I do not know how many have read “The Vajpayee Years” authored by AS Dulat. He was the Indian Intelligence chief and is kind of an expert on the militancy that prevails in Kashmir. Later he became Chief of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), the country’s snooping agency. He was also Adviser on Kashmir affairs to the then Prime Minister, Late Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee between 2000 and 2004.
He is a self-confessed garrulous man who talks a lot. And he talked to almost all the militants that came his way. Sometimes he seems to have even sought them out. Whether they were of Kashmiri origin or not, somehow they would open up to him and reveal their experiences or thoughts on our Kashmir or PoK or even their mentor, ISI in Pakistan.
Dulat probably won their confidence and they openly told him what their masters in Kashmir or across the borders would not have liked. I had jotted some of their conversations as recorded by Dulat and am reproducing these below. The first Independence Day after revocation of Article 370 giving special status to Kashmir and the ongoing discourse over it is probably an opportune time to recall these conversations as fears are being expressed about intensification of militancy as a consequence. So, here it goes:
An unnamed militant saying: “Once you go across (to PoK or Pakistan) you don’t know if you are going to be used or misused… Once you have been to that randikhana (brothel, it is not clear whether he means Pakistan or its ISI) it is very difficult to get back out…The guys who have come into proper contact with the ISI are never going to be in position to work something out with Delhi.”
Firdaus who used to be an assistant of Shabir Shah, a Kashmiri militant, told Dulat: “Each and every Kashmiri he met in Pakistan felt they were in an alien land. They also advised him to never merge Kashmir in Pakistan.” He also told Dulat that he realised on being refused SAM missiles that “lSI was not interested in escalating the proxy war and was not interested in the fact that the Kashmiris had gone all out to fight their dirty war.”
Hashim Qureishi, the highjacker of Indian Airlines flight from Srinagar to Lahore told Dulat, “I speak the truth so they call me an Indian agent… I say that Hurriyat people should give up accession to Pakistan, as should our people. 65 years have passed, another 500 years will pass, Kashmir will never become Pakistan. You can write it down… and people (addressing Kashmiris), don’t sacrifice your children. You are not going to get anything from their (Hurriyat’s) struggle. If you are sincere then say both India and Pakistan should get out of our land”.
Again another militant said: “There is no country freer than India and people don’t realise it. America is a great democracy but has not even spared our ministers from physical searches. I know of a Tamil Nadu minister who went there, he had lot of hair coming out of his ears. They searched that even. India has let down a lot of people, no one more than me. They have no morality. But at least they are humane.”
Abdul Majeed Dar, a former militant of Hizbul Mujahideen was later described as a sane voice when he realised the futility of the gun. He told Dulat, “Kashmiri militants settled in Pakistan are an unhappy lot and long to return (home). Most of them are disillusioned with Pakistan which only wants to merge Kashmir (in Pakistan) as against demands of militants for Azaadi.” Dar was so disillusioned with the ISI that he not only contrived to come away to Kashmir but also refused to take its calls. Obviously, the ISI found him very precious for their designs in Kashmir and didn’t want to let go of him. For his intransigence, however, they had him shot and killed.
All round disillusionment with Pakistan was so great that even separatist leader Prof. Abdul Ghani Lone once told Musharraf when he was CEO Pakistan that he shouldn’t worry about Kashmir, he should take care of Pakistan instead. Dulat has written that when ISI found out that Lone was working for peace and was in favour of the 2002 (Kashmir) elections it had him killed. All Party Hurriyat Conference leader Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat too is reported to have said, “Who can depend on Pakistan? It cannot look after itself how can it look after us?”
Perceptions that one gets from the militants’ statements in many ways work out to be synchronous with the general understanding of the situation in this country. The ISI has been wary of escalation of matters in J&K as its aim was to run a covert war of “thousand cuts” against India and did not want to provoke a severe reaction from it. Pakistan is now reluctant to expend its own manpower in Kashmir.
It is also largely known that Kashmiris who are anti-India and are involved in militancy in the Valley are, in fact, fighting ISI’s war by proxy. Hence the call to Kashmiris in the Valley not to sacrifice their children! It is also clear that whatever happens in Kashmir happens at the instance of Pakistan’s Army — actually its Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). It was also known that the militants who had crossed over were generally unhappy with the treatment that was meted out to them in Pakistan. For Pakistan, Kashmir was a piece of land that had to be wrested from India with religion being used as a fig leaf at later stages for the purpose.
The civil government of Pakistan has no role in deciding the Kashmir policy this way or that. The villain of the piece is the Pakistan Army as stoking trouble in Kashmir ensures its own survival. Out of the blue the revocation of Article 370, therefore, came as a hard kick on its butt. It apparently had stunned it for a while. Pakistan, be it its army or the civil government, is going to find it a handful to deal with the Modi-Shah combine. They are not like the softies that they have dealt with hitherto.
One cannot but agree more with Hashim Qureishi when he said that “65 years have passed, another 500 years will pass, Kashmir will never become Pakistan.” Another seven years have gone by after this statement was published and Kashmir has remained where it was. Kashmir is going to be with India till eternity.
Only for India it is going to be a long haul as it will have to face the aggressive neighbour that has lost face having lost for wars to a country it considers its adversary. Without caring one bit for Kashmiri lives it has, therefore, come down to giving pin pricks by staging skirmishes. India has to put up a solid, impenetrable front to these warmongers across the border.