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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014
Dial M for muddle
Chanakya, Hindustan Times
March 30, 2013
First Published: 21:54 IST(30/3/2013)
Last Updated: 00:58 IST(31/3/2013)

Do we have a Kashmir policy at all? Do we have so many Kashmir policies that we don’t know which one to enforce? If we do have a policy or policies, who is in a position to enforce it or them?

Does the Centre call the shots or does the state government do that? Before you think that this entire column will be a series of questions, can you honestly say that you can answer any of the ones I have posed?

Just look at the picture. A so-called militant is arrested by the Delhi police who have ostensibly thwarted his dastardly plan to create havoc on Holi.

The Jammu and Kashmir government screams blue murder saying that the hapless man was actually a surrendered militant en route to rehabilitation as per a scheme which had been instituted earlier. The J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah is seen spewing fire and brimstone at this exposure of a finely tuned militant ‘surrender policy’.

And as always, the amiable home minister Sushilkumar Shinde has said that he will probe the issue. And now the National Investigation Agency is looking into the matter.

The question of whether Liaquat Shah was a militant or not can be debated till the cows come home. But what is worrying is that the police forces in the two states did not seem to have talked to each other.

In fact, the home ministry and the state government do not seem to have any lines of communication. And we are still searching for the conduits of communication among the intelligence agencies.

On the face of it, Omar Abdullah seems to have a point. Would a militant come to India to carry out a murderous plot with his family? Not likely, but then stranger things have been known to happen.

The home minister seems the least bothered by this incident, which if nothing else, shows India to be inept. Indeed, he moves in his mysterious ways, his blunders to perform. The government now plans to review the policy on the surrender and rehabilitation of militants.

In the fine art of warfare, even a proxy one like that between India and Pakistan, you do not need to be a Chanakya or a Machiavelli to fathom that one ought to take advantage of one’s adversary’s weakness.

We know that these so-called jihadis are coming from Pakistan. We also know that given the complete chaos within Pakistan, these jihadis have whiled away their time by attacking targets in the country.

On and off, they made forays into India, but in recent times the damage was not so great. Hence, the illusion we had of a certain semblance of peace returning to the Valley.

But now, the jihadis seem to be focusing on India again, perhaps supported by those who will benefit in the coming Pakistani elections from being seen as able to hurt India.

After all, we have seen that anti-India sentiment, not development or the economy, seems to be one-point agenda for many contestants, the latest being General Musharraf. His boast of catching India by the scruff of its neck is so apt, considering he has literally put his neck on the line this time.

During the time when things had eased up a bit with regard to marauders from across the border, India should have swung into action to strengthen the security apparatus. But we did not.

And no doubt, to the joy of the militants we seem to be pulling in different directions on the issue of militancy and unrest in the Valley.

The Afzal Guru case is a stark example of the home ministry wading in with two left feet when the whole thing could have been managed with much more finesse.

I won’t even start on the report of the independent interlocutors in Kashmir. I just want to know why so much time and effort was expended if none of the team’s recommendations were worth following up.

Was it necessary for the interlocutors to go to the state so many times and talk to such a wide cross section of people if these views found no favour with either the state government or the Central government?

As you will notice, there are always more questions on Kashmir than answers. Today, as a result of all the cloth-eared responses to the challenges in Kashmir, we have a chief minister in the state seemingly at odds with the Centre, we have miscreants ruling the streets once again and Pakistan trying to blather on about the core issue needing to solved before all else.

In other words, little has changed. As governments go into the penultimate lap before the elections, they tend to become risk averse.

But, since UPA 2 has not really covered itself in glory on most counts, maybe it could find the time to at least streamline the security communications on issues relating to Kashmir so that we don’t look any more incompetent than we already do.

Before we try to solve the Tamil issue as many of our political worthies are trying to do, let us set our own house in order. I am not suggesting that anyone can solve the Kashmir issue.

But at least, let us not get caught flatfooted on minor housekeeping issues. After all, it’s the people who have to pay the bill.


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