What is India Editorial

Resurgent violence in
Jammu and Kashmir

India has all the strong cards required to bring Pakistan to heel, but is unwilling to use them. ARAVIND SITARAMAN lists five compelling reasons that can convince Kashmiris about the wisdom of staying with India 


In a short space of four weeks, Jammu and Kashmir (JK) has seen resurgence in violence. Most of these have been through Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and it has claimed lives and also the peace process put in place following this year’s State election. The interesting element of the latest incident is that the target was the father son Abdullah duo. A former Chief Minister and a Union Minister of State with “Z” category security cover were less than 10 feet away from an IED planted in a sand pile.

The spike in these incidents comes on the heels of several “goodwill” building measures between India and Pakistan. Political, military, media, and civilian leaders from both countries have met in New Delhi, Islamabad, New York, etc. and a general “good feel” has been pervading the relations between the two neighbors. A team of Pakistani journalists was allowed to visit the Valley and sure enough on their return to Pakistan, their conclusion was unanimous. The residents of JK are irreversibly alienated from India and want to be with Pakistan.

That report seemed a bit strange. The Gujjars and Pandits are homeless in their own state and are living in squalid conditions in Jammu and New Delhi. Shia craftsmen have been touring all over the country selling their wares and reaping the Indian middle class’ disposable surplus. This leaves only the Sunnis who have been increasingly exfiltrating out of the Valley into the rest of the country seeking jobs. A large number of people turned out for Assembly elections and chose Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, long considered soft on law and high on rhetoric, after throwing out the Abdullah clan perceived in the Valley as “Indian spies.” Then one would wonder who their interlocutors were! Could it be the Hurriyat, the umbrella organization of multiple separatist groups who does not want to participate in any democratic process but claims to be the spokesperson for the people of JK?

This is a pattern of behavior from Pakistan. Individuals come to India on a “fact finding mission” having prepared their reports before their departure from Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan effuses peace in international forums, promises peace to those who say are our mutual friends, and talks peace to India. On the side, it has terrorist workshops producing terrorists like widgets out of a super modern component machine. This has been played and replayed countless times and our politicians still do not learn. The liberal die-hards in India fall for it over and over again. The communists would sell the country to appear statesmanlike.

India has all the strong cards but is simply unwilling to play them. Firstly, India’s strongest card is the economy. Booming markets, increased investment, large foreign reserves, bright job prospects, stability—these are things that Pakistan does not have. We have not taken the economic power of India to JK nor do we sell it well enough to the people of that state.

Secondly, the Indian education system creates competitive expertise for Indians. Many Pandits who abandoned their homes in the Valley have since educated elsewhere in the nation and  rebuilt their lives. We have not offered educational alternatives for the students there. They are being brainwashed in their madrasas, mosques, and street corners into believing that they do not have a future in India.

Thirdly, peace reigns all over the country. Barring some Naxalite violence in some areas, India is largely peaceful, secular, and socially liberal, and provides a favorable climate for peaceful coexistence. Instead of apologizing for the non-development of the state, we have to highlight the rest of India. They have to understand that they too can live in such comfort and peace.

Fourthly, India has the means to up the defense ante with Pakistan. India has the economic potential to increase defense pressure in terms of defense outlays, equipment, and weapons. We have not invested enough in defense technology that can be used to fight terrorism. Instead of relying
on the US to provide the technology, India should exploit its educated population to create new technologies that would identify, capture or stop terrorists.

Fifthly, barring some rusting parties with defunct ideology; India is unanimous in its viewpoint of JK permanently being a part of India. Every time
India talks to Pakistan, the latter attributes weakness as the motivation for India to discuss Kashmir. India should project the unanimity of the country
across political, social, religious, regional,
and civilian sections. This message should be projected to the people of JK also. A stronger message is required to get anything out of these talks.

Instead of being reactive to these bombing incidents and lowering our guard with Pakistan, we should increase our vigilance and tighten our approach
to terrorism. India should remember that terrorists cannot be bought.

Home Page