PAKISTAN TO OBSERVE SOLIDARITY DAY WITH KASHMIR, PLANS TO SEND DELEGATIONS TO DIFFERENT COUNTRIES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Pakistans federal cabinet has decided to observe Friday as Kashmir Solidarity Day against the killing of 13 militants on April 1. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir today.

Continuing the anti-India Pakistani propaganda, he addressed the state legislature telling that Pakistan would soon send delegations to different countries to apprise them about so-called deteriorating situations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Emphatically stating that Pakistan stands shoulder to shoulder with the Kashmiri people for their right to self-discrimination, he demanded plebiscite in J&K under the UN Security Council resolution, a stand that India does not recognise.

The UNSC mandate required Pakistan to remove its troops from PoK and to hold the plebiscite which Jawaharlal Nehru had agreed to. However, Pakistan didnt remove its troops. Instead, it chose to give Indian Territory under its occupation to Indias rival, China.

Primarily, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was legally part of India with the Instrument of Accession (IoA) signed by ruling king of the state Maharaja Hari Singh.

Calling Indian occupation of J-K a reign of terror, the Pakistani PM said that Indian forces in the valley have been threatening the people. He added that separatist voices and protests have always been there and Pakistan is politically united to support them.

He said Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute and is a challenge to the conscience of the international community and demanded that India should allow the UN Human Rights Commission to investigate if there are cases of human rights violations in the state.

©SantoshChaubey

WE ARE GOING TO SEE DAYS OF A TOUGH INDIA IN KASHMIR

No doubt, by the virtue of being the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi is among the top global leaders. In spite of its nagging problems back home, India is among the few countries that are going to matter in the global order for coming decades.

Because, after China, India is the next big thing to happen to the global economy. And it can provide the much needed succour to the global economy without any of the compromises that any sort of tie with China invites – the world is doing business with China ignoring its autocratic rule and human rights suppression. India is the largest democracy in the world and is a functional one, in fact a robustly functional one. And the whole world is looking towards it.

That provides it the might, in fact an unparalleled potential that even China didn’t have – becoming the world economy’s pivot with biggies of the world – sans the baggage of negativities that a China mention generates.

That might also require India to set its house in order first. And the biggest policy hurdle towards it is Kashmir. Before we proceed further, let’s be clear about certain inevitabilities. A free Kashmir is a mirage.

Suppose India accepts Kashmir as independent country. What would happen after it?

Would then Pakistan and China follow the suit, by freeing Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Aksai-Chin and the part of Kashmir that Pakistan gave to China?

Would China and Pakistan shed the much hyped China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC) that passes through parts of occupied Kashmir?

The only answer to that is a NO. So if China and Pakistan cannot do it, it is foolish to expect that India would let Kashmir go, especially when Kashmir constitutionally merged into India and when Kashmir has been bleeding India for decades. It is true Kashmir didn’t see the kind of development it needed but it doesn’t mean there was any sort of discrimination with the state. In fact, in terms of resource allocation, Kashmir is one of the most pampered states of India.

It was the mess created by the central governments in India, state governments in Jammu & Kashmir and the politics of J&K that led Kashmir to where it is standing now. And there is no other way out but a tough stand now – no to accommodating ‘soft secessionist’ approach – and a big YES to better manage resources to put the valley on the track of development. Politicians and people of Kashmir will have to understand this. They have to decide about their future and the future of their coming generations. And the time is now. They have to decide if they want to run foolishly after that mirage or it is now time to return back to the basics of pragmatism.

They will have to revisit India remembering their days before terrorism crept in, a time when Kashmir was synonymous with heaven on earth. Kashmir has, all along, been a part of India – during its good days – and its bad days with the heap of self-inflicted pain. And it will remain a part of India.

It is true Narendra Modi government has failed so far in its experiments with J&K. But he should be given benefit of doubt. He has tried to intervene in Kashmir through soft measures so far, a hallmark of India’s democracy. He tried to mend ties with Pakistan. He formed a coalition with a Kashmiri party to form the government there. He has visited the state many times and development projects are coming there. India is as much of Kashmiris as it is of any person from any other Indian state, provided Kashmiris also understand and reciprocate it. And this sentiment now is not limited only to the power corridors of our country. Its echoes have started coming from every part of India.

After seeing the outcome of his efforts so far, the Modi administration has only one left to proceed in the valley – tough on them who are inimical to India’s interest and going out of the way to assuage and heal them who have got into the crossfire – an approach that should have been adopted much earlier, in fact in early 90s when Pakistan sponsored militancy in Kashmir Kashmir’s started spiralling out of control. Every subsequent union and state government is responsible for ignoring this and thus creating the mess Kashmir now has become.

Going by the recent developments, it seems this, indeed, is going to be the approach of the Modi government now. Appointing an Indian Army chief who believes in taking tough decisions on Kashmir, stiff principled opposition to CPEC, strict no to government initiated talks with the so-called separatist leaders of Kashmir, flow of ample funds and resources in Kashmir, continued people outreach through the state and central government agencies including the security forces in spite of the irresponsible behaviour by a section of Kashmiri propagandists and Pak stooges who, somehow, have been able to influence a section of Kashmiri population, albeit a small one, just because of the mess created by the governments.

©SantoshChaubey

BURNING SCHOOLS IN KASHMIR: WHERE IT IS AIMED AT?

The ongoing Kashmir crisis is in its 109th day. And by the attitude of the Indian government, it has become clear that it is not going to budge when it comes to the demands of the so-called freedom of Kashmir, something that is nothing but Pakistan sponsored militancy and propaganda to snatch Kashmir from India.

Now, the whole world, including Pakistan knows that it is not going to happen. But Pakistan would always want to inflict as much damage as it can, and it has found handy tools in Kashmir’s separatists, pro-Pakistani civilians and terrorists to exercise its sinister designs.

All these tools, in coordination, or in isolation, try to perpetrate acts that could compromise the Indian sentiments in Kashmir.

An important part of that militancy and propaganda is to drag Kashmir’s every upcoming generation away from everything that can propel it to think rationally about where its future lies. And a rational mind can never go with Pakistan, a fractured nation with an increasing notoriety of being a rogue nation that employs terrorism as its state policy.

So, the whole emphasis would be on killing this rationality.

The phase of insurgency that began in Kashmir in late 1980s has consumed a generation of Kashmiris. Post 2000, there have been attempts and development has seen some growth, including tourism, the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy. Excluding few instances, there has been an atmosphere of relative peace, even if gun sponsored.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

TERROR ATTACKS LIKE URI SAY WHY AFSPA IS NOT CHUTZPAH!

Vishal Bhardwaj’s movie Haider, which had Kashmir’s unrest as its backdrop, was in many controversies due to its plot and plot elements. One of the main contentious points raised in the film that in turn raised eyebrows was showing AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) in an extreme negative shade comparing it to the Hebrew expression Chutzpah (impudence, audacity, insolence). The film portrays as if AFSPA is the main culprit in making Kashmiris’ lives a living hell.

AFSPA is a special act passed by the Indian Parliament to give special rights to the Indian Armed Forces deployed in disturbed areas and is in force in the North-East states and Jammu & Kashmir. AFSPA has been in controversies as it is alleged that the armed forces misuse the special powers given under the act and indulge in acts of human rights violation and barbarism. Even the Supreme Court has shown displeasure on reports of human rights violations in the name of AFSPA and has asked the government that why ‘those’ disturbed areas are still ‘disturbed’ even if AFSPA is in force for over decades now.

AFSPA is Chutzpah for such controversies. But terror strikes like Uri tells us why the armed forces vehemently oppose any attempt to remove or dilute AFSPA from Kashmir.

And figures support it.

Early morning today, terrorists attacked an army installation in Uri in J&K. The cowardly attack that targeted sleeping soldiers left 17 dead. According to the SATP data (South Asia Terrorism Portal), 61 Indian soldiers have been killed in terror strike this year alone while the figure for terrorists stands at 115 – that means we are losing one soldier for every two terrorists killed. And our soldiers are sacrificing their lives in saving those Kashmiris who call AFSPA Chutzpah or use other derogatory words, or wave the Pakistani flag or hurl abuses at India. No matter how big a terror strike is, we never hear tough, strong words against Pakistan from J&K leaders and political parties – be it today’s Uri attack or 2002’s Kaluchak massacre which had left 36 people killed including the security forces personnel or the countless other terror strikes in the state which have killed thousands of Indian soldiers.

It is being circulated on Pakistan’s social media platforms that India’s itself has carried out this attack to divert the global attention from the ongoing unrest in Kashmir and to present itself as a victim in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The UNGA is in session and the Annual General Debate is slated to begin on September 20. It is also being propagandized that since Kashmir has heavy presence of armed forces due to the ongoing phase of unrest, it is impossible for foreign terrorists to reach any army camp inside Kashmir to carry out attack. Tomorrow, Pakistan will sing the same chorus.

But the Indian Army’s insistence on AFSPA lies in these very elements.

And the core of these elements is the local support that terrorism enjoys in Kashmir. A section of the kashmiri population, that scavenges on the Pakistani propaganda, and though survives on the Indian soil and its support, shamelessly sings the Pakistani tune. J&K separatists and terrorists like Syed Salahuddin are well known but what about them who remain anonymous and get mixed the general population? Indian Armed Forces are present in almost every part of the Valley but they do not know from where the next attack would come or which house has sheltered terrorists. Crowds of thousands in funerals of terrorists prove the local support and you are always in two minds when it comes to trust the next fellow. Due to the heightened security apparatus, cross-border infiltration has seen a remarkable decline, yet, if the ongoing phase of unrest is in its 74th day, its shows it is fuelled by some local base.

India Army and other security forces have to act in these adverse, dilemma-ridden circumstances where its enemy can pop up from any house or any corner of the street. And if the armed forces demand AFSPA to tackle this, this is completely logical. And about the misuse of AFSPA – our apex court has already taken cognizance of it. Yes, AFSPA can be removed or diluted from the North-Eastern states as barring few instances, most have been relatively peaceful, and a simple armed forces presence now can handle the situation. But removing AFSPA from the Kashmir of the day will not serve any purpose. It, in fact, can destabilize the situation even more when you don’t know who your enemy is. Yes, but we should seriously act on the concerns raised on misuses and abuses of AFSPA and should see what changes this decades old act needs to make it in sync with the times now. Some action has been taken and some punishments have been delivered in some cases of human rights violations in Kashmir, but we need to set example by taking stringent measures and exemplary punishments.

Life may not have room for ‘trials and errors’ but nation building policies solely depend on them.

©SantoshChaubey

MODI AND MEHBOOBA MUST BE ON SAME PAGE TO SOLVE KASHMIR PROBLEM

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

Curfew has been lifted from the Kashmir Valley after 51 days except from the areas of Pulwama and old Srinagar.

There has been a gradual slowdown in violent protests after the government adopted a two-pronged strategy – to get tough with those inciting the unrest including Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists, and initiating a comprehensive dialogue with others including the representatives of the protestors.

The government’s determination to find a solution to the ongoing strife in Kashmir through dialogue is a welcome step and how serious the government is this time around becomes clear from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion that the lives lost in the Kashmir unrest were those of Indians and the whole of India is pained at that.

“Unity and affection were the pivotal words during my interaction with other political parties on the Kashmir issue. Those who are inciting the Kashmiri youth for indulging in violent clashes and stone-pelting will have to answer someday and those who have died in the ongoing phase of unrest in Kashmir are Indians,” Modi said on Sunday (August 28), making his stand on Kashmir loud and clear once again. He was addressing the nation through his monthly radio broadcast Mann ki Baat.

It indicated the continuation of his efforts to initiate a dialogue in order to find a solution to the Kashmir problem, and that has found acceptance among the stakeholders, who see a point here.

Before this, even during the meeting with the united front of Jammu and Kashmir opposition parties last week, the prime minister had said that development alone was not enough to solve the Kashmir problem and dialogue was a must.

To extend Modi’s initiative, Union home minister Rajnath Singh held meetings with some eminent Indians before his visit to Kashmir last week (August 24-25) so that he could prepare the groundwork. During his two-day visit to the Valley, he met all the stakeholders and even indicated that he was ready to meet the separatists (but the separatists refused to meet him).

He is slated to take an all-party delegation to the Valley soon and its modalities are being worked out. Also, the government has now decided that pellet guns will only be used as the last resort and non-lethal measures like chilli and pepper grenades, water cannons, and acoustic and laser devices will be employed to control mobs.

To complement these efforts, the Central government is working on other fronts as well to crackdown on separatists and those who are fuelling unrest in the Valley. Many separatist leaders including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have been arrested and many are under detention and interrogations are on.

The number of security personnel on the ground has been beefed up by deploying more Army troops and additional columns of the Border Security Force (BSF). The National Investigative Agency (NIA) is probing 17 bank accounts from south Kashmir with suspicious transactions amounting to Rs 38 crore that could have been used to fuel the unrest.

But the Kashmir unrest is not a problem that alone the Central government can resolve. The Jammu and Kashmir government, being the representative of the people of the state, is the primary interface here through which the Central government can push any initiative further and therefore both the governments need to act in unison.

Mehbooba Mufti, the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister heading a PDP-BJP coalition government has appealed to the protestors to give her a chance though she has maintained that it is only five per cent of the population who are creating trouble and unrest in the Valley.

Mehbooba sees in Prime Minister Modi a person who will solve the Kashmir problem. Yet she has been hesitant to toe the Centre’s line. Thus while India has accused Pakistan of fomenting the Kashmir unrest, Mehbooba still believes in appealing to Pakistan to help resolve the Kashmir deadlock.

Now, Pakistan’s hand behind the Kashmir unrest is not difficult to detect. While Mehbooba is still trying to court Pakistan, the Modi government has made it very clear that it will not talk to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. Instead, it has asked Pakistan to rein in the anti-India elements on its soil and stop anti-India propaganda.

Such paradoxical approaches to the Kashmir problem have always been obstacles to finding any solution. Successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir and the politicians of the state have always advocated making Pakistan a party to the Kashmir peace process because they believe it appeases a section of voters there, whereas the Indian government has made it clear that Kashmir is an integral part of India and if there is any problem, it is India’s internal matter and will be resolved accordingly.

Kashmir, though, has been the main issue between India and Pakistan and the Pakistan high commission in Delhi has been treating the Kashmiri separatists like VVIPs. Now that the Indian government has firmly said that no talks with Pakistan would be held on the Kashmir issue, the state government too should try to find a solution to the problem within this framework.

Pakistan understands that it cannot take Kashmir from India – either through war or proxy war. But it needs to keep the Kashmir issue alive in order to divert attention from its domestic problems as well as to nurture anti-India sentiments that give legitimacy to the role its military establishment plays.

Pakistan, in fact, is feeling desperate after Modi’s open announcement that India would now raise human rights and atrocity issues in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan on international platforms which got good traction among Baloch activists spread across the world.

Sending its parliamentarians to different countries to highlight the Kashmir issue, getting an anti-India statement issued from the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), giving active patronage to terrorists wanted in India and asking them to spew venom against India and mentoring and tutoring the Kashmiri separatists indicate how insecure Pakistan is feeling now. It is, in fact, so perturbed that Kashmir has started dictating its foreign policy just not with India but with the rest of the world now.

The Jammu and Kashmir politicians and the state government should see through this. That is a must for any peace process initiated by the government of India to bear fruit. Dialogue is the only way forward but both the state and Central government should understand that they should not send conflicting signals that would be like playing into the hands of anti-India elements and the Kashmiri separatists who keep on inciting protests in the Valley.

The Jammu and Kashmir politicians who take part in India’s electoral politics must sing the Indian tune and not the Pakistan’s national anthem. Why it is that some of these politicians find it easy to blast India while their silence on Pakistan is deafening?

Why it is that they never talk of atrocities in PoK? If Pakistan is out of the ambit of the talks, both the state and Central governments should speak the same language. The government of India had given the separatists a chance when Rajnath had invited them, but the separatists, who openly endorse Pakistan, can’t be expected to be a part of something constructive.

Kashmir has seen a lot of destruction and heartburn. The 51 days of curfew, which began after Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani was killed in a police encounter on July 8, has seen a death toll of 71 which include mainly young protesters.

The unrest has left thousands injured and many have become crippled. These include security personnel as well. Education institutions and businesses remain closed. Trade and industry bodies have pegged their loss at Rs 6,000 crore.

But the actual loss will be manifold as the tourism industry, the mainstay of the Jammu and Kashmir economy, which had started witnessing some activity, has been badly hit and the simmering tension tells you that it will take years of healing before Kashmir will be normal again.

©SantoshChaubey

A SOLUTION TO KASHMIR UNREST? CENTRE AND STATE NEED TO SPEAK SAME LANGUAGE

‘Unity and affection were the pivotal words during my interaction with other political parties on the Kashmir issue. Those who are inciting the Kahsmiri youth for indulging in violent clashes and stone pelting will have to answer someday and those who have died in the ongoing phase of unrest in Kashmir are Indians’ – prime minister Narendra Modi said on August 28, making his changed stand on Jammu & Kashmir loud and clear – once again. He was addressing the nation through his monthly radio broadcast ‘Mann Ki Baat’.

It was continuing his efforts to initiate a dialogue process to find a solution to the Kashmir problem that will be acceptable to the stakeholders who see a point here. Before this, even in the meeting with the united front of the Jammu & Kashmir opposition parties on August 22, he had said that development alone was not the solution and dialogue was a must.

To extend Modi’s initiative, home minister Rajnath Singh held meetings with some eminent Indians before his visit to Kashmir earlier this week to prepare the groundwork for the peace initiative. During his two-day stay there he met with all the stakeholders involved and even indicated that he was ready to meet the separatists (which the separatists refused). An all party delegation is slated to visit the Valley soon.

But Kashmir unrest is not a problem that alone the central government can resolve. The elected state government, being the representative of the state’s people, is the primary interface here through which the central government can push any initiative further and therefore both the governments need to act in unison.

Something that is not happening.

India has accused Pakistan of fomenting the Kashmir unrest but J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti is still appealing to Pakistan to help in resolving the Kashmir imbroglio if the country is really concerned with Kashmiris’ plight. Now even a child can understand the Pakistani plot here. The whole Kashmir problem is Pakistan created. While Mehbooba is still trying to court Pakistan, the Narendra Modi government has made it very clear that it will not talk to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. Instead, Pakistan should rein in the anti-India elements on its soil and should stop anti-India propaganda.

These paradoxical approaches to the Kashmir problem have always been obstacles to find any solution. It has been consistently seen that the state governments of J&K and the state politicians have been advocating to make Pakistan a party in the Kashmir peace process because it appeases a section voters there, voters who form the core of mobs in case whenever there is a situation of unrest whereas the Indian stand from Delhi has been unambiguous putting it firmly that the whole J&K is India’s integral part and if there is any problem, it is India’s internal matter and will be resolved accordingly. Though Kashmir has been the main issue between India and Pakistan and the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi has been treating the J&K separatists like some VVIPs, it should be seen as the part of democratic processes only that define India’s founding principles. The Kashmir rant in India-Pakistan bilateral ties has always had a Pakistani imprint.

Now that the Indian government has firmly said that no talks with Pakistan would be held on the Kashmir issue, the state government, too, should try to find a way out within this framework only. Pakistan understands that it cannot take Kashmir from India – either in a war or by promoting proxy wars. But it needs Kashmir to divert attention from its domestic problems as well as to nurture anti-India sentiments that give legitimacy to the political roles its military establishment plays.

The country, in fact, is feeling desperate after Narendra Modi’s open dare that India would now raise human rights and atrocity issues in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Baluchistan on international platforms, something that is getting good traction among the Baluch activists spread across the world.

Sending its parliamentarians to different countries to highlight the Kashmir issue, getting an anti-India statement issued from the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), giving active patronage to terrorists wanted in India to spew venom against India and mentoring and tutoring the J&K separatists – these steps indicate how insecure Pakistan is feeling now – so much so that Kashmir has started dictating its foreign policy just not with India but across the world.

The J&K politicians and the state government should see through it. That is a must for any peace process initiated by the centre to bear fruit. Dialogue is the only way forward but both the state government and the central government should understand that they should not send conflicting signals as it would be like playing in the hands of anti-India elements and the J&K separatists who keep on inciting the Valley protests.

The J&K politicians who take part in India’s electoral politics must sing the Indian tune and not the Pakistan’s national anthem.

Why it is that some J&K politicians find India an easy target to blame while their silence on Pakistan is deafening?

Why it is that they never talk of PoK atrocities and problems?

If Pakistan is out of the ambit of the talks, both the governments should speak the same. The government of India had given the separatists a chance when Rajnath Singh had invited them but the separatists who now openly endorse Pakistan, how can they be expected to be part of something constructive?

Meanwhile, Kashmir continues to burn.

August 27 marked the 50 days of violence in the Valley that began after Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burwan Wani was killed in a police encounter. The death toll in the Valley so far stands around 70 which include mainly the young protesters. The ongoing unrest has left thousands injured and many have become crippled. Both the dead, as well as the injured, include security personnel as well. Educational institutions and businesses remain closed. Trade and industry bodies peg the loss at Rs. 6000 crore. But the actual loss will be manifold as the tourism industry, the mainstay of J&K economy, which had started witnessing some activity, is gone again and the simmering tension says it will be some years of consistent healing before it can see some positive signs.

©SantoshChaubey

HOW MODI’S PAKISTAN POLICY CHANGED SINCE HIS FIRST INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

“I went to Bhutan, Nepal; all the dignitaries from SAARC countries took part in oath-taking ceremony; this marked a good beginning. This will definitely yield good results, it is my belief and this thinking of India, in the country and the world, that we want to do well to the countrymen and be useful for the welfare of the world, India wants such a hand to be extended (sic). We are trying to move forward with these dreams to achieve them.”

This is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said about his foreign policy priorities while delivering his first Independence Day speech on August 15, 2014. The words clearly told of a foreign policy vision that was taking shape and the thought of taking along your immediate neighbourhood seemed the immediate concern.

And when we talk about India’s foreign policy in its immediate neighbourhood, the first thought obviously goes to Pakistan with whom we have had a relation of more lows and very few highs since our independence in 1947.

So when Modi invited Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, along with other SAARC leaders to his oath taking ceremony on May 26, 2014 and Sharif warmly responded to it, bypassing any chance meeting with Kashmir’s separatist leaders, Modi received almost universal praise for his bold initiative to write a new script in India-Pakistan ties.

Modi certainly thought to give dialogue with Pakistan another chance under his charge in spite of the track record of Pakistan’s backstabbing.

The initiative seemed to work and a personal rapport developed between Modi and Sharif. There were exchanges of mangoes, sarees and talks between officials. It seemed some breakthrough development was in the offing.

Though there were many letdowns like ceasefire violaThat was the case till the Pathankot terror attack in January, 2016. He did not mention his SAARC initiative and his policy on India’s immediate neighbourhood and Pakistan in his second Independence Day speech from the Red Fort on August 15, 2015.

He committed a foreign policy coup with an unscheduled visit to Lahore to meet and greet Sharif on his birthday on December 25, 2016.

It was appreciated by the policymakers the world over as an innovative approach to take on the lingering coldness and hostility in India-Pakistan ties. And even after the Pathankot attack, this warm gesture continued as reflected in the easy access given to the probe team from Pakistan that had come to India to verify the “Indian allegations” that Maulana Masood Azhar and the Jaish-e-Mohammed were behind the attack.tions, cross-border firings, Pakistan’s high commissioner Abdul Basit’s insistence on meeting with the Kashmir separatists, and the rants on Kashmir by different Pakistani leaders, itBut things started deteriorating after it. There were conflicting reports that Pakistan had dismissed the evidence given by India. Though it has never officially been confirmed, we can say it is going to be yet another sham like the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks probe in Pakistan.

Pakistan has not responded to India’s requests to allow its probe team to visit Pakistan. The neighbouring country, in fact, has never sounded serious about probing the incident. On the issue of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Pakistan, along with China, brought together a group of countries that scuttled India’s chances.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has again ratcheted up its Kashmir-rant, especially after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter. Much to India’s (and Modi’s disappointment), Sharif and Pakistan have declared Burhan a martyr and funeral processions are being held there.

And like never before, wanted terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin are dictating terms, threatening India openly of dire consequences. It all, it seems, has made Modi uncomfortable enough to finally abandon his Pakistan policy that he had initiated two years back. It seems he has finally run out of patience. After two years of that initiative, we can now say that Modi’s efforts have proved futile.

Its first indications were seen when Modi justified his Pakistan policy by saying that owing to his efforts to reach out, the world was now clearly seeing through Pakistan’s sham and Pakistan was finding it hard to justify its stand on global platforms.

And on Monday (August 15), it became clearly visible when Modi took on Pakistan left, right and centre in his third Independence Day speech. During his over-90 minute speech on Monday, Modi connected threads to his first Independence Day speech by saying that he had proposed a common vision for India and its neighbours to unite and fight together the common enemy of poverty.

He clearly named Pakistan on Monday and detailed on how it promotes terrorism and how the world is now seeing through its tactics. He drew effective parallels with India’s sensitive response on the terror strike on the Army school in Peshawar in December 2014 and on Pakistan’s backstabbing, and doublespeak on promoting terror and fuelling unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

How detached Modi has become from his Pakistan policy that he had envisioned in May 2014 becomes clear from the fact that he is now trying to put the ball in Pakistan’s court by talking openly on Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan as he did on Sunday (August 14) and Monday.

On Sunday, during an all party meet on Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “Now the time has come that Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against the people in Balochistan and PoK.”

On Monday again, during his Independence Day address, he very categorically mentioned Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, thanking their people to reach out to India against Pakistan’s atrocities. This stand has come after two years of trial and error and we can say it is now going to define Modi’s Pakistan policy. seemed Modi was still hopeful. He never sounded overtly critical of Pakistan and used his words carefully even if his silence on Pakistan sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India became a national talking point.

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT IS FUELLING YOUTH UNREST IN KASHMIR

Though the Indian government has been successful in establishing a transparent electoral process in Jammu & Kashmir, the governance deficit that was the most needed currency to integrate the mindset prevailing in the Valley has not happened. People needed development after years of Pakistan sponsored militancy. People needed jobs. And people needed a government that sounded and acted caring enough on these basic needs of life. Figures show the process has failed to take off.

In 2004, the Central Government had announced a package of Rs. 24,000 Crore for J&K reconstruction. The main emphasis was to be on employment generation and infrastructure development. Of these Rs. 24000 crore, only Rs. 7800 crore have been released so far and just half of the projects announced have been completed (and it is 12 years already!).

Udaan, a Central Government initiative, was extended to J&K in 2012 with aims to train and employ some 40,000 Kashmiri youths. The state has been able to reach out to just 8000 youngsters so far. Also, there have been reports that the Kashmir youth is not interested in low paying jobs being offered.

J&K’s unemployment rate is 5.3 percent. According to an NSSO report released this February, India’s urban unemployment rate was 3.4 percent while the figure for the rural India stood at 1.7 percent. This gap tells tales especially when we see that J&K drags on its growth figures – some 2.5 percent lower than the national average.

That is a real worry for a state where 70 percent of its 12 million population is below the age of 31, i.e., 8.4 million. Reports say as much as 7,00,000 of the working age youths are unemployed in the Valley. A report by Mercy Corps, a US based agency, scales up the unemployment figures in the Valley to as high as 48 percent. And why it becomes the root cause of periodic cycles of unrest, triggered by the developments like Burhan Wani’s encounter killing or death of civilians by the security forces, becomes clear by the fact that the Valley has around 30,000 militants roaming in the society. They are either out on bail or have served their terms.

The huge pool of the unemployed youth is a goldmine for them to harness and that is what they are doing, especially after the tough measures adopted by the security forces that have significantly reduced the infiltration from across the border, and thus the availability of the foreign militants. Pakistan and the terror handlers based there now have adopted the strategy to recruit local youth and the ongoing unrest over Burhan Wani’s killing would only serve their purpose.

The government of India needs to crack down here. It needs to establish its connect with the Kashmiri youth in order to disconnect them from the radicalizing machinery of terror handlers like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin. How can the government of India do that?

Make them more invested in India’s future. Make their dependence on India mutual. Create the atmosphere where they can look up to – for jobs, for future security – let them feel for Delhi in the same way as they feel for Srinagar. Motivate them to fan out of J&K for their career prospects. Give them inspirational stories like Shah Faesal, the 2009 IAS topper. Don’t single them out if they become over expressive at times like Shah has been in the recent unrest episode. See it in the context that 10 candidates from J&K have cracked the civil services examination this year. Even the 55 vacancies of the Indian Army last year attracted over 20,000 youths to the recruitment centre. So, there is a need and you need to be there to cater to it – in order to win them.

The Hizbul Mujahideen led terrorism that began in 1989 has killed some 90,000 people in the Valley. The terrorism years built on exploiting the secessionist sentiments of the so-called separatists that was basically fuelled from Pakistan with its state actors like ISI and various terror handlers acting as proxies. Now that we are in an effective situation to keep an effective check on these activities – India can effectively deny the terror handlers and Pakistan the local, physical access to the Valley – we need to begin on a process of reconciliation. And the primacy of that lies in ignoring “who did what”. Don’t we know that “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”?

After 27 years, it’s a new generation in J&K now – and the population is youth driven. Its concerns would be entirely different from the generation that helped build the wave of militancy in the Valley, a generation that cannot be expected to show their kids the right way – the path to reconciliation with India. It has left the Valley youth alienated. They don’t know where to go. If they have to look up to someone, they have figures like Salahuddin whose family is comfortably settled in J&K with its members in government jobs or Burhan Wani’s father, a school teacher. They are fighting the state while living off its perks. So, it’s all muddled up.

The government needs to exploit those concerns first – the primary concerns of the youth we all know – jobs, career and future security. Give them avenues for these faster than the separatists reach out to them to radicalize. Take care of the aspirations of this generation and J&K is yours as any other Indian state is. The Indian security forces are now capable enough to guards its borders effectively so AFSPA can safely be removed from the internal parts of the state.

It’s like who will take the first step first – and Delhi should take the first step as a big brother. It will go a long way in patching things up. If Pakistan can ratchet up its propaganda machinery, why can’t we match it up, why can’t we overdo it? Prime minister Narendra Modi has announced an ambitious package of Rs. 80,000 crore for J&K but he needs to ensure that it reaches out to the intended beneficiaries and reaches out fast. Of the Rs. 80,000 crore announced, the state is expected to get Rs. 6,000 crore this year. Both the governments, at the Centre and in Srinagar, need to see that they take the immediate measures to sooth the nerves and development is the best diversion for it. And while doing so, they need to act tough to check out the leakages and official corruption that the state saw in the relief and rescue operations in the aftermath of the devastating 2014 floods that plagued the whole operation.

©SantoshChaubey

KASHMIRIS NEED TO PRIORITIZE PRAGMATICALLY

While watching Haider on television, the logical, commonsense thoughts on situations in Jammu & Kashmir (or largely Kashmir because terrorism emanates from there) came to me once again.

If we talk of the film-craft, the film, ‘Haider’, is one of the best movies made on the Valley (Kashmir). Yes, it has many debatable points and people on both sides of the spectrum, pro and anti India, debated it when the movie was released last year, but the last scene gives us all a message (including the people from the Valley) that should be a valid referral point for them to go back to the days of peace.

The message is – revenge begets more revenge and it doesn’t work for anyone.

People of the Valley need to think it – within the ambit of the realpolitik of the day. The relevant points accordingly are:

First and foremost point is – and the factual point is – India is not going to cede any ground on Kashmir issue.

India’s is among the world’s largest economies. It is also currently the world’s fastest growing economy and is slated to remain so as China slows down. The country is the world’s largest democracy and globally a powerful country now. On global stage, India has a much bigger stature than Pakistan and the gap is bound to widen in the days to come as Pakistan is trapped in the deadlocks of home-grown terrorists who were once important tools of its state policy. Many reports including the one recently by the US Congressional research say so.

Also, the whole J&K state is strategically vital to the Indian interests in the context of its historical rivalry with China and India will never compromise here.

The next point is – India of the day and future cannot be forced militarily by a proxy war or by armed militancy to let Kashmir go away from its territory. And it is to be seen in the context that every such effort, including the full-scale wars between India and Pakistan, has failed to deter India so far.

Proxy armed war can be waged against India but its strong Army and paramilitary forces, with their heavy presence in J&K, cannot be frustrated to the extent to leave the Valley, or to compromise on the issue.

Instead, people of the Valley have been facing collateral damages for decades. Their trust and they have been misused by separatists, extremists, militants and Pakistan. They need to see the elements behind the reasons that made Kashmir ‘a heaven, a paradise on Earth’ even before insurgency started engulfing it in late 1980s.

So far, if not all Kashmiris, a sizeable chunk has failed to see through the designs of separatists, militants and Pakistan, the ongoing phase of militancy in the Valley tells us. If the separatists still draw political sanction there, it is because they feel there would be people to support them.

Kashmiris need to prioritize pragmatically.

Kashmiris need to think pragmatically that security of their future lies in them remaining in India, a nation with as many Muslim as Pakistan but where ‘Al Qaeda’ finds no recruits as the BBC says or a magazine like ‘The Economist’ deliberates that ‘ why India’s Muslims are so moderate’.

India is a large country with a large market that the world is eyeing for and Pakistan can never be a match to it. It has a sizeable middle class that is projected to be the world’s largest by 2030, a Harvard study says.

People of Kashmir need to think of a life they will get in Indian Kashmir if they decide to grow with India, if they take side of the peaceful days as were in the Valley’s past.

Even now, they have everything available on a better scale if they see the people’s lives in ‘Azad Kashmir’ or practically, in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Even if the Valley is ‘promoted’ as a ‘disturbed area’ on global forums, its separatists freely criticise India and favour Pakistan. Pakistani flags are waved during rallies and demonstrations. Indian security forces are openly demonized.

The state has its own constitution. People from other parts of India cannot buy property in the state. People of the Valley should think of a day when a strong government of a strong India will remove Article 370 and will push the state into the mainstream of the Indian Constitution. They should think of a day when people from other parts of the country will get rights to settle in J&K. That is a way to culturally integrate the state aimed at strengthening the pro-India voices. If China can do it in Tibet, why not India can do it J&K?

Also, people of J&K need to see and emulate other Indian states on the road to prosperity. Many of them have Muslim population much larger than the Valley. These states are very well the part of the Indian federal system.

Yes, Indian government in Delhi and Indian forces in the state have their share of controversies and high-handedness, but the solution of the problems affecting lives of the people of J&K (especially Kashmir) lies in the realpolitik of the Valley which goes with the rider that ‘Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/