the nation and state. This aspect becomes particularly clear in the discussions in the Parliament, centred around the Ramjanambhoomi controversy where the aforementioned party members are respectful of the religious sentiments of the Hindus and Muslims, and recognize the significance of religion in public life, while at the same time being extremely critical of the divisive contentions of the Hindu right.36 It is important to understand the context within which Nehru was articulating these views. India was struggling for freedom, there were several groups making exclusive claims, and the prospect of separate nations for Hindus and Muslims was very much on the horizon. As Nehru contemplated India’s nationhood, he sought to create an inclusive core, around which India’s maddening diversity could converge; hence the articulation of a secular nation that was characterized by tolerance and unity in diversity. His secular posture should also be read in the context of partition of the country along religious lines and the possibilities of mayhem and fragmentation that existed, both prior to and after partition. Nevertheless, this particular articulation of the nation as a



conglomeration of peoples and religions continues to be an aspect of the Congress party. Leaders of the Congress such as Madhav Rao Scindia have stated: It is the ethos which our great country with its centuries old history and its rich cultural heritage has always presented. This has been the tradition of ‘Bharat Mata’ (Mother India), embracing in her fold people from all religions, castes and creeds and giving them protection to grow together in peace and tranquility.37

Similarly, Mani Shankar Aiyar argues that what the BJP perceives as signs of slavery and servility (symbols such as Babri Masjid), he perceives as symbols of secularism. He goes on to state that in the last 1,000 years ‘a new culture, a new religion, new feelings and new ideas have entered our country’ and asserts that ‘we cannot think of India without Islam in the same way that we cannot think of Islam without India.’38 This statement was made in the context of debate revolving around Ramjanambhoomi and in response to the statements made by the representatives of BJP. Such views continue to be expressed by other members of the Congress, wherein amity between different religious groups was stressed and such an inclusive definition was seen as a unique expression of India.39 Similar views were expressed by members of the Janata Dal, which stated its belief in the ‘harmonious coexistence among different religions’ in its 1993 election manifesto.40 In fact, previously the Janata Dal led by V. P. Singh had staked its coalition government on the issue of Ramjanambhoomi controversy; Singh ordered the arrest of Advani who was leading a procession towards Ayodhya even though he was aware that such action would result in the withdrawal of external support from the BJP and hence the collapse of his National Front government. Singh went onto state: Had we compromised, at a deeper level the price the nation would have had to pay would have been even higher, for it would have meant forfeiting the faith of the largest minority community in the country, in our laws, and in the fairness of the democratic system. We are a nation of minorities.41



As India’s Prime Minister during the crisis, Singh strongly advocated restraint and acceptance of the Supreme Court’s judgment. He also felt that accepting the logic of faith and allowing the construction of the temple at the site of the mosque would allow other religious groups to make such claims that would by their very nature fragment the Union.42 The Janata Dal has continued to maintain its secular stance as expressed in its election manifestoes, governance practices and pronouncements of United Front coalition led first by H. D. Deve Gowda and later by I. K. Gujral. In fact, it could be argued that the Janata Dal is more secular in its pronouncements and practices than the Congress. As discussed in the previous chapter, the political elite in the Congress have not hesitated from mobilizing religious sentiments for political gain. For instance, Indira Gandhi engaged in rousing communal passions in Punjab and Kashmir as she wove a narrative of Hindus in danger from the Sikh and Muslim minority communities in the 1980s.43 During these years, the Congress also intermittently supported Islamic (for example, JK) and Sikh (for example, Punjab) groups, while opposing more moderate and secular organizations.44 Similarly, Rajiv Gandhi played to the political gallery by appeasing the sentiments of the Hindus and Muslims, inevitably pitting one against the other.45 Thus, it appears that a political elite that has historically articulated a secular and inclusive discourse, can also weave narratives that are less inclusive, and can thus create Self–Other fractures along religious lines. However, while there have been instances of the use of divisive narratives by the leaders of the Congress—a narrative focussed on the Hindu majority, its triumphs and fears vis-à-vis other religious communities—it is not the dominant or persistent narrative articulated by the Congress. It does not carry the enduring appeal to the Hindu nation as the articulations of religious-cultural nationalists. Clearly, the secular and inclusive narrative of the Congress becomes diluted in certain contexts; nevertheless it predominantly revolves around an inclusive core. The issue of original inhabitants and of the constitution of the Indian nation by Hindus is of enduring concern to



those articulating the religious-cultural discourse. There is an emphasis on the belief that the original inhabitants were Aryans and that they were indigenous to India and did not arrive from outside.46 This argument goes against the accepted historical wisdom, which asserts that the Aryans were invaders from Central Asia. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP have gone to great lengths to prove that the actual historical fact is what they assert. The cultural nationalists seem to attach great significance to the issue of original inhabitants and have encouraged historical and archaeological research in an effort to prove that the Aryans did not come from outside of India and have always existed in the land. Such an assertion is seen to settle the indigenous claims to the land and also to put the Dravidians (understood to be the original inhabitants of Southern India) and the Aryans on an equal footing so to speak and to distinguish them from other ‘invaders.’ The significance of the assertions of the religiouscultural nationalists lies in the fact that they wish to separate themselves (Aryans) from other ‘invaders’ such as the Arabs, Turks (primarily those practicing the Islamic faith) and the English. Such an assertion also enables them to deal with the argument of the Dravidians and other indigenous peoples’ claim that the land belongs to them and that they alone are the original residents and hence true inheritors. Thus, it is claimed that they, the Aryans/Hindus as opposed to the Muslims and Christians, are a part of the indigenous people and hence part of the nation. For the cultural nationalists, this aspect of the identity discourse becomes a means of separating ‘us’ from ‘them.’ This act of delineating the nation continues as the representatives of the religious-cultural discourse define the origins of the name ‘Hindu’ and more importantly who is a ‘Hindu.’ In general, the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism’ are difficult to define. The very origin of these words is contested. It is generally believed that the word ‘Hindu’ was never used by the people indigenous to India but was used by outsiders to refer to the people who resided in the lands across the Indus. Thapar points out that the term ‘Hindu’ first appeared as a geographical nomenclature. Inscriptions of the Achaemenid empire refer to



the frontier region of the Indus or Sindhu as ‘Hi(n)dush.’ Later, the term is more commonly used in Arabic texts to refer to the inhabitants across the river Indus.47 Gradually, however, it was not so much the geographic space that defined the community but the religious group. However, this understanding is contested by the religious-cultural nationalists who go on to argue that the words are not of recent origin and not given by foreigners. Savarkar attests to the antiquity of the origin of the name by burying it in the depths of history. Golwalkar is more assertive in establishing the origins of the name and he writes: we find the name Sapta-Sindhu in the oldest records of the world, the Rig veda itself—as an epithet applied to our land and our people. And it is also well known that the syllable ‘S’ in Sanskrit is at times changed to ‘h’ in some Prakrit languages and even in European languages. And thus the name Hapta-Hindu and then Hindu came into currency. This ‘Hindu’ is a proud name of our own origin and others learnt to denote us by it only later on.”48

The discussion then moves towards delineating a Hindu. The arguments, while seemingly convoluted, are critical to establishing the nation. According to Savarkar: A Hindu ... is he who looks upon the land that extends from Sindu to Sindu—from the Indus to the Seas—as the land of his forefathers his Fatherland (Pitribhu), who inherits the blood of that race whose first discernable source [is] to the Vedic Saptasindhus ... who has inherited and claims as his own the culture of that race as expressed chiefly in their common classical language Sanskrit and represented by a common history, a common literature, art and architecture, law and jurisprudence, rites and rituals, ceremonies and sacraments, fairs and festivals; and who above all, addresses this land , this Sindhusthan as his Holyland (Punyabhu), as the land of his prophets and seers, of his godmen and gurus, the land of piety and pilgrimage.49

In Savarkar’s view, a Hindu is no longer one who simply lives across the river Indus or even some one who follows certain religious beliefs and rituals. In defining a Hindu, Savarkar defines a nation. His definition contains all the



elements that are seen to constitute a nation: race, culture, religion, language and territory. As Hansen notes, ‘Savarkar’s main concern was to define the two main coordinates of the Indian nation, its territoriality and its culture and most importantly to demonstrate their congruence.’50 However, while binding together the Hindu people in a very specific way, this articulation also separates and divides. It distinguishes the Hindus from Muslims and Christians, since for the latter, India is not the Holy Land. Savarkar further clarifies that: Mohammedan or Christian countrymen who had originally been forcibly converted to a non-Hindu religion and who consequently have inherited along with Hindus, a common Fatherland and a greater part of the wealth of a common culture-language, law, customs, folklore and history, are not and cannot be recognized as Hindus. For though, Hindusthan to them is Fatherland as to any other Hindu yet it is not to them a Holyland too.51

Such a construction of a monolithic Hindu community is not self-evident. In fact, ‘identification of a common “Hindu” interest is not only very difficult but also a deeply interested move.’52 This move not only excludes other religious groups but embraces religions and beliefs indigenous to the land. This becomes important in light of the on-going debates in the nineteenth century about whether the Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, members of Bhakti cults, untouchables and tribals were a part of the Hindu community. At the same time, this embrace of Hinduism is wary of the weakening tendencies of non-violent religions such as Jainism and Buddhism. It emerges not so much as the Other as it has largely been integrated into the Hindu pantheon but as weak, cowardly, as having destroyed the state by turning traitor to the mother society and religion.53 Savarkar points out that the ‘political consequences of the Buddhist expansion [have] been so disastrous to the national virility and even the national existence of our race’ in reference to the invasions of the Huns.54 Nevertheless, honour is restored by Hindu kings with the reassertion of Brahamanical faith.55 The implication is that Hinduism alone has the innate strength to defend the nation against the aggression of others.



Similarly, the thrust of Golwalkar’s argument in We: Our Nationhood Defined focussed on five unities: religious, racial, geographical, cultural and linguistic.56 He stated: ‘this country, Hindustan, the Hindu race with its Hindu Religion, Hindu Culture and Hindu Language, complete the nation concept.’57 He then tried to prove that Hindus constituted the racial, religious, linguistic backbone of Bharat. In his later work Bunch of Thoughts, Golwalkar sustains the theme of Hindus as a distinct nation distinguished by its cultural aspect.58 He seems unable to define Hinduism but argues that it can be perceived in its manifestations: belief in God, identification of the Hindu Community with divinity, observance of duties, and a tolerant culture. In Golwalkar’s understanding, Hindu religion and Hindu nation become one and the same. In this act of binding a common Hindu people, the diversity that is characteristic of Hinduism is lost in a homogenous whole. Beliefs, gods, rituals that are unique to regions and castes are compressed into a common culture. Language, among the most diverse elements of the nation in the case of India, is reduced to a primary one, that is, Sanskrit.59 These early narratives of the core ideologues of the Sangh Parivar continue to echo in the dominant narratives of the religious-cultural discourse and may be glimpsed in the demands for a Hindu ‘rashtra.’ More recently, the Sangh Parivar has also popularized the use of Hindu symbols in the political arena. There is thus widespread use of saffron colour (traditionally associated with ascetic Hinduism), display of the lotus flower (symbol of the BJP), the trident (a weapon associated with God Shiva), and posters and cutouts of a muscular Ram and a demure Sita. Even as the Sangh Parivar has mobilized the use of religious and cultural symbols in the political arena, it has also sought to revive and instil Hindu pride through a rewriting of history, the teaching of Vedic mathematics and slogans such as ‘garv se kaho hum Hindu hai’ (‘say with pride that I am a Hindu’). It is through this discourse that the cohesion of the nation is stressed and boundaries are established of who really belongs to the nation and who is outside of it. This exercise creates both internal and external Others. In the articulation of the cultural



nationalists, the Others are indeed those who are not Hindu. Thus, the Christians and Muslims become those who are not a part of the nation and are seen to have extra-territorial loyalties. They are admonished to adopt the Hindu culture and language, and to cease to be foreigners.60 Golwalkar writes: ...the non-Hindu peoples in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture…in a word they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights.61

Golwalkar’s views are representative of this discourse. He argues that ‘their activities are not merely irreligious, they are also anti-national.’62 Christian missionaries (he calls them ‘fanatics’) are held responsible for the creation of Nagaland in Assam and are seen to have had a hand in Shillong in Assam and Jharkhand in Bihar. Golwalkar writes, ‘such is the role of Christian gentlemen residing in our land today, out to demolish not only the religious and social fabric of our life but also to establish political domination in various pockets, and if possible all over the land.’63 Further: long as the Christians here indulge in such activities and consider themselves agents of the international movement for the spread of Christianity, and refuse to offer their first loyalty to the land of their birth and behave as true children of the heritage and culture of their ancestors, they will remain here as hostiles and will have to be treated as such.64

In the present context, Christian missionaries continue to be viewed with suspicion. However, it is the Muslim Other that is seen as more dangerous to the existence and cohesion of the nation in the religious-cultural discourse. Muslims are seen as ‘barbaric’ peoples who have proliferated and threatened the Hindu majority by reducing its numbers. Golwalkar sees them as



flooding Kashmir, Assam, Tripura and Bengal, and as gradually creating miniature Pakistans. Events in pre-Independent India are read as instances of Muslim brutality and cruelty. For instance, the Mopallah rebellion that occurred in 1921 is perceived as a manifestation of Muslim wrath, when Muslims allegedly looted, burned, molested, converted and killed members of the Hindu community.65 A perusal of the resolutions or the statements of the RSS and those articulating this particular discourse underscores an enduring theme of fragmentation and dismemberment of the country at the hands of these religious minorities.66 In this context, conversions to Islam are seen not only as detrimental to the Hindu society, but also as dangerous to the interests of the state. The conversion to Islam by some Hindus in Meenakshipuram, Tamil Nadu in July 1981 elicited this response from the RSS: Experience of past history amply bears out the fact that such conversions do not merely imply a simple change in way of worship, but destruction of national culture and sentiments, growth of separatist and secessionist tendencies and extraterritorial loyalties and communal animosities and flare ups as well, which directly strike at the roots of our national integrity and security.67

The following year, the Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (All India Central Committee) of the RSS expressed ‘its deep concern at the way the Christians and Communists have joined hands with the Muslims in the recent Tamil Nadu outrages against the Hindus which smacks of a deep laid conspiracy aimed at disruption of Hindu society.’68 This concern with conversions and its implications for Hindu society continues to inform the discourse of the Sangh Parivar as seen in the recent attempts to constitutionally ban conversions.69 In 2002, the BJP party President, Mr Venkaiah Naidu reiterated that ‘[t]his is not merely an issue that legitimately agitates all Hindus, but it is closely linked to the interests of national integration, national security and social cohesion.’70 In the resolutions of the RSS, it is further argued that Muslim organizations such as the Muslim League, Jamaat-e-Islami,



Ittehad-he-Musalmaan have been organizing on separatist lines and have: ...engineered massive Muslim attacks on peaceful processions of Hindus at Saharanpur, Ferozabad, Muzaffarpur, Mangalpady, Shimoga, Saga.... As days pass, their mentality is becoming more and more belligerent. Many a time, not only loyalty to our national culture and tradition but even to the Indian state and Constitution is being subverted in the name of Islamic ideals.71

It is further contended that the aggressive nature innate to the Muslim community is responsible for the creation of Pakistan.72 This suspicion against the Muslim community does not remain at the level of rhetoric alone but often bursts into violent action as seen during the destruction of the mosque in Ayodhya in 1992, the riots in Bombay in 1993, and more recently the killing of about 2,000 Muslims in Godhra in 2002. Hansen’s observation in this context is particularly apt. He states: Historically, the contestation of symbols, space and numbers between Muslim and Hindu organizations was admittedly central to the broader evolution of nationalism and nation states in the subcontinent. In India, sedimented fears of the abstract and generalized ‘Muslim’ remain today the decisive ideological bedrock of the Hindu nationalist movement, and the most persistent source of its popular and electoral success.73

In the last few decades, the construction of the Muslim Other has come to be exemplified in the violent struggle for the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and the construction of the Ram temple. The Babri Masjid-Ramjanambhoomi controversy first emerged prior to Independence, when in 1885, an application was filed for the construction of the temple. This was rejected. Following this, in 1949, idols of Ram ‘miraculously’ appeared in the mosque, and in response to the petitions filed by the Muslims, the court locked up the building in 1950. In 1985, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) started an agitation and a court order opening the premises for worship was issued in 1986. Hansen, among others, notes that such swift action was prompted



by the Congress party, which attempted to influence the rapidly growing militant Hindu community.74 Thus, the Congress party’s actions belie its more inclusive and secular articulations. Since the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the Sangh Parivar has engaged in active mobilization of the Hindu community for the construction of the temple; kar seva (volunteer service) was activated and bricks were consecrated across the country and moved to the site of the mosque. Eventually, on 6 December 1992, thousands of devotees who had gathered at the disputed site to worship, destroyed the mosque. The Sangh Parivar claims that the Babri Masjid (the mosque alleged to have been commissioned by the invader Babar in the fifteenth century AD) was built on the birthplace of the mythical King and God Ram after the destruction of an existing temple. As evidence, the Parivar makes references to the ‘historical struggles’ to retrieve the temple, points to archaeological evidence, contends that the mosque itself is restructured from a temple and hence contains the architectural elements of a temple, and raises the issue that the mosque has not been in use, whereas prayers have been performed since the idols appeared.75 They also contend that the sentiments of the Hindus ought to be respected. Along with these arguments is tossed the question: who is more important Babar (an invader) or Ram (a civilizational hero and God)? These groups thus claim that the mosque should be removed and a temple dedicated to Ram built instead. The mosque is seen to represent the humiliation of the Hindu people, whose honour and prestige can be retrieved only through the removal of the mosque and the construction of a temple devoted to Ram, who, it is alleged, was born on the very same spot. In the Lok Sabha debates related to a ‘Resolution Regarding Steps for Maintaining Status Quo of Religious Shrines and Places of Worship as they existed on 15 August 1947’ and the provision of resolving the Ramjanmabhoomi controversy through dialogue or judicial verdict, Mahant Abedya Nath of the BJP stated: If the lost independence could be gained after a thousand years, why can’t we get our sacred place of worship back which had been demolished and mosque built there during those 400 years of



slavery when we were helpless, weak and dependent.… The signs of temples are retained on the mosque to humiliate Hindus.76 (emphases added)

The theme of slavery, humiliation and of the deliberate intention of the Muslims to remind the Hindus of their historical fate was continued by Uma Bharati.77 Another member of the BJP, Chandra Dikshit, pointed out that history is full of errors that once realized must be rectified; ‘in the past Germans apologized to the Jews,…Japan apologized to Korea, and in the US and Australia, the majority white community has apologized to the natives and aborigines’ suggesting that the Muslims should do the same. It is argued that the Ayodhya movement is ‘an invitation to the Muslim Indians to reintegrate themselves into the society and the culture from which their ancestors were cut off by fanatical ruler.… It is thus an exercise in national integration.’78 The appeal for the construction of the temple moves from the religious to the cultural realm and back. In her speech, Vijaya Raje Scindia (Queen of Scindias of Gwalior) submits that while Ram may not be accepted as God, it cannot be denied that he was a national personality, a symbol of ‘Maryada Purushottam’ (Ideal Man) implying that this is and should be the cultural heritage of the Muslims.79 The religious-cultural discourse, at least in its moderate forms, seeks to assimilate the Others, requiring them to recognize Hindu figures such as Ram as civilizational figures, accepting the destruction by Muslim rulers, and abjuring special rights and privileges. The Others are, in essence, to recognize the centrality of the Hindu civilization and to become a part of it. Their refusal to do so creates suspicion and doubt about their loyalties to the nation. The fact that this issue is not merely about the temple or the mosque is captured in Vajpayee’s statement, ‘Whatever is happening in this country is not the battle for a temple, it is rather a battle of ideologies. What is the nationalism of this country? Wherein lies the base of this country? Through what roots this country will have water and life.’80 Advani points out: The Ayodhya movement, according to the BJP, is not just for building a temple. It is a mass movement—the biggest since



Independence—to reaffirm the nation’s cultural identity. This reaffirmation alone, we hold, can provide an enduring basis for national unity, and besides, the dynamo for a resurgent, resolute and modern India.81

Advani’s remarks are the tip of the iceberg. These sentiments are not espoused in the Parliamentary forum alone but may be found on the official website of the BJP82 and the statements of the BJP leadership.83 This perspective is also reflected in the resolution of the RSS issued in March 1959, when Babri Masjid was not as significant an issue. The RSS states: Many intolerant and tyrannical foreign aggressors and rulers in Bharat have, during the last one thousand years, destroyed many Hindu temples and built mosques in their place, with a view to smiting the nationalistic sentiments of our people… so long as such gross injustice against the Hindus continues and stands as a reminder of the continuing foreign aggression, it is but natural that discontent among the Hindus will remain acute. Also, it will not be possible to bring about the emotional integration of the Muslims with the main national society of the land.84

Clearly, sentiments of oppression, resentment, anger and retribution have been lingering in the religious-cultural discourse and have gone on to construct a Muslim Other that is much maligned. At the same time, it is also a fact that in 1986, Vajpayee had proposed at a public meeting in Bombay that a resolution to the controversy could be reached by generous gestures from both communities. Vajpayee proposed that the Muslims, respecting the religious sentiments of the Hindus, give Babri Masjid to the Hindus and that the Hindus in turn end their struggle and not demolish the structure. While the proposal was rejected by the Muslim elite, it is also a fact that Vajpayee’s opinion was not echoed by others in the Sangh Parivar, casting doubt about the acceptability of the proposal within the Parivar. In 2003, the BJP asserted that the Ayodhya issue demanded attention and that while the temple must be constructed on the sacred site, the BJP was willing to resolve the problem either through judicial verdict, dialogue between the communities or legislative initiative.85



Another issue of contention is that of civil rights. The Indian state is so designed that it does not have uniform civil laws for all citizens. Laws related to marriage, adoption, maintenance, divorce have been left to the various religious communities. Thus, Christians and Muslims have their own personal laws. This practice is seen as one of the distinguishing characteristics of secular India. As discussed previously, in India, secularism is understood as equal respect for all religions (sarva dharma sambhava), and while there is no formal elucidation of this concept in terms of its application, in principle this has meant that the Indian state does not interfere in the religious and cultural practices of communities. At the same time, the Indian state has intervened in the practice of Hinduism and attempted to change its more rigid and exclusionary practices. The fact that all Indian citizens are not bound by a common law and that in practice, the principle of non-interference has been applied differently has, in the opinion of the religious-cultural nationalists, resulted in pseudo-secularism and essentially in the appeasement of minority communities. These assertions of the religious-cultural nationalists acquired considerable force in the face of the Shah Bano controversy. In 1978, the aged Shah Bano appealed for maintenance from her ex-husband. Since under the laws of the Muslim community, she was not entitled to maintenance after divorce, the case eventually went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in the favour of Shah Bano in 1984. However, the Supreme Court ruling provoked widespread anger, and the case no longer remained a personal and social concern but became a highly debated political issue. Eventually, the verdict of the Supreme Court was overturned by a legislative act. In fact, the Indian government, led by Rajiv Gandhi (Congress), intervened and legislated, ‘The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act,’ nullifying the judgment of the Court and upholding Muslim Personal Law. While initially it appeared as if the Congress political elite was in favour of reforming Muslim law, eventually it succumbed to pressure from the conservative elements of Muslim community, arguing that matters of faith could not be decided by civil laws. Such actions by the Congress were considered blatant attempts to hold on to the Muslim vote bank and inimical to



secular governance. The BJP elite declared that the actions of the Congress smacked of ‘pseudo-secularism.’ However, for the Sangh Parivar, this controversy was not just one related to the practice of secularism, but more importantly, an instance of the Muslim communities refusal to become a part of the ‘nation’ by keeping their civil laws distinct, and by implication, their identity. Vajpayee raised this issue in the Lok Sabha: However members of the Muslim League have all along been holding that they would not tolerate any intervention by Indian state or Indian Republic or Indian Parliament in the matters of marriage. Why would they not abide by law? Do they have a different type of citizenship? Will the family planning also not be implemented for the same reasons? Will the small family norm change on the basis of religion.

Vajpayee’s statement ends with reference to the practice of marrying four women as allowed in Islam and the meaning of family planning.86 Vajpayee, who is widely considered a moderate member of the Sangh Parivar, refers in this statement to the classic elements of the Sangh discourse: refusal of the Muslim Other to become one with the nation, thus raising concern about their intentions, and further, the perception of a fast growing Muslim population. The question of civil laws becomes a larger question of population control, of shaping the demographics in India, and ultimately, of citizenship. Thus, one of the demands of the Sangh Parivar, has been the institutionalization of a uniform civil code (outlined in the party manifesto of the BJP) for all citizens irrespective of caste, religion or gender. That, in the understanding of the religious-cultural perspective, is true secularism in the sense that the state does not distinguish between different religious groups. Such secularism is traced to a tolerant Hindu ethos. As Vajpayee et al. declare, ‘we also believe India is secular because it is predominantly Hindu. Theocracy is alien to our history and tradition.’87 Advani states that when Pakistan declared itself an Islamic state, India without using the word secular accepted the concept of secularism:



...that all religions will be respected—whether Muslim, Christian or Parsi—equal rights for all, equality—all these thoughts that are considered secular were accepted…because in the ethos of Hindustan, in the culture of Hindustan, the concept of religious rule was never accepted.88

While Advani’s comments were made in the recent past (1990s), the understanding that Hinduism is by definition secular is an enduring theme of the Sangh Parivar and may be seen in the RSS resolutions dating back to the 1960s. For instance, in an RSS resolution dated October 1961, it is argued that: ...for the revival and the strengthening of national consciousness, already existing in the sub-consciousness of our people, it is necessary that we unhesitatingly recognize the Hindu character of our nation and give up notions of pseudo secularism. In fact the Hindu approach towards the state has been ‘secular’ all along in the real sense of the term.89

Ironically, this emphasis on the relationship between Hindu ethos and secularism is common to those articulating the secular national identity as well. In making these assertions, the religious-cultural nationalists contend that they are essentially seeking to reinvigorate a sense of cultural nationalism—one that is rooted in the Hindu ethos. Oftentimes, this assertion of cultural nationalism is referred to as ‘Hindutva’ which according to Savarkar is constituted by a common nation (rashtra), a common race ( jati), and a common civilization (sanskriti). Savarkar wrote: Hindutva is not a word but a history. Not only the spiritual or religious history of our people as at times it is mistaken to be by being confounded with the other cognate term Hinduism, but a history in full. Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva.90

He further declared that ‘Hindutva embraces all the departments of thought and activity of the whole being of our Hindu



race.’91 While for Sarvarkar, the term ‘Hindutva’ referred to the Hindu nation specifically, more recently, there has been an attempt to articulate a more inclusive sense of the term as seen in the arguments of Advani who contends that: ...those who criticize our concept of Hinduism, Hindutva should know that our concept is that of Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Dayananda. In the modern times it is that of the Indian Supreme Court ‘the words Hinduism or Hindutva are not confined to the strict Hindu religious practices unrelated to the culture and ethos of the people of India.... These terms are indicative more of a way of life of Indian people and are not confined merely to describe persons practicing the Hindu religion as faith.92

This is certainly a broadening of the terms and is much more inclusive. The statement was also made in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots in 2002.93 The BJP has used the decision of the Supreme Court to assert its secular credentials: Every effort to characterize Hindutva as a sectarian or exclusive idea has failed as the people of India have repeatedly reflected such a view and the Supreme Court too, finally endorsed the true meaning and content of Hindutva as being consistent with the true meaning and definition of secularism. In fact, Hindutva accepts as sacred all forms of belief and worship. Hindutva means justice for all.94

While the BJP has continued to assert that the term ‘Hindutva’ is not a religious term and not confined to a religious community but a nationalistic one, the fact is that the term has been deployed in both its exclusive and inclusive manifestations. This confusion is enhanced by the assertion of the BJP elite that they seek the establishment of a Hindu ‘rashtra’ (nation). The relationship between a nation and a state is clarified by Golwalkar who identified the state as a ‘haphazard bundle of political rights.’95 ‘Nation for Golwalkar, was a cultural entity whereas the “state” was a political one and, although they overlapped, they were fundamentally distinguishable



such that the form of state had to be subsidiary to and determined by the national concept.’96 In essence, Golwalkar was making arguments for a Hindu nation that then governs the state. While Golwalkar’s arguments present a narrative wherein the nation and state come to be fused, with the former in a pre-eminent position, more recently the BJP elite has tried to clarify that they seek the establishment of a Hindu nation and not a Hindu state.97 This statement was made by Advani in the Parliament in the context of discussion on communal riots in Gujarat. While the BJP elite has adopted differing stances, Advani’s assertion that the BJP only seeks to establish a Hindu ‘rashtra’ raises questions about his inclusive articulation of the term ‘Hindutva’. In fact, a document titled ‘Hindutva: The Great Nationalist Ideology’ on the official BJP website elaborates on all the humiliations, conversions and massacres heaped on the Hindus by the Muslim invaders. It provides an overview of the familiar arguments of the Sangh Parivar about the historic relations between Hindus and Muslims, where the former is tolerant, generous and secular, and the latter is driven by aggression and ungratefulness. Hindu society continued to be suppressed under the pseudo-secular policies of the Congress, and it is only recently that the Hindus have emerged as a free people. ‘Hindutva is here to stay. It is up to the Muslims whether they will be included in the new nationalistic spirit of Bharat.’98 Clearly, the official posture of the BJP reflects the sentiments of Savarkar, and even though Advani has tried to put forward a more inclusive interpretation of Hindutva, the fact remains that there is a strong appeal within the Sangh Parivar for a Hindu ‘rashtra.’ While the religious-cultural discourse indicates that the Self–Other construction of an Indian national identity forms amidst distinctions between Hindus and Muslims, the fact is that those espousing a moderate narrative are not averse to engaging with the Muslim community. For instance, the BJP has fielded Muslim candidates such as Sikandar Bakht, Najma Heptulla, Shahnawaz Hussain and M. A. Naqvi in state and national elections, and has even granted some of them cabinet



positions. Other prominent members of the Muslim community such as the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University and President of All India Imams Organization have also lent their support to the BJP.99 As part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition that came to power in 1999, the BJP made electoral alliances with the National Conference of Kashmir and even appointed Farooq Abdulla’s son Omar Abdullah as the Minister of State for External Affairs. It was with BJP’s consent and support that Dr Abdul Kalam, a nuclear scientist, came to be appointed as the President of India, when the BJP-led government was in power. Thus, the Sangh Parivar presents both a moderate and conservative narrative, and is far more complex than the rigid Self–Other constructions imply. Lastly, it is not religion alone that established the boundaries of the nation. For the cultural nationalists, it is also ideology. Communists in India have been strongly derided and criticized for their extra-territorial loyalties. It is interesting to note that Golwalkar in his work discusses under the heading ‘Internal Enemies’ the Muslims, the Christians and the Communists. He argues, ‘Communism makes no appeal to patriotism, character, knowledge, not to cultural, intellectual or moral development.’100 Further, Communists are seen as those who do not have the interests of the nation at heart and whose allegiance lies elsewhere, outside of the state. There is suspicion that the Communist sympathizers supported the Chinese aggression in 1962.101 While Golwalkar’s strong views do not appear to colour the more recent articulations of the BJP elite, Communists continue to be perceived as the ideological adversaries of the Sangh Parivar.102 The narratives within the secular and religious-cultural discourses establish that while these discourses have a dominant core around which they converge, they also incorporate strands of narrative from each other. Thus, elites articulating a secular identity shed their inclusive and tolerant elements in certain instances, while those expressing a religious-cultural identity present a dangerous Other and yet are not unwilling to cooperate



with that Other. While these are not the dominant aspects of either of these discourses, it is important to acknowledge the contradictory strands that exist within these discourses that make them much more fuzzy and complex.

PERCEPTION OF SELF AS TOLERANT, HUMANISTIC AND SPIRITUAL Both streams of identity discourse perceive the Self as tolerant and spiritual as opposed to the Other that is perceived as violent, aggressive and imposing. Common to both discourses are two strands of argument: that Indian civilization did not undertake aggression against others and was non-violent, and that the Indian civilization (essentially the Hindu civilization) has welcomed and hosted peoples of different faiths. The history of the subcontinent is used to show, as in the Discovery of India, that the area has been subjected to invasions by the Greeks, Huns, Persians, Portuguese, English and French. While the cultural nationalists do not have as sustained and well-written an argument as that forwarded by Nehru, they too refer to the subcontinent being invaded and pillaged. This is, then, contrasted with the lack of invasion and occupation by the Indian civilization. What is ignored in this retrieval of history is India’s political, economic and cultural influence in South East Asia, a fact that is mentioned with great pride elsewhere. Of course, as was discussed earlier, a lot of this influence by both the discourses is seen as benign. These facts are then used to argue that India has been non-violent and tolerant of other peoples coming into India and settling down. Further, the fact that the subcontinent accepted the coexistence of several religious groups, such as the Jews, Christians, Parsees and Muslims, some of whom were persecuted elsewhere, strengthened the belief in the perception of the Self as tolerant, accepting and absorbing. The pluralism of Hinduism



evident in the prevalence of various beliefs, sects, deities, rituals and religious discourses is seen to constitute the basis of this understanding. It is important to understand that often Hindu religion and philosophy are treated as one. Since the latter is eclectic and humanistic, the appropriation of its discourse results in conveying the above impression of Hinduism. Further, the tolerance and non-violence of the Hindu religion as opposed to the other two major religious beliefs, Islam and Christianity, is constantly asserted. Thapar points out that this is not the core of Brahamanism that constitutes the bulk of Hindu religion. It was the Buddhists and Jains who made these concepts foundational. In fact, the myth of non-violence ignores the persecution of the Buddhists and Jains by the Shaivite (Hindu) sects.103 Also, the intolerance within the Hindu fold, in terms of caste relations, is not an issue that is of significant concern. In India, the national Self is also perceived as non-materialistic, spiritual and universal as opposed to a materialist West which is assertive, acquisitive and seeking of power. In a sense, the Orientalist lens is inverted. The earliest social reform movements in India cast this distinction of the West and the East, and this theme endures in the discourses of the nation. Swami Vivekananda, a significant social reformer and nationalist, urged, among others, the need to adopt practical wisdom from the West and impart religious knowledge to the rest of the world. It is also fitting that when the Oriental wants to learn about machine making, he should sit at the feet of the Occidental and learn from him. When the Occidental wants to learn about the spirit, about God, about the soul, about the meaning and mystery of this universe, he must sit at the feet of the Orient to learn.104

This understanding is not unique to Vivekananda. It is prevalent in the works of both the secular and cultural nationalists and emerges in India’s contention that it is a great civilization and state, with much to offer to the world. These, then, are the broad themes that shape the national conceptions of Self in India. They are briefly summarized in Table 2.1.

An ancient nation

Great civilization

geographic contours of the nation are represented by the idea of Akhand Bharat (which incorporates present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) in the extreme version. Moderate

Self as comparable to the Western Other decline explained in terms of religious influence of Buddhism which made the territory susceptible to foreign invasions, aggression by others and lack of unity within Indian nation has existed from immemorial times and is not of recent origin, establishing the legitimacy and solidity of the nation

as testified to by a glorious past wherein India excelled in the fields of science, arts, literature, politics as exemplified to by its influence throughout the world, stretching from America to Indonesia its ancient colonial enterprises extension of influence is seen as benign

Religious–Cultural National Discourse

territorially the nation inhabits present day India


same Self as modern as opposed to primitive or backward same decline explained in terms of inability to accept new ideas and rigidity in the social structure

similar extension of influence but limited to Asia


Secular National Discourse

TABLE 2.1 Identity Discourses and Key Categories


Source: Author.

Nation as tolerant and humanistic

Others are Muslims, Christians and Communists. Those whose loyalties are not bound to the Hindu nation nation is conceived as tolerant, non-violent. At the same time, such a conception is tinged with nation as weak, especially under the influence of Buddhism and Jainism such an argument has dual uses. It is used to inculcate a more aggressive national nature while at the same time asserting moral authority Self as non-materialistic and spiritual. Others are those who are aggressive imperial and hegemonic.

conceptions of the territorial boundary refer to present day India Who constitutes the constituted by Aryans who were the nation original inhabitants of the territory Indianness reflected by Hindutva or Hinduness, which in its extreme version includes Hindus for whom India is both the Holy land and Fatherland, and in its moderate version is inclusive of those who are part of a way of life the nation is exclusive and refers to the dominant Hindu political community


the nation is inclusive. However, there are instances when this inclusive Self has focussed on the Hindu majority to the detriment of the minorities Others are those who are communal and nonsecular. In some instances, Others are Muslims, Sikhs—separatist forces nation is seen as tolerant and non-violent. This, in the secular discourse, is not seen as a weakness. In fact, it is used to wield moral authority on the world stage

mélange of races which were characterized by an Indianness. Indianness, specifically for Nehru, lay in a spirit, an urge, the unique impress of oneness characterized by tolerance and diversity. It also lay in cultural commonality





CONCLUSION From the above discussion, it is clear that the construction of the Indian Self as opposed to the Other is a complex process and one that incorporates both animosity as well as desire in its relation to the Other. This tension between seeking to imitate the Other, while at the same time, distancing the Self may be seen in India’s engagement with the dominant Others: the Islamic civilization and the West. While both discourses of national identity integrate this tension, there are differences between them. Briefly, the secular national discourse perceives the Indian Self as tolerant, syncretic and composed of great diversity that nevertheless is seen as unified. The Other in this discourse emerges as that which is opposed to such a construction of the Self, one that attaches itself to a core that is more exclusive and communal. Thus, in the secular construction, the internal Others are those who espouse a communal Self—be that Hindu or Muslim. The external Others similarly are seen to espouse a non-secular identity and seek to weaken or destroy the unity of the state. However, this construction of a secular, inclusive Self is not without variation; the discourse shows strains of a narrative wherein inclusiveness comes to focus on the Hindu majority, while on occasions mobilizing the minority. As discussed earlier, the political elite, especially members of the Congress party, have not hesitated from mobilizing religious communities for political gain. This is especially true since the 1980s when Indira Gandhi set the tone with her appeal to the Hindu community in Jammu and did not hesitate from aligning with right wing religious groups in JK and Punjab. Rajiv Gandhi similarly tried to manipulate and appease both the Hindu majority (for example, the Ramjanambhomi issue) and Muslim minority (for example, the Shah Bano case). Thus, the secular Self is deeply complex and incorporates narratives that seem similar to those articulated within the religious-cultural discourse. Clearly, the boundaries between the two discourses are fuzzy, and often they bleed into each other. This is especially so when there are tensions within the discourses between the moderate and



conservative elements, between those given to a more flexible interpretation or reinterpretation of core themes and Others. The religious-cultural discourse articulates a Hindu Self. In such an articulation, other religious groups immediately become the dangerous Others. The fact that these groups have not submerged themselves into the dominant Hindu majority makes for suspicion. Muslims, in particular, are perceived in opposition to the Self. Such a perception is influenced by the history of partition that divided the country and by the fact that they constitute 12 per cent of the population (the world’s second largest Muslim population). Further the fact that Muslims exist outside the state (as in Pakistan and Bangladesh), has fuelled suspicions about the interrelations between internal and external Others, and the immense potential for enhanced danger that this condition represents. No doubt, such discourse has allowed for violent relations between the two communities and aggressive actions on the part of the Hindu majority when represented by the RSS, VHP and the BJP. While the Muslim Other is represented as the dangerous Other, the parties articulating this discourse have not been averse to engaging in pragmatic relations with this Other. While there are important differences, there are also similarities between these two discourses as seen in ideas of the great civilization or arguments about the tolerant, non-violent Self. Political elites articulating the (moderate) religious-cultural and secular discourses also concur about the territorial boundaries of the nation as well as the significance of a common culture that defines ‘Indianness’. Further, both of these discourses are hegemonic discourses in the sense that they seek to impose their conception of Self on all those who reside within the state and are not tolerant of other narratives, especially narratives that challenge the unity of the nation and are in essence deeply fragmentary. In this chapter, the elaboration of identity construction clarifies the core themes and fractures along which the religiouscultural and secular national identity in India is built. It is clear that the internal and external Others are more sharply defined for the religious Self than for the secular. Having established



who the problematic Others are, I will examine how conceptions of Self and Other impact India’s relations with other states, within and outside India. These then constitute the domains of security and are Kashmir, Pakistan and China.

NOTES 1. Harrappa and Mohenjodaro of the Indus Valley Civilization. Ironically these sites are now located in Pakistan. 2. Nehru (1946: 85). 3. Nehru (1946: 195–96). 4. Grousset (1931). 5. Nehru (1946: 201). 6. Ibid., 201. 7. Wales (1937), quoted in Nehru (1946: 203). 8. Golwalkar (1966: 9). Similar arguments about the influence of Indians, specifically ancient Hindus, are also made by Sathe (2003). 9. Ibid. 10. Nehru (1946: 9). 11. Ibid., 265. 12. Vijaylaksmi Pandit, ‘Speech to the Indian Constituent Assembly,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 20 January 1947. Available at http://alfa.nic. in/debates/vol. (Accessed on 12 February 2002). Vijaylakshmi Pandit was Nehru’s sister and India’s ambassador to the UN. Others make similar arguments in speeches in the Parliament. 13. Nehru (1946: 203). 14. Golwalkar (1966) and Savarkar (1969). 15. Khilnani (1997: 154). 16. Nehru (1946: 40). 17. Ibid., 41. 18. Golwalkar (1947: 47). 19. Savarkar (1969: 90). 20. Ibid., 79. 21. Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on economics and politics. It is believed to have been written by Chanakya or Kautilya who lived during the fourth century BC during the reign of the Mauryan dynasty. 22. Kalidasa was India’s greatest Sanskrit poet and dramatist, and is believed to have lived between fourth and fifth centuries AD. 23. Golwalkar (1966: 83). 24. Regarding the contention of reintegration of the entire region of Kashmir. This is a theme that is common to both discourses as exemplified by the statement in the Parliament in 1994. ‘Parliament Resolution on Jammu



26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32.


34. 35. 36.





and Kashmir,’ Resolution, Delhi, 22 February 1994, South Asian Terrorism Portal, Available from (Accessed on 2 July 2002). In his presidential address to the party, the BJP party President Mr Venkaiah Naidu argued that the influx of refugees threatened national security. He stated, ‘Illegal and large-scale influx of Bangladeshis (sic) into India is not a Hindu-Muslim question but one that is directly linked to our national unity and national security and national economy. We cannot be unmindful of the growing presence of Al-Qaida in Bangladesh, its links to the ISI, and their sinister designs against India, both in the short-term and long-term.’ ‘Presidential Address at the National Executive Meeting of the BJP,’ Speech, Delhi, 23 December 2002. Available from www.bjp. org (Accessed on 21 April 2004). Nehru (1946: 47). Khilnani (1997) argues that Nehru’s views were coloured by the India he desired rather than that which existed. Nehru (1946: 234). Ibid., 47. Ibid., 64. Ibid., 65. Seth (1992). S. Radhakrishnan, ‘Parliamentary Debates,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 11 December 1946. Available at htm (Accessed on 12 February 2002). Nehru (1946: 14). Scattered in the Autobiography and the Discovery of India, are references to words like dogma, bigotry, superstition, exploitation, emotionalism, irrationalism and narrowness in relation to religion. Ibid., 19. In this respect, Nehru was certainly unique. Banerjee (1997: 37). ‘Places of Worship-Special Provisions Bill,’ Speeches in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 9 September 1991. Available from (Accessed on 12 April 2002). Scindia, a member of the Scindia royal family was emerging as a prominent leader within the Congress party before his death in 2001. See, Madhav Rao Scindia, Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 7 August 1991. Available from (Accessed on 10 April 2002). Mani Shankar Aiyar, ‘Places of Worship-Special Provisions Bill,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha Delhi, 9 September 1991. Available from www (Accessed on 12 April 2002). Aiyar, an erstwhile member of the Indian Foreign Service has long been an important member of the Congress and was the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas as well as that of Panchayati Raj in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the period 2004–09. The Congress party publication ‘Congress Sandesh’ (message), a monthly journal, with an online version, continues to present articles by prominent leaders of the party espousing similar views.



40. Janata Dal (1999). 41. Singh, V. P. (1999). 42. V. P. Singh, ‘Secular Road to National Unity - 22 October 1990,’ in Singh, V. P. (1999). 43. For instance, during the 1983 elections in JK, Indira Gandhi tried to woo the voters in Jammu by arguing that they were really a part of Hindu India and had been neglected a Muslim Kashmir. See, Tavleen Singh (1995: 25). 44. In 1972, Indira Gandhi supported the Jammat-i-Islami in JK in an effort to demolish the political fortunes of National Conference (Puri 1993). In Punjab, Indira Gandhi supported the right wing Sikh leadership led by Bhrindanwale. 45. However, as Varshney (1993) argues, Rajiv Gandhi’s actions were different from those of Indira Gandhi, in that even as his actions were driven by political calculations, he did not engage in the kind of deeply divisive discourse as Indira. 46. There is some divergence among those compiling the history of the Indian nation. While Golwalkar (1966) and Sathe (2003) assert that Aryans were indigenous to the territory, Savarkar (1969) seems to suggest that they settled in the Sapta Sindhu, the land of seven rivers and that the word ‘Arya’ was used to refer to all people living in the region. 47. Thapar (2000). 48. Golwalkar (1966: 98). Another version of the origins of the name ‘Hindu’ refers to ancient foreign references to ‘Hindu’ and contends that the Hindus did not declare their Self with a name as they were the believers of Manav Dharma (universal religion). It is only when they were faced with aggression and oppression from the Islamic Other that such a distinction became necessary and hence the name ‘Hindu’. See, Sathe (2003). 49. Savarkar (1969: 116). 50. Interestingly, Hansen (1999: 77–78) compares the constructions of the nation of Savarkar and Gandhi. According to Hansen, Savarkar’s cultural nationalism was communal, aggressive, masculine and distinctly antimuslim but also rationalist and in favour of rapid modernizations. While Gandhi shared the glorification of the golden age of Hindu culture and celebration of spirituality, his cultural nationalism was populist, syncretic and distinctly anti-western. For Gandhi, India was the antidote to the West. Savarkar’s relation to the West was more ambiguous and it was not seen so much as the Other. 51. Ibid., 113. 52. Pandey (1993: 265). 53. Golwalkar (1966: 66) writes, ‘Devotion to the nation and its heritage had reached such a low pitch that the Buddhist fanatics invited and helped the foreign aggressors who wore the mask of Buddhism. Buddhist sect had turned a traitor to the mother society and the mother religion.’



54. Savarkar (1969: 18–19). 55. Thapar (2000) enables us to understand that the conf lict between Buddhists/Jains and Brahamanical Hindus is of long standing, with the latter aggressively, even violently asserting their influence. From Thapar’s work, it appears that this was less the result of innate disagreements but more about patronage, influence and power. 56. Golwalkar (1947). 57. Ibid., 43. 58. Golwalkar (1966). 59. Golwalkar’s views about language are echoed in the resolutions of the RSS, where Sanskrit is ‘rashtra bhasha’ (national language) par excellence. See, ‘National Language Policy-1958,’ in RSS (1983). Available from www.rss. org (Accessed on 12 February 2000). 60. Ibid. 61. Baxter (1969: 31). 62. Golwalkar (1966: 182). 63. Ibid., 185. 64. Ibid., 186. 65. The Mopallah rebellion occurred in 1921. It was initiated by the Muslim Mopallah’s in Kerala and represented a struggle against the British and also the predominant Hindu community. 66. RSS resolutions (RSS 1983) display an enduring concern with conversions conducted by the Christian missionaries and Muslims. 67. RSS (1983: 105). 68. See, ‘Anti-Hindu Conspiracy July 1982,’ in RSS (1983). 69. The BJP party President Venkaiah Naidu called upon political parties to set aside their political considerations and to support a legislation banning conversions by inducements in the larger interests of the country and communal harmony. This speech was made at the National Executive Meeting of the BJP Minority Morcha in Delhi. See, BJP Press Release, ‘Should the minorities be looked at as integrated Indians or mere vote banks? BJP President emphasized all round development of minorities,’ Delhi, 7 October 2002. Available from (Accessed on 20 March 2004). 70. Venkaiah Naidu, ‘Presidential Address at the National Executive Meeting of the BJP,’ Delhi, 23 December 2002. Available from (Accessed on 25 March 2004). 71. See, ‘Resolution Issued in 1960,’ in RSS (1983: 23). 72. Golwalkar (1966) refers to Arnold Toynbee who is supposed to have made the argument that the creation of Pakistan is the first successful step of the Muslims in the twentieth century to realize their 1,200-year old dream of subjugation of this country. 73. Hansen (1999: 12). 74. Ibid.



75. Bhattacharya (1991) points out that the Ramjanambhoomi discourse is framed in terms of anger, resentment, oppression and retribution. In the narratives of the discourse, reference is made to dates, events, names of places wherein the Hindus sought to retrieve the temple. As many as 76 attempts are alleged to create a sense of concreteness and historic opposition. 76. Mahant Abedya Nath, ‘Places of Worship-Special Provisions Bill,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 9 September 1991. Available from www. (Accessed on 12 April 2002). 77. Uma Bharati was one of the more vocal members of the BJP and became along with Sadhvi Rithambara, one of the key leaders in mobilizing the Hindu sentiment against the Muslims. Both made numerous speeches about the humiliation and oppression of the Hindus that were widely distributed. Bharati, in fact, led the demolition of the Masjid in December 1992 and was a Minister of Sports in the BJP-led NDA government from 1999 to 2004. She is no longer a member of the party. 78. Chandra Dikshit, ‘Places of Worship,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 9 September 1991. Available from (Accessed on 12 April 2002). 79. Vijaya Raje Scindia, ‘Places of Worship-Special Provisions Bill,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 9 September 1991. Available from www. (Accessed on 13 April 2002). 80. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, ‘Places of Worship-Special Provisions Bill,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 9 September 1991. Available from www.parliament (Accessed on 13 April 2002). 81. Vajpayee et al. (1993: 46–47). 82. BJP, ‘Hindutva: The Great Nationalist Ideology.’ Available from www. (Accessed on 4 March 2002). 83. The BJP party President Venkaiah Naidu talks of national self-respect and honour and further that ‘…in keeping with the rich tradition of true secular understanding, the Muslim community must rise to the occasion and display a strong sense of brotherhood by respecting the sentiments of the majority community. Such an approach would be a shining example of the true Indian spirit of accommodation.’ See, Venkaiah Naidu, ‘Note on the Brief Points made by Party President V Naidu at the Press Conference,’ 27 August 2003 and ‘Press Statement by BJP President Naidu,’ 3 October 2003. Available from (Accessed on 4 June 2004). 84. See, ‘Issue of Temples turned into mosques: March 1959,’ in RSS (1983). 85. BJP, ‘Resolution of the Issue of Ram Janmabhoomi at National Executive Meeting,’ Raipur, 18–20 July 2003. Available from (Accessed on 12 July 2004). 86. L. K. Advani, ‘Places of Worship Special Provisions Bill,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 9 September 1991. Available from www.parliamentofindia. (Accessed on 13 April 2002).



87. Vajpayee et al. (1993: 47). 88. L. K. Advani, ‘Places of Worship Special Provisions Bill,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 9 September 1991. Available from www.parliamentofindia. (Accessed on 13 April 2002). 89. RSS (1983: 26). 90. Savarkar (1969: 3). 91. Ibid., 4. 92. L. K. Advani,. ‘Discussion on the Motion for Adjournment on the Issue of Failure of the Government in Curbing the Communal Elements in the country especially Gujarat,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 18 November 2002. Available from (Accessed on 12 June 2003). 93. The Godhra riots in Gujarat triggered communal violence resulting in the death of around 2,000 Muslims. 94. BJP, ‘Election Manifesto 1998,’ 4. 95. Bhatt (2001: 127). 96. Ibid., 127. 97. L. K. Advani, ‘Discussion on the Motion for Adjournment on the Issue of Failure of the Government in Curbing the Communal Elements in the country especially Gujarat,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 18 November 2002. Available from (Accessed on 12 June 2003). See, also, The Times of India (2002). 98. BJP, ‘Hindutva: The Great Nationalist Ideology.’ Available from www. (Accessed on 4 March 2002). As of 28 January 2008, this document remained a part of the official BJP website. 99. See, Shahabuddin (2004). 100. Golwalkar (1966: 18). 101. There is even a reference to a plan where the Chinese aggression was supposed to have been coordinated with up rising in Bengal, thereby allowing the Chinese to establish themselves from Himalayas to Calcutta. 102. For instance, Communists along with Muslim intelligensia and Nehruvian ideologists are accused of distorting Indian history. See, BJP, ‘Hindutva: The Great Nationalist Ideology,’ Available from www. (Accessed on 4 March 2002). Similarly, in 2000, the political resolution issued by the National Executive Committee refers to the Communists as the main ideological adversaries, though they are considered increasingly irrelevant. See, BJP, ‘Political Resolution,’ National Executive Meeting, Delhi, 15–17 April 2000. Available from (Accessed on 3 May 2002). 103. Thapar (2000). Romila Thapar is seen as India’s leading Marxist historian. 104. Hay (1991: 77).

Chapter 3 National Identity Narratives and the Politics of Securing Jammu and Kashmir


ammu and Kashmir (JK) emerges as a rich case in order to examine the relationship between identity and security policy in recent Indian security politics.1 This case could help us understand whether there is any significant difference in the way in which parties that espouse secular or religious-cultural identity narratives deal with the Other. JK occupies an interesting space in the external/internal dimensions of state sovereignty. Its status in the Indian state is contested in three different ways: by Pakistan, which considers it a part of Pakistan; by India, which considers JK a part of the Indian Union for strategic and symbolic reasons; and by Kashmiris. This latter group is deeply fractured, as it represents those who want to become a part of Pakistan, those that seek political independence from both India and Pakistan, those that seek autonomous zones within India, and others like the Kashmiri Pandits who seek the establishment of Panun (Pure) Kashmir for Hindu Kashmiris. As a result, there is much anxiety in the Indian political imagination about the intent of Pakistani and Kashmiri political leaders as well as about the ability of India to retain Kashmir within the Union. This provides for an interesting gray area of internal/external security concerns that have implications for the Indian state at several levels and for interstate relations. Further, in terms of identity narratives, JK can be seen as an exemplar case in so far as JK is the only



Muslim/minority religious state in India.2 Given the religiouscultural and secular conceptions of Self and Other discussed in the Chapter 1, this element should make this case extremely important for examining how Others are perceived and dealt with, and equally importantly, how the Self is maintained and perpetuated. Both conceptions of Self revolve around the incorporation or, lack thereof, of the Muslim community. For the secular conception, accepting the Muslim community as a part of the diverse Indian Self is to an extent crucial. For the religiouscultural conception the Muslim community constitutes the Other. However, as we have seen in Chapter 1, neither of these discourses occur in their pure forms (in fact, they bleed into each other), and both the discourses may adopt contradictory stances in practice. That said, the question here is: do these different conceptions of Indian national identity have different implications for the state of JK and the people of Kashmir? JK has been a source of friction between India and Pakistan since their emergence as independent states in 1947. After four wars (1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999), an endemic low-intensity conflict between India and Pakistan, and a protracted struggle within the state that has led to the death of around 40,000 people, it currently defies political resolution.3 It has been one of the longest standing cases of dispute in the UN, almost ignored by global powers till the 1990s, when the violent insurgency in JK, the changing global structures, and significantly, the acquisition of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan made it the ‘nuclear flashpoint’ and the eye of the storm in the subcontinent. The Islamization of the conflict in terms of the fundamentalist orientations of the secessionist, militant organizations, and the increasing presence of Jihadis from Muslim countries, is also a matter of concern.4 Significantly, the manner in which the crisis of JK is resolved has important implications for India in terms of relations with other states, with JK itself, with other states of the Indian Union, and for minority populations (the internal Others) within the country. It also has implications for the South Asian region and, given the nuclear sabre rattling between two feuding neighbours, for the world at large.



Primarily, the crisis in JK has a bearing on India’s relations with Pakistan. Clearly, as the experience in the past several decades indicates, JK provides opportunities for interstate friction and conflict. While India has sought to retain its hold over the contested territory, Pakistan—with equal vigour—has sought to integrate that very territory, and has instigated war on at least three occasions while also encouraging insurgent groups within JK. During the 1990s, relations between India and Pakistan vis-à-vis Kashmir were fraught with tensions to the extent that there was apprehension about the use of nuclear weapons by the two states.5 In fact, between 1990 and 2003, the two states were on the brink of war on at least two occasions, and their relations were primarily defined by cross-border firings, troop mobilizations and inflammatory rhetoric. Such instability in the South Asian region has drawn the attention of other major powers in the recent past. Such internationalization of the conflict along the Line of Control (LoC) has brought other pressures to bear on the Indian state, thus shaping its external relations and also perhaps limiting the options it can exercise vis-à-vis JK. Second, the retention and integration of JK is seen as critical for the Indian Union because of the possibilities it otherwise generates for the fragmentation of India. India’s sovereignty and its boundaries have been challenged from within by states and peoples that seek autonomy or independence. For instance, separatist movements in Punjab and the North-east besiege India with demands for the creation of Khalistan, Bodoland and Nagaland, to mention a few.6 Many of these separatist movements also provide avenues for intervention by external actors in Indian politics.7 Thus, the resolution of the conflict in JK, and in fact, more significantly, the retention of JK is crucial in terms of the message this conveys to those seeking to transform India as it currently exists. At the same time, the manner in which the JK problem is resolved is critical for the nature of the relationship that emerges between JK and the central government in the years to come. Lastly, the resolution of the crisis in JK has implications for internal Others, especially the Indian Muslims and perhaps even other minorities such as the Christians. It is feared that the



separation of JK from the Indian Union will create a backlash against the minority communities, leading to a cycle of violence between majority and minority communities. This may lead, in some sense, to the kind of catastrophic carnage that followed the partition of the subcontinent. The fact that JK is a state with a predominantly Muslim population (though parts of it are Hindu and Buddhist) underpins these fears, since the Muslim community would be held responsible for fragmenting the existing Union, once again casting doubts about their place in the nation. It is feared that violence will not be confined to the region of Kashmir but is likely to occur in other regions as well. These issues, in turn, have implications for the construction of the internal Self and the Other, and for the narratives of national identity. It is, therefore, important to understand whether the changing orientations of national identity in India inf luence the resolution of problems in JK. In the sections that follow, a history of Kashmir will be discussed with a special emphasis on the politics surrounding its accession to India, its unique status within the country and the gradual erosion of that status. This part reviews JK’s relationship with the Indian federal government for the first few decades after 1947. The focus then moves to the significance of JK in the national imagination, both secular and religious-cultural. Finally, the discussion focuses on strategies employed by the Indian government since the 1990s to secure JK. This will allow us to compare and contrast the strategies employed by the various governments in power, espousing either the secular or the religious-cultural national identity.

I A BRIEF HISTORY OF KASHMIR The state of Kashmir was established by the Hindu (Dogra) monarchy with the help of the British in 1846. The British granted Maharaja Gulab Singh, a Dogra Rajput, domain over



Kashmir for the sum of Rs 7.5 million. This included the regions of Jammu, Kashmir valley, Ladakh (incorporated in 1845), Gilgit and Baltistan. It appears that the Maharaja had assisted the British in their retreat from the British Afghan wars and had indicated to the British that he would protect their interests in Punjab at the conclusion of the Anglo-Sikh wars of 1845.8 Historically, Kashmir may have been settled as early as 2400 BC. Some early texts refer to indigenous peoples and later to the settlement of the area by the Indo-Aryans. However, the historical record becomes less ambiguous with the conquest of Kashmir by the Mauryan King Ashoka, who lived between 274 BC and 237 BC. Kashmir has since been ruled by a series of dynasties: Mauryan, Kushan, Hun, Karkota, Sultanate, Chak, Mughal, Afghan, Sikh and Hindu. These rulers have followed Buddhist, Brahaminical, Muslim and Sikh religious beliefs.9 Kashmir’s population is multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multireligious, and these categories do not necessarily coincide with each other, thereby creating diverse communities. Kashmiris believe this diversity is overcome by what is referred to as ‘Kashmiriyat’ (meaning ‘being Kashmiri’ or Kashmiri-ness). This, it is argued, lends the people of this region a distinct identity that is characterized by religious syncretism and tolerance.10 As briefly discussed, Kashmir came to be ruled by the Dogras in the late nineteenth century and became the bone of contention between the independent states of India and Pakistan by the middle of twentieth century.

Integration of Jammu and Kashmir into India In 1947, the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into two states on the basis of the argument that they represented two distinct nationalities based around a religious core: Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. This was the contention of the Muslim League, though the Congress discourse on identity emphasized the secular nature of Indian identity and hence the possibility of a single state. Religion eventually became the organizing principle for the creation of Pakistan and the division of the subcontinent. Thus, Pakistan and India emerged as independent states on



14 and 15 August 1947, respectively. However, the creation and emergence of these states was not yet finished as there was the matter of the princely states of the erstwhile British Empire. These states were nominally independent but recognized the British Crown as paramount. With the end of the British rule, the rulers of these states were expected to choose between India and Pakistan, basing their decisions on geographic location and demographic features (essentially religion). India, thus, negotiated with as many as 565 princely states within its region to integrate them into India.11 However, integration of princely states into a single Indian state was not without problems. In fact, some rulers, such as the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir, contemplated independence. Eventually, trouble arose with the states of Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir.12 After a very brief struggle, the first two states were incorporated into India.13 Kashmir, however, emerged into a source of continuous contention between India and Pakistan. Kashmir occupies a strategic location, placed as it is between the borders of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. A state with a predominant Muslim population and a Hindu king, it remained undecided as to whether it wanted to join India or Pakistan or remain independent. This was certainly a cause for considerable anxiety in both the countries. Pakistan laid claim to it on the basis of the fact that a majority of the population was Muslim. India, too, sought its integration, asserting its secular credentials by denying the logic of the two-nation theory propounded by the Muslim League.14 Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir meanwhile sought a ‘Standstill Agreement’ with Pakistan and India to enable the states to carry on certain basic commercial transactions but remained undecided about accession in spite of pressure from both the states. A standstill agreement was negotiated with Pakistan, while India sought further deliberations on the issue. However, before these could be conducted, a rebellion broke out in the northwestern regions of Kashmir. Specifically, in the first week of October 1947, a tribal rebellion broke out in Poonch area of Kashmir, and the Pakistani army moved quickly to aid the rebels with arms, transportation



and men.15 Within two weeks the insurgents, supported by the Pakistani army, captured the city of Muzzafarabad and were on the outskirts of Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. Maharaja Hari Singh then sought help from India on October 24.16 Nehru agreed to provide assistance but laid down two preconditions: that the Maharaja would have to join India and that this would have to be supported by Sheikh Abdullah. Abdullah was a Muslim leader and the founder of a political party, the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, which later became the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC). Nehru hoped to make the accession of the Maharaja more legitimate by seeking the support and approval of a major leader in Kashmir. As a consequence of this arrangement and the signing of the Instrument of Accession on 26 October, Indian troops were airlifted into Kashmir, and India and Pakistan fought their first war. As the conflict unfolded, Governor General Jinnah maintained that Pakistan had nothing to do with the fighting and complained that India should have sought its cooperation prior to moving its troops into Kashmir. Eventually, India decided to appeal to the UN, and a complaint was lodged with the Security Council on 1 January 1948.17 While the conflict has till date remained unresolved, a temporary ceasefire line was established between the warring states as of 1 January 1949, and has since become the de facto international boundary.18 The result of this war was that Pakistan occupied a portion of Kashmir, a third of the erstwhile princely state, which has since been referred to as ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir’ (PoK) or ‘Azad’ (Free) Kashmir, and India managed to retain its hold over significant parts of the Valley, Jammu and the region of Ladakh.19 Since then, Kashmir has become the bone of contention between India and Pakistan, emerging as the centre of low (instability in JK, terrorist attacks) and high (war) intensity conflict between the two states. The portion of Kashmir that remained under Indian control became a part of the Indian Union, though it was assigned a special status in the Constitution. Under Article 370 of the Constitution, the central government of India had jurisdiction only with regards to defence, foreign affairs and communications as had been negotiated in the Instrument of Accession. 20



Thus, in comparison to other Indian states, JK enjoyed a high degree of autonomy, at least theoretically, till the Indian government gradually increased its jurisdiction. JK is broadly divided into Jammu, Ladakh and the Kashmir valley. Each of these regions is seen to represent certain dominant religiouslingual groups, though even this representation is fragmented. The Kashmir valley has a predominantly Muslim (Sunni) population and a small Pandit Kashmiri community (presently turned into refugees and seeking the establishment of Panun Kashmir as their homeland), whereas Ladakh has a population that is largely Buddhist, though a district (Kargil) within the region is dominated by Shiite Muslims. Jammu, which is seen as the domain of Hindus has three districts out of six that have a majority Muslim population. The Jammu Muslims are fragmented along ethnic (Dogra, Kashmiri, Gujjars and Bakkarwals), linguistic (Paharis, Gujjars, Kashmiri and Dogri) and caste lines. In the section that follows, a brief account of the special position of JK and its gradual erosion is provided. This historical discussion is necessary to understand the relationship between JK and India during the first crucial decades of India’s Independence, and the positions, arguments and actions of the political elite that are influenced either by the secular or religious-cultural discourse.

JK’s special position within the Indian Union as per the Constitution In October 1949, India’s Constituent Assembly inserted Article 306A in the Constitution establishing that New Delhi’s jurisdiction on JK would remain limited to defence, communication and foreign affairs as specified in the Instrument of Accession.21 Article 306A went on to become the basis for Article 370 when India became a Republic in 1950. While the Article established the autonomy of the state within the Indian Union, it also made the provision that the federal government could legislate on the three categories of subjects within its competence only in consultation with the government of JK



and on the other subjects on the Union List only with the concurrence of JK Assembly.22 Such a special status was conferred on JK alone among all the states that were a part of the Indian Union. In practical terms, this meant that JK would have many of the trappings of an independent country: a Prime Minister, Constituent Assembly (which was formed in 1951, despite considerable protest by Pakistan), Constitution, a flag and so on. Granting of such autonomy was resisted both within JK and outside of it. Internally, erstwhile officials of the Maharaja’s administration and Hindu landowners formed the Praja Parishad (Subjects Forum) in late 1947 and sought Ek Vidhan, Ek Nishan and Ek Pradhan (one constitution, one flag and one premier) for all of India.23 This was certainly an attack on Sheik Abdullah and the NC. They were supported by Ladakh’s Tibetan Buddhists who feared the Kashmiri Muslim elite as well as the land reforms that Sheik Abdullah had instituted.24 In India, this move to grant wide-ranging powers was objected to by the Hindu nationalist parties that clearly felt that ‘Jammu and Kashmir should not have the trappings of a state within a state.’25 In fact, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee (leader of the Hindu Mahasabha and Jana Sangh) accused Abdullah of sundering the Indian state by propounding a three-nation theory (India, Pakistan and Kashmir). It should also be pointed out that within the Nehru government, leaders like Sardar Vallebhai Patel26 were also opposed to the policy of granting such autonomy to Kashmir.27 As events proved, the autonomy provision was gradually drained of any content.

GRADUAL ABROGATION OF THE POWERS GRANTED TO KASHMIR While the Constitution of India had established the autonomous status of JK, gradually agreements between the centre and the state government were arrived at, which undercut the special privileges and sought to integrate JK more fully into the Indian Union. The dissolution of the autonomous status was a gradual



process and was instigated in part by the increasingly ambiguous position of Sheik Abdullah vis-à-vis Kashmir’s relationship with India and his public statements hinting at autonomy and denouncing integration with India as ‘unrealistic, childish and savouring of lunacy.’28 In India, these assertions of autonomy and hints of possible independence along with Sheik Abdullah’s efforts at gathering international support from the US, Britain and China were perceived as threats to the security of the state by the Indian government. Under the leadership of the Congress, the central government implemented a series of policies, the first of which involved the Delhi Agreement, which was negotiated between the Abdullah government and Nehru in 1952. The Agreement essentially preserved the status quo, though it was also agreed that the JK flag and the Indian flag would fly side by side in JK with the latter in the ‘supremely distinctive’ position, and more importantly, that the Indian Supreme Court’s arbitrating jurisdiction would extend to JK in case of disputes between the federal centre and the state, or between JK and any other state. It was also agreed that the residual powers of legislation would be vested in the JK Assembly. However, Delhi’s efforts to extend the Indian Supreme Court’s purview to all civil and criminal cases, to extend the Fundamental Rights to the territory and people of JK, and to integrate financially and fiscally were stalled. Further, the government of India agreed to the modification of Article 352 (empowering the President to proclaim a General Emergency in the state) in its application to JK by adding the words ‘but in regard to internal disturbance at the request or with the concurrence of the Government of the State.’ It was also agreed that Articles 356 (dealing with suspension of the State Constitution) and Article 360 (financial emergency) were not necessary.29 The practical impact was that unlike other states of the Indian Union, wherein Emergency could be declared by the central government resulting in the dismissal of local/state government, JK remained exempt from this particular constitutional order. In essence, the special status of JK was confirmed by this agreement. Such confirmation of JK’s special status provoked strong reaction from parties that were deeply influenced by



religious-cultural conception of national identity. Thus, the general secretary of Jana Sangh declared that: Sheik Abdullah has secured the most unreasonable of his demands…without conceding anything substantial.… Every other concession that Shree Nehru has secured is limited by a proviso which almost nullifies it…it has all along been a surrender of the interests of India…it is a repetition of the usual story of appeasement of Muslim intransigence and communal separatism. This is not likely to gain Kashmir for India but will certainly endanger the security and development of Jammu and Kashmir.30

A resolution was passed by the working committee of the Jana Sangh, declaring that JK was an integral part of India, the provisions in the Indian Constitution were temporary, and the provisions of autonomy violated Indian sovereignty.31 Shyama Prasad Mookerji, leader of the Jana Sangh, in a speech in the Parliament, argued against the adoption of a separate flag, pointed to the temporary nature of Article 370, and sought the extension of Fundamental Rights and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. He also raised the issue of suppression of civil rights in JK,32 the appropriation of Dharmarth (Hindu Endowment Trust) property and funds, discrimination against Jammu, and the making of Urdu as a compulsory language.33 These sentiments continue to define the Sangh Parivar influenced by the religiouscultural national identity. However, the fact was that the 1952 agreement was a temporary truce and the tensions within JK, between those seeking autonomy and those asserting integration continued, eventually leading to the dismissal and arrest of Sheik Abdullah. This turn of events unfolded after Sheik Abdullah began to explore the possibility of complete independence.34 Abdullah was dismissed and arrested under the Public Security Act. According to Bose, Abdullah’s arrest bore the tell tale signs of a putsch.35 He remained in prison for 22 years except for brief spells in 1958, 1964–65 and 1968. Other leaders were similarly arrested, thus, purging the NC of Abdullah loyalists, and Bakshi



Ghulam Mohammed, the Deputy Prime Minister, became the new Prime Minister and remained in office until 1963. Thus, political manipulation by the central government in Delhi (led by the Congress party) and compliant NC members had for the time being snuffed out the idea of a more autonomous state. The process of integration then proceeded. In 1954, a constitutional order was issued providing for the right of the central government to legislate on a majority of subjects on the Union List, fiscal and financial integration of JK with the centre, full jurisdiction of the Indian Supreme Court, and the provision of Fundamental Rights for the citizens of JK. This last provision had a caveat: that civil liberties could be suspended in the interests of security and such a suspension would not be subject to judicial review. The only concession made was that the order upheld the policy of land reforms without compensation. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed’s government and the legislature consented to this in 1954. In fact, Mohammed declared that Kashmir ‘had irrevocably acceded to India more than six years ago and today we are fulfilling the formalities of our unbreakable bond with India.’36 Further, the Constitution of JK went on to state that ‘the state of Jammu and Kashmir is, and shall be, an integral part of the Union of India.’37 It came into effect on 26 January 1957. Given the preceding events and the declaration, Article 370 of the Indian constitution was all but dead. However, further incursions into JK’s remaining autonomy continued in the years that followed. In 1958, JK’s administration began to be staffed by Indian officials from outside the region. More drastic changes were to follow in 1964, when it was announced that JK would fall under the purview of Articles 356 and 357, which empower the centre to dismiss the governments of states if there is a breakdown of law and order, and to administer them.38 In 1965, the JK Assembly passed an amendment that abolished the post of Sadr-e-Riyasat (titular head of state) elected by the JK Assembly and replaced it with the governor appointed by Delhi. Other changes included the replacement of nomenclature of the Prime Minister with that of Chief Minister and provided for direct elections to India’s lower house of Parliament (Lok Sabha) as opposed to nominations by



the JK Assembly. Thus, while asserting the significance of Article 370, the Congress leaders have worked to erode its power. In 1975, Sheik Abdullah and his aide Mirza Afzal Beg negotiated another Delhi accord with Indira Gandhi. The agreement stated that JK would continue to be governed by Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The JK government was given the right to ‘review’ those laws that were in the concurrent list after 1953 and to decide which of them might need amendment or repeal. The right of JK to legislate on welfare measures, cultural matters, social security and Muslim personal law was confirmed.39 However, the Delhi accord also gave the President of India the right to review certain legislative acts (essentially dealing with the governor and elections) of the JK Assembly before they became law. Beg and Abdullah also had to concede that the Instrument of Accession could no longer be challenged, and their demands regarding the National Election Commission and Article 356 were dismissed. Further, while it was acknowledged that the residual powers would remain with the state, the Indian Parliament had the power to make laws regarding ‘the prevention of activities directed towards disclaiming, questioning or disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India’.40 However, even the 1975 accord did not prevent the central government from making further incursions into the powers of the state government. As late as 1986, the President empowered the Indian Parliament to legislate even on matters in the state list on the strength of a Rajya Sabha (Upper House) resolution. Between 1953 and 1986, as many as 42 constitutional amendments were passed undermining the status of JK.41 A. G. Noorani points out that, despite Article 370, JK’s status is inferior to other states in the Union as evidenced by the fact that the imposition of the President’s rule in JK from 1990–96 was accomplished by executive orders, whereas in the case of Punjab, the Constitution had to be amended four times.42 Besides altering the constitutional relationship between the centre and the state in an effort to secure the state firmly within the ambit of the Indian Union, the central government, led largely by the Congress party, engaged in supporting compliant



regimes and leaders. The government at the centre ignored rampant corruption, mismanagement, breakdown of law and order, suppression of opposition and electoral manipulation in JK, in order to support complaint political parties and leaders. At the same time, the central government did not hesitate from alternately arresting, dismissing and renegotiating with the political leadership in JK, as is exemplified in the cases of Sheik Mohammed and Farooq Abdullah. Briefly, after the 1975 accord between Abdullah and Indira Gandhi, Abdullah became the Chief Minister, replacing Mir Qasim. However, by March 1977, the state Assembly was dissolved and Governor’s rule imposed. In the elections that followed, Abdullah won and formed the government. In 1982, Sheik Abdullah died and was succeeded by his son Farooq Abdullah. In 1984, Farooq Abdullah was dismissed on flimsy grounds, and G. M. Shah became the Chief Minister with the support of the Congress. By 1986, the Congress withdrew its support to Shah, and Governor’s rule was imposed. Later in the year, as a result of the Rajiv Gandhi–Farooq Abdullah Accord, Abdullah contested elections and returned to power in 1987. However, these elections were widely rigged and only contributed to the spreading disenchantment among the Kashmiris with the NC and the central government. By 1990, JK witnessed considerable civil unrest and law and order problems, resulting in the reimposition of direct rule. There is no doubt that the central government has played kingmaker in JK to influence the leadership and ensure the continued relationship of the state with India on Delhi’s terms. Kashmiri leaders have been complicit in this as well. There is consensus among scholars that political manipulations, denial of democracy and institutional decay have been at the heart of the crisis in JK, and political instability has only been aggravated by the irredentist activities of Pakistan.43 While the focus of this section is the political integration of JK into the Indian Union and its ‘normalization,’ it is important to recognize that the gradual incorporation of JK into India has not been limited to constitutional changes and formal agreements between the centre and the state. There are economic, bureaucratic and educational ties that bind the state



to the centre, as exemplified by regional engineering colleges, medical institutions, universities, conduct of Panchayat (village level) elections44 (the first of which were held in 1969), power projects, federal funds, and import and export of goods and products. These may be seen as exercises in soft power, though they have not stemmed the tide of discontent against the central government. In fact, the gradual but sustained erosion of the powers of the state of JK, and the political interventions and manipulations shattered the legitimacy of the political elite and the confidence of JK residents in the state and central governments.45 By the late 1980s, there was widespread dissatisfaction, and this was vividly expressed in the public celebrations of Pakistan’s independence day and the boycott of India’s Independence day, the setting of the clock according to Pakistani time, and the widespread street protests demanding ‘azadi’ (freedom). Slogans such as ‘Indian dogs go home,’ ‘Long live Islam’ showed the extent of rage and discontent with India.46 Tactics such as assassinations of key authoritative figures and politicians, kidnappings and restrictions on women were used to disrupt everyday civil and political activities. By that time, several organizations such as the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Jammu and Kashmir Students Liberation Front (JKSLF), Al Fatah, Jamaat-e-Islami, Harkat-ul- Ansar, Lashkare-Toiba, Ikhwan-ul-Mujahideen, and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen had emerged; some seeking complete independence and others seeking to align with Pakistan. As many as 154 secessionist organizations and militant organizations have been identified,47 though others contend that there are not more than 40, out of which only a few are of significance.48 Some of these militant organizations had links to political parties, such as Al Barq which was linked to People’s Conference, and Al Fateh and Al Jehad that were the armed factions of Peoples’ League.49 Between 1990 and 2003, some organizations gained prominence while others were relegated to the background. For instance, JKLF which was active during the initial phase of the insurgency was replaced by the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. Over the years, JK has increasingly become a state besieged by militants (local and foreign),



Pakistani army regulars, and the Indian army and paramilitary forces. The continuing violence in JK has claimed more than 40,000 lives to date, though it is argued that even this figure gravely underestimates the death toll. While militant organizations appeared to have taken over the political space in JK, mainstream political parties and organizations expressing radical and moderate opinion have continued to operate. In fact, the elections in 2002 did usher in an era of greater stability and peace than seen during the decade of the 1990s. The above discussion provides the context within which we can examine the role of identity discourse in dealing with the crisis in JK. As discussed earlier, this book attempts to understand whether there is a difference in the strategies adopted by the Indian government, a difference that can be traced to distinct narratives of national identity. The following section examines these narratives with a specific focus on JK.

II NATIONAL IDENTITY NARRATIVES AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF KASHMIR What are the ties that bind JK to the Indian national consciousness? What is the relationship between a Muslim majority state and India? Why should JK remain a part of the Indian Union? While there may be strategic or pragmatic responses to the above questions, examining conceptions of Self will provide us with another lens for analysing the practices and policies of the Indian government in this regard. It will also provide an opportunity to examine whether these practices will vary and, if so, to what extent when the political elite espouse a secular or religious-cultural identity. Thus, in this section, I elaborate upon the thematic identity narratives discussed in the preceding chapter with a specific reference to Kashmir. Two thematic narratives stand out; India’s association with Kashmir embedded



in ancient history, myths and legends, and conception of the Self and the Other. Ordinarily in the Indian consciousness, Kashmir is envisaged as a paradise—with snow capped mountains and shikaras (boats) gliding by in the Dal Lake. Its presence in the Indian imagination is taken for granted as evinced in the common refrain of ‘Kashmir to Kanyakumari’ encapsulating the boundaries of the state. It is interesting that in common parlance, the outer limits of the Indian territory are referred along the north–south dimensions and not east–west. For those who are religiously inclined, Kashmir houses religious shrines such as Vaishno Devi and pilgrimage destinations such as the Amarnath shrine, which are considered important to Hindus.50 Kashmir is seen to be the cradle of Vedic culture, centre of Shaivite Hinduism51 and of Mahayana Buddhism.52 Kashmir also has important Muslim mosques such as the Charar-e-Sharif and Hazratbal Mosque, which is said to house a hair of the Prophet Mohammed and is thus important to the Muslim community. While politically Kashmir has led an isolated existence (with the exception of Mauryan and Mughal rule), culturally it is seen as a part of the Indian civilization given its Brahaminical, Buddhist and Islamic traditions (within the secular discourse). These common place perceptions are shared by both the narratives. Differences emerge in understanding the historical relationship between the Hindu and Muslim communities. As seen in Chapter 1, the two dominant national identity narratives (secular and religiouscultural) differ regarding the relationship that Hindus and Muslims share with the nation.

Religious-cultural national identity narrative For those espousing the religious-cultural identity, the very creation of Kashmir is associated with Hindu legends and the Hindu community. This assertion is intended to claim Kashmir as an ancient and inseparable part of the Hindus and hence India. As the resolution of the RSS asserts, Kashmir is an integral part of Bharat (India) ‘naturally, morally, culturally and constitutionally.’53 While this statement is reflective of political



sentiments in a generation that experienced the partition of the country (uttered as it was in 1953), the fact is that such sentiment continues to inform those espousing a conception of identity that is linked to the Hindu community. The narrative about the origin myth of the state revolves around the notion that: Kashmir was brought to the map of the world by the ancestors of Kashmiri Hindu ‘Pandit’ community. The name ‘Kashmir itself is derived from the name of the great saint Kashyap, who was the founder of the state. Every nook, brook, legend and literature bear [sic] the testimony to this historical fact.54

Bamzai, among others, makes a reference to this origin of the state. He records that legend has it that the Kashmir valley was a vast mountain lake called ‘Satisaras’ and that this was drained by the ascetic Kashyapa. Hence, the reclaimed land came to be called Kashyap-pur or Kashyap-mar and later Kashmir. In thus retrieving the mythical origins of Kashmir, the religious-cultural narrative seeks to establish the intrinsic and deep bonds between the land and the Hindu community, thus making a threat to Kashmir a threat to the Hindu community and hence a threat to India. It is further contended that Kashmir remained safe till the thirteenth century, after which, it was invaded by Muslims from neighbouring countries. In this telling of history, the Muslim invaders took advantage of the hospitality of the Hindu rulers and thus gradually entered the political arena. Specifically, the historical record notes the actions of Shah Mir, a Turk, who usurped the throne from Uday Dev and Rani Kota. According to this version of history, the woes of the Hindus began with this Turkish usurping of power and were made worse by such rulers as Sikander ‘Butshiken’ (‘idol breaker’), who destroyed the sacred idols of the Hindus and persecuted them. Many were forced to convert to Islam or leave Kashmir. Thus, the majority Hindu community was turned into a minority in its own land. However, the community ‘heaved a sigh of relief during the regime of Hindu Dogra rulers from Jammu.’55 While there is much that appears to be factually correct in this telling of history, there is also much that is omitted, and it is these omissions



that significantly distort history and convert it into a history of Hindu-Muslim antagonism with the oppression of the former by the latter. A reading of Bamzai and Bazaz serves to contextualize the accession of Shah Mir and the introduction of the Muslim rule to the Valley in 1339 AD and permits an understanding of the acts of religious oppression and tolerance displayed by rulers of various religious persuasions whether Buddhist, Brahaminical (Hindu) or Muslim.56 However, with the accession of JK under the leadership of Sheik Abdullah, the persecution of the Hindu community was seen to continue.57 Hindus are perceived to be deprived of their land (the result of land reforms of Sheik Abdullah), are killed, their women raped, the community gradually driven out from Kashmir and their temples destroyed.58 It is true that Abdullah’s land reforms had a significant impact on the Hindu community, which earlier had the patronage of the Maharaja, and was unquestionably the rich minority. Reversal of fortunes in terms of political power being held by the majority Muslim community had several negative consequences for the Hindus, who earlier had occupied a privileged position. The problems faced by the Hindu community increased during and after the 1980s when JK spiralled into greater political and civil instability and disorder. While Hindus were made targets of specific terrorist acts and did seek refuge in other parts of India,59 the fact remains that life was not made easy for the members of the Muslim community that came under suspicion and were the targets of the Indian armed and paramilitary forces and also of militant organizations. In fact, the data on civilian deaths indicates that the Muslim community has suffered severe casualties and has borne the brunt of the violence in JK.60 However, the religious-cultural narrative focuses exclusively on the plight of the Hindu community and on the wrongdoings of the Muslim, and subsequently, it distorts both historical and current events. The point in asserting Hindu antecedents and Muslim oppression is to establish the legitimacy of India’s claim to Kashmir and further to make arguments about the safety of the minority community (Hindus) through the complete integration of Kashmir. Clearly, in this narrative, the ‘dangerous Other’ is



the Muslim, threatening as it does the existence of the Hindu community. Such narratives of historic and continuing animosity between the Hindus and Muslims have certainly had a bearing on the policy options of those that give voice to such narratives of Self. While these will be discussed more extensively further in the chapter, briefly it is argued that Kashmir has been and is a part of India and should be integrated without any special provisions. The Jana Sangh and BJP have both made these assertions in the political arena and have consistently sought the abrogation of Article 370,61 though this was not a policy option of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the BJP in 1999.

Secular national identity narratives The secularists emphasize the amalgam that has emerged from the various religious and cultural influences (Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic) in the region. Nehru, for instance, reiterates this idea in his introduction to Bamzai’s book.62 The secular nationalist narrative is not specifically interested in tracing the Hindu antecedents of Kashmir, though Nehru does observe that Kashmir was long the centre of Buddhist and Brahaminical learning.63 They instead look at the history of Kashmir broadly and focus on the syncretic elements. It is not so much what is asserted as what is not said that defines the secular discourse and differentiates it from the religious-cultural discourse. In the secular narrative, Kashmir represents another example of unity in diversity. For Nehru, the impress of India was everywhere. He notes that: is fascinating to find how the Bengalis, the Marathas, the Gujaratis, the Tamils … the Punjabis, …the Kashmiris … and the great central block comprising the Hindustani-speaking people, have retained the peculiar characteristics … and yet have been throughout these ages distinctively Indian, with the same national heritage and the same set of moral and mental qualities.64

Thus, ‘Kashmiriyat’ is subsumed in the Indian identity that is seen as diverse and yet unified. The fact that Nehru himself



was a Kashmiri makes this assertion even more compelling. This conception, while similar to the religious-cultural formation in asserting its ‘Indianness,’ differs in so far as it does accept diversity and does not assert the Hindu heritage. Further, Kashmir is perceived as ‘a part of our being,’ the result of ‘our history and our circumstances (that) had made Kashmir so closely associated with our feelings, emotions, thoughts and passions.’65 The embrace is a powerful one in so far as it does not really allow for a unique Kashmiri identity outside of the Indian nation. For the secularists, the presence of Kashmir in India is important as it establishes India’s secular credentials and implicitly debunks the two-nation theory propounded by Pakistan. For Nehru, Kashmir, given its predominantly Muslim population, was critical for establishing India as a secular state. While Nehru’s conception of the modern Indian state envisaged the supremacy of the Indian nation, he seemed willing to make concessions in the case of Kashmir. This was because Nehru considered Kashmir’s inclusion vital to assert unequivocally India’s secular identity vis-à-vis Pakistan. In Nehru’s words: we have always regarded the Kashmir problem as symbolic for us … as it illustrates that we are a secular state.… Kashmir has consequences both in India and Pakistan, because if we disposed of Kashmir on the basis of the two nation theory, obviously millions of people in India and millions in East Pakistan will be powerfully affected.66

But the establishment of a secular Indian identity was not only in opposition to Pakistan. Nehru was also seeking to counter Hindu nationalism internally, as exemplified in this statement: It helped our thesis of nationalism not being related to religion. If the contrary thesis were proved … it would have a powerful effect on the communal elements in India, both Hindu and Muslim. That is of extreme importance to us—that we don’t, by taking some wrong steps in Kashmir, create these terribly disruptive tendencies within India.67



Nehru feared that the loss of Kashmir would result in the assertion by the Hindu community that Muslims ought to leave India as they were not willing to live in a secular state and in the increased demands by the Muslim community for their own enclaves, possibly resulting in another bloodbath. In this regard, Nehru viewed the support of the Muslim organizations within the country as deeply significant. According to him, their critical position on Pakistan’s actions, ‘are greater proof of our strength than several armies. It means that our country is united in the face of danger. It means that we strike at the very root of the two-nation theory that Pakistan stands for.’68 These views of Nehru regarding the significance of Kashmir to secular Indian identity continue to be echoed by others. Dixit, India’s erstwhile foreign secretary and National Security Advisor in the Congress-led government of 2004, argues that Kashmir is important because: India cannot allow any part of its territory and any of its peoples to be alienated from the Indian republic on the basis of religious affiliation. Such an eventuality would destroy the basic terms of reference on which independent India came into existence, the terms of reference of a pluralistic, multi-religious, multi-lingual, national territorial identity.69

Other members of the Congress, such as Sonia Gandhi, the party President and leader of the opposition in the Parliament, continue to see JK as a profound symbol of Indian secularism.70 Asghar Ali Engineer, a scholar and activist, echoes the sentiments of many when he writes: It is an unprecedented challenge to the concept of secular nationalism. The challenge should not go unresponded. If it goes unresponded, it would not only enhance the probability of separation of Kashmir from India but would mean beginning of the end of the concept of secular nationalism.71

For those like Engineer, the fear lies in the triumph of majoritarian communalism, a vicious circle of majoritarian versus minority communalism and the empowerment of



Hindu nationalism. That said, two observations are important. First, while those espousing the secular conception of national identity stress tolerance and have a more inclusive sense of Self, they have also been known to make use of the Self–Other distinctions common to the religious-cultural discourse. This is nowhere more evident than in the speeches of Mrs Gandhi in JK during the 1980s, when she stoked the fears of the Hindu majority against the Muslim and Sikh minorities. She posited that the nation was in danger of being broken up. In JK, the Hindu residents of Jammu were persuaded that they belonged to Hindu India and that they had been neglected within the Muslim majority state. Further, the issue of the Resettlement Act (which allowed erstwhile residents of JK to return to the state from PoK or other areas in Pakistan) was raised to tap into the anger of the people.72 Second, secular articulations of Self are fraught with paradoxical tensions and these tensions are best voiced by Jai Prakash Narayan, a Gandhian social activist who asks: What is meant by Kashmir being an example of Indian secularism? It means I believe, that the people of India have given such proof of their non-communal outlook that the Muslims of Kashmir, even though they are in a majority there, have freely decided to live with India which is a Hindu majority but secular country, rather than with Pakistan which is a Muslim majority but Islamic state. But suppose we had to keep the Muslims of Kashmir within India by force: would that also be an example of our secularism? The very question exposes its absurdity. Yet how widespread is the mentality today that in order to defend the secular basis of our nation, we must keep Kashmir, if necessary by force, within the Indian Union.73

Narayan’s query appears even more relevant during the thirteen years relevant to this study, when JK experienced some of the worst violence during the decade of the 1990s and after. Thus, the secular conception of Self that is characterized by tolerance and inclusiveness appears to be threatened by that very diversity. Table 3.1 summarizes the two dominant identity narratives that constitute the focus of this section.

The secular formation is in agreement with the above

Secular National Identity Narrative

Source: Author.

Kashmir as a centre of Vedic Culture, Brahaminical and Buddhist learning

History of Kashmir

Religious-Cultural National Identity Narrative

Type of identity

Special Kashmiri identity is denied. Kashmiris are Hindus (since they were forced [allegedly] to convert from Hinduism to Islam) and Indians Kashmiri’s are Indians. They represent India’s unique ‘unity in diversity’ principle

Persecution of Hindus by Muslim invaders

Does not discuss

Kashmir seen as predominantly Hindu; origin traced to Hindu myths, sages and rulers Historically, Kashmir is seen as an amalgam of various religious, ethnic, dynastic influences. Stress is on syncretic elements

Relation between Kashmir and Indian identities

Relation between groups in Kashmir

Dominant cultural influence

Dominant themes

TABLE 3.1 Central Themes of the Religious-Cultural and Secular Discourses Regarding Kashmir





III RESOLVING THE KASHMIR TANGLE: 1990–2003 While the previous section established the significance of Kashmir in terms of the two dominant conceptions of Self, this section examines the understanding of the political elite in terms of the genesis of the crisis and the strategies adopted. It appears that for the political elite that espouse the two different conceptions of Self, there are three broad explanations as to why JK spiralled into political instability and chaos. These are identification of Pakistan as the instigator of the crisis, political mismanagement of the state and the emerging crisis by the central government, and finally, the politics of appeasement of the Muslim community. First, there is consensus among the political elite that the root of the problem is the inability of Pakistan to accept India’s viability as a federal, secular, multi-cultural nation state and to continually seek its fragmentation. Thus, the explanation for the deteriorating conditions in JK during both the phases (1990–98, 1998–2003) lies in Pakistan. For instance, when V. P. Singh was leading the National Front government (influenced by the secular national identity) in 1990, the following statement was issued: ‘the gravity of the present situation lies in the fact that threats from anti-national and hostile forces operating from outside the country have re-emerged with greater severity and virulence.’74 This is an oblique reference to Pakistan. P. V. Narasimha Rao’s statement echoes similar sentiments: ‘The virtual proxy war has been unleashed from across the border in complete disregard of international law, good neighbourly relations, and all canons of decency and human behaviour.’75 The Minister of Home Affairs in the Congress government, S. B. Chavan, did not mince words as he stated in the Lok Sabha that ‘the security situation in the State continues to be serious and challenging mainly because of Pak’s direct role in aiding and propping up militancy in the Valley and in extending the arc of terrorist violence even to the Jammu division.’76



Pakistan’s complicity in aggravating the crisis in JK has been brought up by the leaders of the United Front such as H. D. Deve Gowda and I. K. Gujral as well.77 The groups articulating the religious-cultural narrative (BJP) similarly see Pakistan’s hand in the deteriorating conditions in JK. L. K. Advani’s caution to Pakistan that it should role back its anti-India policy, especially vis-à-vis Kashmir in the context of India’s overt nuclearization, is a clear reflection of this sentiment.78 Second, there is agreement amongst Sangh Parivar and non-Congress parties that the crisis in JK has been caused by the Congress party and its political mismanagement of the situation. In fact, there is widespread public understanding and acceptance of political mismanagement by the Congress party that has governed India more than any other party. As discussed in the previous sections, the Congress party has played a crucial role in the incorporation of JK into the Indian Union and has used strategies and tactics that have to some extent fuelled the crisis in JK. Of course, this presents an opportunity for other parties to level allegations against Congress mishandling. The Congress party, however, lays blame on the V. P. Singh government that came into power in 1989 for having mismanaged the brewing crisis in JK.79 Third, the Sangh Parivar understands the unfolding events in JK in terms of the politics of appeasement of the Indian Muslim community, originally ref lected in the granting of special status to JK. Among the postings on the official BJP website is the argument: ‘The BJP has maintained from the beginning that the root of the problem lies with the NehruMountbatten original sin of granting article 370 and then internationalizing the issue by placing it before the United Nations.’80 In so far as the BJP and the erstwhile Jana Sangh are concerned, the crisis in JK is the result of Nehru’s folly in granting special status to Kashmir and then internationalizing the issue. For those espousing this view, the crisis in JK is the result of a pseudo secular policy, a policy that has sought to appease the Muslims to the disadvantage of the Hindu community. As was discussed in Chapter 1, the Sangh Parivar has long accused the secular parties of pseudo secular



practices in so far as they uphold different practices for different communities. This has been the assertion of the Jana Sangh, BJP and the RSS, and is evident from the discussions in the sections on JK’s integration wherein it is argued that the central government is appeasing the Muslims (particularly Sheik Abdullah) and thereby fragmenting the nation. These sentiments continue to inform political groups that articulate the religious-cultural identity. Balraj Madhok of the RSS writes, ‘As things are, the timid, unrealistic and communal approach of the successive governments at New Delhi have only weakened [the] Indian position both internally and externally.’81 And further, ‘Indian policy makers have so far refused to learn, in spite of repeated jolts, that the problem of Kashmir is basically religio-political and not socio-economic. Wrong diagnosis leads to the application of wrong remedies resulting in further worsening of the situation.’82 These articulations are important because they show how the political elites conceive of the problem in JK and indicate the possible nature of solutions. The section that follows examines these solutions: the actual policies and practices of the various parties constituting the Indian government during the years 1990 to 2003.

Comparing the strategies and tactics of the Indian Government The previous sections of the chapter were devoted to understanding the political space that JK occupies in the federal structure of the Indian Union and the changing relationship between JK and the centre. Briefly, this relationship is characterized by a gradual erosion of the autonomous status that was negotiated at the time of accession in 1947 and later in the Delhi agreement in 1952. This process of binding JK more securely to India was conducted under the leadership of the Congress party that claims to represent a secular national identity. In this section, the crisis in JK from 1990–2003 will be examined in an attempt to understand the strategies that were deployed by the various governments in power reflecting either a secular or religious-cultural identity. This period



of 13 years may be considered in two phases. The first phase is during 1990–97, when parties influenced by a secular national identity dominated (the BJP led coalition did form a government in 1996 for a brief period of 13 days), and the second phase is during 1998–2003, when the BJP articulating a religiouscultural national identity led the coalition government. What did the various governments do to control the increasing violence in JK? How willing was the Indian government to negotiate the terms of JK’s relationship with Delhi? How willing was it to negotiate with the separatist elements in the state, which were clearly seeking an unconditional dialogue and the creation of a separate entity? How did the government coalitions articulating different identities differ regarding these issues? These questions shape the analysis of this section and help understand whether there is any difference in policy. As mentioned in the previous section, the more than a decade long crisis in JK has been fuelled by growing disenchantment with the Indian government expressed in widespread unrest, violence and terrorism. While there is little doubt regarding Pakistan’s complicity in the continuing violence, it is also a fact that it is internally driven. The strategy of the Indian government during these years has been to quell the insurgency within, while also attempting to control the infiltration of terrorists from across the border. The various governments have deployed similar strategies of crushing the insurgency within, conducting elections, seeking to negotiate with militants and secessionist elements, and dealing with the question of increased autonomy so as to placate the Kashmiris. I elaborate on these strategies in the sections that follow.

Resolution through force, legislative acts and political control In an effort to curb the insurgency in JK, the Indian government has deployed a considerable number of armed and paramilitary forces, set up special forces for dealing with terrorism, encouraged violent and lawless counter insurgency movements, and



made use of other brutal methods as reported in the media and by human rights groups. Since the emergence of violence in JK in 1989, the Indian government has resorted to the use of armed and paramilitary forces to curb the insurgency. An unofficial estimate in 1990 placed the number of paramilitary, army and police figures to be around 1,00,000.83 In 1991, Tim McGirk of The Independent assessed the strength to be 1,50,000.84 Others believe that there have been between 3,00,000 and 4,00,000 members of the armed forces and police in the state since 1990. By the late 1990s, troop strength appears to have crossed half a million.85 A considerable portion of this force (Army and the Border Security Force) is dispatched along the border to control infiltration and to keep up the pressure on Pakistan, as it is seen to be the source of much terrorism and violence. This was specifically the case after the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001, when as part of Operation Parakram, Delhi had deliberately stationed its army along the border. India has also installed fences along the Indo-Pak border in JK. While this was begun in 2000, the practice of fencing the border had been put in place much earlier in Punjab and Rajasthan. The Army has also installed state-of-the-art surveillance systems such as ground sensors, battlefield surveillance radars and thermal imagers.86 Three-tier security systems have also been set up along the border.87 While these arrangements have been made, the extent of their utility in terms of deterring foreign terrorists remains in question.88 Clearly, securing the border and controlling infiltration from Pakistan have been a gradual process as evinced by the increased troop presence and sophisticated border security systems. While these measures have targeted crossborder movement, they have also effectively sought to seal the state by attempting to prevent the movement of population along the LoC. However, the increased police and army presence has converted JK into a militarized zone. To control the insurgency within the state, the armed forces and members of the paramilitary forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF) have been deployed. In 1993, the Rashtriya (National) Rifles,



an elite army unit, was created especially for counter insurgency operations. Oftentimes, those recruited in these forces were non-Muslim and non-Kashmiri, since Muslims and Kashmiris were presumed to be sympathetic to the insurgency. However, the government has also sought to increase representation of the Kashmiris in these organizations by occasionally drawing recruits from the JK Police Force. In 1995, the Special Task Force and the Special Operations Group were created as counterinsurgency divisions. Besides these forces, village defence committees were established consisting of a few civilian members and a security officer, and they were armed with basic weapons.89 In 1993, the BJP, then in opposition, announced plans to form a 10,000 strong army of ex-servicemen and, by August that year, had enlisted as many as 500 men.90 However, little is known about the status of this organization. As part of the counter-insurgency operations, the government has also used ‘turned’ militants to identify others. Schofield notes that ‘Concealed Apprehension Tactics’—or CATS, as the strategy was termed—was launched as early as August 1992, and a series of operations were conducted by the security forces.91 Since 1995, a parallel strategy of the government has been to create counter-insurgency groups, which were provided with weapons, money and protection. Often, in official parlance, this strategy is referred to as a ‘rehabilitation’ programme. These renegade groups are composed of captured or surrendered militants, and they participate in joint patrols with security forces. They often carry out orders given by the security forces officers. They are used for intelligence gathering and for destroying other insurgent groups. Since they operate outside the official command structure of the Indian security forces, they are not held accountable and have been known to engage in grave human rights abuses such as executions, torture, illegal detention and intimidation of electoral participants. The most prominent of these is the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon, though there are other groups such as Taliban, Indian Al Barq, Kashmir Liberation Jehad, and Muslim Mujahideen.92 Ganguly notes that the Ikhwan-e-Muslimoon even created a political wing, the Awami League, to contest elections, though it was not



particularly successful.93 This said, these renegades are also the target of militant groups and have been both abused and used by the state and central forces. It is only after Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s Peoples Democratic Party came to power in 2002 that the situation changed marginally. Sayeed disbanded the Special Operations Group and instituted a ‘healing touch’ policy whereby militants have been released and those that have surrendered have received monetary compensation.94 While Sayeed’s strategies have received the support of the Indian government led by the BJP, they have also been the subject of much criticism.95 In fact, within the Sangh Parivar, there are strong demands for adopting harsher measures against the insurgents in JK and against Pakistan.96 In order to assist the security forces in curbing the insurgency, special powers have been granted to the forces through several legislative acts such as the Armed Forces Special Power Act97 that came into force in 1990 and was extended in 1997, the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act,98 and the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA),99 which was repealed in 1995 and replaced by the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA)100 in 2002. At the time TADA was renewed, in 1991, Mani Shankar Aiyar (Congress) argued that the exceptional situation in Kashmir demanded exceptional action. It is: …essential for us to understand that the integrity of the Indian Union is under challenge, the unity of our country is under challenge, our secular values are under challenge … peace of the nation. So long as these exceptional circumstances prevail, it will be necessary for us to have resort to exceptional powers.101

In 2002, when the POTA ordinance was being discussed, Arun Jaitley, a member of the BJP and the Law Minister in the NDA government, argued that terrorism struck at the root of our sovereignty, unity, integrity and feeling of nationalism, and that ‘extraordinary situations demand extraordinary remedies,’ while making the case for the passage of the bill.102 In fact, Jaitley quoted arguments offered by Aiyar earlier in 1991. This shows that members of both governments were willing to use extraordinary measures to deal with the violence



in JK. However, the fact that the same arguments are being made by members of the secular and religious-cultural parties should be read in light of the fact that both these bills were received with considerable opposition and were not passed unanimously. It has been argued in the Parliament and outside of it that these measures of political control have violated some of the rights and privileges of residents of JK, have contributed to grave human rights violations in the state, and plausibly have aggravated the insurgency by granting legitimacy to the movement. With the eruption of the crisis in 1990, the Indian government imposed direct rule that lasted from January 1990 to 1996, covering much of the first phase. In 1990, V. P. Singh’s government appointed Jagmohan as the Governor of the state, who reportedly adopted harsh methods in an attempt to control the insurgency.103 The tactics consisted of house-to-house searches, curfews for extended periods of time, detentions, excessive abuse of power by the law enforcement forces and beatings of suspected insurgents. A record of indiscriminate killings, arbitrary arrests, unlawful searches, unprovoked assaults on peaceful demonstrations, censorship of the press and a complete dislocation of normal life have been documented extensively.104 While Jagmohan’s tenure lasted less than five months, the Valley was converted into a virtual war zone. In fact, Jagmohan’s stringent methods were seen by many to have made the situation worse, to have deepened the extent and degree of insurgency, and to have made opposition to the central government a virtue. The government did try to ameliorate the situation by appointing George Fernandes (know for his human rights concerns) as the minister for Kashmir. While Fernandes did acknowledge the excesses of the government and turned a sympathetic ear to those who chose the path of militancy, the fact remains that conditions on the ground did not alter. Eventually, Jagmohan was replaced by Girish Saxena, an exIntelligence officer. Schofield observes that while Saxena was not overtly repressive, he was committed to controlling the insurgency through the use of force.105 The use of repressive tactics can be explained to some extent by the fact that the



central government was convinced, to a great extent, that the insurgency in JK was an expression of Pakistan’s proxy war. Thus, there was little change in terms of strategies deployed to tackle the insurgency. Nevertheless, during the three years as Governor, Saxena lifted the ban on the press (with the exception of Amnesty International) and stressed that lines of communication were open with the militants and that there was space for dialogue.106 Interestingly, most of the Governors appointed by Delhi have, with the exception of Jagmohan, held positions in the Indian intelligence agencies or the army. For instance, Saxena was succeeded by General K. V. K. Krishna Rao, who in turn was replaced by Lt. General Srinivas Sinha in 2003. Previously, Sinha had been the Vice Chief of Army Staff and Director of Military Intelligence.107 The Indian government did not seem keen to make a civilian appointment in JK. Thus, while there may have been variation in style of functioning, the strategies for dealing with the insurgency essentially remained the same. There have certainly been tensions and disagreements among those dealing with the situation in Kashmir regarding the specific strategies to be adopted, but by and large, there was consensus.108 However, the extent of central control did ease after elections were held in JK in 1996. From then onwards, direct rule has not been resorted to. Reports detailing the abuse of human rights also show that the Indian government has engaged in widespread abuse of human rights in its bid to control the insurgency. The 1999 Human Rights Watch report details abuses such as custodial killings, disappearances of detainees, torture, rape, cordon and search operations in Muslim neighbourhoods leading to detaining of young men, assaulting family members and executing suspected militants.109 Amnesty International has made similar claims about the situation in Kashmir in its annual reports.110 While the central government is responsible for the adoption of such harsh practices and abuse (especially since JK was governed directly by the Governor), after 1996 the NC-led government has also been complicit.111 However, in an effort to curb the separatist movement that gained increased fuel from the



dismal human rights record, the central government stated that human rights will be respected. In summer 1993, the government allowed a team of international jurists to visit Kashmir, and in October, the government set up the National Human Rights Commission, the effectiveness of which remained in doubt. More recently, the situation appears to have improved with the election of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed as the Chief Minister. From the above discussion, it is clear that irrespective of the party in power, the central government has resorted to the use of force, legislated acts that gave the government widespread powers and abused human rights. However, a parallel effort has also been made to negotiate with the insurgents themselves and to ensure the installation of a democratically elected government.

Negotiations with Kashmiri political leaders and militants While negotiations with the political elite in JK and militants have been a part of the strategy of the various political parties, there appears to be no consistent policy. During the years 1990 and 2003, negotiations were initiated and then scuttled, leaders of militant and secessionist organizations released and then rearrested. At the centre, there have been disagreements amongst those in the government as to the strategy in JK. Nevertheless, attempts at engaging the dissident elements in JK have continued. The Indian government recognized early on in the crisis that problems in JK could not be resolved by the use of force alone and that it would have to engage in political dialogue, both with those who were willing to participate in the democratic political process and those who sought violent means to realize their agenda. Negotiations are important to restore normalcy, to encourage participation in normal electoral processes, to reduce the extent of violence in the state, and even simply to provide for an environment where the state government can function. The task of the government was complicated by the fact that there have been several militant and secessionist groups seeking either independence or integration with Pakistan, and they



have different strategies and agendas. For instance, an understanding with the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) does not involve other militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba or the Harkatul-Ansar. In fact, as the aborted ceasefire declaration (2000) of the HM indicated, there was considerable disagreement amongst the leaders of HM, wherein factions in Pakistan sought no agreement with the Indian government and others in JK felt that a dialogue and an end to the violence in JK was in order. While this complicates matters, it also allows possibilities for exploitation of these differences to some extent. The government has used this to create rifts amongst and within militant groups based in India and Pakistan, thus, fragmenting the extent of militancy in JK and creating space for dialogue and negotiation. But it has also discovered that agreements— especially with militant and secessionist organizations—are tentative. Further, the Indian government has also changed its stance from refusal to engage in dialogue to unconditional dialogue with those clearly seeking a resolution outside of the Indian Union. Political compulsions as well as the moderating influence of erstwhile militants and secessionist leaders and their change of tactics have influenced this stance of the Indian government. In fact, the Parliamentary debates during the years 1990–2003 revolving around the crisis in JK indicate a general consensus among parties that the resolution of the crisis requires an engagement with the people of JK, even the insurgents. Several things have influenced the moderate stance of the militants and secessionist leaders: the weariness of the people of JK with the mindless violence, the recognition after 1999 that Pakistan would not come to their rescue,112 the recognition by the Indian government that force alone could not solve the problem, and the fact that many of the important leaders of militant organizations had been killed either by rival factions or by security forces. As early as 1991, there were reports that the Indian government was willing to engage in dialogue with militants.113 Under V. P. Singh’s leadership, George Fernandes made several efforts to encourage the political process in Kashmir by engaging in discussions with the JKLF, Muslim United Front, Peoples



Conference and Peoples League, and seeking to initiate dialogue with Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq, who is considered the religious leader of Kashmiri Muslims.114 With the Congress party under Narasimha Rao forming a stable government from June 1991 to May 1996, these initiatives continued. In fact, Rao set up a cabinet committee to oversee the Kashmiri policy and open up the process for normalization and political dialogue. In 1993, the handling of the crisis at the Hazratbal mosque by the central government indicated that the government recognized the significance and value of pursuing less aggressive tactics. The mosque, which was occupied by some 100 militants and civilians, was cordoned off, and the government engaged in negotiations (even providing food) for 32 days till eventually the militants surrendered.115 Such restraint was perhaps necessitated by the deteriorating conditions in JK and the memories of Operation Blue Star wherein the Indian army had invaded the Sikh temple in Amritsar and caused it considerable damage. At the same time, as the discussion above indicates, such instances of restraint and patient negotiation were rare. But the government did also pursue efforts to restore stability in JK by seeking to engage in political dialogue and attempting to make the conditions conducive for elections. It was hoped that elections would bring greater legitimacy, though why this would necessarily be the case remains unclear, especially given the record of democratic process in JK. The process was set in motion by releasing prominent leaders such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani of Jammat-I-Islami, Abdul Ghani Lone of Peoples Conference, and Maulana Abbas Ansari, Qazi Nissar and Abdul Ghani Bhatt of the Muslim United Front, who eventually went on to establish the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an umbrella organization of several militant groups in 1993.116 In 1994, two main leaders of the JKLF, Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah, were released.117 Both urged the use of non-violent methods and had some influence in tempering the violence of other militant organizations. For instance, they persuaded militants to lift the ban on the Amarnath Yatra.118 More importantly, they tried building bridges between the Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus, visited refugee camps, and used non-violent tactics



of persuasion. It is significant that in 1995, they split from Amanulla Khan, the Pakistan-based leader of the JKLF, arguing that the movement could not be run by remote control.119 However, these activities do not mean that these militants incorporated the Indian perspective. They have continued to protest the Indian presence and seek independence, to attend pro-Pakistan rallies and to attend funeral rallies of militant martyrs.120 In fact, APHC, one of the prominent political organizations in JK since its emergence in 1993, refused to be drawn into the electoral process and did not participate in the elections held in 1996 and 2002. Members of the APHC insisted that dialogue with India must include Pakistan and were hesitant to participate in elections whilst having to uphold the Indian Union. Political organizations were also hesitant of militant threats and assassinations, though by the mid-1990s this was less of a hurdle. In 1996, S. B. Chavan, the Home Minister held talks in Delhi with four former leaders who did not insist on the involvement of Pakistan in negotiations: Babbar Badar of Muslim Janbaaz Force, Bilal Lodhi of Al Barq, Ghulam Mohiuddin Lone of the Muslim Mujahideen, and Imran Rahi of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.121 Besides attempting to engage in dialogue with the militant groups, efforts were also made to revitalize the NC and to persuade Farooq Abdullah to participate in elections.122 It was hoped that these initiatives would pave the way for conducting elections in the state and provide political space for the more moderate elements thus installing a local government. In May 1996, Lok Sabha elections were held for the first time since 1989 and JK sent six representatives to the Parliament. In the same year, local elections were also held under heavy security and Farooq Abdullah returned to power. After Farooq Abdullah formed the government in 1996, he nominated militants like Babar Badar and Javed Shah to the Legislative Council.123 In fact, Kuka Parrey, a renegade, became a member of the Legislative Assembly. Nevertheless, Farooq Abdullah’s record in terms of opening up space for dialogue has not been very good.124 This strategy of negotiating with those representing the more radical opinion in the conflict has been continued even after the BJP-led coalition came to power.125 In 2000, the Indian



government decided to resume dialogue, and thus, by late spring it released senior leaders of the APHC. The government also made unofficial contacts with the leaders of the APHC through M. K. Rasgotra (former Foreign Secretary), A. S. Dullat (chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s primary intelligence agency) and R. K. Mishra.126 Further, the Indian government sought dialogue with HM, the largest terrorist organization in JK.127 In response to HM’s offer of unilateral ceasefire in the Valley, A. B. Vajpayee stated, ‘Let insaniyat [humanism], not necessarily the Constitution, provide the framework for the talks.’128 Even though the HM aborted its ceasefire declaration, the Indian government announced the cessation of hostilities by the security forces during the month of Ramadan. This ceasefire offer was extended for a period of six months.129 The ceasefire remained even though other organizations did not accept it, and in fact, on 1 August, 105 civilians were killed in seven separate incidents.130 The Indian government hoped that by maintaining the ceasefire, it could coax the moderate elements in the HM to prevail and to resume dialogue. While there was a public dialogue between representatives of the HM and the Indian government in August of 2000, no meaningful agreement was reached.131 In the last few years, the BJP-led government had appointed a series of interlocutors: K. C. Pant, N. N. Vohra, Arun Jaitley and Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani.132 Advani was brought in after the APHC consistently sought dialogue at the highest level of the Indian government. In April 2001, the government also allowed Abdul Ghani Lone (who was eventually assassinated in 2002) and Umar Farooq to travel to Sharjah and hold meetings with Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan, head of the Jammu and Kashmir Committee set up by Pakistani President Parvez Musharraf. Lone asserted the need for dialogue and refused to criticize India’s dismal human rights record, while stressing that Jihadi groups leave JK.133 Previously, the Indian government had allowed Lone to travel to Pakistan (though such an offer did not apply to hardliners such as Geelani).134 Thus, while officially the BJP-led central government refused to include Pakistan in its dialogue with the more



militant/secessionist Kashmiri elite (a demand made by that elite and by Pakistan), it did not disallow moderate members from engaging in dialogue with Pakistan. In fact, it is worth noting that these attempts at dialogue between the Indian and Kashmiri leadership continued in spite of the fact that representatives of the APHC engaged in dialogue with Pakistan, Iran, the US and the European Union, among other countries.135 Given the Indian government’s sensitivity to external involvement, this pursuit of dialogue was remarkable indeed. At the same time, the dialogue between the Indian government and the separatist and militant organizations was not a smooth process.136 Since the substance of these talks has not been revealed and there have been no agreements, the question is: what has been achieved by these protracted negotiations? Clearly, there has been no settlement of the Kashmir crisis. And yet, two fairly democratic elections have been held, secessionist forces such as the APHC have taken an increasingly moderate posture, and the state government led by the Peoples Democratic Party and the Congress has adopted a ‘healing touch’ policy, which has been supported by the BJP-led government at the centre, though not without disagreements.137

The issue of autonomy ‘Our constitution provides ample opportunity to meet the aspirations of diverse groups in our populations.… Therefore it shall be our endeavour to strengthen within the Constitution the autonomy of the Jammu and Kashmir.’138 This statement was made by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao who felt that so far as the autonomy of JK was concerned, the sky was the limit (the sky of course being the Indian Constitution).139 The United Front (led by the Janata Dal) government’s minimum programme asserted, ‘Respecting the Article 370 of the Constitution as well as the wishes of the people, the problems of Jammu and Kashmir will be resolved through giving the people of that State the maximum degree of autonomy.’140 The BJP, the erstwhile Jana Sangh, and the RSS have consistently sought the abrogation of Article 370 and the complete integration of the state of JK



into the Indian Union. However, as a part of the NDA, the BJP has refrained from making any reference to this aspect of its policy.141 There appears to be a range of possibilities from maximum autonomy to complete integration presented by the various parties. But a more thorough analysis shows that there is considerable agreement among the various political groups regarding stabilizing the location of JK within the Indian Union. By the mid-1990s, the political elite had recognized that the crisis in JK could not be resolved by using excessive force and coaxing JK’s voters to participate in elections, thus legitimizing the state government and by implication the relationship between the state and centre. In his bid to encourage the electoral process and to negotiate, Prime Minster Narasimha Rao raised the issue of granting autonomy to JK within the Constitution of India in 1995. Prior to that, a resolution had been unanimously adopted in the Parliament declaring JK to be an integral part of India and demanding that Pakistan vacate occupied territories.142 Later, Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal spoke of ‘maximum autonomy.’ In the state elections of 1996, the NC led by Farooq Abdullah made autonomy an aspect of its manifesto and won the state level elections. In November 1996, Farooq Abdullah set up a nine-member committee to examine the issue of autonomy. The State Autonomy Committee, led by Karan Singh,143 was to make recommendations consistent with the Instrument of Accession, the Constitutional Order of 1950 and the Delhi Agreement of 1952.144 Karan Singh declared that the Instrument of Accession was final and would not be reviewed.145 The Committee’s report was released in April 1999. The report outlines a series of constitutional and legislative measures to restore the autonomy of the state, as was guaranteed at the time of accession. Among the important recommendations of the Committee were: that the word ‘temporary’ be replaced by ‘special’ in the title of Part XXI of Article 370 of the Constitution of India; that matters in the Union list not connected to Defence, External Affairs and Communications should not be applicable to the state; that the imposition of emergency rule in the state shall



be subject to the state government’s concurrence; and that the state shall have jurisdiction over the High Court as opposed to the Supreme Court. The committee also proposed that state regulatory bodies, not the Central Election Commission, should govern the elections to the JK legislature and that personnel of the Union public services (like officers of the Indian Administrative Services and the Indian Police Service) should not be appointed to serve in Kashmir. These recommendations were adopted by the JK legislature on 26 June 2000.146 This act of the JK legislature was not representative of the entire spectrum of political opinion in the state. On 30 June 2000, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) adopted a resolution describing the autonomy resolution as ‘mischievous and aimed at gradual secession of the state from the Union of India.’147 It demanded that the region be separated from JK and made a Union Territory, autonomous from Kashmir.148 Within the Indian government, the resolution was criticized extensively. As soon as the resolution was passed, Kushabhau Thakre, the then President of the BJP, declared it a ‘retrograde step.’ Advani went on to say that the matter would be decided by the Parliament, while Vajpayee commented that the resolution was within the Indian Constitution. However, the RSS declared the resolution ‘a step short of actual secession’ and demanded the abrogation of Article 370, dismissal of the Farooq Abdullah government, and the ouster of the NC from the NDA.149 On 4 July 2000, the Cabinet rejected the resolution unanimously stating: Most of the recommendations contained in the report of the State Autonomy Committee seek to reverse the application of constitutional provisions to the State of Jammu and Kashmir which may not only adversely affect the interests of the people of the State but would also be tantamount to removal of some of the essential safeguards enshrined in our Constitution. Besides, in 1974–75, Sheikh Abdullah and Indira Gandhi discussed the issue of restoring the constitutional situation in Jammu and Kashmir to its pre-1953 position. It is noteworthy that the agreement signed after these negotiations had affirmed that provisions of the



Constitution of India already applied to the State of Jammu and Kashmir without adaptation or modification are unalterable.150

This official stance of the BJP-led NDA government is echoed by other members in the Parliament including those of the Congress and the Janata Dal. The discussion that followed in the Indian Parliament is instructive. What comes through in these discussions is a lack of consensus or of understanding of what ‘autonomy’ means in the context of JK between the centre and the state. Clearly, autonomy as understood by the JK government means restoring the status of JK to the 1952 agreement between Nehru and Sheik Abdullah. However, as is equally clear from the debates in the Parliament, this conception of autonomy is not acceptable to the majority of the members of the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Parliament) irrespective of party affiliations. For instance, Madhav Rao Scindia, an important member of the Congress party, contended that JK’s integration is an irreversible and accomplished fact. Commenting on the autonomy resolution, Scindia argued: But how do you define ‘autonomy’? The contours are different to different people. If ‘autonomy’ means ‘devolution’, ‘decentralisation’, ‘greater financial powers’ or ‘greater powers to the panchayats and local bodies’, by all means have a dialogue on autonomy but no autonomy that borders on or comes anywhere near the term that is referred to as ‘secession’. We are extremely clear on that.151

It appears that the autonomy resolution in its present form comes close to ‘secession.’ Scindia went on to furnish reasons for his position. He quoted a statement made by Indira Gandhi in the Parliament on 24 February 1975: Sheikh Abdullah was very anxious that to start with, the Constitutional relationship between the State and the Centre should be as it was in 1953 when he was in power. It was explained to him that the clock could not be put back in this manner.152

Scindia contended that the argument made in 1975 remained valid, that returning to 1953 status would mean a violation of



Article 370, that the JK Assembly had given its agreement for the increasing integration of the state into the Indian Union, and finally that the Abdullah-Gandhi Accord of 1975 should be the basis of any dialogue.153 In conclusion, he stated: …the objective must be to lead to a new order of good governance in Jammu and Kashmir directed towards the welfare of the people, the rapid development of the State, strengthening of the security and sovereignty of the nation, and maintaining the sanctity of the Indian Constitution. Within this framework and without in any way impinging on the sovereign and territorial integrity of the Union of India, of which the State of Jammu and Kashmir, including POK, is a constituent part, consideration may be given to such readjustments of Centre-State relations with respect to Jammu and Kashmir.154

Scindia was not alone in rejecting the return to 1952 status. Similar positions are articulated by members of other parties such as Telugu Desam Party (TDP), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Samajwadi Party and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) among others with very little variation in the claims forwarded for their positions. Ummareddy Venkateshwarulu of the TDP read the autonomy resolution as a demand for ‘absolute independence’ and pointed to serious political ramifications within the country. She concluded her argument by raising the issue of development and the need for increasing the powers of the states vis-à-vis the centre. P. H. Pandiyan of the AIADMK argued that JK is a princely state similar to other states, that ‘it cannot and does not enjoy any special privilege,’ and that it had signed the Instrument of Accession, thus becoming a part of India just as any other state. He goes on to state in a session of the Indian Parliament, ‘Nobody should have an option to ask for special status.… No State is above [the] Constitution. The Constitution guarantees to all the people of India that all the States should be treated alike. No State should be given a special privilege.’ Mr Pandiyan interestingly raised the issue of a similar resolution of autonomy passed



by the Tamil Nadu government in 1974 and argued that eventually Tamil Nadu settled down as any other state in the Union, thus implicitly suggesting that JK too should remain a part of the Union. Affirming that JK is an integral part of the country, Mr Pandiyan made a security argument as well, pointing out that JK is a border state and that southern states such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are protected by it. Mr Pandiyan’s views are interesting because of the history of Tamil Nadu’s resistance to being assimilated in the Indian Union. Somnath Chatterjee of the CPI-M observed, ‘It cannot be that any state of this country will deal with everything other than the three subjects of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communication.’ He acknowledged that Article 370 contemplated a special position for the state and that this has been compromised but concluded that much water has f lowed since and it is not possible to return to the situation prevalent in 1952. As with members of the Congress, the agreement of 1975 emerged as a possible basis for further agreements. Chatterjee concluded by asserting that autonomy should be within the Indian Union and within the provisions of the Indian Constitution, stressing the importance of development as a means of resolving the crisis in JK. Other members representing the BJP contended that there cannot be a nation within a nation and further that Article 370 should be abrogated. Nevertheless, among the majority of participants, there is a consensus that autonomy as proposed by the Legislative Assembly of the JK cannot be granted, and that centre–state relations should be shaped in a manner that allows for greater exercise of power by the states. Concluding the debate, Advani argued, ‘so far as the question of autonomy is concerned, it is clear that all members of the Parliament agree, that the non-acceptance of the proposal passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, by the Indian government, was natural, right and necessary’ (emphasis added).155 According to him, the Cabinet felt that the acceptance of the proposal would set



back the clock and ‘reverse the natural process of harmonizing the aspirations of the people of JK with the integrity of the nation.’ That said, Advani made a space for national integration and devolution of financial and administrative powers and functions to the states. The debate about autonomy of JK was cast in the framework of centre–state relations and the need to devolve powers. In order to strengthen his case, Advani quoted a statement attributed to Farooq Abdullah, ‘I regard autonomy and devolution of powers as two sides of the same coin.’ Thus, while the word ‘autonomy’ continues to be problematic, devolution and decentralization seem more acceptable across parties. According to Mattoo, this consensus might stem from the recognition that to some extent decentralization is inevitable and also a pragmatic policy option.156 The above debate occurred in July–August 2000. Since then, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, in coalition with the Congress party, formed the government. However, in 2009, the NC led by Omar Abdullah and in coalition with the Congress, came to power. There is little talk of autonomy. Interestingly enough, while there has been little progress with the issue of autonomy to JK, the NDA government led by the BJP did seem to be willing to devolve powers to the states. This is seen in the decisions of the Inter State Council. The Inter State Council was established in 1990 by the V. P. Singh government. It consists of the Prime Minister, senior Union ministers, and the chief ministers of all the states and Union Territories. The purpose of the Council is to serve as a forum for an exchange of views between the centre and the states. In 2001, among the most significant decisions was the transfer of residual powers to legislate from the Union List to the Concurrent List (over which state governments have relatively more control).157 In 2003, the Council achieved consensus on safeguards to prevent the misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution, which enabled the centre to place a state under President’s rule.158 For a party that has emphasized a strong centre, such devolution of powers appears out of character. Clearly, the strategy of the BJP has been to shift the



domain of debate from autonomy to centre–state relations. Other leading political parties have also adopted this stance in recent times. The other aspect of the autonomy debate in JK is that of regional autonomy. As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, three regions constitute JK: Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh. Its significance lies in the fact that the issues of state and regional autonomy are interlinked at several levels. First, regions within the state, such as Jammu159 and Ladakh,160 have not only made demands for greater autonomy but also for integration with the Indian Union, either in the capacity of a state or the Union Territory. These demands have been the result of discrimination against the regions by the Kashmiri elite in terms of political power and economic development, and are thus indigenous to an extent. They have also been stoked or snuffed by various political parties and organizations such as the Congress, BJP and the RSS. The Congress has historically ignored the issue of greater autonomy for the regions in JK in a bid to secure the support of the Kashmiri Muslims, who are politically dominant. However, as discussed earlier, the Congress did raise the communal card in Jammu to seek the support of the Hindu community in the 1980s. On the other hand, parties such as the Praja Parishad,161 the Jana Sangh and the RSS162, and at least the state cadre of the BJP have consistently argued for greater autonomy and even for the trifurcation of the state. The basis for these demands lies in the fact that these parties hope to isolate the Kashmir valley (predominantly Muslim) and to more firmly secure the other two regions. Thus, the stance of the Sangh Parivar (some) is not driven by recognition of the intrinsic value or fairness of autonomous governance but perhaps a pragmatic reconsideration of the situation and an effort to change the power dynamics of the region. Second, within the state of JK, the Regional Autonomy Committee (RAC) has tried to address some of these demands.163 The committee and its report are seen as a strategy by Abdullah, who could not afford to alienate the minorities and regions



in the state while seeking autonomy for JK. In fact, Abdullah is accused of playing the communal and the secular cards in setting up the committees and shaping the reports. One of the main criticisms of the report has been that it has achieved little in terms of devolution of power and has focussed on restructuring the administrative boundaries in the state along communal lines and further increasing the area under the control of the Muslim population.164 Perhaps, Abdullah was seeking to secure his place among Kashmiri Muslims (a tactic that failed to get him re-elected in 2002) and also to put the central government on notice. Third, the central government, at least during the BJP-led coalition rule, appeared to see a close link between regional and state ‘devolution of power.’ Advani has gone on to say ‘the dialogue on the devolution of powers was linked to relations between New Delhi and Srinagar and even between Srinagar, Ladakh and Jammu.’165 Even the Congress has sought to address the regional demands by making it an issue of concern in its party manifesto of 1999. Interestingly, JK is conspicuous by its absence in the Congress manifesto of 2004. While it is too early to assert with certainty, it is possible that the strategy of the Indian government has been to control JK’s demands for autonomy primarily by shifting the debate to one of devolution of power within the ambit of centre–state relations. This strategy in a sense delegitimizes Kashmiri identity. A secondary strategy has been to promote the issue of further devolution of power within the state of Kashmir, thereby potentially fragmenting the bases of political power within the state. An implication of this consensus between the various parties influenced by the two identity narratives is that policies regarding the Kashmir crisis that involve the establishment of a sovereign state or even a semi-autonomous state, will not be acceptable to the Indian government. There is no space in the present national political discourse in India for an autonomous JK and certainly not for an independent state. Table 3.2 summarizes the various strategies used by the Indian government during the years 1990–2003.

Source: Author.

Religious-cultural narrative

Secular narrative

Types of identity Narratives

Conservative: no negotiations

Negotiations with militants and secessionist organizations


Autonomy within Kashmir

Moderate: regional autonomy is considered important

Conservative: trifurcation of the state

Regional autonomy Autonomy to JK imited to 1975 agreement. is considered important Seeks devolution of powers to the states

Autonomy vis-à-vis India

Conservative: seek complete integration of JK into the Indian Union and abrogation Legislative acts: POTA, and of 370 so on Moderate: Moderate: Political control: reconsider centre–state negotiations no direct rule. However, relations, providing with militants and Governors appointed secessionist organizations more powers to the continue to have military latter. Seeks devolution and intelligence background of powers to the states

Use of force to control insurgency in JK Legislative acts: TADA, and so on Political control: direct rule through appointed Governor from 1990–96 Use of force to control insurgency in JK

Resolution through Force, Legislative acts and political control

Types of strategies

TABLE 3.2 Strategies Deployed by the Indian Government: 1990–2003





CONCLUSION The preceding discussion brings out the points of convergence and divergence among the policies and positions taken by the different parties espousing different conceptions of national identity. In fact, the level of convergence is significant and interesting, especially considering the deeply divergent approaches to the initial incorporation of JK into the Indian Union. More than 40 years later, however, the government has primarily adopted similar tools and strategies to resolve the crisis in JK. During the years 1990–2003, different parties such as the Janata Dal (leading coalition member of the National Front and United Front), the Congress and the BJP (leading the NDA) have all used a combination of force and negotiation in Kashmir. Bose’s observation that ‘the Indian state’s response to the uprising was to institute a policy of ruthless repression, a policy supported by virtually the entire spectrum of Indian political opinion’ is apt indeed.166 The responses of the parties during the two phases were essentially the same—that negotiations and compromises were offered when it looked like peaceful handling of the Kashmiri demands was possible and necessary, while at the same time, the parties were willing to use force in order to reinforce the idea that JK would not be allowed to separate from India. Schofield argues that the National Front coalition, led by V. P. Singh, in 1990 relied on BJP’s support in the Parliament to remain in power and so the attempt to find a political solution to the JK problem was set aside in favour of a policy of repression.167 While that may be the case, the fact is that the policy of repression continued after V. P. Singh was replaced by Narasimha Rao and the Congress party remained in power till the end of its five year term. Indeed, the brutality of the initial phase of the insurgency was only mildly mitigated by efforts at negotiations not only with mainstream political leaders but also those of militant and secessionist organizations. As discussed earlier, dialogue was pursued by all parties in power irrespective of national identity orientations. Nevertheless,



the BJP-led government engaged in some surprising practices such as engaging in dialogue with HM and allowing moderate APHC members unofficial contacts with Pakistan. Regarding the question of autonomy, the dialogue on granting autonomy to JK was constrained in two ways by seeking to restrict the autonomy debate to the 1975 agreement and further by shifting the debate to devolution of power to and within JK. For instance, the Congress party’s approach to JK was to frame the issue in terms of realization of the Gandhi–Abdullah agreement of 1975. For one, this makes the merging of JK into India a fait accompli. Second, the concessions made by Sheikh Abdullah to the Indian central government are made legitimate and irrevocable. As the Parliament debates indicate, there was little objection from other party members to these conditions. At the same time, there appeared to be increased acceptance among all parties for greater devolution of power, though not in terms framed by the JK Assembly. This approach was primarily spearheaded by the moderate BJP elite. It looked at the JK issue, essentially, as one of federalism, according to which the central government in New Delhi has to rethink the existing distribution of policy making powers between itself and the various states with the purpose of eventually delegating more powers to the states. The use of this approach by the BJP is surprising for two reasons. First, this is significantly different from BJP’s earlier position of incorporating JK without any special considerations—a position that is still supported by the more conservative sections of the BJP. Second, no other political party in Independent India’s history has shown this much initiative in devolving powers. In fact, the BJP has emphasized how reevaluating centre–state relations and powers will benefit all states, including JK. The BJP has pushed this to such lengths that, in some cases, existing state units were broken up into new, smaller states with considerable autonomy for their own affairs. In undertaking these changes, the BJP may have been driven by electoral considerations, hoping that the party will be rewarded by people in the newly carved out states. However, in the case of JK, by linking devolution of powers to the state and devolution within the state, the BJP has created



the possibility of isolating the Valley, increased the likelihood of carving out a Hindu dominant Jammu and perhaps a more autonomous Ladakh. Given the objections of these two regions to the autonomy resolution of the Legislative Assembly of JK and increased demands for statehood or incorporation in the Indian Union as Union Territories, BJP’s proposals are not without local support. If BJP’s strategy succeeds, it is likely to have marginalized to some extent the power base of the Kashmiri Muslims. That said, such an argument assumes that a gradually stabilizing JK will not once again erupt into political violence as it reacts strongly to the dismantling of the state. Then again, BJP has shown itself to be a pragmatic party (with some aberrant practices) when in power and it is possible that there is an attempt at genuine dissolution of power appeasing the various interests in the state of JK. While outside the context of this chapter, Prime Minister Vajpayee’s back-channel diplomatic attempts (discussed in the following chapter) at resolving the Kashmir issue with Pakistan do hold promise. At the same time, the moderate elements of the party have been hampered by the more conservative members. Indeed, the approach taken by the conservative Hindu groups, articulated by the RSS and VHP, is the more radical. It frames the Kashmir issue as one where Muslims (constituting less then 12 per cent of the Indian population) have managed to extract extraordinary privileges for themselves. It is part of their rhetoric that Muslims and Christians in India have expected and received a kind of special treatment for which Hindus have not been eligible. Thinking through this frame, the conservative Hindu approach wants the Indian government to take policy measures in JK, which will ensure that JK’s merger with India is finalized with no special privileges to JK (that is, as an equal to the other Indian states); that demands for special privileges, and especially, demands for secession from India be handled with force if necessary and at any cost; and that therefore, Muslims in India receive a symbolic message that their ‘pampering’ has ended. At the same time, the conservative elements of the BJP are not against the trifurcation of the state wherein power is split between Jammu, Ladkah and Kashmir valley, or more drastically



the regions are incorporated as separate states or Union Territories. Besides the problems already indicated with the devolution of powers policy, the trifurcation of the state might once again result in the exodus of minority religious groups, leading to possible bloodshed both within JK and other parts of India. It might also send a wrong message about the ability of majority and minority (religious, linguistic and caste) communities to live together. Interestingly enough, there appear to be close parallels between the moderate and conservative sections of the BJP in their policy options for JK. While the moderates have sought devolution of power to JK and the regions within, and the conservatives a trifurcation if all else fails, the path from devolution of powers to trifurcation is not unimaginable. Where do the parties that espouse a secular national identity stand on this issue? While parties like the Congress and Janata Dal have not called for trifurcation, they have raised the option of enhancing powers to JK—the devil though lies in the details— and the extent to which powers can be devolved has not been discussed with the exception of setting the boundaries in terms of the 1975 agreement. There are two plausible explanations for this convergence of policy: dominance of pragmatic political practices and overlapping conceptions of national Self between the secular and religious-cultural identities. First, the matter of pragmatic politics. As the preceding discussion indicates, parties espousing different conceptions of Self were willing to move beyond force and engage in political negotiations with the mainstream political elite, secessionists and militants. Clearly, the adoption of these tactics stemmed from a recognition that the JK problem could not be solved by increasing troop strength and using violent means to crush the insurgency alone. This explanation may also allow us to understand the move by the BJP-led government to propose devolution of powers in JK, especially if such devolution was not a thinly veiled step towards trifurcation of the state. While this proposal was unexpected from the BJP-led government and more than that offered by the parties based on secular conceptions of national Self, there appears to be considerable agreement amongst all the parties about what



autonomy is not and about the importance of devolving power, though details about the extent of devolution of powers remain obscure. In this context, it is also important to recognize that the policy options of the BJP elite may have been determined by the fact that they were members of a coalition and also due to the predominance of a moderate religious-cultural narrative of the Self. Prime Minister Vajpayee, in particular, represents this moderate stance of the BJP along with members such as Arun Jaitely and Jaswant Singh, to name a few. Second, regarding the implications of national identity, while initially (at the time of the incorporation of the state into the Indian Union), the parties influenced by the secular and religious-cultural conceptions had differences regarding the methods adopted to integrate and retain JK, these differences (especially about retention) appear to have more or less disappeared over the years. Such convergence can be attributed to the fact that both these conceptions of Self consider the retention of JK crucial to the conception of Indian national identity. As we saw early in the chapter, both parties stress the relevance of JK, linking it to Indian national identity whether secular or religious-cultural. It is interesting that even though the rationales for the categorization of Self and Other differ (as a Muslim JK is emblematic of secular India and loss of JK represents another blow to Hindu India), currently there is considerable consensus about the threatening Other and defence of the Self, and hence, there is consensus about policy towards JK.

NOTES 1. In this study, I have used the term Jammu and Kashmir (JK) to refer to the portion of Kashmir that is a part of India. The term Kashmir when used refers to the entire region of Kashmir, that which is a part of India and Pakistan. However, note that Kashmir is used commonly to refer to JK and such distinctions are not usually made. 2. While the state has regions where either the Buddhists or Hindus predominate, essentially it is a state with a majority Muslim population. 3. The figure of 40,000 deaths is contested. Opponents argue that these



numbers have been provided by the army and are unreliable. They suggest that more than 100,000 people have died. See, The Economist (2007). 4. Pasha (1992). More recently, Swami has argued that Islam has remained integral to the struggle in JK and it has done so since the 1950s when covert activities were initiated by Pakistan. Other authors, however, distinguish between Islamist and secular organizations. 5. Wirsing (2003) discusses several reports that indicate the increasingly complex and dangerous situation in the subcontinent as a result of the problems in Kashmir and the overt nuclearization of India and Pakistan. 6. Behera (2000), examining subnational identities with a focus on Kashmir, points out that there are demands for increased autonomy as states or administrative units in as many as 14 states in India. Chadda (1997) argues that the demands of ethno-national movements within the Indian Union, and the linkages between the internal and the external drive the security concerns of the Indian state and its quest for autonomy. 7. The Economist (2004). The article discusses India’s apprehensions about the impact in India of Maoist rebels in Nepal and the Islamist influence in Bangladesh. In the latter case, it is believed that the trouble in India’s Northeast is supported by Islamic elements within Bangladesh. Garver (2001) mentions China’s assistance to the Mizo and Naga rebels in the Northeast till the early 1970s. 8. Ganguly (1997). 9. Bamzai (1973). See also, Bazaz (1976). The latter account is couched in terms of Kashmiri patriotism and the struggle for freedom through the centuries and provides an account that is pro-independence and proPakistan. 10. However, the extent of ‘Kashmiriyat’ is contested, in the sense that it is seen to be limited to the Valley and certain portions of Jammu. It is also argued by sociologists such as T. N. Madan that while there are accommodations and dependence among the Hindus and Muslims in everyday living, there are also deep ideological divisions that result in exclusion, thus questioning the notion of ‘Kashmiriyat’. See, Wirsing (2003). 11. For details regarding the integration of the princely states, see, Menon (1961). 12. Other states such as Pondichery and Goa which were parts of French and Portuguese empires formally became parts of India in 1954 and 1962. 13. The state of Hyderabad was located in central south India, surrounded by Indian territory and had a predominantly Hindu population with a Muslim king. The Nawab was indecisive about accession to India and eventually to quell the disorder in the state, the government of India decided to intervene militarily. Thus, on 13 September 1947, the Indian Army entered Hyderabad and by the 17th, the forces in Hyderabad had surrendered. Within two months, the Nizam of Hyderabad accepted the Constitution of India.



15. 16.

17. 18.


20. 21. 22.


In Junagarh, a princely state on the west coast of India, the population was Hindu but had a Muslim ruler. It was reported on 17 August 1947 that the Nawab had chosen to join Pakistan. This caused a flurry of activity given the predominant Hindu population of the state. While negotiations were underway, the Nawab fled to Pakistan with a considerable portion of the treasury and the state was incorporated as a part of India. Akbar (2002) writes that in the meetings prior to Independence, Nehru made sure that the road linking India to Kashmir valley would fall within the Indian territory, though it could easily have gone to Pakistan. Nehru argued that granting the area to Pakistan would in fact have meant granting it Kashmir, as it would then control all the land routes. For a perspective from Pakistan, see, Major General Akbar Khan (1970) and Hodgson (1985). Ganguly (1997) points out that initially the Maharaja appealed to the princely state of Patiala, which sent an infantry battalion from Patiala State Forces, but this was not adequate. Maharaja Hari Singh’s actions elicit two divergent opinions. He is seen as a coward by some, and at least in one reading of the RSS texts, he is seen as a patriotic hero. The matter of his indecision, which led to the present state of affairs, is conveniently left unexplained. See also, Madhok (1987). Akbar (2002). The ceasefire line was agreed to in the Karachi Agreement of 17 July 1949. However, at the end of the 1971 war, the ceasefire line was changed to accommodate the minor territorial gains by both sides under the Simla agreement and this became the Line of Control, which is currently in place. The different references to the region now under Pakistan reflect different interpretations of the events in 1947. India prefers the nomenclature ‘PoK,’ whereas Pakistan prefers to refer to the region as ‘Azad Kashmir’. A portion of PoK) was given to China in 1963 as a result of agreement between the two states. The accession of JK to India was ratified in 1954 by the Kashmiri Constituent Assembly. Sheik Abdullah, Maulana Masoodi, Mirza Afzal Beg and Moti Ram Baigra participated as members of India’s Constituent Assembly. The Union List contains matters of national importance such as defence, foreign affairs, currency, and so on. The State List contains issues of local significance such as public order, health, agriculture, among others, and is legislated upon by the state legislature. Issues that are of common interest to the states and the Union (newspapers, electricity and price controls) are placed in the Concurrent List with the provision that in case of conflict, it is the laws of the Parliament that prevail. The residuary list is to deal with those matters that are not mentioned in any of the three lists. It is the Parliament that has the power to legislate on matters in this list.



23. The Praja Parishad was established by Bal Raj Madhok, a member of the RSS and an advocate of the complete integration of JK into the Indian Union. 24. JK is the only state that implemented wide-ranging land reforms and distributed almost one third of the land among the poor, without compensation. Sheik Abdullah was credited with this. Under the Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, 8,00,000 acres of land were transferred to 2,47,000 tillers without compensation to land owners. 25. Bose (2003). 26. Sardar Vallebhai Patel was one of the prominent leaders of the freedom movement in India, member of the Congress, and India’s first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister. He is often referred to as the ‘iron man’ of India and is credited with having unified the several independent principalities and kingdoms into the Indian Union after Independence in 1947. 27. Behera (2000). 28. Bose (2003). Swami (2007: 28–29) also discusses Abdullah’s attempts at establishing a separate state and playing pro-independence, pro-Pakistan and pro-India politics. 29. Frontline (2000). In India, Articles 352, 356 and 360 have been used by the central government to dismiss state governments. This provision of the constitution has been widely used by the government at the centre, usually the Congress, to dismiss governments that incur its displeasure. See, Dua (1985) and Verny (1986). 30. Baxter (1969). While this reaction of the Jana Sangh is dated to 1952, its relevance lies in showing the response of the two parties in dealing with the situation in JK. 31. Akhil Bharatiya Jana Sangh (Working Committee) (1953). 32. See the correspondence between Shyama Prasad Mookerji, Nehru and Sheik Abdullah, wherein Mookerji has sought the complete integration of JK and complained against the violence towards parties other than the National Conference in JK. Nehru’s responses raise the issue of communal, sectarian representation of Mookerji (ibid.). 33. Mukherjee (1953). 34. Bose provides a detailed account of the specific events that led Abdullah to consider such a possibility. According to him, a move in this direction began in 1953 with the proposal of multi-tiered autonomy by a committee of the Constituent Assembly. Under the scheme, Kashmir valley and Jammu would each have elected assemblies that would legislate on issues of local governance as well as separate Councils of Ministers for regional affairs. Ladakh would have lesser autonomy. The committee further proposed a union of five units, including Poonch and Gilgit across the LoC, constituting the Autonomous Federated Unit of the Republic of India. While the proposal floundered, Abdullah leading the NC drafted



36. 37. 38.

39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50.




54. 55. 56. 57.


another proposal that recommended that the electorate be offered the option of independence. However, a rift within the NC leadership resulted in the proposal being dropped and in the eventual ouster of Abdullah. The putsch was engineered by the Congress government in Delhi, members of the Congress party in JK and members of the NC, who sought to remove Abdullah from power. Bose (2003: 69). Ibid., 73. This provision has been used with impunity especially by the Congress party to dismiss state governments that are deemed as non-compliant to the demands of the centre, for example, in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. Bose (2003), Behera (2000) and Gangulay (1997). Frontline (2000). Swami (2000a). Noorani (2000). Bose (2003), Behera (2000) and Ganguly (1997). Panchayat elections are conducted at the lowest level of administrative unit, the village. See, Kadian (1993). Schofield (2003). Sahni (1999). Wirsing (1998). Schofield (2003: 145). The shrine dedicated to Vaishno devi is located in Jammu. The shrine also contains the idols of Goddesses Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati. Amarnath yatra is the yearly pilgrimage to a cave called Amarnath where an ice lingam (phallic shaped structure) is formed. This lingam is seen to represent the Indian God Shiva. While Hinduism is divided into many sects, the two dominant sects are Shaivism and Vaisnavism. The distinction is made on the basis of the dominant deity, Shiva or Vishnu. Buddhism is spilt into Mahayana and Hinayana forms. The latter is the original and simpler form of the religion as advocated by the Buddha. Mahayana Buddhism developed later and is more ritualistic. ‘Bharat’s Pakistan Policy vis-à-vis Kashmir: August 1953,’ (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh 1953). Available at index.php?option=com_book&task=show (Accessed on 21 April 2000). Jammu and Kashmir Sahayata Samiti (1991). Organiser is weekly paper published by the RSS. Ibid., 14. See, Bamzai (1973). According to Madhok (1987), Abdullah was a British agent who was supported by the British to tame Maharaja Hari Singh. He is further seen as a



59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67.

68. 69. 70.

71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76.



typical product of the Aligarh Muslim University who faithfully followed Islamic traditions with regard to morality, attitude towards women and non-Muslims. This is clearly meant as an indictment against Islam. Interestingly, the secularists saw in Sheik Abdullah a secular patriotic and a republican. See also, Bazaz (1976). In the 1990s, it was claimed that as many as 36 temples were desecrated, though the validity of this claim has been questioned. Bose mentions an investigation conducted by a leading Indian newspaper in February 1993. Its journalists examined 23 sites that were claimed to be damaged by the BJP and found that 21 shrines were completely intact (Behera 2000, Bose 2003 and Gangulay 1997). Members of the Hindu community have sought refugee in Jammu’s makeshift refugee camps or in Delhi. Swami (2007: 175). Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (1983), Mukhopadhyaya (1953) and Baxter (1969). In Nehru’s case, the significance of Kashmir is personal as well since his family is from the region. Nehru (1946: 218). Nehru (1946). ‘Our Pledge to Kashmir’ (Nehru 1954). Behera (2000). Ibid., 78. Khalidi (1992) points out that the argument that separation of Kashmir will have adverse affects on the Muslim Indians implies a certain hostage theory and has been resented by the Indian Muslims. ‘India is Opposed to War: Reply to the Debate on the Presidents Address in Parliament’ (11 August 1951) (Nehru 1954: 328). Dixit (2002). Gandhi (2001). The perspective that the situation in JK is dangerous to the secular foundations of the country, national unity and national security is reiterated in the political resolution at the 81st Plenary session of the AICC. Engineer (1991). See, Behera (2000) and Ganguly (1997). Varshney (1991: 202) explores the antinomies within the secular, religious and Kashmiri nationalism. The Xinhua News Agency (1990a). BBC (1995). S. B. Chavan, ‘Statutory Resolution Regarding Continuance of Proclamation by President in Relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir’, Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 25 February 1993. Available from www.parliament (Accessed on 15 March 2002). Deve Gowda lashed out at Pakistan for fomenting trouble in Kashmir. He informed the Parliament that Pakistan was engaging in a cold war in the region. See, United Press International (UPI) (1996).



78. Watson (1998). 79. These assertions about the responsibility of the V. P. Singh government are made in the Congress party manifesto of 1991 and in the speech of Madhav Rao Scindia in the Lok Sabha in 2000. See, Madhav Rao Scindia, ‘Regarding Passing of a Resolution by the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly Endorsing the Recommendations of the State Autonomy Committee,’ Speeches in the Lok Sabha, 25 July–3 August 2000. Available from (Accessed on 20 April 2004). It is important to note that V. P. Singh was a member of the Congress party till he broke ranks with it and joined the Janata Dal. 80. Mukherji, Saradindu (n.d.). 81. Madhok (1987: 45). 82. Ibid., 3. 83. Schofield (2003: 150). 84. Ibid., 157. 85. See, McGirk (1990). Human Rights Watch (1999). However, Jane’s Intelligence Review reports the presence of as many as 6,00,000 troops (Gunaratna 1998). 86. BBC (1998a). 87. BBC (1998b). According to the strategy, 516 new pickets will be set up in the Jammu region. 88. Swami (2003a) argues that foreign terrorists operating in the region have increased over the years and this is best indicated by the number of foreign terrorists killed. While Swami is careful of government figures and security force assertions, he believes that there is some truth to the contention. 89. The Village Defence Committees comprise of one salaried security personnel, five ex-soldiers and five locals. By 1995, as many as 600 such committees had been established (Ahmad, Mukhtar 1996). 90. Agence France-Presse (AFP) (1993a) and UPI (1993a). 91. Schofield (2003: 158). 92. Human Rights Watch (1996). 93. Gangulay (1997). 94. Islah (2003). 95. Blank (2003) argues that the central government has not seriously supported Mufti’s healing touch policy and thus lost an opportunity to significantly change the situation in JK. 96. Kaushal (2002a) and The Indian Express (2003a). While the government has swayed between its support for and criticism of PDP’s policies in JK, other members of the Sangh Parivar, especially the VHP, have been extremely critical of the policies o f the NDA government. See, Sharma, Arun (2003) and Rakesh (2003). 97. The Act essentially grants the members of Armed Forces immunity, allowing them to fire upon, use force, arrest, enter and search without warrant, and seize and destroy structures on the basis of suspicion. Oftentimes, security



forces used this act to retaliate against militant strikes and used excessive force to deter future attacks. 98. This act has been used widely for preventive detention, often for stifling opposition. See, Amnesty International (2000a). 99. TADA was established in 1987 to deal with terrorism and was formulated in the context of violence in Punjab. It was repealed in 1995 because of widespread protest within and outside the country. 100. This Act, preceded by an ordinance in 2001, allows for the arrest of those who have the intent to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India, or to strike terror in people. For a critique of the Act see, Amnesty International (2000b). 101. Amnesty International (2000b). Aiyar is an erstwhile member of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and has been a strong supporter of and member of the Congress party. In 2004, he was the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Panchayat Raj. 102. Arun Jaitely, ‘Combined discussion of Statutory Resolution Regarding Disapproval of Prevention of Terrorism (Second) Ordinance (Resolution Negatived) and Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2002 (Bill Passed)’, Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 18 March 2002. Available from www.parliament (Accessed on 24 September 2004). 103. Jagmohan was an erstwhile bureaucrat who rose to prominence under Indira Gandhi. Later he became a member of the BJP. 104. Bose et al. (1991) and Crossette (1992). ‘Two Reports Find Wide Abuses by India in Kashmir,’ The New York Times, NY, 8 November. 105. Schofield (2003: 154). 106. Ibid., 160. 107. There seems to have been some disagreement between the centre and the state regarding the appointment of the Governor in 2003. It is reported that Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was averse to having an ex-intelligence or army officer (Aurora 2003). 108. For instance, in the early 1990s, there were disagreements between Jagmohan and George Fernandes, and between S. B. Chavan (Home Minister) and Rajesh Pilot (Minister of State for Home) regarding the use of force or the political initiatives and negotiations. In fact, during this period because of the rift between Chavan and Pilot regarding policy towards JK, Narasimha Rao the then Prime Minister of India took charge of the Kashmir issue. Nevertheless, as Behera (2000), Ganguly (1997) and Bose (2003) indicate, the strategies have been the same over the years. 109. See, Human Rights Watch (1999). 110. Reports reviewed have been from 1996 onwards. 111. See, Amnesty International (2000a). This report discusses Farooq Abdullah’s role in detaining the members of the Hurriyat Council. 112. The Kargil war of 1999 had a demoralizing influence on the militants. The perception in Kashmir of ‘their protector buckling under international


113. 114. 115. 116.

117. 118.


120. 121. 122.

123. 124. 125. 126.





pressure without securing any reciprocal obligations to safeguard the Kashmiri interests’ confirmed their worst fears. See, Behera (2000: 269). The Xinhua News Agency (1991). Fernandes (1992). Christian Science Monitor (1993) and Herald Sun (1993). The APHC consists of as many as three dozen groups that seek selfdetermination in Kashmir. While some members are pro-Pakistan, others seek independence and some remain ambiguous. The coalition advocates dialogue between India, Pakistan and APHC representatives. Gangulay (1997). Amarnath yatra is a pilgrimage made every year by Hindus to Amarnath to witness the Shiva Lingam, a formation of ice that is representative of Lord Shiva. While these are no doubt significant developments, it should also be noted that by the mid-1990s, the JKLF had been marginalized by the Indian military forces and other militant organizations such as the HizbulMujahideen. Swami (2003b). Gangulay (1997). See also, AFP (1996). George Fernandes in the V. P. Singh government and Rajesh Pilot in the Narasimha government were both engaged in encouraging the NC to participate in the electoral process. Vinayak (1997). See, Behera (2000). Dixit (2002). R.K. Mishra was the designated representative of the Indian government to engage in back-channel talks with Mr Niaz Naik from 3 March to 27 June 1999, according to Wirsing (2003). These talks have also been referred to by Swami (2001a). Swami (2007: 188–89). The Indian government granted safe passage to Majid Dar (commander of HM) into JK so that he could meet the field commanders of HM and members of the HC. Behera (2007) argues that this was a significant shift not only for the BJP but also other parties which had insisted that all negotiations must be conducted within the parameters of the Constitution. The dialogue with the HM and HC is viewed with some concern. It is argued that negotiations with militant and secessionist organizations marginalizes the democratically elected mainstream forces. See, Swami (2000b). Madhav Rao Scindia also forwards a similar argument in his speech in the Parliament. He questions the need of engaging in dialogue with organizations that abjure the Indian Constitution and of sidelining the legitimate democratic forces. However, this may not be more than a ploy of the Congress as an opposition party. See, Lok Sabha Debates (2000).



130. Schofield (2003: 230). 131. Swami (2007: 192) notes that the HM ended the dialogue seeking the inclusion of Pakistan in any future discussions and Vajpayee could no longer ignore pressure from hardline party members. 132. Swami (2001b) See also, Swami (2002b). With reference to Advani, Swami points out that while the HC seeks dialogue at the highest political level, ‘the BJP simply cannot afford to make such a large concession. Indeed, it is unlikely that any political dispensation in New Delhi could do so’ Swami (2003c). 133. Swami (2007: 201). 134. Ibid., 200. 135. Swami (2003d). 136. The Indian Express (2002a). 137. The Indian Express (2003a). 138. BBC (1995). 139. Ahmad, Aijaz (2000a). 140. United Front government was led by Deve Gowda and later by Gujral (both leading the Janata Dal) from 1996 to 1998, when the NDA came to power. See, Noorani (2000). 141. The election manifesto of the NDA for the year 2004 does not mention the word ‘autonomy’ with regard to JK. It does declare that the NDA government will work with the state government to ensure peace, development and normalcy. It will take steps to ensure balanced development of the three regions of the state, that is, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Steps will be taken to establish Autonomous Regional Councils for Jammu and Ladakh. While clearly there is a focus on regional autonomy, that of the state is conspicuously absent. 142. Government of India (1994). 143. Karan Singh was the erstwhile ruler of Kashmir. In July 1997, Singh resigned from the committee as a result of differences with Farooq Abdullah. 144. BBC (1996a). 145. BBC (1996b). 146. The timing of the adoption of the recommendations of the SAC report by the JK Assembly coincides with the efforts made by the BJP-led government at the centre to engage in dialogue with the Hurriyat and also negotiations with the HM. 147. Swami (2000a). 148. Union Territories as opposed to states are governed directly by the central government. 149. Ahmad, Aijaz (2000b). 150. ‘Text of Cabinet Decision on Jammu and Kashmir Autonomy Resolution 2000,’ South Asian Portal on Terrorism. Available from (Accessed on 2 April 2004).



151. Madhav Rao Scindia, ‘Regarding passing of a resolution by the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly endorsing the recommendations of the State Autonomy Committee,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 25 July 2000. Available from (Accessed on 20 April 2004). 152. Ibid. 153. Scindia’s logic seems convoluted. He argues ‘What did article 370 say? … (Interruptions) I will talk about substance of the provision. Article 370 in effect says that all the subjects that were covered by Instruments of Accession, that is Defence, External Affairs, Communication and residual ones were to be implemented after consultation with the Jammu and Kashmir Government. Parliament could implement them after consultation. Article 370 then goes on to say that as far as the remaining subjects are concerned, you must take the full concurrence of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. This is clearly laid down in the Constitution. Whenever any Act or any provision was extended to Jammu and Kashmir, both the principles of consultation as far as three items that came under the Instruments of Accession were concerned, and positive concurrence as far as the rest were concerned, was always undertaken.’ It is not clear at all how restoring the 1953 status will affect the provisions of Article 370. Also, Scindia ignores the fact that the ‘consultation’ and ‘concurrence’ he refers to was manipulated through the support and installation of compliant regimes and this has been the crux of the problems in Kashmir (ibid.). 154. Ibid. 155. L. K. Advani, ‘Regarding passing of a resolution by the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly endorsing the recommendations of the State Autonomy Committee,’ Speeches in the Lok Sabha, Parliament, Delhi, 3 August 2000. Available from (Accessed on 21 May 2004). 156. Mattoo (2003) argues that there is a slight shift in managing JK in terms of recognizing the need for granting greater power to the local elite. According to Mattoo, this policy shift may be the result of on-going economic and political decentralization in India, India’s ambitions on the world stage, growing sentiment against violence in JK and the consistent desire for autonomy among the Kashmiri political elite. 157. Venkatesan (2001). 158. These safeguards were recommended by the Sarkaria Commission on centre-state relations (1983–88) and have been under discussion since 1990. Prior to imposing the President’s rule under Article 356, it is recommended that the state in question be issued a warning and that explanations by the state be considered. The state Assembly should not be dissolved but kept under suspended animation till the decision is ratified by the Parliament. The Governor’s report should be a speaking





162. 163.

164. 165. 166. 167.


document and made a part of the proclamation. These are to be drafted into a bill to amend the Constitution. See, Venkatesan (2003). Tremblay (1992) argues that there is a symbiotic, mutually reinforcing relationship between the pro-integration forces in Jammu and the secessionist forces in the Kashmir valley. See also, Behera (2002). The demand from Ladakh for a closer union with the Indian government was made as early as 1949 and has continued ever since. Eventually, as a result of violent agitation by the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA), which had been demanding union territory status since 1989, the Congress government led by Narasimha Rao, promulgated the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Act (LAHDC) which became a bill in 1997. It should be noted that within Ladakh , the Muslim dominated Kargil district is not so keen to acquire union territory status and it is thus that the LAHDC is limited to Leh. See, Kaul and Kaul (1992) and Behera (2000). More recently, Ladakh has continued to demand union territory status. The NC government in JK accused the centre of propping up the demand to counter their demand for autonomy (Khosa 2002). The Praja Parishad in its eight point programme had proposed closer integration of Jammu and Ladakh. The party accepted the Dixon plan which was submitted to the Security Council in September 1950 which suggested partitioning the state in keeping with the emotional attachments of the people. In 2002, RSS was pressing for statehood for Jammu region and a union territory status for Ladakh. See, The Indian Express (2002b). The RAC had been established soon after the NC led by Farooq Abdullah came to power in 1996. The chairman was Abdullah himself, and Balraj Puri, a long time academic was appointed as the working chairman. However, by 1999 Puri was eased out of this responsibility and soon after that the report finished. The RAC released the report on 13 April 2000. While the SAC had evoked considerable response in India, the same cannot be said for the RAC report. Puri (1999), and Kaushal and Suri (2002). Ibid. Bose (2003: 11). Schofield (2003: 147).

Chapter 4 Pakistan: Significant Patterns in Relations with the Most Important External ‘Other’ INTRODUCTION


hile Jammu and Kashmir (JK) constituted an ambiguous Other with both internal and external dimensions for India, Pakistan, since partition, has emerged as the most threatening external Other in the life of Indian politics. Indeed, Pakistan looms large in Indian security and foreign policy concerns and practices. First, since attaining Independence from Britain in 1947, India and Pakistan have predominantly seen each other in confrontational terms.1 The stress of partition of colonial India into two independent states and the resulting bloodshed as hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Muslims were forced to immigrate into the new countries, set the tone for their subsequent relations. They have fought three major wars (in 1948, 1965 and 1971) and a fourth limited one (1999),2 and have been involved in supporting opposing powers, as the Cold War played out in South Asia. Further, the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the two states coupled with old animosities and persisting frictions makes the region particularly volatile and dangerous. Second, it is not merely a question of bilateral relations between the two states but also one of neighbouring states and dominant powers. India’s engagement with Pakistan shapes to a considerable extent its engagement with



other states both within South Asia and outside of it. For instance, India’s relations with Pakistan shape, to an extent, its relations with Bangladesh, Afghanistan, China, Russia and the United States.3 Thus, understanding Indo-Pak relations is of interest if we are to understand the politics of these two states vis-à-vis each other, the region and the world. Interestingly, much as India would like to be a significant player in the global arena, often it finds itself constrained by its relations with its most challenging neighbour. Lastly, Pakistan is the exemplar Other for both the secular and religious-cultural national identity discourses. The circumstances and history of partition whereby the Indian subcontinent was subdivided along religious lines into two different states, has had a lasting impact on the region; more so since the partition was followed by the migration of people and a bloody carnage which left almost half a million dead. The memory of that moment of creation and the subsequent clashes over the years has resulted in a deep suspicion of each other. Both conceptions of national Self and the historical events have gone into the making of this adversarial relationship and this remains true for both India and Pakistan. Given the concerns of this book, Pakistan emerges as an exemplar case. Thus, in this chapter, I examine the confrontational as well as conciliatory steps taken by the Indian government and emphasize important similarities and differences that exist in the way governments articulating religious-cultural and secular identity have handled relations with Pakistan. The chapter begins with a discussion of the specific construction of Pakistan by the two discourses, followed by a clarification of the politically charged term ‘cross-border terrorism’ in the context of India’s relations with Pakistan. The core of the chapter is divided into two sections. The first section revolves around three recent crisis event-sets (occurring between 1990 and 2003) that are critical for understanding contemporary relations between these two countries. The second section examines the conciliatory efforts offered and/or agreed upon. In this section, I discuss Kashmir and various military and non-military Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). But first, a consideration of identity narratives and the construction of Pakistan.



VARIATIONS IN DISCOURSE: THE SECULAR AND RELIGIOUS-CULTURAL IDENTITY As discussed earlier, the central concerns of this book hinge on national identity conceptualizations and their impact on the conduct of intra- and interstate relations. While the discussion in Chapter 2 helped us understand the national Self–Other delineations that were constructed internally, in this chapter, we begin to explore the implications of such constructions for external Others. Clearly, as in the case of JK, there are links between the internal and the external Other and that is what makes these cases doubly interesting. Briefly, the purpose of this discussion is to examine how Pakistan is perceived by the Indian political elite and whether there is a difference between secular and religious-cultural national identity narratives about conceptions of Pakistan, thus perhaps having a bearing on IndoPak relations. The secular articulations of Indian identity perceive the Self as diverse, syncretic, tolerant and inclusive. This conception articulated predominantly by the Congress emerged prior to Independence and was constructed in opposition to the claim of the Muslim League that Hindus and Muslims represented two different nations converging around a religious core.4 These perceptions of India and Pakistan wherein India was seen as representing a secular Self and Pakistan coalescing around the Muslim community and articulating a religious nationalism that emerged at the time of their creation, have persisted. These conceptions have deeply shaped the belief that Pakistan represents an antithesis to the Indian Self and intends to destabilize India. J. N. Dixit, who was the National Security Advisor (NSA) in the Indian government (2005), representing this argument contends, ‘Pakistani subversive elements are being sent to other parts of India, through Nepal, Bangladesh and some South East Asian countries. Indications are that Kathmandu, Dhaka and Bangkok have become operational bases of ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence) to generate subversive activities against India.’5 This view, that Pakistan



seeks to damage the unity and integrity of the Indian Union, is a common refrain amongst those representing the secular discourse. Pakistan is seen to challenge the secular Indian Self. It may be seen in the speeches made in the Lok Sabha by members of the Congress party, in party publications6 and amongst the members of the Janata Dal as well. These thoughts have shaped India’s representation of Pakistan as undemocratic, theocratic, authoritarian and unpredictable.7 Unlike the secular Self, the religious-cultural identity converges around the Hindu Self. It perceives the Muslim Other as dangerous and as inimical to the stability of the Indian state. Historically, Muslims have been viewed as invaders and oppressors, and their loyalties to India remain under suspicion, especially among those articulating a more conservative discourse. These internal Others become even more dangerous in the context of a nexus between the internal and external Others. The creation of Pakistan as a separate Muslim nation and the history of partition have made this nexus of considerable importance. In 1965, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) contended, ‘Pakistan was born in hatred for Bharat [India]. It was carved out artificially by disrupting the natural, national integrity of Bharat. The Karyakari Mandal (Central committee) is therefore of the opinion that peace and normalcy are inconceivable without the establishment of Akhand (Great) Bharat.’8 Previously, the RSS had declared that Pakistan’s actions were dictated by her ‘congenital hatred and enmity with Bharat.’9 More recently, certain members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have referred to Pakistan as a failed state built on hatred and religious jingoism.10 Those articulating such a viewpoint contend that Islam distinguishes between Darul Harb (‘realm of war’) and Darul Islam (‘realm of Islam’) and that it is the intention of Islamic countries to convert the former into the latter, thus implying that Pakistan’s intentions remain suspect.11 Much is made of the fact that Pakistan declares itself the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, even though it is not ruled by clerics. For instance, in 2002, Arun Jaitely, one of the prominent and more articulate members of the BJP, stated that:



[t]he Indian State unlike Pakistan abhors theocracy. India believes in respect for all religions. India believes in the freedom of religions . . . President Musharraf’s diversionary references will not deflect attention from the Pakistani faith in theocracy, suppression of religious freedom, encouragement to terrorist organizations and use of terrorism as a state policy.12

Pakistan is thus seen as the epicentre of terrorism.13 It is in this light that we are urged to understand Pakistan’s actions vis-à-vis India. Even the moderate A. B. Vajpayee conceives of Pakistan as a state that targets the unity and integrity of India, as exemplified by his contention that ‘[w]e should never lose sight of the fact that the ultimate goal of our neighbour is to harm [fragment] our multi-religious, multi-lingual society and damage our tolerant social fabric.’14 The narrative of Pakistan as an intolerant, aggressive, unstable, terrorizing state in comparison to India that represents an inclusive, tolerant and open society can also be seen in Jaswant Singh’s (India’s Foreign Minister under the National Democratic Alliance [NDA] government) conversations with Strobe Talbot, as the two negotiated India’s nuclear future.15 Interestingly, the political elite articulating the secular and religious-cultural narratives of Self converge in their conceptions of Pakistan. Both narratives perceive Pakistan as an authoritarian state that is highly unstable, intolerant and aggressive. There is an abiding belief that Pakistan cannot and does not intend to coexist with its tolerant neighbour and that it will continue to undertake actions to undermine India as a nation and a state. Not only is there a convergence on what characterizes the Other, but there is also a convergence on narratives of Self, as both discourses assert a conception of Self that is tolerant, inclusive and secular in so far it incorporates various religions and languages, and has a rich and varied social fabric. Given these perceptions and the history of engagement between the two states, it is important to examine how India’s relations with Pakistan are shaped in similar or different ways when political elites, influenced by the two discourses, govern India. From the discussions in Chapter 2, the Other, especially



the Muslim Other, emerges as much more dangerous in the religious-cultural discourse than in the secular discourse. Given the fact of nuclear weapons, persisting frictions over Kashmir and the discourses of identity, scholars have been trying to understand whether the religious-cultural discourse has an adverse effect on shaping India’s relations with Pakistan. Bajpai and Cohen, for instance, are of the opinion that the rise of Hindu feeling in India has shaken the stable, democratic and secular state, harming relations with Pakistan and Bangladesh.16 As discussed in Chapter 1, other scholars too have expressed similar concerns. Interestingly, in Pakistan, the prospect of the BJP assuming power in India was viewed with concern. It was believed that Pakistan would suffer the consequences of BJP’s rise to power. Agha Murtaza Pooya of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad notes that, ‘if the BJP does come to power we can expect India to become a much more insular state that would harden the stand off with Pakistan.’17 Pakistan remains apprehensive of a combination of Hindu nationalism and nuclear weapons. In fact, General Karamat’s conversations with Strobe Talbot reinforce these perceptions. Karamat considered it significant that the nuclear tests had been conducted by a party that was dominated by militant nationalists and ‘rabid anti-Muslims.’ While he believed that India’s ruling elite had tried to ‘cut Pakistan down to size,’ the BJP was a ‘special case.’ He was convinced that the nuclear tests were an act of intimidation, intended to compel Pakistan to negotiate on Kashmir.18 Given these perceptions, both within India and outside, it is imperative to understand whether there is a difference at the level of engagement when parties representing different national narratives come to power and constitute the government, or not.

THE PHENOMENA OF CROSS-BORDER TERRORISM While the Indian government uses the term ‘cross-border terrorism’ widely, there is no clear definition of the term. It appears



that the term is used to refer to all those instances of violence, terror, destruction of Indian life and property intended to destabilize the unity and security of the Indian state. Such action is the result of external and/or internal agents who provide each other with moral and material (weapons, finances and logistical support) assistance. Cross-border terrorism is distinguished from other instances of internal insurgency and violence by, for example, left wing groups that engage in similar destruction of life and property (in the states of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and others) and by the nature and extent of external (usually state) support, influence and even direct engagement.19 Even then it is a tenuous distinction. Cross-border terrorism usually involves movement of disaffected Indian citizens and foreign agents, occupation of territory within India, terrorizing the local populace by issuing threats and killings, attacks on public and private places, destruction of the property of the government of India and symbolic attacks on institutions of the government. It is predominantly anti-civilian. In India, crossborder terrorism has resulted in the disruption of normal life, an enormous drain on its resources and has challenged more deeply the very existence of the state. It is because of the fragmentary nature of the Indian state (a heterogeneous population divided by language, religion, ethnicity and the demands for either secession or increased autonomy) that the Indian political elite is particularly sensitive to external intrusions and to the alchemy that emerges from the fusion of the internal and the external.20 The term has usually been deployed with reference to Pakistan. It is important to clarify that what India refers to as cross-border terrorism, Pakistan labels a freedom struggle of and by the Kashmiris. Pakistan contends that it is not engaged in the activities alleged by India but that in the context of Kashmir, it morally supports the struggle for freedom. Cross-border terrorism has been a concern for India since the 1980s, when Pakistan was seen to have supported and harboured Sikh separatists who sought to carve out of Punjab, the independent state of Khalistan. Since the 1990s, this



phenomenon has been linked to the violence in JK. However, while it is in the states of JK and Punjab that cross-border terrorism has been widespread, other instances, such as the bomb explosions in Bombay on 12 March 1993 and the attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001, are also included in this category. It is the assertion of the Indian government that these attacks of terror and violence have been instigated, supported and oftentimes been carried out by Pakistan.21 The latter claim is specifically made with reference to infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) by Pakistani army men in disguise or by members of Pakistan’s intelligence agency called the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). India’s assertions about Pakistan’s involvement in terrorist activities are not without merit. Abbas, among others, notes the extensive involvement of the ISI in supporting Muslim groups in Bosnia, China, Philippines, Central Asia and Kashmir.22 At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that India too has instigated/engineered attacks in Lahore and Karachi, especially during the 1980s when Rajiv Gandhi established special desks at the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). These desks were disbanded by I K Gujral when he became the Prime Minister.23 While cross-border terrorism is usually presented as an intrusion of the external into the internal territory of India, the fact remains that it is the internal political disjunctures and the misconceived intervention and manipulation by the central government that have aggravated the problem as evinced in the case of Punjab and JK. While the term has been widely used by the Indian government and circulated in the public space, the problem is that it converts all acts of violence into a cross-border phenomenon, thereby absolving the government of responsibility for violence and political instability, and is deeply problematic.24 It should be noted that while cross-border terrorism is an important aspect of Indo-Pak relations, it is not the only context of engagement. That said, in the first section that follows, I will examine the three crises, which are defined by rising tensions and conflict between the two countries.



I COMPARING CRISIS EVENTS—ACTIONS AND REACTIONS Brecher and Wilkenfeld believe that an international crisis involves: a situational change characterized by an increase in the intensity of disruptive interactions between two or more adversaries, with a high probability of military hostilities in times of peace (and, during war, an adverse change in the military balance). The higher-than-normal conflictual interactions destabilize the existing relationships of the two adversaries.25 (emphases in the original)

These elements identified by the authors define Indo-Pak relations. In fact, India and Pakistan appeared to be on the brink of war several times during the 13 years relevant to this study. While incidents are scattered all along this time frame, I focus on three crisis events that define confrontational relations between these states. I must clarify here that these are not three events but crises where several events may be strung together. These are events of friction, limited war and possible war between India and Pakistan that emerged in 1990, 1999 and 2001. They were also characterized by a threat of nuclear war ‘ranging from the possibility of attacks on civilian nuclear facilities to that of an inadvertent nuclear war.’26 In the discussion that unfolds, I briefly discuss the three events and then elaborate on the different or similar strategies adopted by the Indian government shaped by parties that espouse secular or religious-cultural narratives of Self. These three crises, where the first occurred during the phase when parties articulating the secular national identity were in power and the other two followed during the second phase when parties articulating the religious-cultural national identity constituted the government, emerge as relevant. While relations between the two states did deteriorate when they conducted nuclear tests and became overt nuclear powers in 1998, the fact remains that



this event was not followed by troop mobilization and did not portend war. It remained limited to accusations, considerable rhetoric and jubilation, and hence does not constitute a crisis. This section then seeks to address the following question: What are the actions taken by the Indian government against Pakistan, when instances of cross-border terrorism increase in JK or other parts of India? What tools of statecraft were deployed by the respective governments and how coercive, confrontational, or conciliatory were these strategies?

Crisis 1: On the brink of war? The year 1990 did not begin well for Indo-Pak relations. Between February and June of that year, relations between the two countries were considerably strained, teetering on the brink of war. In fact, it was widely believed that India and Pakistan were on the brink of a nuclear crisis.27 This was certainly a change from the 1980s when relations between Pakistan and India had appeared to be on the mend (with the exception of the Brasstacks crisis in 1987). The explanation for deteriorating relations lay in the fact that several events such as the alleged nuclear threat by Pakistan and troop movements came to converge around the rising insurgency in JK. During the late 1980s, there was widespread unrest in JK with continual confrontation between the Indian army, paramilitary forces and the militants of various organizations. In late 1989 and early 1990, the kidnapping of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s (India’s Home Minister at the time) daughter,28 bloody clashes between the paramilitary and the militants, dissolution of the state Assembly, imposition of the Governor’s rule in 1990 and assassinations of prominent members of the society marked the beginning of extensive unrest in JK. This inevitably created considerable tension between India and Pakistan, since India contended that Pakistan was responsible for infiltrating men and materials across the border, and was actively contributing to the violence and destabilization in JK. As India cracked down in JK, Pakistan ratcheted up the pressure by expressing solidarity with the Kashmiris.29



In fact, early in 1990, Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, visited India and conveyed a message regarding Kashmir. Khan met with Gujral, the then Foreign Minister and V. P. Singh, the then Prime Minister, and issued a warning supporting self-determination in JK.30 It is also believed that Khan made some ambiguous reference to a nuclear threat by referring to dark clouds hovering over the horizon. In an Indian cabinet meeting, it was thus decided to warn Pakistan to refrain from intervention in JK. The Indian posture appears to have been guided by the growing militancy in JK, and by the statements and rhetoric emanating from Pakistan in support of violence in JK. Further, a series of events increased apprehensions in India and consequent tensions between the two countries. On 2 February 1990, Benazir Bhutto inaugurated a ‘solidarity week’ on Kashmir. On 5 February, a nationwide strike was called in support of JK and the day was declared a national holiday by the Pakistani government. Following this, on 10 February, Bhutto convened a joint session of the Parliament in which Yaqub Khan proposed a resolution expressing solidarity with the people of Kashmir, which was adopted.31 All these activities coincided with the threat by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Amanullah Khan to march his supporters into the valley of Kashmir. Thus, on 11 February, approximately 2,000 people attempted to cross over into the Indian side of the LoC. As a result, six people were killed when Indian security forces opened fire. Pakistan reacted by sending emissaries around the world to mobilize public opinion 32, followed by a nationwide televized address delivered by Yaqub Khan that fanned the hawkish mood in Pakistan vis-à-vis Kashmir. In April, Bhutto promised ‘a thousand years war’ and a fund of $4 million to support ‘freedom fighters’ across the LoC. She also made references to chasing away Jagmohan, the Governor of JK. While this rhetoric may well have been tied to the election (as evinced in the speech by Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan occupied Kashmir [PoK] on 14 May, in which he said that each Kashmiri would dominate a thousand Hindus),33 the fact remains that these utterances did not ease tensions. It is possible that



the political elite in Pakistan was nudged in the direction of aggressive rhetorical exchange by groups within Pakistan, such as Jammat-i-Islami, ISI and the Pakistani army that clamoured for increased intervention.34 In India, Prime Minister V. P. Singh responded by declaring that India would retaliate even if it meant war and that it would take decisive action against any Pakistani intervention in JK. On 10 April, 1990, V. P. Singh, under pressure from the opposition and coalition members, urged Indians to be psychologically prepared for war. Further, responding to Bhutto’s speech, he declared in the Lok Sabha, ‘I warn them that those who talk about thousand years of war should examine whether they will last thousand hours of war.’35 Singh also claimed that Pakistan had moved its radar systems up to the border, made operational its forward airbases and mined the frontier with India.36 It was alleged that Pakistan’s strategy was to avoid direct confrontation but to destabilize India. In this regard, reference was made to Operation Topac, a strategic game plan by Indian defence analysts of Pakistani strategies and designs.37 Singh stated, ‘In my perception, Pakistan’s strategy is to avoid armed conflict, yet to continue to fan insurgency within India. Their strategy is to achieve the territorial goals without the price of war.’38 He also said that his intention was to avert war. It is believed that V. P. Singh’s statements were in part motivated by the fact that there was a security crackdown in JK with curfews and extensive arrests, and these statements were intended to warn Pakistan not to interfere.39 While the political elite of both states was issuing aggressive statements, there were other issues that became intertwined and added to the increasing tensions. There was some apprehension about Pakistan’s increasing nuclear capabilities and this had been aggravated by Yaqub Khan’s comments earlier in the year. In fact, Seymour Hersh reported in The New Yorker that there was reliable intelligence that Pakistan had between 6 to 10 nuclear weapons and that some of these had been deployed on Pakistan’s F-16 fighter planes.40 At the same time, Michael Krepon writes that reports about the alleged threat of mobilization of nuclear weapons were not credible.



Krepon argues that there is no credible evidence that Pakistan had deployed nuclear weapons during the crisis, evacuated Kahuta complex, stored nuclear weapons in Baluchistan or armed its F-16’s with the weapons.41 While the credibility of nuclear threat remains questionable, the fact is that the atmosphere was rife with rumours of nuclear mobilization, adding another layer of complication to the unfolding crisis. In India, V. P. Singh is believed to have made inquiries from the air force, whether or not a sneak nuclear attack could be repulsed. He was informed that there were no guarantees and that India needed to develop its own nuclear deterrent.42 Singh’s statement, ‘India would have to review its peaceful nuclear policy if Pakistan employed its nuclear power for military purposes’ should be viewed in light of these events.43 It must be noted that the nuclear weapons programme in India has consistently received tacit, if not overt, support from the political elite of all the important parties.44 As a result of the heightened tension between the two states, every move of the two governments became a source of suspicion, further aggravating tensions. Pakistan reacted to the statements and read the deployment of troops as an act of intimidation.45 Islamabad viewed with suspicion the increasing presence of forces in JK and Punjab.46 It is a fact that in order to deal with the insurgency in JK, India had moved more troops into the region. The 8th Mountain division was moved into JK but without its divisional artillery and heavy vehicles. As Chari et al. point out, by mid-April there were approximately 2,00,000 troops from the army and paramilitary. There was also a 17,000 strong local police force. Troops were also deployed in Punjab in order to prevent terrorist groups from infiltrating and sabotaging lines of communication. Essentially, India claimed that ‘the build up of forces on the border was to prevent cross border infiltration and did not constitute a build up of forces preparing for any hostile action against Pakistan.’47 However, the fact that the Prime Minister permitted the Indian Air Force (IAF) to speed up its defensive operations and activate its forward bases did raise some concerns. Pakistan was also concerned with the deployment of the armoured division in



Mahajan, Rajasthan. This division was the only one that was out of its usual position. Meanwhile, Pakistan was not taking any chances and had a 1,00,000 strong force along the LoC in Kashmir. While Pakistan remained apprehensive of Indian moves and motives, Indians too were cautious about deployment of troops across the border. General V. N. Sharma, Chief of Army Staff, believed that tank units of Pakistan’s 11 Corps had moved into the desert region of Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar across the border from the Indian states of Punjab and Rajasthan, respectively.48 Also, parts of Pakistan’s Corps had moved into the Shakargarh bulge just across the border from the vital road that linked Jammu to Punjab. Indians were also concerned with the residual deployments of Pakistan’s armed forces after the integrated land–air exercise called Zarb-i-Momin (‘Sword of the Believer’) involving 2,00,000 soldiers conducted around 9 December 1989. This was the largest exercise in Pakistan’s history. It was believed that troops had not yet returned to their peacetime positions.49 The Indian assessment was that ‘Pakistan was keeping troops ready as a back up support to the increased terrorist activity in Indian territory across the border and could take full advantage of terrorist successes to support military intervention.’50 According to Hagerty, US military attachés confirmed that Indian forces were not preparing for an offensive. Their counterparts in Pakistan confirmed the same in February. Nevertheless, by April, the two air forces were definitely on high alert. India ‘permitted the air force to go on high alert in the border areas and especially in Rajasthan, as the opposite airbases in Pakistan had gone on high alert. Accordingly, radar activities were upgraded.’51 But ‘the American attaché in Pakistan confirmed that neither the forward operating bases for IAF were opened up nor were the strike corps moved out of their usual stations.’52 In fact, as Krepon points out, India did not pull out the armour associated with its strike corps and Pakistan did not mobilize its strike corps to the front.53 The Pakistanis decided to talk to the Indians on a hotline and were informed that the armoured division in Mahajan was a part of India’s annual armour training exercise. This was



also confirmed by the US, which had been similarly reassured by the Indian Ministry of Defence. In fact, Chari et al. point out that India took the US ambassador into confidence and requested that his staff verify that India had not deployed its armour. Such action on India’s part may have been triggered by the fact that India believed that the border was already under American surveillance. India also sent its defence secretary Naresh Chandra on a quiet mission to Islamabad to reassure them that there was no mobilization. Nevertheless, matters were not really resolved. By mid-April 1990, the US warned that things were getting out of control and asked both sides to lower tensions by cutting rhetoric and avoiding troop deployments. Nudged by the US towards a dialogue, Gujral and Khan met in New York on 25 April, and India and Pakistan agreed on CBMs aimed at reducing tensions. And yet, even though Khan and Gujral were talking of reducing tensions, in India the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated, ‘the government of India will not tolerate infringement of its sovereignty and integrity’ and did not rule out war.54 The US had, since quite early in the crisis, become involved in tempering the rhetoric and attempting to reassure the two parties that there was no mobilization on either side. It was estimated that there was a fifty-fifty chance of war.55 Eventually, in mid-May, the Deputy National Security Advisor Robert Gates was sent to South Asia to help defuse the tensions in the region.56 Gates met with Pakistani President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Army Chief Mirza Aslam Beg and conveyed the message that American war-gaming scenarios of Indo-Pak confrontation predicted Pakistan’s defeat, that Pakistan would not receive the support of the US in the event of a war and that Pakistan should curb support of terrorist groups. Gates then met with Prime Minister V. P. Singh and other defence and foreign officials in India. He conveyed to them the futility of resolving the situation by increasing tensions, especially given the possibility of a nuclear war. Two weeks after the Gates mission, the crisis ended. India announced the withdrawal of the armoured division from Mahajan and proposed a set of military and non-military CBMs, which will be discussed at length later in the chapter. India also



made three specific suggestions: that arrangements be made for patrolling the border with the acceptance of the principle of hot pursuit,57 that Pakistan assure India that it would not allow training camps to be set up on its territory along with a verification mechanism and that Pakistan hand over Sikh terrorist Lal Singh to India. While matters were temporarily resolved, the fact remains that there was little progress made on resolving the crux of the problem between the two states. As evinced by the foreign secretary level talks held between 17 and 20 July 1990 in Islamabad, the stance of the Indian government involved refusal to discuss Kashmir until terrorism abated and that of the Pakistani government was the opposite. This deadlock has continued to characterize relations between the two states to the present and will be discussed again.

Crisis 2: A limited war in Kargil The political elite in India had come to believe that the formal acquisition of nuclear weapons by the state would change the strategic equation in South Asia in so far as Pakistan would have to reconsider its decision to abet terrorism in JK and elsewhere. This belief is best exemplified by L. K. Advani’s triumphant statement after India conducted its nuclear tests in 1998. However, India’s strategic moves came to naught as Pakistan continued to support terrorist activity across the border. India was shocked when it inadvertently discovered Pakistani intrusion across the LoC. 58 Not only was India shocked by Pakistan’s audacity but there was also the perception that Vajpayee had been ‘stabbed in the back.’ Thus, between May and July 1999, India and Pakistan plunged into a limited war along the LoC in Kashmir. This was sparked by Pakistan’s attempt to infiltrate regular troops from the Northern Light infantry as well as Kashmiri insurgents (Al Faran, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Harkat-ul-Ansar, Al-Badr) across a 150 km stretch of the LoC at three points in Batalik, Dras and Kargil in the spring of 1999. These troops and insurgents came to occupy 130 pickets abandoned by the Indian army during



winter months. More crucially, they manned strategic heights allowing them to control the route from Srinagar to Leh as well as the supply route to the Siachen glacier. The initial figure of the number of intruders was placed at 100, but then this was revised to 800 or more by the end of the month.59 Initial efforts to dislodge the intruders were unsuccessful, as there was lack of information about the strength and capabilities of the intruders, who were at an advantage in terms of geographical terrain. Since the use of ground troops was proving costly, India eventually decided to use air power to dislodge the intruders. The decision to do so was not considered lightly, as the air force had never been used to deal with Pakistani incursions along the LoC, at least not since the war in 1971. In fact, initially the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) rejected the use of air power on the recommendation of the air force. It was believed that such action would escalate the situation. However, a meeting between the Army Chief V P Malik, Air Chief Marshall A. Y. Tipnis and the CCS on 25 May led to a reconsideration of the decision.60 The IAF carried out the first round of air strikes on 26 and 27 May. During Operation Vijay (‘victory’), the IAF flew as many as 550 sorties. It lost two fighters and a helicopter in the battle. Indian authorities insisted that all air attacks were made in areas that were deemed to be on its side of the LoC, though Pakistani officials claimed that India had crossed the LoC and struck targets in PoK. By early June, the Indian army had made some progress and captured about 21 of the 70 positions occupied by the insurgents. India made clear to Pakistan that while it was prepared to hold talks, the discussion would be confined to the resolution of the Kargil crisis. Eventually, 12 June was set as the date for talks between the Ministers for External Affairs, Sartaj Aziz and Jaswant Singh. Aziz sought a partial de-escalation in Kargil and made it contingent on an end to the Indian artillery barrages and air strikes. He also stated that Pakistan had no control over the intruders. On his part, Singh insisted that Pakistan withdraw its troops. This attempt at dialogue was marred by the return of bodies of six Indian soldiers by the Pakistani army. India claimed that the soldiers had been tortured



and their bodies mutilated.61 Meanwhile, conflict between the two states continued and gradually, India began to recover some more strategic positions. Around 14 and 16 June, Indian forces managed to retake key positions near Dras and Batalik. By 20 June, they established control over Batalik itself. By the first week of July, Indian captured another strategic peak, the Tiger Hill. The strategy in India involved not only dealing with the intruders in the Kargil area but also conveying the message to Pakistan that it would open other fronts if necessary by amassing troops all along the border.62 As in the crisis of 1990, nuclear clouds appeared to hover over the two states and intensified the tension in the region. It was feared that Pakistan would launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack. This fear was heightened when Pakistan’s foreign secretary Shamshed Ahmed dropped hints of the war escalating to a nuclear confrontation. Chengappa writes: India then activated all its three types of nuclear delivery vehicles and kept them at what is known as Readiness State 3—meaning that some nuclear bombs would be ready to be mated with the delivery vehicle at short notice. The air force was asked to keep its Mirage fighters on standby. DRDO [Defense Research and Development Organization] scientists headed to where the Prithvi missiles were deployed and at least four of them were readied for a possible nuclear strike. Even an Agni missile capable of launching a nuclear warhead was moved to a western Indian state and kept in a state of readiness. Pakistan too is learnt to have kept its nuclear weapons in an advanced state of readiness.63

Nevertheless, this account of nuclear mobilization is not supported by other accounts. In fact, Chari questions the authenticity of this account, while also admitting that the lack of official disclaimer makes this an ambiguous claim.64 Meanwhile, in the first week of July, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, under pressure from the US, promised to restore the sanctity of the LoC as per the Simla Agreement of 1972 and to re-engage in the bilateral dialogue begun in Lahore a few months earlier. It is believed that the message to defuse the tension in the region had been conveyed to Sharif



as early as June when General Anthony Zinni, Chief of the US Central Command, visited Islamabad.65 However, it was only after Sharif’s visit to the US (that followed his visit to China) and his meeting with President Clinton that Sharif agreed to de-escalate. By 14 July, the first set of infiltrators began to withdraw. From Wirsing’s account, we gather that efforts at back-channel diplomacy were made by Vajpayee to resolve the Kargil crisis and that, while India sought the withdrawal of Pakistan, Pakistan sought the withdrawal of both the forces.66 While India was willing to discuss the issue of Pakistani troop withdrawal with Pakistan and did involve the US, India’s diplomatic overtures were limited and resistant to international mediation efforts as indicated by its rejection of Kofi Annan’s offer of mediation as early as May.67 Operation Vijay was costly in both human and material terms. Official Indian sources state that 487 men were killed and 1,000 were injured, though unofficial figures indicate a higher toll. The war was seen as a result of intelligence failure on the part of various agencies in India. It is believed that indications regarding infiltration were ignored.68 As a result, the Indian army set up permanent posts every 200 yards along the LoC, decided to build all weather bunkers at high altitudes, purchased a variety of equipment such as direction finding devices, snow clothing, goggles, snow mobiles and heating appliances to provide for a more continuous monitoring along the border. More intensive training for high altitude battles was also begun, as seen in the training of troops in Alaska. In early January 2000, General V. P. Malik, the Chief of Army staff, declared that in future confrontations with Pakistan, India might cross the LoC and would not be so restrained. In fact, India took great pains to stay on its side of the LoC despite the fact that it would mean higher casualties and an uninterrupted supply line for the Pakistani troops on the heights. This decision was made even though the National Security Advisory Board recommended that India consider crossing the border.69 India’s restrain was also shown in the fact that it did not extend the conflict horizontally and open other lines of confrontation, though it is clear that it did mobilize for war on a wider scale.70 Given the vocal rhetoric



of the BJP to take decisive action and cross the LoC during the past several years, such restraint was remarkable indeed. The Kargil episode not only resulted in a limited war but ended dialogue between the two states. In fact, the events that followed were not really conducive to further dialogue. In August, India shot down a French-built Pakistani plane that Delhi said had strayed into Indian space.71 As Pakistan experienced a coup and Musharraf seized power on 12 October 1999, India questioned the legitimacy of the new government, upset as it was with Musharraf who was seen as the force behind the attack in Kargil. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) talks were postponed as a result of India’s refusal to do business with Musharraf. The deteriorating relations were not improved by the hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft from Kathmandu on 23 December. The plane eventually landed in Afghanistan and the hijackers demanded $200 million, the release of 35 Kashmiri militants and the body of a slain militant in exchange for the release of 163 hostages.72 After much negotiation with the Indian government, the demands were reduced to the release of three prominent militants, who eventually surfaced in Pakistan.73 As allegations and insinuations were made by India about Pakistan’s complicity, Pakistan in turn alleged that the hijacking drama had been masterminded by India in order to isolate Pakistan internationally.74 The year ended on an extremely sour note with India continuing to accuse Pakistan of supporting increased militant activity from across the border.75 Efforts by Pakistan to resume the Lahore process were rejected by India, which insisted that Islamabad end crossborder terrorism as a measure of its seriousness and establish peaceful relations. Indeed, after Vajpayee’s efforts in Lahore (February 1999), the intrusion in Kargil was seen not simply as a matter of violation of LoC but also as a betrayal. India thus virtually froze contact with Pakistan. But it is believed that, as a result of back-channel diplomacy, there was a tacit agreement for a cease fire along the LoC in July and a more explicit one later that endured from December 2000 till July 2001.76 While the skirmish in Kargil was extremely restrained from the Indian



perspective in terms of not crossing the LoC and taking the war across to the Pakistani territory, there are reports that in 2000, the Army undertook calibrated offensive action across the LoC to engage the Pakistani army and destroy areas of infiltration. According to Swahney and Sood, such raids occurred in Medhar, Akhnoor, Kotli, Naushera and Pallanwala between January and April of 2000.77 However, these events did not lead to an intensification of crisis between the two states. In fact, there appears to be little coverage of these events and it certainly did not draw the political elite of the states to engage in the usual inflammatory rhetoric. Their silence in this regard is surprising to say the least.

Crisis 3: Attack on the Indian parliament The simmering tension between India and Pakistan flared again as a result of two events that occurred late in 2001. The first event, on 1 October, was an attack on the JK Legislative Assembly, causing the death of 36 people. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by Lashkar-e-Toiba (‘Army of the Pious’) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (‘Soldiers of Muhammad’) organizations reportedly based in Pakistan. It provoked Farooq Abdullah, the Chief Minister of JK, to declare, ‘we have to go across and destroy the terrorist training camps in Pakistan whether Advaniji [the Deputy Prime Minister of India] agrees or not.’78 While Vajpayee and Musharraf pledged to avoid escalating tensions and Vajpayee offered humanitarian aid for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the fact remains that the Indian political elite was deeply frustrated with Pakistan’s role in fostering terrorism in India.79 India reacted by destroying at least 12 posts in Mendhar and Akhnoor sectors of Pakistan and killing 30 terrorists allegedly trying to infiltrate into JK. George Fernandes, the Indian Defence Minister, described these actions as ‘normal military response to such provocations and nothing beyond.’80 Fernandes reportedly also spent considerable time looking at crucial border maps along with the deployment of forces and was briefed by the three chiefs of the army and military intelligence. Chawla observes that there was not a ‘single meeting



of the Cabinet Committee on Security where the military option was not discussed.’81 In a series of interviews conducted by the magazine India Today, politicians from different parties and erstwhile bureaucrats seriously debated punitive strikes against Pakistan. The precedence of American action in Afghanistan was invariably raised. J. N. Dixit’s (erstwhile Foreign Secretary and the NSA to the Congress-led government that came to power in 2004) observation that ‘If America can travel 10,000 km to take out terrorists and the Taliban government, India at least can take action in the interests of its national security’ was shared by many.82 The interviews indicate that there was considerable support for such aggressive action across party lines and coalitions. The discussion in the media about possible war scenarios was also indicative of the aggressive political mood in the country.83 Reflecting this mood, Vajpayee ruled out a meeting with Musharraf on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. As India mulled its options, it was confronted by another attack, one that deeply challenged its sovereign status. The second event occurred on 13 December and involved an attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi when it was in session. The attack was conducted by five terrorists who breached the security cordon by firing AK-47 guns and throwing grenades. In the skirmish that followed, the terrorists and six policemen were killed. Though none of the Members of Parliament were harmed, the fact is that had the attack succeeded, the terrorists would have managed to eliminate most of India’s national leadership. Not only were there some 200 Members of Parliament, but the Vice President, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Home Minister, the Defence Minister and other cabinet members were also present. Advani described the attacks ‘as the most audacious and most alarming act of terrorism in the history of two decades of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India.’84 This event was singular in that it was the first time the most symbolic institution of the Indian nation (though the attack on India’s Red Fort in December 2000 came close) had been attacked and in the reaction it provoked in terms of the gradual and intensive pressure mounted by the



Indian government. Relations were not helped by the diplomatic spat that ensued between India and Pakistan. It was sparked by Pakistani Defence spokesman Major General Rashid Qureshi’s call for a joint impartial inquiry on 16 December and Advani’s rejection of it. Advani’s response that India was unwilling to share intelligence and doubted Pakistan’s sincerity was shaped in part by Qureshi’s accusation that India had planned the attack with the intention of blaming it on Pakistan and was a ploy to seek international attention.85 The mood in the country turned towards stronger retaliation. As C. Raja Mohan observed, ‘There is a growing belief in New Delhi that the time has come to call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff. If it does not, India places itself in permanent vulnerability to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.’86 The fact was that India seemed to be in a state of ‘strategic paralysis’ where it appeared unable to deal with evident sponsorship of terrorism by Pakistan, in that it had been unable to dissuade Pakistan from such activities in the past decade and more.87 However, inaction at this juncture would have been costly for the BJP-led NDA government, as it would have been perceived as weak by the electorate and even amongst coalition members. Most national political parties called for a hard-line policy against Pakistan and offered complete support to the government.88 The BJP (leading member of the ruling coalition) urged the Prime Minister to follow the lead of the US in its action against Afghanistan,89 while the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) demanded the destruction of terrorist camps in Pakistan.90 The main opposition party, the Congress, declared through its spokesman: ‘Congress pledges its support to the government in any well considered step it may contemplate or take to counter terrorism. There cannot be two views in the country on this question.’91 However, the party also clarified that war should be the last option.92 As India tried to break out of its ‘strategic paralysis,’ several means of projecting force and compelling Pakistan to end support for cross-border terrorism were discussed. These included hot pursuit of terrorists into Pakistani territory, limited strikes or special operations against terrorist camps and even limited war.93 There was considerable pressure



from the armed forces, which felt that inaction would be very expensive for India.94 India eventually launched a strategy that involved a gradual but sustained increase of pressure on Pakistan while demanding that Pakistan ban Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, extradite 20 individuals suspected of engaging in terrorism in India, and more importantly, end support to insurgents in JK. The 10 month long military confrontation that followed lasted from December 2001 to October 2002, and involved two instances when the threat of war was high—one in January– February 2002 and the other in May–June 2002. India began its response by moving additional troops and weapons along the border with Pakistan.95 It alleged that this was a preventive measure as two corps of Pakistani troops failed to return to barracks after their exercises.96 In an effort to further increase the pressure on Pakistan, India recalled its High Commissioner to Pakistan and terminated the rail and bus links between the two countries.97 The IAF was placed on high alert and some of its bombers shifted to forward bases in the Himalayan region. Pakistan meanwhile had increased surveillance and increased its forces along the border.98 It had also deployed its medium range ballistic missiles that could be equipped with nuclear warheads.99 India too had similarly deployed its short range Prithvi missiles in the border region.100 As the troops massed on the border (nearly one million), there was exchange of fire between the two forces and violence in JK continued.101 Further, both countries ruled out a meeting of their leaders at the SAARC summit meeting the following month.102 India also expelled an officer of the Pakistani High Commission in India on espionage-related charges. In a further diplomatic offensive, India reduced the strength of the Pakistani mission by half and banned Pakistani air services after 1 January 2002.103 Islamabad retaliated with similar sanctions.104 Meanwhile, the Indian army laid mines, constructed bunkers and placed tanks and other artillery at strategic points.105 On 29 December, the Army announced that it was preparing for exercises and would test its capability in thwarting a nuclear attack.106 Army Chief General Padamanabhan asserted, ‘If anyone uses nuclear



weapons against India, Indian forces, Indian assets at sea, Indian economic or human interests, the perpetrators of that particular outrage will be punished so severely that their continuation in any fray will be in doubt.’107 The preceding measures were taken despite the fact that Pakistan, under American pressure, had arrested Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Muhammed and agreed to freeze the assets of the Lashkar-e-Toiba.108 India dismissed such actions as cosmetic and continued to mull other actions such as suspension of trade agreements, revoking of a bilateral water-sharing treaty and even opening the dams on the Chenab to flood parts of Pakistan.109 India has consistently alleged that terrorist or Jihadi organizations based in Pakistan usually assume a different name and form when pressurized, while continuing to engage in their activities. Jaswant Singh, India’s Foreign Minister, argued that the actions undertaken by Pakistan made ‘a mockery of the gravity of the situation.’110 This impression was reinforced by contradictory Pakistani claims that it would not take action against the alleged groups unless credible evidence was provided.111 Nevertheless, despite the aggressive statements made by Pakistan, the fact remains that in the days that followed, there was a crackdown on Islamic extremist groups within the country.112 However, India continued to increase pressure by positioning its aircraft carrier, six ships and two submarines within striking distance of Karachi.113 Even as there was escalation of tensions at several levels, both diplomatic and military, India did not disengage completely.114 In fact, contact between the Director Generals of Military Operations remained open and the two states exchanged lists of nuclear installations and facilities on 1 January 2002, an agreement they had arrived at in 1988.115 While early in 2002, India did reject any face-to-face talks between the two leaders116 and even refused Islamabad’s invitation to Advani for talks in March, by April, K. C. Pant, chairman of the Planning Commission, visited Islamabad for the SAARC ministerial conference. Thus, even though bilateral talks remained suspended, at least regional dialogue as exemplified by the SAARC meeting was resumed. While India acknowledged



that Musharraf’s speech in January had indicated a tougher stance against Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, and thus created a space for dialogue, none materialized in the wake of Pakistan’s refusal to extradite terrorists demanded by India.117 Meanwhile in May, there was an attack on the Kaluchak army base in JK. The attack resulted in several deaths; mostly wives and children of Indian soldiers. This event led to the second crisis wherein India cancelled all military leave and on 20 May, Advani announced that India ‘would go ahead and win the proxy war like we did in 1971.’118 India retaliated by asking Islamabad to recall its ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi and threatening war.119 As proof of its intent, India ordered the Eastern Naval Command f leet to join the Western f leet in the Arabian Sea.120 Indian forces were put on high alert.121 In an address to the troops stationed near the border, Vajpayee declared that ‘the time has come for a decisive battle’ and that the troops should be ready for the ‘supreme sacrifice.’122 Meanwhile, firing across the border increased, 123 and the situation was not improved by Pakistan’s announced intention to conduct missile tests even though these were seen as an effort to placate the domestic audience and to gain international attention.124 Both parties engaged in tough talk. In an interview, Musharraf announced, ‘We have forces. They follow a strategy of deterrence.’ If deterrence fails, ‘we are very capable of an offensive defence.... These words are very important. We’ll take the offensive into Indian territory.’ In India, George Fernandes retaliated by stating that it would be very irresponsible to think that they can go ahead with a nuclear weapon: ‘It may harm us but it will devastate them for all time to come.’125 Previously, Fernandes had stated that: Pakistan can’t think of using nuclear weapons despite the fact that they are not committed to the doctrine of no first use like we are. We could take a strike, survive and then hit back. Pakistan would be finished. I do not really fear that the nuclear issue would figure in a conflict.126

It was later confirmed by the NSA Brajesh Mishra that India came very close to a war after the 13 December attacks and in



May of 2002.127 Swahney and Sood also contend that Operation Parakram, as the mobilization of troops was termed, was intended for war and that in early January and mid-June, India was on the verge of invading Pakistan, though the strategies for military engagement were very different. However, the plans were aborted. As the Indian army announced the induction of Prithvi missiles with a range of 150–200 km, 128 Pakistan’s chief nuclear scientist Pervez Hoodboy stated that Pakistan’s nuclear warheads were in place and that ‘we are much closer to a nuclear confrontation with India than at any other time.’129 In fact, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN defended his country’s refusal to adopt the no first use posture stating, ‘How can Pakistan, a weaker power, be expected to rule out all means of deterrence?’130 More significantly, Pakistan confirmed the movement of troops from the Afghan to the Indian border. Within India, organizations such as the VHP clamoured for action, offered to take on the responsibility of internal security so that the troops and police could be concentrated on the border and argued that India should abandon its no first use policy with reference to nuclear weapons.131 Uma Bharati, one of the extremely vocal and aggressive pro-Hindu members of the BJP, declared that ‘if you dream of reading the namaz [prayer] in Jama Masjid, we will unfurl the tricolour (Indian flag) in all of Pakistan’ and that Pakistan ‘better want peace with India or we were [are] ready to get back our borders.’132 Provocative rhetoric aside, India and Pakistan held the annual meeting of the Indus water commission as per schedule, though there were some suggestions of abrogating the treaty to punish Pakistan.133 On the diplomatic front, India accused a Pakistani High Commission member of spying, while Pakistan is said to have interrogated and tortured a member of the Indian commission in Islamabad.134 As the tensions increased, the US sent Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the region. Armitage convinced Musharraf to disavow terrorism and conveyed this to India. In response, India agreed to pull back some of its naval forces from the Arabian Sea, reduce the alert level of its armed forces, lift restrictions on



over flights and name an envoy to Islamabad.135 India indicated that it would be willing to engage in joint patrolling, though there seemed to be some difference of opinion amongst the members of the Indian government.136 In fact, there were reports that India was proposing a verification mechanism that shared intelligence with the UK and the US, though it was also clarified that India would not accept any international presence.137 Pakistan, on the other hand, rejected the joint patrolling offer and proposed an ‘international neutral mechanism.’138 Both countries have different reasons for their specific proposals. India does not wish any international presence along the LoC, as it fears increased interference and less manoeuvrability in dealing with Pakistan. This is consistent with the long standing aim of the Indian foreign policy establishment to keep external powers out of South Asia. Pakistan, on the other hand, believes that conceding to joint patrolling would bring legitimacy to the LoC, which may then be regarded as the international border (a fact not acceptable to Pakistan), and in fact, seeks the presence of other powers to highlight the dispute and balance India. In the end, the situation was temporarily resolved as infiltration into JK had lessened, though Musharraf continued to make statements that he had made no promise to stop movement along the LoC forever (conceding Pakistan’s complicity), that nothing was happening along the LoC and that as far as training camps were concerned, it was Pakistan’s business.139 In India, the political leadership felt vindicated.140 However, India’s sense of vindication and victory (if one can call it that) appeared illusionary. Ganguly and Hagerty observe that India’s coercive diplomacy did not work and India’s demands were not met.141 In fact, erstwhile military officers were highly critical of India’s extensive mobilization and felt that it was counterproductive in that it showed Pakistan that India was unwilling to use force and sapped the morale of the troops.142 Not only was the deployment costly (India spent $1.6 billion), but India had little to show in terms of altering Pakistan’s support for infiltration and cross-border terrorism. In fact, a series of incidents occurred in mid-2002 that are indicative of the continuing



cross-border tensions and low intensity conflict between the two states. In late July and early August 2002, there was some intrusion of the LoC along the Gurez Machal sector of JK. It was reported that 12 Indian soldiers had been killed, as they attempted to push back the intruders.143 Further, there were reports that while this was essentially an army operation, the air force did undertake some reconnaissance sorties. Skirmishes were also reported in the Dras-Mushkoh area near Kargil.144 In fact, Pakistan accused India of using fighter jets to bomb one of its posts in the area after Pakistan had repelled the attack and pinned down Indian forces. The allegation came amid heavy exchange of fire in several sectors along the LoC. The Indian army, however, denied offensive activity stating that ‘there was no Indian offensive and no casualties as claimed by Pakistan.’145 It was only much later that the Indian government acknowledged that its army along with the air force had undertaken a joint operation to evict Pakistani troops from what was referred to as Point 3260. Defence Minister George Fernandes confirmed that the intruders had come nearly 800 km into Indian territory.146 In another instance, India used heavy artillery, Mirage 2000 and helicopter gunships, and the Indian army undertook special missions across the LoC to dislodge bunkers at Loonda Post occupied by Pakistani troops.147 In fact, India appeared to be locked in an ongoing struggle with Pakistan to regain or dislodge Pakistani troops from several points along the LoC such as Point 5070 and Point 5303,148 and Point 5353.149 Nevertheless, the crisis was controlled and it did not lead to a conflagration of the dispute. In this regard, the initial denial by the army and the even more delayed admission by the government are puzzling. It seems it would have been in the interest of the Indian government to make public the intrusions into Indian territory. It certainly would have shown Pakistan’s continued support for militancy in JK. But the government refrained from comment, and in fact, sought to hush the matter when it was raised by the media. Perhaps the Indian government was loath to admit that there were some sectors that were still under Pakistan’s control and that it had been unable to dissuade Pakistan even after extensive and intense mobilization of the armed forces.



It appears that while India was willing to subject Pakistan to considerable pressure, its brinkmanship was hesitant, not only as exemplified by the above incidents, but also by the fact that India engaged in disciplinary action against Indian military commanders for engaging in risky behaviour. Thus, in January 2002, Lt. General Kapil Vij, commander of 2nd Corps was removed from his position for placing his forces too close to the border. Similarly, early that year, Air Marshal V. K. Bhatia was transferred out of the border region after his aircraft strayed into Pakistani air space and he was forced to land in Leh.150 These incidents go to show that while the Indian government sought to engage in coercive diplomacy by an unprecedented deployment of troops, it refrained from impetuous action and was careful to avoid an accidental war. India’s leadership continued to assert that Pakistan had to be held responsible for its activities and that there would be no dialogue until cross-border terrorism had stopped.151 While it refused to engage in bilateral dialogue to ease the crisis, it did not impede regional engagements, as exemplified by its presence in meetings related with SAARC in Pakistan.152 Eventually, India unilaterally announced a redeployment of its troops from the border in October 2002, though it was clarified that troops would not be removed from JK.153 The year 2003 was characterized by hesitant engagement wherein previous agreements were renewed,154 bilateral155 and regional156 diplomatic engagement was maintained, and discussions began about the resumption of communication and transport facilities.157 These efforts, aimed at easing the tense relations between the two states were sustained by Vajpayee’s gesture of friendship in his April speech in JK,158 Pakistani High Commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan’s contention that Pakistan was ‘prepared to hold talks at any place, any level and at anytime,’159 and India’s acknowledgement that Pakistan might not be able to control all the militants. The latter was reflected in Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha’s statement that ‘If there are elements which are outside their control and which are crossing the LoC despite their best efforts to stop them, then we should cooperate with each other to curb their activities,’160



and further in the distinction made by George Fernandes, between Pakistan and the militants who were keen to derail the peace process, even as he addressed the militant strike in the Army camp at Tanda.161 At the same time, as appears to be the pattern with IndoPak relations, disgruntlement was expressed in such instances as India’s expulsion of the Pakistani High Commissioner and three other staff members and reciprocal action by Pakistan, followed by Vajpayee’s warning that Pakistan was ready for its fourth defeat.162 Musharraf, in turn, avowed that nothing was happening at LoC and that India had ignored the seven CBMs proposed by Pakistan.163 In fact, a ceasefire call by Musharraf was rejected by the Indian officials. Islamabad, in turn, contended that there was massive troop mobilization in the Kargil-Dras sector. India stated that the troops were engaged in routine activity.164 Underlying the standoff were opposed stances regarding the situation in JK, since Islamabad continued to refer to it as a freedom struggle and as India saw it as a consequence of cross-border terrorism and infiltration.165 Nevertheless, the year was marked by a gradual thawing of relations and at the very least, there was a renewal of dialogue.

Analysis While the previous section discussed the three crises in detail, this section is concerned with unearthing the broad patterns of engagement, enabling us to compare the crisis and understand the significance of national identity orientations. Each of the three crises discussed were characterized by verbal sabre rattling by the political elite both within and outside the government, by use of overt and/or covert military pressures and the involvement of third parties, primarily the US.

Verbal sabre rattling During the first crisis in 1990, as the insurgency in JK unfolded, leaders in India and Pakistan engaged in incendiary rhetoric that was not conducive to calming the situation. The Indian



Prime Minister V. P. Singh did not mince words when he declared in the Lok Sabha, ‘I warn them that those who talk of a thousand years war should examine whether they will last thousand hours of war.’166 Singh was responding to Benazir Bhutto’s speech wherein she promised a thousand years war and $4 million to support the freedom fighters across the LoC and made references to chasing away the Governor of JK. Previously, around 13 March 1990, as massive demonstrations against the crackdown by the security forces took place in JK, Bhutto had travelled to Muzzafarabad in PoK and raised the prospect of jihad (‘holy war’). However, as discussed earlier, Bhutto was not alone in making such incendiary statements. Singh also responded by stating that India would respond decisively if Pakistan intervened in JK as exemplified by this statement: ‘I do not wish to sound hawkish but there should be no confusion. Such a misadventure would not be without cost.’167 Such statements by Singh were echoed by others in the government. For instance, Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed stated that war ‘would be fully justified if the objective of freeing Kashmir from the stranglehold of the secessionists was achieved.’168 Opposition parties were equally vocal in their response to the emerging crisis. BJP’s Advani went on to declare that Pakistan would ‘cease to exist’ if it attacked India.169 It is interesting to note that in early April, the BJP’s national executive committee passed a resolution urging the government to knock out training camps and transit routes of terrorists inside Pakistani territory. The party argued, ‘Pakistan’s many provocations amount to so many acts of war today. It is literally carrying on a war against India on Indian territory’ and that the doctrine of ‘hot pursuit is a recognized defensive measure.’170 This is a strategy that we will return to often in the course of this discussion. Rajiv Gandhi, leader of the Congress party, too urged some strong measures. He added, ‘I know what steps are possible. I also know what is in the pipeline and what the capabilities are. The question is, does the government have the guts to take strong steps?’171 Clearly, such rhetoric implied that the actions of the government were weak and lacked the ability to deter Pakistan.



As in the case of the first crisis, the second crisis of 1999 was characterized by rhetorical exchanges and provocative statements. The reaction of the BJP-led government was initially limited to seeking the withdrawal of Pakistan. However, as the conflict dragged on, India accused Pakistan of deliberately torturing its soldiers and mutilating their bodies. These events eventually led the BJP party members to declare that Pakistan’s intransigent attitude ‘may eventually end up changing the LoC all along the Kashmir border with Indian forces pushing Pakistan beyond PoK.’172 By the end of June, Vajpayee, whose public utterances had referred to Pakistan’s betrayal warned that ‘India would neither run away from war nor would it return the land it would capture if war was imposed on it this time.’173 At the same time, the BJP-led government did engage in back-channel diplomacy to end the war. Even as the Indian government insisted on the unconditional withdrawal of the infiltrators, there were rumours that the government might offer safe passage to the infiltrators and that it was open for dialogue with Pakistan.174 Similarly, in 2001, Prime Minister Vajpayee and other members of his government made strong statements regarding decisive moments when India had to undertake strong retaliation, that India was running out of patience and if nuclear confrontation would harm ‘us,’ it would destroy ‘them’ for all time to come. India blamed the Parliament attack on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba and demanded that Pakistan take stringent action against the Lashkar-eToiba and Jaish-e-Muhammed by arresting their leaders and freezing their assets. Much rhetoric flowed between the two countries as Vajpayee, in a televized address, promised to fight terrorism to the end, adding that ‘the battle against terrorism has reached its final phase,’ and Advani in a cabinet meeting argued that ‘we will liquidate the terrorists and their sponsors wherever they are, who ever they are.’175 In discussing the role of Pakistan in the attacks, Advani declared in the Parliament that Pakistan—the result of an indefensible two-nation theory, a theocratic state, with an extremely tenuous tradition of democracy—was unable to reconcile itself to the reality of a



secular, democratic, self-confident and steadily progressing India.176 Even as Pakistani President Musharraf warned India against ‘any kind of precipitous action,’ General Hamid Gul, the former head of the Pakistani secret service, said he could not rule out the possibility of a conflict with India escalating into nuclear exchange. He told the BBC: ‘we did not develop nuclear bombs to put them in the cupboard.’177 Similarly, Musharraf hinted in an interview that he was prepared to use nuclear weapons in case of war with India.178 Clearly, Indo-Pak relations are characterized by provocative exchanges between the political elites of the two countries in the three crises discussed here, though more in the second phase as compared to the first. While such provocative gestures and statements do indicate the level of hostility between the two states, often such rhetoric is directed internally towards raising morale, gathering support, showing the steely resolve of the government and countering criticism from the opposition parties. While such tactics may also lock the elite into adopting a certain position, we find that in the three crises discussed above, the elite was able to manoeuvre and even sustain a dialogue that eventually resulted in resolving the crisis at hand.

Coercive diplomacy India and Pakistan were seen to be hovering close to a possible war twice in this 13-year period and actually went to war on one occasion. These incidents of ‘crisis of war’ occurred in 1990, 1999 and 2001. Broadly, the Indian government responded to the perceived instances of cross-border terrorism, infiltration and other threats by mobilizing the armed forces and engaging in battle, by increasing troop presence along the border and in the state of JK, by closing communication channels and by playing up the nuclear threat. As discussed earlier, the crisis of 1990 converged around the insurgency in JK, alleged nuclear threats by Pakistan and troop presence along the border. India reacted to the events by increasing troops in Kashmir to more than 2,00,000, alerting



the air force and continuing winter exercises of the armoured division in Mahajan, despite the growing tensions between the two states. It took almost four months before the tensions could be reduced between the two states and they engaged in dialogue. It is interesting to note from the narrative of events that despite reassurance from the US to both India and Pakistan that neither side was mobilizing and that in fact most of the forces were in their usual positions with the exception of the armoured force in Mahajan, the crisis escalated to a point where war between the two states seemed imminent. The Indian government believed that such a mobilization by Pakistan was in part motivated by its desire to bring attention to the tension in the subcontinent and specifically to Kashmir. As for the motivations of the Indian government, it is hard to believe that the crisis was solely in response to actions undertaken by Pakistan. Clearly, V. P. Singh was attempting to send a message as well, to show that India would not tolerate Pakistan’s support of the emerging crisis in JK. It is noteworthy that even without extensive mobilization, there was intensive apprehension about possible war. Scholars have observed that the aggressive posture of the National Front government may be traced to the fact that the coalition led by V. P. Singh was heavily dependent on the BJP for its survival. While that may be the case, it is also a fact that V. P. Singh’s government did take action against the leaders of the BJP with regards to the Ramjanambhoomi controversy; an action that led to the downfall of the National Front coalition.179 Thus, the aggressive posture of the BJP alone does not explain the actions undertaken by V. P. Singh. Furthermore, the fact is that the Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi was no less hawkish in its posture. While the events in 1990 were characterized by possibilities of war, the crisis in 1999 was marked by a short war between India and Pakistan. In this instance, since the Indian government was confronted with the fact of infiltration by regular Pakistani troops, the war was essentially thrust on India. The actions of the Indian government led by the BJP were reactive, not proactive. In fact, even as the Indian government engaged



in war, it appears to have shown considerable restraint as exemplified by the fact that the government did not succumb to pressure by the army or the National Security Advisory Board to cross the LoC. In doing so, India not only prolonged the war but also incurred more casualties. Such restraint was remarkable especially in the context of continuing insurgency in JK, the symbolic and substantive gestures that marked the Lahore peace process and the rhetoric of the BJP and its more hardline allies to undertake proactive action against Pakistan. There was ample danger of appearing ineffective and yet the government refused to extend the theatre of war along the border or cross the LoC to launch an offensive against Pakistan. In fact, Vajpayee continued back-channel diplomacy in order to sort out the crisis. It appears that while the BJP was a vocal advocate of aggressive action against Pakistan, it could also react with pragmatic restraint when the situation required. The third crisis that unfolded with the attack on the JK legislature—and more importantly, the Parliament—involved the use of significant elements of coercive diplomacy. The Indian government used various diplomatic and military tools at its disposal. Thus, it stopped transport and communication facilities (cut off rail, air and bus links), recalled its High Commissioner and proceeded to mobilize the army, along with the navy and air force. In fact, the mobilization of the armed forces was the most sustained and dramatic in recent years. India mounted intensive pressure on Pakistan for as long as 10 months and almost went to war on two occasions. This kind of overt military and diplomatic pressure on Pakistan was clearly very different and much more aggressive than in 1990, though not unlike 1999. And yet, the context of such sustained coercive diplomacy was different in comparison to the first crisis. While the situation in JK remained violent, the Indian government believed that the nature of insurgency had changed and was characterized by a decline in indigenous militant groups but increased infiltration of foreign mercenaries from Pakistan. Further, the crisis had been preceded by the Kargil war in 1999. In fact, the triggers for the third crisis—the attacks on the JK legislature



and the Indian Parliament—were seen as grave provocations, especially after the attempted dialogue at Lahore in 1999 and Agra in 2001. As Pandyan observes, ‘given the powerful symbolism of Parliament in the world’s largest democracy and its significance as a symbol of national unity in a large and aried nation, the national demoralization and anger would most certainly have been a trigger for war.’180 The fact is that, although India almost went to war on two occasions, the significant word here is ‘almost.’ It is important to note that even though the mobilization of the armed forces was sustained and intensive, and there were skirmishes along the LoC as indicated by reports in 2000 and 2002, this did not result in an expansion of the hostilities. The narrative indicates that the Indian army was seeking the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from high passes and strategic mountain positions in the region which were within Indian territory, or had previously been left unoccupied by both parties. While Indian and Pakistani armies have routinely engaged in firing across the LoC and have demolished civilian and military structures over the years, the incursions reported after 2000 appear to be more serious.181 Given the fact that these incursions were the result of continued Pakistani infiltration, the actions of the Indian government were subdued, even though India did use air power to dislodge the infiltrators. In this regard, the international context also has a bearing. The actions of the US in Afghanistan after 11 September 2001 are precedents for states like India that have suffered decades of cross-border terrorism. Yashwant Sinha, the Foreign Minister in the BJP-led government, alludes to this logic as he contends that if the possession of weapons of mass destruction, absence of democracy and export of terrorism are reasons for one country to attack another, then Pakistan is a fitter case than Afghanistan. He further argues, ‘We know from experience, we know on the basis of evidence, that Pakistan does not fall in the same category as Iraq, it is in a much worse category.’182 As discussed earlier, Sinha’s statements echo the common sentiment among the political elite that India needs to take stronger action against Pakistan. Nevertheless, the fact remains that such action remained essentially at the level of contemplation.



Crisis events in 1990, 1999 and 2001 were marked by the nuclear shadow. While there is disagreement among scholars as to the extent of the nuclear crisis (particularly in 1990), the fact remains that both states rattled their nuclear sabres on these three occasions. In fact, scholars have argued that the presence of nuclear weapons (both overtly and covertly) has played a role in limiting conf lict in the region.183 Krepon, amongst others, contends that the possession of these weapons has not eliminated conflict, only limited it. Thus, in keeping with the stability–instability paradox, nuclear weapons have allowed for low intensity war (at least on Pakistan’s part), while at the same time playing a moderating influence.184 On the other hand, scholars like Khan argue that nuclearization has fanned the flames of low intensity conflict, making conflict in the region endemic.185 In the context of the discussion in this chapter, it is worth noting that both states (and several parties representing the two identity discourses in the case of India) used the nuclear threat, possibly containing conflict and inviting external pressure. While the focus of this section was the set of three crisis events that occurred during this period, it would be illustrative to include in our discussion what may be termed ‘non-crisis events,’ in the sense that they do not have the significance of a crisis. Comparing the aforementioned events to these non-crisis events is problematic, but at the same time, it does give us a perspective regarding actions and reactions against Pakistan. In particular, I am referring to the years when the Indian government was led by the Congress (1991–96) and later by the United Front coalition (with Janata Dal leading the coalition till 1998). During these years, Kashmir continued to remain a sore point between the two states. In fact, the data on casualties and incidents in JK indicates that the toll during the years 1993–96 was the worst during this decade-long crisis. The death toll of civilians just climbed steadily higher during these years and began to decline only after 1996, while that of security personnel continued to rise.186 However, despite the situation in JK, a series of meetings were held to resolve the outstanding issues, though ultimately these remained unresolved. In December 1992, the



destruction of Babri Masjid in India resulted in diplomatic expulsions by both countries, though they were initiated by Pakistan. Matters took a turn for the worse with the Bombay blasts in March 1993 and India categorically blamed Pakistan and began to mobilize world opinion to have it declared a terrorist state. During this time, Wirsing reports the presence of 3,00,000 to 4,00,000 troops, with two additional mountain divisions deployed in summer and some more troops relocated from the Sino-Indian border.187 There is a hint of some tension as a result of such large troop placement, but this is not significant enough to warrant a crisis. These years, especially after the failed talks in 1992, were characterized by disengagement with Pakistan. This phase in Indo-Pak relations clearly indicates that the Congress led by P. V. Narasimha Rao was able to engage in less conflictual interaction with Pakistan than the BJP-led government.

Third party mediation The narrative of crisis events indicates that strained Indo-Pak relations invited third powers (primarily US) in the region, and oftentimes, their presence was sought by one or both the states. While historically India has been against the involvement of other powers in the region and has preferred bilateral engagement, especially in its dealings with Pakistan, this was not the case in the three crisis events discussed. For instance, during the 1990 crisis, the National Front coalition led by V. P. Singh showed a willingness to involve the US in resolving the tensions between India and Pakistan. Thus, Americans were invited to review the deployment of troops and armour in order to reassure Pakistan that there was no mobilization. While American presence and mediation had been sought by India to put pressure on Pakistan and to verify the location of the armed forces, thus, reassuring Pakistan of its intentions, Chari et al. point out that V. P. Singh more or less rejected Robert Gates’ proposal for peace talks with Pakistan, saying that they would not allow alleged Pakistani support for the insurgency in JK to pressure them into talks. The authors also note that Gates offered to share



information obtained by American satellites, which by keeping both sides fully and accurately informed, could avert danger. However, there was no response to the offer. This may be because the Indian government did not want to legitimize surveillance and monitoring by the Americans, and hence, the possibility of greater American interference in the subcontinent. Similarly, the second and third crisis events were also marked by increased American presence and intervention. In fact, India appears to have shifted its strategy of keeping the US out of the South Asian region. This willingness to use third parties exceeds anything demonstrated by previous Indian political parties in power. It began with Vajpayee’s letter to President Clinton after the conduct of nuclear tests by India. While the letter (explaining the rationale for India’s nuclear tests) was sent to other heads of state as well, India began an intensive engagement with the US as it sought to deal with the international opprobrium.188 The crisis in Kargil and, later, the Parliament attacks invited increased American influence in the region, as India conveyed to the US its deep frustration with infiltration from across the border and terrorist attacks. The Americans dissuaded India from escalating tensions, encouraged Pakistan to withdraw troops from Kargil and to control terrorist organizations, and conveyed assurances to India. Thus, there was a steady stream of high level officials—General Anthony Zinni, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Strobe Talbot and Richard Armitage—involved in leading missions to the Indian subcontinent to contain the several crises that erupted during these years. Basrur argues that both India and Pakistan creatively expanded their nuclear strategy to invite outside intervention. In fact, India attempted to use the fear of nuclear war to encourage America to lean over Pakistan to end support for terrorist groups participating in JK.189 Such engagement with the US in its relations with Pakistan is unusual for the Indian government. It may well have been the result of the fact that having conducted the nuclear tests and thus achieved a major objective, the government was keen to better its relations with the US. There was also the perception of the US as a ‘natural ally’ as was often claimed by the



BJP-led government. The BJP also sought to blend its own ideology with the anxieties of US vis-à-vis Islamic fundamentalism. The BJP-led government’s approach in this matter has become more sharply defined since 11 September 2001. The government portrayed itself as fighting the same kind of problems that the US has since become preoccupied with. For example, the BJP Foreign Minister in his conversations with Strobe Talbot characterized Pakistan as a state that was nonviable and that had created the Taliban and was ‘now … in danger of becoming a creature of the Taliban.’190 The BJP-led government also harped on the fact that the Taliban regime was formally recognized by only three states: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. A failing Pakistan with widespread poverty, a large cadre of radicalized Islamic youth, nuclear weapons and without entrenched democratic institutions was neither in the interests of India nor of the US. Therefore, the BJP needed and used the leverage that the US has had with Pakistan’s rulers to prevent it from crossing an imaginary threshold in its confrontations with India. Crossing that line, it was feared, would precipitate a war, which would destabilize Pakistan and the entire region as well. Nevertheless, while the US may have been used to contain Pakistan, it is also possible that it came to acquire a tempering influence on India. This is best exemplified by the fact that India often withdrew from its strategy of coercive diplomacy without any significant change in Pakistan’s behaviour. Clearly, India led by the BJP was keener to involve the US in the region, though the BJP government was careful to point out that the US played the role of a facilitator rather than that of a mediator. It is also a fact that the increased engagement with the US did not mean that the BJP-led government was willing to conform to American expectations. This is amply demonstrated by negotiations regarding India’s acceptance of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or by other attempts to restrict India’s nuclear facilities. In the final analysis, it appears that while there is considerable closeness in the approaches of the Indian governments influenced by the two national identity discourses, the BJP-led



government did engage in more aggressive rhetoric and used all the elements of coercive diplomacy. While it was also more willing to involve the US, such involvement was intended to exercise pressure on Pakistan—coercive diplomacy through third parties. At the same time, it is entirely possible that given Pakistan’s provocations, any government in India would have reacted in the same manner.

II AGREEMENTS ATTEMPTED AND REACHED While discussion in the first section of this chapter distinctly conveys the impression that relations between India and Pakistan during 1990 and 2003 were dominated by tense relations that could break out into significant conf lict, the fact is that the two countries also made several attempts at dialogue. And while this engagement did not substantially resolve the outstanding issues, it did serve the purpose of lowering temperatures and preventing conflict on a larger scale. In fact, even though the two landmark meetings in Lahore (1999) and Agra (2001) were inconclusive (the latter more than the former), the two countries did agree to some military and non-military CBMs. In order to understand whether the actions of the Indian government are influenced by different narratives of national identity, or more specifically, whether the political elite espousing the secular discourse is likely to be more cooperative as opposed to an elite imbued with religious-cultural narratives, I will examine not only agreements arrived at but also proposals offered or rejected by the Indian government. These agreements/proposals relate to Kashmir, and military and non-military CBMs.

Kashmir Since Kashmir has been the locus and source of considerable dispute between India and Pakistan from the subcontinent’s



partition onwards, attempts to resolve it are of major concern. After the state of Kashmir was partitioned into PoK and JK in 1948, India and Pakistan have tried to resolve the issue by turning to the UN and by engaging in direct conflict or bilateral negotiations. Although the Simla agreement of 1972 required that India and Pakistan engage in bilateral dialogue to resolve the problem of Kashmir, the issue remained buried until the insurgency in JK in the 1990s. India contends that the insurgency in JK, while indigenous, has been supported by Pakistan and has been used by the latter to draw the attention of the world to Kashmir and to the existing dispute between the two countries. The Indian stance (both secular and religious-cultural) articulated much more clearly in the last few years has been that the crisis in JK is the result of cross-border terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. India has adopted the following positions regarding Kashmir vis-à-vis Pakistan: that Kashmir (PoK and JK) is a part of India; that India cannot be pressurized into negotiations by a proxy war, and hence, Pakistan must end cross-border terrorism; that the Kashmir issue is not the core issue and that resolving other disputes would eventually lead to better relations, thus enabling discussion on Kashmir. These positions are maintained simultaneously. The first suggests that India deems Kashmir to be firmly a part of the Indian Union and its internal situation is a matter for the Indian state. In keeping with this, it is argued that Pakistan should evacuate PoK. In fact on 22 February 1994, the Indian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution emphasizing that JK was an integral part of India and that [t]he only unfinished task is to join the Kashmir under Pakistani control … you can never take away our Kashmir. No one can.’ 191 In 1996, Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda stated, ‘Kashmir is an integral part of India and nobody on earth can annex it from us.’192 The sentiments expressed above are not uncommon. The fact is, this remains the position of the Indian government irrespective of the party in power. It clearly implies that the resolution of the Kashmir issue can best be achieved only by the evacuation of the occupied areas by Pakistan. While this may be the official stance of the Indian government, the fact remains that India is reconciled to



the partition of Kashmir and, for all practical purposes, considers LoC as the de facto international border. India further contends that it cannot be bullied by Pakistan to discuss Kashmir by engaging in what India refers to as crossborder terrorism. This again is a characteristic contention of the Indian government, but it suggests that there is possibility for dialogue between the two states. As evinced by the foreign secretary level talks held during 17–20 July 1990 in Islamabad, the stance of the Indian government involved a refusal to discuss Kashmir till terrorism abated, while that of the Pakistani government was the opposite in that discussion and resolution of Kashmir would automatically result in an end to the violence in the region. V. P. Singh, Narasimha Rao and others have made clear that they cannot be bullied into discussing Kashmir. This deadlock has continued to characterize relations between the two states to the present. Increasingly, however, it is acknowledged that India will have to engage in dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the situation in JK. For instance, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao of the Congress indicated his willingness to discuss Kashmir along with other issues. In a speech to the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian Parliament) in July 1994, Rao summed up the necessity of engagement and reiterated that: ...many countries have come to the conclusion that statesponsored terrorism by Pakistan in Punjab and Kashmir is a fact ... while taking note of this the bilateral dialogue with Pak will have to continue. We have to treat Pak with a certain amount of friendship, tolerance, firmness, a combination which is not always easy to achieve, but a combination which is perpetually going to be necessary.193

This was perhaps the first time since the mid-1980s that the Indian government recognized the need to engage in dialogue with Pakistan regarding Kashmir. However, it was only under Gujral that the foreign secretaries of the two countries (at a meeting held in Islamabad on 23 June 1997) agreed to include Kashmir in the agenda for discussion. Since then, the Indian government has consistently insisted that dialogue between



the two countries can be engaged in only after there is an end to cross-border terrorism. However, dialogue on this issue has been stymied by the dispute on modalities of approaching the Kashmir issue. Regarding the modalities of approaching the Kashmir issue, the position of the Indian government, irrespective of religiouscultural or secular national identity orientations, remains the same. Since acknowledging that Kashmir will have to be addressed by India along with other issues in its relations with Pakistan, two points of contention have emerged. Initially, in 1997, when Kashmir formally emerged on the agenda, there was some disagreement as to whether a Joint Working Group would be set up for Kashmir or whether the foreign secretaries would handle it.194 India has insisted on the latter, arguing that since Kashmir is a political problem, it needs to be solved at the level of foreign secretaries. Second, India has sought to focus on the resolution of the six or so contentious issues first or along with Kashmir, while Pakistan has insisted that discussion on Kashmir is of primary significance. Thus, even though there were a series of meetings set up to resolve Siachen, Sir Creek, Tulbul navigation, terrorism, drug trafficking, trade and cultural exchanges particularly during 1992 and 1994, the fact remains that none of these have been settled. The need to resolve them was raised prior to and in Lahore (1999), and in fact, the Indian stand has been that negotiations on these issues can continue irrespective of other problems, mainly Kashmir.195 However, Pakistan has linked progress on these issues to Kashmir and nowhere is this more evident than in the talks in Agra (2001), where prior to and during the meeting, Pakistani President Musharraf insisted that the core issue was Kashmir. In fact, in December 2003, Musharraf offered to set aside the longstanding Pakistani demand for a referendum in Kashmir in return for serious dialogue on Kashmir.196 India, on the other hand, has all along sought what it calls composite dialogue, seeking to address the several other contentious issues and then moving on to Kashmir. The result has been a deadlock with one seeking the resolution of Kashmir and the other an incremental, composite dialogue with an end to cross-border terrorism.



India’s actions appear to be motivated by two concerns. First, India is concerned that an Indo-Pak dialogue on Kashmir without an end to cross-border terrorism would grant legitimacy to Pakistan’s contention that the crisis in JK is a crisis of war of independence and not one of external interference as alleged by India. Not only would this make Pakistan’s contention credible, but it would also tantamount to rewarding Pakistan for supporting terrorism in JK. Second, India is apprehensive that granting Kashmir the centre stage would invite international intervention in the subcontinent that India, for one, is loath to encourage. In fact, India reacted strongly to Pakistan’s attempts to involve the UN in 2003. India called Pakistan’s attempts ‘empty’ and ‘self-defeating,’ and further contended that it had chosen not to react to the ‘propagandistic’ and ‘malicious’ remarks in the letters shot off by Islamabad’s Permanent Representative in the UN, Munir Akram, as that would only worsen the atmosphere created after Prime Minister Vajpayee’s peace initiative.197 It could well be that the Indian government is hoping for the return of normalcy, as in an end to violence and political instability in JK, before it puts Kashmir seriously on the table. For the moment, the fact remains that the Indian political elite, irrespective of its identity discourse, has appeared averse to handling the Kashmir issue in international forums. Nevertheless, as discussed earlier, India has appealed to the US regarding Pakistan’s encouragement of terrorist organizations in JK and elsewhere in India, and sought its influence in curbing such activity. At the same time, such invitation and involvement of third parties is limited. Since Kashmir has emerged on the agenda of issues to be discussed and was reiterated in the Lahore agreement (1999) as well, what are some of the possibilities offered by the Indian government towards resolving the dispute with Pakistan? The purpose in raising this question is to examine whether representatives of the secular or religious-cultural identity have different or similar proposals for the resolution of the Kashmir conflict. First, as discussed in the previous section, Kashmir as an agenda was not formally recognized till 1997.



Second, the NDA coalition, led by the BJP, seems to have made significant efforts in conducting back-channel negotiations regarding Kashmir, even though there are reports that previous governments made similar efforts as well. Initially, when the BJP came to power in 1998, its stance on Kashmir was fairly belligerent. In fact, after the nuclear tests in May 1998, Advani made some aggressive statements. In his opinion, ‘Islamabad should realize the change in the geostrategic situation in the region and the world and roll back its anti-India policy, specifically with regard to Kashmir.’198 Clearly, linking India’s nuclear weapons with the resolution of Kashmir, he went on to contend that: India’s bold and decisive step to become a nuclear weapons state has brought about a qualitatively new stage in Indo-Pakistani relations, particularly in finding a solution to the Kashmir problem. It signifies India’s resolve to deal firmly and strongly with Pak’s hostile designs and activities in Kashmir.199

Despite the nuclear sabre rattling, the fact remains that India has little choice but to engage in dialogue and seek a political solution. This has been amply demonstrated by the events since 1998. In fact, there are at least two separate instances of secret negotiations between India and Pakistan. The first instance occurred in 1999 in conjunction with the Lahore agreement. Wirsing observes that while it appeared that the Lahore agreement was more about military and strategic issues, the matter of Kashmir’s resolution acquired considerable significance behind the scenes. Wirsing’s claim rests on a series of secret meetings (nine rounds) that were held between officially designated representatives Mr Niaz Naik and R. K. Mishra between 3 March and 27 June 1999. 200 According to this account, Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif had agreed during the Lahore summit that the Kashmir dispute needed to be resolved but that it had to be done outside of the public glare. It was agreed that one person from each side would be appointed, at least initially. In March, Vajpayee took the initiative and the talks began. The basic elements guiding these discussions were that both sides should move beyond publicly stated positions



on Kashmir; that a solution to Kashmir must take into account the interests of India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people; that the solution must be just, fair and feasible; and finally, that the solution must be final and not partial.201 The two emissaries discussed nine proposals. Eventually, Naik suggested a solution whereby the Indian portion of JK would be partitioned and the valley of Kashmir would be given to Pakistan while the rest could remain with India. The Chenab River was to be considered the dividing line.202 A similar plan seems to have been offered by Pakistan earlier in 1991. J. N. Dixit, India’s erstwhile foreign secretary, reports that he was informed by Prime Minister Chandrasekhar that Nawaz Sharif had proposed that India should consider a referendum/plebiscite in the Valley and that India could keep Ladakh and Jammu while Pakistan would get PoK and the Valley.203 This offer was made on 25 May 1991, when Sharif was attending the funeral of Rajiv Gandhi. The proposal was rejected by India. In Wirsing’s account, Naik seems to be suggesting that the Indians were interested in the plan but that the discovery of increased infiltration along the LoC stalled discussions and changed the locus of attention. As India and Pakistan fought along the heights of LoC (Kargil), the focus turned towards withdrawal of Pakistani forces. Under the circumstances, the diplomatic mission of the two emissaries was reoriented towards bringing an end to the immediate crisis. The incidents along the LoC and leakage of information about the unofficial discussions led to an end of dialogue. What are we to make of this series of events? Certainly from Naik’s account reported by Wirsing, it appears that Vajpayee was extremely keen on settling the issue of Kashmir once and for all. At the very least, it also appears that besides Vajpayee, his NSA, Brajesh Mishra, was also deeply involved in these discussions. Beyond this, it remains a matter of speculation. As it stands, the proposed plan of the partition of Kashmir between India and Pakistan does not fit in with the overall strategy of the BJP; at least historically, since the BJP and its erstwhile avatar Jana Sangh had consistently sought the complete and irrevocable integration of JK into the Indian Union. More recently, the BJP and the RSS have been demanding the trifurcation of



the state, with Ladakh and Jammu acquiring greater autonomy within the region (as discussed in Chapter 3). This strategy of increasing regional autonomy within the state may be a genuine attempt to resolve the deep crisis within the state or geared towards decreasing the influence of the Valley in the region. Nevertheless, if, as Naik suggests, the BJP political elite did consider the proposal with seriousness and appeared inclined to support it, then such action by the BJP-led government must be considered of deep and lasting significance in resolving the core dispute between India and Pakistan. While the proposal languished in the wake of conflict in Kargil, it appears that the BJP political elite engaged in another set of negotiations to come to some final agreement on Kashmir. The second set of negotiations reportedly occurred in 2001. According to Abbas, Musharraf and Vajpayee were involved in secret negotiations and it was decided that Kashmir valley would be given complete autonomy in all areas except foreign affairs and defence within the Indian framework, and that there would be soft borders between PoK and JK. Such a plan required an end to cross-border terrorism and eventual autonomy to the Valley. Abbas contends that Musharraf went to the meeting in Agra with the intention of signing the accord but the hawks in the BJP derailed the plan.204 Abbas acknowledges that this information has not been corroborated by any other source. From our discussion in Chapter 3, it is not clear that the BJP-led government would have granted complete autonomy to JK. In fact, the debate about the autonomy of JK appeared to be restricted to some devolution of power and there was consensus across the various political parties that India could not revert to the original understanding with the government of JK, which is what the plan outlined by Abbas appears to be indicating. Then again, reports from Naik (as discussed by Wirsing) and Abbas suggest that the BJP political elite was open to options, which did not seem feasible, and in fact, had previously been rejected. While these reported discussions did not lead to concrete agreements, they certainly indicate the flexibility of the BJP (as opposed to other parties) on negotiating with Pakistan regarding Kashmir. The other option from the Indian perspective is that the LoC should be converted into an international border and the



status quo established permanently. At the same time, this is not a position that is raised in the public sphere very often, as it contradicts the argument that Kashmir in its entirety is an integral part of the Indian Union and that Pakistan should vacate the occupied areas. Dixit notes that there were some unpublicized efforts made by the Indian government. 205 Specifically, he mentions that in the summer of 1990, V P Singh authorized the Foreign Secretary Muchkund Dubey to revive the tacit agreement of 1972, that the LoC could be converted into a border. Benazir Bhutto denied the existence of any such agreement and said that conditions had changed since 1972. In 1991, Dixit himself repeated a similar offer to Nawaz Sharif but it was considered unacceptable. In 1997, however, Gujral, under whose premiership Kashmir was placed on the Indo-Pak agenda, asserted that the LoC could not be converted into a border.206 Vajpayee has also made similar statements.207 At the same time, in recent years, Jaswant Singh, the Foreign Affairs Minister in the BJP-led alliance, declared that there would be no more map making, implying that present borders were sacrosanct and that an agreement could be arrived at.208 While the Indian government maintains these contradictory stances, it appears that there is some agreement (among both secular and religious-cultural discourses) that the LoC can be converted into an international border. JK can then be granted some autonomy while remaining an integral part of the state. This appears to be the most likely option. In fact, the construction of a fence along the border by India is seen as an indication by Pakistan of an effort to curb infiltration and also to concretize the LoC into an international border. While the LoC may be considered a permanent border between the two states, India at present is not keen to have the border monitored by an international force. Pakistan has suggested that the Indian claim of cross-border terrorism and infiltration of militants from across the border be monitored by the US or a group of countries. However, as discussed in the previous section, India has refrained from accepting such an offer and has instead proposed that the border may be monitored by the troops of the two countries, though even that remains in doubt.



Confidence-building measures (CBMs) CBMs are state practices that are intended to increase the level of trust and to lower the likelihood of conflict. It is believed that through communication, constraints, transparency and verification, and CBMs, the behaviour of states becomes more predictable. These measures have usually followed crisis events. These agreements are scattered over the 13 years under consideration and have been concluded by governments articulating both the secular and religious-cultural national identity. The purpose of this section of the chapter is to compare military and non-military CBMs that were initiated, rejected or implemented by parties representing both kinds of national identity perspectives. These measures are seen to reflect the degree to which countries move towards or away from building trust and conflict.

Military CBMs As discussed in Part I of this chapter, the crisis of 1990 ended with the negotiation of certain CBMs. For instance, on 27 January 1991, India and Pakistan completed the ratification process of the Indo-Pak agreement on prohibition of attacks on each other’s nuclear installations and facilities.209 Since then, as stipulated in the agreement, India and Pakistan have exchanged lists of nuclear installations and facilities every year. This agreement has been undertaken irrespective of the degree of tension prevailing between the two countries. In fact, this stipulation has been met even when diplomatic engagement with Pakistan was severed during the crisis triggered by the events of October and December 2001. However, the effectiveness of this agreement remains in doubt since it is not clear whether Islamabad and Delhi have forwarded the complete list of all the nuclear installations in their respective states.210 Following this, between 5 and 7 April 1990, during the fourth round of foreign secretary level talks in Delhi, agreements were signed on the basis of previous talks on advance notice of military exercise and prevention of air space violations.



It was decided that India and Pakistan would avoid holding major military manoeuvres in close proximity, and if held, these exercises would not be directed towards the other side. In order to reduce any ambiguity surrounding the notion of ‘major exercise,’ the two countries also agreed upon the specifications of the term. These agreements were ratified in 1992 when Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister of India. In fact, several other agreements were arrived at as well. The two countries signed a joint declaration on the complete prohibition of chemical weapons,211 a memorandum stipulating a code of conduct for the treatment of diplomatic and consular personnel,212 and agreed that Directors General Military Operations (DGMO) of the two countries should speak to each other every week on a hotline.213 In 1994, India proposed the following CBMs: extending the agreement on prohibition of attacks on nuclear installations to population centres and economic targets; no first use of nuclear weapons or even the threat of it; upgrading links between DGMOs; and setting up of institutional mechanisms to implement agreements arrived at. However, these proposals did not result in any formal agreement between the two countries. In fact, from 1993 until almost 1999, there were no agreements even though efforts were made by the United Front government to restart dialogue in 1996. It was in the Lahore agreement that the issue of military CBMs was raised again. These were made particularly relevant in the context of overt nuclearization of the region by India and Pakistan. In fact, soon after the tests in May 1998, India and Pakistan held foreign secretary level meetings in June and November of the same year. No doubt these were also the result of intense international pressure. Eventually, at Lahore, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the foreign secretaries on 21 February 1999, stipulated that ‘the two sides shall engage in bilateral consultations on security concepts and nuclear doctrines, with a view to developing measures for confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields, aimed at avoidance of conflict.’214 It was agreed that the two states would provide advance notification of ballistic missile



tests, undertake measures to reduce risks of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons, abide by a unilateral moratorium on conducting further tests, seek to prevent accidents at sea, review implementation of previous CBMs and improve communication links. Further, it was also decided that the technical details would be worked out before mid1999. In August 1999, India’s National Security Advisory Board issued a Draft Nuclear Doctrine stating that India will pursue ‘a doctrine of credible minimum nuclear deterrence’ while having the capacity to inflict unacceptable damage to the aggressor.215 The doctrine also stated that India would pursue a triadic (land, air and sea) nuclear force and that it would adopt a policy of no first use against nuclear weapons states and no use policy against non-nuclear states, unless they were aligned with nuclear weapons states. India also stated that it would place a voluntary moratorium on further testing. It is ironic indeed to regard the conducting of nuclear tests and the declaration of an aggressive nuclear policy as a CBM. It could well be argued that it was the nuclear tests in 1998 by India and the subsequent nuclear doctrine that significantly damaged relations between the two states. In fact, Ganguly and Hagerty treat the nuclear tests in 1998 as a crisis event, arguing that the event was characterized by ‘bellicose rhetoric, significant movements of military forces in preparation for possibility of war and severe pre-emptive war pressures.’216 The authors base their arguments on Pakistan’s contention that there was credible information about possible destruction of their nuclear facilities by Israeli fighter bombers flying from India. In response, Pakistan scrambled their F-16 fighter planes and mobilized the Mirage and other ground based air defence units to ensure that their nuclear facilities remained well protected.217 India was reported to have mobilized its ballistic missiles. Pakistan also alerted several states about the possibility of an impending attack. While there was considerable bellicose rhetoric between the two states, and Pakistan more than India, appears to have mobilized to deal with an attack on its nuclear facilities, I hesitate to treat this event as a crisis, and in fact, consider it a CBM. I do so because there is no credible



evidence (other than allegations by Pakistan) that such an attack was imminent or that India had in any form sought to forcibly alter Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. The fact is that both India and Pakistan were de facto nuclear weapons states, much prior to the tests in 1998. India’s nuclear programme has been long standing and, as noted by Chengappa and Abraham, was intended for more than peaceful purposes.218 Abraham in particular persuasively argues that Indian ambitions regarding the nuclear programme since its inception had always been open ended and ambiguous, deliberately allowing for the possibility of weaponization. In fact, testing India’s nuclear capability had been debated for many years and tests had almost been conducted on at least two previous occasions. In 1991, the Congress under Rajiv Gandhi had stated that it would review the nuclear policy,219 and the tests were almost conducted under the leadership of Narasimha Rao but were aborted in the last instance as a result of American pressure.220 In 1996, India under the leadership of Gujral had vigorously rejected the CTBT, once again leaving open the option of nuclear weaponization. Talbott observes that there was consensus among various political parties about India’s nuclearization and subsequent resistance to succumb to American pressure designed to restrain India’s nuclear ambitions.221 Thus, the actions of the BJP-led government did not represent a departure from previous governments. The BJP fortuitously managed to do what other previous governments had intended to accomplish. However, it is also a fact that the BJP engaged in aggressive rhetoric. The Indian political elite could hardly contain its jubilation. In fact, Advani declared that India’s acquisition of nuclear weapons had qualitatively changed the nature of relationship between India and Pakistan, and showed India’s resolve to be firm and strong.222 Such statements by Advani and others in the BJP were considered deeply provocative and confrontational. In the case of Pakistan as well, nuclear weaponization has been suspected since the late 1980s, even though officially Pakistan had denied such accusations. Nevertheless, the fact remains that by 1991, the Bush administration could no longer



certify that Pakistan was not in the position of acquiring nuclear material and weapons. In fact, the 1990 crisis discussed earlier indicated that there was some possibility of a nuclear conflict, resulting in intense diplomatic engagement by the US. At that time, India and Pakistan were not overt nuclear states and their ambiguous status allowed them to continue avoiding a specific dialogue related to acquisition of nuclear weapons, other than refraining from attacking each other’s nuclear installations. The confirmation of India’s nuclear status as exemplified by Vajpayee’s statement that India was now a nuclear weapons state 223 clearly represented a departure from the past where India’s nuclear status was shrouded in deliberate ambiguity.224 India was now a nuclear weapons state ‘unambiguously, unapologetically and irrevocably.’225 Thus, the conduct of tests dispelled the prevailing ambiguity and suspicion, and allowed the states to begin engaging in dialogue, however limited. It is this condition of overt nuclearization that forced these states to begin dialogue, and hence, it should be seen as a CBM, since previously the prevailing ambiguity provided little incentive for coming to terms with their nuclear possessions.226 While the above section deals with agreements that were concluded between India and Pakistan, there were also proposals such as a no-war pact, denuclearization and others relating to Kashmir that India rejected. In each of these instances, we find that the position of the Indian government has been consistent irrespective of the national identity discourse. In particular, India has consistently rejected a no-war pact with Pakistan. In 1997, Nawaz Sharif had offered talks on a non-aggression pact and also on mutual and equal restraint in nuclear and ballistic fields, but these proposals were rejected by Prime Minister Gujral.227 Vajpayee rejected similar offers of a no-war pact by President Musharraf in 2001. India dismissed Musharraf’s offer of a no-war pact, arguing that such a pact would not be meaningful without including proxy war, cross-border terrorism and clandestine war.228 A similar offer was rejected again in 2003. India pointed out that the Simla agreement concluded in 1972 had already committed the two countries not to use force or even the threat of force.229



Similarly, the Indian government has rebuffed Pakistani offers to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in the region. Such an offer was proposed by Nawaz Sharif in 1991. It included the condition that the agreement would be guaranteed by the US, China and Russia. These proposals about eliminating nuclear weapons have been made during Vajpayee’s leadership as well and the Indian stance is that its security perceptions go beyond Pakistan and are concerned with the evolving security scenario in Asia (specifically nuclear capabilities of China), thus making any such proposal irrelevant.230 As Vajpayee observed: Pakistan is talking about denuclearization. It wants to denuclearize South Asia. This proposal is not acceptable to us. Pakistan’s atomic program is India-specific, ours is not Pakistan-specific. We are not worried about Pakistan alone. We are worried about the environment in the neighbouring states as well.231

Underlying Vajpayee’s statement is a rejection of the hyphenated phrase ‘India-Pakistan’ that appears to imply that the two states enjoy equal status. India resents being tied down to that equation.232 Further, India has consistently refused to allow other states to dominate its nuclear agenda. It has been one of the few states to remain outside of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has consistently rejected signing the CTBT. India’s foreign policy has been driven by an attempt to keep foreign powers at bay, allowing it considerable manoeuvrability. Hence, it is unlikely that India will ever accept a guarantee from other powers. Pakistan’s proposal, on the other hand, is driven by a desire to involve the US and other powers, and thus neutralize India’s influence in the region. India has also rejected proposals related to the settlement of dispute in Kashmir. President Musharraf’s offer of ceasefire along the LoC and proposed extension of the UN forces as part of a border monitoring mechanism remained unaddressed. Such offers—that India considers tantamount to internationalizing the Kashmir issue—had been rejected earlier by V. P. Singh and others. Further, India ignored the four CBM’s proposed by



Pakistan, requiring India to pull out troops, reduce repression, allow more political activity and give permission to All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders to visit Pakistan. In India’s view, such proposals do not constitute CBMs but are clear intrusions into the business of the state.233

Non-military CBMs Essentially, these are the agreements and gestures that are intended to soften friction and tension prevalent between states, to increase trust and to provide an atmosphere conducive for serious dialogue. For instance, oftentimes the discussions between foreign secretaries or the heads of state were preceded by goodwill gestures that involved either easing of the visa process or the release of fishermen captured at sea.234 While these gestures have been routinely engaged in, it is the meetings in Lahore (1999) and Agra (2001) that were intended to provide a stronger foundation for building trust and for resolving contentious issues. Given the context of cross-border terrorism and the continuing tensions between India and Pakistan regarding the nuclear tests, the bus trip to Lahore and the meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Vajpayee was considered of historic significance.235 In the Lahore declaration, both sides agreed to resolve all issues including Kashmir, refrained from interference in each other’s affairs, intensify their composite dialogue process, combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and take immediate steps for reducing the risk of accidental or unauthorized nuclear weapons.236 Vajpayee, in fact, visited the Minar-e-Sharif, a monument that celebrates the call for the creation of Pakistan. At a ceremony there, Vajpayee affirmed India’s acknowledgment of Pakistan’s territorial integrity. Since Vajpayee was the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the monument, this was indeed a gesture of considerable symbolic significance. These gestures were received with a great deal of enthusiasm both within India and Pakistan, and it was hoped that the two countries had embarked on the road to peace. As discussed earlier, the meeting in Lahore began the process of dialogue on



nuclear issues and also led to back-channel discussions related to the resolution of the Kashmir problem. Unfortunately, the events at Kargil in mid-1999 replaced the euphoria and emerging goodwill. There was no dialogue again until 2001, when Vajpayee invited Musharraf to Agra.237 The meeting was set for 14–17 July with no preordained agenda on the request of Islamabad. In Delhi, the expectations were minimal: reviving dialogue, putting into action some steps mentioned in the Lahore declaration and providing for some kind of institutional arrangement for annual consultations between the Indian Prime Minister and Pakistani President.238 India proposed a series of CBMs such as 20 scholarships and student visas to Pakistani students to study at India’s top technical institutions, a meeting of the DGMOs, unilateral tariff concessions on 50 items and visa relaxations.239 These proposals were dismissed by Musharraf, who stated that the only CBM was the resolution of Kashmir. In Musharraf’s view, the only way to build trust and confidence between the two states was to address the issue of Kashmir, prior to dealing with any other issue. However, even prior to the talks, both states began to harden their stance as to the substance of the meeting. Musharraf insisted on the centrality of Kashmir as the core issue and rejected the validity of the Simla Accord and Lahore Declaration.240 India, on the other hand, insisted on discussing the relationship between the two states in its totality. This has long been the approach favoured by Delhi and it is vigorously supported by various political parties.241 The Indian government was also irked by Musharraf’s invitation to the members of the APHC to an evening reception given in his honour on 14 July.242 Pakistan’s justification for the invitation was that the Hurriyat represented the people of Kashmir and that the Kashmir conundrum could not be resolved without their considered opinion. The Indian government, however, perceived these actions as emblematic of Pakistan’s interference in its internal matters and further contended that they abrogated the agreement on bilateral dialogue. As the meeting got underway, there was considerable pressure from the pro-Hindu groups not to concede anything.243 While several concerns were discussed during the meetings, the



leaders failed to come to an agreement. Initial stances continued to dominate the talks with a resulting lack of consensus. Jaswant Singh summarized three broad areas of differences: Pakistan’s insistence on the centrality of Kashmir to the exclusion of other issues as opposed to an approach of totality proposed by India; refusal of Pakistan to adequately address the problem of crossborder terrorism and to refrain from supporting what it called ‘self-determination struggle’; and the dismissal of the Simla and the Lahore accords by Pakistan.244 While much was made of the misunderstandings created at the last minute leading to the disruption of dialogue at Agra, the fact remains that both the states were coming from completely different perspectives.245 The talks were doomed almost from the start. Nevertheless, they were not described as failed by either India or Pakistan. At the conclusion of the talks, Musharraf extended an invitation to Vajpayee to visit Pakistan, which was accepted. While this was seen as a positive sign in a meeting that after much fanfare went nowhere, the events that followed were fraught with tensions and the proposed meeting never materialized. The next round of CBMs was proposed in October 2003. Efforts towards normalization of relations had begun as early as spring 2003 after Vajpayee called for another attempt to resolve differences. This resulted in a series of back-channel discussions between Brajesh Mishra (India’s NSA) and Tariq Aziz (Musharraf’s confidante).246 In India, the gradual easing of tensions was the subject of considerable debate amongst the members of the Congress party who questioned the judgment of the government in resuming relations even as there was no significant end to cross-border terrorism. In response, Vajpayee stated: As a neighbour and with a neighbour, we have to live with a feeling of friendship.… However it is, if there is an opportunity to have good relations, it should not be lost? …we can change friends but we cannot change neighbours. Neither can they go somewhere nor can we. Now one route is that we be friends as neighbours … or we keep fighting.247

This speech echoes the sentiments of Narasimha Rao when he was the Prime Minister of India. Commenting on Indo-Pak



relations, Rao had observed in 1991, ‘where do we stand? We stand exactly where we stood always. We have to ready for any eventuality but at the same time, we have to persist in our efforts to improve relations to the extent we can.’248 Later in 1994, he stated that India had to learn to live with Pakistan. India thus proposed the following measures: technical discussions for resumption of civil aviation (especially overflights), discussions for rail links, bilateral sporting events, visa camps, border crossings by senior citizens (at the Wagah checkpoint and by foot), capacity increases on the Delhi-Lahore bus service (which had continued to operate during the conflict in Kargil),249 links between the two coast guards, agreement to not arrest fishermen in certain areas, free medical treatment to 20 Pakistani children, ferry service between Mumbai and Karachi, bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, and between Khokrapar (Pakistan’s Sindh province) and Munabao (India’s Rajasthan state). Given the Indian governments’ suspicion of Pakistan, especially regarding its critical role in the violence in JK and the deep perception of the Muslim as the dangerous Other by a political elite espousing religious-cultural identity, it is noteworthy that the government made such an extensive offer for increasing informal contacts between the citizens of the two countries. Certainly, these measures were far more generous than those offered by any previous government during the years under examination. Of particular interest is the facilitation of contact between Kashmiris on the two sides of the border. The context within which these generous proposals were forwarded is important, especially the relations between the Indian government and Kashmiri groups. At the time these offers were made, the militant groups in JK were split, the APHC was engaging in dialogue with the Indian government and JK under the leadership of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was beginning to return to normalcy, even though acts of violence continued to take place. While Pakistan accepted some of the CBMs, it rejected others such as bus links between towns in JK and Sindh or the ferry service between Karachi and Mumbai. In case of the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, it was proposed that UN officials man checkpoints and that people travel with



UN documents. This was unacceptable to the Indian government, which has been extremely wary of international presence along the LoC. Pakistan also proposed a bus link between Lahore and Amritsar, which the Indian government said it would consider. Pakistan further sought the restoration of its full diplomatic staff in India and offered 100 scholarships to people from JK and free treatment to disabled, widows and victims of rape. In its response to Pakistan’s proposals, India rejected the discriminatory focus on JK, arguing that India had never adopted a selective approach for regions within Pakistan and that if Pakistan was concerned about the plight of Kashmiris, it should end cross-border terrorism. India reiterated that JK was not a disputed territory and that the only question that remained to be resolved was Pakistan’s illegal occupation of a portion of the erstwhile state of Kashmir.250 In November, Pakistan once again put forward the proposal of a ceasefire to be effective from the last day of the month of Ramzan (26 November), which was accepted by India. Prime Minister Jamali also indicated that Pakistan was interested in opening the Khokhrapar-Munabao route and the bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar.251 Following this, there was some improvement in relations. In fact, in December, Musharraf offered to set aside the longstanding Pakistani demand for a referendum in Kashmir in return for serious dialogue on Kashmir.252 This appears similar to the offer that was made in Agra, though at that time Pakistan had declared Simla and Lahore agreements redundant. This is clearly a departure for Pakistan, though it has made clear that it has no plans to abandon Kashmir and has even protested India’s decision to fence the LoC. As mentioned briefly in the previous sections, India and Pakistan have been in the process of negotiating some other contentious issues over a number of years. More specifically, these include Siachen, Wullar Barrage or Tulbul navigation, Sir Creek and maritime boundaries of India and Pakistan, terrorism and drug trafficking, trade and cultural exchanges. These were extensively discussed in 1992 during a series of talks between foreign secretaries but could not be resolved.



Not only did these issues remain unresolved, there was effectively a lapse in dialogue between the two states from 1993 till 1997. Such disengagement may well have been the result of a series of events that indicated growing violence in Kashmir.253 Relations deteriorated further as a result of obvious and vocal support in Pakistan for the cause of Kashmir and a series of unfortunate events such as the destruction of Babri Masjid in December 1992, the Bombay blasts in March 1993254 and the Hazratbal crisis in October 1993.255 In fact, after early 1994, there was no formal engagement on any of the mentioned issues. In 1996–97, Prime Minister Deve Gowda, leading the Janata Dal in a United Front coalition, began the process of engaging in dialogue. Gujral, the next Prime Minister, continued this policy. In 1997, India and Pakistan conducted a series of talks at the level of foreign secretaries. In fact, at a meeting in Islamabad held in June, the foreign secretaries agreed on the issues to be addressed and on the creation of working groups. Substantively, these meetings were not different from the ones held earlier; nevertheless, they represent a reengagement, a will to dialogue. However, even Gujral who became known for the ‘Gujral Doctrine’256 could do little.257 Since then, the resolution of these issues was raised in the November meeting prior to the Lahore agreement, but the talks remained unproductive. The substance of the proposals and the position maintained by the Indian government has remained the same since 1994. Besides the fact that there is lack of agreement between India and Pakistan regarding these issues, they have also become hostage to the resolution of Kashmir in the case of Pakistan and an end to cross-border terrorism in the case of India.

Analysis This section presents the ways in which the actions of the Indian governments articulating the two identity discourses were similar or different towards Pakistan, with a specific focus on cooperative action. Even though the responses of the various parties articulating the two kinds of identities were similar in many respects, they have also differed in subtle and important ways.



For instance, both the phases were characterized by the extension of military and non-military CBMs, by periods of disengagement and by a general consensus on resolving the Kashmir problem. And yet, overall, the BJP-led government expressing the religious-cultural national identity was more proactive in terms of diplomatic agreements in each of the three areas discussed. A significant manner in which the BJP-led government differed from previous secular parties was in the ways it engaged Pakistan in positive ways. This was surprising given the dominant Self–Other perceptions of the religious-cultural narrative, wherein the Muslim Other was the dominant and dangerous Other, more so given the interconnections between the internal and external Other. It is even more surprising, considering that these moves came about in the context of and in spite of the war in Kargil, the attack on the Indian Parliament and problems of cross-border terrorism. The positive moves were both symbolic and substantive. At the symbolic level, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore in Pakistan was considered significant; for one, it was the first trip by an Indian Prime Minister between the years 1990 and 2003.258 This trip was undertaken with great fanfare and symbolized the shared geography, language and bonds between the two nations. Vajpayee, who speaks fluent Urdu like most Pakistanis, charmed the Pakistani people and politicians on the trip. It was hoped that this warmth would allow for concrete diplomatic deals to be made later. Vajpayee’s visit to the Minar-e-Sharif (the first by an Indian politician) and his affirmation of Pakistan as an independent state were considered deeply meaningful. On a lighter note, the India cricket team was allowed to play a test series in Pakistan in 2004 (for the first time since 1989). In a region that is enormously preoccupied with cricket and where symbolic battles are won and lost on the cricket field, this was a meaningful gesture. More importantly, during the 13 years under consideration in this study, the two significant meetings between the two states were in Lahore and Agra, held in 1999 and 2001, respectively, and both were conducted when India was led by the BJP. That these meetings did not really result in substantive changes is a different issue;



Lahore was buried under the rubble of Kargil and there were no agreements in Agra. Nevertheless, the fact remains that this effort was made, and at Lahore, there was some attempt at coming to terms with their nuclear status and initiating dialogue on Kashmir. At a substantive level India, led by the BJP, acknowledged the territorial integrity of Pakistan, tentatively maintained (like other parties in power) the possibility of converting the LoC in Kashmir into a permanent border between the two countries, and much more significantly, appears to have initiated back-channel diplomacy regarding the resolution of the Kashmir conundrum. This last move is unique because there has been considerable consensus among various Indian parties that Kashmir is an internal concern and that it cannot be the subject of any discussions with Pakistan. In this aspect, BJP was no different. And yet, there was a gradual recognition that the crisis in JK could not be resolved without engaging in some dialogue with Pakistan. In this regard, the Indian government has maintained a contradictory stance where at one level it has refused to engage in any discussion with Pakistan (especially when this involved the Kashmiri political elite), and at another level, it has recognized the need for doing so.259 While Narasimha Rao of the Congress formally recognized the need to discuss Kashmir with Pakistan and Gujral leading the Janata Dal coalition began the process of dialogue on the issue, it was Vajpayee who made considerable effort (nine rounds of secret meetings between an Indian and Pakistani representative) at resolving the issue in spite of the strained relations between the two countries. In fact, the two sets of negotiations, as revealed by Naik and Abbas, establish that the BJP political elite was willing to consider options that were significantly different from their earlier position and had not been considered by other political parties. The BJP-led government’s offer of non-military CBMs, such as increased people-to-people contact both along the LoC in Kashmir and elsewhere, was far more generous than that offered by any other government. As mentioned earlier, given the BJP’s perceptions of the Muslim Other as dangerous, infiltration of Islamic militants in JK, and unending violence in JK and elsewhere in India, such an offer was noteworthy.



Regarding the military CBMs, both phases witnessed a series of proposals forwarded and agreed upon. It is important to recognize that the Indian government, irrespective of national identity orientations, has continued to respect the agreements arrived at, and some of these agreements have been observed even when relations between the two states have been fraught with tensions and the Indian government led by the BJP has engaged in aggressive coercive diplomacy. With reference to the more controversial nuclear tests, the BJP’s actions ended the shadow play between the two states that were nuclear states but were pretending otherwise. In doing so, it created a space for the much needed dialogue and agreements. At the same time, it is also a fact that the years between 1998 and 2003 have been marred by a lack of dialogue and the refusal of the Indian government led by the BJP to engage in any communication with Pakistan. This was seen as a strategy of disengagement, one of the elements of coercive diplomacy, intended to put pressure on Pakistan to curb cross-border terrorism. In the years prior to this phase, too, there were instances of lapse of dialogue. During the period 1993–97, there was a similar lack of engagement with Pakistan, with a brief interlude in 1994. It is not clear if this was a matter of specific policy or just fatigue on the part of the Indian government after several rounds of dialogue. The fact that violence in JK was at its peak (in terms of civilian deaths) during these years would surely have acted as a factor. Clearly, governments influenced by the religious-cultural or secular identity narratives were responsible for long periods of disengagement with Pakistan, though during the second phase that disengagement was also accompanied by increased tensions.

CONCLUSION As this chapter indicates, India and Pakistan appear to be locked in a low intensity struggle that is, nevertheless, also characterized



by dialogue and agreements. The purpose of this extensive discussion of conflictual as well as cooperative elements of Indo-Pak relations was to understand whether secular or religious-cultural national identity orientations have different foreign policy implications. This discussion allows us to make two significant observations. First, that India led by the BJP appeared to use more assertive means of tackling the problem of cross-border terrorism. At the same time, the actions of the Indian government during this phase were not without restraint. In fact, the government showed tremendous restraint in handling the situation in Kargil and was careful during its standoff with Pakistan in 2001. The discussion shows that there were several issues on which there was agreement between parties articulating secular or religious-cultural national identity. Consider, for example, the stance of the Indian government on the nuclear issue (despite the rhetoric of the Congress party or the Janata Dal in the Parliament), the support for hot pursuit across the LoC and the need to maintain a tough posture against Pakistan. Such convergence of policy may be explained by the pursuit of pragmatic politics on the part of the Indian government and even a convergence of identity. Both identity narratives consider Pakistan as the dangerous Other, though the rationale embedded in the discourses, for such construction, varies. Second, India under the BJP government was more proactive and cooperative. For instance, all the issues examined—Kashmir, and military and non-military CBMs—show that the efforts made by the BJP government were both qualitatively and quantitatively different from previous governments. Even though a government based on the religious-cultural narrative was expected to be more conflict prone by many, it may have actually used that image and expectation to initiate creative and assertive steps towards mending relations with Pakistan. Such behaviour on the part of the BJP-led government, clearly, cannot be explained by turning to identity narratives. It appears that realist explanations may allow for a better grasp of actions undertaken by the Indian government.



NOTES 1. I wish to clarify that Indo-Pak relations have not been defined by confrontation alone. The two states do share friendly relations exemplified by agreements, citizens travelling regularly across the border, the cultural exchanges especially in terms of music and films, and most spectacularly by cricket matches. Thus, there is much engagement at the societal level, which while subject to the vagaries of political tensions, continues. 2. It should be clarified that Pakistan has not accepted official involvement in the 1999 confrontation at Kargil. According to Pakistan, the confrontation was the result of infiltration by militant groups. Authors such as Abbas (2005) and Bennett (2002), however, discuss the role of the Pakistani army in leading the attack. The Kargil hostilities meet the widely accepted Correlates of War inter-state war criteria of over 1,000 connected deaths. 3. For example, India’s relations with East Pakistan, or Bangladesh, were and are linked to Pakistan to the extent that India supported Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, and has since maintained close relations with it. India is also deeply interested in Afghanistan for the strategic position it occupies vis-à-vis Pakistan, and India has provided material support to the opponents of the Taliban regime (supported by Pakistan). China’s assistance to Pakistan (especially in terms of nuclear weapons) has been an issue for India, and for a long time, it shaped its response to China. Further, India’s relations with the US and Soviet Union during the Cold War were influenced considerably by Pakistan’s relationship with the US. 4. Banerjee (1997) discusses the emergence of these two nations along religious and secular boundaries. 5. Dixit (2002: 20). 6. Pakistan’s proxy war against India was the subject of much discussion in the foreign policy resolution of the All India Congress Committee in 2001. See, All India Congress Committee (2001). 7. The perception of Pakistan as a theocratic state has no basis, since Pakistan is not governed by religious clerics. Nevertheless, the perception persists because of the considerable presence of Islamic parties and the increased Islamization of the state under General Zia-ul-Haq. General Zia-ul-Haq came to power in 1977 through a military coup and introduced Zakat, Ushr, Islamic hadood and penal code in the country. 8. RSS. ‘Bharat’s Pakistan Policy: October 1965,’ Available from (Accessed on 21 April 2000). 9. RSS. ‘Bharat’s Kashmir Policy: March 1964,’ Available from (Accessed on 21 April 2000). 10. There are also references to Pakistan as a dysfunctional state. See, Mathur (2002).



11. Anadi Sahu, ‘Regarding India-Pakistan Relations,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 8 May 2003. Available from (Accessed on 14 November 2004). 12. Arun Jaitley, Press statement, Delhi, 13 September 2002. Available from (Accessed on 7 March 2003). Jaitely was the General Secretary and Spokesperson of the BJP. 13. Arun Jaitley, Press note, Delhi, 11 September 2002. Available from www. (Accessed on 7 March 2003). BJP, ‘Resolution Passed by the BJP National Executive,’ Press Release, 26 September 2002. Available from (Accessed on 9 March 2003). This resolution was made in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Akshardham temple in Gujarat and called for the world to recognize the diabolical designs of Pakistan and as the head quarters of terrorism. In 2003, Venkaiah Naidu, President of the BJP stated that ‘…Islamabad’s dubious designs, double speak and diabolical intentions should never be underestimated since Pakistan is a textbook example of “state sponsored terrorist” activities given the ISI agencies actively encouraging and abetting various terrorist elements in its continuing undeclared war against India’ (M. Venkaiah Naidu, ‘Statement issued at the Inauguration of the Photo Exhibition on Global Terrorism,’ 9 February 2003. Available from [Accessed on 21 May 2003]). 14. Vajpayee (2002). 15. Talbott (2004: 119, 134). 16. Bajpai and Cohen (1993). 17. Zubrzycki (1998). 18. Talbott (2004: 62–63). 19. Radical Marxist groups in India often referred to as Naxalites such as People’s War Group, Maoist Communist Centre, Janashakti (People’s Power) and Pratighatna have engaged in tactics of violence in such states as West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orrisa, Maharashtra and Bihar, to mention a few. There is also the problem of internal insurgencies from left wing radical groups. The support of neighbouring states (China, Pakistan and Bangladesh) for demands of independence and insurgencies makes it vulnerable. 20. India is a multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-racial state that has been beset with assertions of autonomy and independence (Tamil Nadu, Punjab, JK and Nagaland) from various regions during its 58 years of existence. 21. This contention by India has been supported by Robert Wirsing in a report prepared for the US Department of State in late 1991. According to the author ‘Pakistan supplied substantial political, diplomatic and material support to the Kashmiri uprising; that the material support took various forms, including the training, indoctrination, arming and cross-border movement of the infiltrating forces, that the exfiltration of Kashmiri



23. 24.

25. 26. 27. 28.


30. 31. 32.

33. 34.

35. 36.


Muslims across the LoC into Pakistan and or Pakistan controlled Kashmir and covert reinfiltration, following training in light arms and guerrilla tactics, played a very important role in maintaining the tempo of the insurgency; that the support was planned and coordinated in large part by Pakistan’s ISI; and that all this was carried out with the full knowledge and under the auspices of the Pakistan army’ (Wirsing 1998: 119). Abbas (2005: 148) notes that as the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in the late 1980s, the Jihadi groups were emboldened to undertake action in other areas and were supported in their activities by the ISI and had the approval of the Pakistani government. Swami (2007: 153–54). I agree with Wirsing that the contention of sponsored terrorism by India with reference to problems in Kashmir gives the impression that once this is controlled by Pakistan, the situation in Kashmir would have been resolved. This, argues Wirsing (1998), absolves the Indian government of any responsibility. It also trivializes separatist aspirations of the Kashmiri people. Brecher and Wilkenfeld (1989: 5). Basrur (2005). Hagerty (1998). She was eventually exchanged for five detained militants. Mr Sayeed later became the Chief Minister of JK and led a coalition government along with the Congress party since the elections in 2003. It should be noted that Pakistan’s support for Kashmiri uprising is not unequivocal. It has increasingly curtailed support to such organizations as the JKLF which are popular but pro-independence and has transferred resources to pro-accession groups such as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Muslim Janbaaz Force (Wirsing 1998). Pakistan’s pragmatic behaviour vis-à-vis Kashmir is also seen in the incidents in February 1992, when bridges were destroyed, landslides set off, and Pakistani troops and riot police opened fire to prevent Kashmiri separatist protest marchers from crossing the LoC. Chari et al. (2003: 72). Ibid. In his account, Dixit (1995) writes that Pakistan sent emissaries to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Jordan, Australia, China, Russia, the US, the Netherlands, France, the UK and Belgium. See Dixit’s (ibid.) account of the events in 1990. Ganguly and Hagerty (2005: 88) raise this point briefly. They also note that while Bhutto did engage in aggressive talk, initially she did try to temper the crisis by sending a senior Pakistani diplomat to India for talks. Chari et al. (2003: 75). Chari et al. (ibid.) report that this observation was not supported by Pakistani military sources and American observers.



37. Operation TOPAC was the name given to a predictive analysis carried out in early 1989 by the Indian Defence review team hypothetically extrapolating what might happen in JK. The analysis envisaged three phases: intensifying militancy in JK, exertion of pressure in Siachen, Rajouri-Poonch to reduce pressure of troops in the Valley and liberation of Kashmir. See, Kargil Review Committee (2000). 38. Chari et al. (2003: 86). 39. Housego (1990). 40. Hersh (1993: 6–10). 41. Krepon and Faruqee (1994: 50). 42. However, Chari et al. (2003) do not see any evidence that India weaponized its nuclear capabilities at this stage. 43. Ibid., 73. Ganguly and Hagerty (2005: 90) note that according to an influential nuclear trade publication, Singh’s statements were interpreted to mean that India was increasing its nuclear preparedness. 44. Chengappa (2000) and Abraham (1998) outline the actions undertaken by several Prime Ministers in ensuring that the nuclear technology continues to be developed since India’s Independence. 45. Pakistan’s army chief Aslam Beg alleged that India had deployed 1,00,000 men within 50 miles of the border. Beg referred to the ‘concentration of Indian troops as an act of military intimidation which is heightening tension.’ See, The Xinhua News Agency (1990b). 46. Islamabad’s suspicions regarding troop movements along the border have a history and a very recent history. It should be recalled that in January 1987, India and Pakistan came perilously close to war. The situation was the result of Operation Brasstacks, one of the largest military exercises launched in India’s history in the autumn of 1986. It involved the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of troops along the border with Pakistan, which prompted Pakistan, whose forces too were engaged in exercises, to order a counter mobilization. Pakistan accused India of planning an attack under cover of alleged war games. India in turn accused Pakistan of engaging in propaganda. Wirsing (1998: 199) writes that in the view of at least one Indian defence analyst ‘it was not an “exercise” at all, in fact, but a calculated attempt to provoke Pakistan into war with India.’ 47. Chari et al. (2003: 91). 48. Chari et al. (ibid.) point out that the army and the intelligence agencies in India had two different perspectives about the movement of Pakistani troops. The army felt that two strike corps had been moved into Bahawalpur-Nagar sectors while the intelligence agencies felt that the strike corps had not moved from their peacetime locations. This was brought to the attention of the Prime Minister’s office, which decided to err on the side of caution and take the threat seriously.



49. According to Chari et al. (ibid.), the Pakistanis contradict this assertion by India. 50. Hagerty (1998: 143). 51. Chari et al. (2003: 85). 52. Ibid. 53. Krepon and Faruqee (1994: 5). 54. See, Goodspeed (1990). 55. Ganguly and Hagerty (2005: 96). 56. It is interesting that while considerable significance was attached to American involvement and specifically to the Gates mission, J. N. Dixit (India’s Foreign Secretary), in his account, discounts the value of the mission and argues that the nuclear hype and significance of the nuclear confrontation and American intervention was blown out of proportion to put diplomatic and political pressure on India and Pakistan. This also seems to the impression of Chengappa who in his account does not give much credence to the crisis of nuclear confrontation or the Gates mission. 57. The offer of joint patrolling, of the international boundary with specific reference to Punjab, including joint ambush, hot pursuit and joint search, had been made in 1988 by the Rajiv Gandhi (Congress) government. Pakistan had agreed to simultaneous and coordinated patrolling and an agreement was signed between the two Home ministries. But then the agreement fell apart and India decided to fence the border. As indicated above, a similar proposal was made in 1990 and again by the BJP government. See, Malhotra (2002a). 58. Ganguly (2001) looks at the Kargil crisis as a limited probe by Pakistan intended to boost the waning insurgency in Kashmir. He argues that since the late 1990s, Pakistani aided insurgency had been waning. India had held three state and national level elections and governments had been elected with some element of legitimacy. Some normalcy had almost returned to the Valley. 59. Ganguly (2001). Schofield (2003) places the number at 600. 60. Joshi et al. (1999). 61. Popham (1999). 62. Chengappa et al. (1999). 63. Chengappa (2000: 437). Ganguly (2002) supports the idea that there is evidence that Pakistan moved its nuclear capable ballistic missiles during the Kargil war. 64. Chari (2001). 65. Chengappa et al. (1999). 66. Wirsing (2003). In fact, Schofield (2003: 218) mentions that Naik and Mishra, the envoys tasked with the resolution of the Kashmir problem became involved in resolving the more pressing crisis at hand. While they had come to an agreement about the phased withdrawal of infiltrators, the agreement was implemented only after Sharif’s trip to the US.



67. Schofield (2003: 212). 68. Kargil Review Committee (2000). 69. J. N. Dixit was a member of a subgroup of the Board that made the recommendation (Dixit 2002). 70. Raghavan (2001: 89). 71. Roche (2001). 72. Zia (1999). 73. See, Dugger (1999) and William (1999). As per this report, the three activists were Islamic militants Ahmad Omar Sayyed Sheik detained since 1994, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, chief commander of the rebel group UlUmar Mujahideen and Massod Azhar, the leader of Harkat-ul-ansar and later the Jaish-e-Mohammed. 74. Japan Economic Newswire (1999). 75. Baweja et al. (1999) and BBC (1999). Six members of the Border Security Force and six alleged militants were killed in clashes in Kashmir. See, also, The Toronto Star (1999). According to the Indian army, 21 people including 17 Pakistani soldiers and an Indian officer were killed, and nine soldiers were injured. 76. Mohan (2003). 77. Sawhney and Sood (2003). 78. India Today. 5 November 2001, p. 9. 79. BBC (2001a). 80. Chawla (2001). 81. Ibid. 82. Ibid., 16. 83. Defence expert Manvendra Singh (2001) discusses military strikes against terrorist camps in Pakistan titled ‘Operation Mukti’ (freedom). See also, Major General Ashok Mehta (2001). 84. Lakshmi (2001a). 85. The Statesman (2001). Qureshi was not alone in making the accusation. Pakistan’s former Army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg and the National People’s Party leader Syed Zia Abbas expressed similar sentiments. See, The Pakistan Newswire (2001a, 2000b). 86. Basrur (2005: 305). 87. This is a term used by Basrur (2005). 88. The left parties (CPI and CPI-M) were an exception to this and opposed any move that could lead to action across the border, fearing that it would lead to a full scale conflict. See, The Hindu (2001). 89. Nanda (2001) and Press Trust of India (PTI) (2001a). 90. PTI (2001b). 91. AFP (2001a). 92. Lakshmi (2001a). 93. Basrur (2005: 303). 94. Bedi (2001a). See also, Baweja (1998).



95. Saez (2003). 96. AFP (2001b). 97. The two previous occasions during which the Indian ambassador had been withdrawn were 1965 and 1971. It was after a gap of 30 years that such stringent action was taken. The Samjhauta Express which had been inaugurated in 1975 and the Lahore-Delhi bus service initiated in 1999 were suspended from 1 January (PTI 2001c). 98. Conradi (2001). 99. Chandrasekaran (2001). 100. Thapar, Vishal (2001) and Iqbal (2001). 101. Indian officials claimed that two Indian paramilitary guards were killed and three injured. Indian military claimed to have destroyed three Pakistani bunkers while the Pakistani army claimed to have destroyed four Indian bunkers (Chandrasekaran 2001). 102. Lakshmi (2001b). 103. PTI (2001d). 104. Reddy (2001a). 105. Basrur (2005: 307) 106. Ibid. 107. Statement was issued on 11 January 2002 (Swami 2007: 208). 108. Chandrasekaran and Khan (2001). 109. Basrur (2005: 308). 110. AFP (2001c). 111. While Pakistan stated that it would not take any action, several members of the alleged groups were arrested. Pakistan, however, clarified that there arrests had nothing to do with India and were related to sectarian strife and disruption of law and order in Pakistan (Reddy 2001b; Jawad 2001; UPI 2001). 112. Alexander (2002), UPI (2002) and Gulf News (2002). 113. Burns (2001). 114. For instance, India shot down a Pakistani Unmanned Arial Vehicle in Poonch on 6 January and conducted intermediate range missile (Agni II) tests later that month. The latter exercise was considered as a direct threat by Pakistan. See, Beck and Cicconi (2006). 115. Nanda (2002). 116. Musharraf’s offer to meet Vajpayee on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Nepal during 4–6 January was ruled out by India, though Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh did hint that he could meet with his counter part Abdul Sattar. See, Biman Mukherji (2001). 117. AFP (2002) and The Washington Times (2002). 118. Nayak and Krepon (2006: 18). 119. Trikha (2002). 120. The Western naval fleet was joined by five more ships to make it 55 ships strong in the Arabian Sea (The Hindu 2002; The Indian Express 2002c).



121. The paramilitary and Coast Guard were placed under the command of the Army and the Navy. The Indian army went on high alert and leaves were cancelled while the IAF readied its fleet for action. See, The Indian Express (2002d, 2002e). 122. Jaleel (2002). 123. The Indian Express (2002f) and Savant (2002a, 2002b). Pakistan tested the Gauri (Hatf v), the Ghaznavi (Hatf III) and the Abdali (Hatf II) (Savant 2002c). 124. Savant (2002d). 125. Bal (2002). 126. Basrur (2005: 308). 127. The Indian Express (2003b). 128. Savant (2002e). 129. The Indian Express (2002g). 130. The statement was made on 29 May (Beck and Cicconi 2006). 131. Kaushal (2002b). 132. Uma Bharati rose to prominence with some very virulent anti-Muslim speeches as the Ramjanambhoomi movement gained ground. She was also involved in the attack on the Babri Masjid in December 1992. Later, she became the Minister of Sports in the coalition government formed by the BJP. In 2003, she won state elections in the state of Madhya Pradesh and was made the Chief Minister (Choudhury 2002). 133. Jain, Sonu (2002). 134. Varma (2002). 135. Mohan (2003). 136. While Vajpayee made the offer, Defence Minister George Fernandes felt that joint patrolling was unlikely to happen (Malhotra 2002a). 137. See, Malhotra (2002b). Regarding international presence along the LoC, Advani suggested that the international community monitor the border from the Pakistani side. See Malhotra (2002c). 138. The Indian Express (2002h, 2003c). 139. Weymouth (2002). Also see, The Indian Express (2002i). 140. In an interview to the ‘Dainik Jagran’ a Hindi newspaper, Vajpayee said, ‘the country was ready for war. The Army at the border was waiting for instructions. If Pak had not agreed to stop infiltration and if the US had not delivered this guarantee to India, a war couldn’t have been avoided’ (The Indian Express 2002j). 141. Ganguly and Hagerty (2005: 181). 142. Basrur (2005: 271–72). 143. Savant and Sarin (2002). 144. It is reported that both Indian and Pakistani troops were struggling to gain control of certain crucial heights. See, The Indian Express (2002k). 145. The Indian Express (2002l). 146. The Indian Express (2002m).

226 147. 148. 149. 150. 151. 152. 153. 154. 155.




159. 160. 161. 162.

163. 164. 165.


Basrur (2005: 322). Swami (2002a). See also, Swami (2002c). Swami (2000c, 2000d). Basrur (2005: 322). The Indian Express (2002n, 2002o, 2002p). Jerath (2002). Sinha and Ranjan (2002). The Indian Express (2003d). Pakistani High Commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan, presented his credentials to the Indian President Abdul Kalam and proposed that the staff levels of the High Commissions revert to previous levels (The Economic Times 2003; Mishra 2003). Both countries agreed to return to SAARC meetings that had suffered as a result of tensions between the two states. Islamabad promised not to drag its feet in promoting regional economic cooperation, as India announced that Vajpayee would attend the deferred SAARC summit in Pakistan in 2004 (PTI 2003). India and Pakistan were to hold talks on 27–28 August, though there was disagreement on the issue of over flights and point-to-point flying. India had granted Pakistan permission for overflights in 2002 and was awaiting a clearer stand by Pakistan on the issue (Samanta 2003). Vajpayee stated ‘I have extended my hand from a position of strength. It should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness.… I am asked how many times I will repeat the gesture of friendship and I say if they (Pakistan) cannot give up on enmity and bitterness, why should we give up on efforts for peace and reconciliation’ (DPA 2003). The Times of India (2003). The Indian Express (2003e). Gupta and Islah (2003). The Indian Express (2003f, 2003g). J. N. Dixit wonders whether India’s decision was a measured one based on evidence or had other motivations. He finds it curious that the Pakistani High Commissioner would be involved in the alleged scheme of handing over funds to Hurriyat members in Delhi and the entire affair was controlled by the Home Ministry and police authorities without consultation with the MEA or even the Prime Minister’s office. See, Dixit (2003). The Pakistan Newswire (2003). The Indian Express (2003h). The Indian Express (2003i). It appears that the offer made by Musharraf had not really softened the Indian stance and it was also evident from the MEA statement: ‘We are also disappointed by the suggestions emanating from the Pakistani leadership that they had done all that they could to stop cross-border infiltration and terrorism.’ ‘Instead of propagandist statements, Pakistan should take effective and long-term measures to


166. 167. 168. 169. 170. 171. 172. 173. 174.

175. 176.

177. 178. 179.

180. 181. 182.


184. 185.

186. 187.


dismantle the infrastructure of support to terrorism’ (The Indian Express 2003j). This was probably the result of intelligence that infiltration across the LoC had continued unabated (The Indian Express 2003k). Singh delivered his speech on 10 April 1990 (Chari et al. 2003: 75). Ibid., 74. Ganguly and Hagerty (2005: 94). Ibid. Ibid., 75. Hagerty (1995: 144). The Statesman (1999a). The Hindu (1999a). The Hindu (1999b). Statements about granting safe passage to the infiltrators were made by George Fernandes and Vajpayee. However, this proposal came under considerable criticism from the Congress. It is not clear whether safe passage was indeed granted. Facts on File World News Digest (2001). L. K. Advani, ‘Suo moto statement in the Lok Sabha by Union Home Minister on December 13 Terrorist Attack on the Parliament House,’ Speech in Lok Sabha, Delhi, 13 December 2001, South Asian Portal on Terrorism. Available from (Accessed on 15 March 2004). Bedi (2001b). Saez (2003). V. P. Singh’s government stopped the BJP and allied parties’/organizations’ march towards Ayodhya to destroy the Babri Masjid. Advani, who was leading the yatra, was arrested, resulting in the BJP’s withdrawal of support to the National Front coalition. The coalition fell in November of 1990. Pandyan (2002). Pandyan was Senior Fellow for South Asia, Institute for Global Democracy. Wirsing (1998) provides us an account of such incidents since 1991. Yashwant Sinha, ‘Statement made by Minister for Foreign Affairs in Rayja Sabha,’ Speech in Rajya Sabha, Delhi, 9 April 2003. Available from www. (Accessed on 20 June 2004). Waltz argues that the spread of nuclear weapons might encourage more responsible behaviour and bring peace. Hagerty, in the context of South Asia, argues that in the 1990 crisis, India and Pakistan were deterred from war by each side’s knowledge that the other had nuclear weapons. See, Waltz (1981) and Hagerty (1995). See, Krepon (2005). Khan, Saira (2005). Others such as Sagan (2001) argue that the acquisition of nuclear weapons is problematic and increases instability and chances of conflict. Swami (2007: 175). Wirsing (1998).



188. Talbott (2004) discusses the intensive engagement between India and US as exemplified by meetings between him and Jaswant Singh. 189. Basrur (2005: 311). 190. Talbott (2004: 119). 191. Government of India (1994) and AFP (1994). 192. AFP (1997). 193. Dixit (1995: 151). 194. The Statesman (1997), and Cherian and Baruah (1997). It should be noted here that bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan regarding Kashmir is not received with enthusiasm by the Kashmiri’s themselves. Prior to the meeting in 1997, the Hurriyat declared that ‘Kashmir is neither an integral part of India not of Pakistan. It is a disputed territory’ and that the talks would be futile if Kashmiris themselves do not participate (Nanda 1997). 195. Baweja et al. (1998). 196. Abbas, Zaffar (2003). 197. The Indian Express (2003l). 198. Watson (1998). 199. Ibid. 200. There were some reports in Indian newspapers about the meeting, though further details were not released. See, The Hindu (1999c) and Swami (2001a). Swami mentions that Pakistan demanded that the withdrawal from Kargil be premised on the acceptance of the Chenab plan by India. 201. Wirsing (2003: 27). 202. The proposed plan lacked some of the key elements laid out in the guidelines. First, since it appeared similar to the Dixon plan, it was hardly new. Sir Owen Dixon was the UN representative to India and Pakistan in 1950 and devised a plan to settle the dispute between the two countries. The Dixon plan assigned Ladakh to India, Northern Areas to Pakistan, divided Jammu between India and Pakistan, and envisaged a plebiscite in the Kashmir valley. Second, since it did not involve the Kashmiri political elite in deliberations, it is hard to make the claim that it was in the best interests of the Kashmiris. 203. Dixit (1995) in his account refers to this proposal. 204. Hassan Abbas (2005: 198) attributes this information to Nayyar Zaidi, chief correspondent of the Jang Group, ‘the largest and most influential media setup in Pakistan.’ According to Zaidi, the negotiations involved Musharraf’s brother, Dr Naveed Musharraf and Vajpayee’s foster- son-inlaw Ranjan Bhattacharya along with India’s top industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani who was interested in the gas pipeline project from Iran to India via Pakistan. 205. Dixit (2002). 206. BBC (1997) and DPA (1997a).



207. BBC (1998c). 208. The Statesman (1999b). Singh is reported to have said ‘we have to recognize that map-making has to come to a stop in the subcontinent. If you are talking about a kind of cartographic, constant altering of the South Asian situation, that cannot take place’ Malhotra (1998). 209. According to Dixit (1995), this agreement was the result of a proposal put forward in 1988, when Rajiv Gandhi was in power, and India and Pakistan had signed an agreement to that effect. 210. See, Mohan and Lavoy (1995: 28). 211. However, while India declared its chemical stocks, production and storage facilities on joining the Chemical Weapons Convention, Pakistan did not. See, ‘Confidence Building Measures in South Asia,’ South Asia Program, The Henry L. Stimson Center. Available on, southasia/?SN=SA2001112047. 212. This code has been violated often. Diplomatic personnel are often harassed by intelligence services in both countries and reciprocal expulsions occur periodically. Pakistani officials failed to protect officials and property after the destruction of Babri Masjid in 1992, and again in the wake of the nuclear tests, an Indian diplomat was badly beaten (ibid.). 213. See, Dixit (1995). Krepon et al. (1999: 171) argue that while the line continues to be used, the information that is exchanged is of perfunctory nature. 214. ‘The Lahore Declaration–February 21, 1999,’ Peace Agreements Digital Collection: India and Pakistan, United States Institute of Peace. Available from (Accessed on 15 March 2004). 215. ‘Draft Report of National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine,’ Embassy of India, Washington DC. Available from www. (Accessed on 18 October 2007). 216. Ganguly and Hagerty (2005: 117). 217. Pakistan appears to have had similar apprehensions in 1984 when Zia-ulHaq alleged that India was likely to attack its nuclear facilities and follow Israel’s example in its destruction of nuclear reactor in Iraq. While there appears to have been some concern about the possibility in Pakistan and the US, India denied the allegations. Eventually, India and Pakistan went on to sign agreements (1989, ratified in 1991) declaring that they would not attack each others nuclear facilities. The agreement continues to be upheld. See, Chari (2003: 13–14). 218. Chengappa (2000) and Abraham (1998). 219. Brown (1991). Dixit (2002: 297) writes that at the end of his tenure, he was getting more and more convinced that India should shed its ambiguity about acquiring nuclear weapons status. 220. Talbott (2004: 37). 221. Talbott (ibid.: 102) was involved in intense negotiations with India’s leadership after the nuclear tests in 1998. During his negotiations, he


222. 223. 224.

225. 226.

227. 228. 229. 230. 231.


233. 234.




not only met with leaders in the government such as Jaswant Singh, Vajpayee, Advani and Brajesh Mishra, but also opposition leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Gujral and Natwar Singh among others. He contends that Sonia and other Congress members did not differ from the government in their stance towards acquisition of nuclear weapons. Watson (1998). Chengappa (2000). It should be noted that this ambiguity itself is an indication of the fact that India’s nuclear ambitions had never been shelved and that continuous investment was made by various governments to ensure that India had the technological capability. Besides the political and the scientific elite, most Indians hailed the tests. In an opinion poll conducted by the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) on 12 May, it was found that the tests were approved by 91 per cent of the respondents, with 7 per cent expressing disapproval and 2 per cent having no opinion. See, The Hindu (1998a). Talbott (2004: 51). Mohan and Lavoy (1995: 42) argue that opacity regarding nuclear weapons creates two potential problems, that is, strategic instability and impeding dialogue. Mercury (1997) and DPA (1997b). PTI (2001e). The Indian Express (2003m). Previously, similar No War pacts had been extended by General Mohammed Ayub and Zia-ul-Haq. Ibid. A. B. Vajpayee, ‘Regarding Indo-Pak Relations,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 8 May 2003. Available from www.parliamentofindia.nic. in (Accessed on 15 November 2004). In an exchange between Strobe Talbott and Jaswant Singh, Singh clarifies that the American habit of using the phrase ‘India-Pakistan’ is deeply resented in India as it implies that the two countries are locked in a deep embrace (Talbott 2004: 85). The Hindustan Times (1999). For instance, in 1997, both countries agreed to release 400 fishermen and 60 boats that had been in their custody. Similar gestures were made in 1998 and 2001. Goodwill gestures were made by the two countries in November 1998 as they released 303 fishermen held in custody: 148 by India and 155 by Pakistan. The Lahore visit was marred by anti-India demonstrations from followers of Jamaat-e-Islami and the fact that several Indian diplomats were roughed up by the party members (Kux 2006: 41). ‘The Lahore Declaration–February 21, 1999,’ Peace Agreements Digital Collection: India and Pakistan, United States Institute of Peace. Available from (Accessed on 15 March 2004).



237. Abbas (2005: 197) makes reference to reports that stress the role played by the US in arranging this meeting. However, he also refers to Stephen Cohen’s observation that the Indian invitation could well have been driven by an attempt to pre-empt American role in South Asia and to control the process of reconciliation. 238. Guha, Seema (2001). 239. Chaudhuri (2001). 240. Gopal (2001). 241. Talwar (2001). 242. PTI (2001f). 243. BBC (2001b). 244. The Xinhua News Agency (2001). 245. Noorani (2003) has argued that Advani intervened and disrupted the possibility of some consensus and the release of a joint statement. 246. Kux (2006: 59). 247. A. B. Vajpayee, ‘Regarding India-Pakistan Relations,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 8 May 2003. Available from www.parliamentofindia.nic. in (Accessed on 15 November 2004). 248. P. V. Narasimha Rao, ‘Motion Regarding International Situation,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 18 September 1991. Available from www. (Accessed on 20 January 2002). 249. The Statesman (1999c). 250. Government of India (2003a) and Reddy (2003). 251. South Asian Intelligence Review (2003). 252. Abbas, Zaffar (2003). 253. Swami (2007) provides data regarding the death toll and incidents of violence in JK. 254. As Bombay was rocked by a series of blasts killing more than 300 people and injuring 1300, Delhi accused Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of involvement and sought extradition of terrorists associated with the attack, and believed to be in Pakistan. India launched a diplomatic offensive and Rao declared that any meaningful dialogue was only possible if Islamabad handed over the prime suspects in the blasts. Pakistan’s offer of talks was rejected by India. See, UPI (1993b), BBC (1993a, 1993b), McGirk (1993) and The Xinhua News Agency (1993a, 1993b). 255. The Shrine houses what is believed by Muslims to be the hair of Prophet Mohammad. India contended that it had uncovered a plot to steal the sacred relic (previously it had been stolen in December 1963, following which there was massive agitation; however it was recovered and restored) and that militants were using the shrine as a base. Kashmiri separatists protested vigorously against the siege in spite of the curfew that was imposed by the Indian government. India expelled two Pakistani diplomats and Pakistan reciprocated by expelling two Indian diplomats. There were widespread protest in Pakistan, and Nawaz Sharif, who was no




258. 259.


longer in power, urged the international community to impose sanctions against India. Eventually the siege by the Indian army was lifted in late 1993. See, AFP (1993b) and The Xinhua News Agency (1993c). Gujral Doctrine specifies that: India in its relations with its neighbours does not seek reciprocity but gives and accommodates what it can in good faith; that no South Asian country should allow its territory to be used against the interests of another country in the region; that none should interfere in the internal affairs of another; all South Asian countries must respect each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; and settle their disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations. Interestingly Gujral did not mention Pakistan as one of the South Asian countries. His views were limited to Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan (Gujral 1990). However, Gujral declared that he would not remove troops from Kashmir and he further approved the deployment of Prithvi, the medium range ballistic missiles near the border. See, Chengappa (2000). Previously, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had visited Islamabad in 1989. This schizophrenic behaviour appears to be driven by the fact that the Indian government does not want to encourage the Kashmiri political elite to believe that problems can be resolved by involving a third state, and instead matters must be settled internally. That said, the Indian government is well aware that a settlement of the Kashmir issue must necessarily involve a dialogue with Pakistan.

Chapter 5 Relations with China: ‘Hindi Chini Bhai-Bhai’?1 INTRODUCTION


n the previous cases, a common thread was the connection between internal and external Others. These cases were chosen for the complex internal/external dynamic they presented. China, on the other hand, is a case that has much significance in the Indian political universe but which, at the same time, does not have the deep cultural and historical intertwining with India that Islamic Pakistan and Kashmir have. It is a historical and political Other that has loomed large in the Indian strategic imagination and has engendered positive and negative rivalry (in the sense that China is both admired and feared) in India. Furthermore, India, Pakistan and China are seen to form a trilateral security complex that has persisted for more than four decades, and this in and of itself makes this case a natural extension of the previous two security concerns.2 The purpose of this chapter is to examine whether and how the Indian government articulating a secular or religious-cultural conception of national identity affects India’s relations with China. Sino-Indian relations have been marked by periods of intense engagement, disengagement and gradual resumption of relations that have increasingly been characterized by political and economic cooperation. During the initial years of India’s Independence, India attempted to establish friendly relations



with China. However, relations between the two countries began to sour over China’s increasing presence in Tibet. Further, the dispute over the boundary in the Northeast and West led to China’s attack on India in 1962. After that defining moment, there was very little engagement between the two countries. Gradually, some efforts at establishing normal relations with China were made by Indira Gandhi during the early and mid-1970s. This effort was continued by the Janata Party government that was in power during 1977–79. The 1980s were marked by sporadic but cordial engagement. Since the 1990s, India and China have dramatically expanded their trade relations as well as their diplomatic engagement. Trade has grown significantly from $339 million in 1992 to $8 billion in 2003.3 In 2004, the trade between the two countries was worth $13.6 billion.4 At the diplomatic level, they have engaged in negotiations over the unresolved border issues, discussed confidence building measures (CBMs), exchanged high level political visits and meetings, and have begun a security dialogue. As will be discussed later in the chapter, there was a brief disruption in relations between the two countries when India conducted nuclear tests in 1998 and the Indian Prime Minister made a not so subtle reference to China as the main threat facing India. Since then, however, an effort at sustained engagement has been made by India and China. The focus of this chapter will be on relations between India and China during the years 1990 to 2003. In the sections that follow, I will discuss the significance of the case and briefly review relations prior to 1990 to establish a context for the case. The chapter is then divided into two major parts focusing on crisis events and agreements.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CASE The case of China is interesting for several reasons. First, India is concerned with the power that China represents and it has not forgotten its own defeat in the 1962 war with China. That war shaped an enduring Indian perception that China is



not to be trusted because it ‘betrayed’ Indian friendship. This sense of betrayal emerges from the perception that India’s support—under Nehru—for China’s struggle against imperialism and its accession to the United Nations, was reciprocated by disagreements and war, a war that India lost. This and the fact that China has assisted rebels within India have created territorial security concerns for India. Between 1962 and 1979, China supported insurgencies in India’s Northeast region, supporting the rebellion of the Nagas and Mizos who are ethnically more like the Chinese.5 India views these actions as inimical to its security and finds China’s interference problematic. While some of these issues have been resolved, India remains wary of China. Second, China and India ‘share one of the longest undemarcated and disputed borders in the world.’6 The Sino-Indian relationship has been characterized by the unresolved border dispute in which China claims an Indian state (Arunachal Pradesh)7 and India claims territory that is presently a part of China and includes a strategic route to Tibet.8 The dispute about the border, which was the cause of the war in 1962, was further complicated by China’s refusal to accept Sikkim as a part of the Indian state until December 2003.9 The two states have also clashed along the border on several occasions with the clash in Sumdorong Chu in the eastern sector of India in 1986 being the most significant in recent times. Third, India perceives China as an enduring partner of Pakistan, and hence, its security is threatened by both the states simultaneously. Thus, India’s North Eastern and North Western flanks are vulnerable. India has strong reason to believe that China has supplied Pakistan with armaments, and more importantly, that it has provided significant assistance in building Pakistan’s nuclear and missile capabilities since the 1980s.10 During India’s war with Pakistan in 1965, there were reports that China exercised tremendous pressure on India by threatening to enter into the fray lest India come to an agreement with Pakistan. This was a year after China conducted its first atomic bomb test in 1964. It is true that China did not intervene in 1971 (India’s Bangladesh war) and later again during the Kargil war in 1999, and that has



given India some reassurance. Nevertheless, the Indian political and bureaucratic elite remains suspicious and cautious vis-à-vis China’s intentions. In fact, even as India makes efforts to move ahead in its relations with China, it does so without the guarantee that China will disengage from Pakistan. Fourth, Chinese influence in the subcontinent and the East Asian region is a matter of great concern to Indian leaders and defence strategists. For instance, India is very wary of China’s links with Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. There is an overlap between Indian and Chinese historic spheres of influence, especially where the smaller Himalayan states (Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet) are concerned.11 These states are viewed as being under the ambit of the Indian influence and serve as buffer zones. Increasing Chinese influence in terms of direct diplomatic engagement, establishment of communication routes, trade and military bases (as in the case of Myanmar) are matters of concern for India.12 India feels ‘encircled’ by China and thus apprehensive about its security. As China enhances its own security by establishing friendly ties or cooperative security relationships with the smaller countries of the South Asian region, it diminishes India’s sense of security. Sujit Dutta observes that unlike in East Asia, where China’s relationship is built around economic ties, in South Asia, China has constructed its relationship around defence and intelligence ties, military transfers and political support.13 The fact that these states perceive Chinese presence as beneficial as they attempt to balance the overwhelming Indian presence is not reassuring to India. China, on the other hand, is concerned about India’s increasing assertiveness in South Asia and in the Indian Ocean, defence modernization exemplified by missile development, naval buildup and nuclear weaponization, India’s relations with the US, and finally India’s ‘Look East’ policy focussed on developing economic and military strategic ties with ASEAN countries, Vietnam and Japan.14 Fifth, understanding relations between India and China is important not only for explaining and comprehending the politics within the subcontinent and the East Asian region, but also



in terms of global politics. While China is more or less acknowledged as a power to contend with in the international arena, more so after the breakup of the Soviet Union, India aspires for similar recognition, and hence, there is considerable global and regional rivalry between the two states. Moreover, both states perceive themselves as natural great powers, and as ancient and enduring centres of civilization and culture. The shape of this rivalry will affect the global balance of powers. For instance, in an attempt to balance American power in the region, Russia has proposed a strategic partnership between itself, China and India.15 At the same time, observers in the US and India see an alignment between the US, India and Japan to contain China.16 How India relates to China and other powers in the system could shape the emerging balance in the international system. China is a distinct and significant political Other in the Indian security imaginaire. It is, therefore, pertinent to examine India’s perception of, and engagement with, China. As the discussion indicates, Sino-Indian relations are embedded not only in bilateral engagement, but also extend outwards towards other states and regions. However, this study has a more limited approach to understanding this relationship and much of the discussion focuses on their direct relationship. That said, India and China also have much in common and could be natural allies, not only because both countries have had similar historical experiences (as in foreign subjugation) and a history of engagement since ancient times, but also because they have similar views regarding the world. They seek a multi-polar world, oppose hegemonyism, support a revision of the international economic order, affirm the principles of peaceful coexistence, and oppose interference in internal affairs. They also face certain common problems such as significant environmental decay and pollution, poverty and economic development. These two states, perhaps more than any others, are desperately searching for ways to balance the demands of economic growth, the enormously expanding expectations of their citizens, poverty alleviation and the shrinking set of natural resources.



SINO-INDIAN RELATIONS PRIOR TO 1990 India and China have a long and deep history of civilizational interaction dating back to the period before Christ. While there are some indications of trade between the two countries, it is the gradual spread of Buddhism from India to China that shaped the early years of interaction. Chinese scholars visited India, and Indian monks, in turn, went to China. India’s interaction with China declined after the arrival of the British.17 Prior to and after Independence, India expressed considerable support and empathy for the Chinese, who were perceived as fellow Asians suffering from the common experience of colonialism and imperialism. India was one of the first states to recognize the People’s Republic of China in (PRC) in 1949 and actively supported China’s entry into the UN. Beginning in the early 1950s, however, China’s activities in Tibet roused Indian suspicions, and thereafter, relations between the two countries became strained. There was a brief period of understanding in 1954 when India and China signed the historic ‘Panchsheel’ (five principles) agreement.18 With this agreement, India recognized China’s sovereignty over Tibet and relinquished all its extra-territorial rights there. It is during this time that the ‘Hindi Chini bhai-bhai’ (Indians and Chinese are brothers) slogan was popularized and there was much optimism about relations between the two countries. However, tensions between the two countries regarding border issues continued to simmer. India insisted on the Macmohan line, established by British authorities, as the official border of the Indian state. China refused to recognize the borders thus set, contending that China had never recognized British border demarcations and questioned the authority of the British to unilaterally set the borders. During the late 1950s, there were several instances of violations of the border, and it appeared that India and China could not come to an agreement. In October of 1962, the two countries fought a short but decisive war in which the Chinese forces overran Indian defences. The war ended after China unilaterally declared a ceasefire



on 21 November having gained some territory. After the war, there was deep distrust in India regarding China’s intentions. The Indo-Pak war in 1965, and the indirect support to Pakistan and threat by China further increased India’s apprehensions about China’s role in the subcontinent and its own security.19 In the late 1960s, tensions between China and the Soviet Union made China suspicious of India’s treaty with the Soviet Union in 1971. Nevertheless, China did not interfere with India when it played a role in the dismemberment of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh in 1971. In the mid-1970s, both countries began the process of normalization of relations. In China, Mao is said to have conveyed the need to renew relations to Brajesh Mishra, the Indian charge’d affairs in China.20 Similarly in India, efforts to renew dialogue with China were made by Indira Gandhi (Congress) and deepened by Morarji Desai (Janata party). However, relations between the two countries were subject to occasional strains as China strongly objected to the incorporation of Sikkim into India in 1975. In so far as China was concerned, Sikkim was under dispute. Nevertheless, ambassadorial relations between the two countries were restored after a gap of 14 years in 1976 and India appointed K. R. Narayanan as India’s ambassador to China. In 1977, shipping services were resumed, and in February 1979, A. B. Vajpayee, who was then the Foreign Minister of India, visited China. This was the first visit at the ministerial level after the war in 1962. However, Vajpayee’s visit was cut short when China invaded Vietnam. Gradually, changing domestic politics within China, the rapprochement between China and the Soviet Union, and the Soviet attack on Afghanistan provided a new context for Sino-Indian relations. This was reflected in the resumption of relations. In June 1981, Huang Hua, the Chinese Foreign Minister, arrived in India. During his visit, it was decided that the status quo regarding the border would be maintained, while the two countries cooperated in economic, cultural, technological and scientific areas. Thus, throughout the 1980s, the border talks between the two countries continued (eight rounds of talks were held between 1981 and 1987), along with increased



engagement in other areas. This engagement with China was a departure from India’s earlier policy of insisting that issues related to the border dispute be resolved before any further dialogue or cooperation on its part. In 1984, India and China signed a trade agreement after a gap of 30 years. The two countries granted each other the most favoured nation trading status, thus marking a turn in their trade and commerce policies, which had remained in limbo since the 1960s.21 This led to the establishment of annual dialogue at the level of vice-ministers. These meetings did not result in the resolution of the core issues between the two countries, though they did lead to increased diplomatic engagement. They also set up the India–China Joint Working Group (JWG) to promote mutual trade and commerce. During the years 1986 and 1987, there was some disagreement and dispute along the border, resulting in deployment of troops by both sides. Scholars disagree as to the reasons for the dispute. For instance, Cohen mentions that China had built a helipad inside Indian territory in the Sumdurong Chu valley in Arunachal Pradesh, resulting in the deployment of troops and minor clashes along the border. Rose, on the other hand, traces the dispute to Indian incursions into neutral territory.22 As a result, there was tension on the border resulting in armed clashes, and a spate of accusations and counter-accusations. China also vigorously protested the complete integration of Arunachal Pradesh (previously known as North East Frontier Agency or NEFA) into the Indian Union, arguing that it was a region in dispute between India and China. It was in 1987 that there was a massive troop mobilization along the Indo-Chinese border and India conducted military exercises called ‘Operation Chequerboard.’23 These incidents briefly interrupted relations between the two countries. However, Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in 1988 broke the stalemate. This was the second visit by an Indian Prime Minister after the one made by Nehru in 1955 and was thus considered a path breaking event in Sino-Indian relations. It signalled an important reorientation of India’s China policy, especially since Rajiv Gandhi dropped India’s demand that the border problem be resolved prior to a general improvement



in relations with China.24 Gandhi’s visit resulted in the establishment of a JWG to examine the boundary question. At the same time, agreements were signed for cooperation in the fields of science, technology, civil aviation and cultural exchanges. Another working group was set up to deal with trade.25 In late 1989, the Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Xueqian visited India, and in the years that followed, there were some more high level exchanges. These efforts resulted in increased economic activity between the two countries. The 1980s, thus, were marked by a pattern of increased interaction between the two states with consistent efforts directed towards resolving the border problem and increasing economic linkages. As we shall see in the sections that follow, this broad pattern of engagement intensified between 1990 and 2003.

UNDERSTANDING SINO-INDIAN RELATIONS FROM 1990–2003 In this section, I will focus on examining incidents of friction characterized by poor relations between the two states, and various military and non-military CBMs. As in the previous cases, the purpose of examining events of friction and those representing cooperation is to understand whether the Indian government’s engagement with China is different during the two phases wherein different identity narratives appear dominant as they are articulated by the governing elite.

I COMPARING CRISIS EVENTS: ACTIONS AND REACTIONS Unlike Indo-Pak relations wherein one crisis event followed another, Sino-Indian relations have been characterized by fairly stable diplomatic engagement during the years 1990–2003.



In fact, there were no real crises between the two states during these years, partly due to the fact that the two states have refrained from discussing the more pressing issues such as China’s assistance to Pakistan, border demarcation (while discussions were on going, there was no sense of urgency), and Tibet. Yet, there were incidents of tension that occurred and appeared to temporarily mar the steadily improving relations. While the purpose of this section is to compare crisis events occurring during both the phases, the fact is that the most significant incident occurred only in the second phase when the BJP-led government was in power. I refer here to the diplomatic spat between India and China that ensued just prior to and after the conduct of nuclear tests by India in May 1998.

Diplomatic spat: A crisis of sorts Sino-Indian relations that had been on the mend for most of the 1990s took a turn for the worse just prior to and after the conduct of nuclear tests by India. Tensions arose when some members of the Indian cabinet made certain statements (prior to the nuclear tests) regarding China. In fact, deterioration in bilateral relations was sparked by Defence Minister George Fernandes’ public reference to China as India’s number one enemy.26 China reacted to these statements by stating that such views were a set back to the bilateral relations between the two countries, that they were not worthy of any response, and that it regretted the sabotaging of a favourable atmosphere.27 Fernandes then issued an official statement clarifying that the government of India is committed to friendly relations with China.28 However, the Chinese government registered its protest by summoning the Indian ambassador and describing Fernandes’ statements as groundless and irresponsible.29 These actions of the Chinese government did not deter Fernandes who went on to state that India had crucial evidence of strong Chinese naval presence in Burma (specifically in Coco islands, Hainggyi islands and Ayeryarwady) and accused China of stockpiling nuclear weapons and extending military airfields in Tibet.30 He further clarified that there would not be any reduction of forces on the border



with China.31 Fernandes argued that India should face up to these facts and abandon the casual and careless attitude towards national security.32 Later, Fernandes stated that his comments regarding China were distorted.33 Beijing reacted strongly to comments made by Fernandes and he was criticized strongly within India for his opinions. On 11 May 1998 India conducted its first series of nuclear tests. China’s initial reaction as reported by the Xinhua news agency was restrained. The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that China was deeply concerned and such acts were not conducive to international peace. Two days later India conducted another round of tests. On 12 May, The New York Times published the letter that Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee had sent to various heads of state laying out the rationale for the conduct of tests by India.34 Although Vajpayee made oblique references to overt and covert nuclear weapons state endangering India’s security, it was clear that the states in question were China and Pakistan. These security threats were raised as justifications for the nuclear tests conducted by India. Nevertheless, on 27 May 1998, when Vajpayee addressed the Lok Sabha regarding the tests in Pokharan, he did not make any reference to China, though he did refer to the deteriorating security environment during the 1980s and the 1990s as a result of nuclear and missile proliferation, and to the fact that there had been no progress regarding nuclear disarmament.35 Vajpayee’s speech led to the discussion in the Parliament regarding the statements by the Defence Minister and Vajpayee himself. Wondering why the Indian government was making ‘provocative’ statements regarding China, Inderjit Gupta of the Communist Party of India (CPI) asked what had changed in the security environment and relations with China.36 Natwar Singh, representing the Congress party, raised similar questions about the nature and extent of the Chinese threat that lead to the nuclear tests and to the contradictions evident in a policy of engagement that was being implemented by the BJP-led government.37 P. Chidambaram, another Congress party member, accused the government of having invented the China threat. He contended that China does not pose a threat to India and the last



skirmish they had was 36 years ago. In response, BJP member Jagmohan argued that: [O]n the one hand, we are saying that we are friends with China and so we are negotiating. On the other hand, we say this. In fact, there is no contradiction. It is because your successful nego-tiation will depend when you are on an equal footing. You cannot successfully negotiate national interest when you are in a position of weakness. ... I would again say that we are neither against Pakistan nor against China. We only want that when we sit at the negotiating table, they should not get the impression that we are a weak nation and we can be pushed around.38

Jagmohan’s response represents a pragmatic posture that is not uncommon. In fact, much of the discussion in the Parliament should be understood in the context of members of various parties playing the role of opposition parties. While much has been made within and outside India of the diplomatic gaffe in officially specifying China as an enemy, the fact remains that China does constitute a threat in Indian perceptions. In fact, the prevailing belief among the political elite is that India’s political-military rivalry is not with Pakistan but with China. Further, the defence establishment in India has kept a wary eye on China as indicated by the annual reports issued by the Indian Ministry of Defence. For instance, the 1992 reports remark on continuing presence of Chinese troops along the SinoIndian border, takes note of China’s role in helping Bangladesh modernize its armed forces and of China’s relationship with Myanmar. The 1993–94 defence report mentions that even though China has signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it continues to conduct tests such as the one in October 1993, and there are concerns of proliferation to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The 1994–95 report notes the increased linkages between Myanmar and China, and the upgrading of Chinese defence forces. The 1996–97 report focuses on the increased collaboration between China and Pakistan, and the supply of M-11 missiles by China to Pakistan. These concerns continue to be expressed in the reports that follow. In the 1999–2000 report, a section is devoted to the modernization of the Chinese army, and



to the transfer of nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan and North Korea. This concern with nuclear proliferation in the region, China’s growing military expenditure, and its relations with Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar has been consistently raised in all the reports.39 The reports in 2000–01 note that because of the lack of resolution of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), tensions have arisen along the border that could have been avoided. Further the report continues to express concerns about China’s nuclear capabilities and its ability to target Indian cities.40 India is particularly concerned about the placement of missiles in Tibet, though there is contention amongst scholars as to the direction and effectiveness of these missiles.41 Nonetheless, the statements made by Fernandes and Vajpayee’s reference to China, prior to the conduct of the tests, were significant in terms of the fact that these were the first public statements made by the highest representatives of the Indian government. China reacted strongly to allusions of a Chinese threat. The relations between Beijing and Delhi declined dramatically as China objected strenuously to being referred to as a threat to India and condemned what it saw as a gratuitous reference. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on 14 May condemning India’s behaviour. The statement expressed ‘deep shock’ and ‘strong condemnation.’ India’s nuclear tests were seen as: ...nothing but outrageous contempt for the common will of the international community for the comprehensive ban on nuclear tests and a hard blow on the international effort to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation. It will entail serious consequences to the peace and stability in South Asia and the world at large.42

China also accused India of shoring up domestic political power by conducting the tests.43 China rejected India’s assertions of any direct or indirect threat through assistance to Pakistan and pointed to gradually improving relations between India and China since the late 1980s. When Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests on 28 and 30 May 1998, China expressed disappointment but blamed India as the instigator.44 In fact, the Chinese spokesperson Zhu Bangzao’s statement that ‘the current



situation in South Asia was created solely by India. India, in disregard of strong international opposition, brazenly conducted nuclear tests and threatened its neighbours’ was read as an affirmation of the fact that the Pakistani tests were approved by China.45 China went on to declare that the pressing concern of the international community was to demand that India abandon its plan to develop nuclear weapons. In the days that followed, China presented itself as a responsible global power and reaffirmed its commitment to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Further, China along with the US called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), after which the Council issued a statement on 4 June 1998 condemning the tests. Singh and Yuan note that as President of the Security Council, China actively sought and coordinated the meetings of the permanent five, leading to the adoption of resolution 1172 on 6 June.46 The resolution condemning the nuclear tests in South Asia ‘demanded that India and Pakistan refrain from further nuclear tests, and called upon both countries to immediately stop their nuclear programmes and refrain from weaponization.’47 It is interesting to note that Vajpayee while responding to the Resolution, declared that it was not applicable to India and that India ‘desired a peaceful, friendly, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan based on confidence and respect.’48 There was no mention of China. In fact, the Indian government responded in a very restrained manner to China’s condemnation and its efforts to block India’s nuclear ambitions by mobilizing the international community. Later in June, during the US President Bill Clinton’s visit to China, China and the US issued a joint communiqué calling on India and Pakistan to ‘stop all further nuclear tests and adhere immediately and unconditionally to the CTBT … and to enter into a firm commitment not to weaponize or deploy nuclear weapons or the missiles capable of delivering them.’49 However, China’s attempts at dismantling India’s nuclear programme were not successful. The souring relations between the two countries affected the confidence building process negatively, and in fact, resulted in the cancellation of the JWG meeting to be held in Beijing in 1998.



However, it is noteworthy that even as other countries, such as the US and Japan, imposed economic sanctions against India, China refrained from doing so.50 Eventually, relations between the two states began to normalize as indicated by a series of highlevel visits in 1999, followed by several agreements. Thus, while the rhetorical posture of the BJP-led government did create tensions between the two states, these were not serious enough to significantly disrupt the pattern of engagement. Furthermore, the difference between the two phases was not one where the BJP-led government uniquely conceived of China as a threat. This conception is common to the parties constituting the government during both the phases. It was rather a diplomatic mishap or rather an undiplomatic mishap that temporarily strained relations.

II AGREEMENTS ATTEMPTED AND REACHED While the previous section focussed on tense relations between the two states, the fact is that Sino-Indian relations were predominantly characterized by intensive diplomatic engagement and several agreements. While this engagement did not substantially resolve the outstanding issues—especially the demarcation of the border, among others—it did serve the purpose of improving relations between the two states. In order to understand whether the actions of the Indian government were influenced by different narratives of national identity, or more specifically, whether the political elite espousing the secular discourse was likely to be more cooperative as opposed to an elite imbued with religious-cultural narratives, I will examine the various agreements proposed and implemented. Thus, in the sections that follow, the focus turns to examining military and non-military CBMs concluded during the two phases relevant to this study.



Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) As discussed in Chapter 4, CBMs allow us to understand, to a certain extent, the nature of the relationship between states. They are expressions of collaborative and cooperative effort as well as management of protracted conflict. CBMs are intended to reduce tensions between countries and initiate and encourage better relations. They may thus take the form of military and non-military CBMs.51

Military CBMs As mentioned earlier, India and China have experienced intense engagement early in their emergence as independent states, sharp conflict resulting in decades of complete disengagement, and more lately, a steady rapprochement. A significant element of this rapprochement was the slow but gradual progress made by these states regarding measures designed to minimize conflict. For instance, in 1992, both states agreed to ensure regular local commanders’ meetings in the western and eastern sector to deal with the problem of troops straying or local fire fights, thus reducing the possibility of accidental or unintentional conflict.52 However, two key agreements that were concluded in 1993 and 1996 play a significant role in seeking to resolve the border issue and putting in place several military CBMs. On 7 September 1993, India and China signed the ‘Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India–China Border Areas’ in accordance with the five principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.53 Both countries also agreed to reduce the military forces along the LAC to the minimum and that the ‘extent, depth, timing and nature of reduction of military forces’ would be determined by mutual consultation.54 Further, there was agreement that neither side would undertake specified levels of military exercises in certain identified zones and that prior notification would be provided. Problems along the border were



to be addressed through meetings among the border personnel. Adequate measures were to be taken to ensure that there would not be any air intrusions across the LAC, and both the sides agreed to discuss the method, scale and content of effective verification measures.55 Following up on the agreement in 1993, the two countries concluded the ‘Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the Line of Actual Control in the India–China Border’ in December 1996. They agreed to an elaborate set of CBMs to reduce tensions along the border. These agreements were in essence an expansion of those reached in 1993 and were far more specific in terms of actual measures undertaken, as opposed to broad agreements that were characteristic of the 1993 agreement. The agreement reiterated the previous understanding that neither side would use its military capability against the other side, and further that both countries would commit to resolving the border dispute. Both sides also agreed to avoid large military exercises close to the border and to provide details to the other side if any such exercises were conducted. There were other provisions such as reduction of force, withdrawal of forces (army, border defence forces, paramilitary) to mutually agreeable geographical positions, reduction of certain categories of armaments deployed along the LAC (combat tanks, infantry combat vehicles, guns with 75 mm or bigger calibre, mortars, surface-toair missiles, surface-to-surface missiles56), and notification of overflights of combat aircraft. Both sides also agreed to avoid holding large-scale military exercises involving more than one division (15,000 troops) in close proximity to the LAC and to provide notification in case of exercises involving more than a brigade (5,000 troops). Annual meetings of the military commanders of both sides were also scheduled, and local commanders were to hold regular flag meetings (along the eastern, middle and western sectors of the border) and could also hold unscheduled meeting by raising a flag. Further, the two countries agreed that neither side shall open fire, cause biodegradation, use hazardous chemicals or conduct blast operations within 2 km of the LAC. In case blast operations became necessary, the



other side was to be informed. The agreement also cautioned border personnel against escalating the situation in case they came face-to-face.57 These were the most specific and elaborate agreements concluded by India and China. During the second phase (1998–2003), we find that these agreements continued to be enforced. While no new agreements were concluded in this phase, India did propose a ‘No First Use’ nuclear weapons pact with China on 9 July 1998. However, Beijing suggested that India should first abandon its nuclear weapons project, and sign the CTBT and NPT.58 Since this was not acceptable to India, the proposed pact languished. As discussed earlier, relations between India and China declined sharply when India conducted its nuclear tests. China’s reaction was sharp, as it sought to garner international support to curb India’s nuclear ambitions. Nevertheless, relations gradually improved, and by November 2003, the two countries even conducted joint naval exercises.59

Non-military CBMs While military CBMs are deeply significant in altering the nature of relationship between states in so far as they work towards reducing the security dilemma, non-military CBMs establish a network of relationships that bind states in more complex ways, thus reducing the incentive to disengage. Sino-Indian relations since the 1990s have been characterized by a series of these measures that have served to deepen the extent of engagement between these states. Among the most important measures are those that are related to resolving the border, Tibet, exchange of visits and bilateral trade.

Resolving the border problem India and China have one of the longest undemarcated and contested borders (4,057 km) in the world. The border problem has long vexed both India and China, and has been under discussion since prior to the Nehru-Zhou Enlai meeting in 1960, the failure of which eventually led to the border war in 1962.



Tensions associated with violations of the unspecified border rose again in 1986, when there were incursions in Sumdurong Chu valley. The border discussions have undergone three phases. The first was in 1960, which produced the official reports and white papers that constitute the basis of Indian claims. The second phase was set in motion in the early 1980s when talks began at the joint-secretary and vice-ministerial levels. It was during this period that eight rounds of Sino-Indian border talks were held between 1981 and 1987. The third phase was initiated in 1988 by Rajiv Gandhi and set in motion a political solution to the problem, and the India–China JWG on boundary issues was established in 1989. During the 1990s, agreements stipulating the peaceful resolution of the dispute were arrived at. The 1993 agreement stipulated that disputes would be resolved peacefully and that they would not use or threaten the use of force to resolve the border problem. It was also agreed that in the meantime both countries would respect the LAC and that disagreements about the LAC would be resolved jointly.60 It was also stipulated that both the countries would appoint military and diplomatic experts to assist the JWG in resolving the border problem. The experts were to advise the working group in the alignment of the LAC, deployment and reduction of forces, and to assist the group in supervising the implementation of the agreement. The JWG has worked to prevent accidental skirmishes between troops posted by India and China along the LAC, has met every year since its inception (12 meetings in all with the exception of 1998) and has been instrumental in developing and implementing CBMs in the military field.61 Similarly, the agreements in 1996 reiterated the understanding reached earlier. During the second phase, these initial agreements were maintained, though there was a change in the modus operandi. In 2002, Zhu Rongji (during his visit to India) stated that both sides had reached consensus regarding the border on the principle of ‘mutual understanding, accommodation and adjustment,’ while Vajpayee stressed the importance of resolving the border problem in a ‘just, reasonable and mutually acceptable way.’62 The two countries were to exchange maps relating to the border sector, and while this was done in 2001 with reference



to the least controversial middle sector, the eastern and western sector maps (to be exchanged in 2002 and 2003) were never exchanged. Chellaney contends that the exchange of maps was stalled because of China’s reluctance.63 During Vajpayee’s visit in 2003, there was agreement to discuss the ‘principles’ and ‘basic framework’ of a potential settlement. Both sides stated that they sought ‘fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through consultations on an equal footing’ and agreed to appoint a special representative to explore—from the political perspective—the framework for a boundary solution.64 The fact of the matter is that in spite of years of negotiation, India and China have been unable to come to an agreement on specific delineation of the border as of 2003. While working groups have been set up, some maps exchanged, special representatives appointed, statements made by the political elite about a just and fair solution to resolve the contentious issue, in the end, these actions have not resulted in a concrete agreement. Scholars argue that China is in no hurry to resolve the border issue with India, partly because the border as it stands demarcated currently is a relic from the 1962 war.65 Thus, the LAC favours China and resolution of the border is not a pressing concern for China.

Tibet’s place in Sino-Indian relations Tibet emerged as the bone of contention between India and China soon after they gained independence. Although by and large, India has stuck to the agreement of 1954 and subsequent Indian governments have declared Tibet to be a part of China, the continued residence of the Dalai Lama and the presence of about 1,00,000 refugees in India has resulted in keeping China’s suspicions alive about interference by the Indian government either directly or through support to the refugees. During 1990 and 2003, Tibet did not emerge as a significant issue with the exception of a brief incident in 2000. In fact, in 1991, when Tibetan refugees protested Chinese Premier Li Peng’s visit, India clamped down hard on the protests and was keen to reassure China that while Tibetans may stay as refugees, they were not



encouraged to engage in activities against China.66 However, the Tibet issue cropped up briefly when the Karmapa Lama fled Tibet and arrived in India in 2000.67 Nevertheless, Delhi played a very cautious hand and was keen to ensure that it did not inadvertently offend China or raise China’s suspicions about India’s intentions. The top leadership in India refrained from any comment. Sources within the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that India had not made up its mind as to what it would do with the Lama and ‘will not be stampeded into a decision’ on either granting political asylum or sending him back to China.68 The immediate focus of the government was on finding out how the Karmapa managed to arrive in India. The arrival of the boy Lama was accompanied by several rumours alleging that his escape was a Chinese ploy. On the other hand, China asserted that the Lama was content to remain in China and that he had embarked on the trip to secure some relics from the monastery at Rumtek in Sikkim. However, the Indian government decided that the Karmapa Tinley Dorje could not travel to the Rumtek monastery. The government’s decision appeared to be based on the fact that the Rumtek monastery did not recognize the Lama (the monastery was in favour of another Lama) and had become the voice of anti-Chinese sentiment.69 Since it was also not clear whether the Lama would be given asylum, the Dalai Lama appealed to Prime Minister Vajpayee, urging him to grant political asylum so that the Lama may pursue his religious education.70 Amidst these events, the Chinese ambassador to India warned India not to use the incident to stir up anti-political and antisocial activities against China.71 While New Delhi was sensitive to the Lama’s presence and its impact on Sino-Indian relations, India eventually granted refugee status to the Lama in 2001.72 While the incident did create some anxiety in SinoIndian relations, the dust eventually settled down. In fact, in 2003, during Vajpayee’s visit to China, India clarified that the Tibet Autonomous Region was a part of China and that ‘it does not allow Tibetans to engage in anti-China political activities in India.’73 However, India did not agree to China’s use of the word ‘inalienable’ with reference to Tibet and Taiwan.74 Chellaney observes that the stance of the BJP government on



Tibet represents ‘a self-damaging Indian betrayal of Tibet that began under Nehru.’75 In his view, Vajpayee formally granted China its position on Tibet in exchange for China’s recognition of Sikkim as a part of India. In doing so, Chellaney contends, Vajpayee sought concessions on an issue which lacked both domestic and international contention, and hence, was a nonissue for practical purposes, meaning that Sikkim was already a settled issue in the sense that there was no domestic or international opposition to its incorporation into India.76 However, the fact is that India has long recognized that Tibet is a part of China and has confined itself to providing refugee status to the Dalai Lama and other refugees, while asserting that refugees will not be allowed to engage in political activities against China. At the same time, India is not averse to using Tibet as a strategic lever in its relations with China.

Diplomacy through high-level visits and agreements Since the 1990s, India and China have engaged in high-level exchanges, except for a brief period following the nuclear test by India in May 1998. The tone for cordial relations had already been set in the previous decade when there was a gradual easing of tensions that culminated in Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China. Since then, political elites (as in heads of government and state, cabinet level ministers, key communist and other party members) and defence personnel, as well as businessmen, have visited each other’s countries on a regular basis. These visits have resulted in a steady engagement at the diplomatic level, in agreements amongst the Indian and Chinese political elite, and have served as expressions of goodwill towards each other. In the early 1990s, such visits began with the Indian foreign and commerce Ministers visiting China and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) delegations visiting India.77 In 1991, the visiting Chinese delegation met the Indian Vice President and leaders of various political parties such as the Janata Dal, Forward Bloc and the Communist Party.78 Indian Prime Minister Chandrashekhar met with the visiting CCP delegation led by



Li Ximing, the Politburo member of the CCP Central Committee, and both discussed the steadily improving relations between the two countries. Li stated that China appreciated India’s approach to resolve the border problem and that his visit had deepened relations between the CCP and political parties in India. He invited Indian entrepreneurs to set up joint ventures in China.79 A day earlier at the banquet hosted by the Congress party, Li stressed the long history of friendly relations between China and India, and observed that friendship between the two countries was important for the stability and development of Asia and for world peace.80 Li’s visit was followed by the Chinese Culture Minister who arrived in India for an 11-day visit.81 In 1991, Chinese Premier Li Peng visited India, and the Indian President R. Venkatraman reciprocated his visit in May 1992. Li Peng’s visit was significant as it was the first visit of its kind by the head of state from China to India since the establishment of diplomatic relations. He was accompanied by Qian Qichen (Foreign Minister) and Li Lanqing (Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Minister).82 During his visit, agreements were signed regarding the resumption of border trade, and cooperation in science and technology for peaceful uses of outer space. His visit also facilitated the reopening of the Chinese Consulate General in Mumbai in 1992 and the Indian Consulate General in Shanghai in 1993.83 In fact, between 1991 and 1993, India and China came to several agreements related to the expansion of border trade,84 radio and television cooperation, and environment, as India hoped to address poaching and smuggling of endangered species such as tiger and rhinoceros. In 1993, Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao visited China, and the two countries came to some agreement regarding CBMs, especially in terms of dealing with tensions along the border.85 Mansingh contends that it was with Rao’s visit to China that the process of normalization of relations between the two countries began in earnest.86 In his view, the increasing rapprochement between the two states is the result both of efforts made by the leadership within these countries as well as the end of the Cold War which had resulted in a strategic US-Soviet-China, triangle and thus aggravated mutual distrust between India and China.87



In 1994, the Indian Chief of Army Staff P. C. Joshi visited China and met with, among others, the Chinese Defence Minister.88 In November 1996, President Jiang Zemin came to India. During the four-day visit, Zemin held talks with the Indian President, Vice President, Prime Minster H. D. Deve Gowda and External Affairs Minister I. K. Gujaral. Commenting on SinoIndian relations, Zemin remarked that in the twenty-first century, India and China must establish a constructive cooperative partnership and that while they have their differences, common interests far out weigh these as neither state poses a threat to the other.89 As in previous instances, such visits were accompanied by several agreements relating to bilateral trade, technology, cultural exchanges, military to military links and other cooperative ventures. Both countries also signed agreements related to trade, specifically dealing with mechanisms required for avoiding double taxation, and combating trade in narcotics and drugs. In 1997, the two countries also agreed to hold annual foreign ministerial consultations.90 The momentum was maintained by Wei Jianxing’s (the Secretary of the Central Committee Secretariat of the CCP) visit in 1997.91 The gradual rapprochement between India and China was dramatically interrupted by India’s nuclear tests in May 1998. While earlier in the month, Prime Minister Vajpayee had met with General Fu Quanyou, Chief of General Staff of Peoples Liberation Army92 and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had been signed between the Indian state of Kerala and China for hydroelectric projects in that state,93 diplomatic relations between India and China came to a virtual standstill in the wake of controversial statements about the threats posed by China, followed by the nuclear tests. Gradually, however, India redoubled its efforts to make amends with China, and the two countries resumed official dialogue by January 1999. This return to normalcy was marked by visits and dialogue involving academics, analysts and other prominent persons such as the former Chinese ambassador. Officially, consultations between Indian and Chinese officials at the director-general level were held in February, and the eleventh round of JWG meetings was held in April at Beijing.



These initial meetings were followed by External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh’s visit to China in June 1999. Occurring as it did during the Indo-Pak conflict in Kargil, the visit established to some extent the neutral posture adopted by Beijing. His visit was marked by consultations between the two governments to begin talks on demarcating the LAC. Later that year, a telephone line was set up between the Chinese and Indian sides at the Nathu La pass in the Sikkim sector. There were also reports of informal meetings between the Indian and Chinese troops.94 In March 2000, India and China participated in the first ever security dialogue held in Beijing.95 During the talks, India refused to implement UN Resolution 1,172 that explicitly sought an end to the nuclear weapons programme in South Asia. India emphasized that every country had a right to determine its own security requirements.96 Even though China refused to weaken its opposition to India’s nuclear weapons programme, China’s Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan stated that China’s agreements with India outweigh the differences.97 Since then, two rounds of security talks have been held in 2001 and 2003, respectively. The substantive discussions have not been made public, but the Indian MEA stated that: ...the dialogue consisted of an overview of the current international security situation, including the campaign against terrorism, introduction of each other’s national defence policies, various issues related to regional security and cooperation such as the ARF [Asian Regional Forum] and CICA [Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia], situation in the neighbourhood, relations with ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. The two sides also reviewed current international disarmament agenda.98

The two countries were also considering setting up a highway linking India and China through Myanmar to facilitate trade and tourism.99 Gradually, the exchange of visits by high ranking officials and ministers was resumed. For instance, in May 2000, Indian President, K. R. Narayanan paid a visit to China, and the Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan visited India in



July and Li Peng, Chairman of the Chinese National People’s Congress Standing Committee, made a nine-day visit to India in 2001. Li Peng met Vajpayee and assured the Prime Minister that China did not pose a threat to India and neither did India to China.100 The year 2001 was characterized by a steady exchange of visits at various levels, and there was a substantial increase in bilateral trade and cooperation.101 In fact, bilateral trade was expected to touch a record $3.4 billion.102 At the end of 2001, the attack on the Indian Parliament by terrorists and India’s accusations against Pakistan, once again, brought into question the relationship between India and China. While China essentially maintained a neutral stance, it also maintained its strong relationship with Pakistan as reflected in the $12.1 million aid granted to Pakistan. China and Pakistan also signed seven cooperative agreements during President Musharraf’s visit in December 2001 and later again in January 2002.103 It is clear that much as India has decried China’s relations with Pakistan, it has also come to accept the fact that India will have to delink Sino-Indian relations from Sino-Pakistani relations. China, too, has refrained from intervening in IndoPak relations, especially vis-à-vis Kashmir, and has urged both countries to resolve their problems through bilateral dialogue. In 2002, Prime Minister Zhu Rongji made a five-day visit to India and stressed the importance of friendly relations between the two countries. Since Li Peng’s visit in 1991, this was the first time that a Chinese Prime Minister came to India. Responding to Rongji’s remarks in India, Vajpayee stated that China did not ‘pose a threat to India, nor does India believe that China regards India as a threat.’104 During the Chinese Premier’s visit, the two countries also signed six major agreements relating to science and technology, cooperation in outer space, tourism and exchange of hydrological data. Much of Zhu’s visit was devoted to strengthening economic ties.105 In March 2002, Jaswant Singh visited China and had extensive talks with China’s Foreign Minister, Premier and Vice Premier. The discussions focussed on demarcation of the LAC and on combating terrorism. The outcome of this visit led Jaswant Singh to state that his visit could



lead to ‘qualitative transformation of the bilateral relationship.’106 In April 2003, Fernandes defied the World Health Organization (WHO) advisory against China because of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and paid a weeklong visit. During this visit, he met the Chinese Defence Minister General Cao Gangchuan, the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, former President Jiang Zemin, and several other government officials. Both sides decided to increase military-to-military exchanges, hold a counter-terrorism dialogue, and increase CBMs to maintain peace along the LAC. Later, in reference to his visit, Fernandes stated that ‘it was a visit that has enabled us to appreciate each other’s concerns and sensitivities.’107 Subsequently, India also provided aid (worth 1 crore rupees) for dealing with the SARS epidemic. In June 2003, Vajpayee visited China. On 23 June in a speech at Peking University, Vajpayee stated: As two large developing countries at roughly the same stage of development, sharing the same neighbourhood, pursuing similar growth trajectories, with comparable economic priorities and similar political ambitions, it is inevitable that comparisons will be made between India and China. It is also an unavoidable characteristic of human nature that there is always a sense of competition between two close and equal neighbours. We should focus on the simple truth that there is no objective reason for discord between us, and neither of us is a threat to the other.108 (emphasis added)

The statement while stressing cooperative possibilities also reflects India’s historic ambition to be seen as an equivalent power in the Asian region. Nine MoUs were signed relating to closer cooperation in the judicial field (as in exchange of information, experience in legal matters and exchange of best practices), cooperation in the field of education (exchange of teaching materials, teaching methodologies, exchange of scholars and students, and provision of scholarships in the two countries), agreements regarding the import and export of food materials, simplification of



visa processes, collaboration in the area of renewable energy, cooperation in the field of ocean science (exploration of sea based resources, exchange of technology, marine resources assessment, satellite oceanography), collaborative activities in mathematical and physical science, and finally the establishment of cultural centres. At the end of that visit, both sides agreed to cooperate on matters of international trade at the World Trade Organization (WTO), to discuss sustainable development and disarmament, to broaden and deepen defence exchanges, and to continue the ministerial level meetings of the Joint Economic Group (JEG). They also agreed to engage in border trade through Sikkim and to establish a Joint Study Group (JSG) to examine trade and economic cooperation. The agreement on trade through Sikkim was preceded by an agreement in November 1999 when a telephone link was established between the Chinese and Indian sides at Nathu La in this border pass sector.109 In the Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation, the two countries affirmed that they are not a threat to each other and neither side shall use or threaten the use of force against the other.

Bilateral trade as an indication of improving relations In the economic sphere, there appears to be a steady growth in cooperation during both the phases. The two countries have gradually opened up several border areas for trade purposes and have enhanced trade relations significantly. In fact, the tensions in 1998 did not significantly damage increased economic engagement. Bilateral trade grew from $265 million in 1991 to $1 billion in 1995 and finally to $3.59 billion in 2001. In 2002, bilateral trade amounted to $5 billion and by 2004, it had jumped up to $7 billion by the first quarter. The two countries had set a target of $10 billion by 2005.110 China also announced that it would set aside $500 million for investment in India.111 These trends indicate that economic relations between the two countries have been improving steadily.



As the preceding discussion indicates, the two states made steady progress towards improving relations. In fact, during both the phases, there is a consensus on improving relations whether in terms of resolving the border problem, policy on Tibet, military CBMS or agreements on a host of issues. While the BJP-led government did engage in some provocative statements prior to conducting nuclear tests in 1998, it also sought to soothe China’s ruffled feathers.

CONCLUSION Sino-Indian relations have been characterized by progressive engagement with the exception of few incidents. The foregoing discussion established that the practices and policies of the Indian government were similar in very important ways; thus, parties articulating the secular national identity narrative undertook several friendly initiatives (military and non-military CBMs), and this trend towards a focus on improved relations was continued by the BJP-led government. While these two states moved towards increased engagement on several fronts, the fact remains that they were unable to resolve the most contentious issue between them, that is, the demarcation of the border. At the same time, the lack of delineation did not lead to any conflict prone action between them. However, relations did deteriorate for a brief period of time during the second phase, when China took offence to India’s declaration that China constituted India’s primary enemy followed by the nuclear tests in 1998. While China also expressed concern with the arrival of Karmapa Lama in India in 2000, relations between the two countries did not become hostage to Lama’s refugee status in India. In fact, in the three years that followed this incident, relations between the two states improved tremendously as indicated by several high level visits, agreements and a burgeoning bilateral trade. For the first time, India and



China held a security dialogue and made some agreements on longstanding issues such as Sikkim. It is clear that the BJPled government was adept at pursuing cooperative practices even while it had advertently or inadvertently engaged in some provocative rhetoric.

NOTES 1. ‘Hindi Chini Bhai-Bhai’ (‘India and China are brothers’) was the slogan that was popular in the mid-1950s when both countries had signed the Panchsheel agreement and had come to an understanding on Tibet. 2. Bajpai and Coe (1995: 211). 3. Alok Mukherjee (2005). The author argues that the full potential for trade between the two countries remains to be explored. 4. French (2005). 5. Garver (2001: 94). 6. Sidhu and Yuan (2001: 353). The disputed boundary affects over 1,25,000 sq km in three distinct sectors. 7. Arunachal Pradesh, previously known as the North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA) lies on the southern slope of the Eastern Himalayan range and includes an area of 90,000 km. It has been administered by India since the 1940s and its status in the Indian Union was changed from a Union Territory to a state in 1987. India considers the region extremely crucial for the defence of its Northeastern states such as Nagaland, Mizoram and others. China protested vigorously against the incorporation of the territory as a full fledged state into the Indian Union and has argued that the region falls under the traditional influence of China. 8. India contests the Aksai Chin plateau, an area of 38,000 km, which is under China’s control since 1951. It is through this region that China first acquired its access to Tibet. 9. Sikkim became a protectorate of India in 1950. As per the agreement, external affairs and security matters were to be dealt by India while Sikkim retained internal autonomy. In 1974, Sikkim became an associate state, and in 1975, was incorporated as a full state into the Indian Union. China refused to recognize Sikkim as a part of India, arguing that Sikkim has a long history of association with China. 10. Sidhu and Yuan (2003: 54–55). 11. Garver (2001) provides an excellent discussion of how the perceived historic spheres of influence of India and China overlap and hence become arenas of contention and rivalry. This sphere refers to Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar and Pakistan.



12. Reports of Beijing’s involvement in the development of Burmese naval base at Hianggyi Island and radar station at Coco Island, off the Burmese coast and close to the Indian territory of Andaman and Nicobar in Bay of Bengal has raised apprehensions about Chinese presence in the Bay and the Indian Ocean (Malik 1995). 13. Sujit Dutta (1998). Rose (2000) argues that China’s actions have not been directed at challenging India’s status in the region and that China was only enhancing the autonomy of smaller states. He cites Chinese restraint in 1965 and 1971, and 1989 (vis-à-vis Nepal). 14. Jing-dong Yuan (2001: 984). 15. The Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov on his visit to India in December 1998 stated that he supported a ‘strategic triangle’ involving China, Russia and India to ensure regional stability. See, Rose (2000). Jagat S Mehta (1998) mentions an alliance between China, India and Japan to contain the US. Bakshi (2002) points out that China and Russia have signed a 20-year treaty of neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation in 2001. 16. Malik (1995) mentions an interest among Indian policy makers to cement Indian-American, Indian-Japanese and Indian-ASEAN ties in order to contain China. The New York Times reports that the Bush administration’s decision to support India’s access to civilian nuclear technology is part of a strategy of building ties with India as a counterweight to China (Weisman 2005). 17. Acharya (2000). 18. The Panchsheel (five principles) Agreement as it was originally termed was signed in Beijing on 29 April 1954. The following principles were agreed upon by both the countries: mutual Respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. 19. Garver (2001). 20. Ranganathan (2001). 21. Singh, Swaran (2001). 22. Rose (2000: 229) notes that after the 1962 war between India and China, there had been an informal understanding between the two countries that neither side would send military units into the Sumdurong Chu valley. This understanding was violated by India in 1986 when some troops were moved into the region. China reacted by sending in its own troops and for a while both armies faced each other. However, the crisis was defused. See also, Cohen (2001). 23. Operation Chequerboard was planned by General Sundarji who had masterminded Operation Brasstacks the same year against Pakistan. However, because of the incidents at Sumdurong Chu most of the exercise was called off. 24. Mansingh (1994).

264 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

31. 32.


34. 35.






Ranganathan (2001). Nicholson (1998). Kynge (1998) and BBC (1998d). BBC (1998e). The Hindu (1998b). AFP (1998a). George Fernandes stated that China was a greater threat than Pakistan and that it had recently leased Islands from Mynamar and set a surveillance system. BBC (1998f ). Garver (2001: 336) states that while Fernandes is a lose cannon, in this case it was not the substance of his claims that was an issue but his openness and directness. AFP (1998b). It is interesting that even as Fernandes was issuing these statements against China, he was ‘completely unaware of the impending tests’ (Sidhu and Yuan 2003: 30). BBC (1998g). Vajpayee’s speech and the paper submitted to the Lok Sabha ‘Evolution of India’s Nuclear Policy’ make reference to Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, and the stress laid on self-reliance and national security considerations. See, A.B. Vajpayee, ‘Made a Statement on the Nuclear Tests in Pokharan,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 27 May 1998. Available from (Accessed on 2 March 2004). Gupta also argued that weaponization was unnecessary given that it will not lead to increased security, costs of such a programme are not known and that India is unable to take care of basic requirements of food and water. See, Indrajit Gupta, ‘Raised a discussion on the statement made by the Prime Minister in the House on 27.5.98 on the recent nuclear tests in Pokhran,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 27 May 1998. Available from (Accessed on 2 March 2004). Natwar Singh, ‘Raised a discussion on the statement made by the Prime Minister in the House on 27.5.98 on the recent nuclear tests in Pokhran,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 27 May 1998. Singh is highly critical of the timing of the tests and appears to have forgotten that when Congress was in power during the mid-1990s, there is evidence that Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had given assent for the conduct of tests and these had been withdrawn because of American pressure. Jagmohan, ‘Raised a discussion on the statement made by the Prime Minister in the House on 27.5.98 on the recent nuclear tests in Pokhran,’ Speech in the Lok Sabha, Delhi, 27 May 1998. Jagmohan does not elaborate on the China threat but actually makes a reference to the acquisition of Gauri missile by Pakistan. He then argues that India should be vigilant and learn from the lessons of Munich and Pearl Harbour, and that the tests were necessitated for upgrading of military technology. Garver (2002).

RELATIONS WITH CHINA 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47.

48. 49. 50. 51.

52. 53.

54. 55. 56.

57. 58. 59.





Sidhu and Yuan (2003: 49, 52). Ibid., 50. Beijing Review (1998). Australian Associated Press (AAP) (1998). Yuan (2001: 980). Deepak (2005: 375). Yuan (2001). See, UN Resolution 1172. The resolution adopted by the Security Council expressed deep concern and reaffirmed the significance of the NPT. It urged India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and further called upon both the states to stop their nuclear weapons development programme. The resolution also urged other states to prevent export of material that could be used for the nuclear weapons (United Nations 1998). Indian Parliament (1998). Yuan (2001: 981). AFP (1998c). Singh and Yuan (2001: 361) contend that the agreements of 1993 and 1996 should be seen as conflict avoidance measures rather than CBMs, since they are characterized by key features such as declarative principles, information exchange measures and constraining measures. Bajpai and Coe (1995: 217). ‘Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India–China Border Areas,’ 7 September, 1993, Stimson Centre, Available at ?sn=sa20020114287 (Accessed on 21 July 2004). See also, Hongyo (1995). Ibid. Ibid. Sidhu (1998) points out that the agreement on missiles, while a step in the right direction, is limited by the fact that it does not include Chinese missiles positioned in Tibet and those supplied to Pakistan. Devabhatuni et al. (1999: 213). Sidhu (1998). China has altered its yearbook showing Sikkim as an independent state (The Hindu 2003). There is a rumour that the exercises were to be held in fall of 1992, but were withheld (Bajpai and Coe 1995: 204). Prior to the agreement, both countries had already established hotlines or facilities for direct communication between commanders in February 1992. In fact in 1995, the JWG agreed to pull back troops from four posts within 50–100 yards from each other in the Sumdorong Chu valley (Sidhu and Yuan 2001). Deepak (2005: 412).



63. Chellaney (2006: 173). 64. Government of India (2003b). While India appointed National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra, China appointed Vice Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dai Bingguo as special representatives. It was also agreed that the Foreign Ministers of the two countries would meet regularly. 65. Bajpai and Coe (1995: 200). 66. The Indian police cracked down on the protests by arresting 200 Tibetan exiles, using tear gas to disperse the protestors and detaining as many as 1,000 protestors for violating orders that banned public assembly. It is reported that as many as 10,000 security personnel were stationed to provide security (Penna 1991). 67. The Karmapa Lama is ranked third after the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. He was recognized by the Tibetan government in exile and the Chinese authorities. 68. Mohan (2000). 69. Khare (2000). 70. DPA (2000). 71. The Statesman (2000). 72. The New York Times (2001). 73. Ibid. Previously, during Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in December 1988, the following communiqué was issued, ‘The Indian side reiterated the long-standing and consistent policy of the Government of India that Tibet is an autonomous region of China and that anti-China political activities by Tibetan elements are not permitted on Indian soil’ (Baruah 2003). Further, Suryanaryana (2003) points out that from the perspective of the Chinese government and the strategic-academic analysts, India has for the first time finally acknowledged China’s sovereignty over Tibet. The difference lies in the wording where previously the statements mentioned Tibet as an autonomous region of China, the declaration in 2003 states Tibet Autonomous Region, thus removing any ambiguity about Tibet. 74. Baruah (2003). 75. Chellaney (2006: 178). 76. Ibid. 77. Xinhua General Overseas News service (1991a, 1991b, 1991c) and BBC (1991a). It is interesting to note that the Chinese Communist Party has had direct links with the Congress party, Communist parties and increasingly the BJP in India. 78. Xinhua General Overseas News Service (1991d). 79. BBC (1991b). 80. BBC (1991c). 81. Xinhua General Overseas News Service (1991e). It was expected that he would sign a three-year cultural exchange programme. 82. AFP (1991). 83. Panda (2003).



84. In December 1991, border trade was resumed through Lipulekh in Uttar Pradesh. In 1993, the second route was opened through Shipki La in Himachal Pradesh and a third route through Sikkim has been suggested (Mansingh 1994). 85. Prior to his departure, Rao met with and discussed his forthcoming trip with leaders from opposition parties such as the BJP, Janata Party and Communist Party of India-Marxist. Rao’s venture was supported by the leaders of these various parties. See, Weiwen and Deshingkar (1995). 86. Mansingh (1994) uses the term to refer to exchanges of visits at the highest political level, economic cooperation, non-confrontational dialogue and use of institutionalized mechanism such as the JWG to consider the border problem. 87. Ibid., 286. The author argues that Cold War tensions between the US, the Soviet Union and China resulted in a strategic alliance between the US and China, and between the Soviet Union and India in the Asian region. These alliances were detrimental to Sino-Indian relations, in so far as China was suspicious of India’s pro-Soviet stance perceived to be against China. 88. The Xinhua News Agency (1994). 89. Deepak (2005: 351). 90. Sidhu and Yuan (2001). 91. Panda (2003). 92. BBC (1998h). 93. Financial Times (1998). 94. In February 1999, General V.P. Malik spontaneously crossed the LAC at Nathu La pass and greeted the Chinese soldiers with sweets. 95. AFP (2000a). India was led by Rakesh Sood (Joint Secretary of disarmament affairs) and the Chinese representative was Zhang Jiuhuan, Director General of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian Department. 96. PTI (2000a). 97. AFP (2000b). 98. Government of India (2002). 99. PTI (2000b). 100. PTI (2001g). 101. During 2000 and 2001, various ministers and members of the Indian Parliament and their Chinese counterparts exchanged visits. For instance, the Commerce and Industry Minister (Murasoli Maran), Minister for Information and Technology (Pramod Mahajan), Human Resource Development Minister (Murli Manohar Joshi) and Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha (Dr Najma Heptullah) visited China in 2000. Li Changchun, member of the Politburo visited India in the same year. The year 2001 saw similar exchanges at the ministerial level. See, Deepak (2005). 102. PTI (2001h). 103. Deepak (2005: 409).



104. Jain, B. M. (2008: 141). 105. Zhu Rongji visited Bangalore, the centre of India’s software industry. He stated, ‘We are number one in hardware and you are number one in software exports. If we put the hardware and the software together, we can become the world’s number one and make progress together’ (Cherian 2002). 106. Deepak (2005: 415). 107. Ibid., 424. 108. Baruah (2003). 109. Sidhu and Yuan (2001: 357). 110. Deepak (2005: 417). 111. Ibid.

Chapter 6 Conclusion: Identity Matters, But ...


o exclusive religious-cultural constructions of national Self lead to conflictual engagement with deemed dangerous Others? In other words, is the security dilemma heightened (because of conflict prone actions) when states articulating exclusive religious-cultural national identities interact in the international sphere? The ambiguous answer is, perhaps. And what does this tell us about the relationship between identity, interests and action, which is a core area of concern for international relations (IR) theorists. Simply put, identities appear to have an impact on shaping broad goals but not necessarily specific strategies, and hence, the link between identity and action is ambiguous at best. It is in pursuit of these questions that this study focussed on the examination of secular and religious-cultural narratives of national Self in India and on the implications of these narratives on India’s foreign and security policies. Thus, three predominant domains of security concerns were explored: Jammu and Kashmir (JK), Pakistan and China. In this concluding chapter, I summarize the significant findings from these cases and elaborate on their implications.

SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS Since its incorporation in the Indian Union, JK has been India’s Achilles heel. Given the deep security concerns that this state



elicits, the policies and actions of the Indian government articulating the secular and religious-cultural national identity discourses were examined in three instances: resolution through force, negotiations and autonomy. It was found that the Indian government, irrespective of national identity orientations, had steadily increased and sustained its military presence in JK and had engaged in widespread human rights violations, thus, using force to quell the insurgency and contain cross-border terrorism. The counter insurgency groups created and deployed by the Congress, that are essentially outside of the jurisdiction of law, were continued by the United Front coalition (under H. D. Deve Gowda and I. K. Gujral) and later the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Besides the use of force during both the phases, the Indian government attempted to engage in dialogue with the more moderate elements of the militancy in JK. In this regard, the BJP-led government’s dialogue with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and tolerance of unofficial contact between members of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and Pakistan is remarkable. Last, but most significant, the issue of autonomy of JK generated a similar response across the political spectrum with the exception of a few radical elements (arguing against autonomy and devolution of powers, unless it leads to trifurcation of the state). As seen in the discussion in Chapter 3, members of the Parliament from various political parties rejected the terms of autonomy that were outlined by the State Autonomy Commission and accepted by the JK Legislative Assembly. The debate was shifted from autonomy to devolution of powers. The fact that such a devolution of powers to states had been under consideration by the BJP-led government implied that JK was one among the other states, but it was also surprising that the government would consider devolution of greater power in the region. As discussed previously, Pakistan has loomed large in the Indian security imaginaire since the emergence of the two states in 1947. Indo-Pak relations between 1990 and 2003 were primarily seen to revolve around two issues: crisis events and agreements related to Kashmir, and military and non-military confidence building measures (CBMS). Three major crisis



events were discussed, and it was found that while during both the phases the Indian government relied on use of coercive diplomacy, the NDA government led by the BJP was more conflict prone in terms of extensive and sustained use of coercive diplomacy against Pakistan. As discussed earlier, coming to such a conclusion is not easy in light of the fact that oftentimes action is in response to cumulative events. Nevertheless, it is the absence of such crisis events between 1991 and 1997, when the government was led by the Congress and later the Janata Dal (United Front coalition), that made the actions of the BJP-led government appear more conflict prone in comparison. At the same time, the BJP-led government showed considerable restraint in the Kargil war in May 1999, when it refrained from crossing the LoC, and again in 2002, when despite the extensive mobilization of the army and skirmishes along the LoC, there was no outbreak of war. As for more cooperative events, two issues were discussed: Kashmir and CBMs (military and non-military). Regarding Kashmir, the Indian government led by the Congress changed its stance from an initial refusal to negotiate with Pakistan to gradual dialogue on the issue. The Janata Dal retained this stance on Kashmir, and in fact, Deve Gowda and Gujral resumed the suspended dialogue with Pakistan. The BJP-led government not only retained Kashmir on the agenda, but A. B. Vajpayee encouraged informal diplomacy in early 1999 to come to an understanding with Pakistan vis-à-vis Kashmir. Clearly, the attempts made by the BJP-led government to resolve the Kashmir problem were the most significant. Nevertheless, the resolution of the issue remained at a stalemate. In the case of military CBMs, agreements were signed and implemented during both the phases. For instance, the agreement on the exchange of information regarding nuclear installations—which was ratified in 1991—was implemented every year without delay, even under conditions of significant tension. While in the first phase, agreements focussed on resolving the problem of an accidental war during the conduct of military exercises, agreements in the second phase were concerned with grappling with the nuclear status of the two countries. In the instance of



non-military CBMs, the BJP-led government made far more positive gestures than parties articulating a secular national Self. The symbolic gestures, as exemplified in Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore, and proposals for increasing people-to-people contact, especially along the LoC in Kashmir and elsewhere in India, were far more generous than those offered by previous governments. China is the external Other, the pre-eminent rival. Sino-Indian relations have been characterized by moments of intense amity, followed by distrust and disengagement. However, between 1990 and 2003, the relationship was defined by a renewed engagement. As in previous cases, the focus was on events of crisis or friction and on cooperative agreements. The historical narrative shows that the various parties articulating the two kinds of identity had similar strategies of engagement with China. Broadly, there was a push towards greater cooperation with China on resolving border concerns, minimizing conflict by establishing CBMs and increasing trade. The most significant military confidence building agreements were concluded in 1993 and 1996 during the first phase. In the second phase, the BJP-led government concluded a series of agreements in 2003, but these were mostly non-military CBMs. The second phase was characterized by China’s recognition of Sikkim as a part of India and by joint naval exercises. However, there was a brief interlude when Sino-Indian relations were disrupted. The normalization process received a set back when members of the BJP-led coalition declared China as the primary enemy, prior to the conduct of nuclear tests in May 1998. While China reacted aggressively by seeking to curb India’s nuclear ambitions in the international arena, India refrained from further provocative rhetoric. It appears that the BJP-led government was more assertive and given to stronger rhetoric than the parties in the first phase but also willing to extend cooperative gestures. Broadly, the findings indicate that while there were similarities in the practices and policies of the Indian government influenced by the two kinds of national identity discourses, difference lay in the assertive posture (in terms of rhetoric and the use of coercive diplomacy) of the BJP-led government



and in the extension of cooperative gestures by the very same government. The question then is how do we understand these findings in terms of identity and their influence on interstate practices?

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF NATIONAL IDENTITY NARRATIVES This study was based on the understanding that identities influence our interests, and subsequently, action. Identities in the constructivist worldview are seen as foundational to state interests, both in terms of end goals and strategies, and it is this assumption that underlies this study. Further, in this worldview, locating state interests via identities was seen to provide IR theorists with a better understanding of these interests. As discussed previously, research in this area challenged realist assumptions about rational considerations, contending that it was identity that determined and defined what the interests of the state were and what strategies were to be adopted in pursuit of those interests. It was the logic of the Self and the Other that shaped engagement with the Other in a unique way. It is with this understanding that this study set out to examine the construction of the secular and religious-cultural Self in India and the implications of these national discourses for engagement with Others. Identity discourses do help us explain why Kashmir is significant to the Indian imagination (both secular and religiouscultural) and in terms of policy. The loss of JK is seen as the loss of the secular Self. From the perspective of the religiouscultural identity, this is regarded as a further loss of the Hindu Self. Thus, for JK to become independent, semi-independent or a part of Pakistan, constructions of Indian identity will have to be rearticulated. For different reasons, both kinds of identities seek to maintain JK as part of the Indian Union. Different rationales lead to same policy preferences in terms of the location of JK in the Indian Union. That said, there are



other strategic and political rationales for securing the state. Thus, while identity matters, the significance of other rationales cannot be ignored. What of strategies and policies deployed to ensure the retention of JK? As discussed in Chapter 3, initially the location (status) of JK within the Indian Union was perceived differently by parties articulating a secular identity (predominantly Congress) and the erstwhile Hindu oriented Jana Sangh. The strategies for making JK a part of the Union were different, too. Gradually, we find that while the rhetoric remained different, there was a convergence of policies (on use of force, negotiations and autonomy), and this is particularly evident during the years 1990–2003. The similarity at this level can be explained by the fact that for both the identity discourses, JK remains an integral part of the Union, to the extent that conceptions of Self are closely attached to the retention of JK. Interestingly, in terms of negotiating with the Kashmiris, the BJP, which had stood for a strong central government, also began the dialogue for greater devolution of powers to states. Even as the Congress sought to limit the granting of possible autonomy to the 1975 agreement, the BJP raised the possibility of devolution of powers to all states. Since the narrative of the religious-cultural Self perceived the Muslim Other as a dangerous, disruptive force (more so in the context of Kashmir) and sought either the absorption or the annihilation of this Other, such a policy stand appears to go against the dominant narrative. Why then did the BJP-led government propose such devolution of power? It could be argued, hypothetically, that the BJP-led government did not implement its longstanding agenda of abrogation of Article 370 and complete integration of JK because it came into power as a member of a coalition, and hence, it was not in a position to implement its longstanding policy. This explanation is not persuasive for two reasons. First, the BJP-led government conducted nuclear tests and did accomplish its long-stated agenda regarding the acquisition of nuclear weapons in spite of being a coalition government (the nuclear issue, however, had broad consensus among various political parties). Second, there is no indication that the coalition members were pushing



for such devolution of powers. On the other hand, BJP’s strategy may be explained by the fact that the offer of devolution of power was intended for JK and regions within JK, thus, fragmenting power. The implications of such trifurcation of the state may be negative or positive in the sense that it may represent a strategy to break the power of the Kashmiri Muslim elite in the region or it may represent a genuine transference of power. This last option is not implausible given that the BJP-led government was engaging in back-channel diplomacy with Pakistan to come to a permanent understanding on Kashmir. It is also possible that BJP’s strategy of federalism and state creation was driven by the imperatives of electoral politics (as in the possibility that new states might be more prone to support the BJP), and JK was part of this strategy. Thus, political imperatives may have shaped the BJP’s proposals. In the case of Pakistan, political actors influenced by both the discourses perceive Pakistan as an Other that seeks to fragment the Indian Union and hence as dangerous. As in the case of JK, the rationales were different but also overlapped significantly (since the secular identity conceptualizations cast Pakistan as the religious-political Other and the religiouscultural identity conceptualizations perceived Pakistan as the Muslim Other that had historically been destructive). In terms of policies, there appeared several instances where the secular and religious-cultural based parties were in agreement, as in the issue of hot pursuit into Pakistan, nuclear policy (in spite of the rhetoric of the Congress and the Janata Dal in the Parliament), and putting pressure on Pakistan through troop movements along the border. This similarity in approach, to an extent, may be due to the overlap in discourses or because of the predominance of pragmatic realist discourse among the political elite: a recognition that dealing with the problem of cross-border terrorism required coercive diplomacy. The two (identity and realist discourses) are not mutually distinct, and conceptions of Pakistan may be interwoven with the logic that the protection of the boundaries of the state required actions that may well be provocative.



At the same time, given the construction of national identity and the particularly strong nexus of internal and external Others, it was assumed that the Indian government led by the BJP would be more conflict prone and less amenable to cooperative gestures. To an extent, this assumption was confirmed, especially regarding conflict prone actions. And yet, it is difficult to understand the restraint of the BJP-led government in Kargil (specifically the refusal to cross the LoC) and the fact that there was no war in spite of the massive mobilization of troops and the continued incursions into Indian territory from Pakistan throughout 2000 and 2002. In comparison to other parties constituting the government, the restraint by the BJP-led government was unexpected, as was the extension of cooperation. Since national identity conceptualizations do not help us understand these findings, we must turn to other explanations, and these will be discussed in the sections that follow. In this study, the case of China is distinct in that its choice as a case study was not determined by the dynamic between the internal and external Other. The discussion of national identity discourses does not lead us to China as Other in the same way as the other two cases. However, China is clearly a significant Other as exemplified by the relationship of rivalry, ambition, war and suspicion shared by the two countries. This is a case where realist expectations might be applicable to policies of both kinds of governments. Broadly, the Indian government during both the phases sought improved relations with China. While the BJP-led government briefly issued some provocative statements, it also made significant efforts to engage with China. The question is how do we explain these differences, especially the extension of cooperation by the BJP-led government? One possible explanation is that the identities themselves may have changed. However, there are two problems with this explanation. First, there is no indication that the core secular or religious-cultural identities have changed. Perhaps this is one of the problems of conceptualizing national identity in terms of internal Self and Other, and then establishing the interrelationship between internal and external Others, as was done in the case of JK and Pakistan. While such a strategy appears



powerful in terms of understanding the complex links between internal and external Others, it may also be weak in the sense that treatment of external Others may vary from internal Others. While I have tried to minimize the problems associated with this disparity between the internal and external by establishing interconnections between internal and external Others in both cases, the problem may persist. In fact, it is possible that the source of identity is not within the state but rather is the product of interaction with other actors in world politics.1 Second, it is hard to imagine that the identity that is shaping conflict prone action is changing to accommodate cooperation. While identities are not fixed and are in fact flexible and malleable, I do not believe that they are chameleon-like or have changed significantly enough to explain change in policy.2 A possible explanation is that since these discourses contain moderate to extremist elements and are cross-cutting to an extent, it is possible that the breadth of these discourses allows for more or less cooperative action. But if the discourses are so broad that they encompass varied action, then the significance of such discourses becomes questionable in terms of understanding how identities shape our actions in the international arena. Third, scholars contend that ‘being secure in difference might, in some cases at least, make identification with others abroad, and consequently cooperation, more likely, not less.’3 This understanding raises two concerns. First, assuming that this is indeed the case in this study and it is the BJP’s essentialized difference that explains its cooperative behaviour, how, then, can we explain the similarity of policy/practices between the secular and religious-cultural parties in the case of JK and the indications of conflict prone action on the part of the Indian government led by the BJP, vis-à-vis Pakistan and China? Further, the construction of the secular national Self, at least in relation to Pakistan, is shaped as uniquely different from that of Pakistani identity, yet it does not lead to more cooperative action. How do we explain this? These observations lead us to consider alternative plausible explanations. While national identity narratives offer us some insights about India’s relations with JK, Pakistan and China, there is much that



remains to be explained, and we turn to realist understanding of international interaction. Possibly, realist explanations help us explain India’s cooperative behaviour during the second phase, as well as the restraint exercised by the BJP-led government. While the focus of much of the realist theory appears to be the survival of the state in the context of anarchy and uncertainty, thus making competition a characteristic feature of international politics, Realists also acknowledge the possibility of cooperation. Both Realists and neo-Realists argue that cooperation is difficult but not impossible, and discuss conditions under which this can be achieved.4 States will cooperate if it is deemed to be in the national interest. In this study, the actions of the BJP-led government, such as Vajpayee’s trip to Lahore and the subsequent Lahore agreement, back-channel diplomacy to resolve Kashmir, or the overtures to China can best be explained by the contexts within which these events occurred, as pragmatic moves in the aftermath of the nuclear tests. For instance, the Lahore agreement may have been negotiated from a position of strength. India could afford the agreement and afford to be ‘magnanimous’ after it had shown the world that it now belonged to the exclusive group of nuclear powers. These moves may also have been an effort to establish that even as India became a nuclear weapons state, it is not a conflict prone or aggressive state but intends to engage with others in a cooperative manner. While India had defied the nuclear haves, it did not intend to be a pariah state. In fact, since the late 1980s, India has more consistently sought to become a major player in world politics and to improve its relations with the US (so much so that the two countries were referred to as natural allies), and perhaps it is this evolving relationship that had an impact on India’s relations with Pakistan during the second phase. Lastly, the fact that both India and Pakistan had acquired nuclear weapons by mid-1998 may also have played a significant role in explaining both cooperative actions and the restraint exercised by the BJP-led government in dealing with the problem of cross-border terrorism. Similarly, in the case of India’s relations with China, realist imperatives may explain the increased cooperation: as in the confidence that India had tested nuclear weapons (even though



China is more advanced than India), as well as the focus on economic growth by both the countries and a recognition of the importance of this sector to manifest power.5 There is consensus among the political elite that China’s growing power (at the regional and global level) must be dealt with through a strategy of constructive engagement. At the same time, even as India sought to resolve the border problem through dialogue and has dramatically expanded trade relations, its strategic alliance with the US, Japan and Vietnam shows a deeply cautious approach. The following observations emerge from the study: z





Treatment of internal and external Others may vary, and we should be careful about our assumptions and understandings of the relationship between the internal and external Others. Different identities (constructions of Self and Other) influencing actors can lead to similar perceptions of threat and danger in terms of challenges to the identity itself and to territoriality. Such a convergence of discourses of Self may or may not result in similar strategies of engagement with the dangerous Other. Thus, while secular and religious-cultural identity discourses have helped shape relations with JK and Pakistan, it appears that we cannot use conceptions of Self to understand specific strategies of engagement. Identities that are secular, inclusive, tolerant and pluralistic do not necessarily engage in cooperative action as opposed to identities that are religious-cultural and exclusive. In fact, this study shows that parties representing religiouscultural identity are more cooperative in their dealings with external Others. Identity conceptualizations plausibly lead to conflict prone actions, whereas realist pragmatic politics leads to cooperative action under certain conditions. It is possible that identity will determine interests both in terms of end goals as well as strategies under certain optimal conditions, but since optimal conditions occur rarely, our understanding of the role of identity must be reconceptualized.



In conclusion, the findings of this study shed light on the role of religion, on the significance of identity in Indian security and on foreign policies, and finally, problematize the relationship between identity, interests and action. First, as discussed earlier, religion has come to acquire renewed significance. Much of this attention focuses on examining the negative aspects of religion in public life, especially with the rise of fundamentalist religious groups. While this study has less to do with doctrinal aspects of religion and more to do with the valourization of a religious community (Hindu) as an aspect of national identity, it establishes that groups with an identity converging around a specific religion need not necessarily be confrontational alone, and in fact, may actually engage in cooperative behaviour. Thus, while there were apprehensions about the BJP’s rise to power, these apprehensions were misplaced to an extent. Second, the focus on national identity narratives establishes that while these narratives plausibly show some difference in strategies, there is considerable overlap not only between these narratives, but also policies, thus providing significant continuity in India’s security and foreign policies between the years 1990 and 2003. In fact, the one difference that appears during this period is an intensification of conflictual and cooperative strategies, especially during the latter phase. Essentially, this study cautions us from making assumptions about India’s security concerns and foreign policy in the context of national identity discourses. Lastly, this study contributes to our understanding of identity and the bearing it has on security policy. While, to the extent, identity enables us to understand who the enemies are or who the friends are, it does not necessarily provide us insight into the strategies adopted in dealing with the Other. Identities make appropriate, imaginable, intelligible and possible certain modes of engagement, but at the same time, these modes alone may not be in play. IR scholars, examining identity dynamics of Self and the Other, hope to have a deeper understanding of not only who the Others are but how to engage with them in order to understand what drives cooperative or conflictual modes of engagement. In a sense, the characterization of the Self and the



Other is seen to provide the logic of action. But from the cases examined and the findings, the characterization of the Other does not necessarily provide a rationale for action. In this study, in at least two of the three cases, a significant argument was made for the construction of the national Self internally and deep linkages were established between the internal and the external Self and Others (the Muslim Other internally and externally for the BJP). And yet, it was not possible to establish clearly the significance of identity as an explanatory variable. This study thus presents a ‘muddy empirical situation’ and shows that our understanding must lie somewhere between the logic of appropriateness and the logic of consequentiality, between identity and interests, and that the two may not necessarily follow one another as has been suggested by the constructivists.6

NOTES 1. 2. 3. 4.

Hopf (2002). At the same time, these identities are not fixed, as discussed in Chapter 2. Hopf (2002: 286). Glasner (1994) and Jervis (1999), for instance, argue for possibilities of cooperation. 5. The significance of economic growth in Sino-Indian relations has been remarked upon by Sidhu and Yuan (2001), and Mansingh (1994) among others. 6. Fearon and Wendt (2002).

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Index abuse of human rights in JK, by Indian government, 120 air attacks, 168 Akhanda Bharat, 53 All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), 123–26, 270 Amnesty International, 120 Armed Forces Special Power Act, 118 armoured force in Mahajan, Pakistan concern on, 164–66, 186, 190 Article 370 of the Constitution, JK special status and, 94, 95 Arunachal Pradesh, 235, 240 Aryans, 54, 60 Babri Masjid-Ramjanambhoomi controversy, 66–67 BJP, 30 on construction of Ram temple, 66–69 on crisis in JK, 113 on Hindutva, 73–74 response on Pakistan (see Indo-Pak relations) Bombay blasts, 159, 190 border security systems, 116 Bunch of Thoughts, 63 Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), 168 Chatterjee, Bankim Chandra, 23 Chinese Consulate General, 255 Christian missionaries, views on, 64 Civilizations of the East, 48

civil rights in secular India, 70 Communists, criticism of, 75 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), 192, 246 Concealed Apprehension Tactics (CATS), 117 confidence building measures (CBMs), 202, 234, 248 between India and China, 248 military CBMs, 248–50 non-military CBMs, 250 between India and Pakistan, 202 military CBMs, 202–08 non-military CBMs, 208–13 constructivism, 9 cross-border terrorism impact on India, 58 and Indo-Pak relations, 159 (see also Indo-Pak relations) meaning of, 157–58 Pakistan perception on, 158 Pakistan’s involvement in, 159 term used by Indian government, 157, 195 Cuban missile crisis, 14 cultural nationalism, 72 Delhi Agreement, 97, 127 devolution of power policy, by BJP, 131–32, 134, 137–39, 274–75 Directors General Military Operations (DGMO), 203 Discovery of India, 47–48, 54, 76 Draft Nuclear Doctrine, 204



elites, role of, 8 ethnic conflict, role of religion in, 18 European identity formation, 14 foreign policy of United States, 14 Hazratbal mosque crisis, 123 ‘Hindi Chini bhai-bhai’, 238 Hinduism, Nehru on, 55 Hindu national identity, 22 Hindu, origin of term, 60–61 Hindu rashtra, 1 Hindutva politics, 22 Hindutva, Savarkar on, 72–73 Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), 122, 125 Human Rights Watch report 1999, 120 identity. See also national identity in India concept of, 5–8 discourses and key categories, in India, 78–79 role of, in international relations, constructivists on, 9–12, 273 identity cards, demand for, 54 identity discourse themes, 27–28 Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon, 117 India–China Joint Working Group (JWG), 240, 251 Indian Airlines aircraft, hijacking of, 171 Indian civilization, greatness of blow to, 51–52 cultural and religious influence, 48–49 Golwalkar on, 48, 49 Nehru on, 47–50 Indian Consulate General, 255 Indian nation, existence and territory of, 52–54 Indian Parliament, attack on, 173–74 Indo-Pak relations, 160–61. See also cross-border terrorism

agreements/proposals and, 193, 213–16 confidence building measures (CBMs), 202 Kashmir, 193–201 military CBMs, 202–08 non-military CBMs, 208–13 characteristics of crisis coercive diplomacy, 185–90 third party mediation, 190–93 verbal sabre rattling, 182–85 crisis events and attack on Indian parliament, 172–82 on brink of war in 1990, 161–67 limited war in Kargil, 167–72 findings from, study on, 270–72 impact of identity discourses, understanding of, 275–78 Instrument of Accession, 94, 95, 127 insurgency in JK, use of forces to control, 115–17 internal and external Others, relationship between, 13 internationalization of conflict on JK, 90 ‘international neutral mechanism’, 179 International Relations (IR), 2 theories in, 3–4 Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), 154, 159, 163 Inter State Council, 132 Islamic states, 26 Jaish-e-Mohammed, 172, 175, 176 Jammu and Kashmir Committee, 125 Jammu and Kashmir (JK) autonomous status of, gradual dissolution of, 96–103 crisis in, implications of on India’s relations with Pakistan, 90

INDEX for internal Others, 90–91 on separatist movements, in India, 90 dispute between India and Pakistan on, 89 findings from, study on, 269–70 genesis of crisis in, political elite on Pakistan as instigator of crisis, 112–13 political mismanagement of state by Congress, 113 politics of appeasement of Muslim community, 113–14 history of, 91–92 integration into India, 92–95 image and position of, in Indian consciousness, 104 impact of identity discourses, understanding of, 273–75 militant organizations, growth of, 102–03 public dissatisfaction in, 102 religious-cultural national identity narrative on, 104–07, 111 secular national identity narrative on, 107–11 special position of, 95–96 status of, contest on, 88 strategies by Indian government from 1990–2003, 114–15, 135 dialogue with terrorist organizations, 124–25 direct rule and stringent methods by Governors, 119–21 elections, conduction of, 124 external involvement in dialogue, 125–26 issue of autonomy and, 126–34 legislative acts to control violence, use of, 118–19


militants and secessionist elements, negotiations with, 121–24 use of forces to curb insurgency, 115–18 Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), 162 Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC), 94 Jana Sangh, 25 on JK’s special status, 98 JK legislative assembly, attack on, 172 Joint Economic Group (JEG), 260 joint patrolling on LoC, 179 Joint Study Group (JSG), 260 Kaluchak army base, attack on, 177 Kargil crisis, 167–72 Karmapa Lama, 253 Kashmiriyat, 92 Kymer culture, 49 Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), 128 Lahore agreement, 197, 198, 203, 212, 213, 278 Lashkar-e-Toiba, 172, 175, 176 Line of Actual Control (LAC), 245, 248–49, 251 Line of Control (LoC), 90, 159, 165, 167–72, 179, 199–201, 212, 215, 271 ‘Look East’ policy, 236 Macmohan line, 238 The Mahabharata, 53 ‘maximum autonomy’, 127 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), 203, 256 militarized zone, 116 Minar-e-Sharif, 208 Muslim Other, 64–66, 155, 157 Muslim Personal Law, 70



Muslim vote bank, 70 National Democratic Alliance (NDA), 75 National Human Rights Commission, 121 national identity, concept of, 6–8 national identity in India, 44 discourses on, 44 findings from, study on, 279–81 implications of narratives on India’s security policies (see Indo-Pak relations; Jammu and Kashmir [JK]; SinoIndian relations) religious-cultural construction 0f, 22–24 secular constructions of, 19–22 and security policy, 25–28 themes of discourses on, 45–47, 78–79 constituents of original nation, 54–75 India as great civilization, 47–52 perception of Indian self, 76–77 timeless existence and space of India, 52–54 national interest, 10 nationalist discourse, shift in, 1 national Self, in India, 76–77 nation and state, distinction between, 7 nation, concept of, 7 No First Use nuclear weapons pact, 250 ‘non-crisis events’, 189 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), 244 no-war pact, 206 nuclear mobilization, 163–64, 169 nuclear tests, China’s reaction to, 243–46

objective interest, 11 Operation Chequerboard, 240 Operation Parakram, 116, 178 Operation Topac, 163 Operation Vijay, 168, 170 original inhabitants, of Indian nation, 54 Our Nationhood Defined, 63 Pakistan perception of BJP government in, 157 relationship with India (see IndoPak relations) religious-cultural discourse conception of, 155–56 rise of Hindu feeling in India, impact of, 157 secular identity discourse conception of, 154–55 Pakistani troops intrusion of LoC, Indian army denial on, 180 Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), 54, 94, 168, 183, 194, 199, 200 Pakistan’s intelligence agency. See Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Panchsheel agreement, 238 political Other, 233, 237. See also Sino-Indian relations Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), 118 pseudo secularism, 21, 70–71 The Ramayana, 53 Rashtriya (National) Rifles, 116–17 Regional Autonomy Committee (RAC), 133 religion and nation, relationship between, 17–18 Nehru views on, 56 role in partition of Indian subcontinent, 92 significance of, 16–18

INDEX religious and secular articulations, of national Self, 16 religious-cultural organizations, rise of, 1 religious nationalism, implications of, 26 religious sentiments for political gain, mobilizing of, 59 renegade groups, 117 Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), 159 Sangh Parivar on crisis in JK, 113–14 mobilization of Hindu community, for temple construction, 67 on uniform civil code, 71 use of Hindu symbols, in politics, 63 secularism in India, 21, 70 kinds of, 20–21 securitization, concept of, 17 Self–Other constructions, 13–16 separatist movements, 90 Shah Bano controversy, 70 Sikkim, 235, 239, 254, 260, 272 Simla Agreement of 1972, 169, 194, 206, 209, 212 Sino-Indian relations, 233–34, 261 between 1990 and 2003, 241–42 agreements proposed and reached, 247–61 diplomatic spat, 242–47 bilateral trade, growth in, 260 BJP-led government and, 242–47 border problem, resolution of, 250–52 deterioration in bilateral relations, 242–43 findings from, study on, 272 high-level visits and agreements, impact of, 254–60 impact of identity discourses, understanding of, 278–79


and military CBMs, 248–50 non-military CBMs and, 250 prior to 1990, 238–41 study of, importance of, 234–37 China partnership with Pakistan, 235–36 global balance of powers, 236–37 perception of China after defeat in 1962 war, 234–35 politics within subcontinent and East Asian region, 236 role of China in insurgencies in Northeast India, 235 unresolved border dispute, 235 Tibet’s place in, 252–54 social reform movements, in India, 23 ‘solidarity week’ on Kashmir, by Pakistani government, 162 South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), 171 Soviet identity, construction of, 14 Special Operations Group, 117 Special Task Force, 117 ‘Standstill Agreement’, 93 state and regional autonomy, link between, 132–34 State Autonomy Committee, JK, 127 autonomy resolution, political elites on, 128–32 recommendations of, 127–28 non-acceptance by Indian government, 131–32 state interests constructivist on, 10–11 theories on, 3–4 subjective interest, 11 Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), 118 ‘thousand years of war’, 162 three-tier security systems, 116



Tibet, 234, 235, 238, 242, 245, 252–54 Towards Angkor, 49 United Nations Security Council (UNSC), 246 US actions, in Afghanistan, 188

village defence committees, 117 virtual war zone, 119 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), 22, 26, 30, 66, 138, 174, 178 Zarb-i-Momin, 165

About the Author Gitika Commuri is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, California State University Bakersfield, USA and has a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Southern California. Her research interests include international relations, international political economy and comparative political analysis. Her paper ‘The Relevance of National Identity Narratives in Shaping Foreign Policy: The Case of India–Pakistan Relations’ was recently published in Journal of South Asian Development (2009). She has regularly presented papers at International Studies Association Conventions in San Francisco.