From bad to worse in Kashmir

Even as India agreed to have a meeting of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with her Pakistani counterpart Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting in New York, the Pak supported terror outfit Hizb-ul Mujahideen killed three policemen in Kashmir. The cold-blooded murder is a sequel to the threat recently issued by Hizb to all Kashmiris to resign from their jobs in Jammu and Kashmir police, paramilitary forces and the army, or get killed. This undoubtedly will queer the pitch for the Sushma-Qureshi talks in New York. As the Pak-based terror outfits are all controlled by the Pakistan army, the doubt will arise whether it is the brass hats of Rawalpindi who are trying to foil the efforts of Imran Khan to normalize relations with New Delhi.
Kashmir has been caught in a vicious circle. Every terrorist attack invites strong response from the security forces. And every action of the security forces help terrorists to exploit the sentiments of the Kashmiri people against India. It is only a mature and far-sighted political leadership both in Srinagar and New Delhi that can end the deadlock and stop the cycle of killings and counter-killings. Unfortunately, that leadership is missing and the situation in Kashmir is drifting. Unfortunately, that leadership is missing and the situation in the Kashmir valley drifts. There is no ray of hope that Kashmir will return to normalcy in the foreseeable future.
There can be no doubt that the process of alienation of the people of Kashmir is going on. This process can be stopped and reversed only by an imaginative leadership which will open talks with all in the Kashmir valley, regardless of their political position. But that will not be possible till the Union government and the ruling party accepts the fact that the Kashmir problem is not a law-and-order problem but a political problem which has to be settled at the political level. Intensifying anti-terror activities without trying to win over the Kashmiri people cannot break the vicious circle of violence and counter-violence. But a comprehensive dialogue with all stakeholders can begin only when violence has stopped and the climate for talks been created. It will be a thousand pities if eventually things come to such a pass that Kashmir has to held in India by the Indian army.

Saturday, 22 September, 2018