On WikiLeaks, Pakistan and Afghanistan; the tip of an old iceberg

July 28, 2010

arghandabI’ve been resisting diving into the WikiLeaks controversy, in part because the information contained in the documents – including allegations of Pakistani complicity with the Taliban - is not new. Yet at the same time you can’t entirely dismiss as old news something which has generated such a media feeding frenzy. So here are a few pointers to add to the discussion.

U.S. POLICY TOWARDS PAKISTAN

On the likely implications (or non-implications) for U.S. policy towards Pakistan,  go back to 2009, and this piece in the National Interest by Bruce Riedel who conducted the first review of Afghan strategy for President Barack Obama. Having assessed all the evidence, including well-known American misgivings about the role of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, he concluded that Washington had no option but to stay the course in trying to build a long-term partnership with Pakistan.

American policy for the last 60 years, wrote Riedel, had oscillated wildly between love and hate.  “What the U.S.-Pakistan relationship needs is constancy and consistency. We need to recognize that change in Pakistan will come when we engage reliably with the Pakistani people, support the democratic process and address Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns. Candor needs to be the hallmark of an enduring commitment to civilian rule in Pakistan.

“U.S.-aid levels should not be the product of temper tantrums on Capitol Hill … Our goal should be to convince Pakistanis that the existential threat to their liberty comes not from the CIA or India, but from al Qaeda.

“We also need to engage India constructively on how to reduce and then end the tensions, including in Kashmir, that have resulted from partition. Ironically, the Pakistanis and Indians have made great progress on this issue behind the scenes in the last decade … Quiet and subtle American diplomacy should now try to advance this further.”

“None of this will be easy. Pakistan is a complex and combustible society undergoing a severe crisis. America helped create that crisis over a long period of time. If we don’t help Pakistan now, we may have to deal with a jihadist Pakistan later. That should focus our attention.”

That message of U.S. commitment to Pakistan was reinforced in a statement released this week by the U.S. embassy in Islamabad and as my colleague Chris Allbritton writes in this analysis, there is little reason to believe the WikiLeaks uproar will change Washington’s approach of trying to build a long-term relationship with Pakistan while also leaning on it to “do more” to tackle Islamist militants

The danger of course – and that is one reason why the WikiLeaks uproar cannot be dismissed as old news –  is that allegations will stoke already strong anti-American feeling in Pakistan, making it all the harder for Washington to persuade Pakistan to do more. As Chris quotes Pakistani political analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi as saying: “The Islamic parties and the extreme political right in Pakistan already view the U.S. as a major threat to Pakistan. They don’t view the Taliban as a threat. Now these reports have given them a lot of ammunition.”

PAKISTAN-AFGHANISTAN RELATIONS

In one of the more thoughtful reactions to the WikiLeaks reports, Michael Semple, the former deputy EU representative to Afghanistan, writes in this article in The Guardian that it had become an article of faith in Afghanistan to blame the ISI for conflict in the country (many of the WikiLeaks reports came from Afghan intelligence). This he says was based not on empirical findings but on the assumption that Pakistan would never tolerate stability in its neighbour. That is not to say there is no interference, nor that the Taliban do not benefit from safe havens in Pakistan, but rather that in the Afghan war all information/disinformation needs to be treated with caution.

“… the most popular way of establishing credentials as an Afghan nationalist has long been to denounce Pakistan as the enemy,” he writes. ”Among the 180 (WikiLeaks) reports of ISI interference, most are drawn from informants or briefings from the Afghan intelligence service, who describe in lurid detail direct involvement of ISI officers in trying to wreak havoc inside Afghanistan.”

“Most Taliban I have talked to regarding the role of Pakistan make three broad points. They say that they require some degree of official blessing to be able to operate from Pakistan. They say that this blessing is never assured – it is an uncomfortable relationship. And they say that any solution to the insurgency must have Pakistan’s blessing.

“The conclusion I draw from the intelligence controversy is that anyone charged with negotiating an end to the conflict in Afghanistan will have to guard that process from exactly the kind of disinformation we have all been studying. They will need to keep Pakistan, the insurgents and the various parts of today’s Afghan establishment on board, and overcome a high degree of distrust which years of disinformation have contributed to.”

Pakistan and Afghanistan have been trying to improve their relationship in recent months, with President Hamid Karzai in March describing the relationship between the two as that of “conjoined twins”. That does not mean that suspicions of heavy ISI involvement in the insurgency have disappeared - on the contrary they continue to play a strong role in the perceptions of Taliban commanders in the field, as outlined in a report released by the London School of Economics in June. Nor does it suggest that Pakistan’s own approach to the many militant groups based on its territory is any less opaque.  But it did help open up the possibility of an eventual negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan.

Will the WikiLeaks uproar now sour those ties again?  The allegations do not come as any more of a surprise to the Afghans than to the Americans, but they have given Afghanistan an opportunity to reassert its long-standing complaint about ISI interference.

WHAT DOES PAKISTAN WANT IN AFGHANISTAN?

This to me is a far more interesting question than whether Pakistan has a role in Afghanistan. You can be fairly sure the U.S. administration has a shrewd idea of the answer and has been working for months to narrow its differences with a country which has a powerful role either as ally or adversary. 

It says it wants a stable and neutral Afghanistan, and a rollback in Indian influence there. While “neutrality” is hard to define given Pakistan’s deep distrust of India, and while it would be expected to push for a friendly government in Kabul, this does not imply that it wants the Taliban back in power in Kabul (although it would probably expect them to be part of any political settlement.)

Pakistan found the Taliban hard enough to control when they were in power from 1996 to 2001 – it was not, for example, able to persuade them to recognise the Durand Line, the colonial era border dividing the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. A resurgent Taliban, fresh from any victory against the Americans, would be even harder for Pakistan to manage. So it would be against its interests for the movement to have too much power, particularly since this might embolden Taliban allies on the Pakistan side of the border, who have already unleashed a wave of bombings across the country.

On top of that, there is little love lost between the Taliban and Pakistan, and certainly no liking for the ISI, if  you go by comments made by Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the last Taliban ambassador to Islamabad. “In my dealings with them (the ISI) I tried not to be so sweet that I would be eaten whole, and not so bitter that I would be spat out,” Zaeef writes in his book “My Life with the Taliban”.  

Pakistan has also been pushing for a political settlement which it says should include all Afghanistan’s different ethnic groups (a Pashtun/Taliban only settlement would likely lead to renewed civil war and de facto partition, both of  which would leave Pakistan still struggling with an unstable neighbour).  But I’ve not heard anyone suggest that Pakistan wants U.S. troops out of Afghanistan within a year – rather the talk is more of a three to five-year time horizon (coincidentally or not, the three-year timetable matches the unexpectedly-long three-year extension in the term of office just given to Pakistan Army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.) 

So far the U.S. administration has said it needs more time to weaken the insurgency and bring the Taliban to the negotiating table;  but acknowledges there will eventually have to be a political settlement (a propos of which, it’s interesting to note that David Ignatius, writing in the Washington Post, quotes General James Jones as saying that elements of the Taliban might be willing to meet one U.S. condition for talks, which is to disavow al Qaeda. “The Taliban generally as a group has never signed on to the global jihad business and doesn’t seem to have ambitions beyond its region,” it quotes him as saying.)  It’s not entirely clear, therefore, that there is such a huge gulf between the United States and Pakistan on the need for a political settlement, except on the timing.

Where it does get impossibly murky, is in managing the tortuous relationship between India and Pakistan. Pakistan accuses India of using its large presence in Afghanistan to destabilise its border areas, including by backing separatists in Baluchistan – an allegation India denies. India fears Pakistan wants to use Afghanistan as a base for anti-India militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir – as happened before 2001.  With the kind of “quiet and subtle” diplomacy advocated by Riedel in 2009, Washington has been pushing the two countries to talk, although so far progress has been limited. So while Pakistan might eventually be able to lean on the Taliban to negotiate, and may not be that far apart from Washington on the kind of settlement it wants to see in Afghanistan, it is unlikely to want to give much ground until it has some reassurances about India (that India, in turn, still angry about the 2008 attack on Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants, is unwilling to give.)

Add into that all the uncertainties of the region, including a potential showdown over Iran’s nuclear programme, the practical difficulties of persuading the Taliban to sever ties with al Qaeda (something it is unlikely to want to do as long as it needs it as an ally), the difficulties of persuading Pakistan’s population to turn against Islamist militancy, and a 60-year-old conflict over Kashmir, among many other things,  and you have a situation that is incredibly hard to manage.

Compared to that, the WikiLeaks reports are only the tip of an iceberg that everyone has always known is there. 

Or as Andrew Exum argues in this op-ed in the New York Times: “I can confirm that the situation in Afghanistan is complex, and defies any attempt to graft it onto easy-to-discern lessons or policy conclusions. Yet the release of the documents has led to a stampede of commentators and politicians doing exactly that.”

Comments

Keith:
“As for feeling betrayed. You look at it as a game. How disgusting. So harbouring terror groups that kill our citizens is just part of a some grand game to you right?”

-I didnt mean to be insensitive here, is Pakistan harboring Al-Qaeda? No. Haqqani network? maybe yes. Reason: retain influence in Afghanistan, because it is vital for Pakistan’s security interests. Think as a Pakistani, what are we supposed to do. Many of our soldiers, ISI officers, civilians died in terrorist attacks. Indirectly US pushed us towards a civil war, Pakistan faces unprecedented challenges. And tell me one thing, US can come from thousands of miles afar and protect its interests in the region, why is Pakistan not allowed to pursue its interests in the immediate neighbourhood? Is it because US is a super power? If there is no humility, mark my words American empire’s end is near.
As for the sacrifices of Canadian Forces and support of public for the effort in Afghanistan. We look at it with respect, but you guys need to ask the difficult questions and look for answers. Is the war in Afghanistan worth it? And is the destablization of Pakistan worth it? Your own people acknowledge Pakistan’s critical help in successful counter-terror ops against Al-Qaeda. But Pakistan has limitation on what help can be provided.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

@Keithz,

I can appreciate your assertion to use indirect methods such as sanctions, visa restrictions and business restrictions to create a paradigm shift in Pakistan, but these things will not work.

Only a direct type of method will work. I don’t have any love for the Bush_Dick_Colon team and Richard Armitage, but look how quick Mushie jumped on the U.S. bandwagon, as soon as Richard Armitage did direct talking with Mushie, it generated results.

We need more direct talking and more direct results. The status quo is becoming ineffective and merely allowing the militants to retreat into deep storage for future use.

Pakistan has to realize that it can’t claim to be fighting the war on terror on one end, while training Taliban on the other end to undermine NATO.

Why are we permitting this type of nefarious behavior from an ally, while our children are getting butchered in Afghanistan and Pakistani soldiers are getting butchered?

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

Umair, so you acknowledge that Haqqani is being Harboured, that is the problem.

You just don’t get it…do you? There is no difference between the Taliban that is killing the precious Pak soldiers and the Taliban that kill NATO soldiers…that is the whole fxxken problem here.

You Pakistani’s don’t own Afghanistan, what right do you have meddling in the affairs of Afghanistan?

You keep harping about Pakistani sacrifices, you Pakistani’s created these terrorists for God’s sake, how can you claim to Fighting one type of terrorist, while creating another type? Do you get it yet? Terrorism in any form is unnacceptable.

Yes, we in the west still call the Haqqani’s terrorists and you must divorce yourself from this and this type of thinking, otherwise Pakistan will be called out at one point and directly labelled as a state sponsor of terrorism.

There is no distinction between good or bad Taliban, they both serve the same master. How can you be made to understand this simple concept?

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

@Umair,

You can’t keep talking about the destablization of pakistan and keep harbouring terrorists…what one moral basis is there for harbouring evil people like the Haqqani’s and Hekmatyar’s.

These pakistani trainied militants have been involved in the Killing of NATO soldiers. Please provide me a bonafied reason for pakistan being allowed to train militants that endanger NATO soldiers.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

Umairpk,
Your incessant posting makes me wonder. Clearly your world-view has no supporters outside of Pakistani forum members. What exactly do you hope to achieve by posting opinions which only conform with the negative stereotypes of Pakistanis?

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive
 

BTW Umair,

I often hear many Pakistani politicians call terrorism a cancer that is tearing through Pakistan.

Why is that Pakistan is comfortable spreading the same type of cancer against India and Afghanistan?

This is unacceptable to the civilized world, do you finally understand who the problem is here and why NATO is in Afghanistan and why India has to spend billions on defending itself from militants crossing the LOC?

The cancer has its source from your country.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

@”Is Pakistan harboring Al-Qaeda? No. Haqqani network? maybe yes. Reason: retain influence in Afghanistan”
Posted by Umairpk

That kind of thinking is the biggest problem with Pakistan. “It’s OK to support Haqqani, Afghan Taliban etc because it’s for ‘strategic depth’”. “It’s OK to support LeT, JeM etc because it’s for ‘strategic depth’”. It seems, you guys still haven’t realized that this ‘strategic depth’ will be the cause of a ‘stratigic death’ of your country. If you guys truly want to rid your country of terrorism & radicalism, you can not support any terrorist and/or militant outfit PERIOD.

BTW, your lame li’l “story” would be a lot more amusing if you present it as a joke, which it actually is.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

What I just commented above, is reiterated in this Dawn editorial:

“However, Pakistan must look inwards and see why it lends itself to such criticism and epithets (reffering to comments by David Cameron). To wit, the establishment must not give the impression that it makes a difference between good militants and bad ones. All terrorists kill without mercy and must face justice. The war on terror is Pakistan’s own war, but there is a general impression that Pakistan still supports groups like the Haqqani network and the Lashkar-i-Taiba. Pakistan needs to dispel this impression by taking necessary action, and not by resorting to platitudes. We must not only come clean, we must appear to be so in our dealings.”

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Mortal
In return of Pakistan giving up support of Haqqani’s and LeT, is India also willing to some sort of compromise and resolution of Kashmir dispute? Oh, I am sorry there is no dispute in Kashmir, it is already an integral part of India. I am sorry.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

A hostile India percieved as a significant threat on the eastern front leaves Pakistan with no option but to have a friendly or atleast neutral Afghanistan on the western front and minimizing the possibility of strategic encirclement.
And lets accept one ground reality, Taliban are a major player in Afghanistan. They cannot be ignored, can there be engagement with them? nudge them from militancy, give them a role in rebuilding the war-torn country. We all need a happy ending, problem is everyone is working for its own interests. Pakistan has come under a lot of scrutiny, questions are asked on whose side Pakistan is? Pakistan is on its own side, nothing more, nothing less. There should be nothing wrong with it.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

GW:
“what one moral basis is there for harbouring evil people like the Haqqani’s and Hekmatyar’s.”

-you need a serious history lesson, Jalalud Din Haqqani visited white house and met President Ronald Reagen. surprise isn’t it? So was Ronald Reagen also evil, because he hailed Haqqani as a freedom fighter. Those who you are calling evil people are one time friends of America. But times have changed now and people like you don’t know the history ironically. Then put the blame on Pakistan and move on. How stupid?

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

“The Pakistan army under Gen. Kayani is sponsoring a large-scale, covert guerrilla war through Afghan proxies – whose strongholds in Baluchistan and Waziristan are flourishing. Their mission in Afghanistan is to keep Pashtun nationalism down, India out and Mr. Karzai weak.”

See article by globe and mail.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/worl d/the-huge-scale-of-pakistans-complicity  /article1657931/

–>@Umair, it may have been at one time the haqqani’s served to thwart the Godless communists, but then again, Pakistan is working hand in claw with the Chinese.

But those Haqqani’s and others like them are not pursuing their own agenda of power building, corrupt to the core subverting the leaders of Afghanistan, while at one time the Haqqani’s fought for the Afghans, now they strive to enslave Afghans under oppressive 7th century Islam.

Umair, “Strategic Depth” is a code word for “militantism” or “terrorism”.

If what the article says above is true, your Pak Army leaders are advocating terrorism.

You Pakistani’s may have helped the west keep the Soviets out, but as you Pak’s existed Afghanistan, you left them with something much worse, that being the Taliban.

Strategic depth is unacceptable. Put all the chips out on the table. Historic reasons to maintain militantism against India is not bonafied anymore, nor needed.

India is no threat. The biggest killer of Pakistani’s is Taliban, Militants and natural disasters and plane crashes. Pakistani’s despise the Taliban and call them a cancer, yet refuse to acknowledge the LeT, Haqqani, Hekmatyar, JeM and such groups as terrorists, but in fact sees them as “assets”.

Well those “assets” are terrorists to India, NATO, Afghanistan, the United States and the world.

Call it “strategic depth”, the excuses and historic reason scapegoats are running out, as Pakistan desperate to keep its militant toys, creates all sorts of elaborate and creative descriptive words to describe their sanitized version and use of the word terrorism.

Strategic depth blackmail and nuclear blackmail?….after taking billions of USD taxpayer dollars, India has not lifted a finger against pakistan and still Billions of USD taxpayers dollars getting funneled to maintain war against India and subvert the Afghan mission.

Punjabistani’s from Pakistan have made it a business to never finish wars, but to keep them going on for ever and forever, as I said earlier, the whole purpose of that, is to keep the roti, meat and dal moving on the dinner tables in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Rest of the pakistani’s can goto hell, for all they care, as long as their financial core interests are prolonged and maintained, any fictitious lie or reason to scare people into keeping them in power will do.

The excuses are running out and Pakistan is running out of places to hide.

The stories and truth Umair, are all coming out one by one.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

India was always open to a peaceful diplomatic resolution on Kashmir & this was proven by the near-resolution reached on Kashmir, between Manmohan Singh & Musharraf. But unfortunately, the political climate in Pakistan changed, resulting in regime change & that deal fell through. One thing that Pakistan & Pakistanis like you need to realize is that the only way Kashmir will ever get resolved, will be diplomatically. India will not be forced into resolving Kashmir by means of intimidation, force or terrorism. You have tried doing that for over 20 yrs & it has resulted in nothing except bleeding & self-destruction of Pakistan, itself. Maybe, it’s time for you to try something else.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Mirzausman, get your deranged militant head out of your azz.

–>What part of my statement is untrue? I was trying to make a point that indians are not killers of pakistan’s that there are much more dangerous enemies of Pakistan, within Pakistan, killing Pakistani’s.

What part of my statement indicated joy at the death of Pakistani’s, you brain dead paranoid, fool?

For the official record, I salute every Pakistani Soldier lost in the line of duty for serving their nation and may God(allah) bless and give comfort to every Ahmadi Victim, every suicide attack victim and any other innocent Pakistan who has lost their life in a needless and painful manner may God give them peace.

In a previous posting I also gave my condolences to the victims of the Air accident near Islamabad. I felt deep sorrow for the poor grieving families and the victims, nobody should have to go through that.

Countless thousands of Pakistani soldiers and citizens have died since 911 and India was not responsible for those deaths, but actually militants inside Pakistan.

My question, who is gaining here, by keeping India the bad guy, when India itself is a victim of Pakistani terrorism? Why do you hate Indians when your own state agencies created the terrorism that is killing Pakistani’s?

What blame does India have in any of this?

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

Your concern is a charade. In a thousand other posts, you fantasize about suffocating pakistanis with economic blockades, sanctions etc.

you defend wholesale murder of kashmiris by your precious indian government.

your deceptive condolences mean nothing.

Posted by mirzausman1 | Report as abusive
 

My question, who is gaining here, by keeping India the bad guy, when India itself is a victim of Pakistani terrorism? Why do you hate Indians when your own state agencies created the terrorism that is killing Pakistani’s?

— Get it out of your head that India is an innocent victim. you stole our land, you deprived us of our territory, you murder our family in kashmir… you refuse to have meaningful negotation yet you still claim the upper moral ground. having been decimated by might throughout your history, you now understanding nothing but violence with your mughal/british-gifted slumdia.

Posted by mirzausman1 | Report as abusive
 

Mortal1 makes some very valid points, and my sense is that the current deadlock is because many parties believe that time is on their side and there is no need to negotiate. This is a fallacy and a real pity.

The Pakistanis believe that the Americans are going to leave the region soon and even in the worst case, the southern part of Afghanistan is going to be ruled by their friends the Taliban, so they’ll get the strategic depth they need against India. The grievances they list are very legitimate from their point of view – that violence came to the AfPak region as a result of US support for an anti-Soviet insurgency, that Pakistan is paying the price for the humanitarian crisis caused by that conflict and has not been adequately compensated for it even by the billions that it receives in US aid, that India is the oppressor of fellow Muslims in Kashmir and an existential threat to Pakistan, therefore what choice do they have but to play both sides of the game? The world must understand their position, and in any case, what can the world do when Pakistan holds all the cards?

Paradoxically, India also believes that things are moving in its direction, even if Pakistan gains in the short term from an American withdrawal. India’s economy is growing much faster than Pakistan’s, widening the gap between the two countries and raising hopes that India can do to Pakistan what Reagan’s US did to the Soviet Union (i.e., bankrupt them through increased defence spending that the other side cannot match). More importantly, the rest of the world now seems to be coming around to India’s point of view regarding Pakistan’s support for terror and its basic untrustworthiness.

So it looks like we are in for a period of confrontation and uncertainty caused by intransigent participants who believe things are moving their way and seem unwilling to recognise their own blind spots.

I think Pakistan is in a worse pickle. They should not ignore the very real change in sentiment among ordinary people in Western countries. As TV host Jon Stewart said recently about American money being channelled back through the ISI to their Afghan opponents, “We seem to have put a hit out on ourselves.” This sentiment is reflected in the many online comments that we can read. Pakistan has lost the popular argument in the West. Government action may now follow because of a new-found popular support. True, it will not take the form of a sudden military about-face and an invasion of Pakistan, but the screws will start tightening in a number of ways. Pakistanis should not be complacent about this.

India’s blind spot is perhaps Kashmir. It is becoming increasingly clear that India cannot hold Kashmir indefinitely without continuing escalation in violence, Pakistan or no Pakistan. There is a genuine separatist movement raging there, and India will have to do the unpalatable and get out at some stage. It will not be an easy decision for a number of reasons, the chief being the perception of defeat and the emboldening of India’s enemies.

So while attitudes harden and both sides dig in for a war of attrition, a human tragedy is starting to play out, and many thousands of people will suffer in the months and years to come. Can we think about possible solutions to this tragic situation, without locking ourselves into belligerent positions?

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

Mirza:

“Your concern is a charade. In a thousand other posts, you fantasize about suffocating pakistanis with economic blockades, sanctions etc.

you defend wholesale murder of kashmiris by your precious indian government.

your deceptive condolences mean nothing.”

–>People like you are the problem. You eternally hate and think everybody hates you. Your psychology is warped and deranged and you feel nothing for non-muslims…so much so in fact not one Pakistani here acknowledging the murder of Bengali Hindus..do you care to be different?

BTW I wholeheartedly condemned dozens of times, any violence by Indian soldiers against Kashmiris who do not engage in violence or terrorism.

Your selective memory is showing your collective desire to maintain one sided view.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

“Ganesh Prasad”

Taqiyya ?? ???

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive
 

Two good articles that appeared recently:

http://nyti.ms/cdaX6O
http://bit.ly/d5v6Nw

They are both by respected Pakistani intellectuals/journalists who make good arguments about what needs to be done now. I get the sense that the ball is the court of the Pakistani military establishment. They need to somehow rid themselves of the India fixation as it is not in their own best interests. Sometimes, one needs to take a step back in order to move several steps forward, but this requires boldness and imagination.

Kashmir is not Pakistan’s problem anymore. It has become a self-sustaining movement and Pakistan is only delaying a solution by remaining an involved party. India will not soften on Kashmir as long as Pakistan remains an active player.

The only way out is for the Pakistani establishment to come to a border agreement and reduce tensions with India. Kashmir will be solved when India sees it as a problem of its own, not as a Pakistani weapon.

Putting in place a virtuous circle of reducing suspicion and increased trust will get us out of our regional quagmire. Otherwise, we are condemned to a long period of violence, mutual recriminations and a miserable life for ordinary citizens throughout the region. Only the Pakistani military can break this deadlock (if they have the vision).

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

(Post failed, retrying.)

Two good articles that appeared recently:

http://nyti.ms/cdaX6O
http://bit.ly/d5v6Nw

They are both by respected Pakistani intellectuals/journalists who make good arguments about what needs to be done now. I get the sense that the ball is the court of the Pakistani military establishment. They need to somehow rid themselves of the India fixation as it is not in their own best interests. Sometimes, one needs to take a step back in order to move several steps forward, but this requires boldness and imagination.

Kashmir is not Pakistan’s problem anymore. It has become a self-sustaining movement and Pakistan is only delaying a solution by remaining an involved party. India will not soften on Kashmir as long as Pakistan remains an active player.

The only way out is for the Pakistani establishment to come to a border agreement and reduce tensions with India. Kashmir will be solved when India sees it as a problem of its own, not as a Pakistani weapon.

Putting in place a virtuous circle of reducing suspicion and increased trust will get us out of our regional quagmire. Otherwise, we are condemned to a long period of violence, mutual recriminations and a miserable life for ordinary citizens throughout the region. Only the Pakistani military can break this deadlock (if they have the vision).

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

Seekeroftruth,

Your comment is too cryptic. What did you mean by it?

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh Ji,

“It is becoming increasingly clear that India cannot hold Kashmir indefinitely without continuing escalation in violence, Pakistan or no Pakistan.”

Really? How did you arrive at the conclusion that separatist movement will be same w/o Pakistani complicity?

No offense but can I request you to try to visit the make-shift camps for Kashmiri Pundits for once and may be then talk about the “genuine separatist movement”?

I wonder how people like you would react to similar freedom movements in future for Hyderabads and Aligarhs and then may be Lucknow’s Hazratganjs. All those future separatist movements will be as “genuine” as something can get in your books, I can assure! Will it suffice for moral satisfaction of your kind when Indian map starts to look like swiss cheese?

…and I had thought I could stay away from this repetitive stuff. :(

PS: Human tragedy is not STARTING to play out now, it started long long time back and the reasons are too obvious to mention here.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

Seth said:

> How did you arrive at the conclusion that separatist movement will be same w/o Pakistani complicity?

I don’t know for sure, but from the extreme youth of the people getting killed in Kashmir in police firing, I sense that we have lost the “hearts and minds” of yet another generation. Kashmir is beginning to look like a lost cause, and it shouldn’t be considered unpatriotic to say it. Many thinking Indians have begun to think this way. It’s also a bit self-deceiving to think that only Pakistani support is causing the Kashmiri agitation. Their weapons are stones, not guns. Sounds like a popular uprising to me. Why doesn’t India save the billions of dollars that it pours into Kashmir every year and improve conditions in other states and regions?

I also don’t buy the domino theory that if Kashmir goes, other regions will follow. It’s a bogeyman without any evidence to support it.

For a democracy, we don’t seem to have an open enough discussion on our role in Kashmir. There is definitely a serious terror problem emanating from Pakistan, and quite predictably, that country is now reaping the fruits of its ill-considered policies. That should not detract from the real problems that India is facing with Kashmir. Let’s try to be open-minded on this.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh,

I agree with you about the domino theory – it won’t happen.

The problem in Kashmir is not due solely to Pakistani intervention and its fueling of militancy. It is also due to gross mismanagement and horrible political governance over decades. Indian political thinking haas only reacted when things have got violent, otherwise as long as Kashmir was peaceful they really did not bother with governance. Corruption, like elsewhere in India, was and is still rampant and no one cares a hoot.

Unfortunately, mismanagement actually serves the purpose of separatists and militants to fan the fires. That is the major difference between Kashmir and the other states.

As for stone throwing, this form of protest has been in vogue in Kashmir, albeit not on the same scale as now, since the early 1900s. The separatists have used the discontentment and frustrations of the local populace to their own advantage. Today there are reports of weekly programmes and time tables being made out and distributed by them from their underground havens. This is not to deny the discontentment of the youth, this is to show how it is being marshalled and the youth are being used as pawns in a larger game plan. There have been intercepts of phone calls between the organisers asking for more martyrs and questions being raised where all the money that is being given is going.

The problems of ordinary Kashmiris are also the problems of the average citizen of this country. Unfortunately, in Kashmir there are provocateurs who have cleverly turned this frustration and discont into violence and a secessionist movement.

But underlying it all, there is no denying that a slumbering political class has brought Kashmir, like many other parts of the country, to a precarious situation.

Personally I am convinced that better economic conditions, good governance and above all an all out war on corruption will do more to settle and counter the designs of the separatists and militants. Unfortunately it seems a very tall order at the moment.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive
 

Ten years ago, India was the typical banana state goverened by a extreme-right Hindu Nationalist party(as the international media saw it) with a taste for exploding nuclear weapons. Pakistani was considered a progressive Islamic democracy. Wrap your head around that if you can.
All I can say is, thank you General Musharraf! I am sure I will have a chance to express my gratitude towards Gen. Kayani as well. Everytime I see Pakistani posters hyperventilate on an Internet forum, I have the quiet satisfaction of knowing that Pakistan is on the “correct” path.

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive
 

What I saw at Moba Khan : by Noah Shachtman

http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB  :SB100014240527487039770045753935233496 48264.html

Quote ” The vast difference between what actually happened at the Moba Khan compound in Helmand province and what the report says happened there should give caution to those who think they can discover the capital-T truth about the Afghanistan conflict through the Wikileaks war logs.” End Quote

Posted by Shuqaib.Bhutto | Report as abusive
 

@Daraindia

“Personally I am convinced that better economic conditions, good governance and above all an all out war on corruption will do more to settle and counter the designs of the separatists and militants. Unfortunately it seems a very tall order at the moment.”

–>Good point, more needs to be done to address grievances of Kashmiri’s. India has the ability to satisfy their concerns and still keep Kashmiri’s as a part of India.

It is difficult to manage the situation in Kashmir, because Pakistan has been steadily fomenting and stoking militantism and extremism there and trying radically hard to transform the Kashmiri Indian culture into an extremist one. Pakistani have done nothing to encourage Kashmiri Indians to become educated and intelligent in any way, but instead used them as pawns.

Pakistan is conducting clandestine war against the United States and NATO in Afghanistan and Indian in Kashmir.

Kashmir cannot ever be settled, nor can Afghanistan ever develop, as long as Pakistan keeps its proxy war upon its neighbours.

Today, I saw Pakistan Ambassador to US on Fareed Zakaria GPS and he is a nice soft spoken sort of fellow, but at the end of the day the words, promises and assurances useless as a used handkerchief.

Haqqani said today that Pakistan wants to stop all terrorists including the Afghan Taliban and even the LeT.

This seems to be contrary to what most Pakistani’s on this blog hold true to what they want.

So is Haqqani just lying and saying what he is supposed to say for TV?

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

The kashmiris can’t be ‘separatists’ since they never joined you. The can’t ‘secede’ since they never joined your union.

get out of kashmir and pakistan will be a good neighbor.

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive
 

Very good points Ganesh. If all was well, India should have conducted the plebiscite and let all Kashmiris decided their destiny. The inability of Pakistani generals to have patience and their weakness for muscling their way into solving every issue has ruined everything.

This is what must be done by both India and Pakistan if the people of Kashmir need to have a peaceful life:

Pakistan should withdraw all its military and militants from all of Kashmir. To do this, India needs to provide an assurance that when Pakistan withdraws its forces, there will be no backtracking by India or any violation of the agreement. This is a condition laid out by the 1948 UN resolutions. Since Pakistanis keep drumming up about UN resolutions, they have to read it first and agree to a unilateral withdrawal from all of Kashmir.

Once that is done, India should withdraw its military from Kashmir with a guarantee that Pakistan will not backtrack on its words.

Here is where a third party needs to come in. I am not very impressed with UN forces. I’d like to see troops from a country far removed from this conflict to enter Kashmir – May be Japanese or Brazilian ones with an assured guarantee that they will not be under any fire from either India or Pakistan. Now this force should set up security across the state. Both India and Pakistan should cover the costs for the expense. They are spending money in fighting each other. The same money can be spent on paying this neutral military to maintain order.

Both India and Pakistan should agree supply food and other materials for the people of Kashmir. A neutral administrator must be brought in to govern Kashmir.
For five years Kashmir must be under the rule of this neutral party. Pundits must be offered their due return to the valley and repossess their properties if they wish to return.

Once Kashmir is under a neutral party for a prolonged period of time without any interference from India or Pakistan, the UN should hold a plebiscite across all of Kashmir can be run. I am sure Kashmir will vote for full independence, seeing what has become of Pakistan as well as their alienation from India. If the people in Jammu and Ladakh vote for joining India, it must be honored.

Like Ganesh says, it is not worth fighting over this region when people’s lives are put in jeopardy.

The unfortunate part of all this is that the local geo-politics has not disappeared. Pakistan’s military generals would want to seize Kashmir at all costs. They had never accepted it as a separate country. And the Indus water treaty that has become an issue between India and Pakistan will come to the fore again. For India, Kashmir is not going to be a friendly nation. The new generation there has grown up hostile towards India. They will live off the memories of the bitter experience with the Indian army. Instead of one hostile nation, India will now face two hostile nations in addition to China.

Or both India and Pakistan can declare the LoC as an international border and be done with it. But that will make the current status to continue.

As I see it, Kashmir, as an independent state will not last for long, knowing the macho tendencies of Pakistani generals. They will gobble it up and Kashmir will become safe haven for Pakistan’s assets against India. The Jihadists are not going to disappear into thin air. Pakistan might control Kashmir like it did in the case of Afghanistan, using radical elements.

When trying to settle matters, we must discuss the pros and cons of major decisions made and their long term effects. I have no problem with Kashmir going. But what comes after that is a big question. There is no one who can assure me that things will become peaceful again. Pakistani generals do not know anything other than to engage in conflicts. Being emotional people, they can lose their minds very quickly and start the next operation in Khalistan and other areas. Ganesh, you must be rather naive to discount all these scenarios.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

Pakistan should declare war on India again, so that it can conquer Kashmir. Clearly, all diplomatic options are closed for Pakistan.

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive
 

By anyones yardstick, Pakistan is undergoing a severe crisis at the moment. Pakistan is facing it’s worst floods. Ever. Thousand plus have perished. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

You’d think that their largest English daily would have the good sense to focus on covering the floods. You would be wrong. The Dawn’s editorial has chosen to distract the Pakistanis from the troubles at home by focusing on 20 civilian deaths in Kashmir over a period of one month.

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive
 

I hope there is enough water in the Indus now to satisfy Hafiz Saeed.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t put it past him and his jihadi brethren to blame India for deliberately causing a monsoon low pressure over Rajasthan.

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive
 

KPSingh1,
Chill! Kashmir was free in 1947 when Pakistan and India got their independence. We know what followed.
India has a lot to thank Pakistan for. Without it’s “tribal invasion”, India wouldn’t even have a fig leaf in Kashmir. Without it’s jihadi infusion, Kashmiri separatists would have had at least some legitimacy. So, thank you Pakistan!

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive
 

@trickey,

That is a very astute assertion, just think, Kashmiri’s would have been free, if Pakistan had not fueled thuggery and tribal invasion into India.

Kashmir, that being PoK AND Indian admininstered Kashmir will never be free as long as Pakistan lives in Kashmir.

Kashmiri’s should blame the Pakistani’s for using them for 60 years as puppets and Afghans should tell the Pakistani’s to quit interfering in Afghanistan.

Hamid Karzai wants Indian in Afghanistan as India is willing to build and spend billions, but Pakistan has not spent a red cent, rupee or penny on Afghanistan, except money to undermine a cohesive central governance in Afghanistan. Pakistan continues to undermine stable governance in Afghanistan, something which all Afghans want.

Indians are strong advocates for good governance for Afghanistan. Indians and Pakistani’s alike have no place interfereing in Governance of Afghans and most Afghans know that India’s role is one of assisting nation building, not interfering in the tribal politics of the land like Pakistan, through its ISI.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh,

You don’t seem to be giving Pakistan it’s due for the turbulance in Kashmir over the last 20+ yrs. J&K was as peaceful as any other Indian state prior to 1989. I don’t think that it’s a mere coincidence that the agitation & “uprising” in Kashmir commenced around the same time when the Soviet-Afghan war was ending, resulting in the unemplyment of thousands of mujahadeen, who were at Pakistan’s disposal. Do you think that Kashmiris would have gone through, what they have in the past 20 yrs, had Pakistan not started it’s proxy war in Kashmir?

I agree that mis-governance by India certainly had a role to play as well but the primary cause of the kashmiri suffering for over 2 decades, is Pakistan’s blind ambition to forcibly take kashmir away from India.
Going forward, I agree with you & Dara that good governance, economic prosperity & speedy justice will go a long way towards a peaceful Kashmir but peace will never fully return to the valley unless Pakistan definitively ends it’s proxy war.

Also, I do not think that an independant Kashmir is either realistic or advisable, given it’s size, location & the fact that it won’t be acceptable to India or Pakistan (no matter what the Pakistanis say, they will not give up an inch of the land under their control). The way I see it, the only solution which would be ultimately acceptable to all parties (India, Pak & Kashmiris) would be the Manmohan-Musharraf plan to make borders irrelevant. But for that to actually materialize, India & Pakistan need to build trust & mend fences. So, the sooner they do that, the better it will be for all.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

@Trickey, you said:

“Pakistan should declare war on India again, so that it can conquer Kashmir. Clearly, all diplomatic options are closed for Pakistan.”

–>Not an option, if Pakistan ever declares war on India again, it would be further dismembered and India would send the Punjabistani back into their hole with limbs severed.

The choice is really for Pakistan to make. If Pakistan fully vacates Pakistan occupied Kashmir and complies with 1948 UN resolutions, there is no reason why India cannot do the same tit for tat and give kashmiri’s on both sides a chance to be on their own if they wish, pending a properly monitored plebescite by an independent third party.

Pakistani elites have plundered and wrecked the futures of the citizens of their country by wasting so much money time and lives and energy on destablizing Afghanistan and Kashmir.

Just imagine where Pakistan would be, if they didn’t waste so much on Army, fighting, militantism and attempting to destablize neighbours, Pakistan would be a different kind of country with more people having a much higher standard of living and much higher literacy rate.

But no thanks to Punjabi’s they have done a great job looking after themselves first and everybody else in Pakistan can get leftovers and scraps for all they care.

Unfortunately, many Paksitani’s feel that ethnic partition will preclude all Kashmiri’s to some higher standard of existence and this is a myth they perpetuate to Kashmiri’s , some of who are buying into. The fact is, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is far below India Kashmir in terms of everything.

The conclusion is that muslims joining with muslims does not necessarily mean a higher form of existence for Kashmiri’s. The point here is that at the end of the day, you have to give people more than a Koran and more than just ethnic purity to fill their bellies and pay their bills.

While religion and Koran may spiritually fill them, that is a good thing, but it will not give them jobs, a standard of good life, nor will it give them a true education about the world.

It is a 1000% certainty that if Pakistan complies with UN resolutions from 1948 and fully vacates PoK, india would do the same and then Kashmir can have a proper Plebescite and Kashmiri’s can self determine. As long as Pakistan maintains status quo, Afghans and Kashmiris will continue to suffer and be under proxy wars and occupations.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

@Ganesh
“I also don’t buy the domino theory that if Kashmir goes, other regions will follow. It’s a bogeyman without any evidence to support it.”

Other factors considered, isn’t partition of India is the prominent cause behind separatist movement in Kashmir? And how can domino theory can be discounted when you saw separatist movements in Assam, Nagaland, Punjab shortly after 1947? What more evidences you think you want to consider that scenario?

IMO, Pundit Nehru promised them an expensive toy that he (India) could not afford (not in 2010, for sure) and now they are throwing temper-tantrums which are just from a certain perspective.

Yes, there has been improper management in Kashmir. But it needs to be fixed rather than “amputating” that part. So it has been in UP, Bihar and many other states. Shouldn’t government be asked to fix it rather than take the easy route?

Moreover, the security-related scenarios from post independence Kashmir – Pakistanis are not going to stop at Kashmir, at least not for the long run.

Plus, don’t discount the scenario of a backlash towards Muslims in rest of the India. 20 people per month in Kashmir versus 100s in weeks? If Police can’t manage them in Kashmir, how would they manage countrywide? After all, mobs can be emotional an unruly anywhere. And then, in reaction to those almost certainly possible backlashes, domino theory will come in picture again.

Giving up on Kashmir is breaking the secular structure of India. What so ever problems our country is facing, their is still a delicate balance in society and it can only be maintained by pro-active governance and managing this hugely diverse nation tactfully.

PS: And a little dose of the most essential life ingredient which perhaps defines one aspect of Kashmiri situation…

http://celticcountries.com/magazine/humo ur/what-have-the-romans-ever-done-for-us  /

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

G-W,
Read the rest of my comments to understand how serious I was about war.
But more seriously, all these silly posts about “get out of kashmir and pakistan will be a good neighbor.” are beginning to annoy everyone. It’s an argument of a 5-year old: “Buy me candy and I will be a good girl”

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive
 

Seth,
Good one. Staying true to spirit of Monty Python, some Kashmiri muslims attacked a police station on Friday and set off a blaze which caused stored explosives to go off. Four morons were duly martyred and dozens were injured. This so angered rest of the Kashmiri muslims that they went on a rioting spree destroying government buildings such as railway stations, hospitals.
At least the Judeam Peoples Front had the good sense to understand the importance of infrastructure even if created by the ‘enemies’. Not so, the average valley muslim.

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh,

I think I must clarify that you are neither unpatriotic nor traitor in my books. I’m no Pakistani for that matter! We just happen to look at an issue from different perspectives at this moment of time and by virtue of having different perspectives we can notice each others’ blind spots which is great.

Regards,
Seth

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

That is a very astute assertion, just think, Kashmiri’s would have been free, if Pakistan had not fueled thuggery and tribal invasion into India.

– yeah right, slumdogs were swallowing land everywhere and turning it into slums. maybe you should’ve left hyderabad and junagarh alone. hypocrites. also, kashmiris had asked for tribals assistance. kashmiris wanted nothing to do with slumdia.

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive
 

Seth,
Good one. Staying true to spirit of Monty Python, some Kashmiri muslims attacked a police station on Friday and set off a blaze which caused stored explosives to go off. Four morons were duly martyred and dozens were injured. This so angered rest of the Kashmiri muslims that they went on a rioting spree destroying government buildings such as railway stations, hospitals.
At least the Judeam Peoples Front had the good sense to understand the importance of infrastructure even if created by the ‘enemies’. Not so, the average valley muslim.

– you are the slumdog clowns for not taking a ‘hint’ and getting your ugly a$$e$ out of kashmir and back to your slums.

LEAVE. KASHMIRIS HATE YOU.

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive
 

tupak_shakir,

Let’s accept the Kashmiri people’s desire to be free. Why are *Pakistanis* so interested in the freedom of a third country? What do you get out of Kashmiri independence anyway? Wouldn’t you have to give up Azad Kashmir if Kashmiri freedom was so important to you?

Or is it a smokescreen to swallow Kashmir up into Pakistan instead? I don’t see much in that for the Kashmiris. It’s more like “from the frying pan into the fire”.

Sorry to sound provocative but I don’t understand the extreme emotions I’m hearing.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

KP Singh,

I note what you have to say but we need to consider all angles in a forum like this, and a little naivete doesn’t hurt because we aren’t at an actual negotiating table playing with territory and human lives :-) . We had a pretty good discussion with saif_1980 on another topic. He seemed to be a new generation Pakistani who was genuinely trying to understand the Indian point of view, and that discussion resulted in some real gains of perspective as well as a more positive atmosphere. I would like to see more of that.

I get the feeling that India and Pakistan have a very narrow window of opportunity to come to a settlement. In two years, Pakistan will be flush with the victory of an American withdrawal from Afghanistan, and will be busy trying to establish a completely pro-Pakistan regime there. Any concessions to India will be completely out of the question in that frame of mind.

Similarly, after another five years of 10% GDP growth, India may no longer be interested in any peace talks, since not just the British PM but the American President will probably be willing to make anti-Pakistani comments from Indian soil just to get more business for American companies!

For those who profess concern for Kashmiri aspirations, both events would be very bad news.

I think the most practical way forward would be to formalise the LoC as the international border as early as possible, and work towards an “irrelevant borders” situation through recognition of appropriate visas, etc. That should reduce tensions and allow more links between the two countries, which will strengthen peace further. If true Kashmiri independence is still a desire after a decade of this arrangement, it will probably not cause as much emotion in either India and Pakistan and can be more calmly discussed between two (by then) friendly neighbours.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

“Or is it a smokescreen to swallow Kashmir up into Pakistan instead? I don’t see much in that for the Kashmiris. It’s more like “from the frying pan into the fire”.”
Posted by prasadgc

I wasn’t aware of this until Rajeev informed me on this blog: Pakistan requires all elected officials from “Azad Kashmir” to pledge their allegience to Pakistan before they take office. If they refuse to do so, they are not allowed to take office. That tells a lot about Pakistan’s idea of “Azadi” (independence) for Kashmir.

PS: Don’t waste your time reasoning with trolls, it’s a waste of time & energy.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Umair:

@In return of Pakistan giving up support of Haqqani’s and LeT, is India also willing to some sort of compromise and resolution of Kashmir dispute? Oh, I am sorry there is no dispute in Kashmir, it is already an integral part of India. I am sorry.”

— Then that indirectly means you support Mumbai 26/11 terrorism by LeT. Good job!!!

The day you get enlightened that LeT is a terrorist organization and must not be used as a tool to solve an issue will be the beginning of the solution. Pakistani journalists (not talking about most e-journalists/bloggers) try to say just what Indians say that Pakistan need to get rid of all sorts of terrorism for the best interest of Pakistan.

How long can you hold a burning matchstick in hand, the delay will burn your hand? Nukes have made it sure that Pakistan does not get into old acts of waging war against India and LeT cannot bring India down. Status quo makes sense if GOI taking care of Kashmir and the problems of Kashmiris without worrying about Pakistan.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

“The kashmiris can’t be ’separatists’ since they never joined you. The can’t ’secede’ since they never joined your union.

get out of kashmir and pakistan will be a good neighbor.” Shakir

Kashmir never joined India?????? Which fairy tales did you read in your history books?

It is tripe like this which makes it impossible to hold a discussion with ignorance.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive
 

G-W my contention really is hat lack of a clean and effeicient administration in Kashmir has helped the militants garner support for their cause. That is where the politicl class has failed this country.

Pakistan’s overt and covert designs in Kashmir are simply not in doubt. But my feeling is that sitting on our butts and moaning over Pakistan’s clandestine activities is not the only solution. We need to see development and clean governance. This is true for the whole country but specially so in the state of J&K. That will blunt the edges of the separatist arguments. Today thy are manipulating the grievances of the local [population.

Haqqani has been in the US for long and seems a reasonable chap, but being an out and out Bhutto man, he has been singing a different tune of late than during the Mush days. There are quite a few contradictions in what he spouts today and his interviews a few years ago.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive
 

For the record, I choose not to waste time with the trolls who park their head up their rear and thus can only talk sh*t when they come out and open their mouth.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

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