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Halt on security operations in Kashmir gives Mehbooba space to win back electorate, say experts

It would help if Pakistan too dissuades militant groups based on its soil from launching strikes against targets in Kashmir, experts say.

india Updated: May 16, 2018 23:29 IST
Rajesh Ahuja and Rahul Singh
Rajesh Ahuja and Rahul Singh
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Security operations in Kashmir,Jammu and Kashmir,Mehbooba Mufti
Security forces have been asked not to launch operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan. (Reuters file photo)

A central declaration of a halt on operations against militants in Jammu and Kashmir will provide a respite to chief Mehbooba Mufti and give her space to mount an effort to win back constituents who have turned hostile because of her alliance with Bharatiyaa Janata Party (BJP) , experts say.

It would help if Pakistan too dissuades militant groups based on its soil from launching strikes against targets in Kashmir, they added.

“The cadre and leaders of Mehbooba’s Peoples Democratic Party seem to be under tremendous pressure from their electorate in the Valley due to the alliance with BJP. Any concession from the Centre will provide space to Mehbooba to show that the Centre listens to her as she had made a demand in this regard,” said former Sashastra Seema Bal chief Arun Chaudhary, who dealt with Kashmir for over a decade while serving in the Intelligence Bureau. “The halt on operations during Ramzan will not change anything on the ground as security forces, if attacked, will continue to retaliate and therefore it should be seen more in terms of optics.”

Chaudhary added that even in 2000, when a ceasefire was announced by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, it was a political call taken in consultation with the Farooq Abdullah, who was Jammu and Kashmir’s chief minister at the time. And it didn’t turn out well, he added.

“The earlier ceasefire allowed militants to move freely without any fear from the security forces and they managed to carry out an attack on the Srinagar airport. The government will have to ensure that during the present halt on operations, there should be an added emphasis on keeping a tight watch on movement of militants,” said Chaudhary.

AS Dulat, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and PM Vajpayee’s pointsman on Kashmir, said the government’s decision was welcome.

“I consider it a much needed positive step and I sincerely hope that Pakistan too endorses the announcement on halt on operation,” said Dulat.

Former northern army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd) said anything that contributed to a reduction in violence was welcome.

“I hope the rules of engagement for the security forces are clearly laid down so that they do not find themselves disadvantaged,” he said.

Hooda added that the suspension of operations couldn’t be an end in itself but part of a larger process of confidence building. “Only then will we see the real dividends,” he said.

First Published: May 16, 2018 23:28 IST