The Kashmir Valley has been on the boil for nearly three months now following the killing of Burhan Wani – a terrorist – by the security forces. Efforts by the ruling political parties at the Centre and the State as well as by various functionaries including Shri Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister and the All Party Delegation to the Valley have not helped to assuage the people’s hurt feelings. Quick fix solutions like clamping of curfew in affected areas, assurance of replacement of pellet guns by non lethal means of crowd control, induction of additional companies of security forces etc. have not helped. That Pakistan has been providing fuel to this smouldering fire of discontent is quite clear to all and sundry.
The Uri attack has been one of the worst since the insurgency broke out in J&K in 1989 and the most audacious one targeting the Army personnel.
The Establishment has been feeling helpless and groping in the dark to find some solution which can bring the situation under control. It hasn’t succeeded so far. In the meanwhile, number of casualties, many of them being children, resulting from the clashes between the locals and the security forces have been rising with each passing day.
As though the internal problem within the Valley was not grave enough, four terrorists heavily equipped with weapons and ammunition infiltrated from across the border in the Uri Sector and launched a lightning attack on an Administrative area of the Army, near the Uri Brigade Headquarters, in the wee hours of the morning of 18 Sep 2016 and killed 17 soldiers of two infantry battalions engaged in handing/taking over of operational responsibilities. More than two dozen soldiers were seriously injured with bullet and burn injuries, one of whom later died in the hospital.
The attack has been one of the worst since the insurgency broke out in J&K in 1989 and the most audacious one targeting the Army personnel.
The commando type modus operandi adopted by the terrorists and the type of ammunition used clearly establishes the complicity of the Pak Army in training and equipping the terrorists. An analysis of the entire operation launched by the terrorists indicates that they were surely assisted by some locals/insiders up to the point of attack. The maps captured, after the terrorists were eliminated, revealed that their plans were far more audacious and the casualties would have been far greater had they succeeded in their plans fully.
Media, including the social media, has been abuzz with advice to the Govt to avenge the killing of the soldiers immediately and with equal, if not with greater, ferocity. There are divergent views on whether it be termed a terrorist attack or a proxy attack by the Pakistan Army. The tempers of the entire nation have been boiling, helplessness of the common man is evident as he feels that the present Govt, like many others before it, would do nothing other than making noise and the whole incident would die a painful death after a few days, like it happened after the Pathankot incident and scores of them before that. Security in and around the sensitive installation will be tightened for a few days or weeks and we will all wait for the next strike to take place before the whole cycle is put into motion again.
Is it a law and order problem? Certainly not. If it was so, we would have certainly found some solution to it over last 27 years of its existence.
Let us, for a moment, keep the Uri incident aside and talk about the situation in the Kashmir Valley. The Central Govt has been maintaining that J & K has a democratically elected Govt in the state and it should deal with the law and order problem there as such. The opposition parties and the intelligentsia have been calling it a political problem, not a law and order problem, and goading the Govt to find a political solution to bring the situation to normal. Interestingly, the opposition, when it was in power, did not consider the Kashmir problem as political and was loathe to find a political solution to the vexed problem. It has, however, been generally agreed to by all that Pakistan has been waging a proxy war in Kashmir as part of its strategy of weakening India by the low cost option of supporting insurgency. Let us analyse what the problem actually is.
Is it a law and order problem? Certainly not. If it was so, we would have certainly found some solution to it over last 27 years of its existence. We have had law and order problems in other states of the Union (like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh to name a few) at different times and have solved them within a reasonable time frame. It is not the first time that the Kashmir Valley has erupted with violence and it is also not the worst violence of its kind since 1989. It is also not that Burhan Wani has been the tallest leader whose killing has evoked such wide-spread violence. It is also not the use of pellet guns which is being resented en-mass.
Pellet guns have been used in crowd control operations earlier also since 2010. It is just that the miscreants and their mentors have used the incident of Burhan Wani’s killing to raise passions and evoke violence over a longer period of time. They have found enough fuel in the issues to keep the flame of violence alive. There are enough CAPF and state police forces in J & K to deal with any law and order problem and the Centre can send more, if needed. After all it is an alliance partner of the ruling party in the state.
Is it a political problem? We will not go into the well known history of political journey of J & K State – jailing and exiling of Sheikh Abdulla, fighting of four wars, rigging of election in 1987 which became the catalyst for the Kashmir insurgency, appeasement of the terrorists by the PDP-INC Alliance Govt in the early 2000, release of the most dreaded terrorists in exchange for the daughter of the then Home Minister, enforcement of President’s rule at different times, coming together of PDP and BJP in 2014 – two ideologically divergent parties – to find a solution to this question.
A poor hungry stomach would go to any limit to satisfy its hunger and a large number of such stomachs can create trouble for the strongest forces confronting them.
What J & K has lacked all along is political stability? Every party that has come to power has tried to bake its selfish bread in the cauldron of commonality of religion and corruption. After the Kashmiri Hindus have been driven out of Kashmir Valley, Pakistan claims that Kashmir should merge with it due to commonality of religion.
Corruption has been rampant in the state for decades. Very little funds received for development are actually spent as such. Nothing has been done by the successive Govts to promote activities which will create employment. Level of education is high, but the jobs are missing. A poor hungry stomach would go to any limit to satisfy its hunger and a large number of such stomachs can create trouble for the strongest forces confronting them. That is what the British did to us for over two decades – keeping us hungry, then giving us just enough to satiate our hunger, but not our other needs, and making us their slaves. That is what Pakistan is doing to the Kashmiris – giving them money to satiate their hunger (physical support) in exchange for creating trouble there and feeding them with the psychological stew (commonality of religion). Add to this the educated, unemployed and frustrated youth, the influx of weapons and drugs and you have the most deadly concoction available.
Sadly, our Govts have failed to realise this and continue to consider the unrest in the Valley as the law and order problem. While all is not lost yet and it is still not too late, yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to reverse the tide of this raging torrent.
Is it possible for the present Govt at the State level to create a marvel in a state that is vertically divided politically? J & K State is not only divided into three segments geographically – Jammu Region south of Pir Panjal, the Kashmir Valley between Pir Panjal and Great Himalyan Range and the Ladakh Region nestled into the Great Himalayan mountains – but also ideologically. Last elections have very clearly laid bare this reality where Jammu (predominantly Hindu) and Ladakh regions (predominantly Budhist) have voted for staying with India whereas in the Kashmir Valley (majority Muslim) the mandate was in favour of secession from India. Any solution found for one region, therefore, may not be acceptable to the others. The only saving grace is that the other two regions are peaceful and are equally keen – like the rest of the nation – to find a solution to the vexed problem of the Valley.
In the initial stages of this strategy, Pakistan employed militants from other nations also as proxy to intimidate and drive Hindus out of Kashmir as also target security forces and their sympathisers / informers.
It would have been easier to find a political solution to the Kashmir problem, if it was not for a constant irritant in the form of our western neighbour. Pakistan’s problem is older than the current Kashmir problem. She has been seething in rage for nearly 45 years since it division into Pakistan and Bangladesh, making untiring efforts to avenge its humiliation. It was presented, by India, with an opportunity in the form of rigged elections of 1987, which led to formation of a large number of indigenous militant wings by the defeated political parties, actively supported by Pakistan (ISI) and its militant organisations.
Pakistan had adequate number of trained militants available, from Afghanistan, to be pumped into India after Russia withdrew from that country around the same time. Keeping them in Pakistan would have meant trouble for itself, so what better way to send them to Kashmir. In the initial stages of this strategy, Pakistan employed militants from other nations (Afghanistan, Sudan, Ethiopia etc) also as proxy to intimidate and drive Hindus out of Kashmir as also target security forces and their sympathisers/informers. Disenchanted Kashmiri population in the Valley welcomed these insurgents/militants with open arms, provided them with sustenance, guided them towards their targets and protected them. Having failed in its efforts to foment trouble in Punjab in the 1980s, Pakistan was looking for new play grounds for its dirty game. Getting disproportionate dividends vis-a-vis the resources employed, Pakistan got encouraged and has never allowed the situation to die down whether it was governed by a politically elected Govt or a dictatorship.
Kargil War (1999) fits well into this grand Pakistani design of increasing the area of conflict and keeping Indian Armed Forces embroiled for a long time. When the problem is so complex (internal strife exacerbated by a foreign power), it cannot remain a law and order problem. Sooner the Govt admits it, easier it will be for it to find a political solution to it.
How does one find a solution to a problem when some of the stake holders are not prepared to sit across the table and discuss the problem or when the goal posts are shifted every time some ray of hope emerges? Who prepares the ground for the implementation of a political solution? All organs of the Govt and Non Govt agencies like the Central Armed and Police Forces, Armed Forces, media, various ministries of the Govt (Home, Foreign, Finance and so on), social groups, track II diplomats and so on. It must be known to everybody that no army, howsoever strong, has ever been able to provide a permanent or prolonged solution to a conflict. All that the Armed Forces do is to create an environment where in the warring parties/factions are able to sit across a table and find solution(s) to their differences.
Fighting counter insurgency/counter terrorist (CI/CT) operations, one thing is quite clear that our neighbour has been waging a Proxy War in J & K. Few things can be deduced from this – one, it is a ‘war’ and everything is fair in love and war; two, wars are fought in time and space, and three, as contained in the Israeli National Security Doctrine, “wars must be fought in the enemy’s territory and enemy’s forces must be defeated as quickly as humanly possible”.
We have lost out precious time since 1989, but have not been able to enlarge the space (across the LC) in which to conduct CI/CT operations.
In this context, we seem to have failed on all three counts. We have not been able to evolve a strategy to defeat Pakistan’s designs and have been only defensive, nay reactive. Our successive Govts have been standing on moral high ground of not crossing the Line of Control (LC) whether it is while conducting the CI operations or fighting the Kargil Conflict, whether Pakistanis came in, killed our soldiers and took away their heads or sent in their nationals to brutally kill civilians in Mumbai and elsewhere. We have always been trying to create friendly relations with them, conduct trade with them on unfavourable terms, having meetings in Shimla, Agra and God knows where all, celebrating birthdays with their leaders, playing cricket and organising cultural events with them, so on and so forth, but to no avail.
We have lost out precious time since 1989, but have not been able to enlarge the space (across the LC) in which to conduct CI/CT operations. By saying this, it is not intended that our Armed Forces cross the LC to wage a war or destroy their defence installations or bombard their terrorist camps, but we should have been able to pay Pakistan in the same coin by unleashing the type of activities she has been conducting in J & K, if need be with greater ferocity and ingenuity. We should have taken all measures (fair and unfair, since it is a war (so what, if by proxy)) to expand the area of conflict into Pakistan (POK and elsewhere) and forced her to react to our actions rather than be reactive to her moves. We should have been able to cause unacceptable cost, on Pakistan, of waging war against us, but alas! we have failed miserably in doing so.
Why have we been agreeing with Pakistan that it is the Kashmir problem that prevents the two nations to have cordial relations? Why have we not been able to emphasize that it is the problem of POK and its unification with Kashmir that is the stumbling block? Unfortunately, all these years we have been brought up to believe that it is presenting the other cheek which got us freedom from the British, negating the sacrifices made by our freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Udham Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose and many more like them.
It has been proved, during both the World Wars, that a defensive strategy can never win wars for you. A force which remains defensive would sooner or later be overwhelmed by the aggressor. That is why the concept of offensive defence is practised even while one remains on the defensive. In any case, a defensive strategy can at best give you a stalemate, but not victory. In order to deter an adversary from creating mischief, one has to go on the offensive. We seem to have learnt nothing from history and have been satisfied with defending our territory, but not our men, while engaging in the proxy war being waged by our wily neighbour.
We need to change our strategy, if we, as a nation, want to bring situation in the Valley under our control.
Fighting the proxy war for over quarter of a century, we seem to be standing at the same place where it all started. In this period, we have lost thousands of our people, both uniformed and civilians. What have we gained in the bargain – a section of our population alienated and clamouring for Azadi, a large part of our Army, CAPF, state police force, intelligence agencies etc. committed round the clock to keep vigil and conduct operations against and unknown and unseen enemy, degradation of army’s capability to fight a conventional war, erosion of our war fighting machinery – both men and material, diversion of a sizable part of our GDP from other developmental activities, death of tourism industry leading to utter poverty and misery to the locals; the list is endless.
We need to change our strategy, if we, as a nation, want to bring situation in the Valley under our control. Some suggestion are :-
First and foremost, we need to shed our image of being a soft power like an empty vessel that makes much noise. We must not be scared of what the world or the Amnesty International and other similar organisations will think of us. If our house is on fire, we have to take all actions at our disposal to quell that fire. It hurts nobody if our people die or our property gets destroyed or our economy suffers. Israel, which has fought insurgency for a long period, took a tough stand, but did not allow its national objectives to be compromised. What have Russia, USA and other coalition forces been doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and more recently in Egypt and Syria? They have been meddling into other nation’s affairs using extreme force. Aren’t we allowed to do the same to protect our own national objectives? Only we have to be firm in our resolve to act.
We must go on a diplomatic offensive, with an intensity that has never been seen before, to expose and isolate Pakistan internationally. Our efforts must be sustainable and we should not allow any let up, if Pakistan or any of her accomplices try to scuttle them by playing the victim card. Alternatively, we should sever all our relations, diplomatic, cultural, economic, trade, travel and so on with her. We can have these relations with the whole world, but Pakistan. Why should we run to re-establish relations with Pakistan every time we snap them following a terrorist strike or military action. Is it so difficult for us as a nation to survive if we do not have relations with Pakistan? After all Cuba survived and prospered for decades without having any relations with USA, the sole super power.
Pakistan violates it at will whenever it wants to push the terrorist across the LC. We are always reactive and after returning fire for a day or two, it becomes business as usual.
More recently Iran and now North Korea have had grave sanctions imposed against them and isolated diplomatically, but they continue with their activities with impunity. Diplomatic isolation will have limited effect as both USA and China, for their vested interests, will not declare Pakistan a nursery of global terrorism and impose the toughest sanctions against it. We are seeing it clearly for so many years now.
We need to review our policy of maintaining ceasefire on the LC. Pakistan violates it at will whenever it wants to push the terrorist across the LC. We are always reactive and after returning fire for a day or two, it becomes business as usual. It is not as if all has been hunky dory on the LC since we have gone into a ceasefire with Pakistan. We continue to lose men and material as a result of ISI sponsored terrorism on the LC as well as in our hinterland. Though a harsh step that may be viewed negatively by the international community, Pakistan will have much to lose if LC is activated again. She and her military will find it really difficult to manage both her fronts – eastern and western – simultaneously with considerable drain on her economy. Coupled with the diplomatic isolation, this step may help in forcing Pakistan to tone down her strategy and reign in the terrorists.
We have to expand the area of conflict and, if need be, take the war to the adversary’s territory. In this context, our Prime Minister’s recent approach to bring into focus the plight of Baluchi people and Kashmiris livings in POK, in the international arena is the right one. Intensive use of technology to spot militants close to the LC or crossing it must be made and offensive action taken to eliminate them before they enter our territory. It may be more beneficial for us to spend our billions on acquisition of latest technology to maintain vigilance on the LC and the IB and save our men from dying or getting injured/incapacitated for life.
We have a media that is only concerned about the TRPs (visual) and increasing their circulation (print). They do not mind employing any means, fair or foul, to serve their commercial interests, national interests be damned. We need to learn from the western media which acted with utmost caution after the militant strikes in France and Belgium. In contrast, our media’s irresponsibility during the Mumbai attacks, Maqbool Bhatt or Afzal Rajguru’s hanging, Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest, Burhan Wani’s killing and plethora of incidences of national interest need not be over emphasized. We seem to take our democracy and right to freedom of speech too far.
Vernacular media has been most irresponsible in creating tension by sensational reporting. Most of it is either financed, sponsored or fully controlled…
Our media should have the basic sense of differentiating between what is in national interest and what is not. While it is not intended to gag the media (which in any case is impossible in today’s world), our media needs to be responsible and careful while reporting. Raising of passions by sensational reporting must be resisted. Media should also assist in moulding the public opinion and perception management, not only in J & K, but the whole country and the world at large. If the current trend of reporting continues, some censorship of the media may have be enforced by the Govt. Training and education of reporters is a must to ensure national integration. sooner it is done, better it will be for the nation.
Vernacular media has been most irresponsible in creating tension by sensational reporting. Most of it is either financed, sponsored or fully controlled by opposing political parties who resort to half truths and coloured reporting to suit their political agenda. Countries inimical to a particular nation or who want to hinder its progress fund such media houses. When an external source is involved, such reporting becomes the fountainhead of black or grey propaganda. The damage caused to the efforts of the Govt and security forces is unimaginable. Intelligence, Tax and Enforcement Directorate and other law enforcement agencies need to keep a strict vigil on such media houses and initiate legal action to curb their activities, if required.
It has been a long known reality that a large number of politicians and businessmen support the militants and secessionists for their own petty personal interests. In the case of J & K, it is more true than in any other part of the country. The activities of personnel who are promoting secessionism and inciting people to indulge in arson, looting, stone pelting, damaging property and participating in other types of unlawful activities need to be watched constantly and stern legal action needs to be taken by the Govt, under the prevailing laws, in the interest of national security.
The political parties, both at the state and the Centre, must rise above their narrow political gains and weed out people who are running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. This is easier said than done. The inclusion of people with criminal and shady background in all the political parties, without exception, to stay in power, is a sad commentary on the way business of politics is conducted in our country. However, if the Prime Minister is really keen to sort things out in J & K and since the ruling party in the state has BJP as its coalition partner, it may be a bit easier to do it. Let all stakeholders be warned that the time is already running out and any further delay to turn the tide of events in J & K would be disastrous.
While conducting CI/CT operations, as far as possible, we must avoid collateral damage. However, if a person or persons protect militants, provide logistics support or assist in their escape, it is they who should be made to answer for their actions rather than the security forces. Witch hunting should be avoided at all costs. We have to enrol larger number of women into police service to defeat the age old tactics employed by the locals in such areas of acting behind ‘women and children’ shield. Judiciary should also be careful in entertaining frivolous reports of excesses committed by the security forces while discharging their lawful duties.
…it should be ruled that the parents would be booked for injury / death to a minor, if he is found to be indulging in unlawful activities or dies / gets injured.
While employing security forces, we always think of “employ the Army – withdraw the army – employ CAPF or state police forces”. A change in this mindset may prove beneficial. Sensing that the situation in the Valley improved to be under manageable control of the CAPF, the Army was withdrawn from certain parts of the Kashmir Valley in 2014. Considering the current unrest in the Valley which is already into its third month, the Govt is considering bringing the Army back.
A case for segmenting the entire Valley into smaller areas and employing the Army, the CAPF and the State Police in different zones of the valley may be tried out. A unified commander of the entire Valley under whom should be Zonal Commanders who may control all the forces in that particular zone may be nominated. The synergy of effort would pay handsome dividends. This approach may be resisted by each force on the grounds of difficulty of command and control and shifting the blame on each other when the situation spins out of control or become difficult to handle in a particular area.
This strategy, however, will also divide the modus operandi of the people/ demonstrators/ crowd who now employ a uniform method to deal with one type of force in the entire area. A note of caution is to instruct each force commander to resist the temptation of scoring brownie points. Let us make a beginning by employing a synergised force in each pocket and see the results. If the strategy fails, we have the option of reverting back to the current policy.
It is an internationally known dictum that the monopoly of violence (weapons) must remain with the State. Passing this ‘monopoly’ to anybody else (crowd/trouble creators/civilians/militants) will always lead to disaster. Let it be known to everybody who is living in this country that an attack on the security forces personnel and their posts will be replied with fire. The principle of use of minimum force/fire would, of course, be applied by the security forces while dealing with the internal strife. The onus of losing limbs or life will rest on the crowd/trouble creators/person(s) involved. Similarly, as has been done in the case of minors causing death/injury following an automobile accident, the parents would be found blameworthy; it should be ruled that the parents would be booked for injury/death to a minor, if he is found to be indulging in unlawful activities or dies/gets injured.
In the absence of a suitable weapon in the hands of the security personnel, they will be left at the mercy of the miscreants as has been shown in the media every time the trouble erupts in the Valley.
We have seen the result of a policy of appeasement and its failure. We may have to go back to the strategy that we employed between 1990 and 2005 – i.e. hand over the situation to the Army and bring it under control. People must be told in no uncertain terms that any type of violence will be retaliated appropriately. In the first place the Home Minister seems to have committed a mistake by admitting that use of pellet guns would be discontinued. Has he got the assurance from those who have been pelting stones and using other types of missiles that they will not use the same hereafter? Are the lives of the security personnel dispensable or not important?
In the absence of a suitable weapon in the hands of the security personnel, they will be left at the mercy of the miscreants as has been shown in the media every time the trouble erupts in the Valley. There is no reason for the powers that be to feel insecure? If we change our tactics and methods after every demonstration and after losing the lives of a few demonstrators, we will be only doing that. Let a method or tactics, which has been employed after carrying out due thought, continue for some time. Minor course corrections may be done as we go along.
At the strategic level, three things need to be done. One, we must not allow Pakistan to come out of its economic morass. If it sinks deeper into the economic tunnel, its own population will get disenchanted with the Govt and force a change in its attitude. It is not considered safe to pen down the modus operandi to do it here. Suffice to say that we have enough strategic thinkers and other intelligent people in the field of economics to suggest ways and means to carry out this activity.
The oft quoted statement that a strong Pakistan is in India’s interest is behaving like an ostrich. Kutte ki poonchh 12 saal tak naal mein rakhne ke baad bhi tedi ki tedi nikli (dog’s tail could not be straightened even after it was kept in a tube for 12 years) is aptly applicable to Pakistan. We have experienced it over last 69 years. Let nobody fool us by saying that our relations have been on the mend due to Track II Diplomacy or due to Gujral Doctrine or during Bajpai’s Prime Ministership, or due to efforts of Manmohan Singh. If that was so, we wouldn’t have met them on the battlefield in 1948, 1965, 1971, 1999 and 2001-02. Two, We have to increase the cost to Pakistan for creating trouble in our country. Pakistan will stop only if it hurts her more than us. Till it is done, nothing is going to change. The policy of presenting the other cheek will not help.
Unemployment is a problem in the entire country and so is the problem of poverty. Kashmir is no different.
The only strategy that will work with Pakistan is to kill two if we lose one, to kill many times 18, if we lose 18. What means we employ to carry out this strategy need not be told to anybody and let no outsider advise us as to what we should do. Unfortunately, the trouble with our leadership and the media is that they shout too much, but do sweet little. Even after losing 18 men in Uri, all that our Home Minister and other leaders have been saying/tweeting “ghor ninda” (utterly condemn) of the cowardly act. Our Prime Minister has said that those involved will have to pay a heavy price for their actions. One is waiting for the heavy price that those involved in Pathankot attack have been asked to pay (under the same Govt). We have been too soft and have always been hoping that others will do our bidding. Who the hell, in the whole world, is interested in fighting for others?
Three, we need to change our policy of rushing to USA or other international powers/groupings to declare Pakistan a terrorist state and do chest thumping. We should do everything at our disposal to protect our interests. When has the USA or others in nearly five decades ever imposed sanctions on Pakistan, even though Pakistan is recognised by the same USA as the fountainhead of terrorism in Asia? We should not be afraid of China supporting Pakistan. China, today, has much to lose if sever our economic ties with it. We should ensure that our fences with other global players continue to become stronger to maintain an equilibrium in international relations.
Unemployment is a problem in the entire country and so is the problem of poverty. Kashmir is no different. But the problem of creating jobs and alleviating poverty in Kashmir has been rather slow because of heavy corruption. The money that has been given to J & K over last seven decades is not less. On the contrary J & K has been getting much more in per capita terms than any other state of the Union. Where has this money gone? Somebody needs to answer.
A section of the intelligentsia agrees with the separatists and advocates uniting J & K and POK with a view to declare Kashmir an independent nation. Nothing would be more damaging for India than doing this.
J & K has also been a big beneficiary economically with the huge strength of Armed Forces present in that state as part of salary that the men receive gets ploughed back into the economy of the state. A look at the lifestyle of a large section of people living in and around Srinagar reveals total opulence, to say the least, but tax collection has been negligible. The black money so generated is being utilized to support militancy in the state. Militants, in turn, provide protection to these very businessmen. Helplessness of the Govt machinery is unimaginable, particularly since many of these people have sympathisers in the State Govt and its law enforcement agencies. The need is to improve governance in the state and hold people accountable for the largesse that the state has been receiving. Is the Central Govt prepared to bell the cat?
A section of the intelligentsia agrees with the separatists and advocates uniting J & K and POK with a view to declare Kashmir an independent nation. Nothing would be more damaging for India than doing this. Such a move would not deter Pakistan from creating trouble in India. On the contrary, it would direct all its evil energies against other states of India, since it would be free from doing so in Kashmir. And why should we lose a part of our country when it has legally decided to be part of it after the independence of India? Instead, we must not give up our right to get POK back from Pakistan.
We have two states in the country where a high level of insurgency prevails – Manipur and Kashmir. If we analyse the reasons for it, we would see that the root cause of problems, in both states, has been the result of political blunders committed by one or more political parties at the centre. Unfortunate part is that none of the political parties which ruled India subsequently have tried to mend the relations. In the case of J & K, if we want the situation to improve, we will have to consider giving greater autonomy to the State as was promised at the time of accession of Kashmir with India. We have to assuage the hurt feelings of the population there, without losing any time, if we want them to join the mainstream.
To say that Kashmiris have been creating trouble without having any grievances is to fool ourselves. We have to make all out efforts understand their viewpoint sincerely, in letter and spirit. All political parties, without exception, must, therefore, agree to do this and work together to make it happen. Any half measures will not do, more so since Pakistan would not stop fishing in troubled waters. A note of caution – none of the measures suggested above will succeed, if we do not resort to a spirit of give and take with the Kashmiris. Stubbornness will only spoil the situation further and may lead us to a point of no return.
If we can pay back Pakistan in the same coin and cause equal amount of damage, if not more, to its people and security forces that it does to us, we would help solve the Kashmir problem too.
Lastly, our strategy for the type of attack that has been recently launched in Uri. Our Prime Minister’s image will go very high in the eyes of the nation if he can act decisively. If we can pay back Pakistan in the same coin and cause equal amount of damage, if not more, to its people and security forces that it does to us, we would help solve the Kashmir problem too. If that leads to war, so be it. We have had enough of pussyfooting for last 69 years, nomore now.
As Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of Sikhs, had said, “Chu kar az hamah heelate dar guzasht, Halal ast brdan bi shamsheer dast” meaning “When all other ways of redress fail, it is righteous to pick up the sword”. To that end, the Govt must make all diplomatic efforts on the international stage, immediately intesify the political process to assuage the hurt sentiments of the Kashmiris and at the same time prepare its armed forces to be ready to meet any challenge, keep its powder dry, raise the morale of its rank and file, which has got a beating due to recent events, reduce its counter insurgency responsibilities as much as possible and order it to train for conventional operations with vigour. While dealing in the international affairs, we must keep in mind the warning of the late British diplomat Sir Harold Nicholson, “Nations do not have permanent friends or enemies. They have permanent interests.”
As mentioned earlier, for us our interests must be supreme and we must protect them ourselves first. Nobody else is going to do it for us, howsoever close he or she may be to us.
We need to put our heads together, think and more importantly, act to increase the space of this conflict. We may have to pay some price in the initial stages, but we must carry out a cost-benefit analysis over a longer period and think, decide if it is going to give us a lasting peace.