Give peace a chance

Col Amardeep Singh, SM (Retd)
Sunday, 18 August 2019

The historical decision to restructure Jammu & Kashmir, which includes abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A has been ratified by Parliament. It’s time to take an overview of what lies ahead from the perspective of stakeholders.

Ladakh:The erstwhile state of J&K now stands divided into Union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The decision is well thought of. Ladakhis have a reason to celebrate. The statement made by MP Jamyang Namgyal in Parliament says it all.  Ladakh is finally liberated from the political clutches of Kashmir Valley and will see the fruits of democracy and development.

The Valley
Kashmir Valley can be seen from two perspectives: one of the elite/ ruling class and the separatist elements, which have been hurt by withdrawal of the special status. Initially, they tried to vent their feelings but found no takers as the entire media space was intelligently denied to them. The separatists thought of mass uprising which did not and will not happen. The leaders have been detained and charges under appropriate sections of the law have been slapped against the culprits who were avoiding the law till now because of the special status. Now, they have no option but to face their past.

The common Kashmiri is surprised and scared. He has been unable to cope with the speed of the recent events. He is vulnerable to all kinds of pressures and is also susceptible to enemy propaganda. It is time to assure him of the positive intentions of the government and the changed narrative. The Valley is still under restrictions which will be eased out over time.

The situation is under control and there are no reports of any untoward incident.

The terrorists and separatists

The terrorists, who have been holding the triggers to disrupt normalcy in the State, are in a state of shock. Before this decision was made, the security forces through coordinated intelligence and ground action ensured that the terrorist leadership was eliminated and their Intelligence and financial networks were crippled. Additional forces deployed in the Valley and other areas made sure that the terrorists were denied the required manoeuvre space. In the days to come, they may try to destabilise the situation by carrying out spectacular attacks. However, with the additional troops and  heightened alertness levels, this is unlikely.

The security forces

The security forces paved the way to this decision and ensured that it was absorbed amicably by all key players as per the government’s plan. They prevented the situation from escalating to unmanageable level. Detailed planning and care has gone into tightening of the security grid prior to announcement of the decision. 

The state police and the central forces along with Rashtriya Rifles and regular Army must be complimented for maintaining peace in the hinterland, while the troops deployed on the Line of Control have gained necessary  moral ascendancy over the Pakistan Army. The provocation by the enemy in form of trans-LoC firing, which escalated to mortars and big calibre guns in the recent past, as well as BAT actions were effectively beaten back by our troops. A number of infiltrators and enemy soldiers have been killed in last two weeks. The security forces are the major stake holders for early return of normalcy in the State.

Pakistan 

More than residents of the state, Pakistan seems to have been hurt the most by the decision. However, it was so well-timed that the Pakistani army and the political establishment did not have any reaction time. Their leaders, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, issued subtle threats and tried to assure the citizens of J&K of support. Their propaganda war failed to catch attention of the common Kashmiris. Pakistan has announced snapping of diplomatic and economic ties with India and it is anybody’s guess who stands to lose by this decision. Pakistani intelligence and their social media activists have tried to capture cyberspace but as they were caught unaware, they have been countered effectively by the Indian social media fraternity. Suspension of Samjhauta Express, recalling the Pakistani Ambassador from India and telling the Indian Ambassador to leave is the maximum it can do. At this time, the Pakistani army is in no position to do anything credible to dent the peace process. However, isolated trans-LoC firing, terrorist attacks in J&K and elsewhere in the country cannot be ruled out. Terrorists are the only trump card that Pakistan holds at the moment. They have lost the case for UNSC intervention. Pakistani population has little concern with the state of J&K, as the economic state of Pakistan and internal security situation is not healthy. Pakistan state machinery cannot keep fooling their own population for long. The rising discontentment in Balochistan has become a serious cause of concern. Pakistani media has denounced the Indian decision. However, the common man all over the world is wise enough to choose which media to believe. After the initial rhetoric even propaganda by mainstream Pakistani media has died down.

China 
The dragon state has been subtle in conveying its displeasure on the decision. They share borders now with Ladakh UT. The Chinese Foreign Ministry raised concerns over the changed political scenario in the State, though nothing much has been said in favour of Pakistan. China would not like the India-Pakistan military situation to escalate because of the new found economic interests in both countries.

Rest of the world 
The United States and other countries have favoured India’s decision and have cautioned Pakistan against any military misadventure. Lack of international support has hurt the Pakistani stand badly.

The rest of the country is celebrating the changed narrative which is in sync with the nation’s aspirations. Many opposition and neutral parties have supported the government’s decision. The protests against the decision have been subtle because the sentiments are running high and anything negative said at this time will cost them dearly in the assembly elections due soon. Prime Minister and Home Minister have emerged as national heroes and so we can say that the ruling party and the Central government have been able to capture the much needed mind space of the nation.

What lies ahead

The security forces are on high alert, as internal disturbances and some foolish misadventure by Pakistan cannot be ruled out. The soldiers will play a key role when the curfew is lifted and the state gets back to its new normal. Commanders on ground have to ensure no trigger is provided to separatist elements and Pakistani agencies to escalate violence in the state.

It was a master stroke by the government which caught the state, nation and entire world by surprise. The security forces and state administration have played their role in smooth change and the nation has supported the government’s decision to pave way for the integration of J&K with India. The issue was pending due to political unwillingness of the players involved. The PM has assured that full statehood shall be granted over time. The common man will stand to gain in the long run. It is imperative for the nation to adjust and give peace a well-deserved chance.

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