Friday, June 02, 2017
Why it's dangerous for BJP government to assume it can resolve Kashmir crisis
The clearest indication that things on the ground are regressing in Jammu and Kashmir is the massive Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) launched in Shopian, the southern part of the Valley last week.
At the beginning of the militancy, such door-to-door operations were the norm, they were wasteful in terms of manpower and they obtained indifferent results. But there was little alternative to them since the J&K Police had melted down and local intelligence had dried up.
Subsequently, when the BSF G-Branch had developed a network of informants from turning captured militants, and the J&K Police had revived, such sweeps were wound up and instead, the security forces, often led by the state police’s Special Operations Group, resorted to intelligence-led operations that cause little collateral damage and virtually decimated the militant network in the Valley.
Army personnel during a search operation in Shopian district of Kashmir. (PTI)
So, the indications are, that, at least in the southern part of the Valley, things are back to square one. Reports suggest that the local police has again melted and no local intelligence is coming through, and hence the massive brigade-level sweep. Just how retro things are, is evident from a comment by a retired general that maybe the time had come to once again use turned militants, Ikhwanis, to hunt down militants.
In these past weeks and months, for the first time in a long while, we have had international leaders saying that, maybe, there was need for mediation between India and Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir.
First it was our own Nikki Haley who said that the Trump administration could play a role in de-escalating the India-Pakistan situation, then came Turkish President Erdogan who in a interview on the eve of his visit to New Delhi, called for “a multilateral dialogue” to settle the Kashmir issue. Now, we have even had a Global Times commentary noting that China “has a vested interest in helping resolve regional conflicts including the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan. “
Many Indians don’t realise that for the world community, J&K is not a closed chapter. It is just that, based on the India-Pakistan dialogues, the world community has felt that perhaps, it was best left to the two to sort out the problem. But if there is a feeling that there is no dialogue and things are escalating, then there will certainly be need for third–party intervention.
All these years, despite continuous Pakistani interference, the J-K issue was slowly moving towards resolution. Militancy was declining and even Pakistan was signaling that, maybe, it could accept a compromise in which current borders would not change.
The big problem that we have today is that the BJP-led government has different ideas. It actually believes it can resolve the issue once and for all — liberate Pakistan occupied Kashmir, in particular Gilgit Baltistan, and bludgeon the dissidents in the Valley into submission.This is, if anything, a perfect example of hubris.
New Delhi believes that the factors responsible for the violence and tension in the Valley are entirely external. And there is little to be gained through internal dialogue. This is a skewed understanding of the situation. Pakistan is certainly responsible for pumping in men and money into the Valley, but they are able to get shelter and function because India has not been able to convince the locals that it has their welfare in its heart.
Last week, the key BJP interlocutor, speaking behind the screen of anonymity, ruled out all dialogue till the stone-pelting continued in the Valley. Referring indirectly to some comments by former NSA MK Narayanan and former RAW chief AS Dulat, he declared that they had “had enough time and opportunity to implement their ideas… Now it is our turn to get things in order. Let us handle the issue in the way we want.”
So the world, and the people of this country, must accept a strategy where the government deliberately allows the health of Jammu and Kashmir to deteriorate, claiming that this will effect a complete cure at the end. If this sounds like a quack cure, it probably is.
Past governments had a more modest approach, believing that all they could do was to manage the issue, not resolve it in the short term. To that end, they adopted multiple, but flexible tactics — talks with Pakistan, roundtables in the Valley, behind-the-scene dialogue with the separatists and so on.
This led to a slow and steady improvement of the conditions in the Valley. The search for the perfect solution is illusory, the best as is well known, is often the enemy of the good.
Mail Today May 8, 2017