Assessing Kashmir Policies

As a follow up to our brief debate on the Kashmir issue, I wish to propose an exercise that evaluates the Kashmir policies of the governments of India and Pakistan and also puts our own objectivity to the test. Such an exercise could yield an awareness that might enable us to move the discussion forward.

What I propose is the following:

For the first part of the exercise stop thinking of yourself as a citizen of your country. Consider yourself an external examiner (ideally from Mars) who has been invited to evaluate the Kashmir policies of the governments of India and Pakistan, respectively.

Based on your understanding of the objective of the Kashmir policies, your task is to rate the respective policies as a success or a failure. In reaching this conclusion, you have to consider the extent to which the objective has been achieved, the cost and consequences of doing so, and the moral appropriateness of the actions employed in pursuit of the policies.

In the second part of the exercise, revert back to your role as a citizen of your country. In this part you should state the policies that you would have pursued if you had been in a position to do so.

Your response to this exercise should be posted in the comments space in the following format:

City of Residence:


Your understanding of the objective of the Indian policy (one sentence):
Rating of policy (Success or Failure):
Moral appropriateness of actions (Appropriate or Inappropriate):
Your recommended Indian policy (not more than two sentences):


Your understanding of the objective of the Pakistani policy (one sentence):
Rating of policy (Success or Failure):
Moral appropriateness of actions (Appropriate or Inappropriate):
Your recommended Pakistani policy (not more than two sentences):

Needless to say the opinions expressed would have no bearing on the immediate actions of the governments of India and Pakistan. The objective is only to get a sense of the perceptions of the readers of this blog. Every respondent is his/her own monitor – the Honor Code applies.

Please share this with as many people as you can so that we have a large enough response as a basis for continued discussion. This exercise is not limited to Indians and Pakistanis; all those interested in policy analysis and evaluation are welcome to participate.

A reader has drawn our attention to a poll conducted on this issue in 2008 by the University of Maryland. Its major shortcoming is that it is limited to urban respondents in India and Pakistan. It also follows a traditional India/Pakistan-centric framework. Still it can yield ideas about South Asians can design a more useful poll.

For the results of a 2010 poll in Kashmir, see here.


  • Vinod
    Posted at 07:52h, 10 July Reply

    Could you assist with some links on the policies that India and Pakistan have followed over the decades?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 09:33h, 10 July

      Vinod, That might defeat the purpose of the exercise to some degree. Kashmir is a much talked about topic – there are films about it, TV discussions, newspaper editorials, statements by politicians, blog posts, etc. It is useful to get a sense of what people make of all this exposure. What does it all boil down to? Does it convey a coherent policy objective to the audience or is it just a cacophony of voices resulting in general confusion? I would prefer respondents to convey their personal understanding of the policy objective and we can make some inferences from the responses.

  • pakiterroristan
    Posted at 21:05h, 15 July Reply

    Your neighbour is bombing your house or part of your house belongs to him. Would you “stop thinking” this is my house and wonder?

    Your neighbour is putting a gun on your head and tells you your right foot belongs to him, would syou “stop thinking” yourself this is your foot?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:07h, 17 July

      The discussion is about trying to solve problems. There is certainly a problem with the neighbor but not all problems in any country involve neighbors. A start can be made with those problems.

  • Vinod
    Posted at 02:07h, 29 September Reply

    Your understanding of the objective of the Indian policy (one sentence):
    To keep Kashmir within Indian Union

    Rating of policy (Success or Failure):
    Largely Successful

    Moral appropriateness of actions (Appropriate or Inappropriate): Inappropriate

    Your recommended Indian policy (not more than two sentences):
    Policy needs to include ways to win the trust of the Kashmiri muslims and the policy administrators need to improve their integrity.

  • Usman Mirza
    Posted at 04:15h, 02 May Reply

    I am Pakistani.

    Your understanding of the objective of the Pakistani policy (one sentence):
    1. The right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir by diplomacy & war (conventional and asymmetrical)

    Rating of policy (Success or Failure):
    >> Failure

    Moral appropriateness of actions (Appropriate or Inappropriate):
    >> A rare situation where Pakistan has the moral upper ground.

    Your recommended Pakistani policy (not more than two sentences):
    >> Compromise

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 11:57h, 27 May Reply

    FYI: ‘First’ Kashmir survey produces ‘startling’ results. A report from the BBC.

    • Vinod
      Posted at 01:56h, 28 May

      Clearly, the lessons for the Indian side are –

      (i) Stop human rights abuses. Can this be done by self-regulation by the army? I doubt whether anything less than full demilitirization will do. But then that would mean a lasting peace deal with Pakistan has to be struck.

      (ii) Increase employment – how is the economy going to get any attention if the security situation is the major concern of the politicians

      (iii) More autonomy to Kashmiris. I don’t know whether this has already been achieved practically and meaningfully. If not, then it should be considered seriously. If yes, then perhaps this is not a standalone concern and may be linked to (i) and (ii) i.e. resolving (i) and (ii) should take care of (iii) as a concern.

    • Vinod
      Posted at 07:18h, 28 May

      I don’t know if India will ever be able to generate a politician in Kashmir like Antanus Mockus of Columbia who will dare to put the human rights abuses of the army as part of their election platform. He is an interesting man who came up with an innovative way to deal with corruption in Bogota. The details, I think, are there in this blog somewhere. He is worth keeping your eyes on.

  • Anjum Altaf
    Posted at 18:09h, 28 May Reply

    Vinod: Thanks for posting this link. I am familiar with the work of another mayor of Bogota, Enrique Penalosa, who is renowned for urban transformation of the city (especially the Bus Rapid Transit called the TransMilenio). This work is worth studying by anyone interested in urban reform. I searched for a movie I remembered and saw that it covers Antanus Mockus as well:

    On your remark about leadership, I recalled a very apt quote from an interview (with Emanuel Derman) that would be of interest to many:

    Watching that interrogation of the bankers at the Senate hearings, I had the feeling that this is the way karma works in the universe. Everybody is going to do something not quite right as they act out their destiny mechanically, doing what they unthinkingly believe they have to do. The Wall Street people are going to reflexively overshoot and be too greedy. The Senate people are going to reflexively grandstand and be too uninformed and try to rein them in. There isn’t going to be an elegant solution to any of this. That’s the way of human affairs, and in terms of leadership, perhaps the best we can hope for is that occasional, miraculous, moment when people who are in a position to make a difference cease to behave mechanically — to take some recent examples, Mandela and de Klerk, perhaps Gorbachev — and who, rather than fulfilling their preprogrammed destiny, break the cycle of karma.

    Derman also talks about incentives. I have long believed that the strongest motivators of behavior are incentives and disincentives. The example I used to cite was the sterilization campaign during Mrs. Gandhi’s PMship when health workers put IUDs in old women simply because they were compensated for the number of insertions. But it was a shock to read from the link you have posted that people could go as far as to kill innocent citizens for the same reason.

    This does suggest that if we pay more attention to the design of incentive systems we might make some progress in all the seemingly intractable problems that dog us today.

  • sanjithmenon
    Posted at 08:30h, 13 July Reply

    sanjith menon.

    1. Your understanding of the objective of the Indian policy- Maintaining status quo , Making LOC international Border.
    2.Rating of policy (Success or Failure): Partial Success.
    3. Moral Appropriateness: Sad, but needed. If Pakistan did not sponsor terrorism, the border rules could be relaxed and Families along the divide could meet each other.
    4. My recommendations: Based on evidences:Pakistan will ever be a rentier state. Arabs, Americans and then the Chinese. Two; The Economic challenges after IMF rescue, is going to be too hard to follow, for any civilian govt. Three: The elites have used religion for their gain for too long, there is no other way, this nation will explode.
    5. Inferences;
    Pakistan will become Taliban country. They will send militia to Kashmir. A war in sub continent is in the offing.
    That is something that cannot be stopped now. The spiral has started. Who wins , who looses doesnt matter. the human tragedy will be so bad for each side, that Indians and Pakistani`s will decide that its better to live in Peace than war. We will become pacifists, like post war Japan.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 18:41h, 23 September Reply

    Robert Fisk is a much admired journalist. Here is his take on Kashmir and Afghanistan. This could be another starting point for a discussion:

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 15:32h, 08 August Reply

    Why is so difficult to think in human terms? Does the following make any sense:

    “For more than 20 years, families in Kashmir have been divided by a stretch of water only 100 metres wide – a river that is part of one of the most deeply disputed borders in the world. And despite easing tensions between India and Pakistan, their hopes of returning home seem as remote as ever.

    Ashraf Jan often visits this particular spot in northern Kashmir where the Neelum river cuts a narrow passage through a mountain village, leaving it divided between two steep hills.

    She stares at the wooden houses across the river, and points to one of them.

    “A very old couple live there – they are so old they don’t come out of their room any more. They are my father and mother,” she says, fighting back her tears.

    Even though Ashraf Jan, who is 40, is standing just minutes away from the house, she hasn’t been there in 22 years.”

    Can any one of us imaging being separated from our parents in this way for no fault of ours? If we can’t solve the big problem, could we not authorize an international organization to arrange controlled meetings? Even prisoners on death row are entitled to family visits.

    What has happened to our humanity?

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 02:54h, 25 November Reply

    A candid assessment of the situation in Kashmir by Professor Jean Dreze.

    “As veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar observed many years ago, “When it comes to Kashmir, the conscience of most in the country becomes dead.” If anything, the situation is worse today, as the Indian media further dull our conscience with a barrage of distorted accounts of the situation in Kashmir. The new abnormal threatens to engulf us all.”

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 04:55h, 30 November Reply

    A cogent articulation of the Right’s policy in Kashmir although the author disagrees with it:

    “In the game of power the ultimate justice lies with the one who is strong”.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 10:51h, 13 April Reply

    Another story that speaks to a deep inhumanity. Despite all conflicts, there must be a will to unite families divided by historical accidents.

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