Re-visiting Our Northern Security Strategy

By K.N. Pandit,

In reply to BJP President Rajnath Singh’s idea of an enclave for the internally displaced Kashmiri Pandits and nationalization of the Amarnath route floated during the BJP conclave in Bangalore recently, the PDP chairperson has reacted frantically and threatened a mass uprising in the valley. Handing unbridled, albeit meaningless, threats and blackmail, is her style of politicking.

Theo-fascists have accelerated their destructive activities targeting major cities in the country.

In recent months Kashmir separatists have been persistently defying law enforcing authority and obstructing normal flow of administration in the valley. They issue threats to those who intend to participate in the democratic process of electing their representatives. 

Peoples Democratic Party, which remained in the seat of power for six years, is now pandering to pro-separatist’s agenda.   Day in and day out, its chairperson is accelerating hostile attitude and adopting confrontational posture vis a vis the Indian State.

The pretext of an imagined economic blockade during Jammu strike is made an instrument of inciting mass agitation against the authority of the State.  The Sate of Jammu and Kashmir is sought to be made a private fief of a few Kashmiri ruling houses and dissident groups who are dangerously playing religious card.

The call for march to Muzaffarabad maneuvered in reaction to the so-called economic blockade has exposed the ambivalence of many political leaders of the valley. They were in the forefront of anti-India brigades whose bravado of crossing the LoC was trumpeted to international media.

This situation has developed in Kashmir simultaneously with the resurgence of Taliban and Al-Qaeda combine in Afghanistan and Waziristan.  Pakistan’s ISI appears to be visualizing a new role for itself in intensifying Theo-fascist crusades in the region east and west of Waziristan. Islamists revive the dream of an Islamic Caliphate in a sensitive geographical region from the Dardanelles to Xingjian in China and then down to the Straits of Malacca.  Kashmir is integral to this scheme of things. An article by PDP chairperson published under the title Let’s Revive Silk Road’                in a Jammu-based journal Epilogue of July 25, 2008 speaks loudly of the grandiose   plan of the Caliphate.

Given the anti-India nexus between Islamabad and Beijing, and their avowed policy of stonewalling India’s growing international stature, security of India’s borders east and west has come under heavy pressure. Their overt and covert support to Theo-fascists, terrorists and subversive elements is India’s primary concern. New Delhi cannot let border vulnerability go unplugged.

In this background it becomes unavoidable for India to re-visit her security plans for her northern border. Kashmir is crucial to this re-think.  Curbing anti-India hysteria is the pre-requisite of fortifying territorial integrity of the State. This is the constitutional obligation of the government.

The Constitution authorizes Indian State to adopt feasible measure for ensuring national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State. Furthermore, the State, drawing power from the parliament, can make constitutional amendments to any proviso that it thinks will help combat subversive and disruptive activities against the state.

Article 370 of the Indian Constitution has been incorporated to maintain the identity of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and ensure its special status in the Indian Union. But when territorial integrity of the state is at stake neither the constitution of the J&K Sate nor of the Indian Union will permit secession of a part of Indian Union under one or the other pretext. Indian State did respond to a threat like that in August 1953. Any campaign launched under the pretext of “freedom” and intended at the parceling out of the state, is treason under national and international law, and has to be dealt with accordingly.

It is increasingly felt in concerned political circles that restructuring of the border State of Jammu and Kashmir is unavoidable in view of nefarious designs of our western neighbour and its insinuation of Kashmir Muslim society. The card of Muslim majority is fine as long as security of the Indian state is not jeopardized.

Informed circles articulating on security parameters strongly suggest restructuring of Jammu and Kashmir State.  Any physical, administrative and political change in the existing structure should not be difficult to bring about under constitutional provisions.

The idea of nationalizing the route to the western border of Tibet in Ladakh region had surfaced in security and political circles in New Delhi after the Kargil war.  Increased hostility of our two unfriendly neighbours, the nexus between them and exacerbation of Theo-fascist activities in the valley are strong reasons for serious re-thinking on restructuring proposition.

Moreover, internal displacement of minuscule Pandit religious minority from its original habitat cannot be accepted as a permanent phenomenon. For reasons of larger interests and betterment of Indian civil society India cannot allow erosion of her secular credentials. Their relocation is an obligation under the constitution and under international law.

Keeping these dimensions of on-going situation in view, the BJP President has struck the right note in Bangalore Convention that an enclave should be created for the internally displaced Pandits in their original habitat to send a message to the nation that it is determined to protect and preserve the philosophy of secularism in any case. Any laxity in the matter will pose threats to other minorities in the country, which could lead to major disaster. No community, howsoever crucial to elections, can be allowed to do an act beyond the limits of law and reason.

Nationalization of the road running through the valley and connecting the farthest point on border with China/Tibet is of paramount strategic importance as revealed by Kargil episode. Nationalization of the road is in national interests but more in the interests of J&K.  As citizens of India we need to think for decades ahead.

Way back in December 1990, the internally displaced Pandits in a conclave in Jammu adopted Marg Darshan Resolution which asked for Homeland for them in the valley and a nationalized route that linked their contemplated homeland to the national highway.

The idea is not the brain-child of BJP but of the exiled original inhabitants of the valley who have every right to shape their future according to their needs and wishes. They demand that the homeland be placed under union administration essentially on security count. This idea has been belatedly borrowed by the BJP and is bound to catch the imagination of wider sections of Indian civil society. The exiled community is vindicated.

Panun Kashmir, the frontline political organization of the exiled Pandits, under whose aegis the Homeland resolution was adopted, has already drawn the map delineating the Homeland territory and also shows the link it has suggested.

Apart from this, there is much for the army to do in order to secure Kashmir valley from external threats and internal subversion. Raising a Pandit enclave is not the end of restructuring plan. In the grand security plan, India must establish a Himalayan Mountain Command with base somewhere in Kupwara to Guraiz region. This entire area has to be safeguarded with ballistic missile installations of long range strike capability. New Delhi must seek ratification of this military measure from the US with which it has new and updated military collaboration and security tie-up. Indo-US nuclear deal should be helpful in the venture. We should also make good use of our military engagement with Israel.

If need arises, the districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and some tehsils of Uri should be vacated within a ten kilometers long strip along western international border, and the displaced persons re-located in the hinterland. A motorable border road like the one China has built in Xingjian or the Karakorum Highway should run from Leh all through our western border down to Kathua. The vacated border strips should be placed under joint military and civilian administrative mechanism with full participation of local panchayats in a bid of local self rule but under strict supervision of the army.

All this planning has to be done with the sole purpose of securing borders against infiltration and scuttling internal subversion in any form. This has to be the re-structuring concept of Naya Kashmir if the government of India wants to make it a region free of Theo-fascists so that it serves a catalyst to lasting peace in the sub-continent.
(The writer is the former Director of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).

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