Kashmir Situation – A New Phase

By K.N. Pandita

Undoubtedly, Kashmir situation has entered a new phase –- the phase of dialogues, no matter productive or non productive. However, that does not mean the end of externally sponsored and locally abetted militancy.

That also does not imply quick return of normalcy. Can armed insurgency and terror be eradicated lock, stock and barrel? Nobody can vouch for that.

But the symptoms of exhaustion are there with those who have taken upon themselves the task of disruption and disorder. There could be several causes.

ISI has changed its strategy of pursuing its covert design of disintegrating Indian state. Fifteen – year old and prolonged terrorism in Kashmir has been adequately resisted and even repulsed. The changed strategy is to penetrate into the Indian civil society through India’s eastern flank. It means creation of a new nexus with the Bangladesh fundamentalist groups, Naxalites and Maoists who are actived in Nepal.

Unlike terrorism in Kashmir, in opening the eastern flank no finger will be raised directly against Pakistan. Secondly, this strategy is less expensive in comparison to one underway in Kashmir. Thirdly, there are more crucial and sensitive targets available on the plains of India than in the mountains of Kashmir.

The attack on and killing of a professor of the IIT in Karnataka and the revelations made by the arrested accomplices are a clear indication that ISI has a serious plan of targeting vital scientific and technological installations in the country. This also would pose a serious security threat to the life of eminent scientists. The idea is to cripple and paralyse India’s elite scientific and technological echelons.

The fourth reason is much the success achieved by the ISI in neutralising Kashmir’s PDP – led ruling group over three years of its tenure resulting in lowering the guard against the terrorists and their acts.

With ISI sharply escalating anti-India armed insurgency in the eastern part of the country, and with things not really going bad for it in Kashmir, the ISI gave a signal to the Hurriyatis, their components and also those not part of Hurriyat but certainly part of separatists segment to come to New Delhi for talks with the union government. This is to gain time for restructuring Kashmir terror strategy.

The Hurriyatis led by Molavi Farooq had a dialogue with the PM. This was followed by talks between the PM and Sajjad Lone, a separatist outside the fold of Hurriyat. Reports are that the PM will be meeting with more separatist leaders like Yasin Malik of JKLF, Shabbir Shah, Hashim Qureshi of JK Democratic Liberation Front, and the rest of them.

New Delhi believes that the acceptance of talks by core dissident groups is the result of serious home work done by its interlocutor Mr. Vohra. The Hurriyatis believe that they are really somebody so that the Prime Minister of India is left with no option but to talk with them. The fact of the matter is that the Hurriyatis are warded by two masters and thus are unable to have any opinion of their own. Theirs is a stupendous exercise in self-deception.

ISI loses nothing if Kashmir leaders continue to meet the rulers in New Delhi. Additionally, both sides have also begun to realize that if their Kashmiri political opponents and dissenters engage themselves in talks with the leaders in the two countries, it does not do any real harm to their respective basic stand on Kashmir. This is precisely what would be true of dissenters in PoK meeting with the Indians. Last month we learnt that a team of political dissenters from Gilgit and Baltistan had visited New Delhi. Evidently, the two governments have at least converged on the consensus of allowing the dissenters to visit India/Pakistan. Ventilating a litany of grouses and complaints might help the dissenters, separatists and opponents to come to grips with harsh realities of Kashmir situation.

Thus we find that a ‘dialogue’ or ‘talks’ is a relative term and not a general proposition. Any movement of the pawns on the chessboard of Kashmir politics is closely related to the larger developments in the region. Escalation of terrorist-fundamentalist activities in the eastern region could well be the compulsion of a change in the strategy in the western region of India.

The process of a dialogue is also the tactics of wearing out the dissenters. President Musharraf has repeatedly said that India is not proposing concrete measures for solution of Kashmir problem.

This appears only a wishful thinking. A proposal should come from the people of Kashmir. For quite some time the Hurriyatis said that they had a solution up their sleeves and would place it on the table at proper time. Despite much rhetoric about a solution formula, the Hurriyat would not open Pandora’s Box. But once soon after they held a lengthy meeting with Pakistani President General Musharraf in Islamabad, they immediately came out with the long-awaited “formula”. They said what the General had said was precisely what was in their mind. This shows Hurriyat’s total bankruptcy of constructive and positive ideas on the question of solution of Kashmir issue. It also explodes the bottom of their “freedom struggle”.

In final analysis, one can say that the ongoing dialogue is not the precise thing the three parties are engaged in. There is something else that is not floated publicly. Procrastination of the dialogue is not one-sided affair.

The parties concerned have also realised that undoing of status quo is fraught with many difficulties and dangers likely to spell disaster for Kashmir and her people. But then there is the question of face-saving. In particular, Pakistan has gone too far in making rather unrealistic commitments tos her people. She now faces with the problem of backtracking. All these years she rode a lion and now the question show to get her down safely or at leased unscathed.

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