Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Kashmir Tangle – Possible Solutions? - Part - 2

Col LK Anand Retd
The situation in Kashmir, instead of improving, is now becoming worse and even more explosive by the utterances emanating from Jammu and Kashmir. To voice concern at the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by Kashmir’s Chief Minister, suggesting its dilution and partial withdrawal from Kashmir, making unsavoury remarks, that Kashmir is an outstanding political issue, needs to be resolved and cannot be addressed through development, employment or good governance, that the state had acceded to India and not merged, gives rise to several apprehensions and amounts to backing the separatists. Another uncalled for remark from Omar, on referring Kashmir being an issue between two neighbours has unduly internationalised the issue, by involving Pakistan, which certainly is not within his jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, the central UPA government is maintaining an unprecedented silence on this provocative activity. An all party delegation did make efforts to meet and know the minds of the leaders of the separatist groups viz Hardliner Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF leader Yasin Malik. These leaders did respond partially which helped in cutting the ice to a limited extent but without any fruitful results. It is yet another matter of shame that a seminar has been organised in Delhi, under the nose of the central government, to include hardliner separatists to promote sedition in Kashmir. Mr Arun Jaitley, has very rightly charged the Government, that “in a democracy the right to secede cannot be accepted in the garb of right to free speech”. The Indian Government by not taking any action against all these, seems to be sitting on the fence intently watching Kashmir gradually slipping out of its hold and fold.

With the uncompromising attitude conveyed by the Pakistan leaders and some terrorist groups in Pakistan and POK, voicing that sooner or later Kashmir will be with Pakistan, gives a clear cut indications of their intentions. Can India afford to be a bystander and complacent on the issue any more? I feel certainly not, and must act immediately and strongly, as a face saving measure and to snub the designs of the leadership across the borders. The policy of appeasement and dialogue heretofore adopted by the Centre has not succeeded so far and is unlikely to yield any fruitful results in future, in the back drop of ZA Bhutto and his followers, pledging 1000 years’ war with India.

A time has now come for India to display not only strength of its character but also its physical strength to silence undiplomatic posture and exuberance of Pakistan, who instead of solving its internal problems is intent upon rubbing salt into India’s all time irritant of Kashmir issue. They do not seem to have any intentions of letting India enjoy peace without tensions. There is no need for India to be cowed down by Pakistan’s Nuclear ability. Instead India should now, not only plan to substantially enhance its own Nuclear ability, but also develop or acquire delivery systems, which would be able to target each and every nook and corner of Pakistan. India should not any more, tolerate any misadventures from Pakistan by giving them stern warnings of serious consequences, once and for all. India should start emulating Israel’s example, to teach them a lesson for any act against India’s territorial integrity and personnel safety, instead of giving cowardly political statements, which the nation cannot digest anymore.

For its external or internal security, territorial integrity and personnel safety India does not require any outsider’s advice or suggestions. It has to decide and act itself after assessing the overall threat. India has more than sufficient manpower, talent and financial resources (in spite of billions abroad and in the hands of corrupt Indians) to ensure its own integrity in every field and sphere. India is likely to pay a very heavy price if it neglects or ignores or does not heed the professional advice of its defence leadership in such matters.

Our political system, which invariably depends on the exclusive advice of its bureaucracy, has invariably been let down in most spheres of national and international activity, due to deeply ingrained corrupt practices at high places, and has faced severe failures and humiliation many a times. Consequently, India’s military doctrines and capability have not only been great sufferers, but also have been seriously compromised and jeopardised over the years, posing a serious threat to India’s security.

The internal security problems increasing by leaps and bounds in various regions of India by Naxalism, Maoists’ activity and insurgency in the Eastern region, have added to India’s vows and need to be handled promptly and effectively lest they get further exaggerated. It seems doubtful that Mr Chidambaram the illustrious Home Minister has the ability and any effective solutions or plans to solve these problems, becoming more and more complicated and uncontrollable by the day. Sudden and violent loss of lives of security forces in these regions, is reflecting adversely on their leadership, capability as also on their utter helplessness.

Under such unfavourable circumstances, India can ill afford complacency and must first of all set its own house in order, and display all round strengths in all spheres. Indian government could try out the following measures in the order listed, to commence process of reconciliation amongst the population of Kashmir as well as strengthen and consolidate its own hold and control on the state:-
( a ) Presence of Indian security forces in Kashmir, under the command of Army leadership, be enhanced by two to three folds if not more. AFSPA should remain applicable as heretofore to deal with terrorism and such activities breeding within the precincts of the State and from across the LOC.

( b ) All borders with Pakistan (especially POK) and China be totally sealed to allow zero infiltration into Indian territory from across the border. Border Security Force could be employed for this task.

( c ) All talks with Pakistan’s leadership should be totally suspended till they hand over the Indian territory (POK) forcibly occupied by them in 1948, stop singing the tune of Kashmir problem as an international problem, and to cease all violations of LOC. We can certainly do without unfriendly Pakistan who does not respect India’s territorial integrity, peaceful and friendly attitude.

( d ) Along with improvement in conventional warfare capability, India must side by side also substantially enhance its Nuclear ability and delivery systems to develop required degree deterrence. It is not that we have to go on war, but no neighbour should have the courage to intimidate us by resorting to misadventures against us. We certainly have a right and responsibility to ensure our own security, without the intervention of a third party, and there is no harm in being reckoned as a super power militarily.

( e ) Government of India should take cognizance of anti National stance and utterances of the Kashmir Chief Minister and if feasible remove him. Dissolve the assembly, if situation so warrants and impose President’s rule in the State. Under such circumstances appoint an experienced and senior military officer with advisors of his choice, as the Governor of the state, to assist the President, to maintain law and order and run the state administration.

( f ) UID cards (Nandan Nilekani Edition) be issued first of all, to all Kashmiri citizens, after stringent verifications. It should be ensured by carrying out thorough house to house searches to identify loyal citizens and to trace out the anti national elements and persons having association with terrorist groups. Such persons be suitably dealt with and if required be thrown out of Kashmir or tried by fast track courts.

( g ) All separatists and those professing anti India feelings, may be treated as traitors. Highly fast track courts be appointed to try all of them for sedition/treason, if required at places far away from Kashmir, say Andaman Nicobar or Lakshdweep etc. However, they may be given an opportunity or option to change their allegiance or affiliations, by pledging and signing a bond or move out of India (Kashmir) with bag and baggage, if they do not elect India to be their motherland.

( h ) Article 370 of the Constitution should be revoked in the State, as soon as conditions in the state normalise. Within six months of repealing it, any Indian citizen wishing to own property and settle down in the state may be permitted to do so.

( j ) Conditions should be created immediately, in the state for the return of all Kasmiri Pandits/Hindus or any other citizens who were compelled to move out of their motherland. Suitable, financial assistance loans etc be provided for their rehabilitation.

( k ) The people of Kashmir irrespective of their religion be given an assurance and a feeling that they are integral part of India and have to live as Indians along with all other citizens of India, pledging allegiance to Indian Constitution.

( l ) All types of technical and financial assistance, for developing infrastructure, full assistance in developing industries of various types, their own residential complexes as well as business complexes in which they already excel and are experts, must be provided to the deserving cases.

Although, precious period of over six decades has been wasted or not properly utilised by the Indian Government, for ensuring proper welfare of Kashmir “The Paradise on Earth”, yet, even, now there is an opportunity for the Government to undo the lapses of the past, by a stance of strength and determination, with their heart and soul for the betterment of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Col LK Anand Retd

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