Thursday, September 22, 2016
Ending Unrest in Kashmir
By Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (Retd)
That the J&K problem has been grossly mishandled right from the very start need no recalling. What should be of serious concern is that it is continued to be mishandled and mismanaged. Killing of a known terrorist has led to wide spread disturbances, considerable loss of life and injuries to hundreds of people, including police (state and central) personnel.
Stone pelting has become routine form of protest, where those indulging in this unlawful activity are paid Rs 200 to Rs 500 per day. That authorities have failed to track down the source of this money and those making these payment, speaks volumes of the poor state of administration, intelligence agencies and law and order machinery. Those instigating these protests from the precincts of mosques too have been given a free run. Else by now most of those indulging in these unlawful activities and those indulging in stone pelting should have been rounded up.
Given the ongoing unrest in the valley, Pakistan was expected to not only exploit the situation but equally give impetus to the disturbances by staging cross border raids in continuation of its policy of ‘thousand cuts’. That the Uri raid has caused so many casualties speaks equally poor state of alertness and security arrangements at this military camp.
While there is much chest beating and clamour in India for an immediate and strong retaliation, but what is not being appreciated is that India has been left with very few viable options. In any case the political class need enunciate its policy taking into account the full ramifications of it, and leave it to the military to execute it in the manner it finds appropriate. At the diplomatic level, to hope that concerted efforts by India can result in Pakistan being declared a terrorist state by the UN is to overlook the veto power of China. In any case diplomacy has never been India’s great asset.
What is possible and must be played out to full is, the abrogation of Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan. After all, terrorism and friendly treaties cannot go hand in hand. There is therefore, the need to put both Pakistan and World Bank on notice (Indus water Treaty was negotiated through World Bank). To let Pakistan know that we are serious about abrogating this Treaty, work on diverting waters of Chandrabagha (major tributary of Chenab) river into Beas River at Manali need be started.
Much of the discontent in the Valley has been hyped up. There is no absolute poverty there as it is in other parts of J&K and parts of India. Billions of rupees that Indian government has been doling out to J&K since independence, have mostly been deployed in the valley. Admittedly good portion of these funds have ended up in political and bureaucratic pockets. What India has been overlooking is the imperatives of trifurcation of J&K, into three independent states i,e. Kashmir valley, Jammu region including Kishtwar-Doda and Ladakh to include Kargil, Zanskar and Nubra Valley.
While Article 370 has been a major impediment to economic development of J&K, those in the valley have been made to believe that its abrogation will be their very ruin. This line has suited the political class and some others with vested interest to the great disadvantage of the common man.
With Article 370 in place, no large-scale industry has come to the State. Equally, no major investment from outside has taken place in the tourist industry, though the scope for it in J&K is enormous. Nor has the State drawn any outside investment in education and healthcare. Further, Article 370 has resulted in stagnation of price of properties and land. Absence of industrialization has denied the youth of the State lakhs of jobs, which industry and tourism would have, otherwise created. Therefore, unemployment haunts the youth and it has become the more disgruntled element, not only in the Valley but in whole of J&K. In the valley they are easily exploited by the separatists and ISI of Pakistan, pinning the cause of their distress on India.
With the trifurcation of J&K, the choice to live with article 370 or abrogate it should be left with the three states. At the same time, steps towards abrogation of Indus Water Treaty, should be taken in hand without any delay and dithering.