America’s Unrelenting War on Women

As a young feminist studying South Asia in 1990 America, it was de rigueur, for American feminists to decry the “barbaric” abuses from which “third world women” needed to be liberated.  Sati, which became resurgent in Rajasthan briefly, along with female feticide and infanticide and dowry deaths were their cause célèbre as were the Taliban’s use of death by stoning to execute Afghan women for various crimes real and imagined.  The enforced hijab in Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as the latter’s ban on female drivers all drove American feminists over the edge as did—and does—female genital mutilation (FGM) practices by some Muslim communities “in Africa.” (Apparently no one can be bothered with specifying a particular country when it comes to Africa.)

This  hot wash in “white saviorism” never sat well with me because American women have never been as liberated as they imagined.  White feminism was always imbued with the class, race and geographical entitlements of its proponents which prevented them from knowing that even in America, many of the practices they decried as the problems of “over there” were in fact practiced within the United States. Few Americans know today that child marriage is practiced in the United States, that is not criminalized by federal law and is permitted in many states. In fact, according to data from 41 states, between 2000 and 2015, more than 200,000 minors were married.

Coming from a blue-color family in rural and peri-rural Indiana, I was annoyed by the “overthereism” of white feminism. For one thing, two of my cousins (by marriage) were child brides. Lean, one of these cousins, was more or less my age and we spent the summers swimming and doing girl stuff. Then in the summer in 1983, Lean was married, with court permission, to a man well into his twenties. She was from a town called “Mongo,” Indiana which was essentially a village where a high school education was an accomplishment she would not achieve. Her sister followed suit several years later. No one in my family seemed terribly aghast by this, except my mother and me.  Throughout Lean’s wedding, I wanted to vomit. My mom kept jabbing me to stop making faces during the ceremony. In any circumstances this would have been statutory rape. But when legitimized by a pastor, child rape becomes matrimony.

Nor did I have the luxury of presuming that boy preference was a curious practice of exotic countries. Afterall, my stepmonster routinely opined that he had no intention of saving money to send me to college so that I could “find a husband.” He furthered that since we were poor and could only afford to educate one of the kids, “it made sense to educate the boy.” My mother fought long and hard to educate me.  My mother saw that I had no other prospects for a happy life than education. Unlike my brother, I was unattractive, overweight and bespectacled. I preferred books to boys and I revolted against the abusive patriarchy that was firmly rooted in our rural Indiana culture and which claimed the happiness and physical safety of every woman I knew who was married. My grandmother was elated when my abusive grandfather died. My mother used to tell how she fantasized about castrating my first stepmonster and she was constantly in tears over the boorish behavior of my second. Mom stayed married for the reason my grandmother did: economic dependency upon lousy men. And my aunt, after whom I am named, stayed married to her violent and alcoholic husband for the same reason. When she finally left him, he murdered her. I had enough evidence in hand that nothing good would come from matrimony.

This worried my mother. There was no precedent for a woman existing in our family without a man taking care of her. And the suffering that went with matrimony was part of that price. But to her credit, my mom fought hard for the only future I demanded—one in which I made my own future independent of any man. But mom never shied from telling me the truth: she never wanted a girl.  Raising girls were precarious and risky. Their success in life was too indeterminate unless they were popular and pretty and I was neither. Boys’ futures, she felt, were more predictable. She was not cruel. She was forthright and pragmatic. Just as I am today. There was no place in that horrible archipelago of rural hellholes from which I escaped to be the woman I wanted to be. And this was not India or “Africa.” It was Indiana. The same state from which our current Vice President hails along with five others.

While the United States has long been a terrible place to be a woman for many women, it’s getting worse not better. In contrast, many countries I study –including Pakistan—is making strides to make lives for women better. But in the not in the United States. American legislators refuse to pass laws that make it illegal to pay women less for the same work. And once again our basic right to decide whether and when to have children is being taken away. 

The right to abortion is one that I hold dear because of personal reasons.  My biological father impregnated my mother under false pretenses and unmarried in 1967.  Abortion was illegal and thus the exclusive privilege of wealthy women who could travel abroad or pay someone to provide a safe, but still illegal, abortion in the United States. Poor women who had illegal abortion risked their lives and many died from sepsis or blood loss. So my mother ran away, by bus, to Arizona where she lived with my aunt Carol—after whom I am named. Had abortion been legal, my mother could have imagined a different life than that inscribed for women with “illegitimate” children.  There may have been a future for her that didn’t rely upon being married to a “meal ticket.” She may have been a more capable provider for her future children. In this statement I am reaffirming the value of my mother’s life rather than undervaluing my own.

While Roe V. Wade,the landmark supreme court case from 1973, conferred upon women the right to choose, proponents of traditional while-male-dominant patriarchy fought tooth and nail to squash this  right as soon as we got it. The ability to plan our fertility has been the cornerstone of our ability to pursue higher education, gainful employment, and marriage by choice rather than compulsion. And it is this access to economic justice that has enabled women to walk out from abusive or unhappy marriages or not marry at all.

While the racism of the contemporary Republican party is much appreciated abroad because it is so gobsmackingly obvious, it is also waging a war on women and our bodies. While the white male Republicans fear ethnographic change and the loss of their race privilege, they also fear women and the erosion of their gender privileges despite the facts that women consistently earn less than men for the same work and that white men still occupy the most lucrative and important positions in the public and private sectors.  The fear that white men will one day be unable to run roughshod over everyone else is the same fear that Trump both stoked and exploited to become the president. While it may seem paradoxical that white women have allied with white men to protect their own race privileges and cruel power that conservative orthodoxy bestows upon women who happily police other women and people of color, this has always been the inherently non-intersectional character of white American feminism.

To eviscerate our hard-fought gains, the Republican party has endeavored to roll back access to affordable birth control as well as pharmaceutical and surgical abortion. It has stacked our courts with misogynistic conservatives in hopes that a court dominated by such rubes will over-turn Roe v. Wade. In the meantime, Republicans hollowed out abortion access by terrorizing physicians who perform the procedure. They waged legal cases throughout the country to endow fetuses with rights at the expense of women’s civil liberties. They made every possible effort to restrict how, when, and where abortion is provided. They have imposed waiting periods and, in some states, they force women to pay for expensive trans-vaginal ultrasounds in hopes that after seeing their snowy fetus, they will change their minds. They have sought impose absurd standards upon the clinics themselves and distance to hospitals and have argued that doctors must have surgical rights at hospitals even if here is no hospital nearby that will afford those rights and even though the procedure is safer than many other procedures. (Many hospitals in the United States are Catholic and they do not permit abortion. Thus this requirement is a back door means of eroding access to surgical abortion.) Indiana has passed a law that requires the products of conception to be buried or incinerated separately from other surgical waste, which is merely intended to increase the cost of an increasingly costly procedure.

Due to the concatenating impacts of these varied efforts, today, there are many states in which surgical abortion, for all intents and purposes, is unavailable. In such states, there are so few abortion providers that women must undertake lengthy and expensive journeys—sometimes to other states—and endure the commonly-imposed three-day waiting period and other burdens such as the trans-vaginal ultrasound. This in addition to several hundreds of dollars to pay for the procedure, which cannot be subsidized with federal monies. All of this requires days of missed work and arranging childcare. Such restrictions disproportionately affect America’s most vulnerable women who tend to be poor and/or persons of color.

Recently, some nine states have passed legislation to further restrict access. Several of these have passed so-called “heartbeat” bills that criminalize abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, after most women even know they are pregnant. In most circumstances, these laws cruelly and deliberately exclude exceptions for rape and incest. The penalty for securing an illegal abortion under these laws actually exceeds the penalty for rape and incest or even actual murder of a human being. The laws themselves reflect an asinine lack of scientific understanding of the chemical process that gives the illusion of a “heartbeat” as there is no fetal heart at six weeks.

Despite prosecuting this relentless war on our body agency in the name of “life,” other Republican policies bely any genuine interest in either increasing the quality or quantity of Americans’ lives. They oppose universal and affordable health care for the same fetuses they fetishize and the mothers who care for them as well as their families. Republicans nearly universally oppose education budgets that would provide for quality education at all levels, which is the most effective way of ensuring equal access to opportunities and outcomes. They reject efforts to expand civil liberties and are actively rolling back those already attained. Whereas the Republican party of the past freed American slaves, the party of today is most known for its racism and bigotry. Most cynically, they smother even the most modest restrictions upon the ability purchase military-grade weapons and munitions, even though on a near-weekly basis America’s children are butchered in school shootings. They support the death penalty without any effort to reconcile this with their “pro-life” positions and they do so despite the well-known fact that the use of the death penalty is driven by racism and that many African American men have been framed for crimes they did not commit resulting in the execution of innocent men. Poor people in general are more likely to get the death penalty because they cannot afford competent legal representation.  

In short: once that fetus becomes a child, it is on its own. Its odds are best if it’s a white, Cis-male. While that demographic comprises only 30 percent of the population, it command the best access to opportunities and outcomes.

More galling yet, some protect the parental rights of rapists when their victim becomes impregnated from their criminal conduct.  In other circumstances, sex offenders are not permitted to be around children. Recently, in Alabama—one of the most backwards states in the Union which has passed the most draconian law essentially outlawing abortion—ordered a woman to permit her rapist visitation of the child that resulted from his assault on her. She will be ordered to spend forty-eight hours in jail for every visitation she declines.

Given Republicans’ discernable lack of interest in life-saving or life-improving policies in any other policy domain, it is fairly clear that their interest in denying women the ability to plan our fertility is abjectly not about life rather about denying us the right to live our lives fully and to our potential with dignity.

In 2015, before the “Trumpocalypse,” the United Nations sent a fact-finding team to investigate the state of American women and were horrified by what they found. The “myth-shattering” mission noted that American women are lagging in rights.  More recently, UN  Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore did not mince her words when she declared the onslaught against abortion rights as “extremist hate” and “torture.”

As other countries in the world, like India, continue to make strides in empowering women, perhaps the disempowered American Woman, reduced to fetal incubators, will become the next posterchild of feminist movements that are steaming ahead elsewhere. I look forward to the day when crowds of “third world” women gather outside of American embassies and consulates demanding that that the US government stop its relentless war on women and children.

A shorter, better edited version of this essay appeared in The Print on June 18, 2019.

Hindi Blog Post #1: Discussing My Latest Book on the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba

Here I discuss LeT and my newest book, In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba with Pranay Kotasthane, Head, Research The Takshashila Institution.

प्रणय कोटस्थाने के साथ मेरा साक्षात्कार , जिसमें, हम लश्कर-ए-तैयबा पर अपनी नई किताब की चर्चा करते हैं।


आपकी नयी किताब  In their Own Words, लश्कर जसै आतंकवादी संगठन  का घरेलू राजनीति में क्या स्थान है, इस पर चर्चा  करती है | तो इस एपिसोड में हम LeT को एक संगठन (organisation) के रूप में गहराई से समझने की कोशिश करते है|

१. हर संगठन  का एक vision, mission statement होता है – LeT का क्या है?

लश्कर-ए-तैयबा का एक पुस्तिका है  जिस में  वह् वर्णन  करता है कि वह् क्या करता है और क्यों।

ईस पुस्तिका  का नाम  है “हम क्यों जिहाद कर रहे हैं।”

इस पुस्तिका में, कई सिद्धांत/ उसूल  प्रस्तुत किए गए हैं, खास तौर  पर, यह दो:

२. हर हाल में, पाकिस्तान के भीतर, किसी भी प्रकार की हिंसा (या आतंक) सख्त़ मना (निषेध) है।

इससे कोई फर्क नहीं पड़ता अगर कोई मुजाहिद समझता है कि कोई  व्यक्ति “खराब मुस्लिम” है , और कुफ़्र और मशरिक (यानी जो शिर्क करता है) और मुनफ़िक़ (यानी जो खिलफ़त करता है) या कलह फैलाता है।

३. जिहाद सभी मुसलमानों के लिए अनिवार्य है, यानी फर्ज़्। यह आवश्यक (जरूरी) है कि हर एक मुसलमान जिहाद में शरक़त (Bhag lena) करने के लिए तैयार हो।

इसका मतलब नहीं है कि कोई बंदूक उठाकर कश्मीर  सीधे चला जाए। शायद एक भाई घर पर रहे पारिवारिक व्यवसाय की देखभाल के लिए ताकि दूसरा भाई कश्मीर जाकर काफिरों से लड़ सके।  लश्कर ए तैयबा के अनुसार दोनों जिहाद में हिस्सा ले रहे हैं।

लश्कर का मानना (तर्क/ख़्याल) है कि जब पाकिस्तानी बाहरी दुश्मन से लड़ना बंद कर देंगे, तो वे एक-दूसरे पर हमला करना शुरू कर देंगे और इसी तरह पाकिस्तान को तबाह करेंगे।

४. इस संगठन  की शुरुआत कब और कैसे हुई?

यह संगठन  १९८० के दशक के अंत में शुरू हुआ,सोवियत संघ के अफ़ग़ानिस्तान   को  छोड़ने से पहले।

लश्कर से पहले, दो अलग-अलग संगठन  थे। एक संगठन , ज़कि-उर्-रेह्मान लखवी  का, दूसरा हाफ़िज़ साईद का। १९८४ (1984) में, लखवी ने  सेनानियों का एक समूह इकट्ठा किया, जो सब अहल-ए-हदीस थे।

तकरीबन  एक साल के बाद्, लाहौर में, लाहौर इंजीनियरिंग विश्वविद्यालय के इस्लामिक अध्ययन विभाग के दो प्रोफेसरों ने जमात उद दावा स्थापित किया।

ये दो प्रोफेसर हाफ़िज़  मुहम्मद साईद और जफ़र इकबाल थे। जमात उद दावा, मूलभूत रूप से, तब्लीघ  और दावाह पर ध्यान करते थे।

लगभग १९८६ (1986) में, लखवी का मिलिशिया और साईद  का JUF विलय हो गया और इस नये तन्ज़ीम का नाम मार्कज़्-उद-दावा-वाल-इरशाद (एम.डी.आई)था।

एम.डी.आई. के तीन कार्य थे: जिहाद , तब्लीघ, दावाह (यानी मुसलमानों को अहल-ए-हदीस पंथ में परिवर्तित करना)।

२००२ में, जैश-ए-मोहम्मद के संसद पर हमला करने के बाद, लश्कर और अन्य आतंकवादी समूहों को “प्रतिबंधित” कर दिया गया था।

मगर , प्रतिबंध प्रभावी होने से पहले, आई. एस. आई. ने (यानी पाकिस्तान की सबसे ख़तरनाक ख़ुफ़िया एजेंसी ने) समूहों को उन्नत चेतावनी दी थी, जिस से वे नए नामों के तहत फिर से अस्तित्व में आये ।  २००२ से, लश्कर को “जमात उद दावाह” कहा जाता है ।

. इसके sponsor/shareholders कौन है?

उस प्रश्न (prashna/ सवाल ) का आसान उत्तर (जवाब) है: पाकिस्तानी  सेना और इस की ख़ुफ़िया एजेंसी आई. एस.आई।

६. इसमें भर्ती (recruitment) कहाँ  से और कैसे होती है? क्यों नौजवान इस कररयर को चुनते  है?

ज़्यादातर लश्कर के रंगरूट (या नए  सेनानियों) पंजाब के लगभग १० जिलों से ताल्लुक  रखते हैं।

वे अलग-अलग कारणों से जुड़ते हैं ।  कुछ ऊब चुके हैं और साहसिक कारनामे की तलाश कर रहे हैं।

कुछ बेहद धार्मिक हैं और मानते हैं कि जिहाद जरूरी है।

दूसरे  कश्मीर में मुसलमानों की मदद करना चाहते हैं, क्योंकि  वे विश्वास करते हैं कि वे मज़लूम हैं।

कई मामलों में, उनके माता-पिता उन्हें जिहाद के लिए जाने पर  हौसला बढ़ा देते हैं क्योंकि जब उनका बेटा शहीद हो कर अल्लाह से मिलता है,  वह अल्लाह से अनुरोध कर सकता है कि  मरने के बाद उन्हें स्वर्ग  (या जन्नत) में जाने दे।

इस के अलावा, जब उनका  बेटा शहीद हो जाता है, तो समाज में परिवारों की स्थिति बढ़ जाती है।

७. इस संगठन का समाज में वजूद क्या है?

“जमात उद दावाह” और “फ़िलाह इन्सानियत फाउंडेशन ” के नामों के तहत, वे पाकिस्तान के भीतर बहुत सारे सामाजिक कार्य करते हैं। उदाहरण के लिए,  वे सामान्य स्कूलों का निर्माण करते हैं (मदरसे नहीं,हालांकि मदरसे भी बनवाए), चिकित्सा सेवाएं प्रदान करते हैं, कुओं को खोदते हैं और भूकंप (ज़लज़ला), बाढ़ (सैलाब), चक्रवात (साइक्लोन), सूखा (खुश्क) दौरान और बाद में राहत सेवाएं उपलब्ध करते हैं।

८. इस संगठन  को कैसे निपटाया जाए? क्या पाकिस्तान में ऐसी ताकतें हैं जो इस तरह के संगठनों का ख़ात्मा करना चाहती हैं?

दो कारणों से, इससे निपटाना  असंभव है।

सबसे पहले, पाकिस्तानी सेना को बाहरी और आंतरिक सुरक्षा के लिए इसकी आवश्यकता (सख़त ज़रूरी) है।

दूसरा, अगरपाकिस्तानी सेना इससे प्रयोग में न लाना चाहती हो, तो भी ऐसा करना बहुत मुश्किल होगा और शायद नामुमकिन।

भारत के पास दो विकल्प (चुनाव) हैं। सबसे पहले, इसे सहन करना जारी रखें।  

दूसरा, इसकी क्षमताओं को कम करने के लिए गुप्त संचालन कर सकते हैं, मगर अगर भारत ऐसे करे, तोयह बिल्कुल महत्वपूर्ण है कि यह गुप्त रहे ।यदि सरकार इन कार्यों के बारे में बहुत शोर करती है, तो  पाकिस्तान को जवाब देने पर मजबूर हो जायेगी और भारत एक युद्ध शुरू होने का जोखिम बुलाता है परमाणु युद्ध के जोखिम के साथ।

It’s Out! In Their Own Words Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba

Here’s an amuse-bouche of  In Their Own Words Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Hurst, OUP). As always, I am grateful to Saira Wasim for her exquisite work that graces this cover. Check out her other inspiring paintings here:

Please note that I will donate my personal profits to the Government of India’s Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist/Communal/Left Wing Extremist Violence, Cross-Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory, as well as Save the Children India. Over time, I may adjust the charities to which I donate, although I will remain committed to donating to non-religious/non-proselytizing organizations in India that do relief work. Thank you in advance for supporting these institutions through your purchase of this book.

Copies may be purchased here:

Via Hurst:

Via Oxford University Press:

Via Amazon:

The South Asia and US editions will be coming out shortly.

Potential Reviewers: If you would like to review this volume, please email me at with the Subject Header: “I’d like to review In Their Own Words.”


This project is the culmination of research I unwittingly began in Lahore in 1995 when I was a doctoral student studying Urdu as well as Punjabi through the renowned BULPIP (Berkeley Urdu Language Program in Pakistan, currently known as the Berkeley-AIPS Urdu Language Program in Pakistan). As a student of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, I frequented Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore, where I first encountered booksellers purveying the propaganda of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), which now operates mostly under the name of Jamaat ud Dawah (JuD). I began collecting their materials that year and continued to do so during subsequent visits over the next couple of decades until I was ultimately deemed persona non-grata by the country’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI).

Due to the ISI’s assessment that I am a “nasty woman,” I have been unable to return to Pakistan since August 2013, but astonishingly, I was able to continue gathering materials for this effort through inter-library loan. Since 1962, American libraries have procured books from South Asia through the so-called PL-480 program, named after the eponymous public law which allowed the US Library of Congress to use rupees from Indian purchases of American agricultural products to buy Indian books. In 1965, a field office was opened in Karachi to oversee the acquisition of Pakistani publications. While the PL-480 program was long since discontinued, The Library of Congress continues to use the same institutional infrastructure to purchase these publications under the guise of a new program called the South Asia Cooperative Acquisitions Project.

I am deeply indebted to the Library of Congress and the other libraries across the United States which purchased these publications through this program and made them available to scholars through their institutions’ inter-library loan programs. I am particularly beholden to Georgetown University’s Lauinger Library, which never failed to produce a book I requested. The University of Chicago and the Library of Congress were the primary sources of these books and I am grateful that they continue to obtain and lend terrorist publications. As one US government official wryly noted when I explained my new sources of materials, “there is no better way to keep terrorist literature out of the hands of would-be terrorists than putting it in a library.”

I am also extremely indebted to Georgetown University, which has supported my work unstintingly since I joined the Security Studies Program in the fall of 2009. The University and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University subsidized the writing of this book through a year-long leave through sabbatical and a senior research leave. Moreover, the School of Foreign Service provided invaluable financial support that enabled me to collaborate with Safina Ustaad, who did most of the translations used in this volume. (Ustaad and I are publishing a subsequent volume that contains these translations via Oxford University Press, entitled A Call to War: The Literature of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.) The School of Foreign Service also subsidized a related and ongoing project in which I am studying the battle-field motivations of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba fighters. Through that funding, Ali Hamza translated a 10 percent random sample of the over 900 fighter biographies I collected, the analyses of which I present in this book. I am also grateful to the Security Studies Program, my home program within the School of Foreign Service, for generously subsidizing other aspects of this project, such as my work with Abbas Haider and other ongoing collaborations with Ali Hamza. Both Haider and Hamza translated some materials (under my guidance and quality assurance) which I have analyzed herein. Ali Hamza has been a superb colleague and collaborator over numerous years on several quantitative and qualitative projects alike. I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such a gracious and talented colleague.

I also benefited tremendously from fellowships with the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA) in New Delhi, which hosted me as a senior fellow in the summer of 2016, the Gateway House in Mumbai during the summer of 2015, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington DC, which hosted me as a fellow in the summer of 2017. I remain obliged to Jayant Prasad, Rumel Dahiya, and Ashok Behuria at IDSA, and Sally Blair at the NED. Don Rassler and the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point also provided important resources for the quantitative aspects of this project while I was a fellow at the CTC. It was a privilege to work with Don and the other members of that team including Anirban Ghosh, Nadia Shoeb, and Arif Jamal to whom I am deeply beholden. I would also like to express my gratitude to Oxford University Press which graciously allowed me to compress, update and draw upon significant portions of Fighting to the End: The Pakistani Army’s Way of War (2014) as well as Taylor and Francis which granted me permission to draw heavily from a 2014 article in the The Journal of Strategic Studies (“Insights from a Database of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Militants,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 37, 2 (2014), pp. 259–290.)

As this volume is the culmination of years of research and consultation, it would be remiss were I not to mention the superb community of scholars with whom I have discussed this project and data. Those who have been generous with their time and insights include: Daniel Byman, Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Shapiro, Praveen Swami, Ashley Tellis, Arif Jamal, Maryum Alam, the late Mariam Abou Zahab, Jaideep and his colleagues, and numerous others who met with me over the years in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Seth Oldmixon deserves a special mention. Oldmixon is one of the most under-valued assets in the community of South Asia analysts. He has a hawk’s eye for details as he has scoured social media feeds and publications of militant organizations, reads the South Asian press more diligently than most intelligence analysts I know and has an extraordinary ability to recall events, identify persons and their associations.

I am also profoundly indebted to my husband, Jeffrey Dresser Kelley and our ever-evolving pack of canine associates, who have patiently, and at times, less patiently, abided my months away from home with grace and aplomb. They also endured long periods of my inattention as I sought first to comprehend the huge number of sources I processed for this volume and then drafted this book, which took much longer than I ever anticipated. They have foregone vacations and grown tufts of gray hair wondering when—or if—it would ever conclude.

Michael Dwyer at Hurst has been equally patient and supportive of this project. Without his belief in this project, there would be no project at all. Saira Wasim, one of the most intrepid and dauntless artists I have had the privilege of knowing, deserves extraordinary mention. Wasim has generously lent her courageous art to this cover and to that of my last two books. Wasim, masterfully subverting the tradition of the Mughal miniature painting, valorously confronts and interrogates the perversions and defeasances in Pakistani and international politics alike as well as the culpable dastards. When I have writer’s block, I peruse her body of work for inspiration. Her work is literally worth a million words.

Finally, I am aware that most readers who will buy this book will do so because of the hideous crimes this organization has perpetrated, mostly against Indian citizens. Thousands of Indians have been murdered by LeT, and if not for the group’s lethal effectiveness, no one would care about it. The biographies of the martyrs weighed heavily upon my conscience as I studied their declared intentions to slaughter an enemy about which they knew nothing but lies propagated by the organization and the Pakistani state, leavened with rare fragments of truth. Because my ethical commitments preclude me from profiting from the deaths of thousands, I will donate any personal proceeds from this book to charitable organizations that assist victims of terrorism. Because Lashkar-e-Tayyaba mostly murders Indians, I will donate my personal profits to the Government of India’s Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist/Communal/Left Wing Extremist Violence, Cross-Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory, as well as Save the Children India. Over time, I may adjust the charities to which I donate, although I will remain committed to donating to non-religious/non-proselytizing organizations in India that do relief work. Thank you in advance for supporting these institutions through your purchase of this book.

India’s Move in Kashmir: Unpacking the Domestic and International Motivations and Implications

On Monday, Aug. 5, the Indian government announced that the “special status” accorded to the state Jammu and Kashmir—which includes Ladakh—was no more. The government also split and downgraded the status of the erstwhile state into two union territories“Jammu and Kashmir,” which will have a local legislature while Ladakh will resemble other union territories.

I was in India when this move was announced, and in the run-up, it became increasingly clear that something was afoot in Kashmir. First, the central government had airlifted an extraordinary augmentation of security forces. By Aug. 1, 2019, the center had dispatched an additional 35,000 security forces to the state, which already has hundreds of thousands of security forces in place. (The actual number has not been disclosed.) It also announced that it had suspended the Amarnath Yatra (a popular seasonal Hindu pilgrimage to the mountainous abode of an ice formation that resembles a phallus attributed to the Hindu god Shiva). Some 40,000 security personnel were deployed for the security of the pilgrims. Over the same weekend, Kashmiri politicians announced a complete media and communications blackout, including the unprecedented move of cutting off landlines. Mainstream politicians in the state announced that they were under arrest. My own trip to Kashmir with West Point cadets and instructors was cancelled without any explanation whatsoever. It was apparent that something was going on as the entire state was put in an indefinite lockdown.

What precisely that was became clear a week ago, when the government announced that it was using a provision in Article 370 to eviscerate the article itself. Article 370 would still exist in India’s constitution, but it would no longer confer any special status to Kashmir. While this process was arguably a legal one, it remains to be seen whether it will be upheld in India’s supreme court, which has a mixed history of sometimes siding with the government while against it on other occasions. Amit Shah, the controversial Indian home minister, made an appeal to worried Kashmiris throughout the country—many of whom were concerned as they were unable to reach their families in Kashmir—that nothing negative would happen. He further stated that Kashmir was heaven on earth and that it would remain so. He announced that it would not be permitted to become the balkanized battlefield of the 1990s.

 Initially, it was not clear whether the government’s move pertained only to those parts of Kashmir currently administered by India or whether it pertained to those parts of Kashmir currently controlled by Pakistan and China as well. If it was the latter, then the government was merely formalizing the territorial status quo.  However, on Tuesday, Shah clarified the matter by explaining that “Kashmir is an integral part of India, there is no doubt over it. When I talk about Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin are included in it.” In response, China and Pakistan have been swift to mobilize in opposition. The United States, which was unaware of the move, has largely seen it as an internal matter but has stated that it will continue to monitor the human rights situation.

For those who have long watched India and the country’s ruling Hindu-chauvinist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), only two things about this sudden action should have been surprising. First, it’s notable that this did not happen during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first term from 2014-2019. After all, abrogating Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which conferred upon Jammu and Kashmir its special status, has been a core promise inscribed in the party’s manifesto. And the BJP has a tendency to follow through upon manifesto promises even when they are controversial: the party previously vowed to confer nuclear status upon India and did so upon assuming power in May 1998. The second perhaps surprising element was that it was so easy to do. Rather than seeking a consensus-based approached in Srinagar and Delhi, the government simply eviscerated most of the provisions of Article 370.

Elsewhere on Lawfare, Laya Maheshwari explores the legal background of Article 370. Here I explain the history and significance of Article 370 and how the government moved to nullify it. I will unpack some of the motivations for the move, as well as some of the near-term domestic and international fallout. 

Kashmir as a Long-Lingering Problem

On Feb. 20, 1947, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that a war-weary and broke Britain would decolonize South Asia. Atlee planned to transfer power by June 1948; however, anxious to leave as soon as possible, the British expedited the timeline for departure to August 1947. The British government dispatched Lord Mountbatten, who would be the last Viceroy of the Raj, to oversee the tumultuous and sanguineous process. 

In June of 1947, the British promulgated the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which called for the creation of two independent states, which would be known as India and Pakistan.  The act elaborated that the “the territories of India shall be the territories under the sovereignty of His Majesty which, immediately before the appointed day, were included in British India except the territories which, under subsection (2) of this section, are to be the territories of Pakistan.” It stated that the territories of Pakistan would be comprised of the Provinces of East Bengal and West Punjab as well as the territories included in the Province of Sind (now known as Sindh) and the Chief Commissioner’s Province of British Balochistan and, subject to a referendum, the territories of the Northwest Frontier Province. The precise boundaries in the east and west were to be decided by two commissions chaired by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who had never been to South Asia but was charged with a momentous decision nonetheless. The commissions were to divide Punjab and Bengal on “the basis of ascertaining contiguous majority areas of Muslims and non-Muslims. In doing so, [they would] also take into account other factors.” Astonishingly, Mountbatten was able to persuade the various political leaders of the future Pakistan and India—Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru in particular—to accept the boundary commission decisions before the awards were announced.  The details of the partition were not revealed until Aug. 16, 1947, a day after the transfer of power.

However, as noted, neither the Indian Independence Act nor the Radcliffe Commission pertained to the more than 560 “princely states,” which were under the rule of Indian princes and which en masse comprised nearly 41 percent of the territory.  The princely states’ rulers exercised near-autonomy in their internal affairs while recognizing the paramountcy of the Crown.  Mountbatten was able to persuade all but three to join either India or Pakistan prior to partition, based upon either geographical contiguity or upon the communal distribution of their subjects.  By the time Independence neared, only three held out: Junagadh, Hyderabad and Kashmir.

Junagadh was a Hindu-majority state with a Muslim sovereign, within Indian territory. Its sovereign signed an instrument of accession to join Pakistan. Initially Pakistan refused to accept Junagadh in hopes that it could arbitrage the sovereign’s accession for the territory Pakistan actually wanted: Kashmir. India forcibly annexed Junagadh and ratified the acquisition through a plebiscite which endorsed joining India.

Hyderabad was a large state led by a Muslim sovereign ruling over a Hindu-majority population. Hyderabad’s leader sought to remain independent, which Pakistan’s leadership encouraged in order to weaken the emergent India. Indian accounts frequently describe India’s forceful acquisition of Hyderabad as a “police action,” but Srinath Raghavan describes the brutality of what was actually a military conquest of Hyderabad by the Indian government.

Kashmir, led by a Hindu king who ruled over a Muslim-majority population, abutted both India and Pakistan. While much of the roadways and irrigation networks tied Kashmir more tightly to Pakistan, there was one important tehsil (an administrative unit below the district) in Indian Punjab (Pathankot) that provided road and rail ties to India. The sovereign of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, also wanted to be independent. As he dithered, Pakistan worried that Kashmir would either remain independent or worse, join India.

While neither the Indian Independence Act of 1947 nor the Radcliffe Boundary Commission in any way shape or form indicated that Kashmir “belonged to Pakistan,” Pakistan believed that without Kashmir, partition could not be complete. Pakistan’s claims were not legal, but rather ideological. Pakistan was founded on the basis of the so-called “Two Nation Theory,” which argued that Muslims and Hindus represented equal nations even though the latter outnumbered the former. While this did not necessarily always equate with the demand for an independent Pakistan, it did ultimately yield a Pakistan. Because Kashmir was the only Muslim-majority state in the Raj, Pakistan believed it was entitled to this land on the basis of its state’s ideology. Thus, Hugh Tinker observed in 1977, while many countries remain embittered over lands lost, Pakistan is one of the few countries “with a sense of bitterness and grievance for territories that have never formed part of its polity.”

To secure Kashmir, Pakistan dispatched tribal “marauders” (who would later be known as Mujahideen) to seize Kashmir by force, despite signing a standstill agreement with Singh that committed Pakistani forces not to invade Kashmir. While Pakistan often insists that this was a non-state operation, Shujah Nawaz (the brother of a deceased Pakistan army chief) mobilized Pakistani army archival materials to decisively demonstrate the extensive provincial and central support for this operation. As Pakistani forces became closer to Srinagar, Maharaja Hari Singh sought Indian support, and India agreed to support him provided that he accede to India’s dominion. The maharaja signed the agreement on either Oct. 26 or 27. Only Pakistan and its partisans(including retired diplomats, military personnel, scholars and think tank analysts) dispute that the instrument of accession was signed. However, Andrew Whitehead, who wrote an authoritative book on this subject, suspects that the instrument was signed a few hours after India began airlifting troops to defend newly acquired Indian territory.

This instrument of accession permitted India’s parliament to impose legislation upon Jammu and Kashmir only in matters of defense, external affairs and communication. When the Indian constitution was promulgated in 1950, Article 370 enshrined this special status. This provision permitted the state to have a separate constitution and  flag.  An additional provision, commonly referred to as 35 A, restricted land purchases in Kashmir only to those who are considered Kashmiri citizens.  Women who married men not from Kashmir lost this privilege, as did their children. Men who married women outside of the region did not lose their privileges. Many argue that 35 A, by preventing outside investments in the state, precluded economic development. In total, the provision permitted these particular citizens of India to be subjected to the laws and regulations that were promulgated by Maharaja Hari Singh. While the provision was always meant to be temporary, it perdured until Aug. 5, 2019.

Initially, India referred the matter of Pakistan’s invasion of Kashmir to the United Nations. The first resolution on the matter, passed in 1948 by the U.N. Security Council, was UNSC Resolution 47. It called for Pakistan to completely evacuate all non-Kashmiris from the area and demilitarize. Once Pakistan made these moves to the satisfaction of a U.N.-appointed committee, India was supposed to demilitarize as well; however, India was permitted to retain a defense presence in the event that Pakistan resumed aggression. After these sequential conditions were met to the satisfaction of said U.N.-appointed body, a plebiscite was supposed to be held to determine the fate of the region.

Ironically, it was India’s leadership that suggested the plebiscite while Pakistan’s leadership demurred. Indian leadership understood the complexity of the region: Ladakh was mostly Buddhist, Jammu was mostly Hindu and Kashmir was a mix of Sunni and Shia Muslims. Religious minorities such as Christians and Sikhs were also spread across the territories, and there was widespread anger over the rapacity and brutality of the Pakistani invaders. Pakistan rightly assessed that a plebiscite would not be propitious. In any event, Pakistan never fulfilled the first necessary, but insufficient, condition for this plebiscite to ever materialize. (Pakistan continues to persist with mendacious demands for said plebiscite in international fora in hopes that audiences will be unfamiliar with the empirical facts of the case.)

Figure 1: The Disputed Region of “Kashmir”

A close up of a mapDescription automatically generated

Source: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection

Article 370: Then and Now

Since 1950, several developments have materially affected the import of Article 370. In 1959, Pakistan discovered that Chinese maps had claimed part of its territory as China’s own.  Unable to secure a security pact with India against China, Pakistan’s military dictator Ayub Khan decided that it was best to press for peace with China. As a part of this rapprochement, in 1963 Pakistan ceded part of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, the Shaksgam Valley. This agreement paved the way for deepened Sino-Pakistan ties, which included the engineering feat of building the Karakoram Highway—which links Kashgar, the second most important city in China’s Xinjiang province, with Hasan Abdal (located a few kilometers beyond Islamabad). The highway passes through the part of Kashmir ceded to China as well as the part seized by Pakistan in the 1947-48 war, now known as Gilgit-Baltistan. Since then, demography of Gilgit-Balistan has changed considerably due to a variety of issues such as out-migration for work and education  as well as in-migration of Pakistanis from outside the region encouraged by the government.

In 1962, India and China went to war over their territorial disputes in Aksai Chin (ostensibly part of Ladakh in the north and west) and Arunachal Pradesh (in the east). In that war, which India decisively lost, two functional frontiers came into existence: the “Line of Actual Control” in Aksai Chin and the MacMahon Line in the East. Per the Line of Actual Control, China holds territory in Aksai China, which India claims is a part of Ladakh. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2: The China-India Border with Disputes in the Northwest and East

A picture containing text, mapDescription automatically generated

Source: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection

While the afore-noted 35 A was promulgated to prevent significant demographic changes in the state, demographic changes occurred nonetheless. In the late 1980s, an indigenous insurgency broke out as a result of Indian malfeasance that begin with the dismissal of a popularly elected state government and the subsequent conduct of a rigged election to foist into power a New Delhi stoogeWhile the insurgency began indigenously, it was soon taken over by a menagerie of Pakistani proxies that evolved over time. Today, Pakistani terrorist proxies, as well as indigenous fighters, continue to cause problems for the region. In 1990, Islamist terrorists—many of whom were local—began a campaign to drive out the Kashmiri Pandits, a Hindu community unique to Kashmir, from the Valley. At the end of the campaign, between 100,000 and 190,000 had fled the Valley. Those Hindus have been unable to return to Kashmir. And section 35 A limited their ability to sell their land to outsiders who may have been willing to pay more than locals who would take advantage of their economic precarity and dislocation.

While it is commonplace to refer to “Kashmir” as “Muslim,” and reduce the aspirations of the entire policy to its Muslim residents, doing so does grave violence to the demographic realities. Per the most recent 2011 census, Muslim are a majority in what was the Jammu and Kashmir state: they comprise 68.31 percent of the population. Muslims are the majority in 17 out of 22 districts. Hindus, who make up 28.44 percent of total population overall, comprise a majority in four out of 22 districts.  However there is significant district- and subdistrict-level variation. While Jammu division is majority Hindu, it has three districts with Muslim majorities (Poonch, Rajouri and Doda) while three districts have very large Hindu majorities (Jammu, Kathua, and Udhampur). The division of Kashmir has six districts (Kupwara, Baramulla, Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama and Anantnag) with Muslim majorities in excess of 90 percent. Ladakh has two districts: Muslim-majority Kargil and Buddhist-majority Leh. While most of the Muslims in the Valley are Sunni, the entire region (including that held by Pakistan) has large Shia minorities as well.

Muslim identity, contrary to popular belief, does not predict regime preferences. In 2010, Chatham House conducted the most comprehensive survey of Kashmiri attitudes across those areas controlled by India and Pakistan. (It did not survey those in the part of Kashmir ceded by Pakistani to China in 1963).  In that survey, respondents were asked if they were given the choice in a vote tomorrow, which one option they would vote for. Options included: Should Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control (the de facto boundary separating portions of Kashmir administered by both countries) become independent? Should Kashmir join India? Should it join Pakistan? Should the Line of Control to be made an international border? Should India and Pakistan to have joint sovereignty over Kashmir? Or should there be no change in the status quo?

For that portion of Jammu and Kashmir governed by India, 43 percent indicated that they preferred independence; however, the distribution was very uneven: support for independence in the Valley ranged between 75 and 95 percent across the districts; virtually no one in any district wanted independence in Jammu; and in Ladakh (with a very small sample size) one in three in Leh district and one in five in Kargil district wanted independence. Note that this option was not envisioned in the afore-noted plebiscite detailed in UNSCR 47.


With respect to joining India, 28 percent of the residents expressed this preference with similarly wide variation. In the Kashmir Valley, support ranged from a low of two percent in Baramula to 22 percent in Anantnag. In Jammu Division, support for this option ranged from 47 percent in Jammu to 73 percent in Udhampur; however, in Punch and Rajauri six percent and zero percent respectively wanted this option. In Ladakh Division, 67 percent in Leh and 80 percent in Kargil wanted to join India.


Support for joining Pakistan was uniformly low all over, with only two percent wanting this option. There were six districts in which no one wanted to join Pakistan. Only in the Valley of Kashmir did anyone prefer joining Pakistan with support being the highest in Srinagar (six percent) and Badgam (seven percent).


Nor does religion best predict where violence has traditionally occurred in Jammu-Kashmir. Indian officials uniformly acknowledge that violence is low relative to the highs experienced in the 1990s. Following the terrorist attacks in the United States in September 2001, the Jaish-e-Mohammad attack on India’s parliament in New Delhi in December 2001 and the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba attack on Indian army families at Kaluchak in May 2002, the United States pressured Pakistan to curb terrorism in India. By 2003, terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir were at an all-time low. Violence has never since reached the levels of the 1990s. This is a function of India’s efforts to harden the Line of Control as well as different tactics and strategies pursued by the groups and their handlers in Pakistani intelligence and the army. During interSviews I conducted in July and August 2019, Indian military and civilian officials and think-tank analysts explained that at present, disturbances are localized to a mere six of 22 districts in Jammu and Kashmir.

Source: f

With respect to the content and force of Article 370 in the pre-August 2019 state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government had used Article 370 to change laws in the state several times. Moreover, given the unrelenting campaign of terror supported by Pakistan, the state has been subject to a variety of  legal regimes (such as “aid to civil” enabled by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act), Governor’s Rule and President’s Rule, all of which have been justified on security grounds. (In India governors are appointed by the president of India and thus represent the central government, while chief ministers are elected at the state level.)

Why Now?

As noted, the BJP has long sought to eviscerate the special status of Kashmir, as its various election manifestos going back several decades attest. So what precipitated this course of action now? Presumably the government could have done this during its first term when its mandate was arguably the strongest. However, during Modi’s first term, the government tended to avoid “communal” talking points and instead focused upon economic issues. During the campaign period for the 2019 election, the party clearly signaled a return to its bread-and-butter focus upon issues intended to motivate the Hindu voter. I was in India in February 2019 during the most recent flair up over the Jaish-e-Mohammad attack against Central Reserve Police Forces at Pulwama and the corresponding Indian strike against that terrorism group at Balakot. During that period, there were murmurs about revoking Article 370 or at least 35 A, but those murmurs disappeared as the latest India-Pakistan crisis played itself out and as India went into elections.

Indian interlocutors during my recent trip raised two important and interrelated issues that might bear on the timing, even while conceding that this had long been an agenda item for the BJP, which—like President Trump—prioritizes fulfilling campaign promises irrespective of the wisdom of such promises. The first issue which has been looming over the last year is the potential “deal” that the Trump administration may reach with the Taliban. During the Taliban’s tenure in Afghanistan, Pakistan co-located numerous Pakistan-based and backed militant groups with the Taliban, whom the Pakistanis also supported militarily, politically, diplomatically and financially. During this period, many of these groups also forged closed ties with Osama Bin Laden and his al Qaeda, who were also co-located with the Taliban. These groups were used to conduct attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir and later throughout India after Pakistan conducted its nuclear tests in May 1998. India understood—as it understands today—that what happens in Afghanistan rarely stays in Afghanistan.

India has long worried that Trump will seek a hasty deal that will justify an American exit from Afghanistan well before the 2020 U.S. elections, as he has promised to his own constituents.  The Taliban have demanded positions in government without contesting elections, they want to end elections altogether as they are “un-Islamic,” and they want to gut much of the Afghan constitution. The Taliban are particularly interested in rolling back the rights that women have achieved since the Taliban’s ouster in late 2001. And the U.S. government seems more than willing to concede many of these demands. Meanwhile, with victory nearly certain, the Taliban and their handlers in Pakistan have continued a brutal war in hopes of securing a maximally optimal deal.

With Trump desperate to extricate Americans from Afghanistan, he has had to reverse course on Pakistan, which he pilloried in early January 2018. During the visit of Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan to Washington, D.C. in late July, Trump admitted that Pakistan would help him extricate the Americans from Afghanistan. During that visit, to India’s consternation, Khan successfully linked peace in Kashmir to peace in Afghanistan, which was surely a diplomatic coup for Pakistan’s real government in army headquarters. (Oddly, some members of the Taliban rejected such linkage, likely in an effort to give the impression of significant light between the positions of the Taliban and their handlers in Pakistan.) To make matters worse, Trump asserted that Modi had requested Trump to intervene in the Kashmir dispute, a claim which New Delhi immediately disputed. However, this did not deter Trump from restating the preposterous proposition. Indian interlocutors on my recent trip—some of whom are close to the current government—indicated that these two factors motivated the Modi government to move when it did.

Domestic Impacts

In the near term, it is difficult to assess what will happen as a result of this bold move. While India may have taken this move in an effort to bolster security in advance of a U.S.-Taliban deal that could usher in renewed violence, critics fear that the move may actually make such escalation of violence more likely. However, it will take some time to discern which side is most correct, because Kashmir has been on a tight clampdown, making resistance impossible and making it difficult for Pakistan to coordinate with its assets in the Valley. Parts of Kashmir are under a curfew that is expected to last months. And there is no indication of when jailed politicians will be let go.

The downgrading of Kashmir’s status from state to union territory has important implications. In India, administrative powers are divided among central government and and sub-national units such as states and union territories. The “state” is a subnational Indian constituency with its own elected government (including legislative assembly and Chief Minister) and a limited right to frame its own laws. The governor, who is appointed by the president of India, serves as his or her representative in the state. Union territories, in contrast, are ruled directly by the central government. They are administered by a lieutenant governor, who represents the Indian president and is appointed by the central government. Most union territories (except Delhi and Puducherry) do not have their own legislatures; however, they are represented in the lower house (Lok Sabha) but have no representation in the upper house (Rajya Sabha), with the exception of Delhi and Puducherry. The central government both controls and administers union territories. The new union territory will resemble that of Puducherry and Delhi while Ladakh will resemble the remainder.

Notably, Ladakh residents are largely satisfied with this move. Ladakh has long resented being yoked to the politics of Jammu and Kashmir. (Kargil, with its large Muslim majority, may petition to join Kashmir.) First and foremost, there is no longer a functioning legislature in Jammu and Kashmir and there is no longer a chief minister. Politics in Kashmir have changed overnight. (Ladakh will have no state assembly but will have representation at the center.) This also means that the state’s police will not answer to Kashmir-based politicians; rather, the police will answer to the center. Security officials have opined that under the previous regime, politicians who were sympathetic to or subsidized by militant organizations or their handlers in Pakistan would leak operational details undermining the efficacy of such operations. Indian interlocutors are optimistic that this move will help the center better control violence in Kashmir.

Equally importantly, many of India’s anti-corruption laws were not applicable in Kashmir. Any observant visitor to Kashmir will notice the palatial properties of political actors that seem wildly disproportionate to their legitimate income. It is widely recognized that political actors in the state have long been on the payroll of all sides, allowing them to accumulate vast wealth. For much of India’s independent history, the Valley-centric government has been led by two dynastic families who control their own parties (the National Conference, led by Farooq Abdullah, and the People’s Democratic Party, led by Mehbooba Mufti). Modi and the BJP have a particular loathing of dynastic parties—surely another dimension of this move that merits attention.  BJP officials attribute the massive corruption and nepotism that exists in Kashmir to the existence of Article 370, as well as the lack of economic development.They are likely more correct than not. The central government has now vowed to identify the source of corruption and prosecute individuals appropriately. This will also have the effect of further eviscerating current political parties and their leadership in the former state. The BJP likely hopes that it can cultivate new party leadership that is less beholden to money appearing in suitcases of unstated origins and more beholden to integrating Kashmir into the Indian body politic.

Article 370 also had numerous pernicious impacts that have generally been overlooked by its defenders. Because the instrument largely existed to ensure continuity of Maharaja Hari Singh’s laws (which were a legal khichdi of colonial law and the diktats of his hereditary Dogra fiefdom), Kashmir’s citizens were denied many of the advantages of modern India. For example, it precluded the implementation of the Right to Education. As noted above, this is inherently anti-woman, but it also denies residents of the erstwhile Kashmir the advantages of the system of reservations enjoyed by other disadvantaged caste communities. (Reservations are a form of “affirmative action” that India has established to help uplift certain cast communities who have long suffered from path-dependent caste-based discrimination. However, it is not means tested and thus many so-called low-caste families have become quite wealthy. Generally, Muslims are not entitled to reservations, with very few notable exceptions.) Also of note, the 73rd and 74th amendments pertaining to elections of local bodies were not applicable in the state. (India has a vibrant system of local elections in both rural and urban areas.) In addition, because outsiders could not purchase and develop land in the state, Article 370 may well have suppressed development that would have otherwise occurred. Accordingly, the government announced plans for an investor summit to be held in an effort to galvanize private investment in industries, educational institutes, healthcare facilities among other job-producing activities.

To be clear, the BJP did not undertake this initiative for simply benign reasons like cleaning up corruption or development the state; it undertook it as a part of its long-standing political agenda of privileging Hindus and suppressing Muslims. Many left-leaning Hindus and politically engaged Muslims read the downgrading of the state to a union territory as a signal that the Hindu chauvinist regime cannot trust Muslims to be in charge of a state. They also read this as a part of a campaign to target issues that have most impacts for Muslims under the guise of feminism and development. (For example, the government made it illegal for men to divorce their wives by uttering or texting “Talaq” three times. Even though the practice is illegal in many Muslim countries and contravenes the spirit of the Quran itself, which dedicates an entire chapter to laying out the lenghty process of divorce, many Indian Muslims saw this is an erosion of Muslim personal law. The government justified the move by referencing concern for Muslim women.) Oddly, the government has been silent on issues that derive from Hindu practice which harms far more women (such as dowry deaths, female infanticide and female foeticide), all of which admittedly are illegal even if offenders are rarely prosecuted. Moreover, the BJP has been clear that it seeks to eliminate any constitutional provision of Muslim personal law, which is also consistent with the spirit of the Indian Constitution, which articulates the aspiration for all of Indians to come under a uniform civil code. Muslims fear that any such uniform civil code will privilege Hindu practices while denigrating their own.

Ironically, persons who genuinely support secularism in India should be willing to concede that Article 370 in effect rendered residents of the state second-class citizens. With Article 370 gone, the government has a direct responsibility to treat the citizens of these two union territories with the same rights and privileges of Indians elsewhere. This will be a challenge given the ongoing security concerns in the state, which seem to worsen with every news cycle.

However, Home Minister Shah has said that the central government will restore state status to Jammu and Kashmir as soon as normalcy resumes. In other words, residents of the Jammu Kashmir Union Territory have an incentive to cooperate on security issues to regain the area’s status as a state. Under the previous regime, politicians were incentivized to “outbid” each other and float the absurd specter of independence without penalty.

International Dimensions

The only countries that have been directly provoked by India’s action are Pakistan and China. Pakistan’s howls of protest are particularly problematic given that its own government has locked up myriad mainstream politicians and has sustained separate campaigns of violence against the Baloch people in Balochistan as well as Pashtuns mobilized the Pashtun Tehfuz Movement (PTM). Pakistan’s protestations also ring hollow because of its own moves in 1963 to cede territory that did not belong to it, as well as to formalize that relationship by large infrastructure projects through the territory with China, including the Chinese Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistan’s efforts to raise this issue at the United Nations has already been rebuffed. China, too, is disgruntled and has complained that India is making unilateral domestic legislation on territory that both countries claim. The Chinese government has derided these moves by noting that they do little to change the facts on the ground, such as Chinese occupation of the territory India claims.

Pakistan may be tempted to underwrite terrorist operations in Kashmir or elsewhere in India in response. It rightly understands that when it comes to Trump, it holds the advantage because of the president’s desire to get out of Afghanistan. The United States would be hard pressed to come down hard on Pakistan when Pakistan is the key to Trump’s efforts to “sever and saunter” from a war that is unpopular with his base and other Americans. However, India has signaled that is no longer willing acquiesce to Pakistani bullying, and thus any gambit right now may be inordinately risky with near certainty of retaliation.

One of the interesting aspects of this division is that it effectively separates India’s territorial disputes with Pakistan from its disputes with China. Pakistan’s dispute will largely focus on the Valley, while China will largely focus upon claims to Aksai Chin. There is virtually no chance of a resolution with Pakistan, because Pakistan’s demand to the territory is ideological and moored in the Two Nation Theory. If Pakistan were to let go of its territorial demands, this would be tantamount to conceding the death of the Two Nation Theory itself. Also, Pakistan’s powerful army has a strong incentive to preclude peace between the two nations. Peace would make it difficult for the powerful army that dominates the country to justify its enormous size, its hogging of national resources and its claim to run the country when it feels the need. India’s disputes with China, by contrast, are not ideological and may therefore be more amenable to resolution.

The United States, for its part, has generally viewed this as an internal matter for India, although it has announced it will continue to monitor human rights issues such as the curfew, the media blackout and the inexplicable arrest of mainstream politicians.


Jettisoning Kashmir’s special privileges has long been a part of BJP’s Hindu-chauvinist agenda. Like white supremacists in the United States who resent the unequal enfranchisement of non-white Americans, Hindu chauvinists decry what they call policies of “appeasing” India’s Muslims to secure their vote during elections. Indians refer to this as “votebanking.” (If the current appalling socio-economic status of India’s Muslims—which typically falls between India’s “other backward castes” and “schedules castes and tribes”—is the result of appeasement, one can only imagine what results would have obtained without this ostensible appeasement.)

However, if the BJP only treats this move as a part of its communal “to-do” list, the security situation in Kashmir may well decline precipitously. While Indian officials seem hopeful that the arrest of politicians, the indefinite curfew and the communications blackout will suppress violence in the near-term—aided by the extensive deployment of security forces—this posture cannot be maintained indefinitely.  At some point, India will have to diminish the oppressive conditions that currently obtain in the state. At the same time, If India genuinely wants to mainstream Kashmiris, this effort cannot begin and end with this legal sleight of hand. India must follow through will the various commitments to develop the state and to extend all of the rights of privileges of Indian citizenship to the residents. Should it fail to do so, Pakistan will be loitering like a hyena waiting to pounce upon the injured carcass of Kashmir.

This originally appeared in Lawfare on 13 August 2019.

I’ve Been Cyber-Stalked By This Psychopath Since January 2013

Dossier of Moorthy Srinivasa Muthuswamy’s Harassment of Fair

Since late 2012, Mr. Muthuswamy has harassed me directly (via email and phone calls), via social media (notably on Twitter), Amazon book reviews, and most recently by contacting the editors of peer-reviewed journals in which I have published to whom he has a made a variety of mendacious and ill-founded claims. His largely unintelligible prose reflects his lack of understanding of the papers’ research questions, data and methods and belies any claim to leveraging a legitimate empirical critique.

Muthuswamy, who claims to be a former physicist, has no social scientific training, has no obvious employer, and uses at least three distinct names.  According to the library holdings at Stony Brook University, his PhD in nuclear physics published in 1992. He has no publication in his field since 1998, most of which are co-authored with more than a dozen of other authors.

While he nowhere states why he left physics, since doing so he has taken on what he believes is a global threat from Muslims. In his interactions with me, he obsessively promotes a pet theory about clerics and radicalization. (While there is a large and substantive literature that is germane to potential role of “radicalization” (which he never defines), he has made no discernible effort to engage that scholarship.) Nor does he evince an understanding of the research methodologies and the data required for such a study were he to credibly conduct it. In addition to neuralgically asserting his causal theory (without evidence), he espouses caustic anti-Muslim sentiments and even wrote a book titled Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War (Prometheus, 2009). This book has been endorsed by Muslim conspiracy theorists, right-wing and alt-right personalities in the United States and Europe, as he boasts upon his own website. Despite his scholarly and empirical inexperience, he has harassed me over numerous years demanding that I endorse, use and otherwise propound his “theory.”

Muthuswamy seeks to force me to engage him as a scholar of political Islam and a peer, which I refuse to do because he is neither. While he claims to have numerous peer-reviewed articles pertaining to the study of political Islam but provides no details of such publications on his website or elsewhere ; an author search in academic databases yields not even one such publication. His complete lack of peer-reviewed social science publications underscores his complete dearth of bona fides. By writing absurd letters to the editors in which I have published accusing me of intellectual and other malfeasance, he is instrumentalizing the peer-review process for the dual purposes of harassing me and forcing me to engage him as a peer. In doing so, he is exploiting the inability and unwillingness of most editors to discern a legitimate peer-to-peer dispute from harassment, which is exacerbated by the fact that most editors of social science journals are men who are less likely than their female peers to have experienced stalking.[1]

Forcing me to engage in the emotional and other labor of rebutting his ludicrous claims and defend my reputation and that of my co-authors, imposes opportunity costs upon me and my junior co-authors. It is also important to note that he has only done this with papers I have written solo or with female co-authors.He has not engaged in these shenanigans regarding papers—using similar data and methods and addressing related inquiries—which are co-authored with males.Given the well-established problems confronting females in getting their work published and cited, the well-documented gap in time spent on research between men and women, the concatenation of this harassment is significant, and it must stop.   

I provide a historical account of his harassment below, first focusing upon his most recent innovation of instrumentalizing peer review harassment. Here I draw upon the complicity of one such editor. Next I provide a chronology of his harassment. I conclude with a brief biographical note, which raises further questions about this dubious quack.

Instrumentalizing the Peer-Review Process and Emotional Labor

Muthuswamy has approached three journals for the explicit purposes of rank harassment: Religions, Perspectives on Terrorism, and Political Science and Research Methods. I have all confidence that unless a position is taken on the ethics of his behavior, he will continue to approach other editors of journals in which I have recently published. The editors of the first two editors understood what this was about and declined to publish his “criticism.”

The editor of Political Science and Research Methods, Paul Kellstedtchose a different route. When I received an invitation to review a comment on my co-authored work on 17 July 2019, I immediately emailed him to ask Kellstedt whether the author was Muthuswamy, which he quickly confirmed. First, via email, I briefly explained to Kellstedt his relentless campaign of episodic harassment stemming back to late 2012. However, I also phoned him to provide more details about the harassment and is previous two efforts to weaponize the peer-review process. Remarkably, Kellstedt expressed incredulity at the claim and requested evidence, which I provided immediately.

He then rejected the evidence I provided. He explained that, in his view, some aspects of Muthuswamy’s bizarre criticism has merit, which calls into question whether or not Kellstedt should be the editor of the prestigious journal in the first place. For example, Muthuswamy seemed surprised that independent variables behave differently in regression analyses when the dependent variable and other study variables are different and even when the datasets employed are different. Kellstedt reiterated his belief that the peer-review process is the best means to resolve this issue despite Muthuswamy’s apparent deficient grasp of the research methods used and long record of harassment.

Kellstedt explained in a 18 July 2019 email that “I have confidence that the peer-review process will adjudicate this properly, and I have confidence in the integrity of the scholars whom I have asked to serve as reviewers.” Kellstedt’s  position is lazy, ethically challenged and likely implicitly gendered in its motivation but certainly explicitly gendered in its outcome. Each time this stalker employs this mechanism to harass me, I must waste valuable time responding to Muthuswamy’s vacuous and preposterous assertions.  I am forced to repeatedly do the emotional labor of defending myself and my co-authors, who are Muthuswamy’s collateral victims. While Muthuswamy seeks to harass me, inadvertently he also impugned the integrity of my junior co-authors who are more vulnerable as they lack tenure and whose time is more valuable given the demands of the tenure clock. While Muthuswamy intended to victimize one person (me), Kellstedt facilitated the victimization of three of us—all of whom are women.

The question must be asked whether Kellstedt would have entertained a comment drafted by  a female version of Muthuswamy, with a comparable paucity of relevant academic accomplishments, lacking institutional affiliation, and with a 7-year track record of harassing the male colleague whose work she was criticizing while writing a similarly obtuse critique of his work. That Muthuswamy has been obsessed is demonstrable. That this is his newfound means of harassing me is demonstrable. That Kellstedt, despite evidence, has willingly allowed Political Science Research Methods  to be a vehicle for this stalking is equally demonstrable.

While the harassment I have endured likely reflects Muthuswamy’s beliefs that I should concede his “expertise” given his PhD in physics and male-ness as well as his annoyance that I refuse to genuflect to him or even consider him worthy of engagement. As I show below, he desisted harassing my male colleagues.  There is a robust literature attesting to the particular anger that agentive and successful women elicit when their behavior disconfirm gendered expectations. I believe Muthuswamy’s campaign of harassment typifies such a response.

Chronology and Documentation of Muthuswamy’s Harassment from Early 2013

On 15 January 2013 Mr. Muthuswamy emailed Fair about an article that was forthcoming in Public Opinion Quarterly (with Neil Malhotra and Jacob N. Shapiro) titled “Faith or Doctrine? Religion and Support for Political Violence in Pakistan.” In this email, casually addressing me as “Christine,” he made a number of flattering comments but got to the point:

That said, in this otherwise excellent paper of yours, the assumptions you have made with regard to independent variables are questionable. Thus, it is hardly surprising that you didn’t see a correlation between the affinity for sharia and the support for militant groups in Pakistan.

Our “assumptions” were drawn from an extensive literature-review we conducted of the empirical literature as well as decades of my fieldwork in Pakistan. (Notably he has done neither a literature review or fieldwork in any Muslim country, as evidenced by his writings.) He wanted to impress upon me his beliefs about the role of clerics in radicalization. It made no difference that the dataset we collected and used in this study could not speak to his proposition.

It turns out that Muthuswamy had first contacted Neil Malhotra in November 2012, whom he also addressed as “Neil.” He and Malhotra had a number of interactions during which Malhotra engaged me on 3 February 2013. He was not aware that Muthuswamy had already reached out to me to impress upon me his agenda.

As the interactions continued, it became evermore clear that Muthuswamy held firmly ideological views and his adamance in purporting them became increasingly harassing. Malhotra and I opted to disengage from him and ignore him. On 2 March 2013, after he repeatedly asked me to read one of his peculiar papers and seeking my advice on where he may publish it, I wrote:

Speaking only for myself, I do not envision reading this paper as I am very busy with my own teaching and research obligations. In short, you should simply submit it to whatever journal you feel comfortable and deal with the results of the peer review process. I am simply not in position to comment upon or provide advice about your work.  

If I may be blunt and state in the strongest terms that I don’t find your agenda-driven research very appealing and I would not like to be involved in it in any way shape or form. I hope you will respect my views on this matter and act accordingly.

Malhotra similarly told him to desist. Despite being told explicitly to leave us alone, Muthuswamy escalated by phoning us on our mobile phones. Malhotra wrote on 2 March that “He’s been stalking me for a while, even going so far as calling my personal cell.” During these phone conversations, Malhotra and I made it very clear that we wished to have nothing to do with him, his conjectures, and patently anti-Muslim assertions. Malhotra and I reached out to Jacob Shapiro to see if he was being stalked by Muthuswamy: he had not been.

In May 2013, Muthuswamy picked a fight with Professor Bruce Hoffman, the editor of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, because his articles were repeatedly rejected. (I am on the masthead and was privy to his maniacal effort. When writing to each and every scholar on the masthead failed to garner sympathy, he then wrote to the publisher Taylor and Francis to complaint about Hoffman. This effort failed to remove Hoffman as the editor. (To the best of my knowledge, I  was not the reviewer of any of his articles as this journal uses a double-blind review process.) Through his approach of Perspectives in Terorism, I learned he did a similar thing to another editor of a different terrorism-related journal for the same reason.

According to my email records, despite being told to leave me alone via email and Twitter, he contacted me again 15 August 2013 regarding my review of Eating Grass, which Feroz Hassan Khan wrote about Pakistan’s nuclear program. My review was critical in that it identified several lines of spurious argumentation that advanced the interests of Pakistan’s deep state. Because this book review in some measure aligned with Muthuswamy’s Islamophobic beliefs about Pakistan, he was laudatory without caveat but added bizarre musings about my safety:

But I am afraid that the jihadist front in Pakistan may come to view you as a threat and a stumbling block to advancing their agenda here in the US.

I would hope that you take measures to secure yourself better (if not already), such as a wearing bullet-proof vest and carrying a hand gun etc, when needed.

I did not respond to this note; however,  I did forward it to Bruce Hoffman, who was at the time the director of the Security Studies Program in which I work and who, as noted, had previously been assailed by this fellow.

Malhotra was next accosted by him on 3 October 2013, despite being told to desist from future contact.  Muthuswamy submitted an essay to Public Opinion Quarterly and received a desk rejection. Muthuswamy complained about this to the editor via email, including Malhotra on the cc line. Muthuswamy did so because he believed that his “research” undermined the article that Malhotra wrote with Shapiro and me, which was published by the journal. Malhotra remarked of Muthwaswamy that “This guy is a psychopath.

The letter Muthaswamy wrote to the editor, Patricia Moy (whom he at least addressed appropriately), is instructive as it demonstrates his beliefs that he merits engagement from credible scholars (when he does not).

 Dear Dr. Moy

I am CCing this email to Dr. Neil Malhotra, the corresponding author of the concerned POQ (Public Opinion Quarterly) article.

Please permit me to ask you a question. What avenue are you providing to contest the methodology and conclusions outlined in articles published at your esteemed journal?

The concerned POQ article “Faith Or Doctrine? Religion and Support for Political Violence in Pakistan,” asserts that “the prospect of [sharia-promoting] Islamist parties coming to power in the wake of the Arab spring should not necessarily be viewed with alarm (p. 713).” I contend that this conclusion, of immense scholarly and policy relevance is too sweeping, given that the methodology used therein to investigate the links between sharia and violence is not inclusive enough. In fact, the authors themselves admit a limitation of their study when they refer to the effect of “coalitional-commitment” (footnote 7, p. 691) and the need for future research in this direction.

Indeed, my submission has gone further by specifically identifying one such subpopulation in Muslim communities (which, the POQ article’s survey was insensitive to) that leverages sharia’s popularity in order to advance a violent agenda. In doing so, my piece proposes a substantive measure of sharia’s links with violence. And significantly, my note concludes that sharia’s influence on the radicalization process “cannot be overlooked.”

Hence, my submission’s case-study of Pakistan is hardly topical, but should be of relevance even to those who conduct polls in Muslim communities and who frame policies on the issue of Muslim radicalism.

I applaud the authors for investigating, among other things, the critical issue of potential links between sharia and violence, because there exist very few scholarships that attempted to do so. However, I suspect that Dr. Malhotra agrees that this needs to be done substantively. As it stands now, there is a danger that this arguably misleading conclusion associated with his POQ article could be used to perpetuate or frame policies that support sharia-espousing entities in Muslim communities, besides negatively affecting future studies on this topic.

The responsible thing to do is to have this shortcoming addressed. Dr. Malhotra, are we in agreement?

In this scholarly context, I urge you to kindly take another look at my submission. I am also open to conveying the core ideas of my submission in any other form, including, jointly publishing a clarifying piece with Dr. Malhotra.

Thank you for your consideration.

Moorthy S. Muthuswamy PhD

For some reason, after this peculiar episode, he stopped haranguing Malhotra. (Malhotra confirmed this via email 8 July 2019.)

Despite being told under no uncertain terms to never contact me again, he next emailed me on 29 December 2013, addressing me as “Christine,” with the subject line “Discrimination faced by Indian Muslims.” In this missive, he asserts that Indian Muslims have only themselves to blame for the discrimination that they face. For those who are unfamiliar with the status of Muslims in India, I will note that the Government of India itself has well documented the perduring unequal access to opportunity and outcomes that India’s Muslims suffer.[2] This is in addition to a robust body of peer-reviewed scholarship from numerous disciplines.[3] Muthaswamy writes, again addressing me in the familiar:

Christine, I have this nagging question I want to get off my chest.

It is indeed true that Indian Muslims are being discriminated against in India.

However, could it mainly be self-induced? Why do you (and your good buddy Ganguly) tend to blame the majority community in India, without investigating the underlying processes?

In other words, from a scholarly point of view, could the hypothesis that this discrimination is due to processes that are self-induced and have little to do with the majority community in India be true?

A point to ponder: why are Muslims of South Asian origin, too, complaining (much more) of discrimination in the United Kingdom, unlike Hindus there?

The data I have collected shows that the radicalization processes of British Muslims, Pakistan, and Indian Muslims have mirrored each other.

If non-Muslim majority is to be blamed in the United Kingdom and India, how do we explain Pakistan’s radicalization?

Happy New Year!

I did not respond to this missive both because of its rank absurdity and because it reflected his belief we are colleagues on a first-name basis instead of a victim and harasser and disregard for my desire to never hear from this, in the words of my colleague, “psychopath.”

In April 2014, Muthaswamy left a rambling, inchoate review of my book Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War. In this review (titled “One Dimensional and Flawed”), Muthuswamy wrote

Christine Fair, despite again-and-again identifying ideological (Islamic) underpinnings of Pakistani military’s outlook, failed to analyze the clerical role in influencing it. The ideological underpinnings necessitate that the military leadership look up to leading clerics for vision and guidance.

This review showcases his lunacy, academic dishonesty, and obsession with “clerical role” in Pakistan.  An astute reader of my book (see reviews of it in scholarly literature) would note that I do discuss the limited role of the clerics but disagreed with him about the size of their impacts. Also I argued, based upon the primary data I collected, that the clerics have been instruments of the army rather than the obverse.

For several years from May 2014, Muthuswamy made various disparaging comments about me and my scholarship in his Twitter feed, which I ignored by blocking him. These comments indicate both his views of himself but also an increasing focus upon me for reasons that are not remotely clear. At some point, I identified him as a “fraud” on Twitter which further galvanized his vitriol and inspired an email rebuking me.  

Since January 2019, Muthuswamy has adopted a clever strategy of cyber harassment: he has reached out to journals in which I have published articles pertaining to his core obsession: “political Islam.”

To the best of my knowledge, he first did so with Religions, an open-source journal. In this letter, he requested an opportunity to impugn a paper I wrote that examines the lineaments of Pakistani support for a particularly sectarian group. Muthuswamy was discomfited because  some of the variables I used in the models reported in this Religions paper behaved differently than they did in the models reported in Political Science Research and Methods (PSRM), co-authored with Rebecca Littman and Elizabeth Nugent.  He strongly implied malfeasance.

His comments to the journal undermined any claims to competence in the methods employed in the two papers. He seems to believe the regression estimates presented in both papers should be the same because. He argues:

Both of the above hypotheses, as per the author(s), were tested using the nearly the same questions and the data, but have completely opposite results.

Dr. Fair should revisit the results in the 2015 Religions article and explain them in the context of the 2017 results. This is particularly important because Dr. Fair may have published incorrect results in your esteemed journal.

There are numerous basic problems with his claims.

First and foremost, the models used in both papers differed in the dependent variables and in the model specifications employed.  These differences in specification were driven by the fundamentally different research question each paper pursued. The paper in Political Science and Research Methods sought to explore two questions. First, how does support for Islamism (measured by indices that capture different aspects of respondent support for those aspects and tested by factor analysis) correlate with support for democratic principles (also measured by an index derived from items used by Freedom House). Second, we sought to understand how Sharia support (as measured by three indices) correlate with support for Islamist militant groups. To do so we had two measures for support. The first was an averaged direct measure of support for a sectarian group (Sipah-e-Sahabah-e-Pakistan (SSP) and the Taliban), both of which are Deobandi. The second measure was an indirect measure using the average effect of endorsement by three Deobandi Islamist militant groups (Afghan Taliban, SSP and the Pakistani Taliban).  That study found that “individuals who conceive of a shari à-based government as imposing hudud punishment and restricting women’s role in public are more supportive of militancy than those who do not, even if they also believe that a shari à-based government provides for its citizens” (p. 15).

In the paper in Religions, I wanted to better understand who supports sectarian violence specifically in Pakistan. The dependent variable was derived from one question “How much do you support Sipah-e-Sahaba-e-Pakistan (SSP) and their actions?” Respondents could answer “not at all”, “a little”, “a moderate amount”, “a lot”, or a “great deal”.  This paper specifically examines the role of piety upon support for sectarian violence and includes an index for piety, which includes questions about respondent attendance of Quran study groups and frequency of attendance, how often they pray namaz, how often they pray in congregation, and whether they prayed the non-compulsory “Tahajjud Namaz.” This important index is NOT included in the Political Science and Research Methods paper as the jargon-free exposition detailed.  In this paper, I concluded:

“[W]ith respect to H1 which posits ties between piety and support for sectarianism, I find that increased piety is significantly and positively associated with higher support for sectarianism contrary to what I had had hypothesized based upon the existing literature. Turning to respondent perceptions of sharia on the one hand and support for sectarian militancy on the other, I find mild support for H2a that respondents who believe sharia implies good governance are less approving of sectarian militancy. Consistent with H2b, I also find that respondents who interpret sharia in terms of hudud offences exhibit greater support for sectarian militancy. With respect to H2c, I find that those who interpret sharia as imposing strictures on women’s public life are less supportive of sectarianism. However, all of these results dissipate when I control for district fixed effects. In other words, district-level characteristics for which I cannot explicitly control for in this model “absorb” the effects of these independent variables for piety and interpretations of sharia.” P. 1158

Muthuswamy apparently thinks that the results of these paper are inconsistent: he claims they are

completely opposite results.” They are not inconsistent largely because they are not comparable for several reasons, including the use of fundamentally different dependent variables; different study variables, particularly the inclusion of the piety variable in the Religions paper; and different control variables. However, despite these differences, without fixed effects, the results are actually quite similar. The strongest variable in predicting sectarian violence is sectarian tradition (Maslak) espoused by the respondent one of which is Deobandi, which reflects the ideological mooring of the sectarian group whose violence comprised my study variable. 

His communication raises several questions which I cannot answer. His claims were so obviously absurd that it is difficult to believe that a person with a PhD in nuclear physics would make such errors of fact and interpretation. Surely, he understands the basics of regression. (I began my career in biophysics. Most lab work requires basic regression skills. If presented the following two equations:

Y= mX +b 

Z =mX + lW +c

would he expect the values of “m” (the slopes of X) to be the same in the two equations? Yet this simplified model explains the differences between the models I and my colleagues used in the tow papers. If he genuinely does not understand such simple concepts, we may understand why he fizzled out of physics. In this case his arrogance precludes him from discerning his ignorance.

If he does understand these concepts, is he simply purposely fabricating assertions that may seem plausible to a reviewer who has not—and will not—read the two papers? In this case, he is being maniacal.

For many months, I was under the impression that Religions published his “Comment,”given the last communication I had with the journal. However, after requesting clarification in July 2019, the journal confirmed that it did not proceed with his note.

Having failed with Religions, he next attempted this method of harassment with a replication study I published with a student (Samta Savla) as a “Research Note” in Perspectives in Terrorism.  In the body of the email he sent to Professor Alex Schmid on April 28, 2019, he wrote:

Dear Dr. Schmid:

I am attaching a formal letter to the editor/comment submission in regards to a major inconsistency in the said research note.

            Kindly confirm.

I contend that the Research Note titled, “Understanding Muslims’ Support for Suicide Bombing in West Africa: A Replication Study” by C. Christine Fair and Samta Savla failed to disclose or address an apparent inconsistency that has a direct bearing on the utility of the results and the outlined framework. Also, I question their wisdom of conducting hypothesis tests not tied to an underlying theory.

The authors highlight a previous work involving the lead author Christine Fair and state on page 118 that, “our findings provide considerable support for the framework offered [in a 2018 article] by Fair, Littman and Nugent to understand the relationship between support for Islamic law on the one hand and Islamist violence on the other.” But they neglected to discuss that a 2015 scholarship by Christine Fair found no such relationship between Islamic law and support for militancy when tested with very similar hypotheses and the same dataset.

One would hope that the journal takes the opportunity to present both sides of the debate to address the concerned issues.

Let me know if you have any questions.

kind regards

Moorthy S. Muthuswamy 

The “complaint” is virtually the same as the complaint he sent to Religions and very similar to the one he would later send to Political Research Science Methods. In the detailed “comment” he sought to publish, he continued along the same lines:

In her 2015 article, the same lead author had concluded the following: “I also find that respondents who interpret sharia in terms of hudud offences exhibit greater support for sectarian militancy. . . I find that those who interpret sharia as imposing strictures on women’s public life are less supportive of sectarianism. However, all of these results dissipate [my emphasis] when I control for district fixed effects.”[6]

However, in the 2018 article, the authors reversed themselves: “Thus, individuals who conceive of a shari ̀a-based government as imposing hudud punishment and restricting women’s role in public are more supportive of militancy.”[7]

As the lead author of the concerned articles, Dr. Fair owes a full explanation regarding the inconsistency.

This complaint is even more peculiar and mendacious than the first.  I do not understand why he would assert that we “found no such relationship between Islamic law and support for militancy when tested with very similar hypotheses and the same dataset” or that “the authors reversed themselves.”  This is abjectly false and suggests that he has absolutely no clue about what our study argued, or he didn’t care. In fact, we found support for a positive relationship between textual literalism [which we defined as Hudood] and support for militancy.  [By the way, this result has been upheld in other studies of Bangladesh, Indonesia and a multi-country study.] 

His comment also demonstrates that he has no idea what the replication study was actually replicating. Specifically, we wanted to know whether support for textual literalism (Hudood) correlates with support for militancy. In this paper, we sought to determine whether or not the method my colleagues and I used in the Political Science and Research Methods to instrument support for Sharia holds using different countries. This required identifying a dataset with adequate variables that would permit an approximation of those methods. It turns out that, one year, Pew fielded one special multi-country survey on faith with sufficiently similar questions that we could test the applicability of that framework.[4]

Thus, the study in this journal is completely different from that of the Political Science and Research Methods and Religions papers for several very obvious reasons, clearly exposited in the papers. First, the datasets used in the studies are completely different. The Political Science and Research Methods as well as the Religions paper used a novel survey of Pakistan the authors fielded while the paper in Perspectives in Terrorism used Pew data for several African countries, selected on criteria that made this a hard test of the framework.  Second and related to the first, the dependent variables used in both studies are completely different and incomparable.

In addition, whereas the dependent variables used in the paper published in Political Science and Research Methods include an indirect measures of support for militancy and a direct measure of specific actions by two Deobandi groups, the dependent variable in this study relies upon the Pew questionnaire fielded in many countries that queries respondent support for “suicide attacks and other violence to defend Islam.”  Third, one is single-country study of Pakistan while the other is a multi-country study of several African countries.  This study was meant to be a “hard test,” because it employed countries with little experience of Islamist militancy, countries with Muslim minorities, with different Islamist interpretative traditions and different experiences with political Islam.  Fourth and necessarily given the different datasets employed, this paper uses index variables that are similar to those in the Political Science Research Methods paper, but since they are derived from fundamentally different survey questions in completely different countries, one should not be surprised that they vary in effect from one study to the next.  Finally, given the small sizes of Muslim respondents in these samples, some of the estimates may not be robust as discussed. (This is also why we published this as a “Research Note.”) Despite these differences and sample constraints, Fair and Savla conclude that:

“we generally find support for H1, which hypothesized that respondents who embrace more literalist interpretations of Shari’ah will be more supportive of Islamist violence….Turning to H2, which hypothesized no correlation between religiosity and support for Islamist violence, we similarly find no relationship consistent with the findings of the study we replicate here….With respect to H3, which hypothesized a negative relationship between secularism and support for Islamist violence, we find no statistically significant relationship in Cameroon, Ghana, and Liberia. However, Guinea Bissau exhibits a positive and statistically significant relationship at the 0.01 confidence level.” (p. 13).

Thus it is not remotely clear what inconsistencies are disquieting Muthuswamy. I am in disbelief that anyone with a PhD in any empirically-rigorous field would not understand these enormous differences which again makes me question whether he is a genuinely obtuse stalker or whether he understands these differences and is seeking merely to harass me. Irrespective, this journal rebuffed him both on empirics and because of his demonstrable history of harassing me.

Most recently, having failed to garner my attention which he believes he deserves in Religions or Perspectives on Terrorism, he returned to Political Science Research and Methods. On 17 July 2019, I received an email from the editor, Paul Kellstedt, asking me to review a critical comment on this paper.  Having access only to my phone as I was attending to a family emergency, at 12:50 pm I messaged Dr. Kellstedt:


I just accepted your invitation. But I can’t see the document. I hope it’s not Moorthy Muthuswamy.

He has been stalking me for years now. He’s a physicist who loathes Muslims. Please tell me it’s not him. He pulled this with another journal recently. 


He confirmed that it was indeed Muthuswamy.  I followed up with a phone call to his office (+979-845-3082) at 1:05 pm on that same day, 17 July 2019. During that conversation—admittedly over a suboptimal phone line—he indicated disbelief regarding the veracity of my claims. I explained to that he could Google this fellow and see his long history of ideological repudiation of Muslims. I offered to provide proof of his past harassment of me using this mechanism.  Within thirty minutes, I began sending the email traffic with the previous prior journals.  

Despite this evidence of prior harassment, Professor Kellstedt refused to withdraw the comment arguing that while I may not want to continue dealing with this troglodyte, perhaps one of the other two co-authors would.

Not only has Kellstedt continued a long tradition of not believing women when they are harassed by men, he has also continued a long tradition of enabling that very harassment. Additionally, he has shown disregard of actual evidence of said harassment. 

As is apparent in his Twitter Feed, Muthuswamy incorrectly claims that journals are interested in me because of malfeasance. In fact, it is he—not the journals—who is so obsessed.

As shown above and detailed below, these claims are simply untrue and attest  further to his mendacity.

Irregulariteis in Muthuswamy’s Claims About Himself

Here, I review claims that he has made about himself which are suspect or abject untruths.

He explains in his website that he was “born and brought up in India where he was exposed to political Islam and jihad. He came to America in 1984 and went on to receive a doctorate in nuclear physics at Stony Brook University, New York. The author has published well over twenty peer-reviewed papers in nuclear and radiation physics and has held faculty positions in leading American academic institutions.”  This claim here, and repeated in his social media feeds, appear to be untrue.

While I found evidence that he did in fact complete his PhD from Stony Brook University some time around 1992, he has no publication in his field since 1998. While a literature search using Web of Science finds 30 papers which include him, the vast majority of which are co-authored with more than a dozen co-authors in which his name is in the middle of the pack suggesting little contribution to the paper. He has fewer than five papers in which his authorial listings suggest a major role between March 1996 and November 1999. According to that response, the last publication in physics, his last known affiliation was Mount Sinai School of Medicine New York, New York. He then disappears from the scientific literature. He makes no effort to explain his abrupt departure from a career that he pursued for decades, according to the exposition on his website.

Since leaving physics, he has pursued a broad agenda that is virulently hostile to Muslims as evidenced by his book Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War (Prometheus, 2009), which has been endorsed by numerous high-profile Islamophobes and alt-right characters. Prometheus did not respond to my varied requests in which I asked whether the press employs peer-reviews generally or whether his book was specifically peer-reviewed.

Despite claiming to have numerous peer-reviewed publications in his new field, this claim does not appear to be correct either. In fact, he has no peer-reviewed journal articles. He instead uploads his diatribes to academic, open-source websites such as and He has also recently discovered lower-tier law reviews, which are also not peer reviewed. He has one such publication, in the Albany Government Law Review.

Finally, he uses distinct names, including: Moorthy Uthuswamy; Moorthy S Muthuswamy; and Devi Muthuswamy.

[1] Pathé and Mullen(1997) define stalking as a  constellation of behaviours in which one individual inflicts on another repeated unwanted intrusions and communications”(Pathé and Mullen, 1997: 12). Nicastro et al., (2000) further argue that “Stalking is generally defined as an ongoing course of conduct in which a person behaviorally intrudes upon another’s life in a manner perceived to be threatening” (Nicastro et al., 2000). Moreover, Strawhun, Adams, and Huss (2013) note that “Stalkers often perform a collection of routine, mundane behaviors such as calling, delivering notes, or sending instant messages which in themselves are not illegal, but that still ultimately aim to control their victims, making it difficult to build cases against them.” Moreover, these behaviors are “intentional, patterned and repeated behaviors toward a person or persons that are unwanted. Additionally, these behaviors cause fear or harm that a typically developing person would categorize as threatening.”

[2] Sachar, Rajindar. “Sachar Committee Report.” Government of India (2006). Available at

[3] Inter alia, Basant, Rakesh. “Social, economic and educational conditions of Indian Muslims.” Economic and Political Weekly (2007): 828-832;  Basant, Rakesh and Abusaleh Shariff. (2010). “The State of Muslims in India,” in Rakesh Basant and Abusaleh Shariff Eds. Oxford Handbook of Muslims. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 1-23; Asher, Sam, Paul Novosad, and Charlie Rafkin. “Intergenerational Mobility in India: Estimates from New Methods and Administrative Data.” World Bank Working Paper. Available at: http://www. dartmouth. edu/~ novosad/anr-india-mobility. pdf (accessed December 2018)(2018); Hassan, Riaz, Mikhail Balaev, and Abusaleh Shariff. “Minority size and socio-economic inequalities: A case study of Muslim minority in India.” International Sociology 33.3 (2018): 386-406; Desai, Sonalde, and Veena Kulkarni. “Changing educational inequalities in India in the context of affirmative action.” Demography 45.2 (2008): 245-270.

[4] I think one of the things that seems to perplex him is the various dates of publication. The paper that was ultimately published in Political Science and Research Methods was actually written before the paper that was published in Religions, even though it was published later. Upon finalizing the draft for submission, we uploaded the working draft to the Social Science Research Network on 1 September 2014. The first journal to which we submitted it rejected it. Pursuant to the useful comments from those reviews, we revised the paper and submitted it to Political Science and Research Methods on 12 November 2015. Our post-review draft was accepted on October 12, 2016. It was published online on 25 January 2017 and in print in 2018.

General Bajwana Trump ko Bajwata Hain

Trump learns that a nuclear-armed, terrorist festooned Pakistan has the Trump Card.

Donald Trump undid decades of bipartisan diplomacy forged by US presidents Bill Clinton & Barack Obama and Indian PMs Atal Bihari Vajpayee & Narendra Modi.

America’s mendacious, racist, misogynist and all-around boorish President Donald Trump last week undid decades of bipartisan diplomacy forged by American presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama and Indian Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. This was evident during Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Washington DC.

While these respective administrations often disagreed amongst and between themselves in Washington and New Delhi, they all agreed on the natural strategic alignment in Indian and American interests. The progress was stunning.

The two inked deals that few could have imagined, including the civilian-nuclear deal, cooperation on satellite launches, and myriad agreements known by dizzying acronyms that detailed proliferating bilateral and defence and technological cooperation. Then came Donald Trump.

Trump & Indian optimism

When Trump was elected, many in India expected a new day in US-India relations. Much of this optimism was rooted in Trump’s Islamophobia and (ironically) race-baiting, which signaled to religious majoritarian chauvinists that Trump would finally give Pakistan the proper thappad before tossing Pakistan out into the street to fend for itself. Indeed, Trump occasionally provided ballast for those expectations. He famously tweeted on 1 January 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!”

After spurts, the deep state responded to the tweet state and began figuring out how to craft an ex-post facto punitive policy. At the time, I argued in Foreign Policy that while Trump may have sway over America’s checkbook, Pakistan in fact held the Trump Card. Trump’s policy is over-determined by the map he scarcely could read. If he was hoping for a military outcome different from that of his predecessors, he needed a country with a port. The options were two: Iran and Pakistan. (The northern distribution network was also a canard as Russia did not permit the United States to transit lethal goods, which are necessary during war-fighting.)

Since Trump was dead set upon doing Israel’s bidding to pander to his evangelical base, which (and I joke not) considers him the most godly president in the US history, this left only Pakistan. His “surge” policy would fail for the same reasons that previous surges failed — the persistent resistance to developing a coercive Pakistan policy. This would leave Trump in a position he hates: losing.

Trump’s Afghan promise

As expected, Trump switched course and sought to fulfil a campaign pledge that he made. Trump has an obsessive compulsion about fulfilling campaign pledges irrespective of how idiotic, dangerous or ill-informed they may be. And his base loves him for this. Trump believes that getting out of Afghanistan before the 2020 election season ramps up is necessary for him to win. From Trump’s point of view, if Afghanistan goes to hell in a hand-basket after he’s elected, it will not be his problem because he cannot legally contest a third term. If he loses the election in 2020, what happens in Afghanistan is also not his problem.

In an effort to sever and saunter from Afghanistan, Trump dispatched the Afghan-American Neocon Zalmay Khalilzad to stitch up a peace deal with Afghans. It has not gone as expected for the reasons that I argued in January 2018: Pakistan holds the Taliban leash. Trump needs Pakistan to put even the slightest fig leaf over what is clearly a failure that was purchased on the installment plan by three American presidents.

While many were doubtful — or hopeful — that Trump would backtrack on his “hard line” against Pakistan, all doubts were cleared on 22 July when Trump met Pakistan’s army chief-selected Prime Minister Imran Khan. The press conference will likely go down as one of the most bizarre, mendacious and even unhinged press conferences in US presidential history.

Trump & Imran meet

First, Trump conceded what perspicacious South Asia observers knew all along: he needs Pakistan to “help us out to extricate ourselves” from Afghanistan where “We’re like policemen. We’re not fighting the war.” Such a description belies and belittles the enormous death toll of this war, which includes: nearly 2,500 American soldiers, nearly 4,000 contractorstens of thousands of Afghan security forces, about 1.47 lakh Afghan civilians and over 1,100 allied troops.

He reassured Americans and everyone else watching the press conference that he could win a war in Afghanistan and that it would take a week to do so. But, he repined, “I just don’t want to kill 10 million people. Does that make sense to you? I don’t want to kill 10 million people.” And since he doesn’t apparently want to use nuclear weapons on Afghans —our allies of nearly 18 years who have made countless sacrifices — he explained that Pakistan would help him out of Pakistan.

To Afghans, this was an explicit threat: accept Pakistan’s yoke or be incinerated. As I have repeatedly said, Trump may have denied Pakistan aid since early 2018, but he would bequeath the prize to them: Afghanistan. Pakistan would—just as it did in the 1990s—become the security manager of Afghanistan despite the will and aspirations of Afghanistan, despite the sacrifices Afghans and the international community made to empower women, educate children, provide healthcare and bring the country into the 21st century.

India’s outrage

For Indians, the worst was yet to come as the press conference continued. After Imran Khan told the world that Pakistan has “tried our best. We’ve made all overtures to India to start dialogue, resolve our differences through dialogue”, he ultimately massaged Trump’s ego and asked for intervention. Trump could not resist the bait and claimed that, two weeks prior, he met Modi who “actually said, ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?’ I said, ‘Where?’ He said, ‘Kashmir.’ Because this has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised at how long; it’s been going on a long.”

Indians were aghast. How could the most powerful man in the world say something that was so implausible and most certainly untrue? (Indeed, India clarified that this was simply a lie.) As an American, I found the Indian incredulity to be charming. After all, since assuming office, Trump has told a whopping 10,796 lies (as of 7 July) about things big and small. Why would Indians believe that the third rail of their domestic politics was out of range for Trump’s prevarications?

Americans were confused by India’s outrage. Few Americans appreciate how fraught this subject is or how presidential terms have been littered with past efforts to play a role in “Kashmir.”

As diplomats and scholars of South Asia listened aghast and as the US Department of State attempted to roll- back what was surely a blatant lie that would shadow US-India relations for some time to come, Imran Khan hit a homerun (or whatever that is in cricket). Trump backpedaled and said that “Pakistan never lies” among other absurdities. Khan was able to link peace in Afghanistan to some sort of a resolution in Kashmir, which is a clear coup for Pakistan’s deep state messengers.

While Khan was the political farce of the visit, the real work was being done by Pakistan’s all-powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who hobnobbed with American defence officials, including Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff (General Dunford) who should understand Pakistan’s perfidy after he led the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan from February 2013 to August 2014. While op-eds were still being churned out summarising the visit, the US Department of State on 27 July announced that the US would resume military aid to Pakistan, beginning with a support package for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet.

Such a move was surely a blow to India given that an F-16 likely shot down the MiG-21 Bison being flown by IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman during the brief air-to-air conflict after the Indian Air Force attacked a Jaish-e-Mohammad training base in Balakot, in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It also hurt Americans who were hopeful that India would consider a proposal to manufacture the F-16 airframe in India. The move is also reckless. Not only has Pakistan done nothing to rein in the zoo of terrorists it uses to kill in India, its Taliban proxies have continued to kill Afghans even while claiming to be negotiating in good faith with the Americans.

Trump, like virtually every President before him, reaffirmed what Pakistan’s deep state already knew: being a reckless nuclear-armed state festooned with terrorists is a strategy that always pays.

Indians learned what it feels like to be an American.

A version of this was published in The Print on 30 July 2019.

Rage in Three Progressions

My first poem in the @DimeShowReview is live. I love the graphic they paired with it. “Rage in Three Progressions:

Rage in Three Progressions by C. Christine Fair

Rage 1

Rage becomes me because rage made me.

Rage 2.

Rage 3.

There’s a war going on.
Against our bodies, lives and rights.
I won’t use words that enable your somnabulence, indifference and insouciance.
I will use words that infuriate and enrage you because I want you
To wake the fuck up.

A Tempest in the India-Myanmar Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Corridor

The ambitious Kalandan Corridor project financed by New Delhi that links Myanmar and the Northeast is in peril. The current deadlock endangers Indian interests in the region and efforts to uplift the people of trouble-hit areas of the eastern neighbour.

MYANMAR HAS LONG been an important element in India’s ‘look east/act east’ policy. In recent years, it figured prominently in India’s strategy to mitigate its vulnerabilities in the Siliguri Corridor, the so-called Chicken Neck, which is India’s only lifeline to the country’s Northeast. China’s gambit at Doklam in 2017 and subsequent 2018 claim that Doklam is Chinese territory, reminded Raisina Hill how vulnerable the Siliguri Corridor is to Chinese misadventurism.

The Chicken Neck connects India to its 40 million citizens in the Northeast via this 22-kilometre stretch in West Bengal and bounded by Nepal to the west, Bangladesh to the south, Bhutan to the northeast and Sikkim, which borders China, to the north. The kukri-shaped Chumbi Valley in Tibet cuts between Sikkim, which India annexed in 1971, and Bhutan. At its narrowest, it is a mere 27 kms wide and 60 kms at its widest. The corridor facilitates commerce and tourism while serving as a lifeline for India’s military formations in the Northeast which will confront China during a conflict along the Line of Actual Control. The precarity of the corridor has long discomfited India’s security elites, but the events in 2017 and 2018 denervated these concerns.

Unfortunately, India has been trying to catch up to China, which has industriously engaged in infrastructure projects in the area from the 1980s. Notably, China built a road in 2005 (and possibly earlier) a meagre 68 metres from the Indian border post at Doklam, putting the road within visual range of India’s forces. In 2017, Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) engineers began building a motorable road which extended to the Bhutan army camp at Jampheri, galvanizing Indian pre-emptive action which culminated in the 2017 standoff at Doklam. By extending this road, China positioned itself to close the Siliguri Corridor which would complicate Indian resupply of the three primary military formations in the Northeast.

To mitigate India’s dependence upon the Chicken Neck, India embarked upon the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which would be a redundant, but shorter and potentially cheaper, supply route. Instead of undertaking the precarious journey through the Siliguri Corridor, goods would be loaded to ships harboured in Kolkata’s port and traverse 540 kms across the Bay of Bengal to the port India recently completed in Sittwe, sitting at the mouth of the Kaladan river in Rakhine. Goods would travel some 158 km on barge up the Kaladan river to Paletwa in Myanmar’s Chin State from which they would move another 110 kms by road from Paletwa to the border town of Zorinpui in Mizoram and onward via the National Highway-54. If this corridor were to be fully functional, transit distances would be slashed from 1,880-kms for the Chicken’s Neck to 950-kms by Myanmar.

If and when it fructifies, the Kalandan corridor will be the shortest route connecting India’s northeastern states to a port. Such redundancies are strategically important in the event of a conflict with China

While the economic viability of the corridor was questionable due to a parallel—but equally fraught—route connecting Bangladesh’s Chittagong port, via bridge over the Feni River, with Tripura, this route, if and when it fructifies, will be the shortest route connecting India’s northeastern states to a port. However, such redundancies are strategically important in the event of a conflict with China.

Over the last decade, Rakhine garnered international attention due to the multi-phased Rohingya crisis. These concerns hit a crescendo after Myanmar’s military conducted brutal operations in response to the attacks of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) savagely assaulted several police posts in August 2017. This military operation displaced some nearly one million Rohingya to Bangladesh, in what the United Nations has called a ‘textbook case of genocide.’ However, this conflict was most concentrated in northern Rakhine state and had little impact upon the Kaladan Corridor project.

However, over the past several months, central Rakhine state has been wracked by a new conflict: fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA), which is a well-trained non-state militia that enjoys widespread support among the state’s Rakhine Buddhist population. (The AA has NO connections whatsoever to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).) The AA, while formed in 2009, had not figured prominently until early 2019. The AA’s recent mobilisation reflect long-festering Rakhine frustration with Naypyitaw’s neglect of the state, Burman domination of the civil service and other government apparatus governing the state, lack of federalism which would provide the state significant measures of self-governance as well as perceived Burman ethno-centrism which holds the country’s non- Burman ethnic groups in low regard.

While this disaffection with the central government has its origins in the earliest days of independent statehood, Rakhine Buddhist grievances have been exacerbated by the attention and resources Muslim Rakhine (or ‘Rohingya’) have received in recent years. The state’s ethnic Rakhine Buddhists believe that their legitimate grievances have received little attention and little reward for their general demurral of violence. In fact, the AA has rightly concluded that in Myanmar, ethnic groups only garner the attention and resources of the state if they fight. Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army However, over the past several months, central Rakhine state has been wracked by a new conflict: fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA), which is a well-trained non-state militia that enjoys widespread support among the state’s Rakhine Buddhist population. (The AA has NO connections whatsoever to the The AA, while formed in 2009, had not figured prominently until early 2019. The AA’s recent mobilisation reflect long-festering Rakhine frustration with Naypyitaw’s neglect of the state, Burman domination of the civil service and other government apparatus governing the state, lack of federalism which would provide the state significant measures of self-governance as well as perceived Burman ethno-centrism which holds the country’s non- Burman ethnic groups in low regard. While this disaffection with the central government has its origins in the earliest days of independent statehood, Rakhine Buddhist grievances have been exacerbated by the attention and resources Muslim Rakhine (or ‘Rohingya’) have received in recent years. The state’s ethnic Rakhine Buddhists believe that their legitimate grievances have received little attention and little reward for their general demurral of violence. In fact, the AA has rightly concluded that in Myanmar, ethnic groups only garner the attention and resources of the state if they fight.

While the Sittwe Port may not be the lynchpin in an alternate supply to the Northeast, it tosses the under-developed Rakhine an economic lifeline that can afford it some strategic independence from Yangon

This fighting is taking place in areas that have direct impact upon the Kaladan Corridor. After all, the port is just the first necessary but insufficient piece of the transport puzzle. For the port to service India’s strategic aims, the river must be dredged, and most of this work needs to take place where the fighting is ongoing. In addition, roads must be built to connect Paletwa, in Chin state, to the Indian border at Zorinpui, which has its own frustrating and challenging terrain. Moreover, roads are needed to connect Zorinpui to the National Highway, which is also part of the larger East-West Corridor highway effort. (On the Indian side, roadwork has been delayed by years due to local labour disputes which have led to an ‘indefinite’ strike.)

The timing is unfortunate. China has had a long head start. It has been busy building infrastructure in the state, including a gas terminal and gas transit based at Kyaukphyu. While Rakhine desperately could benefit from its own gas to provide energy to fuel factories which could employ Rakhine, China is moving this gas via pipelines to Kunming, in China’s Yunnan province.

All is not lost, however. This project can offer Rakhine’s citizens employment opportunities in constructing and maintaining the corridor, which will help mitigate some of the Rakhine’s grievances if local Indian interlocutors can make this point effectively.

Most importantly, while the Sittwe port may not be the lynchpin in an alternate supply to the Northeast, it tosses the under-developed Rakhine an economic lifeline that can afford it some strategic independence from Yangon. Moreover, while India can use this port to export goods that are in a critical shortage in Rakhine, such as steel, this will be a good opportunity for Rakhine to develop products that may be exported to India, such as the region’s unique forms of rice. Given the imminent danger of climate change, the deltaic portions of Rakhine will also have to consider planting new varietals of rice that are robust to saline-contaminated brackish waters. So far, the Rakhine have been unenthusiastic about this because the new varietals require new cultural farming practices. Besides, the people of Rakhine do not find these varietals suitable to their palettes. However, given that India uses food as important forms of aid to Afghanistan and elsewhere, this may provide an opportunity to incentvise Rakhine farmers to switch to climate change-resistant varietals and provide the state with an important source of export revenue. While the Kaladan Corridor may not advance India’s interests in Myanmar as originally envisioned, the potential remains to help transform the lives of people in Rakhine.

Pakistan’s Petting Zoo of Sycophants

How does Pakistan’s deep state continue to influence debate around the world? By bullying and bribing. Let me explain how this happens.

I appeared recently on a television programme filmed at the Newseum in Washington DC that promised to the tell the “whole truth” about US-Pakistan relations. Ordinarily, I would have asked about the composition of the panel but, in this case, I did not because I assumed the effort was credible because the show was tied to the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

I regretted this lapse as soon as I walked into the green room where I met my two co-panellists. One was a retired, senior American diplomat with long ties to South Asia who, in retirement, briefly became a lobbyist for Pakistan. The other was a wealthy Pakistani-American physician serving as a current lobbyist who uses his wealth to influence American policy towards countries of interest. He also is the sole US representation for former, disgraced Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf, which he claims to do pro bono.

Both the past and current lobbyist reiterated tired canards that are empirically falsifiable. Doctor Sahab asserted Pakistan’s inalienable right to Kashmir and said that the Maharaja of Kashmir was obliged—as opposed to encouraged—to choose either Pakistan or India based upon geography and demography. Not only is this untrue, but Kashmir could have also have gone either way based upon these considerations. He repeated the absurd narrative about the “plebiscite” and rebuffed my efforts to explain what the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions actually say and the host similarly silenced me from clarifying basic facts.

With two soloists belting out songs from the ISI playlist, I was outnumbered. Any ingénue unaware of South Asian politics would assume I was the one dispensing deceits. Afterwards, I expressed my irritation with the producer for his choice of a registered lobbyist who promulgated rank fictions. He retorted that “everyone has their own facts”.

As I left the studio, I wondered how this programme came to be. After a perusal of the show’s previous episodes, I found that Doctor Sahab was a frequent guest on an array of topics about which he has no substantive expertise other than being a well-healed Pakistani-American. I suspect that this programme came about in part because he suggested it. After all, that is what lobbyists do: they create opportunities to lobby.

When Pakistan does not have professional lobbyists to do its bidding, it deploys local goons to disrupt events that provide platforms for discussion that undermine Pakistan’s well-groomed fictions. At a recent event in London at which I was presenting, a recurring uncouth bully disrupted the entire programme. After calling me a misogynist epithet, I insisted that he be removed initially to no avail. Since many attendees told me that I was the reason for their attendance, I refused to speak until security removed him from the venue.

Despite the somewhat sensitive nature of the seminar topic, most of the large audience engaged calmly with the speakers, although one disruptive member grew aggressive and had to be removed.

I knew his ruses: In August 2017, the same organisation hosted me, and this same buffoon deported himself similarly. Upon being ousted, and just as I was to about to speak, the banished wag pulled the fire alarm. Despite this, we all reassembled and I gave my presentation on Pakistani cross-border terrorism.

It turns out that the same reprobate did this to disrupt the presentation of a popular politician from the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), which has the boys in Pindi in a swivet. To my horror, I learned that this past year“British Pakistani Patriots” attempted to throw acid on Baloch activists decrying the crimes of Pakistan’s deep state in the United Kingdom. (I was unable to find a news account of this presumably because the attack failed. However, I did learn that in the United Kingdom, acid attacks are frequent as acid has become the preferred weapon of a host of cretins ranging from robbers, gang members as well as garden variety of misogynists. In fact, British police admit that the Dis-United Kingdom has ” has one of the highest number of recorded acid attacks per person of any country in the world. “

Notably, it has been my vast personal experience, that Pakistan’s embassies regularly deploy miscreants to disrupt public events in global capitals. During my book tour for Fighting to the End, I spoke in numerous venues in Washington D.C, as well as in cities across the United Kingdom, Germany, Hungary and India. At every single one of those talks, an ISI langur was there to harangue me. By the way: they learned the hard way, I am a cussed cunt who can embarrass a marine bench pressing a truck.

During an event hosted by Hussain Haqqani at the Hudson Institution in 2017, the Pakistan embassy actually dispatched a van of rabble-rousers to create a ruckus at the event. Many of these fellows—and they are almost always men—were escorted from the premises.

Astonishingly, when I posted an account of this event on Twitter, several posts were identified as a “violation of Twitter” rules on outrageously dubious grounds. I was actually put in Twitter jail for 7 days for exposing this bozo. Twitter complained that I posted his photo arguing that it violating his privacy, even though his histrionics was both webcast live and featured on the organization’s Facebook page.

When Pakistan’s friends are unable to manufacture Pakistan-friendly forums or disrupt others, they resort to slandering participants in their sponsored media. ISI-hacks of no journalistic credentials whatsoever, who were not even present, frequently write bilious accounts of the programmes based on webcasts or recordings, with the intent of crowd-sourcing troll armies to threaten the target and, in some cases, to persuade employers to fire offending individuals who dare speak historical truth to Pakistan’s murderous mendacities.

It is not a coincidence that most of the major think tanks in Washington DC are populated with persons who rarely criticise the deep state. The Stimson Center’s Michael Krepon happily pens articles promoting the false equivalence between India and Pakistan, even after India has been victimised by Pakistan-backed terrorist attacks. Toby Dalton and George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote a similarly “both sides are the problem” article after Pakistani terrorists attacked Indian security forces in 2016, and precipitated Modi’s much-popularised and aggrandised “cross-border strike”. Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center never misses the opportunity the defend or minimise the most outrageous crimes of the Pakistani state. And Marvin Weinbaum of the Middle East Institute not only happily bans Hussain Haqqani, Aparna Pande and me from his events, but also makes any number of claims that advance the interests of the deep state at these events and the events of others, which he attends. Notably, all of these scholars’ organisations enjoy public subsidies as they are all tax-exempt (501(c)(3) institutions.

Of course, the most heinous offender of defending Pakistani equities at the expense of America’s own ironically is the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), which is directly paid for by US taxpayers. USIP’s Moeed Yusuf endlessly does Pakistan’s bidding on our dime. He is joined by a long-time Pakistan-apologist from the George W. Bush administration, Steve Hadley. The USIP even had the temerity to decline a Freedom of Information Request from a DC-based Indian journalist who requested all communications from both of these persons with the Pakistan embassy arguing that such communications are part of the “inter-agency and intra-agency” processes

Just how does Pakistan ensure the lockstep goose-stepping of such persons? Surprisingly, the deep state cultivates this stable of obedient interlocutors in Washington and elsewhere without putting anyone on its payroll. How does it do this? By bartering visas and access to the deep state in exchange for “good behaviour” and “good press.”

Not only do these visa-hungry so-called scholars host deep-state friendly events, many have willingly followed the diktat from the Pakistan embassy to explicitly exclude critics of the Pakistan army. Officials at the American National Defense University have conceded to me and to other journalists that I—along with Husain Haqqani—am banned at the insistence of the Pakistan Embassy. When someone at the National War College did not heed this guidance, an enormous hungama ensued. The Pakistan embassy demarched the War College when it learned that I would be discussing Pakistan’s pernicious role in undermining US interests in Afghanistan. This is the American War College. American military and civilian personnel have been slaughtered by the proxies of Pakistan and yet it allows the Pakistan Embassy to dictate who it invites to speak at their functions.

This was not always the case with me. Despite my various criticism of the deep state, I was welcomed in Pakistan and regularly enjoyed access to officials in the government as well as officers in the military. While I was never a cheerleader for Pakistan, Pakistan valued me as an independent thinker who carries water for no one and is willing to say unpleasant things to everyone. This changed in 2011. One of the ISI spymasters—who ironically facilitated many of my previous meetings—explained that the ISI would now only patronise those who would do its bidding. In other words, only those who would dance to the deep state’s kazoo would be welcome, which I refused to do.

I want to ask my colleagues at these “think-tanks” who happily trade their integrity for access to Pakistan, how many lives is your visa worth? How many lives are as valuable as your much-desired meeting with the army chief, ISI chief or a few corps commanders? We all know what you get in these meetings are notebooks full of lies. (I have an entire shelf of such lie-festooned notebooks.) What you get is the social cache of such meetings as they have little other utility. So, why do you happily sell your soul to these con artists? What is the crime your patron will commit that will persuade you to develop gonadal fortitude and resist that VIP lounge in Pindi? While you may not care that your handlers are also slaughtering Indians, Afghans and even Pakistanis, perhaps you should look long and hard at the thousands of Americans who have been felled by the murderers in Pindi. If you can’t do that, know that the red carpet they roll out for you is stained red with the blood of hundreds of thousands of persons shed by the very institutions you so willingly propitiate and defend, not for money but for a visa and a full schedule of sham meetings with which you regale friends, colleagues and US officials back home.

A cleaner version of this post appeared in The Print on 5 June 2019.