We need to tackle Pak’s proxy war
Regaining control over Jammu and Kashmir which was lost to India after the first Kashmir War of 1947-48 remains one of the basic aims of Pakistan’s national policy, in pursuance of which Pakistan has fought three unsuccessful wars and undertaken a long- running proxy war since 1989 against this country. The highly emotive issue of revenge against India for Pakistan’s humiliating debacle in Bangladesh in 1971 — “Badla for Bangladesh” — has been added on to this and Pakistan has targeted Jammu and Kashmir, specifically the Kashmir Valley, to exact retribution. These intentions remain unchanged to the present day.
A section of India’s leadership has romanticised the notion of “peace with Pakistan”, hoping for a corresponding reciprocity from across the border. The Pakistan Army, which controls the foreign policy of that country, is rightly to be seen as the most radical of hawks that will not turn into the gentlest of doves overnight. The fidayeen attacks in Srinagar are manifestations of the Pakistan Army’s policy of proxy war. In such a fight, each attack or bomb blast is an individual injury inflicted on India within Pakistan’s larger proxy war aims against this country of “death by a thousand cuts”. India’s leadership must never seek to minimise this perspective.
Pullback, reduction, or withdrawal of forces from Jammu and Kashmir, howsoever described, must be visualised in this broader strategic context. Such moves become a cynical game of political volleyball confined to politicians and their interlocutors in Srinagar and New Delhi. The Jammu and Ladakh regions of J&K, which constitute a sizeable portion of the state, are absolutely against any such pullback. They have never been taken into account in any significant manner by the political actors in the Valley, who dominate the state’s political hierarchy, and ignored even by the Government of India. The issue of “azaadi” has been built up into an intensely emotive political programme in the Kashmir Valley by politicians with strong separatist and pro-Pakistan sympathies, whose agendas find disproportionate representation and weightage in the national media. An adequate presence of security forces will always be required in Jammu and Kashmir in the foreseeable future to respond to direct and indirect aggression by Pakistan. In these circumstances, further reductions of force levels in the Valley, beyond the two divisions already withdrawn, would be an unsound decision.
Kashmir is an issue of core national security for India on which there can be no weakening or compromise.
Gen. Shankar Roychowdhury, former Indian Army Chief
An impetus to get back to normality
The Mumbai-style terrorist attack on Lal Chowk in Srinagar, the sudden increase in the number of attempts at infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) and movement and encounters with terrorists provide firm indication of attempts at increasing the levels of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. The lull of the past year, the large turnout of voters in the last general election, and the sizeable withdrawal of the Army from the state appears to have caused alarm bells to ring across the border. The handler of the Srinagar terrorist duo was candid when he referred to the militancy in the state as a “dead horse”. The People’s Democratic Party, the National Conference and the Congress, the three major parties in the state, had welcomed the withdrawals. Separatist groups and Pakistan expressed their misgivings, respectively referring to it as too little and “cosmetic”. The United States expressed its appreciation of the move.
Troop reduction has been considered time and again for nearly a decade. The improvement in the conditions enabled the government to withdraw troops. A popularly elected government under a young leader with a clean image and the troop withdrawals will certainly enhance the process of normalisation, and propel the “quiet” talks which are proposed. The measure also reveals a willingness on the part of the government to be resilient and a willingness to take risks to reach out to the people of the state. These efforts to win the support and confidence of the people to bring permanent peace has caused dismay among the separatists and their Pakistani inspirers.
The people now need to realise who their true friends are and who merely want to use them for their own nefarious purposes. The Shopian investigations have chillingly brought out the extent and the low depths to which the separatists can stoop to exploit the sentiments and emotions of the common people. A family tragedy caused by an unfortunate drowning mishap was used to whip up emotions and orchestrate violence all over the state. They have no respect for human life.
The government must be vigilant to protect the people of Jammu and Kashmir against such persons and the jihadists who misuse and misinterpret religion.
Certainly even more troops should be withdrawn as conditions improve. The reduction, however, should not increase in any way the risk to the life and property of men, women and children of the state. The actual ground conditions and the safety of the people should be the cornerstone and the determinant factor.
Arun Bhagat is former director, Intelligence Bureau
Source: Copyright © 2009 Deccan Chronicle. All rights reserved.