On 15th of April, the India Army Chief, Bipan Rawat made a thought provoking statement on his twitter handle saying that gun won’t achieve solution in Kashmir – a region which is undergoing an armed insurgency since last three decades.
In his tweet Rawat said, “Neither militants nor security forces will achieve their goal in Kashmir.”
His views were immediately backed by the Pakistan’s Chief of army staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. He too backed the dialogue between India and Pakistan who have been on warring path. Since the partition in 1947, three military wars have been fought over Kashmir but have failed to reach any conclusion.
Rawat said that the scope for peace in Kashmir is in reviving the true Kashmiriyat, which has been an example of unity in diversity. For that to happen, he believes that people from all walks of life have to join hands and act together, sit together and walk together, which is very much possible.
The Pakistan general echoed the same viewpoint and insisted that dialogue should happen between India and Pakistan on all issues including Kashmir. He said that Pakistan believes that the resolution to all standing issues between the two countries is passing through holding a sincere and comprehensive dialogue.
“It is our sincere belief that the route to peaceful resolution of Pakistan-India disputes—including the core issue of Kashmir—runs through comprehensive and meaningful dialogue.
“While such dialogue is no favour to any party, it remains the inevitable pre-cursor to peace across the region. Pakistan remains committed to such a dialogue, but only on the basis of sovereign equality, dignity and honour,” he said.
Before the remarks of two powerful Generals in India and Pakistan, the police Chief in Kashmir SP Vaid who is on fore front to battle militancy also insisted for a dialogue between the two countries.
“I personally feel that gun is not the solution. Everybody concerned, including our neighbour (Pakistan), need to sit together and talk it out and sort it out and gun is not a solution and violence is not a solution”, Vaid said on his mirco blogging website twitter, in a response to a question
Vaid is heading the State’s Police force, which is on the forefront since last three decades to counter the insurgency in Kashmir. It has only been possible for New Delhi to contain militancy after the local police got directly involved in the process. The Army Chief, Bipan Rawat, before assuming the top position in the Indian Army also served in Kashmir in various capacities and was General Officer Commanding (GoC) of a crucial and strategic 19 Infantry Division in the valley that looked after North Kashmir and its Line of Control with Pakistan.
The pitch for dialogue by the two generals and a top police officer have sent positive vibes across the region. Initially, New Delhi, after the Narender Modi led BJP came into power in 2014 with a sweeping majority adopted rigid methods vis a via Kashmir.
The handpicked General also vowed to clean Kashmir of militants after announcing Operation All out. In the major counter insurgency operation, the army had set a target of killing two hundred militants by the end of 2017 which they successfully did but failed to clean Kashmir.
On the other side, New Delhi’s rigid stance towards the separatists in Kashmir apparently also offered more space to militancy due to the shrinking space for separatist politicians. It was evident from the recent decision of the state government to lift curbs on senior separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. However, his freedom was curtailed in a week’s time and he was again pushed inside the four walls of his house due to continues protests on the streets of Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the separatists in Kashmir are thumping their chests and term the recent statement of Indian Army chief as their moral victory. They said this is what they have been insisting for but the statement of army chief is only half the truth and they sense a hidden agenda behind it.
“It is a moral victory for us but unfortunately the army chief admits only half the truth and wants to hide behind it,” said Syed Ali Geelani
Moderate separatist, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, however, sees the brighter side of the situation and envisions India and Pakistan holding the dialogue in the near future.
Bhat is known for his critical views on the South Asia politics; he believes that it is not Kashmir but the changing political dimensions of South Asia that will force both the countries to do the talking.
“There have been ups and downs in the past between India- Pakistan relations and possibly might happen in the future too. I choose to look at the brighter side and see the two countries on talking table,” he told The Legitimate
Bhat has been pivotal in the dialogue process led by former prime ministers of India Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the past with Pakistan and was known as a confidant of former president of Pakistan-Parveez Musharaf.
“America is desperate to exit from Afghanistan and its withdrawal from the troubling Asian country will have negative impact on India which is heavily investing there to retain the influence,” said Bhat. “After withdrawal it will be staying in the country along with its hostile neighbours like China and Pakistan backed by Russia.”
Ever since India tilted towards America the relations with its old ally Russia have soured. “And there is possibility that all the three countries jointly may try to trouble India. So India would ensure its safe stay in the country and win over the hostile neighbours.
Similarly, the growing economic ties between China and Pakistan through China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through Pakistan‘s troubled region and India enjoys limited influence there. This may have also bearing on this mega economic project.
“To keep their economic interests safe and secure Pakistan will also be forced to negotiate with India.”
The political experts reading the ground situation in Kashmir maintain that it is now established that military approach is not the solution and the security forces are deployed for a limited approach to pave way for the meaningful political dialogue.
“If we analyze the situation in past three decades of Kashmir insurgency, military role has not yielded results though at many occasions they put militancy in control. But the failed political approach always leads to fresh violence and brings situation back to square one,” said a political commentator, who wishes not to be named
“There is a need for sincere political approach from both sides to put an end to the uncertainty. The men in uniform do understand this and have in fact in past understood but their job and limited freedom does not allow them always to speak their mind and heart. This time the statements are well appreciated from the two army chiefs.”