Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has received support from majority of India’s population during the past three years. However, most of the Indians feel that it has failed to handle one of the most important challenges the country faces- finding a solution to the Kashmir problem. In fact, during the NDA rule the situation in J&K has gone from bad to worse. Political pundits had forecast the present situation when BJP forced itself into the alliance with PDP to form a government in the state. Also, the feeling of insecurity amongst the Muslim community all over the country seems to have increased.
Recent actions by army , which is being fully supported by the political establishment, signals a meditated shift in its approach in tackling the insurgency situation which the Defence Minister has described as ‘war like’. Cordon and search operations in the four southern districts of Shopian, Kulgam, Anatnag and Pulwama in the Valley which are most affected by militancy and pounding the terrorist camps across the LoC are the only options left with army. It has released video clips showing posts in Nowshehra and in other sectors being blown up. Army top- brass has sent the right signal that enough is enough by rewarding Major Leetul Gogoi who tied stone-pelting instigator Farooq Ahmad Dar on the bonnet of the jeep to prevent mob from attacking Election Commission staff in Budgam. Also Army Chief’s statement that ‘punitive fire assault’ is the ‘new normal’ has acted as morale-booster for the troops.
India must cease the opportunity to forge a new axis against terror. It is rightly pushing for Asia-Africa Corridor supported by Japan as a counter to OBOR. India’s judicial victory at Hague in Jadhav case, Trump and Saudi Arabia’s recent rebuff to a battered Pakistan, Iran’s changed stance towards Pakistan, the Afghanistan and Blochistan issues, Germany supporting us on our CPEC stand and UN concerns over OBOR offer enough ammunition for Indian diplomacy to show Pakistan its right place while the armed forces continue handling Kashmir the way they are. The situation in Kashmir is entirely different from what it was earlier. It is no more playing in the hands of top three All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders Sayed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik as was the case earlier. A section of the militants has emerged as important players who want Islamic system in Kashmir; they don’t stand for Pakistan but for Islam. They use mosques for political struggle. There is an obvious ideological shift and a new crop of militants are for the first time challenging the hold of the top separatists who either wanted to go with Pakistan or wanted total freedom. APHC and the old pro-azadi JKLF are being replaced by Muzaffarabad based outfit United Jehad Council UJC). Musa, the Hizbul commander is working to convert Kashmir struggle into Islamic struggle. Pakistan is losing its supreme relevance in Kashmir as more and more ISJK flags flutter in the Velley.
Pakistan is one country which has been making a fool of the most of the nations of the world as far as its role in promoting terrorism is concerned. It is only recently that many countries, more importantly US, Saudi Arabia, Iran and some other Muslim countries have understood its double- speaks. Trump has drastically reduced the military aid which Pakistan took for granted and has been using to fund its terrorism activities against India. Pakistan is at present facing many challenges; it has major security issues with Iran, Afghanistan and India. Bitter struggle at home has forced Nawaz Sharif to accept the supremacy of army. There was a time when Pakistan existence was associated with the three As- Allah, Army and America, with America having moved away now its survival depends only on Allah as Army has the history of letting it down every time it took control of the country. India has not joined the Forum on the giant transnational web which China calls One Belt One Road (0BOR) as a protest against CPEC. Experts believe that China has designs to transform and mould Pakistani society into Chinese society and in the ultimate analysis Pakistan may well resemble a Chinese colony. A network of hubs and micro zones earmarked for economic activity and infrastructural development as revealed by the blueprint of CPEC, may indeed affect the sovereignty of Pakistan.
Government at the Centre must tackle the Kashmir problem on political, economic and security dimensions. It must encourage citizen involvement through calibrated freedom of expression without forcing patriotism. It has to use technolwogy as a social leveler to define and address indicators related to education, health and standard of living of the common man in the state. Technology and innovation can leverage the huge potential of the youth of Kashmir that can empower the entire state of J&K. Nation as a whole is on the verge of a period of enormous growth and youth of Kashmir must be persuaded to force innovation and entrepreneurship in the government rather than resorting to throwing stones. It is a tough balancing act but there is no other way out.
A stage has come when an urgent and honest dialogue with all stake-holders is the only political option. While no one openly rejects such an approach, no one in authority is willing to bell the cat. It is unfortunate that all the gains of Atal diplomacy have been frittered away by the successive governments in Centre as well as in the state. Sudden increase in insurgency after the killing of Burhan Wani must be analysed. We need to understand that why is it that more and more young men and women and now school –going boys and girls indulging in stone- pelting and anti-India slogans. For the past many years, there were indications of a visible increase in the local militants against the foreign terrorists, but the centre decided in its own wisdom to take no action. Why could we not generate more jobs and employ the youth of South Kashmir which is the epicenter of new insurgency in last 20 years? Why must some gifted students die as militants? Successive governments must share the blame for neglect and under- development of the region. Jammu –Baramulla railway link as also linking Srinagar and Kargil should have happened long ago. One wonders why Governor’s rule is not being imposed when Kashmir is burning.