Zardari on Kashmir – realpolitik or betrayal?

March 3, 2008

Kashmir - Dal lake/Fayaz KabliAsif Ali Zardari has raised hackles in Kashmir and Pakistan by telling Indian news network CNN-IBN that relations between India and Pakistan should no longer be held hostage to the Kashmir dispute. The leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and widower of Benazir Bhutto said in an interview that the two countries should focus instead on building trade and economic ties.

“I am not getting hostage to that issue,” he said. “The idea is we feel for Kashmir, PPP has always felt for Kashmir, we have a strong Kashmir policy and we always had one. But having said that we don’t want to be hostage to that situation. That is a situation we can agree to disagree (on). Countries do, we have positions, you have positions. We can agree to disagree on everything.”

In the Kashmiri capital Srinagar, the Kashmir Times says his comments “evoked strong reaction and resentment from not only the separatists in the valley, but also from the mainstream politicians”. Greater Kashmir says Zardari had no right to speak on behalf of his country on “the mother of all the issues between India and Pakistan”. Thousands of Kashmiris had not lost their lives in the revolt against Indian rule just so that people like Zardari can promote trade and tourism, it says.Kashmiri children cry during gunbattle/Danish Ishmail

 Pakistan blogger moinansari goes further, accusing him of betraying the beliefs of his late wife and of her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. “PPP Treachery! Unelected Zardari’s True Colors are Showing!” it screams, in a lengthy blog which also includes quotes from both Benazir and Zulfikar Bhutto. “Zardari has no right to speak for Kashmiris or Pakistanis,” it says.

To be fair, the reaction is more muted than it would have been at the height of the Kashmir revolt a few years ago. Even Greater Kashmir concedes that “no sane person in the subcontinent would advocate continuation of strain in the relations between the two neighbors.”

And aside from the blog mentioned, I can find very little in the Pakistani blogosphere about Zardari’s remarks. Is it a sign of the times or just a reflection of the internet that the response on Kashmir was minor compared to the torrent of blogs unleashed when Pakistan pulled the plug on YouTube? Was Zardari merely reflecting a new realpolitik in Pakistan, or did he betray the Kashmir cause?


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Amazingly the Pakistani blogsphere is censoring anti-Nawaz and Anti-PPPP (Zardari)postings. I wrote several posts on the subject and one or two made it., and Pakistani bloggers are blatently anti-Musharraf and want to monoplize the blogs.

Mion Ansari (http;// or

Posted by Editor Rupee News | Report as abusive

wait a minute…. i dont believe this.. the first time someone talks sense on the subject and no one’s ready to accept it??? what is wrong with you ppl???
i think its about time both India and Pakistan made a choice between what they want and what they really need…. at this pont in time…neither of the two countries can afford another war or any other diplomatic stress for that matter… what do u want more a decent economic positioning in the world or do we want to be left childishly bickering over something that actually has a very simple solution? or rather what would u prefer , to be a country that others look up to or one that others make poverty-related jokes on?
ppl in pakistan should stop thinking of him as traitor to the ppp ideology and the bhutto’s….. the bhutto’s were rational ppl and Im sure if they were alive today , seeing the kind of trouble that has been caused, they would have come to a similar conclusion…
and as far as KASHMIR is concerned … i think we’ve all forgotten the key issue…
The Kashmiris want to be independent … they do not want to align with either of the two countries and the reason being that they are extremely disillusioned with the Indian government as they havnt received the perks of democracy or economic development like the rest of the country….zardari’s proposal would bring about rapid economic growth in both countries and thus in Kashmir…. so u see… start rationalising ppl!!! its about time we did!! and I say this as a Kashmiri pandit , who has been kicked out of her own homeland and hasn’t even been able to visit it since the time she was born because of some confused ,juvenile fight..

Posted by roshni sharma | Report as abusive

I think the primary reason why the Pakistani blogosphere hasn’t noticed it is because of its obsessive pre-occupation with the lawyers movement and continuing hostility toward Musharraf. In this atmosphere, the politicians like Zardari and Sharif are not getting appropriate scrutiny on other issues. Unlike the US and Europe, the blogosphere in Pakistan is relatively immature and it toes the line of the legacy media, rather than charting its own course as an alternative medium. I am hopeful this is going to change over time with the bloggers leading, rather than following the old media.

Posted by Riaz Haq | Report as abusive

What the hell….? as expected President Mr. 10% has started his mission of gathering money where ever it is coming from … and he must have got a Tons from India to pass such comments that will inflame Kashmiris against Pakistani people… those people who felt all the pain kashmiris have felt during this years and certainly its not for the teritory and not for the piece of land its for the rights of people to chose what they want and all this zardari comment will left our kashimiris alone.

He is making money already man … from allowing US to kill in North and Allowing india to kill in kashimir … Way to go Mr 10% and way to go People’s Party … good way to control the population let the indian’s and US force to do their Target Practice and Kill Pakistanis on all front …

Posted by Tanveer | Report as abusive