The article was also published in free press journal Indore Edition on 09 August 2020 link https://epaper.freepressjournal.in/c/54095166
Government of India announced change of Lt Governor of J&K timing it with the anniversary of reorganization of the State of J&K into two Union Territories and abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A. It was a momentous decision some say it would have not been possible but for the will and resolve of the current government to take transformational decision and in particular due to the charismatic and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Modi. It may be worth recalling as to why was this decision taken by the current government. The common answer which the people put forward is the long standing election agenda of the BJP. In fact, the abrogation of article 370 found place even in the agenda of the erstwhile avatar of BJP, the Bhartiya Jansangh. But this may be a very narrow view. An objective look at the events leading to this momentous decision would make it amply clear that it was a well-considered decision by the Government of India. The decision was taken when all available options less the military option were exhausted to resolve the J&K problem. Run to the events leading to this decision justifies the statement. Sincere efforts were made to normalize the relations with Pakistan with a view to find a permanent solution to the J&K problem during the Vajpayee and the first Modi government. But what did India get from such efforts? Continued treachery and breach of trust by Pakistan in the form of Kargil war, Akshardham attack, numerous attacks in Jammu Division such as the Kaluchak, Sanjwan, Viswanath Temple and Jammu Railway Station, 2001 Parliament attack, mother of all attacks 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the list goes on. Despite these incidents, once again PM Modi during his first tenure repeatedly extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan. But what did we get in return, Pathankot, Uri and Pulwama. The State also witnessed large number of stone pelting incidents by crowds commonly touted as Intifada movement of J&K. This activity was financially and materially supported and instigated by the Deep State of Pakistan through its nexus with OGW network in J&K led by the infamous Hurriyat leaders, some politicians and misguided youths. The Deep State of Pakistan is incorrigible and needed a transformational and decisive measure to shake it up from its core belief of bleeding India through 1000 cuts by waging a proxy war. Capitalizing on the legal frame work of Article 370 and 35 A, the government passed the Reorganisation act 2019, paving the way for abrogation of articles 370, 35 A and reorganization of J&K into two UTs, J&K and Ladakh. The reorganization of the State has also been backed by resolute counter terror measures such as decisive action by security forces to weed out the terrorists from the local population, curb terror financing and arresting the known OGWs and political leaders who could have instigated the common public against the Government of India. This did shake up not only Pakistan but our other adversary, China. The abrogation of Article 370 in one stroke had terminated the special status of J&K, which in the view of many experts was the biggest stumbling block in assimilation and integration of J&K with rest of India. Also the decision has a direct bearing on Chinese interests. We must not forget that the Xi Jinping’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) touted as the modern day land cum maritime Silk Route’s flagship project CPEC passes through PoK. One could attribute the current standoff in Galwan as a retaliatory measure by China to get back at India. One year down the line, time has come for us to reassess whether our hard hitting measures have paid dividends as per our expectations or is there a need for course correction. In order to make an objective assessment it would be worth examining the situation on two counts. First, the level of violence and reaction of Pakistan, second meeting the aspirations of the common public and ushering in of a popular elected government as promised by the Central Government.
|Year||No of Incident||Civilians||Security Forces||Terrorists||Not Specified||Total|
*figures upto July 19
Source South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP)
First is the level of violence and reaction of Pakistan. Details of terrorist violence is given in the Table above. As evident from the above data, level of violence has shown a significant decline. Number of terror incidents were down to 86 till July this year as compared to 105 in the corresponding period last year. The Security Forces fatalities were also down to 34 as compared to 74 in the corresponding period last year. The number of terrorists killed is touching numbers of the entire 2019 with already 154 terrorists killed till July 20. As per DGP J&K there has also been a significant drop in the law and order cases in the state from 389 to 102. The frustration of the deep state in Pakistan represented by the Pakistani Army and the ISI is reflecting in the form of increased Cease Fire Violations, which is quite understandable and is not a major concern as the Indian Army is quite adept in giving a befitting reply to Pakistan. While the level of violence has definitely gone down has it brought lasting peace? It may be too early to celebrate. Reaction of Pakistan has bordered on frustration which directly reflects in the form of increased number of CFVs. It has been reactive and attempting to mirror the actions taken by India such as releasing a map reflecting the entire erstwhile state of J&K as part of Pakistan. This action seems hilarious as it will not stand scrutiny in any international forum or International Court of Justice. Readers are advised to read the book of Aman Hingorani, “Unravelling the Kashmir Knot” to get a proper legal perspective on J&K. Pakistan has no locus standi on its claim of J&K.
Second factor is the satisfaction of the common public, conduct of general elections and establishment of popular government. While a large number of genuine residents of J&K who had migrated to J&K from Punjab have been granted full rights as was available to citizens of erstwhile J&K state there are many actions still pending to bring the common public on board. Also the promise of integrating the Kashmiri Pandits is yet to materialize due to unfavorable internal security situation. This is a truly wicked problem and needs an out of the box solution. With most of the existing lot of politicians and Hurriyat leaders under arrest, there is a need to promote new and more progressive leadership in the UT of J&K. No noticeable forward movement was seen on this count, which probably may have been one of the reason for change of the current Lt Governor Mr. Murmu (only a guess). The new Lt Governor Mr. Manoj Sinha is a politician and it is hoped that he may be able to kick start the political process in the valley. On the other hand there are some positive developments as well. A newer and younger generation of political leadership is slowly emerging. Having personally interacted with a few of them, it is a matter of time before we see them on the State and National scene? Unfortunately, the onset of COVID 19 has seriously derailed this process. Similarly there have been a large number of successful candidates from J&K division in the All India Administrative exams held this year. This signifies the will and aspiration of the people of J&K to integrate with rest of India. Hopefully, on normalization of the health emergency in the country we will see a marked forward movement on this front.
What is most heartening is that Pakistani PM Imran Khan has been reduced to responding to India on twitter and releasing illegal maps of J&K. In fact PM Imran is a mere shadow of his past image. His country is facing huge debt problems, worsening internal situation due to terrorism in Karachi, Baluchistan and FATA region. Matters have been made worse by his Mullahs forcing him to take up the cause of oppressed Muslims of Uighur with China. The Chinese Ambassador promptly rebuffed Pakistan advising it to mind its own business. A weakened Pakistan augurs well for India and possibly may lead to a lasting solution to J&K.
To conclude, one can say that the year gone by has been a mixed bag of some successes and some disappointments with issues getting further complicated by COVID 19. So in the final analysis while peace may still be alluding, jury is still out. At this stage with COVID situation at its peak, one tends to agree with General Atta Hussnein, a respected J&K expert’s statement that “There is no magic wand to end proxy war. Patience and all round pragmatism to absorb temporary setbacks will enhance the chances of eventual success.” Let’s hope and wish that the ensuing year will usher in better future for the country and UT of J&K. Also change of Lt Governors hopefully should usher in fresh energy in to the political process of J&K.