Opinions vary over trouble in Kashmir

In August, the India government stripped statehood away from Kashmir, turning what was an Indian state into a federally controlled enclave, according to The New York Times. Pakistan also claims Kashmir as part of its country. People worry that India’s move could lead to another war between the two nuclear-armed countries.

A Pakistani and an Indian student at Ohio Wesleyan University were asked by The Transcript for their opinions about their respective country’s position regarding Kashmir.

Sophomore Haris Ali, from Pakistan, believes that war is inevitable between Pakistan and India.

Sophomore Parampreet Singh, from India, says Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi is making the right decisions.

Azmeh Talha

Arts and Entertainment Editor

War is inevitable

Ali: Although I believe that peace talks are very important and both countries should peacefully come up with a solution to this grave issue, it has not been possible in the past 72 years. The current political situation in India and Pakistan gives us no hope that this would be possible anytime in the near future.

Chairman of the Council for Indian Foreign Policy V.P. Vaidik said the Kashmir issue can be resolved through dialogues amongst all stakeholders – Pakistanis, Indians and the Indian and Pakistani occupants of Kashmir. However, whenever efforts are made to resolve the Kashmir issue, there is always some setback.

Elections in Pakistan or in India are often the cause of postponement of peace talks as politicians use anti-Pakistani or anti-Indian rhetoric to win elections.

In 2018, the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, extended an invitation to India for peace talks. The two countries were set to meet in the United Nations.

However, Indian elections were close, so the Indian government changed their mind and refused to attend the scheduled talks, according to a statement by India’s ex-Minister of External Affairs, the late Sushma Swaraj. India cancelled the meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart less than 24 hours after agreeing to what would have been the first high level contact between the nuclear-armed neighbors in three years. In a situation like this, it is highly unlikely that peace could remain in the region forever.

My analysis of this situation of war and peace has led me to the conclusion that war is inevitable. Every year there is a violation from either side which postpones the idea of any kind of peace. Pakistan and India have already fought four wars. Hundreds of border skirmishes have taken place in which hundreds of thousands of civilians and military personnel have died as a result.

The only reason that there has been no major armed conflict since 1999 is the acquisition of nuclear weapons by both countries. The international community wants peace in the region – nuclear war must be avoided at all costs – but the religious sentiments of Muslim and Hindu extremists on either side, as well the media, spread hate in the hearts of the common people on both sides.

As a result, the army and the government have to please their needs. If World War Three were to ever take place, India and Pakistan could potentially start the war.

I strongly condemn the recent violations of civil and human rights of Kashmiri people by the Indian government. From mass killings, enforced disappearances, torture and rape to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech, I do not understand how the literate population of India can elect a prime minister who encourages this behavior.

These are heinous and shameful acts and do not affect either country in any way but has ruined the lives of thousands of Kashmiris. I can’t even imagine being forcefully taken away by armed forces from my mother and sister, not knowing what would happen to us.

I for one do not hate Indians. I visited India back in 2017 and had a great experience. I did not feel ‘out of place’ and everyone treated our group as guests; and I go to college with Indian friends. My point being that the hatred and angst shown on social media and news channels is wildly inaccurate.

A common Pakistani or an Indian does not want war or any sort of conflict with each other.

As a Pakistani, I unequivocally believe that Kashmir should be a part of Pakistan. However, as a rational person, I think that an unbiased referendum should take place in Kashmir.

The people of Kashmir should decide whether they want to join India or Pakistan or if they want a separate nation for themselves. I might be too optimistic too believe that this would actually happen, as neither side would agree to this.

Modi took the correct action

Singh: The action of our prime minister, Narender Modi, took regarding revoking the Article 370 was really a positive and a bold action.

I know there was a huge debate about how the government of India treated the people of Kashmir, but if they had let them know about the action they took, it [would have been] impossible for the government to revoke the Article 370.

It was supposed to be something quick and instant. That’s how the government of India did. This step will integrate Kashmir and put it on the same page as the rest of India.

I also feel that the people of Kashmir should have been treated in a better way. However, I don’t know what the consequences would have been if the government hadn’t blocked the telephone lines in Kashmir. It could have been worse.

Being an Indian, I feel this is a positive for India.

Pakistan Suffers from Terrorism

By Azmeh Talha

Transcript Reporter

Arts and Entertainment Editor


Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) Pakistani Alumna returned for the Sagan National Colloquium to talk about the United States attempts to cut Pakistan’s resources off to decrease the number of militant groups in the country.

Sahar Khan (’06) discussed the bilateral relationship between The United States and Pakistan. She began her lecture by talking about President Donald Trump’s tweet about Pakistan in 2018: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

The Pakistani government responded by saying that the Trump administration was undermining all the things Pakistan has done for the U.S. and Afghanistan.

During her time at OWU, Sahar Khan (’06) was a student of Sean Kay, the director of the international studies program. In his introduction, Kay said Khan majored in international studies, politics and government and economics.

After graduation, Khan got her master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago. From there, she got her Ph.D. from The University of California Irvine. During this time, she was an associate editor of Washington Quarterly, a policy journal. Currently, Khan is working at the CATO Institute as an adjunct scholar.

“It is Pakistan who suffers from terrorism and the U.S. tends to overlook all of those safe havens that exist in Afghanistan that attack Pakistani citizens themselves,” Khan said.

In her lecture, Khan talked about Pakistan’s current Prime Minister, Imran Khan. They are not related. The Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan openly said that militant groups do not belong in Pakistan and in fact, Pakistan has gone after militant groups through various campaigns they have been waging since 2009.

Khan also discussed the war between the U.S. and Afghanistan. In 2015, Trump said he wanted to end this war and ensure that the U.S. does not get involved in any other unnecessary wars.

The United States, under the Trump administration has reduced the security aid to Pakistan which has reduced military financing. Foreign military financing (FMF), a grant that the U.S. gives to countries so that they can buy U.S. arms. Pakistan is no longer receiving this grant. It is now too expensive for Pakistan to buy U.S. arms.

The second major security aid cut is the Coalition Support Funds (CSF). This is a large program in which the U.S reimburses certain countries for using their military bases. In Pakistan’s case, due to U.S involvement in Afghanistan, the U.S has been using Pakistani air bases in the North Western Province. For use of this area, the U.S has been reimbursing Pakistan. However, this security aid has been cut in the past.

“Even under the Obama administration the CSF was reduced; even under George W. Bush it was reduced,” Khan said. “But under Trump it has been sort of the largest reduction in these months.”

The United States also has tried to get Pakistan on the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), an intergovernmental agency. This agency is responsible for combatting money laundering and terrorist financing. The United States and FATF had concerns that leaders of prominent militant groups roam freely in Pakistan.

Out of these militant groups, some leaders run non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The FATF raised concerns about Pakistan not being able to control these militant-run NGOs.

The Trump administration also reduced military-to-military engagement. This occurs when there is combat between two forces in which each side has been either assigned or perceived a mission. Khan said this was considered to be a hallmark between the U.S. and Pakistan.

“This was something that was almost benign,” Khan said.

Last year the Trump administration suspended 66 Pakistani officials from the International Military Education and Training Program. This program has not been renewed, Khan said.

Khan said that one main thing that the Trump administration is hoping to do by sanctioning Pakistan and limiting security and military aid to stop sponsorship of militant groups.

Khan further questioned why Pakistan sponsors these military groups. She answered by saying the problem is the civil-military imbalance.

“The military is strong; the civilians’ side is weak. If the civilians side was strong somehow Pakistan would no longer sponsor the militant groups.” Khan said.

Like many developing countries, Pakistan has a civil-military imbalance. Pakistan has been independent for 71 years. It spent half its life under military rule through four coups. These coups led to the Pakistani military evolving into a unique organization. The Pakistani army, along with protecting the nation, also controls businesses in the country such as farms, fisheries and pharmaceutical companies.

“The Pakistani army makes cereal and cheese,” Khan said. “It’s delicious.”

The Pakistani navy owns large business conglomerates such as The Shaheen Foundation, which has an interest in real estate. It also owns the Bahria Foundation which has similar interests.

The other reason for the civil military imbalance is the United States. The root cause of this problem dates to the Cold War, Khan said.

In 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the United States and Saudi Arabia created anti-Soviet forces. These forces were militant groups called the mujahideen. Their main goal was to fight the Soviets.

“The U.S. funded the mujahideen and they used the Pakistani army to do so and the Pakistani army essentially trained these mujahideen,” Khan said.

After the cold war ended, Pakistan and Afghanistan found themselves with well trained and well-armed unemployed militants. This led to the militant groups Pakistan has today.

“Sahar is always special for me because she was also my research assistant and helped me with books that I did,” Sean Kay said.

Kay and Khan co-authored an article on how to win the war in Afghanistan in 2006. They were the first people to write about NATO and counterinsurgency, he said.

“I loved this lecture because it took years of controversy, simplified it, and used years of research to take you from knowing minimal to excited to know more,” sophomore Maddy Miller said. “You could feel the passion that Sahar has for her research and it’s so prominent that you can’t help but get excited with her.”