By Ashok bhan
Creating political uncertainty, destabilize JK State and inflicting death and destruction on Kashmiri people has become part of the grand strategy of Pakistan and the Kashmiri militants.
Kidnapping, torture and murder of a proud Kashmiri army officer by Kashmiri militants and; killing and mutilation of two Indian army soldiers by Pakistani troops has outraged the nation’s collective conscience. Country has described these heinous crimes as dastardly, inhuman and barbaric and Pakistan has been told that such incidents merit an unequivocal response. Few weeks back brazen militant attack on an army camp in Kupwara Kashmir and martyring a young Captain and other brave soldiers was yet another cowardice reminder to security establishment that Militants are on targeted or focused mission to attack. Pakistan’s military attack on Indian soldiers at the LOC and their continued support to terrorist attacks in Kashmir is an effort to keep the Country off balance and draw the international mediation into the so called dispute. International Court of Justice interim verdict on Jadhav has come as a big blow to Pakistan.
“Pakistan’s use of terrorist groups as part of its security and foreign policy is function of its obsession of unfinished agenda of partition with India, which it perceives as existential threat. Pakistan’s paranoia regarding India is historically and practically unfounded.” Beheading Indian soldiers and military Court’s death sentence for Kulbushan Jadhav has amply exposed Rawalpindi’s designs to exacerbate unrest in Kashmir Valley and pursue confrontation with India.
Embolden by Chinese support, Pakistan has started to reboot its ties with US and end the stale mate of last few years.US -Pakistan relations have been on the downside because it lie to the whole world about the presence of Al-Qaeda chief the most wanted Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. The Americans nailed these lies by “Operation finish Bin Laden” and he was found in Abbottabad near elite military School in Pakistan and was liquidated.
International community has not remained oblivious on Kashmir situation. Recently Nikki Haley expressed US concern over the situation in South Asia spiraling into a dangerous conflict hinting at Kashmir imbroglio. Statement of Turkey President Erdogan recently was also direct on Kashmir. The other hostile countries and the international Human Rights groups are curiously studying the Kashmir affairs awaiting the opportunity to meddle. The unending cycle of protests and retributive security measures have stained our democracy politically and optically in the eyes of international opinion.
Designating Pakistan as a State sponsor of terrorism in India and Afghanistan and posing threat to the stability of South Asia has to be the Indian diplomacy mantra. Going to ICJ was a wise and calculated though risky diplomatic decision for public perception; still quite diplomatic options are always available for such issues. However, the UNSC is the forum India can invoke in case of adversity in ICJ. It is also clear by now that India is not willing to renegotiate Kashmir’s territorial status.
Inwardly deciding about the fate of the State and “Kashmir” in particular by Governments without taking on board all the stake holders, the exiled population and without due deliberations is politically untenable. Keeping people engaged even in symbolic dialogue in a disturbed situation of Kashmir is always prudent to blunt machination of enemy those have created political space. The mainstream polity is shrunken at the moment. Therefore hot pursuit policy on terrorists has to be blended with somnolence of engagement with the Kashmiris.
Jammu & Kashmir State consisted of its distinct entities in five separate regions with nothing common with each other. The hill areas of Gilgit, Baltistan and Skardu and the Punjabi-speaking areas of Muzzaferabad etc; are with Pakistan. In Indian part of the State, there are three divisions- namely — Hindu dominated Jammu; Suni Muslim dominated Kashmir with Shia community, Pundits, Sikhs and Gujjar communities, and Buddhist and Shia populated Ladakh.
India has with great efforts integrated these diverse divisions as the mosaic of different ethnic, religious and tribal groups and united these together in a culture of mutual tolerance and creative interaction as a plural and democratic J&K State. Unfortunately it has got engulfed in the worst phase of militancy, intolerance and distortion by the self-serving myths of competing political interests.
Currently unlike past, when Kashmir used to enjoy the glory of peace and rich civilization plural ethos popularly known KASHMIRIYAT , the situation in Kashmir is;- the radicalisation is taking over the Socio-Political discourse and gaining greater appeal and the pro Pakistan narrative which was noticeably very weak, has also become strong. The recruitment of local boys in the ranks of militancy is phenomenally on the rise. The new age youth and students are up in protest against the very Idea of India and democratic process in the Valley. The young innocent lives and armed forces personnel are lost on a daily basis. The political space of main stream polity has shrunk. Democracy is in peril and the attempt to delegitimize the idea of India in Kashmir is galore.
Faced with the continuing death and destruction unleashed by mercenaries the non-State actors since 1989, the colossal sufferings of the large components of Kashmir society, the Muslims and the Kashmiri Pundits in exile and almost a generation in the grave yards:, Yet the Kashmiri population at the societal levels has the sense and understanding that; Pakistan and separatism cannot be and is not the option and “resolution of all the issues lies through a negotiated peaceful dialogue process”
PDP-BJP State Government will be losing its plot in Kashmir, if the hot Military pursuit is not blend with regular dialogue or the semblance of it, with the stakeholders including the agitationist’s youth. Also top military brass, security forces, political-civil society and peace loving citizenry of the Country and JK State have voiced such opinions for quite some time.
The revival of militant activity in the state and elsewhere is a serious issue and a reminder that the militant outfits are spread, present and active to strike anytime and anywhere. The youth in anger joining the militant ranks is hugely disturbing phenomenon, public support to militancy had considerably reduced but it has surfaced with renewed vigor. The phenomenon of terror, panic and disinformation is back in the valley. Security scenario, inwardly is not very assuring. Darker clouds of uncertainty are on the horizon. The militancy is on the big rise. Huge participation in the funerals of the slain militants is worrying. It reflects the people are subtle if not the express support to the revival of militancy. There is no centrally organized command of local terror groups they operate like criminal gangs and Pakistan is able to coordinate these gangs. They seem to gloat about their achievements on social media rather than displaying any radical commitment
Country expects the PDP-BJP Govt. in the State to bring about peace by a policy of political outreach and fan out with political activities in the Valley with the patriotic narrative and the agenda of governance. Recent meetings by Prime Minister and Home minister with Ms Mehbooba The first ever woman Chief Minister seems to have been business like, wherein she has promised to take on to herself the task of enforcement of law & order and containing unrest by legitimate political process and activities of her Party on the ground. She has once again fuelled the huge expectations of the youth and the people in general. She is still grappling and grasping the nuances of governance and it is hoped she delivers to best political and administrative abilities in due course. The political pundits in New Delhi and Srinagar rate her as -average- that is her big loss. She has to prove the Pundits wrong is also her challenge.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has assured all out help and support to her efforts to restore peace and bring in Valley to normal life for the people. The current turmoil and Loss of innocent lives on daily basis has imperiled “Democracy and Human Rights. Kashmiris are yearning for peace and peaceful and secured life and liberty for the current and future generations.
The political leadership has to take a call that State does not slip back into the olden abyss. Therefore, the leadership and the administration in Delhi and Srinagar have to be on the same page to work together with focus on the affairs of the State rather than their own predispositions.
(Author is a Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Chairman, Kashmir Policy & Strategy Group)