The Wikileaks expose’ of the US assessments and policy about issues worldwide has unsettled many a government, politician and other actors in the political arena. Most have been forced into defensive or attacking postures after damning details of how governments and individuals think and behave away from media glare. Globally, the leaked cables generated a discourse around the need for governments to be open. The leaked cables also embarrassed the US administration a great deal.
Recently, Wikileaks also released a trove of confidential cables sent from the US diplomatic missions in New Delhi and Islamabad to Washington specifically about the Kashmir conflict. The cables present a comprehensive US assessment of the goings on in Kashmir and about Kashmir in India and Pakistan. Much of the assessment is based on what politicians, resistance leaders, journalists and other sources told the Americans at critical points of time.
The assessments are not just damning about individuals involved in the dynamics of the Kashmir conflict but also absolutely uncharitable. Many figures have been painted in dim colors and understood as self-serving most of the time. However, the US point of view most of the time assumes a self-righteous tone and advocating the Indian point of view. The assessments have been made through statist lenses and from a pedestal that exposes a certain scornfulness.
The Americans, the cables amply reveal, have rarely attempted to understand the conditions people of Kashmir have been braving for too long. Consequently, they have heavily depended on what their ‘sources’ told them from time to time. They give clear leeway to statist representatives over all other voices without ever reflecting on conditions the state power enforces on the opposition in a militarized and repressive scenario.
In fact, the US assessment as brought out by the leaked cables, rarely makes independent assessments of the public behavior. They hold gossip and political rivalry between different unionist parties and separatists above the actual ground realities. The cables reveal scorn for most players at the leadership level in Kashmir. And, where they have no gossip or attribution plenty of bitter adjectives are employed to describe certain actors or leaders.
A close look at the US attitude towards resolving one of the world’s longest pending political disputes sometimes appears partisan, very much in tune with Washington’s post cold war policy of placating New Delhi. A lot of care is taken to avoid “annoying” New Delhi.
The US assessment most comprehensively deals with the issue of corruption and money power. In this area they have put all the sides, including the government, the security establishment and the separatists in the dock. But the US diplomatic staff does not look comprehensively at political corruption among the unionist parties or the state administration, something the people of Kashmir over time have been forced to accept as normal.
The cables shower tremendous praise at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but shows no intent at understanding why he has little credibility among common Kashmiris.
In the end, the US diplomatic mission in New Delhi completely overlooks the political history of Jammu and Kashmir and appears desirous or supportive of the Indian position on the Kashmir issue without once factoring in a people’s movement and its basis.
The extreme militarization of a small region like Kashmir does not seem to bother the Americans too much. It is disturbing to see the US embassy in New Delhi look at Kashmir through the lens of regional and state security alone ignoring people’s security and fundamental political and human rights.
The cables about detailed reasoning behind issuing or not issuing visas to Kashmiri separatist leaders is particularly revealing of the US insensitivity towards the people of Kashmir.