America’s Leadership Has Presented False Choices in Afghanistan

Note that an edited, and much-abbreviated version of this appeared in Foreign Policy on 16 August 2021. This extended piece has more details.

U.S. President Biden has abandoned the Afghans to fend for themselves against the Taliban. By following a course of policy established by his ignominious predecessor, President Donald J. Trump, Biden has defiantly asserted that he does not regret his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan even after provincial capitals are falling like dominos to the Taliban and even as Kabul itself expected to fall within weeks. The United States begged the Taliban for assurances that they will not attack the US Embassy as the United States callously scrambles to evacuate US personnel, leaving our long-standing Afghan partners to fend for themselves as the Taliban hunt them down and their families. American officials are busy offering sanctimonious repines that justify America’s exeunt from the country. They have announced to American and international audiences that the time has come for the Afghan national security forces to seize the reins of their nation’s defense; that Afghan leaders must unite and fight for their country; that the United States has done enough. This is rank nonsense and President Biden knows it. The United States did not do enough and even enabled the current onslaught.

What makes this current situation more unforgivable is that Biden did not come to this situation unaware. Unlike President George H. W. Bush, who genuinely was befuddled by the region and historically ignorant, the Obama administration in which Biden served benefited from a raft of experts including the former CIA analyst Bruce Reidell and long-time South Asia watcher Peter Lavoy, who was the National Intelligence Officer for South Asia, among numerous others.  Prior to the 2008 election, there were numerous assessments about the war in Afghanistan and the myriad ways in which Pakistan was undermining US efforts there. Obama’s incoming team, led by Bruce Reidell, spear-headed the so-called assessment of assessments and offered refreshingly blunt insight into the perfidy of Pakistan in aiding and abetting the Taliban and undermining US efforts, despite benefitting handsomely from American emoluments.  Despite this benefit of wisdom and knowledge, Biden continued several courses of policy that has led to the current sanguinary crisis for Afghanistan’s citizenry.

It’s Pakistan: Stupid

President Biden, like the earlier president he served, knows that Pakistan is the major force behind the Taliban. Without Pakistan’s unstinting support for the Taliban, this group would be a nuisance rather than an effective fighting force. The United States, far from doing enough to assist Afghanistan, has steadfastly refused to do the one thing that it could have and, indeed should have, done long ago: apply a raft of targeted sanctions against those in Pakistan’s deep state which have continued to provide every possible amenity to the Taliban, and other brutal Islamist militant organizations, despite receiving billions in American overt assistance 2001. 

It’s hard to imagine a country more perfidious than Pakistan. Despite claiming that Osama Bin Laden was not in Pakistan for over a decade, he was found hiding in plain sight in garish if spartan safehouse in Abbottabad, a leisurely stroll from Pakistan’s premier military academy in Kakul (the equivalent to the US West Point). Mullah Omar, the cycloptic founder of the Taliban movement, likely died in a Pakistani hospital. Pakistan’s ties to the Jalaluddin Haqqani Network have been known and enduring. During the last twenty years, Pakistan has continued to recruit, train, and mission numerous other Islamist terrorist groups operating in India and Afghanistan. It has feted terrorist leaders as national heroes. . Pakistan even requested the United Nations to permit the leader of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Hafez Saeed (an UNSC-designated terrorist), to access their frozen accounts for basic expenses. Pakistan was directly responsible for the death of American soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan, along with our NATO and non-NATO allies, and most importantly our Afghan partners and their families.

Rather than accepting the blinding truth that Pakistan was not a friend much less an ally, the United States remained convinced that Pakistan was too dangerous to sanction, too dangerous to punish, too dangerous to hold to account. For decades, Americans have wrung their hands about the Pakistan problem. They rehearsed the fears that Pakistan may collapse, provide nuclear weapons to terrorists, provoke an escalatory war with India that could result in the deliberate or accidental use of nuclear weapons all the while coddling Pakistan, while aiding and abetting the further development of its nuclear arsenal and militant assets which Pakistan uses to coerce the international community.

In 2009, instead of taking coercive measures against the single most important state to the revivification of the Taliban, the United States launched the so-called surge which resulted in a massive expansion of troops as well as defense contractors (aka “mercenaries”) as well as government and non-government civilians that comprised the so-called “civilian surge.” Without developing viable ground-lines of resupply independent of Pakistan, this surge created an even deeper dependence upon Pakistan at a time when the United States was losing the war precisely because of Pakistan.

Part of the problem was the American failure to understand the perduring nature of Pakistan’s quest to render Afghanistan a vassal of Rawalpindi, the real capital of Pakistan.  Americans thought that Pakistan was only responding to India’s presence in the country and, as a result, the United States at times pressured India not to antagonize the Pakistanis in hopes of mollifying the khaki clique in Rawalpindi.  Another myth, which Pakistan itself fosters, is that Pakistan did not begin its forays in Afghan affairs during the Soviet Invasion and at American prompting and funding. In fact, Pakistan had been using Islamist organizations like the Jamaat-e-Islami to influence Afghan affairs since the 1950s. AT the time, Pakistan had legitimate concerns: Afghanistan rejected the legitimacy of the Pakistani state that emerged from Britain’s decolonization of the Raj in 1947; sought to disencumber itself from the 19th century treaty which demarcated the Durand Line as the border between the two states; nursed Pashtun nationalism; and even invaded Pakistan in Balochistan and in several Tribal Agencies in the 1950s. Moreover, Afghanistan supported violent insurgencies in Balochistan for decades.  

Pakistan found the opportunity to retaliate violently in 1973 when President Daoud ousted his cousin, King Zahir Shah, and began an aggressive suite of modernizing reforms under Soviet tutelage and encouragement. Afghanistan’s regressive clergy and associated Islamists resisted Daoud’s efforts to mainstream Afghanistan and Daoud responded to the obdurate Islamists brutally. As Islamists fled into Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto established an ISI (Pakistan’s formidable internal and external intelligence agency) cell in 1974 tasked with rendering them into effective militia groups for undertaking operations in Afghanistan.  Pakistan’s third military dictator, General Zia ul Haq continued with this policy after he ousted Bhutto in a coup, which resulted in the latter’s death.  General Arif, who served as President Zia’s Chief of Army Staff and who was familiar with Bhutto’ stratagem observed that “Of her own free will, Pakistan adopted the… option to protect her national interest and to uphold a vital principle” by providing “covert assistance to the Mujahidin.”  Abdul Sattar, who served as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister between 1999 and 2002, similarly opined that because “the Mujahidin would be fighting also for Pakistan’s own security and independence,” Pakistan “continued to support the Afghan resistance…providing it modest assistance out of its own meager resources.” Long before the Russians crossed the Amu Darya on Christmas Day 1979, the ISI, working with the Frontier Corp consolidated more than fifty resistance groups into the seven major so-called mujahedeen groups which would later fight the Soviet forces.

Failing to understand the enduring nature of Pakistan’s quest to render Afghanistan subservient to its interests, Americans consistently found expedient reasons to excuse Pakistani malfeasance. Without experiencing significant costs for its persistent efforts to squash Afghanistan’s emergence as a viable and independent state, Pakistan will continue along these efforts. For this reason, long ago, the Americans and the international community needed to impose sanctions upon Pakistani individuals and institutions, just as it did in Iran.

“The US Has Spent More in Afghanistan Than It Did To Rebuild Post-War Europe”

Another popular repine among Americans that despite spending more in Afghanistan than it did during the reconstruction of Europe after the Second World War and yet, none of those gains are irreversible.  This has certainly encouraged American bitterness about its commitments to what has been the longest war in American history. However, this understanding too is flawed. First and foremost, the United States and its partners were adamant about building a sprawling Afghan state, despite the lack of human and economic resources to sustain this effort. Under the Soviet Union, Afghanistan was a rentier state nearly completely dependent upon Soviet Aid.  However, the government that the United States build was much larger than that built by the Soviets; however, the Afghan state is capable of paying even fewer of its bills.  Currently, about 80 percent of the Afghan budget is paid for by the United States with little prospects of improvement. One of the lessons of the departure from the Soviet Union was precisely this: the dependence upon Soviet aid. When the Soviet Union could no longer provide that aid, the Afghan government collapsed.

 While government capacity across all of the ministries is low, lack of capacity in the Ministries of Defense which oversees the military forces and the Ministries of Interior, which oversees the police, are perilous. This author has followed US and international efforts to build effective Afghan fighting military and police institutions for much of the last twenty years.  While some will prefer to take refuge in the claims that these inadequacies are due to Afghan shortcomings, this too is unfair. From the beginning, the United States and NATO partners struggled to develop efficacious training programs much of which were executed through contracting firms under the ostensible guidance of American, German or other partner militaries. Training concepts and doctrines changed often as different parts of the recruiting and training mission came under different contractors and national oversight.  The United States consistently sought shortcuts such as opting to train “Afghan local police,” whom Afghans more accurately called militias. Unlike training Afghan police, which was more resource intensive and provided by contractors, training of these militias was less so  but still dependent upon contractors. Americans, risibly, tried to justify equipping militias by applying Afghan names to these militias, such as arbaki, which implied these latest efforts were rooted in Afghan historical practices rather than a quick and dirty effort to make a reliable and accountable police force on the quick.

The United States was adamant that the Afghan military use American weapons rather than Russian weapons, which tend to be easier and far more cost effective to use, maintain and resupply.  Chronic illiteracy and innumeracy plagued these efforts. In contrast, the Soviet Union trained thousands of civilian and military personnel either in the Soviet Union or other Eastern European countries. Ironically, many of our most effective Afghan partners were those who had been trained by the Soviets. As American fighting forces withdrew from ground operations, Americans continued to supply air support and other important missions such as casualty evacuation. If the American and NATO failings are evident in training the Afghan police and army, the failures to build a competent and capable Afghan Air Force is even more so.

The United States insisted upon the security architecture for the country but has been retrenching from its willingness to pay for this architecture. Even though it was widely understood that the efficacy of Afghanistan national defense and security forces was the key to preventing the onslaught currently witnessed, the United States has actually diminished is support for the same. Since 2014, Washington provided about 75% of the $5 billion to $6 billion per year which was needed to fund the Afghanistan national defense and security forces while the remainder of the tab was picked up US partner nations and some modicum from the Afghan government. However, for FY2021, the US Congress appropriated $3 billion for Afghan’s fighting forces, the lowest amount since FY2008. This diminution of US support came even while Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said clearly that his government cannot support its army for even six months without American financial aid.

While much of the American expenditures pertained to defense, the United States has ostensibly invested in other sectors of Afghan governance. As of June 30, 2021, the United States has spent about $144.98 billion in funds for reconstruction and related activities in Afghanistan since FY 2002, including: $88.61 billion for security (including $4.60 billion for counternarcotics initiatives); $36.29 billion for governance and development (including $4.37 billion for counternarcotics initiatives);  $4.18 billion for humanitarian aid; and $15.91 billion for agency operations. While these numbers are staggering much of US investment did not stay in Afghanistan. Because of the heavily reliance upon a complex ecosystem of defense contractors, belt-way banditry and aid contractors, between 80 and 90% of outlays actually returned to the US economy. Of the 10-20 percent of the contracts that remained in the country, the United States rarely cared about the efficacy of the initiative. While corruption is rife in Afghanistan, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction repeatedly identifies bewildering corruption in the US system.  The organizations culpable of this corruption strangely yet are allowed to continued receiving US contracts.

The Shambolic Peace Process

Perhaps the third most egregious ensemble of things that the United States did to the Afghan government was strong-arm it into “peace talks” with the Taliban. More than anyone, the Afghan government understood that the Taliban and their handlers in Rawalpindi could not be trusted to honor their commitments, such as they were.  The spectacle of the “peace talks” was important to President Trump and later President Biden as they were essentially a process of negotiated American defeat which would create a fiction of power transition that would cover what would otherwise be depicted as an ignominious American defeat. Those familiar with the process understood that there was genuinely nothing to discuss: the Afghan government is committed to constitutional rule of law including elections, howsoever problematic while the Afghan Taliban was committed to overturning the constitution and it opposed elections as non-Islamic. This was a convenient position to hold as the Taliban could never win significant elections if they did contest them. As the sham peace talks faltered, in March 2020, the Trump administration threated to withhold $2 billion in assistance if the Afghan government didn’t return to the negotiation table.  Equally, appalling, the United States forced the Ghani government to release more than 5,000 hardened Taliban prisoners at the Taliban’s request in recompense for the hundreds of government officials taken captive by the Taliban. Many of those individuals have been leading the current offensive against Afghanistan’s provincial capitals.  The United States also pressurized President Ghani to post-pone or even cancel the 2019 presidential elections in a bid to mollify the demands of the Taliban that the government must be dissolved as a condition of peace and replaced with an interim government in which the Taliban had a stake.  Ghani refused rightly. There was no consensus on what Afghanistan’s future governance system would look like. Even now the Taliban claim that they will relent from their military onslaught if Ghani is removed. Given the American desire to have a more orderly descent to disorder, I would not be surprised if the Americans are currently pressing Ghani to do so instead of pressing Pakistan to call of their hyenas.

Worse yet, the Taliban used the spectacle of the peace process as a recuperative retreat to revivify and emplace their forces while stashing weapons as the awaited the US withdraw and the concomitant opportunity to sequentially assault a garland of Aghan provincial capitals as they prepare for the final assault on Kabul.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The US government has done too little too late to save Afghanistan from an entirely preventable fate.  Many Americans view the events of the last few weeks as a fait accomplis and rationalizing this catastrophe by claiming that the Taliban no longer pose a threat to US interests or those of our friends or allies. Nothing could be further from the truth. The worst has yet to begin. To consolidate their hold on Afghanistan, the Taliban will continue with a blood bath of revenge killing targeting those who have served the country in the national security and defense forces; civilian bureaucrats and politicians who oppose the Taliban; those who worked with the United States, NATO, multilateral organizations and civil society organizations. The fate that awaits Afghanistan’s women and girls is too horrendous to contemplate. The United States has not prioritized providing visas for the tens of thousands of Afghans who worked with the United States who are entitled to Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). This dereliction of duty of care is staggering. More than 300,000 Afghan civilians have worked to support the US mission over the last two decades. However, a mere, 16,000 Afghan SIVs have been issued since 2014. At present, there are more than 18,000 applications in the pipeline in addition to countless thousands of Afghans who are ineligible for an SIV who are in dire need of protection owing to their association with Americans.

It is never too late to sanction Pakistan. While such coercive measures to impose costs upon Rawalpindi for its relentless support of the Taliban’s killing machinery should’ve been undertaken early in the war effort, such measures are still useful both for punitive reasons but also to curb ongoing support. If the Americans couldn’t muster the   intestinal or other fortitude to sanction Pakistan when its proxies were murdering us, how will it do so when they are primarily murdering Afghans.

Second, the United States should reconsider its hasty withdraw of military forces. There were only a few thousand in place and this figure was sustainable. (Compare the US commitment to Israel or South Korea, by way of contrast.) Without US assets on the ground, drone strikes cannot be effective, even if the bases are found from which to fly sorties outside of Afghanistan or Pakistan.  The United States needs to stay involved in Afghanistan, providing air strikes. It is not too late to pound the Taliban forces.

Third, the United States government must at once stop its efforts to undermine the Ghani government. He is all we have. Instead of treating his government as an obstacle, his government should be seen as a critical partner in staving off the Taliban.

Finally, it does not matter if no credible democracy recognizes a Taliban government forged through the barrel of Pakistan-supplied guns. Threats of withholding aid to a Taliban government are absurd for two reasons. First, the Taliban has what it needs: support from China and Pakistan. China is the largest foreign investor in Afghanistan. But it requires stability to get its investments out of Afghanistan’s soil and into Chinese and other global markets. The Chinese have never had a problem with the Taliban and they still don’t. The Chinese had signed a memo with the Taliban in the weeks preceding 9/11 under which they agreed to provide economic and technical assistance, among other contacts dating back to at least 1998. The only ones who will suffer any such refusals to provide assistance with be the ordinary Afghans, who have already suffered enough.

The United States walked out of Afghanistan in 1990 and made Pakistan the custodian of Afghanistan’s future. We saw the outcome of this horrible decision. However, ever unable or unwilling to internalize the lessons of the past, the United States is yet again handing the Afghans over to Pakistan. When the Taliban once again transform Afghanistan into a a base of operations for a raft of modern Islamist terrorist organizations operating in and beyond the region, Washington will only have itself to blame.

PS: If you’d like to do something to help Afghans, consider the options listed here: https://twitter.com/CChristineFair/status/1428003177912324102

1. Sign this letter from Scholars at Risk urging Secretary Blinken to undertake a select set of clear, doable tasks to offer a modicum of security to Afghan scholars, researchers, and public intellectuals whose lives are now in great peril.

2. Donate to the organization of your choice raising funds to get SIVs here, find them homes, and provide basic home furnishings. These are the orgs to which I have donated so that you know I’m putting my money where my mouth and fingers are: https://help.rescue.org/donate/afghanistan?ms=fb_ppc_fy21_afghanistan_20210712&initialms=fb_ppc_fy21_20210712&fbclid=IwAR3D03CoODm1ws0EgKNl2WnHj_lHJ32ydcCZp6-Sj0TsPemg5AFCx3gnRuI and https://www.facebook.com/donate/887738608492266/10158417116015003/


3. Many of us with day jobs are writing op-eds or media for which we are paid, I’m donating ALL proceeds I receive to help Afghans. Obviously, if you’re a struggling writer, you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself. But most doing this have day jobs. This is pocket money for us. But with the average OpEd fee, you can help a dozen Afghans. Do I sound preachy? Yes. I won’t apologize.

4. If you’re offering your “hot takes” because you have something to say, be cognizant that many who read your well-intentioned hot takes on “empire” or whatever, fall on those of us who have worked in Afghanistan as offensive&triggering. Remember that many of our students have served in various capacity whether in the United States, Europe, Australia, India and of course Afghanistan and beyond. Do you want to make them think you’re a heartless ass with your ill-informed and posturing “hot takes”? Do you want your colleagues to think you’re a heartless ass with no actual experiences or understanding to underpin your “hot takes.”

5. Don’t just recirculate the tired wisdom of the grand white men of strategic grand strategery WHO GOT US INTO THIS MESS. Instead, LISTEN to the Afghans on Afghan twitter. Even if they write in Dari or Pashtu, Google translate does a fair job. LISTEN MORE to them.

6. Don’t recycle/ legitimize Pakistani talking points that: The Taliban freed Afghans; Pakistan is the REAL victim here; that this was US imperialism when the most enduring imperialists have been the Pakistanis. They’ve been trying to subjugate Afghanistan since the late 50s.

7. Finally, if you are a US citizen reach out to your congressional representation. If you are American, you find your 2 senators and house rep here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. If you are not a US citizen and your soldiers or civilians worked alongside Afghans, reach out to your parliamentary reps. We may not get the outcome we desire, but we don’t have to it here bitching when we CAN take steps.

WRITING ON THE WALL

How Afghanistan was lost on an Installment Plan

By CHRISTINE FAIR | August 2021

On 7 October 2001, the United States entered Afghanistan under the aegis of “Operation Enduring Freedom.” The invading party was a small group of special operators entering Afghanistan from Tajikistan. Their goal was to shore up the Northern Alliance after their leader, a murderous warlord known as Ahmad Shah Massoud, was grievously injured in the first suicide attack Afghanistan had ever experienced on 9 September 2001. The Americans did not expect that the Taliban would fall quickly, but they did. Nor were the Americans able to deter the Northern Alliance from storming Kabul, which they did. And, in these fateful weeks, the United States ensured its eventual defeat in a war that would stretch out for nearly twenty years and which would become the longest war in America’s history.

In the early weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, then Pakistan President Musharraf was forced to reckon with the reality that Pakistan would have to break with its long-time proxy the Taliban, even if it was temporary. In exchange for his cooperation, Musharraf had three early expectations from Washington. First and foremost, he wanted the Americans to prevent the Northern Alliance from taking Kabul. As an analyst at RAND, I had a ground-floor view of American decision-making in Afghanistan and the shocking ignorance about Afghanistan among American policy-makers. Few understood that from Pakistan’s point of view, the Northern Alliance was an Indian proxy just as the Taliban were a proxy of Pakistan. In fact, Ahmad Shah Massoud did not die in Afghanistan; rather, he died in an Indian field hospital in Tajikistan.

Second, President Musharraf wanted some American efforts to resolve the so-called “Kashmir Dispute,” from which the US government had long washed its hands. Secretary of State Collin Powell gave some life to this expectation but this expectation too was smashed on the rocks of reality.

Third, Musharraf wanted to ensure the safety of Pakistan’s “strategic assets.” While Washington never acted against Pakistan’s program as it did against Iran’s program and even while Washington never did anything to punish Pakistan for AQ Khan’s illicit nuclear arms bazaar, it did force Pakistan to reconsider its strategic requirements as the United States tumbled ahead with the bomb-friendly so-called Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Agreement and equally important agreements on satellite launch and other space programs. These agreements were intended to bolster India’s strategic assets as Washington believed that a rising India would be able to assist in the management of China’s pugnacious rise in the region and the international system.

But Washington also failed to understand the perturbing nature of Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan, and it ignored very early signals that Musharraf had in fact done a U-turn on its U-turn on the Taliban. In fact, Pakistan’s duplicity could be evident as early as December 2001 when Jaish-e-Mohammad executed — thankfully ineffectively — a suicide attack on India’s parliament building. India mobilized for war with the full encouragement of the US Ambassador in Delhi, Robert Blackwell. Blackwell was a political appointee who was close to US President George W. Bush. While Blackwell was nudging the Indians towards war, the US Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain was doing her level best to keep the Pakistanis engaged on the western border where Pakistan was supposed to be the anvil to the US hammer in Afghanistan. As the Americans, with their Northern Alliance allies pushed the Taliban and their al-Qaeda associates south, they fled to Pakistan’s tribal Areas. Nonetheless, as India mobilized the largest force deployment since the 1971 war, Pakistani forces reoriented from the west to the east. The standoff remained for months. A second peak of this crisis occurred in May 2001 when terrorists associated with the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba slaughtered the wives and children of Indian army personnel at Kaluchek. Again, both countries teetered on the brink of war.

Meanwhile, on the Afghan-Pakistan border, the Pakistanis did little to stop the Taliban and al-Qaeda from ensconcing themselves in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Many Americans familiar with Pakistan and Afghanistan at the time (including this author) believed that Lt. General Ali Jan Aurakzai, the extremely important XI Corp Commander, in fact aided and abetted the fleeing Taliban. This was entirely within the performance envelope of the Pakistan army. Many American special operators witnessed first-hand the audacious “Kunduz Airlift” during which Pakistan made dozens of C-17 sorties to rescue their Taliban associates and their ISI trainers.

By 2005, the United States and its NATO allies were under the delusion that major combat operations had ended. As political officer with the United Nations in Kabul in 2007, I also saw firsthand the shocking discussions among NATO military leaders during which they actually debated whether or not Afghanistan was undergoing an insurgency. Many of the absurd questions and policy approaches that the US stumbled into in Iraq were now tripping them in Afghanistan. To anyone with at least two neurons firing, it was obvious that the Taliban were on the offensive after enjoying a recuperative spell in Pakistan.

To this observer, it seemed apparent that this effort would fail as early as 2005. The reason for this was simple: the United States had been so focused upon al Qaeda that the Taliban were a secondary — if not tertiary — concern. And Pakistan delivered on al Qaeda. Whenever a US official travelled to Pakistan, there was always a freshly caught “al Qaeda #3” on offer. However, once Afghanistan was largely free of al Qaeda — because it had shifted to Pakistan — the US and NATO began focusing upon nation building and defeating the Taliban. However, this required a substantially larger deployment footprint in Afghanistan. This “deployment footprint” not only included American and NATO soldiers, it also included an ever-expanding armada of defencse contractors (more commonly known as “mercenaries”) as well as civilian aid workers, who in turn were protected by the said mercenaries. With American enmity with Iran never seriously in abeyance, the only means of supplying this ever-expanding circus of war fighters, war profiteers and do-gooders was through the ground lines of control in Pakistan. These included air routes for very sensitive items but generally all of the logical supply went through Pakistan.

In fact, I used to marvel at this well-oiled profit machine. Any genuine insurgent with an iota of sense could have made US and NATO operations impossible simply by positioning themselves at the two crossing points in the Khyber Pass and Chaman. The vast majority of the trucks were carrying fuel. The Taliban needed only to explode the first truck in the convoy and the last. However, that happened rarely as mostly the truckers did it themselves as an insurance fraud. In fact, very little pilferage occurred either on the Pakistani side. As many of us noted, the amount of pilferage and destruction was kept to a minimum: just enough to keep the Pashtun trucking mafia satisfied and below the threshold which would force the Americans to shift to air supply.

Why was this? Because the Taliban were never an insurgent group. They were and are a wholly owned subsidiary of Pakistan. This war in Afghanistan has been greatly beneficial to Pakistan. Not only did Pakistan receive copious subsidies to support the war in Afghanistan, it was never penalized for continuing to undermine it.

In 2009, when the so-called COINistas coerced President Barack Obama to implement the so-called surge, this author was one of the few who opposed the surge. I did so not because I am a peacenik; rather because I understood that the reason why we needed the surge was the extensive sanctuaries that the Taliban had in Pakistan as well as every possible amenity the proxy outfit required. To defeat the Taliban, the United States had to develop a coercive policy that imposed serious punishment for continued support of the Taliban rather than a policy of unending blandishment and perquisites. The surge would only increase the dependence upon Pakistan. And, as this author predicted, the surge failed to achieve anything but modest gains which were reversed as soon as the soldiers left.

How could a few thousand foreign troops achieve what nearly 400,000 could not?

As the Americans are “severing and sauntering” their way out of Afghanistan, Afghans see the writing on the wall. While talking heads seem surprised that the Taliban never fulfill any of their problems, the Afghans understand that they never would. The reason is simple: the Taliban think they had already won.

This piece was originally published in South Asia on 5 August 2021.

Prime Minister Modi’s Demonetization Policy Exacerbated Violence in Kashmir

 C. Christine FairDigvijay Ghotane and Parina Patel

There have been many reported links between protesters pelting stones at security forces in Kashmir and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with Indian intelligence reports that stone-pelters were paid money by the ISI, and often went on to become militants. This was an important motivation behind the demonetisation of currency notes by the Indian government in 2016. However, this raises the question: has demonetisation really curbed stone-pelting?

On 9 April 2017, Major Gogoi, an Indian Army officer with the 53 Rashtriya Rifles, stationed in Srinagar, garnered accolades at home and criticism abroad when he bound a young Muslim Kashmir man, Farooq Ahmed Dar, to his jeep to shield his forces from stone-pelting protestors. According to Gogoi, he received a distress call from an Indo-Tibetan Police (ITBP) team alerting him that some 1,200 persons had surrounded the ITBP personnel as well as polling staff in the Utligam polling station (40 km from Srinagar) during the violence-marred by polls for the Lok Sabha. The incident again cast a dubious light upon India’s handling of the terrorism and insurgency plaguing the Union Territory (then a State) and gave its state and non-state foes alike fodder for their anti-India information operations.

Stone pelting has become an iconographic means to protest the Indian government in Kashmir since 2008.[1] While scholars and activists often characterise stone-throwing as a form of non-violent protest,[2] the tactic has killed and injured many civilians as well as security forces in Kashmir.[3] One popular explanation for the increasing stone-throwing tactic by Kashmiri youth has been financial support from Pakistan’s notorious intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI). In 2016, after the death of a young and popular militant leader, Burhan Wani, Indian intelligence claimed that Pakistan was paying Kashmiri youth Rs. 500 to throw stones as part of the Rs. 100 crore ($13.6 million) that the organisation expended in the past year to fuel violence in Jammu and Kashmir.[4] In 2017, captured stone-pelters confessed that the ISI paid them some Rs. 5,000 to 7,000 ($68-$95) per month in addition to clothes to throw stones at security forces.[5] Moreover, the Indian Army asserted that “83% of all youth who become militants start with throwing stones for Rs. 500 and therefore needed to be stopped.”[6]

Motivated in considerable measure by these narratives about Pakistani-sponsored violence in Kashmir, on 8 November 2016, the Indian government rendered 86% of the nation’s currency valueless overnight in what was known as demonetisation.[7] The government defended this move on several grounds including a desire to nudge the country towards greater digitisation, to enervate the black market, and to disable Pakistan-supported violence. The government oddly claimed success in the latter objective despite robust evidence against it: 2018 was in fact the deadliest year in a decade.[8]

Even more puzzling is that many Indians, who otherwise denounce the policy, believe that it curbed violence in Kashmir despite evidence to the contrary. A nationally-representative survey of 2,100 respondents found that more than 70% believed that demonetisation “played an important role in curbing terrorism as it has dealt a huge blow to the funding of terror in states like Jammu & Kashmir as well as left-wing extremist violence across several states’ even while the same survey evinced respondent doubts that the policy achieved its other objectives.[9]

There is very little room for doubt that Pakistan sponsors various kinds of violence in Kashmir and elsewhere in India, and it is most likely true that some stone-throwers are compensated. But it is unlikely that all do so because of Pakistani remuneration or that these payments are their only or primary motivation.[10] While the truth lies somewhere between India’s maximalist claims of Pakistani culpability and Pakistan’s blanket claims of innocence, Kashmiris are caught in the middle.

To assess Delhi’s assertion that demonetisation curbed stone-throwing in Kashmir, we assembled a novel district-level dataset of daily stone-pelting events between 1 August 2013 and 31 December 2017, along with other explanatory variables that may account for stone-pelting, such as: opportunity costs, weather factors, whether the day is Friday or whether the day occurs during Ramazan, whether the district is rural or urban, and whether the district is comprised mostly of Muslims or non-Muslims.

Because of the enduring nature of this conflict, we limited our scope of inquiry to 1 August 2013 through 31 December 2017. Expanding this timeline would necessitate controlling for major events in India and Pakistan bilateral relations as well as significant developments in relations between J&K and the central government. We also sought to limit our scope of inquiry to one year after demonetisation because we presume that Pakistan—sooner rather than later—developed counter-measures to thwart the demonetisation policy even though we are dubious about India’s claims on the salience of this factor.

Since our extensive efforts to find extant data – which included filing multiple Right to Information requests – foundered, per force, we assembled a novel dataset of stone-pelting events for this study using three different sources including: data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) which included 603 stone-pelting incidents over 532 observations; the South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP) included 357 stone-pelting incidents spanning 239 observations; as well as a manual search of four Kashmir-based, English-language dailies (i.e. Daily ExcelsiorGreater KashmirKashmir Observer and Kashmir Times) for stone-pelting occurrences, which yielded 126 observations of stone-pelting. Note that we ensured that no event was double counted. Our final dataset contained 797 observations of stone-throwing from August 1, 2013 until December 31, 2017 which we depict timewise in Figure 1 and district-wise in Figure 2.

Figure 1: Trends in Stone-pelting Source: In-house tabulation of data
Figure 1: Trends in Stone-pelting
Source: In-house tabulation of data
ChristineFair_Picture 2
Figure 2. Stone-pelting Incidents by District
Source: In-house tabulation of data

While one may be tempted to simply analyse the trend lines in Figure 1 and look at the quantum of stone-pelting events before and after the policy of demonetisation, such an exercise would not be adequate. After all, increases or decreases in stone pelting could be caused by unusual weather trends (temperature and precipitation), the occurrence of Ramazan, features of the districts (urban/rural, population composition), economic opportunity costs imposed by stone pelting and possible subsequent arrest, or a combination of some or all of these variables. Thus, to accurately discern the impact of this policy upon stone-pelting we must also control for other factors that likely influence the occurrence of stone pelting. The best methodology for this is regression analyses wherein our dependent variable is the occurrence of stone pelting on a given day in a given district and our control variables include whether or not the data on stone pelting falls before or after demonetisation as well as district averages for the aforenoted controls. We also ran similar models wherein we controlled for the killing of Burhan Wani on 8 July 2016 which catalysed considerable unrest.[11]

Additionally, because we could not estimate the binary variables for demonetisation and Wani’s death simultaneously, we estimated the same model (Equation 3) using three different time periods to disentangle the effects of demonetisation policy and Wani’s death. The first period is before Wani’s killing (1 August 2013 until 8 July 2016). The second period is after his death but before demonetisation was enacted (9 July 2016 until 9 November 2016). The third period is after the demonetisation policy was enacted (10 November 2016 to 31 December 2017).[12]

In none of these models do we find any empirical support for the Indian government’s claim that demonetisation reduced stone-pelting; rather, we found that stone-pelting increased after demonetisation even after controlling for other confounding factors such as temperature, precipitation, economic opportunity costs, and demographics of the district among other variables.  Stone pelting also increased after Wani’s demise, all other variables held constant. We also found that stone-pelting was most common in urban, more densely populated, Muslim-dominant districts; on Fridays and during Ramazan; and on warmer days, all else constant. This is generally consistent with expectations about target density and the roles of Friday prayer and possibly Ramazan in both decreasing the organisational cost of mobilisation but also the opportunity costs of doing so.

The most illuminating variable is our proxy for economic opportunity costs of stone-pelting (the price of onions). The Indian government justified demonetisation by the assertion that Pakistan instigated unrest by paying stone-throwers daily and monthly sums as well as clothes and other in-kind goods. Prior to Wani’s killing, people seemed sensitive to opportunity costs. If the Pakistanis were inundating the region with significant amounts of cash, we should not expect to observe this sensitivity. After Wani’s death and prior to the onset of demonetisation, opportunity costs correlate with stone-pelting consistent with the possibility that people are so enraged that they simply do not care about the economic repercussions of protesting.

As noted above, we also ran regressions having divided the sample into the three periods. In the third period, corresponding to the post-demonetisation period which lasted 13 months, we find no relationship between opportunity costs and stone-pelting with other variables accounting for the observed variation in stone pelting. In this period, if the government’s claims about Pakistani support were valid on a large scale, we should have seen a negative correlation between onion prices and stone-pelting because the large notes purportedly supplied by Pakistan were now useless.

Understanding the real impact of demonetisation upon stone pelting is important for several reasons. Indians who believe this narrative that all disturbances in the troubled state are an artifact of Pakistani manipulation necessarily view Kashmiri discontent as illegitimate despite the various sources of data that attest to sustained grievances among Kashmiri Muslims, particularly in the valley.[13] The official discourse depicts Kashmiris as “misguided youth” who are “guided by remote control from across the border” and “working under a well-thought-out long-term plan of Pakistan to create a situation where people would not participate in any election in the future.”[14] Prime Minister Modi himself, while addressing an audience in Srinagar in November 2019, has described the stone pelters as “misguided youths who are under the influence of false propaganda from a foreign power” and elaborated that “every stone or weapon picked up by the youth of this state is only meant to destabilise their own state.”[15]

Such characterisations render the stone-pelters the primary obstacle to development and democratisation in the state rather than state failures and as such there is no concomitant moral requisite to engage Kashmiris on the sources of their disaffection.  Consequently, this characterisation of the stone pelters and their motivations shrinks any political space throughout India to consider their grievances within any constitutional or political framework.

This piece was published on June 22, 2021 by Gateway House India.

References:

[1] Parthasarathy, Malini. 2010. “Understanding Kashmir’s Stone-pelters.” The Hindu, August 4. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/Understanding-Kashmirs-stone-pelters/article16120870.ece.

[2] Pressman, Jeremy. “Throwing stones in social science: Non-violence, unarmed violence, and the first intifada.” Cooperation and Conflict 52, no. 4(2017): 519-536. doi.org/10.1177/0010836717701967.

[3] There are no comprehensive and/or reliable estimates available. In 2018, the Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir informed the upper house (Rajya Sabha) that between 2015-2017, there were 4,799 stone-pelting incidents in which 17 protestors and two security personnel were killed. However, this report doesn’t indicate whether the protestors were killed by the stone-pelting or by the security forces themselves (Rajya Sabha, Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs. “Unstarred Question No-556.” Answered on February 7, 2018. https://rajyasabha.nic.in/rsnew/Questions/QResult.aspx; “4,799 stone- pelting incidents in J-K in 2015-17; 19 killed.” 2018. Financial Express,   February 7. https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/4799-stone-pelting-incidents-in-j-k-in-2015-17-19-killed/1056631/.

[4] Bhalla, Abhishek. 2016. “Pakistan funded terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.” India Today, July 15. https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/pakistan-funds-terror-jammu-and-kashmir-isi-hafiz-saeed-329312-2016-07-15.

[5] Pathak, Sushant and Jamshed Adil Khan. 2017.“Stone-pelters on Hire in Kashmir.” India Today, March 29. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/jammu-and-kashmir-stone-pelters-hizbul-mujahideen-burhan-wani-968402-2017-03-29.

[6]“‘Stone-pelters today, terrorists tomorrow’: Army’s grim message to J-K.” 2019. Hindustan Times, August 2. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/stone-pelters-of-today-terrorists-of-tomorrow-army-s-message-to-j-k-moms/story-GIIaco5YGjqx7Tus9rllEL.html.

[7] Doshi, Vidhi. 2016.“Cash for queues: people paid to stand in line amid India’s bank note crisis.” The Guardian, November 27. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/28/india-bank-lines-controversy-cash-for-queuing.

[8] Slater, Joanna and Ishfaq Naseem. 2018. “2018 is the deadliest year in a decade in Kashmir.” The Washington Post, December 23. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/2018-is-the-deadliest-year-in-a-decade-in-kashmir-next-year-could-be-worse/2018/12/22/493ff2e4-03bb-11e9-958c-0a601226ff6b_story.html.

[9] Das, Prajanma. 2019.“De-mon-niversary: 70% Indians think demonetisation helped control terror, says study.” Edex Live, November 8. https://www.edexlive.com/news/2019/nov/08/demonetization-anniversary-digital-india-jk-terror-fund-8982.html.

[10] Ganie, Mohd Tahir. “‘All I got is stones in my hand’: youth-led stone pelting protests in Indian-administered Kashmir.” Social Movement Studies 20, no. 1 (2021): 115-123.

[11] For more details see C. Christine Fair, Digvijay Ghotane & Parina Patel (2021) Did India’s demonetization policy curb stone-pelting in Indian-administered Kashmir, Small Wars & Insurgencies, published online May 25, 2021. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09592318.2021.1915678.

[12] For more details see C. Christine Fair, Digvijay Ghotane & Parina Patel (2021) Did India’s demonetization policy curb stone-pelting in Indian-administered Kashmir, Small Wars & Insurgencies, published online May 25, 2021. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09592318.2021.1915678.

[13] International Crisis Group. “Raising the Stakes in Jammu and Kashmir, Report 310.” August 5, 2020. https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-asia/kashmir/310-raising-stakes-jammu-and-kashmir.

[14] Sahay, Mohan. 2017. “Kashmir politics: Not a stone’s throw away.” Economic Times, May 5. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/blogs/et-commentary/kashmir-politics-not-a-stones-throw-away/

[15] “Modi in Srinagar: Every stone picked by misguided youth hurts Kashmir.” 2019. Business Standard, November 21, 2019. https://www.business-standard.com/article/politics/modi-in-srinagar-every-stone-picked-by-misguided-youth-hurts-kashmir-118051900607_1.html.

The Revenge of Farkhunda

C. Christine Fair


There was nothing notable about the Afghan woman known as Farkhunda Malikzada while she was alive. No one would have read about her in local or international papers. She wasn’t a politician, a grass-roots organizer, or one of few liberal activists demanding more rights for women and children in a country that has steadily marched back in time since the 1970s when women in Kabul sported miniskirts, sipped wine and pursued their professional and personal dreams in a beautiful city surrounded by snow-kissed mountains.

Instead, Farkhunda was a devout Muslim who was disquieted by superstitious accretions she observed in the Islam practiced by most Afghans. She wore a black hejab covering her head and a long black coat which would have been more common in an Arab country than in Afghanistan where women tend to wear the ubiquitous blue burqa.

But, in death, Farkhunda became a stark reminder of American failures to cultivate robust democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights in Afghanistan despite: occupying the country since late 2001; spending more money, in purchasing power parity, on this country of 37 million than it did rebuilding post-World War II Europe; fighting the longest war in American history; and losing thousands of American and allied soldiers, civilians and contractors and more than 157,000 Afghans. Despite the squander of life and treasure, the dark influence of the Taliban endures undaunted.

Few Americans had heard of the Taliban or its reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar before the terror attack of 11 September 2001. Despite continuous military action by the United States and its NATO allies in the country searching for him, Mullah Omar died in 2013 in Pakistan from complications related to hepatitis. He was likely sixty years old at the time of death. He founded the Afghan Taliban in 1994 as a movement of students who were studying in Deobandi (a South Asian Islamic interpretative tradition) seminaries in Pakistan. In fact, the name “Taliban” means students. There are few confirmed photos of Mullah Omar. The most common image is that from 1993 which depicts his missing right eye. He lost it while fighting the Soviet Union, which had occupied Afghanistan between December 1979 and February 1989. He required this photographic evidence of injury to claim compensation from the Afghan government. At the time, he was an American ally as the United States, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, supported the so-called mujahideen’s effort to oust the Russians from the country.

After founding the Taliban in 1994, the movement swiftly seized control of most of Afghanistan by 1998, with the unstinting financial, military, and political support of Pakistan. By 1998, the world increasingly became aware of the Taliban’s unusual cruelties and crimes against humanity. Men were threatened with death if they did not grow their beards. They were severely punished if they failed to ensure “their women’s” compliance with the Taliban’s strictures. Girls were no longer allowed to study. Women were forbidden from working, which immiserated countless widowed mothers whose menfolk had died in the decades of warfare. When the Taliban adjudged that a woman or girl had violated any of their draconian diktats, the Taliban stoned them to death in soccer stadiums where crowds were encouraged to attend the gruesome spectacle.

Farkhanda is just one victim from among countless others and deserves no more or less pity. Perhaps it was the public nature of her inhuman murder that garnered international attention and prompted many to wonder whether Afghanistan would escape its own past. Perhaps it was just a fluke of timing or the result of particular hue and cry from critical diplomats that made her lynching seem uniquely cruel.

Whatever the reason, we know that on 19 March 2015, the 28-year-old woman had an altercation with a mullah (a Muslim preacher). In Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, mullahs rarely have completed the religious education required by curriculum (Dars-e-Nizami) in the seminaries (madrassahs). Thus, all too often they propound local superstitions rather than the prescription and proscription in the Quran. Indeed, few of these uneducated ulema can read the Quran with understanding as it is written in early seventh-century Arabic. According to the woman’s father, Farkhunda quarreled with the mullah over the common-place practice of exploiting unlettered woman by selling them, often expensive, amulets at shrines. Heterodox Islam frowns upon such rituals and some devout Muslims even believe they constitute shirk (apostasy) as they ascribe mystical powers to inert objects and to those who distribute them when Allah alone has such attributes.

During the argument, the mullah falsely accused her of burning a Quran. It was a common but deadly tactic to silence critics. Those who overheard the allegation immediately decided that she must be killed. She was beaten with bats, stomped upon, and driven over by a car after which her body was dragged by a car and then immolated. 

Her real crime? She had the temerity as a woman to challenge superstitious practices propounded by ignorant male clerics. The trial that ensued against the police that failed to protect her as well as the participants in the murderous frenzy was galvanized by domestic and international outrage and sought to protect Afghanistan’s image rather than obtain justice for the atrocity. Her family repined that the true culprits, including the one who ran her over with his car, were never charged.

There are several ironies in this tale of Farkhanda. On the one hand, it was the tenure of the Taliban which empowered these “lumpen mullahs” to deploy the religion they so poorly understood as a weapon to silence detractors, especially women. But Farkhanda was no “Gloria Steinem of the Hindu Kush.” In fact, her interpretation of orthodox Islam was much closer to that of the Taliban than the amulet-hawking mullahs who are often criticized by the very Deobandi clergy which produced the Taliban’s ideology. However, even though her arguments against useless talismans would have pleased Mullah Omar, the temerity of a woman to speak to a mullah, a man, and impugn him would have signed her death warrant.

Mullah Omar’s followers believe that upon arrival in heaven, he would enjoy the endless pleasures of the celestial maidens who have been untouched by man or djinn.

In this piece titled “Farkhanda’s Revenge,” I instead imagine Farkhanda waiting for him at the doorstep of heaven and quarrelling with him just as she did the other mullah. I take solace imagining that brave woman insisting that Mullah Omar justify her heinous slaughter for defending orthodox Islam against its defilers. If she could, this is exactly what she would have done. Maybe this is Farkhanda’s legacy?


Carol Christine Fair is an American artist and scholar. She is professor in the Security Studies Program within the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Her work is primarily focused on counter-terrorism and South Asian topics.

Text and art copyright 2020 Christine Fair

A version of this essay was published by Vox Populi on December 19, 2020.

Grappling with Pakistan’s ‘influence operations’: When the patriarchy moves in to silence a female critic

For some 10 years, I have relentlessly exposed Pakistan’s influence operations against American scholars, analysts, journalists and the institutions that employ them and rely upon their ability to raise funds to support the organisations’ overhead costs and salaries. Through this basic economic necessity, most of the think-tanks in Washington, DC and the writers who focus on South Asia have been coopted by Pakistan’s influence operations because these individuals have generally positioned themselves as Pakistan-whisperers to private and public funders.

This renders them dependent on Pakistani visas and access to officials in and out of uniform. The result is chilling: Analysts who know better — or ought to know better — self-censor to retain this access. In the process, they have become witting or unwitting assets to Pakistan. In response to my most recent criticism, two white men who are considerably senior to me, have turned to the popular tactic of appealing to my employer in an effort to silence me. Two senior men appealing to my leadership to discipline my voice or silence me altogether is white maleness in action. It is the patriarchy in action. In doing so, these individuals hope that I will temper my tone.

I will not.

On Monday 14 October, Michael Krepon who “co-founded the Stimson Center in 1989 and served as Stimson’s President and CEO until 2000, and who continues to direct Stimson’s programming” joined hands with Andrew Wilder, a “vice-president of Asia programs” at the United States Institute of Peace to draft a letter to the president of the organisation that employs me. They also contacted several other South Asia analysts in hopes that they would sign this letter. (I have reproduced the original letter below. Because some of the persons whom I know were contacted are not on this first email, I can assume that their first effort did not produce the anticipated yield of signatories and they reached into the lower benches of the field.)

The letter claims that my assertions about the ways in which Pakistani influence operations have shaped the policy debate to Pakistan’s benefit have coarsened the political discourse. What they seek to obfuscate is that these men do not contribute meaningfully to an empirically buttressed political discourse; rather, they contribute to an unrelenting parade of apologies for the most outrageous of Pakistani behaviours. It is they — not me — who have coarsened political discourse by introducing into it Pakistani talking points, preferred historical arguments, and representations for purposes of programmatic expedience and convenience as I explain below.

Given their seniority, in writing to the president of my employer, they are engaging in a form of bullying enjoyed by senior white men to silence agentive female critics, particularly those of us who are junior to the men who seek to muzzle us. This is the Old White Boys Club in its basest form appealing to oldest trick in the book of asking a senior man to discipline an uppity woman in his remit.

Image result for silencing women's voices

Michael Krepon has a history of sending me misogynist and condescending emails. He has accused me of “losing my way” as if I am a lost sheep and he is the masterly shepherd. When I chastised him for refusing to publicly acknowledge that he was a member of a task-force to re-examine US policies towards Pakistan much-less sign onto its recommendations, he rebuked me for daring to question his reservations about a report that recommended considering the possibility of considering sanctions against Pakistan at some indefinite point in a remote future.

Image result for little bo peep shepherd

I was not surprised by the language and tone used in this open letter, provided below, in which they reduced my concerns about the necrotic impact of Pakistani influence operations upon the public discourse surrounding that country as “eruptions” and consistently mischaracterised my descriptions of influence operations and their complicity in the same.

What are influence operations? A primer

While it is not uncommon for US officials to be seconded to other friendly nations for temporary duty assignments, Pakistan is not a friendly State. Its crimes include: Murdering thousands of Americans in and out of uniform as well as our NATO and non-NATO allies and tens of thousands of Afghans in addition to many thousands of Indians. Moreover, Pakistan — with lucrative and fungible American economic support–is fastest growing nuclear power inclusive of the development of battle-field nuclear weapons.

Pakistan uses this arsenal along with its petting zoos of terrorists to stoke the fears that “Pakistan is too dangerous to fail” and thus continues to coerce the United States to acquiesce to IMF bailouts and other forms of assistance. It is this verity that allows Pakistan to be near certain that there will be no FATF blacklisting and thus can view remaining on the “grey list” as a political victory. This is nuclear coercion in its crudest and truest form.

Yet it seems that there is literally no Pakistani crime which the witting objects of Pakistani influence operations won’t defend with three consistently and notable exceptions: Jeff Smith at the Heritage Foundation, whose integrity is beyond reproach and who is oddly not included in their missive; Ambassador (retired) Husain Haqqani of Hudson who has repeatedly outed the Derp State for its murderous hijinks; and the doyen of South Asian studies, Ashley Tellis of Carnegie, who never minces his words when it comes to Pakistan. The other gentlemen who opine and repine on South Asian affairs in DC refrain from criticism, engage in relentless “both side-ery” antics and traffic in false equivalence.

Image result for influence operations pakistan

In this letter, both Krepon and Wilder, insinuate that I am suggesting that they are paid agents or have acquiesced to explicit quid pro quos with Pakistan. In fact I doubt that these are arrangements are so explicit as this courts jail time unless one is a legally registered foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Recent examples of persons who have been so convicted include Ghulab Nabi Fai and Nisar Ahmed Chaudhry.  Explicit quid pro quos are not only risky, they are unnecessary.

As I have written previously, Pakistan gets what it wants from its dupes without paying them a dime directly. Although, in many cases, the Pakistan government does subsidize their writings by paying for their airfares to and from Pakistan and/or by facilitating their travel within Pakistan to places like Waziristan where their travel would otherwise be prohibited. For example, in Pakistan: A Hard Country, Anatol Lieven subtly thanks the Pakistan Army for doing so.

For several years, the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC hosted academics and journalists on paid tours to Pakistan, which included trips to Waziristan to showcase the ostensibly successful efforts of the Pakistan Army. In exchange for such opportunities, analysts write favourable assessments without any credible baseline. For example, Michael Kugelman wrote enthusiastically about his trip to Waziristan which he concedes was arranged by the Pakistan Army in his piece for War on the Rocks, an influence blog for those engaged in political-military concerns in the United States.

I understand the professional requirement for some of these persons to cultivate visas and meetings with high-level Pakistani officials in and out of uniform because they have assured various funders of their ability to do work in Pakistan. Thus, visas and access allow them to launder grants into their organisations to pay for overhead and salaries. This dependence upon such grants and soft monies is precisely why such influence operations are so successful. Only persons who have no need for such hustles are truly free to speak their minds. Of course, one has choice about the projects they take on: They could always choose projects that do not require them to propitiate Pakistan’s equities. Thus this bureaucratic reality is not exculpatory, rather explanatory.

I know this process of cultivation well, because the Pakistanis long tried to cultivate me but failed although I never let them pay for my international airfare and blogged about the various (often humorous) lies they sought to sell me. And I do remember when I worked for the United States Institute of Peace and at the RAND Corporation, I too was compelled to work in Pakistan. When I said things that pleased them, I was easily accommodated. Early in my career, when I made stupid mistakes about Kashmir, the Army Band actually serenaded me at a banquet. It played my then favourite raunchy song: Bilo da Ghar.

But I grew wiser, began engaging more primary source documents and evolved from a research assistant to a researcher and began using my voice commensurate with my growing stature, I recall very well the dread of submitting my visa after being particularly outspoken. When the Pakistanis first began signaling discontent with my positions, they began delaying the processing of my visa. It went from being processed in the same day to six weeks. Finally, they threatened me with violence and never issued me another visa. But in being rendered persona non grata, I have been rendered free to speak my mind. It’s a freedom I cherish. I no longer need to bite my tongue about Pakistan’s crimes. I no longer expect a red carpet in Rawalpindi stained with the blood of citizens, friends and allies.

Pakistan is not the only country that does this: China has done this for decades. Many scholars who built their careers around their China expertise can no longer return because their writings eventually discomfited the regime. Many scholars, reporters and analysts have been ousted from China for writing what needs to be written and saying what needs to be said. Israel, Russia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar are just a few of the countries that seek to discipline those who write about the country by calibrating access to officials or even access to visas, needed to visit the country.

I am right to continue to identify the impacts of Pakistani influence operations and this effort of organisational bullying will only prompt me to redouble my trenchant observations of this phenomenon and its outcomes. I will not sacrifice my integrity for a visa or any number of opportunities to be lied to by Pakistani officials. Nor will I let my colleagues off the hook because they do.

This was originally published in First Post on 25 October 2019.

Post-Script

@ThePrintIndia which published the offending pieces wouldn’t print the follow-up, whith First Post ran, ostensibly because the editor is friends with Krepon. This is how MALE PRIVILEGE works, by the way.So, in a convoluted way, Gupta Sahab HIMSELF is working to suppress one of the few voices in DC that call this bullshit out.

Many apologies to @Ullekh for sending him this piece when I didn’t know it had been published, albeit in a more abbreviated version.

So, in a convoluted way, Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Print, HIMSELF is working to suppress one of the few voices in DC that call this bullshit out.

Many apologies to @Ullekh for sending him this piece when I didn’t know it had been published, albeit in a more abbreviated version. I also apologize to his fact checkers who knew about the piece and were confused. (I’ll publish the full piece on my blog later this week.)

CCF email 1
CCF email 2

The writer is author of In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (OUP, 2019) and Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (OUP, 2019). The views here are her own and do not reflect those of Firstpost, her employer or other organisations with which she affiliates.

My Letter to Mikey Krepon and Andy Wilder

As I wrote a few weeks ago, Mikey Krepon and Andy Wilder — two wizened white men —felt it appropriate to write to the president of my employer because I said, say, and will continue to say, things they don’t like. They hoped said president would muzzle me.

As I have repeatedly said, I find this culture of appealing to employers to silence speech one doesn’t like to be particularly necrotic for democracy generally and freedom of speech in particular. Taken to its extreme, should such crybaby half-wits have their way following a hissy-fit tantrum, the only people who will enjoy freedom speech are those with trust-funds. Ditto for cancel culture. And I feel this way irrespective of what side of the political divide a crybaby finds himself.

A screen shot of the boys’ missive, along with the obfuscated emails of the most of the recipients, is given below. The text of their playground sobstory follows at the bottom of this post.

Their missive, along with the obfuscated emails of the recipients, is given below.

While these hyjinx went on while I was in Afghanistan, I didn’t feel the need to response to those dingleberries hanging off the matted ass of white male privilege.

Today, I finally got around to it. And it felt good to explain to these these exalted gentlemen where to go. ( I should’ve provided a map about how to get there, since dudes like these don’t ask for directions. My bad.)

So here we go. Better buckle up buttercups!

Dear Mikey and Andy (After all, if you can refer to my observations in infantalizing terms such as “outbursts,” I can refer to you with infantalizing aphorisms.)


I am going to respond to this note in the spirit in which you intended: weapons-grade assholery. And to make a point of you and calling you out, I am including your first audience. (And as always, have posted this this exchange to my blog because I like transparency.)

First, I am correct in pointing out the pervasive and noxious impacts of Pakistani influence operations which have had an extremely warping impact upon “discourse” and policy discussions about Pakistan. To be clear, Pakistan is a state that is more an American foe than a friend.  Pakistan is directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of several thousand Americans in and out of uniform and our allies in RS and previously ISAF. It is directly responsible for deaths of hundreds of thousands of Afghans. Needless to say, it has also killed tens of thousands of Indians through its use of terrorist proxies. It has used its nuclear weapons to extract many tens of billions of dollars from the US overtly and more covertly.

Now that we are clear on the facts, I will also note with equal clarity that it is is not my “outbursts” or “volleys” (aka “my willingness to call this out”) that is corrosive; rather, it is the pusillanimity of poltroons like both of you and your willingness to acquiesce to Pakistan’s influence operations that is the problem.

Second, in addition to be stunningly puerile, this effort is also stunningly misogynist. Two old white men opining to another white man to muzzle up his yappy bitch is as old as the hills. 

Third, I will continue to identify this Pakistan influence operations and those who willingly succumb for the perquisites that doing so offers. I will continue to criticize your genuflections to a murderous and rogue regime. There is not much you can do about it. If you believe I have slandered you, sue me. I welcome the opportunity to press my case with an even wider audience. I particularly welcome the testimony of US officials who share my view.

Fourth, neither of you titans our our discipline have ever so rallied in defense of other colleagues who have irked the deep state that you both so dearly propitiate.

Let me identify a few notable examples of your failures to mobilize your deep concern for freedom speech, reputational harm or even the ability to do field work at all in Pakistan or even live their in peace and security.


1. Neither of you gentlemen ever howled in protest when the ISI threatened me with gang rape. Some of you asshats even had the feckless temerity to doubt it occurred. However, Husain Haqqani can attest to its reality. He was the ambassador when it happened. And after receiving the threat I was still going to go to Pakistan. He actually called me–against the ISI’s orders–the night before I left. He probably saved my life. And I will be grateful to him for that.

Speaking of Husain and many others whom the Derp State has targeted . When he was detained and his life threatened, did either of you boors mobilize such a letter in defense of him? No. Gentlemen. You rubes did not.

3. Have you ever mobilized in defense of anyone whose life has been threatened by the deep state you defend repeatedly in your various op eds? Ayesha Siddiqua can no longer live in her own country because the fellows you admire so much put a hit out on her life. Did you fine upstanding citizens of the discipline so mobilize to writer letter. How about Taha Siddiqui? How about the bloggers in 2017? I spent WEEKS of my life helping one of those bloggers get to safety. I appealed to you rapscallions and you and you said nothing and did less.

Andy didn’t even lift a finger to help Mubashar Hassan who was captured and tortured by Bangladeshi intelligence even though he was so captured due to his association with USIP and even though USIP had an obligation to provide duty of care under the even the crudest understanding of “duty of care.” It was Ali Riaz and I who did worked tirelessly to get him released.


3. Did either of you so mobilize in defense of the myriad journalists who are currently “disappeared” in Pakistan because they speak the truth about the deep state you pimp in your grant proposals? What about the Baloch who have been disappeared and killed in broad day light?


The short answer is NO. But when it came to defending a very obvious source of influence, you guys were like the Bionic Duo of Duffusry.

(I also noted the people you included. Asra Nomani is NOT a South Asianist. She IS a deeply Islamophobic tool of the right wing who previously tried to get me fired. I also noticed that you included Feroz Khan, who is another Pakistan influence operation.

Both of you–not me–are disgraces to our discipline and your country who has lost many citizens because of this state you so eagerly defend.


Typos and other infidelities reflect my indifference to you both as colleagues and as ostensibly sentient humans.

Y’all have a great day.

CCF


PS Andy:  while I expected such shenanigans from Mikey, I didn’t expect them from you. But I should have. You have happily let USIP become Zal’s chop-shop to sell the Afghans to Pakistan.

Below is the text of their letter.


Dear Colleagues,

Andrew Wilder and I have drafted a letter to Georgetown about Chris Fair’s characterizations of some of us as being tools of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.
Her latest volleys can be found here:

  *  https://theprint.in/opinion/was-us-institute-of-peace-harbouring-a-pakistani-asset-the-case-of-moeed-yusuf/300386/
  *  https://theprint.in/opinion/washington-to-london-an-inside-account-of-how-pakistans-deep-state-grooms-isi-mouthpieces/245703/
Freedom of speech is precious; using it to spread poisonous and false attacks is an abuse of freedom of speech.
These abuses are all around us. They stain our political discourse. They ruin lives and reputations.
The internet offers no safeguards. Even so, Andrew and I seek to affirm a code of conduct for responsible standards and conduct within our modest community of researchers and analysts. Mutual respect is key. As is calling out unprofessional conduct.

Our proposed letter to the President of Georgetown is attached and can be found below. If you are willing to lend your name to this letter, please let me know by COB Thursday. We would like to list affiliations for purposes of identification only.

If you wish to discuss this with me, please email or call my cell number, below. We suspect this initiative will cause further eruptions. This is even more reason, in our view, for being on record calling for norms of proper professional conduct. Our silence isn’t helping.

Sincerely,
Michael

Michael Krepon | Co-founder
The Stimson Center | mkrepon@stimson.org<mailto:mkrepon@stimson.org> | 434.960.1111
1211 Connecticut Avenue NW | 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
http://www.stimson.org&lt;http://www.stimson.org/>
30 Years of Pragmatic Steps toward Creative Solutions
MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions

John J. DeGioia
President, Georgetown University
37th and O Streets, NW
Washington, D.C.  20057

Dear President DeGioia,

We wish to express our deep concern regarding the unprofessional conduct of Dr. C. Christine Fair, an associate professor at Georgetown University.

For many years Dr. Fair has made baseless ad hominem attacks on experts and scholars working on South Asia. She has frequently and publicly insinuated or explicitly claimed that some who do not agree with her perspective are “proxies” or “agents” of the Pakistani state and its intelligence services. These accusations are unfounded and unsubstantiated. They are not only slanderous, they can endanger individuals engaged in their research and analysis.

The signers of this letter belong to a community of analysts working on South Asia. We may disagree with one another on various issues, but we respect each other’s work. We avoid libel and slander. We do not infer that those who disagree with our views have ulterior motives or are in the employ of foreign intelligence services. We accept professional courtesies, standards and practices not only when writing and speaking as representatives of our institutions, but also when writing and speaking in our personal capacities.

We believe in freedom of expression, and Dr. Fair is certainly entitled to her own views and to disagree with the views and analyses of other experts. But as professionals whose work relies on guarantees of free expression, we also believe strongly that with freedom comes responsibility. Character assassination, ad hominem attacks, slander and innuendo to try to undermine the credibility of scholars and experts with whom Dr. Fair disagrees ought to be out of bounds for the faculty of an esteemed academic institution. Such attacks create risks and reputational harm not only to those being targeted without reason but also to Georgetown.We would request that Georgetown take appropriate actions to ensure that the irresponsible and unprofessional behavior of Dr. Fair not endanger or maliciously undermine the work of others.

Signed (Affiliations for identification purposes only),

Cc:  Robert Groves, Provost, Georgetown University

        Joel Hellman, Dean, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
Download all attachments as a zip file

बेचारे “जले हुऐ गुदे वाले” लड़के फिर रो रहे हैं! कृपा करके, उन्हें बरनोल दे दीजिये!

(For the Urdu wallahs:

بے چار ! “جلے ہوئےسرین والے” لڑکے پھر رو رہے ہیں! براہ کرم ، انہیں برنول دیجئے”

The Boys Are Crying Again….

Michael Krepon and Andrew Wilder have their knickers in a twist because I continue my decade-long campaign to call out Moeed Yusuf’s perduring defense of Pakistan while drawing a salary from the US government, which has been paid for by taxpayers like me as well as other witting and unwitting objects of Pakistani influence operations. To silence me, they have pulled a classic bully move by drafting a letter to my employer and seeking co-signers. Both of these men are senior to me the South Asia food chain. Michael Krepon “co-founded the Stimson Center in 1989 where he served as Stimson’s President and CEO until 2000. He continues to direct Stimson’s programming.” Andrew Wilder is a “vice president of Asia programs” the United States Institute of Peace. This is little more than the quotidian bullying that white men deploy to silence agentive female critics. I am not standing for it. As Michael Krepon has a history of sending me misogynist and condescending emails, I was not surprised by the language and tone used in this open letter by reducing my concerns about the necrotic impact of Pakistani influence operations upon the public discourse surrounding that country as “eruptions” and consistently characterizing my descriptions of influence operations. (This is actually quite deliberate as I have explained it to both of them via email, in my various writings ont he subject and in my various interviews.)

They assert that my unsparing criticisms of Pakistani influence operations “coarsen the discourse.” Unfortunately, thanks to this collection of poltroons, there is no discourse. Rather, there is only appalling apologia for Pakistan’s egregious behaviors characterized by both-sideism, false equivalency, and selective deployment of fact in public settings to avoid drawing the ire of Pakistan’s “Derp State” and the visa and access it can afford. I understand the professional requirement for some of these persons to cultivate visas because they have assured funders of their ability to do work in Pakistan. Thus visas and access allow them to launder grants into their organizations. This is precisely why such influence operations succeed. Pakistan is not the only or even first country to run such operations. China has long done so as do other authoritative regimes seeking to silent consent while grooming support for or, at a minimum, explanatory apologies for its behavior when can be attributed to difficulties beyond the state’s control (ie hostile neighbors, a tough international environment, they are hard to understand without a “native informant,” etc.)

I am right to continually to identify the impacts of Pakistani influence operations and this effort of organizational bullying will only prompt me to redouble my trenchant observations of this phenomenon and its outcomes and the persons who are complicit.

The Precipitant of Their Discomfort

Wilder and Krepon are vexed because I have the temerity to repeatedly and consistently for about 10 years assert that they, along with other so-called scholars who tend to be men, demure from criticizing Pakistan for its various crimes. To quote one un-namable senior intelligence official, I do so “with valid reasons.”

Let’s be clear: Pakistan’s crimes include murdering thousands of Americans in and out of uniform as well as our NATO and non-NATO allies and tens of thousands of Afghans in addition to many thousands of Indians. In addition, Pakistan–with the economic support of American fungible aid and so-called reimbursements such as the Coalition Support Fund program–has become the fastest growing nuclear power inclusive of the development of battle-field nuclear warheads and their delivery systems. Pakistan uses this arsenal along with its petting zoos of terrorists to stoke the fears that “Pakistan is too dangerous to fail” and thus continues to coerce the United States to acquiesce to IMF bailouts and other forms of assistance. It is this verity that allows Pakistan to be near certain that there will be no FATF blacklisting and thus can sell remaining on the “gray list” as a political victory. This is nuclear coercion in its crudest and truest form.

Yet it seems that there is literally no Pakistani crime which the “DC de mundon da posse” (DC boys’ posse) won’t defend with three consistently and notable exceptions: Jeff Smith at the Heritage Foundation, whose integrity is beyond reproach and who is oddly not included in their missive; Amb. (retired) Husain Haqqani of Hudson who has repeatedly outed the Derp State for its murderous hijinx; and the doyen of South Asian studies, Ashley Tellis of Carnegie, who never minces his words when it comes to Pakistan. The other gentlemen who opine and repine on South Asian affairs in DC refrain from criticism, engage in relentless “both side-ery” antics and traffic in false equivalence. Oddly those of us who have been the Cassandras about Pakistani perfidy have generally been women (myself, Alyssa Ayres, Tanvi Madan, Aparna Pande, Lisa Curtis), except for the afore-noted Jeff Smith, Husain Haqqani and Ashley Tellis.

The “जले हुऐ गुदे वाले लड़्के” in their most recent move of pusillanimity have circulated an open letter seeking signatures on a letter which they intend to send to my employer in effort to coerce me to be silent about Pakistan’s sanguinary fuckery and their refusal to call it out. In doing so they seek to deploy their senior white maleness to silence a female scholar lacking their rank. [Spoiler alert: it won’t work. Their levels senescence, melanin and genitalia do not work on me. ]

Also, did they really think that this letter would not get back to me given that many of the persons listed are either my friends and/or agree with me even if they prefer not to say so publicly as I do.

Why does this “DC de mundon da posse” defend the indefensible actions of a hostile nation which kills our citizens and allies while living off of our dole, which has totaled some $70 billion in overt funds and likely much more in covert funds? That is a good question. Let me break it down for you.

What Are Influence Operations? A Primer

Many people, including the aggrieved ManChildren described herein, assume (or pretend to assume) that when I assert that they are participants in Pakistani influence operations that I am implying that they are paid or have acquiesced to explicit quid pro quos with Pakistan’s Derp State.

So, do they take money from the ISI? Maybe. But I doubt it. Doing so is legally risky because you can go to jail for this unless you legally register as a foreign agent, after which you can do so legally. Interested in this gentlemen? Better register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Note that others whom this author has complained about law enforcement agents have subsequently been convicted, such as Ghulab Nabi Fai and Nisar Ahmed Chaudhry. And, for the record, this author also called out Alexis Debat, who was eventually outed as a complete fraud, and Greg Mortenson, whose duplicitous rascality I sniffed out long before his partner and myriad victims outed him for every manner of chicanery, including charity fraud and lying about every important thing in his “book” titled Three Cups of Mendacity [not its actual title but I have no reason to drive book sales for this asshat.] In fact many people were quite nonplussed by my claims. Most of them offered me confused apologies years later when the extent of his guile and swindling was exposed. I am not psychic: I just pay attention and catch peoples’ lies. It’s what my former boxing instructor calls “OCS (On the Corner Shit) knowledge.” In other words, it’s the stuff to which scholars ought to be paying attention.

Not only is it risky, it’s also unnecessary. So how do “influence operations” take place when there is no “lifafe stuffed with cash” or explicit quid pro quo? It’s remarkably simple.

As I have written, Pakistan gets what it wants from its stooges without paying them a dime directly. Although, in many cases, it does subsidize their writings by paying for their airfares to and from Pakistan and/or by facilitating their travel within Pakistan to places like Waziristan where their travel would otherwise be prohibited.

I know this, because the Pakistanis long tried to cultivate me but failed although I never let them pay for my international airfare and blogged about the various (often humorous) lies they sought to sell me.

What Pakistan is doing is running simple influence operations on these witting halfwits in which the ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency which runs and ruins Pakistan and is most notorious for supporting terrorist organizations) simply refuses to grant scholars, analysts and journalists visas and/or the much-coveted access to Derp State officials should they criticize the Derp State as I do, have done, and will do and for which I have been deemed Persona Non Grata. I will not sacrifice my integrity for a visa or any number of opportunities to be lied to by Derp State officials.

Pakistan is not the only country that does this: China has done this for decades. Many scholars, reporters and analysts have been ousted from China for writing what needs to be written and saying what needs to be said.

I am in a somewhat unique position to take this principled stand relative to my colleagues at think-tanks who generally have to “eat what they kill.” (This is think-tank lingo for “raise money to pay yourself or get lost.”) My livelihood does not depend upon me getting a visa for murderous regimes like Pakistan. In fairness to many of the ManBoys complaining about my outspoken description of the way shit works, they seek grants for which they assure their funders that they can get access to both Pakistan and India. India rarely denies these clowns visas no matter how idiotic their blather is; however, Pakistan is another story. And for that Pakistani visa and access to the Men in Khaki, these gents are happy to beclown themselves repeatedly. They seem not remotely disturbed that the red carpet they so adore is red with the blood of our citizens, friends and allies.

By the way: should a sentient person really believe that neither Krepon nor Wilder understand the simplicity of these operations? After all, Krepon has spent most of professional career engaging the Derp State and Andrew Wilder actually grew up in Pakistan as the child of missionaries. Wilder then worked for at least two decades with Save the Children in Islamabad and founded the Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit in Kabul before joining the USIP (which I prefer to call the “US Interlocutors for Pakistan”), where he and his organization have become part and parcel of the Zalmay Zalilzad [not a typo] effort to hand Afghanistan over to the Pakistanis, just as the United States did in 1989. Are we really to believe that these men are so jejune? You are welcome to your opinion but I do not believe for one femtosecond that these men, whose experiences with Pakistan span decades, are such ingenues.

Image result for are you kidding me gif

Ironically, ONE of the persons included on their email (produced below as text and as a screen shot above) is a retired USG intelligence analyst who was actually present at a meeting with me when the ISI’s academic and press handler explained Pakistan’s new policy in 2011/2011: the ISI would not issue visas to those who are critical of Pakistan. I will be watching attentively to see if this individual signs this letter.

The Latest Snowflake Meltdown: Andrew Wilder and Michael Krepon

Image result for pelosi clap for trump gif

Below I reproduce the text they sent around. (I am omitting the email addresses of MOST recipients to protect them as they are innocent of this fucktangle of whiners who are angry about an agentive woman saying things they don’t like being said despite their glaring obviousness.

Some of the people they approached to sign their WhineAThon are curious. They include Asramort No-Imani (who is not a scholar; instead she is a known Fux Noise rabblerouser who previously tried to get me fired). She is actually a self-hating Muslim and slanders people–especially liberals and people of color–for hire. They also included Feroz Hassan Khan, another “two way radio” with the mother ship whose book, Smoking Grass (not its real name), I critically reviewed for its important flaws and Akbar Ahmad, whose risible tome on drones I panned for being empirically absurd and otherwise fatuous.

I am NOT obfuscating the senders’ email. Because why should I protect the guilty? Note that they must not have gotten the signature yield they initially desired as they sent it to lower-tier analysts who are not really South Asia scholars at all. So here we go. Ladies and Gentlemen, fasten your seat belts:

From: Michael Krepon <mkrepon@stimson.org>
Sent: Monday, October 14, 2019 5:45 PM
To: Sameer Lalwani <xxx@stimson.org>; Elizabeth Threlkeld <xxx@stimson.org>; TDalton@xxx.orggperkovich@xxx.orgroberthath47@gxxx.comsunildasgupta@xxx.edu; Feroz Hassan Khan (fhkhan@nps.edu); Tezi Schaffer<tcschaffer@xxx.com >; Polly Nayak <xxx.xxx>;Hassan Abbas < abbashassan@xxx.com>; Akbar Ahmad <akbar@american.edu>; Tricia Bacon <xxx@xxx.edu>;  Kamran Bokhari <xxx@gmail.com>; Robert Grenier <xxxxx@gmail.com>; Sahar Khan <xxxx@cato.org>; peter.r.lavoy@BIGOIL.com; Tanvi Madan <xxxx@brookings.edu; Asif Chaudhry <asifjchaudhry@yahoo.com>; Walter Anderson <xxxx@jhu.edu>; Ashley Tellis xxxx@ceip.org; Touquir Hussain <th258@xxx.edu>; Jack Gill gillj@xxx.edu; AsraMort NoImani asra@asranomani.comSadanand.Dhume@xxx.orgAAyres@xxx.org; Husain Haqqani <xxx@xxx.org>; Bill Milam <xx@gmail.com>; Aparna Pande <xxx@xxx.org>
Cc: Wilder, Andrew <awilder@usip.org>
Subject: RE: Letter to Georgetown Prez on Chris Fair’s ad hominem attacks and character defamation

Dear Colleagues,

Andrew Wilder and I have drafted a letter to Georgetown about Chris Fair’s characterizations of some of us as being tools of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.
Her latest volleys can be found here:

  *  https://theprint.in/opinion/was-us-institute-of-peace-harbouring-a-pakistani-asset-the-case-of-moeed-yusuf/300386/
  *  https://theprint.in/opinion/washington-to-london-an-inside-account-of-how-pakistans-deep-state-grooms-isi-mouthpieces/245703/
Freedom of speech is precious; using it to spread poisonous and false attacks is an abuse of freedom of speech.
These abuses are all around us. They stain our political discourse. They ruin lives and reputations.
The internet offers no safeguards. Even so, Andrew and I seek to affirm a code of conduct for responsible standards and conduct within our modest community of researchers and analysts. Mutual respect is key. As is calling out unprofessional conduct.

Our proposed letter to the President of Georgetown is attached and can be found below. If you are willing to lend your name to this letter, please let me know by COB Thursday. We would like to list affiliations for purposes of identification only.

If you wish to discuss this with me, please email or call my cell number, below. We suspect this initiative will cause further eruptions. This is even more reason, in our view, for being on record calling for norms of proper professional conduct. Our silence isn’t helping.

Sincerely,
Michael

Michael Krepon | Co-founder
The Stimson Center | mkrepon@stimson.org<mailto:mkrepon@stimson.org> | 434.960.1111
1211 Connecticut Avenue NW | 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
http://www.stimson.org&lt;http://www.stimson.org/>
30 Years of Pragmatic Steps toward Creative Solutions
MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions

John J. DeGioia
President, Georgetown University
37th and O Streets, NW
Washington, D.C.  20057

Dear President DeGioia,

We wish to express our deep concern regarding the unprofessional conduct of Dr. C. Christine Fair, an associate professor at Georgetown University.

For many years Dr. Fair has made baseless ad hominem attacks on experts and scholars working on South Asia. She has frequently and publicly insinuated or explicitly claimed that some who do not agree with her perspective are “proxies” or “agents” of the Pakistani state and its intelligence services. These accusations are unfounded and unsubstantiated. They are not only slanderous, they can endanger individuals engaged in their research and analysis.

The signers of this letter belong to a community of analysts working on South Asia. We may disagree with one another on various issues, but we respect each other’s work. We avoid libel and slander. We do not infer that those who disagree with our views have ulterior motives or are in the employ of foreign intelligence services. We accept professional courtesies, standards and practices not only when writing and speaking as representatives of our institutions, but also when writing and speaking in our personal capacities.

We believe in freedom of expression, and Dr. Fair is certainly entitled to her own views and to disagree with the views and analyses of other experts. But as professionals whose work relies on guarantees of free expression, we also believe strongly that with freedom comes responsibility. Character assassination, ad hominem attacks, slander and innuendo to try to undermine the credibility of scholars and experts with whom Dr. Fair disagrees ought to be out of bounds for the faculty of an esteemed academic institution. Such attacks create risks and reputational harm not only to those being targeted without reason but also to Georgetown.We would request that Georgetown take appropriate actions to ensure that the irresponsible and unprofessional behavior of Dr. Fair not endanger or maliciously undermine the work of others.

Signed (Affiliations for identification purposes only),

Cc:  Robert Groves, Provost, Georgetown University

  Joel Hellman, Dean, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

This isn’t the first time someone has done this and it won’t be the last. Every fucktangle of assholery, stupidity and snowflakedom and/or his/her/their aunt/uncle/pet ferret has emailed my employer or will do so before they choke on their own boorishness. In other words, this is no one’s first Weasel Rodeo.

Image result for weasel rodeo

First, in 2013, there was Saleem Ali who actually wrote a letter complaining that I called him a “sexist pig” and a “douche canoe.” I wish I were making it up. But I am not. The greatest minds of my employer had to huddle to evaluate what a “douche canoe” is and whether it’s racist. [It’s not.] The precipitant of this was his unrelenting casual misogyny that spanned about five years and his petulent demands that I “take him seriously” as a scholar of Pakistani security issues. Given that he is a forestry engineer, I declined. And once he did not get the attention he craved, he tried to coerce it by complaining to my employer that by calling him a sexist pig I was in fact a Muslimphobe because he’s a Muslim and pigs are unclean or whatever. (Unfortunately for Muslim misogynists, there is no “sexist cow” or other alternative halal moniker. That’s the expression we have and that’s the expression we use.) Ironically, the nincompoop also wrote a slanderous blog in which he called me an “internet bully” because I refused to endure his casual and not-so casual misogyny. He also sent emails requesting that my colleagues get on his wheel-free “fire CCF” bandwagon. He had few takers. People know that while I am salty, I am not an Islamophobe. They also observed his noxious behavior over these five years and he himself had an unfortunate mishap with telling Shias in Pakistan that they deserve they violence they get because of their rituals. That did not go over well with the liberal South Asianists he sought to woo. His bid to silence me crumbled like a turd cookie. [Is that I thing?]

Then there was the infamous Asramort No-Imani who took exception to my criticizing her mendacious editorial in the Washington Post defending her vote for the GrophenFuhrer.[No link because I don’t want to drive traffic to her intellectual equivalent of “tampon string piss.”]

I wrote about 12 Tweets publicly denouncing her nonsense. After she sent a cloying DM via Twitter, I told her to “Go To Hell.” This was a private message, which she made public because she has no other means of making money other than generating controversies. So, she went crying to Fux Noise which actually made two week-long news cycles out of my private, singular message to this Bill Cosby of American Muslims.

I have since been vindicated many times over with respect to this nutjob. She has famously helped to mainstream and mainline the new “Elders of Zion” anti-Semitic rubbish in the Wall Street Journal; she called me a “left-wing terrorist” on the Kojo Namdi Show because I insisted upon the ouster of “Dick” Spencer, a known Nazi, from my gym because I had the audacity to believe gym employees have right to a safe work environment; among other cerebro-analy inverted shenanigans that are literally too numerous to count. Ironically, this trash bag of compost harassed my employer for well over two months; however, rightwingnut rags fallaciously accused me of harassing her for two months without evidence. They did so even though the Tweets demonstrate (and which they published) that my comments were restricted in number and time frame in contrast to her relentless campaign to get me reprimanded, fired, etc. The “evidence” they presented in fact undermined their own argument. But no one has accused the Fux Noise or the Daily Failer of being mindful of facts nor their “readers” of critically evaluating claims and the evidence undergirding them.

And who can forget Annie Cowen, the ostensibly revered India Bureau Chief for the Washington Post. This stable genius wrote my employer in 2015 whining that I called a piece she co-authored a “rookie move.” (Fun fact: I had actually assumed the first author, Tim McGirk, was responsible for the majority of the shitshow as he was the one based in Pakistan.) She thought that this was uncivil. She also took umbrage at my War on the Rocks article in which I eviscerated the silliness-festooned false-equivalence circus that she and McGirk scribbled (in fat crayons that are safe for addle-pates to use) for the Washington Post. In her letter to my employer, she also repined that I had favorited and retweeted (gasp) an article that advised men on what women like in bed and asked if this is “consistent with Jesuit values.”

Then there were/are the White Male Christian Supremacist Brigades, who took objection to my objection over the deepening rape culture in the United States actively promoted by the US president and US Senate Judiciary Committee. At the instigation of Fucker Carlson and his slithering ilk who made any number of libelous claims which were further promulgated by other rightwingnut radio and web-based outlets, thousands of violent rubes, cretins, troglodytes and invertebrates threatened me and my employer with violence (often expressed with numerous logical and grammatical shortcomings).

So, in short, the latest effort by Y-Chromosome-possessing-Snowflakes to disingenuously complain to my employer is not new. I have T-Rex skin. With each bout of harassment and stochastic terrorism, I grow inured to these stunts.

That which does not kill you makes you bitchier. I call this “The Bitchening.”

So gentlemen, I will keep calling out the shit circus as I see it. And I don’t care if that pisses off snowflakes of any politically persuasion.

If the ManChildren want, I am happy to get them some…burnol or diapers. Their choice. Oh fuck it! I’ll buy them both products because I’m feeling generous tonight.

Image result for diapers for adult men

Image result for burnol

Vice President of USIP, Jill Welch, Tries to Intimidate Shekhar Gupta

Following my piece in The Print, in which I ask whether or not USIP was harboring or nurturing a Pakistani asset, the Vice President of the assinine organization attempts to bully the editor.

What I would like to point out is that at no point does Ms. Welch answer any of the questions posed by this piece. Ms. Welch seems to think that bullying editors without bothering to answer any of the questions I raise is adequate.

As I countered in my response to MS. Welch (I inadvertently addressed her as “Mr.” in my note),

At no point in this missive do you explain USIP’s long-standing pro-Pakistan position under Yusuf, Yusuf’s unremitting defense of a country that has murdered thousands of our citizens and tens of thousands of our allies, the refusal to honor a FOIA request that would in principle clear any suspiciouns about Yusuf, the exclusion of Pakistan’s critics from events (funded with my tax dollars) OR the appropriateness of a person–whose citizenship USIP sponsored–to take a job like this in the government of a hostile country. Nor do you clarify whether or not you will re-hire him when and if he returns to continue doing service on behalf of Pakistan on my dime.


YOU have a lot of explaining to do. And your dismissive effort to intimidate Mr. Gupta is not the end of the issue. I will keep raising the problems with your organization until there is accountability.


Perhaps someone needs to remind you that you WORK for the citizens of the United States, not the citizens of Pakistan. 

From: “Welch, Jill” <jwelch@usip.org>
Date: Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 5:54 PM
To: Shekhargupta@XXXXXXXX.XXXX
Subject: Misleading article posted on your website

Dear Editors,

We are writing to express our extreme disappointment and concern about a recent opinion article posted on your website that put forward misleading, inaccurate information and made baseless accusations about the U.S. Institute of Peace, its staff, and associates (“Was the U.S. Institute of Peace harbouring a Pakistani asset? The Case of Moeed Yusuf,” October 3, 2019).

The author of this article has a long history of making misleading claims—including in a War on the Rocks article from 2017, for which the publication’s editor-in-chief issued an apology for the “serious editorial lapse” in publishing false claims about our colleague Dr. Moeed Yusuf.  The author’s slanderous attacks have by no means been limited to the U.S. Institute of Peace or Dr. Yusuf but also include attacks against other distinguished institutions and members of the foreign policy, national security, and academic communities.

It is thus no surprise the author is continuing her nearly decade-long personal and entirely unfounded attacks against Dr. Yusuf and the U.S. Institute of Peace. 

We stand by Dr. Yusuf’s dedicated work at the Institute, which he has carried out with the highest personal and professional integrity as a well-regarded expert on South Asia. The author’s false statements and implications about inappropriate influence are entirely unfounded.

Let us be clear on the facts:

USIP is a national, nonpartisan, independent institute committed to providing the forum necessary to pursue ideas, opinions, and issues relevant to our mission. We take no position—for or against—Pakistan or any other country.

We take very seriously our duties, as mandated by the U.S. Congress, as a convener to mitigate conflict.

Sincerely,

Jill Welch
Vice President, External Relations
U.S. Institute of Peace

Jill Welch

Vice President, External Relations

United States Institute of Peace
Making Peace Possible
Tel +1 202-429-1975
Cel +1 202-365-4262
USIP.org | Newsletters

And here’s my response to Ms. Welch (erroneously addressed as Mr.)

Your pusillanimous repine

Dear Mr. Welch
At no point in this missive do you explain USIP’s long-standing pro-Pakistan position under Yusuf, Yusuf’s unremitting defense of a country that has murdered thousands of our citizens and tens of thousands of our allies, the refusal to honor a FOIA request that would in principle clear any suspiciouns about Yusuf, the exclusion of Pakistan’s critics from events (funded with my tax dollars) OR the appropriateness of a person–whose citizenship USIP sponsored–to take a job like this in the government of a hostile country. Nor do you clarify whether or not you will re-hire him when and if he returns to continue doing service on behalf of Pakistan on my dime.
YOU have a lot of explaining to do. And your dismissive effort to intimidate Mr. Gupta is not the end of the issue. I will keep raising the problems with your organization until there is accountability.
Perhaps someone needs to remind you that you WORK for the citizens of the United States, not the citizens of Pakistan. 

Warmest

CCF

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.

Source: https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/Research/Asia/0510pp_kashmir.pdf

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.

Source: https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/Research/Asia/0510pp_kashmir.pdf

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).

Source: https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/Research/Asia/0510pp_kashmir.pdf

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: https://images.news18.com/ibnlive/uploads/2017/09/Kashmir-map.png 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.

Conclusions

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.