The Strategy of Moral High Ground in Jammu and Kashmir
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Issue Vol. 33.1 Jan-Mar 2018 | Date : 18 Apr , 2018

Jammu and Kashmir - Historical

The two epics of Indian Philosophy; Ramayana and Mahabharat portrayed wars fought for righteousness and justice. These wars depicted ‘Victory of Virtue over Vice’. Even Christianity supported and practised the ‘Just War Theory: Initially, propounded by St Augustine of Hippo in the 4th Century and later, St Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century. Holy war of ‘Crusades’ was fought from 11th to 13th Century; a fight for God and Country was considered as ‘Just War’. Later, the ‘School of Salamanca’ also propounded that even pre-emptive wars against tyrants are Just Wars. Even in wars of today; all offensives have taken place, seemingly in pursuit of peace. US started its offensive ‘Op Iraqi Freedom’ to make the world safe from ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ (WMD), which were alleged to have been in possession of Saddam Hussain? Though, the intelligence was faulty but gave the US and NATO forces, enough alibi to start the war for a ‘Regime Change’. Almost all countries propound that wars are fought for preserving peace. However, all know that peace is only a façade; the actual reason is geo-political power play to mould the will of the opponent to serve the national interest of the victor.

General Andre Beaufre; a French General of 21st Century propounded the concept of ‘Moral High Ground’ in counter insurgencies. He says that the US lost out in Vietnam as the Vietcong had a moral high ground, as they were fighting for their independence. Similarly, the French lost out both in Vietnam and Algeria as they were fighting against underdog countries, which were fighting for their independence.1 He says that just as in tactics the high grounds are important to prosecute a battle; similarly, a ‘Moral High Ground’ is essential to fight wars. It decidedly garners sympathy from those uninformed and those, who have not yet made up their minds, as to whom to support in the conflict. It means that though the intention could be geopolitical but the struggle should be portrayed as onerous and righteous.

The ‘School of Salamanca’ also propounded that even pre-emptive wars against tyrants are Just Wars. Even in wars of today; all offensives have taken place,seemingly in pursuit of peace.

Taking our Jammu and Kashmir issue in the forefront; why have we really not been able to integrate its people, who actively supported us against Pakistan in all the three wars; 1947-48, 1965 and 1971? With the state being a part of our country for the past seven decades; still, we have not been able to integrate the people in body, mind and spirit within the Indian Union? We may blame Pakistan or we may blame Jihadis, which is no doubt true but what about the might and will of our country that has failed to fight their subversion? Most often, the reason given is that a small group of radical elements are holding the entire silent majority to ransom and drive the agenda. Even this may be largely true but what about the gaping failure of Indian Union and its inability to prevail over these so called small radical elements, who are the progenitor of an anti-national agenda and have the capability to sustain it? Do we really have a fig leaf of defence to keep on blaming Pakistan and fundamentalists to substantiate our inability to integrate the state fully into the Indian Union, even after 70 years of independence? Don’t we feel that we need to adopt completely a different approach?

Firstly; what is the percentage of people, who are alienated against the Indian nationhood? The entire region of Jammu and Ladakh comprising 85 percent of the area of India controlled J&K, are proud citizens of India. They include Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims (Non-Kashmiri) comprising of Shiyas, Gujjars, Bakerwals, Paharis and Rajput Muslims. There has not been a single incident against the country from these areas. The balance 15 percent of the area is Kashmir that is inhabited by Kashmiri Muslims, Pandits and Sikhs. Two lakhs Pandits were driven away and presently there are only a couple of thousands left in Kashmir. This 15 percent area is inhabited by 54 percent of the population of the state. It comes to about 6.8 million. Rest of the 85 percent of area has 46 percent (5.7 million) of population are proud Indian Citizens. Indian controlled J&K has Muslim population is 68.3 percent.2,3 This 68.3 percent has slightly less than half as Kashmiri Muslims and the rest being non-Kashmiri Muslims. Again, to conclude that the entire Kashmiri Muslims are alienated against India is absolutely erroneous. These were the people, who helped the security forces during the conflicts with Pakistan. Sad, that the entire narrative of the area has been subverted by ‘Jihadis’ and most are rendered helpless casual observers, reluctantly towing their line.

Again, to conclude that the entire Kashmiri Muslims are alienated against India is absolutely erroneous. These were the people, who helped the security forces during the conflicts with Pakistan.

Now the point arises as to who is driving the narrative in J&K? If it is Pakistan through the Jihadis, then indeed we losing the plot. Now, let us take the concept of ‘Moral High Ground’ that we occupy. Our theme is; J&K is an integral part of India; Indian Independence Act of 1935/47 states that the sovereign of a state alone decides the accession of the state, either to India or Pakistan or remain independent; accordingly, it was the Maharaja of J&K, who signed the Instrument of Accession’ acceding the state to India on 26 Oct 1947 and from that day, J&K has become an integral part of Indian Union. The argument may be legally right but does not carry conviction of the people of the state. We no doubt occupy a legal high ground but what about the moral ground?

The inter-se relations between the State of J&K and Union of India after the ‘Instrument of Accession’ is governed by three more agreements: First is the ‘Delhi Agreement of 1952’ between Sheikh Abdullah and Pandit Nehru. In this agreement, Pandit Nehru surrendered our national interest to appease the Sheikh even circumscribing the powers of the President, where he lost the authority to declare emergency for ‘Internal Disorder’ restricting his authority only during ‘External Aggression’. In next four years a separate constitution was promulgated for the state, granting it the special status under Art 370. The next important document was ‘Kashmir Accord in 1974’ between Sheikh Abdulla and Indira Gandhi. Here again, the Special Status of J&K was reiterated as in the Constitution. The next important document was ‘Rajiv-Farouk Accord 1986’. Here, both the parties, which were hither-to-before at loggerheads joined together for the first time and polarisation of Islamic parties under ‘Muslim United Front’ was formed as opposition. The 1988 election was widely acclaimed to be rigged and the people lost faith in the democratic system and it was also the start of militancy. One can see that these three agreements that determined the inter-se relations between J&K and Indian Union, were signed between two families of Nehru and Abdullah. They indeed bear the direct responsibility for the present mess, violence, terrorism and chaos prevailing in the state. Vested interest, maladministration, corruption and incompetency resulted from these accords. The state government was silent and helpless, when the secular fabric of the state was torn asunder by violence perpetrated on pandits and their consequent exodus from the state.

For all these things to be done the State should come under the President’s rule for next 10 years. The separatists should be isolated and no government grants and security should be provided for them.

The appeasement followed by Pandit Nehru in granting the special status to J&K, ensured that the state remained aloof and did not benefit from the secular and progressive policies of the Indian Union. J&K remained under the financial crutches provided by the Union Government, as it failed to generate its own revenues. Vote bank politics further divided the state on religious grounds as is obvious in the election results of 2014. Look at the great divide between Jammu and Kashmir. The state has reached a point of no return and the people have lost all faith and trust in our ability to give them a clean and efficient administration. The constitutional privileges due to its special status has indeed become one of its greatest limitations and has become a ‘mill round it neck’. Neither the people can jettison it for fear of losing their identity nor can it take them out of the quagmire, where they are sinking slowly from non-functionality to atrophy.

A new approach needs to be adopted in which our moral high ground should be spelt out clearly. It should be convincing to the people of J&K and they should be integrated to work for a bright and prosperous state. It should be economic development to generate employment and to make the people living in the paradise on earth, prosperous and progressive, in sync with their beautiful land in which they live. The theme should be ‘Prosperous People in the Splendour of Paradise’. The politics of separation and autonomy can wait for the time being, till the time the people become prosperous. The theme should be ‘Prosperity before Politics’ (Pahle Samruddhi; Baad mein Rajneeti). The interest of the Union Government to bring in development with a message that ‘We Care’ is very important to get people on our side. Ensuring good education, rebuilding schools burnt my terrorists, world class college education, adequate employment opportunities are key to regaining the moral high ground.

Simultaneously, a stern message should go to those, who support terrorism that they would not be a part of the ‘Development Agenda’ and would be subjected to due processes of the law. Law keeping is essential for progress. Any person, who pelts stone at the ‘law enforcing agencies’ should do at his own risk as the security personnel like any citizen of the country have the ‘Right of Private Defence’ to protect themselves with whatever means they have. While, the actual firing would be done to injure the leader in the crowd, bullets hitting others cannot be ruled out. This should be made very clear to them that the security forces mean business; hopefully stone pelting at the security forces should reduce. If not, it is at the peril of the stone pelting crowd. Unless this message is driven home, they would continue to exploit the weakness of security forces in not using their weapons for effect. In the recent case of FIR having being filed on a major is ridiculous. Of course; if at all the major has to be punished, it is for not ordering to open fire earlier, before his seven soldiers got injured. Why did he have to wait for the situation to reach to that extreme? It was his duty to protect the men and material that was entrusted to him. He is the last bastion of his country and the last arrow in the quiver of the government. If he fails; the nation fails. The Home Minister should squash the FIR against him and the army should institute an inquiry against him for not ordering to open fire in time, before his soldiers got injured? The CO and his higher ups should also be taken to task for exercising restraint at the peril of the safety of troops and government property.

As most politicians in the state have enriched themselves to take care of their next couple of generations they should not mind an interim hiatus of 10 years from their spree of public loot.

Next, the challenge lies as to how to generate employment? Even in the height of insurgency there were long queues at recruitment rallies. It only shows that though there is disenchantment with the administration, the hope to get employment and earn a livelihood, is foremost in the minds of all youths. This aspiration need to be fulfilled. It would be difficult to bring heavy industries with high investments due to the clause of ‘Permanent Resident’ in the Constitution of J&K. However, employment can be generated by software companies. Each of the companies need to open Engineering Colleges. Those, who are found suitable should be employed by them. This can be done with the least of investments and is also an early and fast employer of unemployed and qualified youths. The next, is to give the boost to ‘Tourism Industry’. A separate force should be raised as ‘Tourist Protection Force’, whose main task is to give security to all tourism related activities. Also start an ‘Ecological Force’ to ensure sustainable growth of the state without squandering the environment. They should be tasked to ensure the rejuvenation of water bodies, afforestation, preservation of glaciers and the river systems within the state.

For all these things to be done the State should come under the President’s rule for next 10 years. The separatists should be isolated and no government grants and security should be provided for them. Hawala money that is coming into the state needs strict monitoring. No money should come to the individual accounts without Aadhaar identification. While, there is freedom to practise religion but no religious teacher should give seditious preaching. No politics in religious institutions; both in temples and mosques. Rule of the law to prevail. Clean administration has to be provided. Bio-metric attendance in government offices with CCTV cameras installed to ensure that they work for the public. A toll-free number should available, where people can report on government officers, who are demanding bribes. There should be a monitoring team under a senior officer with dedicated police and investigating team that need to take prompt action on complaints of corruption. All government business dealing with public for permits, birth/death certificates, land revenue documentation, ration cards should be given within the stipulated time. Any delay; the dealing desk officer should be penalised. Grievance redressal mechanism should be in place under a senior officer, who should be empowered to take action against defaulting officials. Public services like health, education, conservancy, water, electricity should be provided with utmost efficiency. All this should be done through the representatives of the people at the panchayat and village levels. The state governments have consistently failed to provide a clean and efficient administration. They should not have any grouse and need to sit back and observe the development of their people without their indulgence. As most politicians in the state have enriched themselves to take care of their next couple of generations they should not mind an interim hiatus of 10 years from their spree of public loot.

For a moral high ground, it doesn’t suffice only for the security forces to believe in righteousness of our cause. It is the people of the state, who need to believe in it. We should take the international opinion with us; notwithstanding the issue is an internal matter of India. Countries across the globe should believe in our sincerity and efforts to provide succour to the people of the state torn between terrorism and nationhood.


  1. Greene Robert, The 33 Strategies of War, Viva Books Pvt Ltd, Indian Edition, 2011, p 337.
  2. Census of India 2011, Government of India,
  3. Jammu & Kashmir Official State Portal,
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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen PG Kamath

a veteran of Indian army;  was the former Commandant of Army War College, Mhow.  Currently, he writes on Ethics,Leadership Strategy and Current International and National issues.

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