Pakistan – What Now?

EDITORIAL, 3 Mar 2014

#315 | Johan Galtung, 3 Mar 2014 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Islamabad, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (28 Feb 2014)

Your Excellencies,

The basic point is that Pakistan will not get that commodity called “peace” in Kashmir, Afghanistan and Central Asia by pursuing the ends and means of Washington and some local elites only.  For peace to blossom the goals of other parties also have to be considered; and they are many.  The logic of the political games pursued today presupposes some kind of victory or domination of “our side”: neither feasible nor desirable for peace.  Hence, the need for some visions for peace politics is Kashmir, Afghanistan and Central Asia for tomorrow or the day after, with the hope that they can be useful when you have come to the end of the road with current policies. Nothing of this is easy; and without visions even impossible.

The fairly detailed, non-dogmatic vision appended (below) was my acceptance speech of the 2011 Abdul Ghaffar Khan International Peace-Builder Award by the Pakistan-American Muslim Association.

However, why do present policies so often seem to be non-starters?

The British empire drew three lines with disastrous effects for Pakistan: the Durand line in 1893, a 1,600-mile wound defining the border with Afghanistan, dividing the Pashtun nation–the biggest nation in the world without a state–into two parts; the McMahon line of 1914 defining the border with China in ways unacceptable to the Chinese; and the Mountbatten line of 1947 leading to the catastrophic violence of the partition.  These lines have to be negated, liberating Pakistan from that past.  Thus, there is no natural law saying that Punjab cannot be an entity with an open border and free traffic of people and ideas, goods and services, even if the two parts belong to separate countries.  Lahore and Amritsar are two sides of the same coin, like the two parts of the Pashtun nation and the parts of Kashmir.  Let the twain (or more) meet, e.g. as envisioned below.

And yet little or nothing is heard about these key parameters constraining Pak policies.  What is heard is the term “terrorist”, the US vocabulary from the 1980s putting an end to understanding the other side by defining them as evil with no other project than evildoing.  We hear about the illegitimacy of all the non-state entities fighting “asymmetrically” legitimate states.

As NGO mediator talking with many of them–like Taliban people close to Al Qaeda–was very useful.  They talk about US-Pak state terrorism, the lack of US legitimacy in killing on other states’ territory, the lack of legitimacy of the Pakistani state on who is winning these asymmetric wars when you have space, time and masses of people on your side.  No doubt there is room for “dialogues” exchanging the illegitimacies, heaping dirt on each other’s head.  But no peace will come out of that.

Nor of the new “security document” (Dawn, February 27-28, 2014)“to target the source of terrorism in response to acts of militant violence anywhere in the country”.  Yes, “militant violence” is bad; the question is how to reduce it.  “100 terrorists reported killed by air strikes in tribal areas”.  The basic question is how many new ones were produced?  The German magazine Der Spiegel estimated once about 30 for each killed. Maybe 5. How many bereaved significant others–nearest family, extended family, neighbors, friends–did the killed “terrorist” have?  Say, 100. 5% may act upon it.  That gives us 5:1.

To strike the “source of terrorism” sounds rational.  Some may be in poor, marginalized “tribal areas” (note the implicit contempt and social distance from the Anglophiles among the Pak elites).  But some source may also be in the politics of those elites.  Hitting them sounds suicidal.  So does continuing past policies unabated.

The goal is a National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) “with a rapid response force and an air wing to include helicopters and fixed wing aircraft”.   More toys for the boys.  They will get them.

But there is more to the new security policy.

It intends to integrate mosques and madressahs to the national education system in one year“.  Subordinate Islam to the Education Ministry? Sounds against the first of the five pillars of Islam, the Shahadah, “there is no God but–“.  Not the ministry, not the state.  Considerably more of Pakistan would be on the Islam than the State side of that equation.  The teeming masses, not the well-dressed top.

Construct a national narrative against extremist mindset in six months”.  How will they deal with the military coups, also somewhat extremist?–but see themselves as purely rational.  Will anyone take that kind of construction for anything else than governmental propaganda?  Or worse, for US propaganda, the sentence reeks of Washington, concocted in rooms far from the ground realities of Pashtuns, Baluchis, Punjabis, “tribals” and others in Pak complexity.

Improve intelligence-sharing and strengthen coordination between the Inter-Services Intelligence and civilian agencies”.  Sounds like a soft way of reining in the ISI?  Good luck, they run much of the country (with the Anglophile elites and the landowners).

Dawn writes that the opposition party PTI-Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ends the four-month blockade of NATO supplies to Afghanistan (by road): the Peshawar High Court judged stopping and checking of vehicles carrying goods to Afghanistan illegal.  Free traffic of arms OK?  How about free traffic of women sex slaves, infants, kidneys and other human organs?

Traveling this old, tired, paranoid road of security and counter-terrorism with some new slogans is not what Pakistan needs.  How about a National Peace Authority instead?  Working on how to combine Common Law and Sharia, for instance?  On how a huge Central Asian Community could relate to its huge neighbors, Russia, China, India? Making visions compelling by filling in details, gaps?  The past did not produce peace, present policies will not.  The future may.


Kashmir-Afghanistan-Central Asia

Johan Galtung, 21 Nov 2011

Your Excellencies:  I am deeply honored and grateful for the Abdul Ghaffar Khan International Peace-Builder Award; named after the Frontier Gandhi, the Muslim Gandhi, Badshah Khan, a hero of the anti-colonial struggle from 1930.  He saw nonviolence as “a weapon from the Prophet”, rooted in the Qur’an. I met him once–a giant in more than one sense–viewing with sharp eyes an inconsequential peace conference unfolding in New Delhi, in 1970.  A model for us all, like Gandhi.[i]

We are addressing in this AMA-American Muslim Association Foundation Quarterly Policy Forum  “Kashmir and the Regional Jigsaw Puzzle for Peace”, and I have added Afghanistan to the puzzle, and Central Asia for a “regional solution”.  Deeply impressed with the preceding speakers on Kashmir, Ambassadors Howard B. Schaffer and Yusuf Buch, and by Dr. Ghulam-Nabi Fai’s book on the Kashmir Conflict, let me present some TRANSCEND–a mediation NGO–perspectives on the issues, based on a high number (in the hundreds) of one-on-one dialogues with all kinds of parties to the conflicts.[ii]

These mediation dialogues start with the same opening question:

* What does the Kashmir look like that you would like to see/live in?

* What does the Afghanistan look like that you would like to see/live in?

* What does the Central Asia look like that you would like to see/live in?

In other words, we anchor the dialogue in a future-constructive dream- vision, idealist, and then proceed to make it as concrete as possible.  We work backwards, starting with goals as they come out of the mutual search typical of a dialogue, as opposed to debates-negotiations.

It is not our experience that the sum of the narratives of the parties’ grievances and sufferings constitutes a solution.  It may lead to more mutual understanding, but also to apathy, hopelessness, and fear of revenge.  If you want peace, start with their images, relate them to what really happens, search for something positive in the past, open for their worst fears for the future.  Idealism and realism, dreams, nightmares, nostalgia, should all go together in a mature process.

Cutting down to the essence, here are three images of solutions:

 For Kashmir: Today a three-sided dispute Kashmir(is)-India-Pakistan:

* Jammu and Ladakh become parts of the Indian Union, and Assad-Kashmir becomes part of Pakistan if the populations themselves so determine;

* The Valley becomes an Indo-Pak condominium with increasing autonomy possibly aiming at independence;

* These parts of Kashmir are then tied together in a confederation with open borders, under a political body with all parts represented, and SAARC-South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, with a Kashmir Area Free Trade Association–KAFTA. Identity cards and passports would all include the name “Kashmir” on the cover.

India-Pakistan constitutions amended to accommodate the doubleness of those parts, but no border is changed. However, passport cover texts are.

For Afghanistan: Today a favored invasion area for the West-Russia:

* A coalition government including what the West calls “Taliban”;

* A federation with local autonomy for the 25,000 village communities and the 6-8 nations; with capital in a small place, not Kabul;

* A confederation or community with the neighboring countries: Iran, the five Central Asian republics, Assad-Kashmir, Pakistan;

* Food-water-clothing-housing-health-education-nation-gender neutral;

* Peace-keeping by United Nations Security Council-Organization of Islamic Cooperation-OIC, also to prevent attacks on third parties, and internationally guaranteed neutrality; no bases-foreign troops.

For a country as reminiscent of Switzerland as Afghanistan, Swiss solutions, like federation and neutrality, should be appropriate.  Swiss direct democracy is also compatible with the jirga tradition.

For Central Asia: Today fragmented by the West-Russia:

* A Conference on Security and Cooperation in Central Asia-CSCCA, modeled on the Helsinki Conference 1972-75, also a peace conference;

* Aiming at a Central Asian Community-CAC, a family of Afghanistan with Muslim neighboring countries, modeled on the European Community;

* Transcending the Durand line (from 1893) dividing the Pashtun nation by making the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan less important;

* Transcending the McMahon line (from 1914) between India and China by rejecting it, developing good relations with China, using SCO-Shanghai Cooperation Organization;

* Transcending the Mountbatten line (from 1947) between Pakistan and India by developing good relations with India (water!), using SAARC.

Located on an axis from Turkey and China both countries would be involved, as well the big neighbors Russia and India.

The Kashmir solution would be welcomed by the peoples involved, but it would be strongly resisted by military-diplomatic elites, in both countries, hoping for the other to collapse. The solution calls for people to people diplomacy and for strong like-minded leaders in both sides, (like Mandela-de Klerk, maybe also Singh-Musharraf?), ending the brutal Indian occupation with 700.000 troops on the ground.

The Saichin glacier could become a world memorial for peace.

TRANSCEND has a similar proposal for Kurdistan: a confederation of four autonomies with human rights in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.  No border moved, but also with “Kurdistan” on all passports.

The solution for Afghanistan should respect the reality of the country: it is not a unitary state controlled from Kabul. The struggle against the US-led coalition is not only against secularization, but also against Kabul rule and above all against being invaded-occupied.

The solution for Central Asia should end the Western idea of controlling the world from Central Asia (MacKinder, 1904), undoing much of the harm inflicted on the area by English colonial policy and let countries that belong together, like a family, grow together; pooling people and resources. Like in Europe, they might be encased in an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Asia-Pacific, OSCAP, modeled on the OSCE that came out of the Helsinki conference.

And the US-led coalition?  They are not Central Asian countries, should not impose “solutions” insensitive to the region, but withdraw militarily and help rebuild what they have destroyed.  Alternative: to become fully irrelevant. There is no victory at the end of any tunnel.

Let me end with the Arab Spring that may also lead to a community and a family. Since 1971 TRANSCEND stands for a post-zionist Israel by and large with 1967 borders as a member of that family, bringing to an end the occupation of Palestine.  Two French statesmen, Monnet-Schuman once proposed the same for former nazi Germany.  It worked, the EC-European Community/EU-European Union came out of that.  One day two Arab statesmen may do the same, I hope.


[i]. See the excellent article by Lester R. Kurtz, “Peace Profile: Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s Nonviolent jihad”, Peace Review, 23:245-251.

[ii].  For more details, see Johan Galtung, 50 Years 100 Peace & Conflict Perspectives, TRANSCEND University Press-TUP, 2008


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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