Time to act in Kashmir

By K.N. Pandita

Pakistan has begun to feel the heat of fomenting Theo-fascism on her soil against India. Her initial denial of ISI involvement in Mumbai carnage has boomeranged, and the world community is convinced beyond doubt that even though a democratic government is in place in Islamabad, it is powerless and ineffective. Real power rests with the Army and the ISI. By declaring Jama’atu’d-dawa, the front of LeT, as a terrorist organization, the world community, including China – Pakistan’s evil spirit – has formally and unanimously labeled her as the centre of international terror. For too long a time, Islamabad waited to receive that sobriquet.

Democratically elected government in Pakistan should be feeling relieved of a very distressing situation if it had to declare JuD a terrorist organization and initiate the follow-up action of arresting its top leaders. It would have meant for her impending eyeball to eyeball stance with this entrenched and home-grown terrorist organization.  Dependable and confirmed reports say that LeT has a wide network spread all over Pakistan and abroad particularly in the Gulf Emirates. Its funding sources are primarily in Saudi Arabia and thousands of young students are studying in madrassahs run with financial support of the organization.

Now that a drastic action has been taken by the Security Council by adopting a resolution which declares JuD a terrorist organization, Pakistan’s civilian regime gets a face-saving. It can absolve itself of any direct responsibility of reprisals against JuD/Let leaders. It is evident that in a bid to assuage the hurt feelings of the large community of terrorists associated with the JuD, Pakistani government will repeat the previous policy of house arresting top terrorist leaders for a few days, and then silently setting them free without bringing them to book. At the same time, the government will assert confidently and convincingly that it has struck at terrorist organizations in the country and would even ask for support to bring this activity to logical conclusion.

The question is what will be the impact of this development on Kashmir militancy. The United Nations and world powers have very emphatically and officially conceded that Lashkar-e Tayyaba, the banned Pakistan-based terrorist organization, is waging anti-India war in Kashmir. It means that there is nothing by the name of Kashmir freedom movement as is propagated by Pakistan and the NGOs funded by her super intelligence agency. As such, the position of separatist organizations like APHC becomes tenuous. Their credibility is impaired in the eyes of international community. The OIC will have to reconsider its patent practice of repeating anti-India rhetoric and bringing an anti-India resolution on Kashmir. India’s contention that Kashmir issue is nothing but externally sponsored, supported and abetted terrorism stands vindicated. World community cannot close its eyes to this newly explored reality.

In the context of Mumbai carnage, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and the US CJS Admiral Mullen both have said in emphatic terms that India has the right to protect her sovereignty and territorial integrity. The home minister has announced in the parliament that the government intends to strengthen and even bringing in new laws to tackle terrorism effectively. In the light of this, New Delhi has the option of dealing with anti-national elements in Kashmir and the process could start with the arrest and prosecution of Ali Shah Geelani, the foul-mouthed anti-India secessionist. If New Delhi demands that Pakistani government should take strong and decisive steps to eradicate anti-India terrorist organizations on her soil, it must first set its own house in order and enforce winding up of separatist and secessionist elements on its own soil in Kashmir. A firm action will make a sea change in the ground situation in the valley. Tolerating secessionist and separatist elements in Kashmir means India is lukewarm in tackling homebred terror expressed through political maneuver.

If terrorist activities of LeT in Kashmir are not stopped and India has sufficient proof to show their involvement, it should be possible for her to take necessary action and destroy the bases of terrorist training camps in PoK. New Delhi might ask Pakistan to collaborate and cooperate in the venture but in case Pakistan’s collaboration is not forthcoming, India could take the unilateral action and proceed with an offensive. But before embarking on that adventure, New Delhi will need to take world powers into confidence. Pakistan will claim that it has seen to it that training camps are closed down though in reality it may not be true. Therefore, India reserves the right of hot pursuit with no motive of annexing an inch of Pakistan occupied Kashmir through a blitzkrieg.

Ambivalent Kashmir valley political leadership, adepts in the blackmail of clubbing Pakistan with India as a party to the dispute, are shocked to find Pakistan much discredited in the eyes of world leaders. They have lost the raison de etre of calling Pakistan a party to the dispute. India is fighting insurgents in a region that is an integral part of the Indian Union. New Delhi should shed all inhibitions, decline to talk with Pakistan and local separatists on Kashmir question, reiterate the parliamentary resolution of 1995 on Kashmir, and charge the incoming government in the state with the responsibility of safe return and concentrated rehabilitation of the Hindu minority community forced out of the valley in 1990 when armed insurgency broke out.

It is clear that the new government in the state will have to function and plan with a new perspective. The period of blackmailing and brow beating has come to an end with Pakistani army fighting its own Frankenstein. No Kashmir leader can play with the future of the people who have sent in an elected government to work for the development of the state and not for entering into any kind of transaction of the state and her people.

The UN Security Council’s reference to LeT as the outlawed terrorist organization engaged in subversion leading to destabilizing the elected government in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, gives India the right to devise means and methods of demolishing subversive plans of the insurgents and immediately taking recourse to the restructuring of the state administratively, politically and militarily.

India has shown tremendous patience and statesmanship in dealing with externally sponsored armed uprising in Kashmir, thanks to a viable democratic system that we have in the country. But a time comes when even such soft and democratic countries as India, too, need to make some hard decisions so that the security and safety of the masses of people is ensured. The time has come for that sort of decision making in regard to Kashmir. Participation of nearly 70 per cent of the electorate in assembly elections is a clear mandate to the government that normalcy has to be restored at any cost. Today the cost is much less and tolerable. But tomorrow will be too late and cost-wise too forbidding.
(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).

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