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The saffron factor and the Kashmir problem : communalism, the weak state, and international brinkmanship Laliberté, André


This study looks at one instance of the security predicaments faced by many states in the Third World: primordialist challenges based on ethnicity, language or religion. More specifically, it discusses the impact of Hindu communalist organizations, especially the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on one issue of Indian domestic politics which is linked with its foreign policy: the problem of secessionism in Kashmir, which is allegedly supported by Pakistan. The thesis stated here is that while the BJP may represent a factor likely to complicate the task of the Indian state in its efforts to ensure socio-political cohesiveness over a culturally fragmented polity, the influence of that movement is very limited in sensitive areas of national security like foreign policy. The first chapter reviews the literature on conflicts in South Asia, with reference to Kashmir and the role played by Hindu communalist organizations. This overview identifies a methodological difficulty limiting our understanding of this conflict: the Euro-centric bias of the discipline of international relations theory. This bias is expressed by a tendency to overlook a major source of in security within most Third World states: the lack of socio-political cohesiveness. The continuum from strong to weak states established by Barry Buzan is brought forward in an attempt to over come this methodological difficulty because it points to the low degree of socio-political cohesive ness in weak states as a problem generating high levels of violence within and between states. As such, it seems relevant to analyze the impact of domestic cleavages on foreign policy-making. The second chapter presents the contradiction between communal and secular nationalism in India as a fundamental political cleavage with repercussions for Indian foreign policy. The nature of Hindu communalism is explored through a presentation of its origins, its scope and its political philosophy. The divisive potential of this world-view is explained by pointing to the problems like ly to be raised by the attempts to implement its recommendations. The overview concentrates on the policies advocated by the Hindu communalists towards secessionism in Kashmir and its implications for the relationship between New-Delhi and Islamabad. The third chapter describes how Hindu communalist organizations have sought to influence the Indian central government in its policy towards Kashmir. It illustrates how Hindu communalism can have a direct and indirect influence with evidence from the campaign of the Praja Parishad in 1952 and the exploitation of communal cleavages by the Congress in 1983. The central part of the case study focuses on the attempts made by the BJP to influence the National Front government of 1989, and contrasts the uncertainties of that period with the firmness showed by the Congress government of Narasimha Rao in late 1991 and early 1992. The fourth chapter evaluates the attempts by the BJP to influence the policy of New Delhi to wards Kashmiri secessionists and assesses to what extent this influence was conducive to interstate tension between New Delhi and Islamabad. What emerges is that the BJP was rather unsuccessful in prodding the government into adopting policies that would compromise a political settlement in Kashmir.

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