The causal relationship between Pakistan’s national security state and the deteriorating security environment during the 1990s

Within Pakistan’s national security state, the use of proxy war in the form of jihad severely affected the Kashmiri nationalist movement for independence and weakened Islamabad’s diplomatic standing over the Kashmir issue. It had been transformed from an independence movement into an Islamist martyrdom and imposition of the Sharia system. For example, the Islamist armed groups targeted civilian and Kashmiri pundits for collaboration with the Indian government, forced women to wear the veil, demolished cinemas and liquor shops, and revived the sectarian divide in Kashmir (Hoodbhoy, Dawn, Pakistan, 20 May 2017). As a result, the Kashmir movement has now become a struggle for imposing “a Taliban kind of sharia system” in the Kashmir valley. Moreover, the involvement of nonKashmiri mujahedeen increased resentment against the militant groups in the valley. About 65 percent of Kashmiris viewed the presence of foreign militants as having adversely affected the Kashmir cause of independence (Mattoo 2003). This meant that Pakistan lost local support within Kashmir. The Kashmiris thought that Pakistan was not much different from India, who was only interested in their land, not in their welfare. According to opinion polls, two-thirds of the Kashmiri population viewed Pakistan as having played a negative role in Kashmir in the previous ten years. More specifically, about 60 percent of Kashmiris believed that they were better off politically and economically as a part of India, whereas only 6 percent said they would be better off being Pakistani citizens. About 90 percent of the Kashmiri people disapproved of violence in Kashmir and believed that violence could not solve the issue of Kashmir (Mattoo 2003). Thus, the Kashmir insurgency was declining in the late 1990s.

In addition, Pakistan’s policy of Afghanistan-style “proxy war” in Kashmir was based on a flawed strategy. This is because the Soviet Union supplied relatively limited military resources to Afghanistan. For example, the Soviet Union did not have the required manpower to hold ground throughout Afghanistan. The Soviet forces were restricted to urban centres and strategically significant areas. In contrast, India had enough military manpower and resources to control Kashmir throughout the 1990s. Moreover, the Afghan mujahedeen was supported by the world’s most powerful intelligence agency, the CIA, with the support of ISI (Swami 2006). In Kashmir, Pakistan was alone in fighting the mighty military power of India. It is important to note that Bhutto had already explained to the ISI generals that "the Soviet forces were defeated by US stinger missiles, international finances, diplomacy and politics, not just by proxy war by the jihadists.” This meant that the political leadership had a much better understanding of the issues of strategic importance in the country.

Under the military-centric national security approach, Pakistan heavily relied on proxy wars in Kashmir throughout the 1990s. However, Pakistan did not achieve its strategic goals through proxy war. In fact, India used Pakistan’s proxy war as a justification to suppress the Kashmiris’ genuine uprising for the right to self-determination. More importantly, India still holds the greater part of Kashmir and successfully contested elections since 1996. Moreover, Indian territorial boundaries have remained the same since partition in 1947 (Kapur 2016). So Pakistan failed to solve the Kashmir conflict. In 1999, the Pakistani military made a direct incursion into the Kargil area to take a strategic advantage over the Indian military in Kashmir. Once again, it failed to find a military solution to the issue of Kashmir. Nonetheless, India showed its determination to resist any military intrusion into Kashmir, regardless of cost. Moreover, India has revoked the article 370 of the Indian constitution in August 2019 and declared the Indian-administered Kashmir as Indian union territory (see in Chapter 6).

The Pakistani proxy war adversely affected the cause of the Kashmiri struggle for independence. An estimated 60,000 Kashmiris died as a result of state violence and militant attacks during the 1990s (Timeline Kashmir, retrieved: 19 January 2020). Furthermore, the Kashmiri struggle for freedom is considered Pakistani-sponsored terrorism. The people who were fighting for the nationalist cause of the Kashmir liberation now preferred martyrdom and the fight for Islam. Thus, it has negatively affected the indigenous struggle for freedom in Kashmir.

The proxy war also largely contributed to the internal security threat to Pakistan when the government made a U-turn on Kashmir policy after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many militant groups and their commanders turned against the Pakistani state and formed alliances with Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban. It was generally believed that TTP became the most ruthless organization with the support of Kashmir-based militant groups (see Chapter 6).

In addition, Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir undermined the political process to resolve the issue of Kashmir. This proxy war best served the institutional interests of the Pakistani military to influence the nation's foreign and security policy with respect to India and Afghanistan. In the process, the political institutions became weaker, and this led to political instability throughout the 1990s. It affected both the internal and external affairs of the state (Taylor 2004). Despite its failure, the military did not let the civilian government find a peaceful political solution. The military did not tolerate the civilian governments when they tried to change the direction of foreign and security policies under the national security state.

Internationally, Pakistan was completely isolated after the Kargil War, and its close allies such as China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia did not come to its support. The US remained neutral in the Kargil War. On the other hand, India was praised at the global level as the more responsible state for not having violated the LoC. Consequently, Pakistan lost genuine support for Kashmiri independence due to the proxy war in Kashmir.

In sum, the Kashmir case (1989-2001) confirmed that Pakistan's military-first national security state approach failed to resolve the Kashmir conflict in the 1990s. Due to culture of secrecy in proxy wars, the Pakistani military continued to take all the key strategic decisions on the Kashmir conflict and excluded the civilians from decision making throughout this period, despite civilian governments being in office in the 1990s. So the military has virtually maintained its autonomous

Military-centred approach in Kashmir 119 role in formulating Pakistan’s defence and security policies and exploited the Kashmiri internal uprising to protect its institutional interests in the region and within Pakistan itself. The Pakistani civilian leadership showed their political will and vision for peace to resolve the issue of Kashmir through dialogues. However, the military elite sabotaged the political process by proxy wars and then a direct military attack in Kashmir.

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