Kashmir: Why reward the traitors?

Posted on August 10, 2010

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An separatist Kashmiri youth recent days

No international event is a coincidence or an accident. A clear cause and planning exists behind most of them. The recent stone pelting binge in Kashmir Valley is no exception.

Many (naive) Indians are baffled by this ‘sudden’ eruption of violence. It seemed that the Valley was enjoying its rare period of peace, and tourism season was in full swing bringing in much needed jobs and money to the locals.

Then why the sudden lurch to violent chaos? The answer to this has to be sought in some of the events that happened outside Kashmir.

Kashmir and the tale of two Faisals

A few months ago, a neutral international organisation (the Pew Foundation) came out with the results of its extensive survey of public opinion in the Kashmir Valley. While it showed that a sizable number, possibly a majority, want ‘independence’,  less than 2 percent were in favour of a merger with Pakistan. This must have come as a shock to the Pakistani Army/Jihadis. What better way out than to light the fire of unrest using paid agents, create martyrs and keep the pot boiling in Kashmir Valley?

Another setback to the Pakistan  army (the real rulers of Pakistan) was the Headley disclosures that the Jihadis who attacked Mumbai in 2008 were trained by Pakistani Navy. As if that was not enough, the latest WikiLeak revelations clearly expose the close relationship between the Pakistani  army, the Taliban and Jihadis of all varieties.

The Pakistani  army’s standard answer to this looming crisis is to engineer troubles in India. Kashmir riots are just the first phase. One should not be surprised if some sort of communal rioting is also instigated somewhere else in India.

Many years ago, while talking to this author (on March 26, 1988) late Mr Pu Laldenga, the erstwhile leader of Mizo rebellion, said, “We soon realised that our struggle was like a controlled flame for the Chinese. To be increased or decreased as suited their national interest.”

Pakistan has never made a secret of its interest in Kashmir. Late president Ayub Khan is on record having said that Kashmir was vital for Pakistan as the source of its rivers. Pakistan’s real aim in Kashmir is to get control over the rivers. The Kashmiri civilians are a pawn in this strategic game.

Why Pakistan won’t leave Kashmir alone

India has been complacent about the looming danger in Kashmir Valley. The biggest threat is the mullah with a loudspeaker. Every Friday unfailingly, under the guise of Friday prayers, the mullahs give sermons to inflame passions and exhort people to violence.

Is promoting violence and disaffection against own country part of religious freedom?

This is a question that needs to be asked and answered. For all the efforts at peace building are negated by this constant propaganda that is carried out in the mosques.

This author was present in the Valley during the Hazratbal shrine siege in October 1993. One could not get any sleep those days as the loudspeakers went on and on throughout day and night with provocative slogans and hate speeches.

I asked a local whether people wouldn’t get tired. The answer he gave was interesting — the loudspeakers were hooked on to a tape recorder!

In short, with the constant dinning of propaganda, it is but natural that at the slightest excuse, Srinagar erupts into violence.

Our biggest mistake in Kashmir has been that while we dealt with the insurgency and also carried out programmes of socio-economic development, the separatists were left free to propagate their ideas with no counter or curb.

Freedom of expression and speech does not mean permission to shout fire in a crowded hall!

Similarly the notion of religious freedom means freedom to worship and pray, and not freedom to preach violence and disaffection.

Kashmir: Is this restraint?

Even in many Islamic countries, there are curbs on use of Friday sermons for political purposes. Why not in India?  It is time we separated religion from politics. Else India awaits the fate of our neighbour Pakistan.

Another major flaw in our approach to Kashmir is the excessive importance to Valley. Yes, close to 53 percent of state’s population lives there, but all our resources and efforts are concentrated here at the expense of friendly population of Kargil, Rajouri –Poonch , Jammu and Ladakh. Are these not part of Jammu and Kashmir? Are they not Kashmiris?

There is a classic military question that is often posed. Suppose you launch a two pronged attack say from directions A and B. The question is, what will you do with your reserves in a situation where attack along A is stalled and B is succeeding?

The logical common answer will be to use reserve to help out the attackers at A.  But the military logic is exactly opposite of this common sense.

You never throw in reserves where you are stalled. Do not reinforce failure, instead reinforce success.

During my 20 years of working on this issue, I have been hammering at this point: let us help out people of areas other than the Valley — people who are already friendly with us.

Violence in the Valley: Timeline

With 20 percent Shia population in the Valley itself and other areas, it should even be possible for us to hold and win a plebiscite.  It is time to ignore the Valley and stop rewarding bad behaviour.

Maybe, just maybe, seeing the fruits of economic development and peace in other areas of Kashmir, the Valley people may wake up and give up their support to anti-India forces.

But do we have the common sense to follow this path?

Colonel (Dr) Anil Athale has studied the insurgencies in Kashmir, North East, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Chhatisgarh. As a former infantry officer he has also participated in counter insurgency operations. He is a former fellow of the USI, Delhi.

(Sify News, 9 August 2010)

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Posted in: Kashmir