Under Siege


Nobody thinks, there is real hope for peace in Kashmir. If political belief is like religion, at least in this part of the globe, there may be a lesson or two for the Vajpayees in the outcome of the Ramzan truce offer. The unilateral ceasefire declared by New Delhi during the islamic holy month of Ramjan, has very little impact  on various insurgent groups operating from Pakistan. And union home minister L K Advani’s advice to Pakistan to respond positively to India’s gesture, more as a pre-condition of dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad has no taker in the Musharaaf administration. After all there is not much to read between the lines. All of them are busy doing whatever they have been doing for the past 50 years—somehow buy time to delay an escalating war. Vajpayee’s peace exercise at this juncture is mainly aimed at wooing the international community. It is one way to tell the world that there is no immediate solution to the vexed question of Kashmir.


In many ways today’s Kashmir is Kosovo in reverse. A kind of ethnic cleansing with the sole difference that no big power intervention is imminent. With the Vajpayees and his opponents defending American interests, rather unjust interests, a NATO-led intervention in Kashmir seems remote despite Pakistan’s best efforts to requisition Uncle Sam’s service.


Kashmiri militants know they cannot succeed in liberating their paradise without Pakistan’s help, moral and military. They utilise Pakistan as base and rear—it is essential for any guerrila warfare—revolutionary or counter-revolutionary. If Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front is nowhere in the Kashmir insurgency scenario today, it is because they refused to accept Pakistan’s religious and historic claims to the Kashmir valley. Pakistan’s reluctance to back them made it easier for the Indian army to crush their organisational backbone though they originally raised the flag of rebellion. The Abdullahs are so ineffective in  tackling the Kashmir inbroglio that nothing qualitative will happen if they run the thoroughly corrupt administrative set up in Srinagar for a decade or so. It is now clear even for the hawks in



Delhi bureaucracy that insurgency cannot be defeated simply by counter-insurgency. The Delhi sultans are totally isolated from the masses of Kashmir and they do not know how to win the masses in their millions. The Hizb, the main militant outfit in Kashmir, dismissed the Centre’s unilateral ceasefire as a ploy to ward off international pressure on it to resolve the Kashmir issue. Ramzan or no Ramzan, the human rights situation in the valley of death is desperate because of army operations, albeit the terrorists are no less responsible for attacking civilian targets. They have successfully communalised the Kashmir polity much to the disadvantage of New Delhi. Surprisingly, the Abdullahs are not sincere enough to combat the growing menace of communalism in the valley. Their anti-communal outbursts  on most occasions end in ritual condemning of massacres of hindus and sikhs by the jihadists. Also, all political parties, communist parties included, just avoid the bitter truth of communal aspect of Kashmir movement. They think there is no such thing as communalism in Kashmir politics. They never utter a word or two about Kashmiri Pandits lauguishing in refugee camps, lest they are dubbed communal. They are homeless in their own homeland, living neither here nor there.


Peace initiatives by intellectuals of India and Pakistan which get currency in the media every now then can hardly improve the situation . So long as New Delhi and Islamabad remain offically hostile, unofficial intellectual culture seeking peace and friendship can at best be applauded in  seminar halls. What is urgently needed is mass mobilisation against war efforts on both sides of the fence without which peace will remain elusive in the sub-continent. The Chinese strategy of shelving border disputes for the time being  while improving bilateral trade ties does not look attractive to the sub-continentals. Unless political parties continually campaign for better mutual understanding in the fields of economy and culture, peace will never return to the valley because Kashmir is no longer an isolated episode—it is intricately related to South Asian Drama. Far more militants have been killed than Indian soldiers in the violence but New Delhi’s policy of massive combing and encirclement is already backfiring. Popular Kashmiri suport for the terrorists has grown significantly since the end of the Kargil fiasco.