Jammu’s situation today
Snapshot
  • The best thing to come out of the all-party delegation that went to Jammu & Kashmir a few days ago is that it had egg on its face.

    J&K can simmer down with talks, but its core issue will never be “settled” as long as Pakistan exists.

    To deal with the Pakistan problem, we have to think (and out-think) the Pakistani army – its Deep State which includes the ISI and jihadi elements beholden to the army - and meet it measure for measure.

The best thing to come out of the all-party delegation that went to Jammu & Kashmir a few days ago is that it had egg on its face, with the separatists either refusing to meet them, or meeting them to tell them their visit served no purpose. This should end the opposition’s bluster and unstated assumptions that the Modi government somehow mishandled the crisis that erupted after the killing of terrorist Burhan Wani, and they could have done better.

The statement released by three separatists, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, makes this clear. It said: “These methods of crisis management through parliamentary delegations and track-2 can’t take the place of a genuine transparent agenda-based dialogue to address the core issue…that has been our consistent stand…”.

Since the “core issue” has always been plebiscite and/or merger with Pakistan, the so-called “transparent agenda-based dialogue” is essentially about the Indian state accepting the separatists’ terms of surrender on Indian sovereignty in J&K. No Indian government can do this, even if headed by the Congress or even the Left. The Congress had 10 years to sort out the issue, but got nowhere despite talks. So it’s holier-than-thou posturing is just political nonsense.

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Is there no peaceful way out?

The blunt answer should be a big “No”. J&K can simmer down with talks, but it will never be “settled” as long as Pakistan exists. This means we have to fix our Pakistan problem first before J&K can be dealt with, though talks to defuse tensions should always be on. But strategically we should not lose sight of the Pakistan problem. That is the core issue for us.

To deal with the Pakistan problem, we have to think (and out-think) the Pakistani army – its Deep State which includes the ISI and jihadi elements beholden to the army - and meet it measure for measure. Narendra Modi made a good start by talking of human rights issues in Balochistan. He now needs to back their fight for independence.

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We need to keep the Pakistani general focused on his own backyard, and for this Balochistan is important.

It is worth asking ourselves: how does the Pakistani general think? The answer is simple: his existence is driven by permanent enmity to India, and the need for revenge.

The Pakistani army has two goals – both related to India. They want to retain the real levers of power in Pakistan, especially when it comes to defence, national security, and foreign policy when it pertains to India, China and the US. Here civilian governments have no say.

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To retain this power, the other goal is to defeat India somewhere, or maintain a perpetual state of enmity and bitterness. Unfortunately, Pakistan has never won a war against India, despite the army’s claims that one Muslim equals 10 Hindus. In 1971, Pakistan was actually comprehensively defeated by India. Humbled generals have thus been fantasising about revenge in order to redeem their honour and clout. They will not accept peace.

So, when some civilian governments occasionally try to reduce the tensions, the generals ensure that it is nipped in the bud. Thus Vajpayee’s bus trip to Lahore was followed by Kargil, and Modi’s invite to Nawaz Sharif for his inaugural and impromptu visit to Lahore brought forth another J&K crisis.

Gen Zia ul-Haq’s Islamisation was intended to end any possibility of a civilian government-led patch-up with “Hindu India”, and successive generals have tried to introduce the virus of Islamism in the Kashmir Valley too, and have now partially succeeded.

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Of course, the rise of Islamic State has allowed some Muslims in India to self-radicalise, and this could be happening in Kashmir too. The Pakistani generals will be happy, for once the cries of “azaadi” are subsumed by jihadi Islamism, the fires become more difficult to put out.

The ground reality today is that the Hurriyat has been left behind by more radicalised youth. This is why even so-called moderates speak the language of extremists and Islamism. When you are likely to be bumped off (the Mirwaiz’s and Minister Sajjad Lone’s fathers were killed by Pakistani-backed extremists when they started talking the language of moderation), you have no other choice. The Hurriyat is thus scared for its life. So what will you get by talking to them?

Coming back to what the Pakistani generals will be plotting next, here what could be on the anvil:

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First, assassinations of one or more of the remaining moderate leaders of mainstream parties so that no one then ever speaks of Kashmiriyat;

Second, spreading the Islamist virus to the quieter areas of Jammu’s Muslim enclaves;

Three, try and restart the Khalistani movement, especially if the Akali Dal-BJP coalition loses the next elections.

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Four, set more fires in Bangladesh, using Sheikh Hasina’s efforts to bring the butchers of 1971 to justice. Bangladeshi Islamism is already spilling over into some districts of West Bengal, and weak-kneed leaders like Mamata Banerjee, who depend on the Muslim vote, will allow the problems to fester.

This is the way Pakistan’s general will think, for they do not want peace. They want victory, and they are prepared to court self-destruction for this.

The US may not been keen to play Pakistan’s game anymore, but the Chinese are not averse to it. Pakistan is China’s attack dog against India.

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Clearly, we have to help Pakistan self-destruct. There is no escape from this reality. Self-destruction is key to free the Pakistani people from the yoke of its army, and India from the menace of jihadism.

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