June 24, 2021
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Q&A Session

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Q&A Session

James Steinberg: Let's take questions from the audience.

Question: I wanted to ask a couple of questions. First I wanted to ask Feroz to comment on the effect of the [Gudraz] events on Musharraf's political options with respect to India and in response to the U.S. effort to tamp down tensions.

And second, I actually wanted to ask all three panelists what in their views needs to be done by the U.S. to improve Pakistan's odds of responding to a proposal to make the Line of Control in Kashmir an international border. What would make that more feasible for Pakistan?

Brigadier Feroze Hassan Khan: I'm sorry, I didn't really get the point. What does [Gudraz] got to do with Pakistan?

Question: How does the violence in [Gudraz] affect Pakistan's attitude and also General Musharraf's options politically for responding to India and to U.S. pressure on India?

Brigadier Feroze Hassan Khan: I think the [Gudraz] [inaudible] has affected a lot of his options. In fact more than [Gudraz] option, if you go back a little India's lack of response to hedge General Musharraf's actions after January 12th, it was pretty much disappointing in Pakistan that here he was trying to make some gestures, he was trying to do as much as he could but he did not find anything coming from the other side. And then [Gudraz] happens. Then the belief was you know, this government in India has absolutely got some very serious gripes against [inaudible] the subcontinent. It was not just that they tore down the mosque, there is something, a deeper side of the problem. And of course that led to a lot of experienced elements in Pakistan [signed on] [inaudible] to that extent. [Gudraz] has been very very counterproductive for people with peace in progress and for looking both in India and Pakistan. It has been a very sad event from that point. And I think yes, you alluded to the point that it [gains him] a little bit in my assessment.

James Steinberg: Do you want to also comment on her second question which is what could be done to make a proposal to make the Line of Control an international order more acceptable to Pakistan? What kind of package would make that potentially acceptable to the Pakistani government?

Brigadier Feroze Hassan Khan: As of now there is a lot of divide in Pakistan from one [inaudible] as to what should be done about Kashmir as Steve has mentioned. We think converting Line of Control into border is one of the many options, but I don't think that across the Line of Control, especially in the Vale of Kashmir, the people of that part of Kashmir will accept that. After all, they have thrown — so much blood has gone in that part.

I believe that the Vale of Kashmir in particular has ceased to be part of India. Even if you convert the Line of Control the problem is not going to go away unless and until the process of involving those people into serious [inaudible] taking place. Therefore I am not sure that it is really a viable solution or not. This is one of the possible solutions to the problem.

Navnita Chadha Behera: I think Line of Control per se is definitely problematic because I agree with Feroz that you do have to address the Kashmiri domestic [occupancy at whole]. But what I disagree with is that Kashmiri basic problem was political power sharing. They did not get their democratic sources off electing their own government. So long as to my mind India can address the political problem of Kashmiris within a framework, I do think the problem is resolvable there. And whether LOC could be sold, sort of how it could be sold. To my mind the only way Pakistani President can sell it to its own domestic constituency is that if it comes with a political package for Kashmiris to make a case that Kashmiris got this better deal from India because we helped them morally, diplomatically, politically, and Kashmiris are happy with it so you declare victory and you walk away. That is the only way to my mind a Pakistani President could sell this to his own domestic constituency.

If I could take one minute, I just wanted to respond to the [Gudraz]— [Gudraz], as an Indian is inexplicable. I cannot justify [Gudraz] to any rational person as to why it happened, how it can be condoned. That, having said that, I think we are reading too much, if we are trying to say that [Gudraz] communal violence, India was trying to divert attention. Very few people know, and in Kashmiri insurgency has taken more lives than three wars India and Pakistan have fought together. That is the number of people we are talking that have died in Kashmir.

Insurgency in Kashmir is a real serious problem for India. I don't think in the current crisis Indian hawks have got away with the plan of destruction of Pakistan. If that had been the case, if the hawks had had their way, we would have had a war by now. The fact is that six months, one million troops deployed on the border, you have various collisions. Not a real war. That in my mind is the ultimate proof that hawks are not calling the shots.

I think there are, you know, [inaudible], it's a very — They are taking the political move first so we need to kind of be aware of that.

And [Fernandez] is on the record as having said we have no designs against Pakistan's territorial integrity. We have no quarrel with Pakistan's people. Our quarrel is with cross-border terrorism. You address the problem and we de-escalate. I think India has, Indian leadership has shown that. So long as our concerns are addressed there, we are moving towards the path of de-escalation. The, I agree with Feroz' verification measures. That is where your risk lies. It has to be, acceptable verification mechanism has to be involved. Until you do that, the risk would remain.

James Steinberg: George Tenet's got some free time. Maybe he wants to take that on.

Question: [inaudible], Indian Army. Ex-Indian Army.

I have got two questions from Brigadier Khan. One is what is the genesis of Kashmir problem? How did Kashmir problem occur? One. Secondly, 7,000, approximately 7,000 volunteers crossed borders in Afghanistan in support of al Qaeda. Went there. The United States was mounting a war in Afghanistan. They were tapped in [inaudible]. [inaudible] actually regarded them as terrorists and what is the punishment for a terrorist is I think our foreign ministers way back in Operation Gibraltar when Butho —

James Steinberg: Excuse me, could we have a quick question here because we have a lot of people who —

Question: In any case, this is very intimately connected question with Kashmir.

Now way back, Butho said these are not our people. We said they were infiltrators. They said no. We have identities belonging to this regiment, that regiment, this regiment.

James Steinberg: Colonel —

Question: I just finish now.

At the time the punishment was execution. This was taken by [inaudible]. Then what happened to those 7,000? I think in my opinion as the information goes, well 350 ended up in [inaudible], they were al Qaeda people. They were trained in Pakistan. And what happened with this?

James Steinberg: Excuse me. What's the question?

Question: The question is what is the status of those infiltrators who were regarded as terrorists similar to the terrorists which crossed over to Kashmir in Afghanistan? What is the status?

James Steinberg: Okay.

Question: How —

James Steinberg: Thank you very much.

Question: On one line —

James Steinberg: Thank you, sir.

We'll skip the first question. I think we can do a seminar on the history of Kashmir some other time.

Brigadier Feroze Hassan Khan: I am not going through the genesis of the problem. I think this audience is very well aware of that.

There are only 7,000 people who went across and that's a very little figure. I thought there were a lot more crazy people in Pakistan that could have done that. That is a very little figure.

The tribal areas and Pakistanis were supporting Taliban. That had more to do with the Pashtun brothers being, coming under fire than to do with any grand jihad or something. And jihad — a very noble concept of jihad had been a kind of hijacked by the people that you know about that. And people have been misled a lot regarding what has happened in that part. So I don't think they were terrorists. They were people who went in some good faith across the border and they came back. Some of them died. Some of them have been captured. The United States, Pakistan and all agencies, FBI, CIA, are trying to see the picture, and in particular as to what to do, who were the [ones] who went out of here [inaudible], and who were genuinely al Qaeda and all. I don't think [inaudible] al Qaeda didn't have some sympathy with Taliban who happened to be Pashtun. So that is my short answer to your question.

Question: My name is Frank Born. I served in India for six years in the Foreign Service.

I'd like to pick u on something that Feroz Khan said about the need for a sustained dialogue with outside people. I think that's a very promising area. I wondered if anybody could comment on — One model of it was the Jaswan Sing/Strobe Talbot dialogue which went into about ten sessions and many people feel with the limitations it had it was the only serious dialogue between India and America since independence. It didn't follow a pattern of just going to put out one fire.

I wonder if you could comment on that and what other model you might suggest for a sustained dialogue.

Brigadier Feroze Hassan Khan: Mr. Talbot exactly [inaudible] for him because that was a dialogue that he was speaking on the one hand with India. He was speaking on the one hand with Pakistan. They were about similar number of rounds with Pakistan. And that dialogue was focused on non-proliferation objective, a very narrow objective, but that seems to me that at the time the largest interest of the States overtook for him to really succeed.

I don't think that can really succeed in this point of time, I'm not too sure about that.

I did mention about something like Mr. Harriman's visit, that was in 1962, that he was quite [inaudible] and then let India and Pakistan go [inaudible] five to six rounds in 1962. Eventually they came to conclusion that any solution that was acceptable to India was not acceptable to Pakistan, and vice versa.

If you are carrying on behind the scenes diplomacy by not being up front, the problem is that you are likely to come to this conclusion that the solution that you have is not acceptable to either side.

The other option is that you come up, really open up, and bring a large number of [inaudible], not only U.S. involved but Britain involved, China involved, and Russia involved, and you generate a momentum that both sides are unable to back out. They are just unable to back out from the commitments that they are making and the process starts in a direction where you can reach a significant conclusion.

So that is another way of doing that.

Stephen P. Cohen: I would say that a process would have to be, at least initially for the first year or so, very low profile. You don't necessarily want very high level Americans or others involved.

I'd also add that at last count I think there are seven countries that have offered their services as go-betweens between India and Pakistan — Russia, China, Canada, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, European Union, a whole bunch of them. Not the United States. And I do think that in fact the United States may have to rush to catch up with the crowd that it's supposed to be leading. If it does then clearly you'd want a systemic, systematic low level diplomacy at first for the sense of parameters, but then you bring in the heavy weights. People like Armitage.

I think Armitage's visit and Rumsfeld, who's there right now, really this is to deal with the crisis. In the short hand I think we need to move from crisis to process. Sometimes a crisis can lead to a process. This may be one of those moments. If it isn't, I assure you that you're going to get another crisis and you're going to have recurring crises. They're accelerating in terms of, they're occurring more rapidly than before. They're more intense than they were, each one is more intense than the previous one, and furthermore, both India and Pakistan have concluded that the United States will bail them out of the next crisis and that's a very dangerous role for the U.S. to be in, to be rescuing them at the last possible moment. Both are counting on us being there when we have to be there. I don't mind the U.S. being there when it has to be there, but clearly we should contemplate the possibility of approaching this from a broader perspective not simply in terms of crisis to crisis management.

Navnita Chadha Behera: I think the one element of the process that is important that outsiders have to sort of nudge India and Pakistan to come [through this], but you cannot impose a solution on the two countries. That's why I believe it has to be low profile diplomacy. The only other element I would add is the key groundwork and the ideas for resolving have to come from within the region. Otherwise it will simply not work.

Question: [inaudible] My question is primarily for Navnita.

We mentioned the need for verification in Kashmir particularly along the Line of Control. There also appears to be a need for verification of a legitimate political process in Kashmir where India's credibility amongst the Kashmiris is just about nil and its credibility in Pakistan is just as bad if not worse.

How might India address this problem?

Navnita Chadha Behera: Very simple. I think we have a real opportunity coming up in October. There will be state assembly elections held in Jammu and Kashmir. I think New Delhi realizes that the stakes are very high for New Delhi to in fact put to rest the concerns of Kashmiris and share, I agree, with many in the international community that the previous elections in India have not been free and fair.

I think two or three specific measures are in process. One is to make sure that defense [inaudible] from all [views and shapes] are all encouraged in fact to participate in the political process. Unfortunately, still the killing of [inaudible], a moderate [inaudible] leader, there was progress being made in that direction but [Lone's] killing has sort of silenced the moderates in the [inaudible]. Whether the two come out before October and participate, right now it's an open question.

The second element is there has been a demand of a lot of, especially [inaudible] with respect we do not trust [Parul Kabilla]. It has a vested interest of its own of not allowing the elections to be free and fair and of manipulating the process. And I think New Delhi is moving towards addressing that concern that elections might not indeed be held under that administration and it might be held under an impartial governmental regime.

The key here which I think New Delhi is still shying away from here is inviting international observers to in fact observe the elections and sort of draw their own conclusions. It's my personal opinion, I think India should go ahead and invite international observers. I personally do believe India's democratic institutions have the resilience and the power and the credibility. Yes, elections in Kashmir have not been free and clear. I'm not going to shy away from it. But elsewhere India has democracy and its institutions have resilience that we can tell you that we have nothing to hide. So I personally would agree and argue in favor of inviting those observers, letting everybody see for themselves that the process was free and fair.

Question: I'm [inaudible], Political Consular from Embassy of India.

To follow up the [Gudrazi] [inaudible], I just want you to know that although [Gudraz] is different for us, but it is purely an internal issue for India. So when the other Muslim [inaudible] countries have not reacted so far. So why Pakistan is so much hyper, sensitive to this issue? And particularly, and in the context that what there were, we say we have to distinguish between the Vajpayee party line and Vajpayee [inaudible].

Brigadier Feroze Hassan Khan: I'm sure everybody is aware about the history of the partition. It has to do with the [inaudible] of the subcontinent. We kind of, the memories of partition, it's a lot of people who were born after partition. We don't have any memory. I don't know what happened. I only heard from my parents. [Gudraz] reminds me exactly why my country was created. That's [inaudible]. I think that's a short answer.

Stephen P. Cohen: Let me add a comment to that. I spent some time in Pakistan and two trips to India and I actually watched Indian television coverage of [Gudraz] which was quite excellent.

I think the impression of Pakistan is very important and very complex. Pakistanis saw this on television and it reminds them of what their parents told them about partition. It made many of them feel that they were glad to be Pakistanis. For all of Pakistan's problems in a sense, it confirmed the notion of the value of the two nation theory.

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