Kashmir’s Ugly Reality - 2

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 Feb 2018 11:50:27


“You may call me names, but I suggest that we should talk to Pakistan to find a solution on militancy in Kashmir. War is no option”. - Ms. Mehbooba Mufti,
Chief Minister
of Jammu and Kashmir

THERE is no doubt that war is no option to sort out the Kashmir problem. Who wants war, by the way? No one in India. So, to that extent, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti is on the dot that war is no option. The problem begins with the second part of the statement: We must talk with Pakistan. And it is at this point that nobody agrees with Madam Mufti. For, if the Indians and their Government want no war, the people in power in Pakistan want war -- with India and perhaps with anybody else in the region, except China. So, the natural extension of the issue is: War is no option, is alright. But If Pakistan wants war, and it is trying its level best to impose one on India, then how do we face the issue? To this question, Madam Mufti does not seem to have an answer. But even as the political community debates over this point, the common people go by the straight-forward statement of Vice-President Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu, that India cannot engage in talks with countries that use guns to talk. The honourable Vice President is absolutely correct in assessing the national mood on the issue.

Yet, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti cannot be taken lightly as she is Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Her word matters. It was her one word that led the J&K Police to file a First Information Report (FIR) against an Army officer for his engagement in anti-insurgency operations. If the Chief Minister of a State indulges in such actions, then the common man cannot do a damn. He looks at events helplessly and hopes that the FIR produces no negative outcome for the Army Major who did his duty.

But then, in Kashmir, things have always been different and rather ugly. Time and again, the popular fronts of the separatists raise the issue of withdrawing of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). They insist that such a withdrawal will dilute the intensity of the Kashmir problem. And if someone asks them “How?”, they have no answer except that the AFSPA violates human rights of the people of Kashmir.

That is a bloody stupid answer, so to say. For, if insurgency, if violent militancy that takes lives of innocent people does not violate human rights of the people, how can the AFSPA can? To this question, too, they have no answer. And that is where the crux of the Kashmir issue lies -- that essentially Kashmir’s political community does not want a credible solution to the problem. This is the ugly reality of Kashmir.
Of course, Madam Mufti has a point, which we must recognise. She insists that talk, not war, is the only option. But even as she makes this forceful suggestion, the J&K Chief Minister forgets historical evidence that no talks with Pakistan have produced desirable result -- of peace -- in the past 35 years. Every peace initiative by India has floundered because of the negative attitude Pakistan has so assiduously harboured. One fails to understand why Madam Mufti does not see this credible evidence.

The main premise of this discourse is to stress upon an unfortunate reality that domestic politics in Kashmir is often afflicted by separatism, mainly powered by Pakistan from across the border. despite this fact, most members of Kashmir’s political community have not been able to divorce their moves from actions of the separatist lobbies. That is the reason every political development in Kashmir has a close link with this or that separatist machination. The FIR against an Army officer is part of this machination triggered by separatist interest in collusion with political lobbies.

It must be stated here very clearly that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which part of the ruling coalition with the Madam Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is different. It has worked its way into the edifice power through hard work on nationalist sentiment in the State. Yet, in the coalition rule, the BJP’s leadership seems to be unfortunately powerless. It must be admitted that the BJP has done some commendable job from its perch in the Government. Yet, its effectiveness is limited and it has not been able to veer the Chief Minister away from her hidden separatist coalition. This failure of the BJP is something that hurts common people.

It must be said clearly that the purpose here is not accuse Ms. Mehbooba Mufti as a separatist leader. Yet, given the compulsions of domestic politics, she keeps leaning towards separatists lobbies for local support. This is Kashmir’s major undoing.
However, it must be insisted that talking to Kashmir is also no option just as war is not. What is sensible in the current situation is that the Government has to tread cautiously in the slippery area of Kashmiri politics. It cannot stretch the military option too much, nor can it reply on peace process totally.

The best way could be to draw a middle path, talking about which is easier that acting upon it. In the present condition, all India can do is to keep pressing for a military response to the Pakistani incursions and terror strikes without getting tired or bored. This is a war on nerves, so to say, as India has often recognised. The pow-intensity proxy war which Pakistan often uses is aimed at tiring India out and making her lose patience.

It is at this point that Indian mettle is being tested every day. The Government in India is mature enough to understand the intricacies of the current Kashmir condition. If it sustains its military initiative with patience, it will prove effective in its response.