The Trend Leading to the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)



January 14, 2020

Are we seeing a trend? After two small earthquakes hit upstate New York on January 3 and January 7, a slightly larger one was felt near the New York-Canadian border early Monday morning. And while the quake actually happened in an entirely different country, the effects were felt far south into New York state, and the surrounding region.

The United States Geological Survey says the 3.3 magnitude quake hit several mikes south of the town of Ormstown, Quebec a little after 5:30 A.M. There are some slightly conflicting reports, as the Montreal Gazette reports that the quake was a 3.6 magnitude. Ormstown is located around 20 minutes north of the New York border.

The Times Union says the quake was felt as far south as the town of Ticonderoga in Essex County, and as far west as the city of Ogdensburg on the New York-Ontario border. The effects were also felt as far north as Montreal.

No damage was reported.

Yes, earthquakes do happen in the northeastern U.S and Canada occasionally. In December 2019, a 2.1 tremor was reported near Sodus Point, off the coast of Lake Ontario.

Some strike even closer to home. In April 2017, a 1.3 tremor occurred around two and half miles west of Pawling. In early 2016, an even smaller quake happened near Port Chester and Greenwich, CT. In the summer of 2019, a quake struck off the New Jersey coast.

The most well known fault line near our area is the Ramapo fault line. The 185 mile system of faults runs through parts of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and has been known to spawn usually small earthquakes.

On August 23, 2011, a 5.8 quake, that was centered in Virginia, was felt all the way up the east coast. Several moderate (at least a 5 on the richter scale) quakes have occurred near New York City in 1737, 1783 and 1884.

Listen to Middays With Hopkins weekdays from 10AM to 2PM on 101.5 WPDH. Stream us live through the website, Alexa-enabled device, Google Home or the WPDH mobile app.

Babylon the Great’s Very Own Nuclear Bomb Cannon: Daniel 7

Davy Crockett: The U.S. Military’s Very Own Nuclear Bomb Cannon

ByChristian Orr

“Dave, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier…” Those of us who are either (A) members of the Baby Boomer Generation or (B) Gen Xers who watched reruns of old-school TV shows will remember that jingle from the opening credits of the 1954-1955 miniseries “Davy Crockett” starring the titular hero, the real-life frontiersman and former Congressman who perished bravely alongside his fellow defenders of the Alamo in 1836.

Assuming for argument’s sake that there is indeed a Heaven, ol’ Davy is undoubtedly smiling up there at the thought of being immortalized in ballad and TV alike. However, he’s probably not too keen about the fact that his name was bestowed upon what my 19FortyFive colleague James Jay Carafano — Vice President of the Heritage Foundation’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy and the E. W. Richardson Fellow – refers to in his War and More newsletter as the “Dumbest Weapon in History”: The M-28/M-29 Davy Crockett Weapon System, which was a nuclear mortar, or to be more technically accurate, a nuclear recoilless rifle. That catchy blurb caught my eye, so naturally I had to do my own writeup on this weapon.

Seriously, a nuclear mortar/recoilless rifle to be wielded by ground troops, as opposed to a nuke deployed from the comparative safety of, say, an airplane several miles in the air, or a ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) or underground launch facility(LF, AKA “silo”) hundreds of miles from the target?!?! Dr. Carafano explains the supposed rationale thusly:

“With the outbreak of the Cold War, the U.S. Army was keen to show its relevance in the nuclear age. The boys at the Pentagon developed a concept called the Pentomic Armythat they argued could fight and win on a nuclear battlefield. Part of the concept included tactical nuclear weapons that could be fielded and employed by ground troops. Davy Crockett was operated by three soldiers and mounted on a jeep. The ‘light’ M28 (ground mounted) recoilless rifle had a range of 1.25 miles, and the ‘heavy’ M29 (jeep mounted) could lob a nuke up to 2.5 miles.”

With all that in mind, in 1957, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) announced that  it had developed a small fission warhead that could be wielded by frontline infantry grunts; from there, Major General John H. Hinrichs spearheaded the Battle Group Atomic Delivery System, which commenced at the Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, New Jersey in January 1958. Seven months later, the esteemed Mr. Crockett’s moniker was bestowed upon the weapons system.  

The weapon was specifically built to fire the M388 nuclear projectile, which had a wield of 20 tons of TNT, making it one of the smallest nuclear systems ever built (ergo not the kind that would be used for an EMP strike). The M28 version of the weapon weighed 108.5 pounds (49.2 kilograms) empty, whilst the M29 had an empty weight of 316 lbs (143 kg). It was serviced by a 5-man crew. A grand total of 2,100 were built.

By 1961, these devices were actually delivered to infantry units, from Cold War hot spots (not as oxymoronic as it sounds at first) such as West Germany and South Korea as well as slightly less contentious postings (in terms of proximity to communist countries’ borders, that is) such as Guam, Hawaii, and Okinawa.

Two live-fire tests were actually conducted, both in 1962, the year before the U.S., the UK, and the USSR signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which banned above-ground nuclear testing. Fortunately for everyone involved, the Davy Crocketts were completely withdrawn from service by 1971.

What could’ve possibly gone wrong with it, you ask? Let me quote from Jim’s newsletter again:

“The launcher was a smoothbore weapon that fired a not very aerodynamically stable projectile. As a result, it was very inaccurate. One might think, and rightly so, that was a problem when firing a small nuclear weapon…There was no ‘failsafe’ on a Davy Crockett. In theory, a soldier could take one out of the arms room and start a nuclear war whether the president had ordered one or not.”

Where Are They Now?

For those of you dear readers in need of a good laugh and desiring to see such a harebrained invention up-close-and-personal, there are nine examples of “Dumbass Davy” (yes, I just made up that nickname on the spot right now) at museums spread out across the USA, including: the National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, Virginia (seeing as how I live in the general vicinity and am a donor to that museum, I reckon I should finally go check it out in-person); the Atomic Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Don F. Pratt Museum at Fort Campbell, Clarksville, Tennessee (Mr. Crockett’s original home state before he relocated to Texas).

Christian D. Orr is a former U.S. Air Force Security Forces officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon). Chris holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California (USC) and an M.A. in Intelligence Studies (concentration in Terrorism Studies) from American Military University (AMU). He has also been published in The Daily Torch and The Journal of Intelligence and Cyber Security. Last but not least, he is a Companion of the Order of the Naval Order of the United States (NOUS).

Shaking Before the Sixth Seal: Revelation 6

QUAKE DATA | INTERACTIVE MAP | NEW: SEISMOGRAMS | USER REPORTS | EARLIER QUAKES HERE | QUAKES IN THE US | QUAKES IN THE US | QUAKES IN THE US | NEW YORKReported seismic-like event (likely no quake): 24 km southeast of Brighton, manarau ka\'unti County, New York, USA, Friday, May 5, 2023 at 1:11 am (GMT -4)

Reported seismic-like event (likely no quake): 24 km southeast of Brighton, manarau ka’unti County, New York, USA, Friday, May 5, 2023 at 1:11 am (GMT -4)

Updated: May 5, 2023 19:18 GMT – 5 minutes agorefresh

5 May 05:13 UTC: First to report: VolcanoDiscovery after 2 minutes.

Earthquake details

Date & timeMay 5, 2023 05:11:29 UTC – 14 hours agoLocal timeFriday, May 5, 2023 at 1:11 am (GMT -4)StatusdisregardedMagnitudeunknown (3?)Depth10.0 kmEpicenter43.03142°N / 77.29617°WShakingVery weak shakingFelt1 reportPrimary data sourceVolcanoDiscovery (User-reported shaking)Nearby6 km (4 mi) SW of Palmyra (New York) (pop: 3,410) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
16 km (10 mi) W of Arcadia (Wayne County, New York) (pop: 8,840) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
17 km (11 mi) N of Canandaigua (New York) (pop: 10,400) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
24 km (15 mi) ESE of Brighton (New York) (pop: 36,600) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
26 km (16 mi) E of Henrietta (New York) (pop: 42,600) | Show on map| Quakes nearby
29 km (18 mi) ESE of Rochester (New York) (pop: 209,800) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
31 km (19 mi) SE of Irondequoit (New York) (pop: 51,700) | Show on map | Quakes nearby
36 km (22 mi) ESE of Gates-North Gates (New York) (pop: 15,100) | Show on map | Quakes nearbyWeather at epicenterBroken Clouds 3.4°C (38 F), humidity: 93%, wind: 1 m/s (3 kts) from W

Sirens blare in south as IDF strikes Hamas sites outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Sirens blare in south as IDF strikes Hamas sites in Gaza in response to rocket fire

The airstrikes come after terror groups launch 37 projectiles at Israel throughout the day, following the death of hunger-striking Islamic Jihad member in Israeli prison.

By EMANUEL FABIANMay 3, 2023, 9:55 am 

Smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City following an Israeli airstrike on May 2, 2023. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP

The Israeli Air Force carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night in response to 37 rockets launched from the Palestinian enclave at southern Israel earlier in the day.

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces said IAF jets targeted a number of sites belonging to the Hamas terror group.

The targets included a Hamas training camp; another base that housed a weapons production site, a concrete production plant, and a training site; a site belonging to the terror group’s naval commandos; and a tunnel used by Hamas in southern Gaza.

“The strike deals a serious blow to Hamas’s ability to fortify and arm itself,” the IDF said.

Palestinian media outlets reported that explosions were heard across northern and central Gaza. Footage published online showed large explosions rocking the territory.

One man was badly injured in an airstrike on a site belonging to Hamas, Palestinian media reported. There was no immediate confirmation by Hamas authorities.

Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza Strip, late May 2, 2023. Photo: AP Photo/Fatima Shbair

The military wing of Hamas said its members fired missiles at Israeli aircraft over the Gaza Strip amid the strikes. The shoulder-launched missiles are not thought to pose a threat to Israeli fighter jets, although they have set off incoming rocket siren alarms in southern Israel in the past.

Amid the airstrikes, sirens sounded in the southern city of Sderot and other nearby towns close to the Gaza border.

The range of the rocket fire appeared to have increased from earlier, as sirens also sounded in the town of Talmei Bilu, northeast of Netivot, some 13 kilometres from Gaza.

Sirens continued to go off in communities near the Gaza border after midnight. There were no immediate confirmed rocket launches after those warnings, or reports of injuries or damage.

Israeli children look at a damaged car in the southern city of Sderot on May 2, 2023, following rocket fire from Gaza. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP

Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza launched 37 rockets at southern Israel in a series of attacks, in response to the death of a hunger-striking senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group while he was in Israeli custody.

According to police, five rockets landed in urban areas, including one that hit a construction site in the southern city of Sderot and wounded three foreign nationals, one moderately and two lightly.

The Iron Dome air defense system intercepts a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel, May 2, 2023. Photo: AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg

The IDF said the Iron Dome air defense system downed five of the rockets throughout the day. The rest landed in open areas or fell short, landing inside Gaza.

Israel had readied for a potential escalation after Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan died in Israeli custody early Tuesday morning following an 86-day hunger strike.

Shortly after Adnan’s death was announced, four rockets were fired from Gaza, causing no injuries. In response, IDF tanks struck a Hamas observation post near the border, but held off from immediately responding to the additional attacks throughout the day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had come under intense pressure to respond forcefully to the rocket barrages, with much of the pressure coming from within Netanyahu’s own coalition. The right-wing bloc’s approval rates have declined since it returned to power four months ago, promising to restore security, only to be met with a sustained series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks and security tensions on other fronts as well.

The so-called “Joint Operations Room” of various Palestinian terror factions in the Gaza Strip took responsibility for the rocket attacks.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the collective, which includes both the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, said the attacks came as a response to the death of Adnan.

Adnan was found unresponsive in his cell in Nitzan Prison in the central city of Ramle before dawn on Tuesday. He was brought to Shamir Medical Center outside Tel Aviv and underwent resuscitation efforts, but was declared dead at the hospital, the Israel Prisons Service said.

Adnan’s latest detention was his 10th stint in the Israeli prison system. Israeli officials said he had been detained 13 times overall.

Adnan had long been accused of being a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad, and had been arrested several times in recent years and served several prison sentences in connection with his activities for the group.

FILE – Khader Adnan, center, is greeted by Palestinians after his release from an Israeli prison in the West Bank village of Arrabeh near Jenin, July 12, 2015. Photo: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File

After his arrest on February 5, Adnan was indicted on terror charges and was being held until the end of his trial. A hearing had been scheduled for May 10.

He had previously gone on hunger strikes four times to protest his detentions, including over an arrest in 2018. In that case, he was convicted of having been an active member of Islamic Jihad, a banned Iran-backed terror group, after he pleaded guilty in a plea bargain.

In 2012 he went on hunger strike for 66 days in protest against a term of internment without trial, a controversial practice Israel calls “administrative detention.” In 2015 he went without food for over 50 days after another arrest. He was also arrested for suspected terrorist activity in 2019.

The Biden-Obama Deal is a Total Disaster

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden insists on letting go of Iran’s sanctions imposed from the Trump administration.NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden’s Iran plan is a total disaster

Michael Goodwin

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it does. The Biden administration is working on a plan that would make the world a far more dangerous place.

March 19, 2022 

It’s a plot with three steps, all terrible and each arguably worse than the previous one. 

Step One is the determination to make a new sweetheart nuclear deal with Iran. There is no good reason, only the fetish to undo everything Donald Trump did.

He wisely scuttled the first bad deal, so President Biden is hellbent on making a new one, and is close to the finish line, meaning Iran could escape sanctions and its oil could hit the world market.

Step Two in the budding disaster is that the White House is letting the butcher of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, broker the talks between America and Iran. As I noted last week, on one hand, Putin is a war criminal raining death and destruction on millions of civilians, and on the other hand, we trust him to make an ironclad deal that blocks the mad mullahs from getting the ultimate weapons of mass destruction.

Oh, and in consideration of Putin’s efforts for world peace, any construction work Russia does in Iran related to the nuke deal would be exempt from sanctions imposed over Ukraine. As Biden would say, no joke.

If this sounds absolutely insane, get a load of Step Three. The Biden bots are actively considering, as a bonus to the mullahs, removing the terrorist designation of their main military group, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Recall that Trump droned the longtime commander of the Guards’ elite Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American soldiers in Iraq. Soleimani had spread terror in the region for decades, yet Biden said during the 2020 campaign he would not have ordered the hit.

In this file photo taken on September 22, 2018 shows members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) marching during the annual military parade which markins the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, in the capital Tehran.
Under the Iran deal, the dangerous Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps force will no longer be designated as terrorists.

His objection is probably relevant to the fact that Iran added the demand about removing the terror label. They figured they were pushing on an open door with the appeaser in chief.

For Biden, he’ll likely say yes to the demand for the same reason he wants a whole new deal in the first place: Trump. The former president put the terror designation on the Revolutionary Guards in 2019, a year before he eliminated Soleimani.

Reports say all the group must do is pledge to make nice and stop killing Iran’s enemies across the Middle East and a separate agreement will lift the sanctions blocking its financing, travel, etc., as if it’s the Chamber of Commerce.

The whole notion is so far off the charts that the Jewish News Syndicate reports that Israeli leaders, already unhappy about the prospect of any deal with Iran, initially refused to believe the White House would even consider giving a free pass to the Revolutionary Guards. 

A crowd gathers during commemorations marking the second anniversary of the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (posters), in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, on January 8, 2022.
Iranians still honor Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Cmdr. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis two years after former President Donald Trump ordered their assassinations.

Convinced the proposal is real, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a furious statement denouncing the group as “responsible for attacks on American civilians and American forces throughout the Middle East” and said it was “behind plans to assassinate senior American government officials.”

Bennett and Lapid continued: “The IRGC were involved in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians; they destroyed Lebanon and they are brutally oppressing Iranian civilians. They kill Jews because they are Jews, Christians because they are Christians, and Muslims because they refuse to surrender to them.”

Former American diplomats who have advised both Democrats and Republicans in the region agreed the idea stinks. 

Dennis Ross tweeted that the concept “makes us look naive” and, citing the group’s recent rocket attacks in Iraq that nearly struck an American consulate, added: “For the IRGC, which admitted this week to firing rockets into Erbil, to promise to de-escalate regionally is about as credible as Putin saying Russia would not invade Ukraine.”

Iran claimed responsibility for firing ballistic missiles near the US consulate in Erbil, Iraq in response to an Israeli strike on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Syria.
Iran claimed responsibility for firing ballistic missiles near the US consulate in Erbil, Iraq, in response to an Israeli strike on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Syria.

Ambassador Martin Indyk tweeted that removing the Guards from the terror list would be seen as a “betrayal” by many US allies who suffered from their brutal terrorism.

Nonetheless, it looks as if Biden wants to give the terrorists a pass in exchange for a vague promise. The White House has said no decision has been reached, which probably means it has but officials won’t defend it publicly until the agreement is signed.

There is one potential roadblock to all the madness, and that is the Senate. Because the entire package is new, Senate approval is required. 

Many people believe it should be considered a formal treaty, which would require two-thirds support. Instead, Democrats are likely to try to use an end run similar to the one they used in 2015 to get the first deal through.

After a GOP-led filibuster effort failed, 58 to 42, the pact was deemed approved through what one critic called “brilliant political subterfuge.” That critic, Eric R. Mandel, director of the Middle East Political Information Network, writes in The Hill: “So, let’s recap: Forty-two senators were able to bind America to an agreement that should have required the votes of 66 senators for a treaty.”

If the Senate lets anything like that happen again, it will prove that Biden’s love of extremely bad ideas is contagious.

Iranian horn has amassed enough uranium for 5 nuclear weapons: Daniel 8

Gallant: Iran has amassed enough uranium for 5 nuclear weapons

Visiting Athens, defense minister says Tehran ‘won’t be satisfied by a single bomb,’ warns the Islamic Republic against efforts to establish military foothold in Syria

By TOI STAFFToday, 4:16 pm  

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks during a meeting with his Greek counterpart Nikos Panagiotopoulos, in Athens, May 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday said Iran has amassed enough fissile material for five nuclear bombs, warning the Islamic Republic against further enriching uranium toward weapons-grade levels.

“Make no mistake — Iran will not be satisfied by a single nuclear bomb. So far, Iran has gained material enriched to 20% and 60% for five nuclear bombs,” Gallant told his Greek counterpart Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos during a visit to Athens.

“Iranian progress, and enrichment to 90%, would be a grave mistake on Iran’s part, and could ignite the region,” he added.

Iran is not believed to have yet enriched uranium to 90%, the purity needed for nuclear weapons, but can quickly do so from current enrichment levels if it chooses.

It holds stockpiles of uranium enriched to 20% and 60% in violation of the 2015 accord limiting its nuclear program, which it has increasingly breached since then-president Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions.

Western powers warn there can be no civilian use for uranium enriched to such levels.

Talks to reinstate the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers restarted in April 2021, but have been stalled since last year as Iran forges ahead with its nuclear ambitions.

Top US officials recently estimated that Iran could produce sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon in two weeks if it desires, but would need additional months to ready a bomb for use.

The US also believes Iran does not yet have all of the technology required to build a bomb and has not made a final decision to build a weapon, which Iranian leaders have repeatedly claimed they have no intention of doing.

In this image made from April 17, 2021, video released by the Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, various centrifuge machines line the hall damaged on April 11, 2021, at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, some 200 miles (322 km) south of the capital Tehran. (IRIB via AP)

In his remarks, Gallant vowed that Israel will not allow Iran to continue its efforts to establish a military foothold in Syria, where the Israeli Air Force has reportedly carried out a number of strikes in recent months, including an attack Monday on the airport in Aleppo.

“Over the past six months, Iran has sent aircraft to Syria on a weekly basis, delivering weapons to be used for terrorism,” he said. “The Syrian regime should be aware that the IDF will respond forcefully to any attacks launched from its territory. We will not allow Iran to establish military power in Syria, or to build a ‘highway’ for the delivery of advanced weapons to Lebanon.”

Separately on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a bipartisan congressional delegation and told the group of lawmakers that Iran could threaten the entire United States if it gets a nuclear weapon.

“Iran is 50 North Koreas; it is not merely a neighborhood bully like the dynasty that rules North Korea,” said Netanyahu in response to a question about Tehran. “This is an ideological force that views us, Israel, as a small satan, and views you as the great satan — and to have Iran being able to threaten every city in the United States with nuclear blackmail is a changing of history.”

The warning came as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made a two-day visit to Syria, where he met with leaders of Palestinian terror factions and pledged continued support against Israel, while calling for “the defeat of the Zionist regime.” Iran also backs the Hezbollah terror organization in Lebanon, which is similarly committed to Israel’s destruction, as well as other armed militias throughout the region.

Gallant commented on the fighting this week between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip, which broke out after the death of a hunger-striking Palestinian Islamic Jihad security prisoner in Israeli custody, ending after one day with a reported Egyptian-mediated ceasefire.

“This week, Palestinian terror organizations have tried to challenge Israel. They are launching rockets at innocent civilians. My message to them: Do not misjudge the strength and unity of our nation,“ he said.

The defense chief linked the rocket fire from Gaza to other recent attacks from Lebanon, Syria and in the West Bank, saying “They all share one common sponsor: Iran.”

“Iran supports, finances, trains and equips terror groups across the Middle East and around the world,” he added.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, meet in Athens, May 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Gallant hailed security ties between Israel and Greece, noting the two countries’ cooperation to foil an alleged Iranian attack plot on a Chabad house in Athens.

“This is not the only attack that was prevented. In fact, Iran has launched a global terror campaign, under the direct command of its leader,” Gallant said, pointing to alleged efforts in Germany, Cyprus, the United Kingdom and elsewhere to target Israelis.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Pakistan and India Reaching a Nuclear Threshold: Revelation 8

The former prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in Pakistan

After the recent release of the memoir of the former ambassador and special envoy to PM Singh, the late S.K. Lambah, there has been resurgence of the public discourse to revive the peace process

Luv Puri Published 04.05.23, 06:48 AM

The former prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in Pakistan

In January 2006, one of my hosts in Mirpur in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, told me that the then Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, had little over a year to sign a deal with India. He was alluding to the ongoing peace process between the two countries that was initiated by the former prime minister, A.B. Vajpayee, and sustained and concretised by Manmohan Singh. My host proved prophetic as the lawyers’ movement in Pakistan and the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008 made it impossible for the deal to be stitched.

After the recent release of the memoir of the former ambassador and special envoy to Prime Minister Singh, the late S.K. Lambah, there has been resurgence of the public discourse to revive the peace process. To better understand the present salience of the draft agreements between the two sides — they were never signed — one has to revisit the confidence-building measures and also the larger context in which peace looked possible between the two nuclear-armed countries.

At the core of the 2003-07 peace process were the CBMs — namely, the 2005-initiated cross-LoC movement of civilians and the cross-LoC trade that started in 2008. Between 2008 and 2019, Rs 7500 crore worth of trade was reportedly recorded along the two LoC points earmarked for trade. At first go, it was not hard to find out the reasons for the limited potential of this CBM. Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is nearly one-third in population as compared to Jammu and Kashmir, lacks an agricultural base on account of the hilly topography and has a nascent industrial base. The region is primarily a remittance economy as over 70% of British Pakistanis have a direct or an indirect connection with the Pothwari-speaking Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, particularly Mirpur and the adjoining, linguistically akin areas like Rawalpindi,Jhelum or the Gujrat areas of Pakistani Punjab.

On the CBM of cross-LoC movement of civilians that is restricted to divided families, there is a need for introspection. The third-and-fourth-generation descendants of Hindus and Sikhs, who had come from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and are now living in various parts of India, don’t fulfil the criterion for cross-LoC movement. Nearly all of the migration of this group took place in 1947. Most of the Muslim migration in J&K took place from its southern part, that too adjoining Pakistan’s Punjab. According to the 1948 West Punjab Refugees Census, the number of Muslims who migrated from J&K — most of them from Jammu — was 2,02,600, the highest outside east Punjab. Muslims mostly settled in Sialkot and Lahore, although a number of families settled in other Punjabi cities such as Gujranwala and Faisalabad as well. The number of persons in Pakistan’s Punjab, including the succeeding generations of the 1947 migrants who have a linkage with J&K, is estimated to be at least 1.5 million. Like the Hindus and Sikhs who migrated from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the interest of these families is limited to a desire to visit ancestral places.

More important is the change in the overall context. First, in the last 30 years, no peace initiative with Pakistan has been a risk-free endeavour for any Indian political elite because of the possibility of an impending terrorist attack. For the current Indian political elite, which professes a strong position on security and claims that the previous dispensations were weak, the potential political risk is perceptively higher. In the aftermath of the 2016 Pathankot and the 2019 Pulwama terrorist attacks, the national security advisor, Ajit Doval, remains the focal point of engagement with Pakistan and this track offers plausible deniability to the political elite for any type of engagement. In contrast, Vajpayee was willing to take the political risk of a possible grand conciliation whereas Singh preferred a more institutional approach.

Second, given the past experience, no person in power in Pakistan can dare to challenge the Kashmir-centric jihadi infrastructure. Musharraf was the target of several attacks by Kashmir-based terrorist outfits as he engaged with Vajpayee and Singh. In 2003, nearly a year after the group was banned, Jaish-e-Mohammad made an unsuccessful bid to assassinate him for which it recruited a resident of Rawalakot, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. In 2004, Indian intelligence agencies reportedly tipped off the Inter-Services Intelligence about the plan to attack the Pakistani president and it was foiled. In the same period, there were several attacks in Pakistani Punjab as Kashmir-centric and Taliban-related terrorist networks coalesced. Within present-day Pakistan, in addition to the skewed and complicated nature of the military-civilian relationship, polarisation has widened and enhanced political turbulence prevails.

Third, a peace process requires a committed ecosystem. In India, not long ago, several New Delhi-based members of political and bureaucratic echelons had personal knowledge of and networks within Pakistan. It is not a coincidence that most of the initiatives at the bureaucratic, political as well as civil-society level were initiated by members of the Punjabi-speaking community who were first-generation migrants from across the Radcliffe Line in 1947. Imbued with knowledge of cultural, intellectual and linguistic nuances of the Pakistani Punjabi elite, New Delhi benefitted from this ecosystem to calibrate its responses to an overall fraught relationship. The former prime ministers, I.K. Gujral and Manmohan Singh, and the special envoy, Lambah, shared similar backgrounds. This ecosystem has almost vanished in the last one decade.

Four, the gap between the economies of India and Pakistan continues to widen. This has implications. This can be illustrated by the recent disclosure that former Pakistani army chief, General Q.J. Bajwa, had told journalists when in office that the Pakistani military didn’t have the necessary resources to fight with India. India’s major geo-economic stakes go beyond South Asia. The ongoing strategic decoupling from China by the West is bound to create enormous high-value opportunities. As India aims to leverage these, it will leave little bandwidth for New Delhi to address the difficult relationship with Pakistan.

Considering the potential risk to millions of lives is, undoubtedly, an imperative. But this requires fresh spadework by accommodating the new realities and an honest appraisal of why some critical elements of the 2003-07 peace process couldn’t create a momentum.

Luv Puri is the author of Across the LoC