End of the affair in Jammu and Kashmir: Why BJP dumped PDP

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

End of the affair in Jammu and Kashmir: Why BJP dumped PDP

The scale of security operations in the Valley, a deteriorating law and order situation, increased cases of attack on security personnel and feedback from party leaders made the BJP decide to pull out, sources say.

INDIA Updated: Jun 20, 2018 07:34 IST

Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi on June 13, 2018.
BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi on June 13, 2018. (PTI)

The decision of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to withdraw from the Jammu and Kashmir government stemmed from its desire to protect its “core support base”, especially in Jammu, avoid future “political costs” at the national level that would have come with staying on in the alliance in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, scale up “internal security operations” both in the state and “across the border”, and exercise direct control through
Governor’s rule, said two party leaders involved in formulating the BJP’s Kashmir strategy.

The BJP had two primary concerns, said one of the leaders quoted above, who is also a Union minister.

First, Mehbooba Mufti’s approach towards issues such as the scale and intensity of security operations was not in sync with the BJP’s, and the divergence was growing.

The ceasefire during Ramzan was announced at her instance and she wanted the gesture to continue even after Eid, he said. The BJP wanted to scale up operations; Mufti wanted to scale them down.

The BJP wanted a muscular approach towards Pakistan; she favoured talks with the western neighbour. A major point of disagreement was the space that security forces should be allowed while operating in the Valley.

The suspicion of foul play in a matter relating to Major Leetul Gogoi and a woman, reports about trouble-makers from the Valley being let off without much action, a deteriorating law and order situation, increased cases of attack on security personnel and feedback from party leaders made the BJP decide to pull out.

“2017 was largely peaceful and many terrorist were eliminated,” the minister said. “2018 turned out to the bad.” The government was, he said, carrying out offensives across the line of control, but the PDP was not forthcoming in dealing with the elements on this side of the border.

All this prompted the second concern in the BJP: the growing unease among its “nationalist” constituency in Jammu and outside that the party was going “soft”. The party, the second leader said, realised the need to reach out to this support base, which gave it an unprecedented 25 assembly seats in the November-December 2014 election.

“J&K is an emotive issue for our supporters – from Kanyakumari to Kashmir,” the second leader said. “Concerns of our support base, and its growing sense of hurt, were factored in before pulling the plug on the alliance,” the minister said.

Governor’s rule, which will bring the state under the Centre’s direct control, helps the BJP address both its concerns.

First, the first BJP leader and Union Minister said, the central political leadership will give security forces more elbow room to operate. The offensive will grow both “across the Line of Control” and “in the Valley”, to flush out troublemakers. “The ceasefire helped us identify who wanted peace, and who wanted to create trouble,” a senior government official said.

Any increase in the offensive against Pakistan, terror groups sponsored by it, the separatist and other terror outfit helps BJP address its second concern.

More direct control also helps the BJP in deciding how money is spent between the three regions of J&K: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. “In three years, the outgoing government could not spend even Rs 35,000 crore, out of total 1 lakh crore of the Kashmir package,” the first BJP leader said.

“We have ensured that J&K gets sufficient funds for its development projects and there is equitable distribution of resources between the three regions,” Jitendra Singh, a junior minister in Prime Minister’s office, said.

This motivation — of enabling unimpeded security operations to ramp up political advantage or “avoid political costs” — led the BJP to withdraw support and clear the way to bring Jammu and Kashmir under direct control of the Central government.

41 Killed In Kashmir, Halt Of Anti-Terror Operation Is Not Working

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

41 killed, violence spiked during halt on anti-terror operations in Kashmir

Mehbooba Mufti had hoped that Rajnath Singh would continue with the ceasefire decision even after Ramzan, but the ground reality was different. There was an abrupt spike in violence as militants ignored the Centre’s gesture.

INDIA Updated: Jun 18, 2018 07:17 IST

Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Kashmiri youths through stones during clashes between protesters and security forces in Srinagar on Saturday.
Kashmiri youths through stones during clashes between protesters and security forces in Srinagar on Saturday.(AFP Photo)

A record 20 grenade attacks, 50 militant strikes and 41 killings took place in Kashmir during the month-long suspension of security operations in the Valley, officials said on Sunday.

This surge in violence forced the government’s hand which on Sunday ordered the forces to take all necessary actions against militants.

When home minister Rajnath Singh on May 16 announced the unilateral decision to halt operations during the holy month of Ramzan, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was first to welcome the move with a hope it would break the cycle of daily killings.

Mufti had hoped that the Centre would continue with the decision even after Ramzan, paving the way for negotiations at a later stage. But the ground reality was different. There was an abrupt spike in violence as militants ignored the Centre’s gesture.

From May 17, the day operations were suspended to June 17, the day they were ordered resumed, the Valley saw 41 killings, a huge surge, records show.

According to officials, there were 18 incidents of terror between April 17 to May 17 and the figure rose to more than 50 during the suspension of operations. The gunning down of senior Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari and his two personnel security officers on June 14 pointed to a deteriorating security situation. The three unidentified gunmen made an easy escape from the highly guarded Press Colony. A fourth suspect even managed to steal a weapon of one of the policemen.

Also among the dead were 24 militants and most of them were killed in the frontier district of Kupwara. The militants were from the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish- e -Mohammad and Al Badr groups and had recently sneaked into the Valley, the army and police said.

“The militants or infiltrators killed in operations were highly trained and had been launched recently from PoK ,’’ an army officer posted in north Kashmir said.

Nine security men, including four army jawans, were killed during the period. Last week, militants abducted and gunned down a Rashtriya Rifles jawan, Aurangazeb, as he was heading home for Eid. The militants also killed three civilians.

There was a surge in grenade attacks as well. The 20 attacks that left 62 civilians and 29 personnel injured were the highest for a month in two years, officials said. “The reason for the surge in grenade attacks was that militants were trying to sabotage the ceasefire,’’ a police officer said .

The only drop was in the number of civilians deaths at the hands of security forces. Four people were killed during the month, two of them in the last two days. Police say Sheraz Ahmad, who was killed on Saturday, died in a grenade attack. The streets were relatively calm, with 60 incidents of stone-pelting reported compared to 200 during the Ramzan last year.

Pakistan And India: Can There Ever Be True Peace Between Them

(This article is courtesy of the Pakistan Observer News Paper)

A mature policy towards India

Masood Khan

Tension between India and Pakistan, and the hostility that goes with it, is a ‘constant’ not a ‘variable’. This is what our history of the past seven decades has manifested. This evaluation is neither negativist nor pessimistic. It captures a reality and a trend that has proved to be enduring.
Of course, from time to time nations have transcended their past to seek peace but conditions are not ripe for such a breakthrough between India and Pakistan. Pakistan would not abandon its stance on Kashmir, India would not address it the way Pakistan wants, and India would continue to use its new-found diplomatic space and economic prowess to isolate and undermine Pakistan. India would not let go of its accusations of terrorism against Pakistan to delegitimize the Kashmir issue and Pakistan’s nuclear programme. The UN, in this fight, will remain a bystander and India would use its clout with the US, Europe and the Gulf states to diminish Pakistan’s outreach and deny it opportunities to develop its economic and military strength.
Pakistan has secured itself by acquiring nuclear capability and its economy is showing promise. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) alone has given a big boost to Pakistan’s economy and the good news is that many global investors are also taking keen interest in Pakistan.
Pakistan has also pursued a very sophisticated and constructive policy towards India in the past several years. The crux of the policy is: try to engage but do not compromise on the core principles.
But quite a few of Pakistan’s flanks remain vulnerable involving the Indian factor. In Afghanistan, India’s influence, among others, hampers normalization and reconciliation and that has a direct bearing on Pakistan. Indian commander Kulbhushan Jadhav’s arrest confirms that India has been using Iran’s territory to plan and execute terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan. In the US, Indian lobby has become so powerful that, in many areas, it holds a veto over the United States’ Pakistan policy. This past week, for instance, pro-India US legislators have been objecting to a sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan. The voices are American; but the agenda is India’s. Delhi is making new inroads into the Gulf region among the nations disaffected with Pakistan because of its rather balanced position on Iran-Gulf relations. It is also working constantly on China to dilute its positions in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the UN Security Council that seem to help Pakistan; and India has protested to China for taking the CPEC through Gilgit-Baltistan. India is demonstrating its ability to hurt Pakistan beyond South Asian borders and shrink its space.
In the first few months of 2016, some new patterns have emerged. After the terrorists attack, the Pathankot airbase in India, there wasn’t a general break-drown though this scuttled the proposed talks between foreign secretaries of the two countries. Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team to look into to the leads on the Pathankot incident was received in India but the team was given limited access defeating the very purpose of the visit. After the arrest of Jadhav, a serving Indian naval officer, Pakistan did not cut off communication with India. Ranking foreign ministry officials have been meeting on the sidelines of multilateral conferences. So a model of grudging, cautious cooperation, albeit fragile and brittle, seems to be emerging.
Pakistan should take the following steps to deal effectively with the emerging scenarios:
One, it should not take its strong ties with China for granted. There should be no complacency in promoting and expanding ties with our closest strategic cooperative partner. The onus for sustaining and strengthening the relationship is not just on China, but on Pakistan too. Pakistan should have its own people to people contact policy towards China so as to give depth to our ties.
Two, do not neglect the US. Though, over the decades, we have lost ground in Washington, the situation is not irredeemable. Pakistan too should use its expanding Diaspora community in the US. A new base has been furnished by the recent high-level bilateral contacts to broaden our relationship to non-security areas. In that realm, development of the Knowledge Corridor will be most productive.
Three, through quiet diplomacy repair the damage in the Gulf region and the Middle East. The Gulf countries, though annoyed, still have a bond with Pakistan that would not be snapped, ever. In the Arab Street, Pakistan is seen as a beacon of hope for the Muslims. Besides, today we need Arabs, tomorrow they would need Pakistan, for sure, for economic progress and linkages.
Four, Pakistan should explore two new corridors. One should go through Iran branching off to Turkey, the Caucuses, and Europe, in the west, and to Central Asia and Russia, in the north, the other should be our corridor to Africa, the most underutilized potential of our external policy.
Five, we should realize that Afghanistan will take a long time to settle down. This year and in 2017, we should brace for a civil war that would have adverse consequences for Pakistan. The Afghan factions would continue to drag Pakistan into their fights and then berate it for all their troubles. So Pakistan should take a very patient and resolute approach. Afghans are now saying that they do not need Pakistan for facilitating peace and reconciliation process; all they want is that we start military operations against Afghan Taliban. At least one Afghan official has said that Afghanistan would send its own squads for attacks on Pakistani soil. This may not just be bluster.
Six, with India we should continue to give signals for engagement in a dignified manner. The prospects of resolving problems with India are very slim. There would be escalation whether or not we like it, but we should never let it spin out of control. We need a period of relative calm till 2030 to develop economically and militarily. This is a critical transformative phase in our history as a nation. We should not let it be disrupted by tensions with India; and we should not squander this precious opportunity.
Investors are coming to Pakistan; they should not flee.

Guns Continue To Roar On LoC In Jammu, Rajouri  

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KASHMIR OBSERVER)

 

Guns Continue To Roar On LoC In Jammu, Rajouri

Authorities have shut 72 schools along the LoC in Rajouri district and in Mendhar sector of Poonch district as a precautionary measure.


Jammu—Indian and Pakistani Wednesday troops exchanged heavy fire on LoC in Sunderbani, Nowshera and Khour sectors of Rajouri and Jammu districts.

A defense spokesman said the Pakistan Army violated the ceasefire agreement around 1030 hours today in Nowshera, Kalal and Sunderbani sectors along the Line of Control in Rajouri district.

Pakistani troops also resorted to ceasefire violations in Chakla and Baldoo areas in Khour sector late last night, police said.

“(The Indian) Army is retaliating effectively”, they said.

Yesterday, the Pakistan Army shelled forward posts and civilian areas along the LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu and Kashmir, injuring two jawans of the Border Security Force.

Authorities have shut 72 schools along the LoC in Rajouri district and in Mendhar sector of Poonch district as a precautionary measure.

Ceasefire violations along the LoC and the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir have left 21 people, including 12 security personnel, dead and more than 80 others, mostly civilians, injured this year.

Though no ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops was reported along the IB since January 22, intermittent shelling has taken place along the LoC.

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Al Qaeda threatens attacks in Delhi, Mumbai

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Al Qaeda threatens attacks in Delhi, Mumbai for ‘victory’ in Kashmir

In a video interview with al Qaeda’s mouthpiece, released on jihadi online networks, Usama Mehmood, spokesman of al Qaeda in Indian sub-continent, said there could be no easy solution to the Kashmir issue which needs “blood and sweat” of Muslims.

INDIA Updated: Dec 27, 2017 21:51 IST

Indo Asian News Service, New Delhi
Calling for attacks in Delhi and Mumbai, the al Qaeda said it was necessary for “the jihadi movement to strengthen and expand its activities in the region and target Indian interests.”
Calling for attacks in Delhi and Mumbai, the al Qaeda said it was necessary for “the jihadi movement to strengthen and expand its activities in the region and target Indian interests.”(PTI Photo)

Global terror network al Qaeda that formally announced its affiliate in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this year has said targeting Indian cities and sidelining Pakistan and its army were key to jihadi success in the state.

In a video interview with Al Qaeda’s mouthpiece, released on jihadi online networks, Usama Mehmood, spokesman of al Qaeda in Indian sub-continent, said there could be no easy solution to the Kashmir issue which needs “blood and sweat” of Muslims.

Mehmood, in the 42-minute video recorded in Urdu, said it was necessary for “the jihadi movement to strengthen and expand its activities in the region and target Indian interests.

“India has protected itself by deploying 600,000 troops in a small place like Kashmir. We will target it and its interests in Kolkata, Bangalore and New Delhi, it will come to its senses, its atrocities will be controlled and its grip on Kashmir will weaken by the will of Allah,” said the group’s second-in-command in the sub-continent.

This is the first detailed al Qaeda talk on its activities in Kashmir since July 27 this year when the group announced it was establishing an affiliate in Jammu and Kashmir called Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, headed by the 23-year-old former Kashmir commander of the pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen, Zakir Musa.

The al Qaeda announcement was promptly rejected by militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen. Even the Hurriyat Conference dismissed it, saying the Kashmir issue was political and had nothing to do with global Islamist jihad even as the longstanding militant outfits also espouse an Islamist outlook for Kashmir.

Mehmood called on all Muslims in the sub-continental region, including from India, to “stand behind the Kashmiri people and perform their duties for jihad in Kashmir”.

“It is imperative to wage jihad against India. It can only happen when jihadi activities are strengthened in the entire region.

“We should help our Kashmiri brothers first, defend our jihad from apostatic forces like Pakistan Army and its policies and then expand the jihadi activities,” he said, terming the Pakistan Army “an obstacle in the path of victory, is an enemy of the sharia and a slave of global infidels”.

“It fights only for its salary, personal aggrandisement and plots of land. It is the same army that spills the blood of the mujahideen for American dollars.”

Citing al Qaeda’s attacks against the US within and outside America, he said: “Look at America. Securing itself has become difficult for America throughout the world. We will make it difficult for the Indian Army and Indian government the same way and make its peaceful world a war zone.”

The video also shows clips of slain al Qaeda military commander Illyas Kashmiri and frequently cites quotes from the book of Afzal Guru, who was hanged for his involvement in the 2001 Parliament attack.

Kashmir/Jammu 318 Deaths, Militant, Civilian Killings Highest in 2017

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KASHMIR OBSERVER)

 

With 318 Deaths, Militant, Civilian Killings Highest in 2017

Up to 14 December this year, 337 militancy-related incidents were reported in Jammu and Kashmir in which 40 civilians, 75 security personnel and 203 militants were killed and 321 persons injured, the highest in the last four years.


New Delhi—As many as 318 people, including 203 militants and 75 security personnel, were killed in militancy-related incidents in Jammu and Kashmir this year, the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

In the northeast, 97 people, including 51 insurgents and 12 security personnel, were killed in insurgency-related incidents, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said during Question Hour.

Up to 14 December this year, 337 militancy-related incidents were reported in Jammu and Kashmir in which 40 civilians, 75 security personnel and 203 militants were killed and 321 persons injured, the highest in the last four years. Ninety-one militants were also arrested.

Referring to incidents in the areas affected by left wing extremism, Ahir said up to November 30 this year, 813 incidents took place leading to the death of 170 civilians, 75 security personnel and 111 left wing extremists. One hundred and forty five people were also injured. He said 1712 left wing extremists were also arrested.

While there have been two attacks each in 2014 and 2015 on defence establishments, six attacks took place in 2016. This year up to 10 December, one defence establishment came under attack.

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At Kashmir Observer we pride ourselves for being open, honest and unbiased. If you have noticed we haven’t put up a paywall unlike many news organisations, – as we want to keep our journalism open. We believe journalism should be open, fearless and unbiased. Open information helps with informed decisions.

Journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce, despite all the hardships we still do it, because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying and advertising revenues across the media industry is falling fast.

If everyone who reads our reporting, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure and we will be able to keep our and your perspective going. So if we may ask, we ask your help in keeping the Kashmir Observer’s journalism fair and square.

LeT operative stayed with terrorists in Kashmir, filmed Indian army camps:

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

LeT operative stayed with terrorists in Kashmir, filmed Indian army camps: Officials

During interrogation, Sheikh disclosed that he had stayed in Pulwama, moved to various places with the help of Malik and even photographed some Army and para-military camps, the officials claimed.

INDIA Updated: Dec 11, 2017 21:15 IST

Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Army soldiers share a lighter moment as they guard during a gunbattle at Pakharpore village, south of Srinagar, Kashmir, on Nov. 30, 2017.
Army soldiers share a lighter moment as they guard during a gunbattle at Pakharpore village, south of Srinagar, Kashmir, on Nov. 30, 2017. (AP)

Suspected Lashker-e-Taiba operative Abdul Nayeem Sheikh, who was arrested last month from Lucknow, had spent some time in trouble-torn south Kashmir and filmed some Army installations, officials said.

Sheikh, a resident of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, was on the radar of central intelligence agencies for quite sometime before he was nabbed with the help of Uttar Pradesh police in the last week of November.

The case was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a central probe agency mandated to investigate all terror modules in the country.

The central security agencies, which interrogated Sheikh at length, had told the investigators about his accomplice, Tauseef Ahmed Malik, in Pulwama district of south Kashmir. He was placed under arrest by the NIA on December 9.

During interrogation, Sheikh disclosed that he had stayed in Pulwama, moved to various places with the help of Malik and even photographed some Army and para-military camps, the officials claimed.

Sheikh, who was wanted in connection with a 2014 terror case and was since on the run, told investigators that some important power projects and railway tracks in the Valley were surveyed, they said.

He had also visited some places in Himachal Pradesh, especially Kasol, which is frequented by Israeli nationals visiting India, according to the officials.

Security agencies have claimed that Sheikh was roped in for a recce mission similar to that undertaken by David Headley, a Pakistan-American, who is at present serving a prison sentence of 35 years at a US jail for his involvement in terror activities and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks of 2008.

They said Malik’s association with the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba also came to light during Sheikh’s interrogation.

Malik had shown to probe officials the places where Sheikh had stayed with the terrorists for over three months, they added.

Pakistan Is Learning The Price Of Working With China: Their Sovereignty!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Not aware of Pakistan’s move to exclude PoK dam from CPEC, says China

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), runs through PoK and India has raised objections to the project.

WORLD Updated: Nov 16, 2017 18:54 IST

Press Trust of India, Beijing
In this photograph taken on October 4, 2017, Pakistani naval personnel stand guard near a ship carrying containers at Gwadar Port. Remote and impoverished, Pakistan's Gwadar port at first glance seems an unlikely crown jewel in a multi-billion dollar development project. with China aiming at constructing a 21st century Silk Road.
In this photograph taken on October 4, 2017, Pakistani naval personnel stands guard near a ship carrying containers at Gwadar Port. Remote and impoverished, Pakistan’s Gwadar port at first glance seems an unlikely crown jewel in a multi-billion dollar development project. with China aiming at constructing a 21st century Silk Road.(AFP)

Amid reports of Pakistan’s move to withdraw its bid to include Diamer-Bhasha Dam in PoK from the CPEC framework, China said on Thursday it was not aware of Islamabad’s decision but the project to connect Xinjiang and Gwadar port is “progressing smoothly for the time being”.

Pakistan’s water and power development authority (Wapda) chairman Muzammil Hussain was on Wednesday quoted by the Pakistan media as saying that “Chinese conditions for financing the Diamer-Bhasha Dam were not doable and against our interests.”

“I am not aware of the information mentioned by you,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media in Beijing when asked about Pakistan’s decision to take the dam project off the table contending that the conditions proposed by Beijing is “not doable” and goes against its interest.

“I can tell you that China and Pakistan cooperation is extensive and profound,” Geng said. “As far as I know CPEC is progressing smoothly for the time being.”

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Briefing the Public Accounts Committee on the status of the mega water and power project, Hussain had said the Chinese conditions were about taking ownership of the project, operation and maintenance cost and securitization of the Diamer-Bhasha project by pledging another operational dam.

These conditions were unacceptable, therefore, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi approved a report to finance the dam from the country’s own resources, Hussain said.

Pakistan’s decision to publicise Chinese conditions came as a surprise, considering it shares close and “all weather” ties with China.

The announcement by the Pakistan government came days before the 7th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting with China, which is scheduled for November 21 in Islamabad.

The JCC is the highest decision-making body of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through which China is infusing over $50 billion cash into Pakistan financing a host of energy projects. The CPEC passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Defending the connectivity project, Geng said “as for the CPEC we follow the principle of extensive consultation and joint shared benefits to promote the building of the CPEC. It is conducive to promote connectivity of the two countries and connectivity of the whole region. As far as I know CPEC is progressing smoothly for the time being.”

Pakistan has been struggling to raise money from international institutions like the World Bank in the face of Indian opposition to the project on the Indus River in PoK.

Neither the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) nor China would finance the dam, therefore, the government decided to construct the reservoir from its own resources, Pakistan’s Express Tribune daily yesterday quoted Water Resources Secretary Shumail Khawaja as saying.

To resolve the problem in Kashmir, acknowledge the suffering of its people

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KASHMIR OBSERVER)

 

To resolve the problem in Kashmir, acknowledge the suffering of its people

If the Narendra Modi government has appointed Dineshwar Sharma to arrange the surrender of the separatist movement, nothing will happen


After a year of hammering the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir – killing more than 160 militants in targeted operations in 2017 alone and arresting at least 10 overground separatist leaders for their role in suspicious financial transactions – the Indian government is seeking to apply a balm. These are fairly standard tactics, but will they work?

The answer depends on many factors, primarily the character of the movement.

As of now, it is not clear what exactly Dineshwar Sharma’s role is in Jammu and Kashmir. Union minister Jitendra Singh pointedly said Sharma was not an interlocutor but merely “a special representative” of the government. Indeed, the October 24 notification appointing him described Sharma as a “representative of the government of India” whose task was to “carry forward the dialogue” with elected representatives, various organizations, and individuals. The day before, Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke of Sharma as a “special representative” who would “have full freedom to engage in talks with anyone he likes”.

At one level, it doesn’t really matter. “Interlocutor” was a word of convenience that fitted in the diverse collection of individuals and groups who have sought to work outside formal government structures to suggest solutions for the Kashmir problem. The way the government works, it does not really have to listen to anything such interlocutors tell it. Their role is strictly recommendatory and facilitative.

For the record, there has been no dearth of interlocutors who were interested in promoting a political solution to the issues roiling Kashmir and who had access to the highest levels of government. Some were self-appointed well-meaning folk, others informally asked to do the needful, yet others who were formally appointed and laid out their recommendations in formal reports. The Jammu and Kashmir legislature, too, added its bit by examining the issue of autonomy and sending its recommendations to Delhi in 2000, only to have them rejected peremptorily.

All had one thing in common – they were not the Government of India. At the end of the day, only the central government has the authority to take decisions on such matters. Yet, despite years and decades of reports, recommendations, cogitation, the government has not spelled out what it is willing to offer. True, there have been statements by prime ministers that the “sky is the limit” when it comes to autonomy, or that the issue needs to resolved within the ambit of insaniyat, or humanity. Most recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that Kashmir’s problems could not be resolved by bullets but “only by embracing its people”. But these are rhetorical statements that give no clues as to the Union Government’s bottom line.

Emphasise reconciliation

So what can we expect now? A great deal depends on what Modi wants. If the government has appointed Sharma to arrange the surrender of the separatist movement, nothing will happen. The Kashmiri insurgency is now nearly three decades old, having taken the lives of some 45,000 people, roughly half of them militants, 14,000 civilians and some 6,000 security personnel. The way the government sees it probably is that its policy of relentless police action and attrition has brought the militancy to its knees, and this is the best moment to step in with an offer of political dialogue. It is possible that the movement can be brought to a point of exhaustion by relentless police action. But it is like a fire where even embers can give life to a dying blaze if there is sufficient combustible material around.

Parse that another way and one could argue that having been willing to shed so much blood, Kashmiris will not accept a settlement that offers them nothing more than status quo ante as of January 1, 1990.

So, parse that another way and one could argue that has been willing to shed so much blood, Kashmiris will not accept a settlement that offers them nothing more than status quo ante as of January 1, 1990.

In the government’s reckoning, it is really unemployed youth and the internet that is causing the problem and so if jobs can be assured and the internet kept in check, things will work out. Things are not that simple. Historically, Kashmiris buttressed by geography, have had a sense of their uniqueness. The circumstances of their accession and the commitment of a plebiscite made by India and endorsed by the United Nations remain. No country in the world recognizes Jammu and Kashmir to be a part of India; all see it as disputed territory, including our big friend the United States.

Not many in India realize that the counter-insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir has been brutal. Extra-judicial killings, torture, and intimidation have been its constant features. And this for the last 30 years. So, on one hand, you have a hardened population and, on the other, an embittered one. Therefore, the political effort that you initiate must be thought through. Empty gestures are not going to mean much. Neither will they achieve the end you have in mind – the normalization of the situation.

What needs to be adopted is a perspective that emphasizes reconciliation. That’s a carefully chosen word. A brutal struggle has gone on in Kashmir for the past 30 years. To wish it away or to pretend it did not happen is to live in an imaginary world. The more honorable and pragmatic path is to accept that things happened and are happening and that there is a need to overcome them through the process of dialogue, negotiation, and compromise. The alternative is repeated cycles of violence and alienation, with fits of political intervention that will not really get you anywhere.

The Article First Appeared In Scroll.In

(Manoj Joshi is Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi).

Be part of Open Journalism

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Pakistan has no option but to stop ceasefire violations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Pakistan has no option but to stop ceasefire violations, says Rajnath Singh

Even as frontier villagers continue the bear the brunt of Pakistani ceasefire violations, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh says Islamabad must eventually stop firing at Indian villages.

INDIA Updated: Sep 12, 2017 00:07 IST

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
File photo of Indian soldiers near the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector in Poonch after a ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops.
File photo of Indian soldiers near the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector in Poonch after a ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops. (PTI)

Union home Rajnath Singh on Monday warned Islamabad to mend its ways and stop firing at Indian posts and villages along the 744 km long Line of Control and 198- km long International Border in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh’s warning followed the latest ceasefire violation by the Pakistani army in Shahpur Kerni sector of Poonch district in the morning.

Addressing displaced border villagers at a relief camp in Nowshera town in Rajouri district, Singh said that he had told the BSF DG in 2014 that “we shouldn’t fire first but if they (Pakistani forces) fire even a single bullet then there should be no count of bullets from our side.”

He was accompanied by Union minister Jitendra Singh and Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh.

“The situation has improved from what it was in 2014 after security forces were authorised to retaliate strongly. It will improve further in the days to come. Pakistan has no option but to stop ceasefire violations today or tomorrow. I assure all of you that situation will improve in the coming days,” he said.

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Singh said he had told the director general of border-guarding force Pakistan Ranger in 2015 that Pakistan was resorting to firing violating certain protocols which should be respected and followed.

“India today is not a weak country anymore. It is a changed country under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. The world today has started acknowledging India as a force to reckon with. India’s image has changed across the world today,” he asserted.

Nowshera is the place from where the Indian army had launched its surgical strikes on September 29 last year on terror launch pads in Bhimber Gali area across the LoC.

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But since May this year, over 4000 people have been displaced from several villages along the LoC in Nowshera sector following several ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces.

These displaced people have been living in six relief camps. During their interaction with Singh, the migrants demanded that “bunkers” be set up at their homes along the LoC.

“Our first and foremost demand is that the government should set up bunkers in each of the border houses if we have to live again along the LoC. We need bunkers more than food,” Jangarh resident Parshottam Kumar, the president of the Border Migrants Coordination Committee, told Singh.

The home minister heaped praise on the border villagers describing them “strategic assets” of the country.

“Though no amount of money can ever compensate a human life, it was our government that raised the ex-gratia to the next of kin of those who die in Pakistani firing from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Those with more than 50% disability are also entitled for RS 5 lakh compensation,” he said.

Rajnath Singh said that the country was indebted to the border residents. He said he would ensure that 60% posts were kept reserved for the youth of border areas in recruitment drive for various central police and paramilitary forces.

The home minister began a four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on September 9 as part of an exercise to find solutions to the problems that the state faces.

(With PTI inputs)

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