The writer is a former director of the Intelligence Bureau in India.
The writer is a former director of the Intelligence Bureau in India.
Kashmiri villagers look inside a damaged house. AFP
The earlier regimes — for reasons of our domestic politics largely — seemed to have compromised on these paradigms in a manner that encouraged the pro-Pak separatists in the Valley on one hand and gave leeway to Pakistan to take to cross-border terrorism to destabilise the state, on the other.
It was known that the political parties of the Valley — National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party — always kept the separatists represented by the Hurriyat on their side for gaining power and did nothing during their rule to check the growing collusion between Pak ISI and the Hurriyat leadership in spreading subversion in the state. The planned ouster of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley forced by Islamic militants in the early Nineties was an ISI project that aimed at creating a totally Muslim territory for Pakistan to lay claim on.
It will always be a shame for the then government at the Centre as well as the so-called mainstream parties of the Valley that they did not make any effective move to prevent a communal tragedy that had engulfed an important segment of the Kashmiri population. Soon, the Pak army-ISI combine launched its plan of replicating Afghan Jehad in Kashmir by sending in Mujahideen to subdue the Valley by unleashing faith-based terror and managed to create a situation where the leaders of the militant outfits of the indigenous Jamaat-e-Islami - HuM and Dukhtaran-e-Millat - were also taking orders directly from Maulana Hafiz Sayeed, the Lashkar-e-Toiba chief based in Pakistan.
It is the spineless approach of the then government to both Pakistan and the issue of cross-border terrorism that in a way brought about the tragedy of 26/11 — a covert offensive of Pak agencies that has been rightly compared with the 9/11 attack of radicals on the US. The illogical and supine stand of India on the prime threat to national security continued for many years subsequently till the advent of the Modi regime saw a bold and fruitful course correction.
The three-pronged policy of Modi government announced that terrorists in Kashmir or any where else will be militarily put down, that there will be no talks with Pakistan till this rogue neighbour gave up on cross-border terrorism and that the pro-Pak agents in the Valley, including the separatists, will be pursued legally in a forceful manner. The success of the Modi regime in securing the world›s support to its stand against cross-border terror, ending the US tilt towards Pakistan by getting President Donald Trump to denounce Pakistan for providing safe havens to Islamic terrorists and pushing Pakistan to a position of isolation in the international community, is remarkable indeed — it deserves to be taken further with vigour.
The defeat of the opposition in the 2019 General Election is to a great extent the result of the latter›s shoddy response to the threat of terrorism emanating from Pakistan. What made things worse for it was the widely shared impression that the opposition was being soft towards a belligerent Pakistan because of its strange calculation that it helped to corner the electoral endorsement of the minority here. In the post-Balakot situation this even produced a certain degree of Hindu backlash that pushed the BJP further ahead. At the core of the BJP victory, of course, was the popular appeal of Prime Minister Modi himself.
Kashmir remains a prime challenge for the new Home Minister and it is the internal management of the state that has to be put on track by him, first before any policy package brought into play could be expected to yield quick results. All through these years of turbulence in Kashmir the political rulers of the state tended to morally disassociate themselves from the counter-terror operations of the Army-Para Military combine even when J&K Police was kept in the loop wherever necessary. They teamed up with the separatists in playing up the ‘alienation› card to run down the effort to neutralise armed terrorists and said not a word to denounce Pakistan›s incessant attempts to infiltrate Mujahideen into the Valley. And this was in spite of the fact that the actions of the army under the AFSPA were subject to monitoring by the Unified Command chaired by the Chief Minister.
The state governments run by the Valley parties did not fulfil their responsibilities of promoting development, taking care of family welfare and creating opportunities for aspirational youth in the state — all because of corruption and a desire to maintain captive constituencies for political gain. This vicious cycle of vested interests has to be broken. There is no reason why Collectors and SPs of districts should not be holding weekly meetings with citizens to hear their local demands and to draw up lists of youth who want skill training, financial help for launching a start-up or simply desire to get a job with the state or Central government. They should have an outreach to families who want to keep their youngsters from drifting towards militancy. The state government must embrace all the people it is ruling and create an atmosphere of openness. It is hoped that the new Home Minister of India will change the course of administration in Kashmir — he will have to show the hardened separatists their place by pursuing relentless legal action against them.
For the period ahead when Pakistan is expected to step up its offensive in Kashmir it is necessary that during the Centre›s rule, the state is put in the charge of a mature civilian of national security background who understands administration, knows about the working of the armed forces and appreciates Intelligence reports on the plans of the Pak agencies for Kashmir. It is not necessary that only a politician would understand the nuances of electoral politics. Administrative management of elections as an event is what is more important. India›s no nonsense approach to Pakistan on the issue of terror remains valid. Ways have to be found to restore the socio-cultural milieu in the state that makes people resist the imposition of Salafism and get back to the simple all inclusive Sufi traditions of Kashmiriyat.
Several hours of shooting rocked the Pulwama district, south of Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, after officials said four soldiers, a policeman, three militants and a civilian were killed in the latest clash.
An army major was among the dead, along with three militants from the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group which claimed last week's attack, military and police officials said.
Six senior army men including a brigadier and a lieutenant colonel were injured in the hours-long gun battle, a police official told AFP.
Pakistani airspace on its eastern border with India will remain closed until June 14, a civil aviation official said on Wednesday, the latest extension months after a standoff between the arch rivals.
Police sources said two masked militants in a car attacked a joint party of local police and the CRPF in K.P.Road area of Anantnag.
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