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The state of unrest

Kashmir issue is complex. Many players, mostly across the border, don’t want peace in the valley. People at large are the worst sufferer

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, asserted, yet again, earlier this week, that India and Pakistan should talk, as ‘there’s no alternative.’ And while she gives this message of peace, she’s acutely aware of being called an ‘anti-national’ by some of the premier news channels. They feed people with the rhetoric of war in their living rooms. A serious discourse on security matters cannot be hyphened by popular perception.

It doesn’t require rocket science to understand that war is not an option between the two nuclear powers—India and Pakistan. Mufti’s coalition partner in the state is the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has made it clear that it’s not a suitable time to talk with Pakistan. For a constructive peace dialogue to happen between the two countries, BJP is of the view, that Pakistan ‘pull back’ from supporting subversive acts in the state and create a conducive environment to give peace a chance.

Pakistan on their part is in a persistent denial for now five decades. A low intensity war by instigating terror in Kashmir has worked well as a subversive tool for Pakistan to ferment trouble in India and has costed thousands of lives. To the contrary, Pakistan has been carrying out vicious international campaigns against India Army for human rights violations in Kashmir, particularly in the United Nations. Even the president of the US, Donald Trump, warning doesn’t seem to be a wakeup call for Pakistan. Trump has accused Pakistan of not doing enough against the terrorism and provides safe haven to dreaded terror outfits. Trump has cut the funding that seems to run the Pakistan’s security apparatus, read army, has had little impact. The US, reportedly, has withheld about $255 million and threatens to further cut aid to the extent of $ 2 billion. The state department of the US is also contemplating to freeze transfer of military equipment to Pakistan. India wants the US to further ramp up the pressure on Pakistan and understand that Pakistan uses US weapons to attack India.

Despite the international pressure, Pakistan has done little to create conducive environment for talks. To the contrary, the mercenaries, trained militants from the across the border have been attacking army and paramilitary installations with impunity. And this is not even summers, winters are the lean months as far as subversive activities in the valley is concerned. In past 45 days, since the beginning of 2018, 23 people have died due to terror attacks and cross-border firing. In the most recent attack last week, three suspected terrorists of the Jaish-e-Muhammad fired inside the residential quarters at Sunjuwan Military Station, killing six, mostly army men, before they were gunned down. Intelligence report establish that the recent attacks on the security establishments is  handiwork of the Pakistan-based Jaish to mark the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, who was hanged on February 9, 2013, after found guilty of orchestrating Parliament attack. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat made an aerial survey after having a meeting with the top officials. On their part, Pakistan, has only one response, denial: ‘nothing to do with the terror attacks’.

‘LET’S TALK WITH PAKISTAN’: This assertion, Mufti fears, will prompt the popular media in Delhi dub her an ‘anti-national’

Despite, government is committed to restore peace in the valley. Former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma was appointed the interlocutor in September last year. The separatists have ruled out talks with Sharma. Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, N N Vora, has blamed separatists for “recurring agitations, hartals and closures”, which have adversely affected functioning of public offices, school and colleges and disrupted trade, business, tourism and all economic activities. While the Hurriyat leaders and separatists have positioning the minds of Kashmiris not send their children to the army-run schools, alleging that these institutions brainwash children against the religion and culture. Their own family members and children go to the best of educational intuitions, some even settled abroad leading luxurious life.

The issue between India and Pakistan has lingered over last seven decades. And there has been this constant fluctuations in the relationship, blowing hot and cold, like a wave function. In the shadow of guns, the worst sufferer are the common people, many struggling to keep their business going. Tourism has suffered, so has the trade in handicrafts, garments and artifacts. People are suffering, but the spirit of integral humanism, Kashmiryat, has survived, they want to live in peace. People are getting killed and that has created tension between people at large and the security forces. As far as the army and the paramilitary forces are concerned, they are there to restore law and order. They have been the pet target of the terror outfits operating from across the border. After all the security personnel, too have a family, their life is precious. They are going to retaliate fervently, if targeted.

Political initiative must go “hand-in-hand” with military operations in Jammu and Kashmir to bring peace, says the Army chief General Bipin Rawat. He asserted that the army will continue to follow a policy of hot pursuit against militancy. On the question of dealing with Pakistan, Army chief observed, “You cannot be status quoist. You have to continuously think and keep moving forward. You have to keep changing your doctrines and concept and the manner in which you operate in such areas.” General Rawat hasn’t ruled out the possibility of one or more surgical strikes to destroy terror infrastructure across the LOC. “We are prepared for any infiltration. Terrorists are ready at that side of the border and we are ready on this side to welcome them. We will receive them and send them to their graves,” General didn’t mince words. Pakistan’s establishment, and the press, are in denial again, assert that there had been no surgical strikes inside LOC in September 2016 and that they are prepared to respond to any such misadventure by India with full force.

The situation is complex with many players in Kashmir, and some have their own selfish, subversive agendas. For some fermenting unrest in the valley is a matter of livelihood for many. At least, initiation of dialogues process kindles hope. War is not an option, Mufti is right, but this low intensity conflict cannot be allowed to go on forever.