Is Indo-Pak dialogue window closing?

By K.N. Pandita

LeT Kashmir chapter owned the responsibility of ambushing and assaulting a CRP bus near Pampore, Srinagar. They shot dead eight policemen on spot and wounded twenty-one others, some critically. In return fire two assailants were also gunned down while other two of them managed to escape.

Prime Minister, Home Minister and J&K Chief Minister condemned the unprovoked attack and sympathized with the bereaved families.

The assailants belong to the same group to whose wounds late Mufti Sayeed was applying the balm.

Raising eyebrow on some lapse on the part of CRP, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that if Standard Operation Procedure had been adhered to, the tragedy could have been averted.

Intelligence reports had not ruled out the possibility of a sudden militant strike in the area. Home Minister, while accusing Pakistan as the source of the trouble, has deputed two senior officers from his ministry to submit a report on the incident.

Raising the accusing finger towards Pakistan, the Defence Minister thinks that by not dismantling terror structure Pakistan is closing the window of Indo-Pak dialogue
In recent days militants have accelerated their activities in Pampore-Anantnag area. Two attacks taking place in past two days in the same area could be linked to the election to the vacant assembly seat for which the CM was among the contestants. She won it with thumping majority. The Pampore tragedy took place the same day on which counting of the ballots was going on.

Laying a wreath on the dead bodies of slain martyrs, the CM said that violence during Ramadhan brings defamation to the State and to the religion.

NC spokesman Javed Mattu issued a statement castigating Mehbooba Mufti for attempting to malign religion. He said that in recent past Mehbooba had been virtually conducting a campaign of denigrating Islam.

All that Mehbooba said was that Islamic faith insisted on virtuous deeds during the holy month of Ramadhan.

After being ousted from power and sitting in the opposition, NC has been using the smallest and the most trifling event to train its guns on PDP and the coalition government accusing it of selling out the interest of Kashmiris.

NC in the State and Congress in New Delhi, now in opposition, are on the same wavelength when out of power. They do not concentrate on positive role in a democracy but on how they can bring down the elected government. This shows our democracy has to travel great distance to become democracy in true sense of the term.

NC out of power is worse than separatists in its demeanor. Its spokesman Javed Mattu was once an ardent activist of Peoples’ Conference founded by late Ghani Lone and a diehard separatist.

In the Handwara episode that happened a few months ago, an army man was falsely implicated in a case of molesting a school girl. Grapevine has it that one NC activist from Rafiabad constituency, who also happened to be a minister in NC regime, was a key figure in fomenting large scale anti-government and anti-army agitation in the town by showering pecuniary largesse on the protestors.

This summer there has been a spurt in infiltration bids by the jihadis but most of these were foiled by our alert army and paramilitary forces. However, as the LoC in Kashmir is long and porous, some of the infiltrators succeeded in sneaking into our side. A good number of these have been liquidated though a handful of them numbering anything between 200 and 220 are active. Nearly a hundred local activists are their camp followers.

Spurt in militancy in the valley is to be traced in the domestic situation in Pakistan. Its deteriorating relations with the US reflected in the US scrapping the F-16 deal on the one hand and growing Indo-US cordiality on the other, with emphasis on the Chabahar tripartite agreement have derailed Pakistan’s foreign policy with considerable repercussions on her domestic policy.

Secondly, the impending elections in PoK have brought Kashmir militancy into focus. Muzaffarabad is the seat of United Jihad Council headed by Salahud Din. This is the umbrella organization of all terrorists outfits active in the valley. Kashmir militant leadership is in perennial contact with the UJC. It thinks that intensifying militant activities in the valley is indirect boost to such contestants in PoK as are committed to Kashmir’s cessation from India and accession to Pakistan.

After passing away of Mufti Sayeed, political opponents of PDP have been testing the patience and perseverance of Mehbooba Mufti in the hope that she may not be able to keep the flock together. Anantnag election was a litmus test of her ability to steer safe through the disturbed waters of current Kashmir politics.

After assuming power, Mehbooba has meticulously desisted from the tradition of Kashmir leadership to bring the onus of their failure to the doorsteps of New Delhi. In post-insurgency era, Kashmir leadership has been trying to cash on India bashing posture. Hunting with the hound and running with the hare has been the benchmark of these politicians.

Under some spell of good sense, Mehbooba has reversed that decades old ambivalence. She has gone out of way in praising Prime Minister Modi for his generous financial support to the State for developmental programmes and building of infrastructure.

Of course, one difficult situation before her is to prove her efficiency in utilizing the grants judiciously and within time frame. The State has the record of failing in full and fruitful implementation of various centrally sponsored and financed projects for the State of J&K.

Will the entrenched bureaucrats lend her full cooperation in implementing these specific projects, is a big question because previous history tells us that there has always been overt and covert effort to sabotage such big projects as would create deep impression on the minds of the people of India’s interest in state’s development.

In the budget presented in the Legislative Assembly recently, there is considerable provision for giving a boost to industrialization of the State. It remains to be seen whether the recommendations and measures announced by the Finance Minister will be practically translated into action and when.

Pakistan has not condemned the recent attack on CRP. She has called it part of so-called “freedom struggle of Kashmiris”. Obviously, Pakistan sticks to good and bad terrorist theory. Those against whom she is fighting in Waziristan and elsewhere are bad terrorist and those who are attacking Indian security forces in Kashmir are good terrorist.

The inference is that Ms. Mehbooba Mufti will have to re-think the fundamentals of Indo-Pak talks — including on Kashmir —, which she has been forcefully advocating so far. Will the Pampore attack on security forces become catalyst to closing the window of dialogue with Pakistan?

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