New Delhi: The problem in Kashmir has two distinct aspects; One is Pakistan sponsored terrorism and the clandestine efforts of Pakistan to grab Kashmir, the other is the internal problem created by our own political follies and poor governance, both have, unfortunately, remained unresolved since Kashmir opted for India.
The twin problems of Kashmir have separate origins but one impacts on the other, current political turmoil in Kashmir has been affected by the recent political confusion, turmoil and the violent upheaval in Pakistan, these events have a direct bearing on the situation in Kashmir since the attention of the ISI and its dogs of war are presently involved in domestic upheavals.
The summer in Kashmir has been largely peaceful after a long time and so far there have been no violent demonstration of public anger spurred on by Pakistani agents, though sporadic terrorist attacks continue the stone throwers and other forms of violent protesters have not reappeared.
The government and security forces claim success for this situation and must be given credit for their efforts for improvement in the internal situation, however, the diminished activities of the terrorist groups may be a temporary phenomenon and merely a pause because of Pakistan’s inability to reach out to this area presently.
The main reason for the diminished terrorist activity may be the confusion prevailing among the terrorist ranks in Pakistan after the death of Osama bin Laden and the ongoing regrouping and reorganization of the terrorist forces.
In these circumstances the present calm could be a pause rather than cessation of terrorist activities in Kashmir. The government of India appears to be focusing now on the changing political landscape in Kashmir and has decided on some new political initiatives to counter the subversive agenda of the separatist groups who have been exploiting the disgruntled youth fed on pro-Pakistan propaganda to create violent disturbances.
However, the political ability and will of the NC and the Congress to put up a sustained effort to disillusion people against the false propaganda of Hurriyat and its supporters is still in doubt. As no political challenge is being posed to the separatists at the grass roots level it provides them an opportunity to pursue their agendas unhindered.
The lackluster performance of the coalition governments in Srinagar in the past weighs heavily against the current dispensation. Any ad-hoc political move against the separatists without deep political roots will not get mass support. The lack of rapport between the J&K government and the Centre and a joint effort against the Hurriyat has encouraged separatists and other shady wheelers dealers to operate with impunity.
The separatists and secessionists, however, now are unable to bring normal activities of the state to a standstill as in the past, because of diminishing credibility of its leaders and lack of public support.
A window of opportunity now exists to allow inroads into separatist constituencies and stopping the terrorists in their tracks, if the government adopts more assertive methods against foreign agents and their supporters.
The appointment of non-political interlocutors was good step although there is nothing really new in their recommendations they do point a way forward. It is hoped that government will consider the report at highest political level in consultation with the opposition parties and adopt some steps recommended by them keeping in mind the security imperatives and the mood of the people in J&K.
The setting-up of the Constitutional Review Committee is one recommendation which can promote the separatist agenda in the prevailing environment. Among other recommendations one relating to the re-deployment of the security forces, re-evaluation of the need for special powers for the Army and improving the human rights situation cannot be implemented till Pakistani sponsored terrorism continues unabated. Other non-controversial recommendations may be acceptable if most stakeholders are taken on board and peace prevails in J&K.
There is a change in the air in Kashmir but there is no convergence of views among various political factions who profess to represent the Kashmir people, not even between those who profess to be on the same side of the fence. The separatists generally watch the changing scenarios in Pakistan and PoK to reset their agendas, presently despite an intensive drive by Pakistan to enlist new recruits in Kashmir, it has failed to enlist enough people to carry on subversive activities on its behest.
Considering the overall situation across the Line of Control it is the right time to increase the pace of the political process in Kashmir and creating better conditions for coordination between the Centre and the state government to bring peace to the troubled state.
The big question is whether all the optimism about improved political climate is going to last or Pakistan will be able to up the ante again by bigger attacks in Kashmir, is this one of the deceptive postures which Pakistan has often adopted in the long drawn battle of J&K.