The situation in Kashmir has “never looked so bleak”, former intelligence chief AS Dulat said on Friday, adding that a phased withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is a must for long-term peace in the Valley.
“Kashmir has never looked so bleak. The last four-odd months have been terrible... Prime Minister Narendra Modi is squandering an opportunity to find a solution for Kashmir,” Dulat said while delivering a lecture on ‘Kashmir: Reasons for Unrest, Pathways to Peace’, organised by the Observer Research Foundation
Kashmiris expected Modi to follow former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s path, he added.
“There is only one way to move forward in Kashmir: Talk, talk and keep talking... Kashmir is not a political, economic, or even military issue. It is an emotive issue,” said Dulat, who was special adviser to PM during the Vajpayee regime.
“After Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, J&K people felt that he would walk the Vajpayee path, because Kashmiris were highly impressed by Vajpayee... Surprisingly, Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had congratulated Modi for the win. But today, most of the separatists have joined hands against Modi government,” said the former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
One misconception about Kashmir is that we believe they always want something from us, Dulat explained.
“There is nothing that gives more hope to a Kashmiri than cordial India-Pakistan relations. Pakistan has tried its best in vain to get separatists in Kashmir together. Now it (separatists coming together) has happened because Delhi has no time for it.”
He also made light of defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s recent statement that demonetisation led to the end of stone-pelting in the Kashmir Valley.
“Stone-pelting stopped before demonetisation. There is a connect between terror and counterfeit currency, but it’s exaggerated. Stopping growth of indigenous militants is more important than the counterfeit currency issue.”
He was also critical of the state government, saying they were only paying lip service to the Modi government, the result of which was that the state has been in a worse situation in last four months.
“Kashmir’s recent unrest has some roots in then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s press conference after his swearing-in where he praised separatists and Pakistan for ensuring smooth elections,” Dulat said.
“I think he got carried away but it gave a wrong message,” he said.
About the recent surgical strike, Dulat said, “May be we did not need so much media hype” as it leads to increase in tension. “Look at the LoC, more civilians are dying now from both sides.”