Urging India to look at police reforms, American political scientist Christine Fair, whose work is focused on south Asian issues, said that India could take a cue from several European forces

New Delhi: In a sharp criticism to Indian government’s policies in Jammu and Kashmir, American political scientist Christine Fair has said that India’s record in Kashmir is not what one would expect from a democracy.

“Now, the American forces have done terrible things in Iraq but many have been prosecuted — perhaps not as many as should be and probably not the officers who oversaw enlisted malfeasance. Nobody really has been prosecuted here for what they have done. Seeing Major Gogoi tie a Kashmiri to the front of his jeep was disturbing for well-wishers of India because we hold India in high regard as a democracy and democratic armies are not to do those things — especially to their own citizen," she said.

"And democratic armies certainly don’t do these things and get awarded by their Army chief. If an American pulled that off in Iraq, he’d be in jail. His (or her) life would be ruined and they would be a national disgrace,” she told News18, adding that such incidents give clarity on why Kashmiris feel the way they do about India. “It should have never gotten to a point where Major Gogoi felt the need to tie someone in front of his jeep,” she further said.

Urging India to look at police reforms, Fair, whose work is focused on south Asian issues, she said that India could take a cue from several European forces.

“They are prepared for massive crowds and they are not afraid of those crowds creating insecurity that needs to be handled lethally. Let’s face it, if you’re shooting someone because they throw stones at you, there is a problem. There is clear trouble with how you crowd manage. By the way, the United States has had problems with this too. So I think both of our countries should look to Europe. Both our countries face a similar structural problem that policing is a state's subject and thus you need to bring states and municipal forces along the reform path. But India should consider policing in places like Kashmir to be strategic rather than tactical or operational because the consequences are strategic and accords Pakistan myriad opportunities for malfeasance,” she said.

Fair also suggested that just acquiring proper equipment so that you are not scared when someone throws a stone at you will take India a long way ahead when it comes to Kashmir. “Such a little thing will matter. And the technology exists; Latin America has it. Why not India? Stakes are really high when it comes to policing in Kashmir. And it seems like a logical experiment to try out to get into place proper policing reforms and equipment. And actually have a no-shoot policy, which is enforced,” she added.

“Drawing from the US experience and extending it to Kashmir: the police dehumanise black Americans and it's easier to kill them when they are the end of the barrel. And this especially happens when the police officers are afraid of the ‘others’. I see a lot of parallels to here the ways in which the American police force say they are afraid of the African Americans and that’s why they shoot them. This is bad for democracy, our society and it undermines the nature of our diverse social fabrics,” she further said.

Fair also added that such a situation, where police end up shooting the protesters, is a combustible situation which the Pakistanis can exploit and they do exploit it. “So if India can get its act together in terms of just basic policing, I think much of what is happening in Kashmir could overtime die down,” she said.

Pakistan Army Can’t Survive Peace With India

The expert also said that when it came to peace between India and Pakistan, in the short term nothing can change. “Pakistan can’t win a war. India has chosen to more or less to ignore Pakistan and focus on its economic growth to modernise its weapon system. The observable Indian strategy is to make Pakistan obsolete by simply outpacing it. And Pakistan is self-marginalising. Pakistanis will continue to attack India. there will be terrorist attacks and they will focus not only on Kashmir but other 3rd tier cities like Gurdaspur. A large attack on Delhi or Mumbai can't be ruled out but such attacks would be very provocative. Pakistan cultivates strategic instability which allows it to use militants under its nuclear umbrella with impunity,” she said.

Commenting on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ambit, Fair said he was irrelevant since he didn’t call the shots. “And if we look at the past, whenever there has been a civilian rapprochement, something bad has happened in India. That’s because the Pakistan Army doesn’t want peace or even public support for peace," she said.

Fair further said, "The biggest example was the Lahore process. The army launched Kargil to wreck even the premise of good faith upon which Vajpayee and Sharif attempted the Lahore process. Even if you have a Pakistani civilian attempt at having a normalisation process, the army would undermine it and the reason is simple: the Pakistani Army can’t survive a rapprochement. If there were truly peace with India, how could the army justify its size, its share of the budget and its arrogated right to run the country marshalling the argument that it alone--not civilians--can protect Pakistan from threats from abroad and within."

Further explaining, she said peace was not something that Khan was capable of offering because “it’s not his to offer.” The basic question, she added, was whether Pakistan Army can survive peace with India.

“Not at all. The reason why Pakistan justifies having such a large, conventional military is because of its security competition India. Now there is a degree to which this is a structural security dilemma. India has to have a large military, not because of Pakistan but because of China," she said.

Fair further said, "Now, there will be a degree to which Pakistan will say that it does not look at India’s intentions but at the size of its force and what it can do with it. This will in considerable measure justify Pakistan's force structure. India cannot retrench from its stand to modernize its force because it has to think of a Chinese threat. This will have impacts for Pakistan's army in turn. However, if there were true peace how could the army justify running the country directly and indirectly? How could it justify undermining democracy at every turn?” she said.

The expert added that that if there were to be genuine peace between India and Pakistan, it would be harder for the Pakistan military to justify the usurping of all the resources and using violent force to suppress opposition to it as it is doing to the Baloch and Pashtuns.

“Pakistan's military takes what it wants and leaves the rest of the country to fend for itself. So if there is peace, it would be difficult for the army to justify all this predatory behaviour within Pakistan itself. And how would it justify using Islam and Islamist militants as tools of foreign and domestic policy?”, she said, adding that Pakistan was in a tough spot anyway because “very soon, it’s going to be under so much Chinese debt that it’s going to stop being a sovereign state.”