Eventually, the ice starts melting as the New Delhi is mulling to start a dialogue on Kashmir. The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said that India is ready to hold talks with both separatists in Kashmir and Pakistan provided latter stops sending militants in Kashmir. It took India four years to decide that it shall go for a dialogue with a neighbouring country and the separatists in Kashmir though it maintained tough stand for all these years.
In 2014 when the Narender Modi led BJP rose to power with a sweeping majority in elections, it sent the strong message to Pakistan that no talks will be held as long it offers safe sanctuaries to militants on its soil against India.
On the ground in Kashmir, the policy remained same and the majority of separatists were deported to the jails after lodging various cases against them. The three separatist leaders including Syed Ali Geelani, Mohammad Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq were also restricted to venture out of their homes in all these years. The situation on the ground, however, didn’t change and become more compelling for New Delhi to address.
While looking through the prism of security in last three years, the highest numbers of militants have been killed making it the most successful tenure for security forces in hunting down insurgents.
It is reported that nearly 300 militants were shot dead during counter-insurgency operations, however, the attrition proved more counterproductive with more and more youth joining militancy. Alongside the Line of Control where the army has been successful in foiling the significant number of infiltration bids, however, the number of militants sneaking into the valley continued to swell beside the more dangerous indigenous militancy growing in numbers.
The tough stand and the crackdown on separatists by New Delhi did not even make them bow an inch who continued to pursue their demand for the dialogue which involves all the three parties including India, Pakistan and Kashmir.
While adopting a tough position on one side New Delhi at many times in last four years tried to offer an olive branch for the Kashmiris intending that it may bring peace in the troubling border state. It appointed the interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma post-Burhan killing which witnessed the mass uprising for over four months and brought the Kashmir on halt.
Many of his recommendations were followed by New Delhi and in fact, it was for the first time that any government in New Delhi decided to offer amnesty to one time stone pelters. The state government also ensured that the militants who pick up gun may not be killed and offered better rewards for those security officers who catch them alive.
However, this has all failed in the Kashmir where the militancy has seen its rise at an alarming level. A month ago, it prompted the top security and army officers to ask New Delhi to address the problem politically.
At the same time, the border skirmishes between the two nuclear armies are an all-time high in last one decade and the border ceasefire has been reduced to mockery.
As seen in Jammu region hundreds of residents from border areas have been shifting due to heavy firing and shelling between the two sides.
While the cross-border firing in Kashmir is termed as a regular feature in New Delhi, however, the border tensions in Jammu is unaffordable for Modi government which has a sweeping majority in the region.
This is enormously building the pressure on his government on home ground when it is just a year away to go for the elections. There is no much talking in media on Pakistan side about the civilian causalities about causalities due to cross border shelling though in India it takes the centre stage.
“In Pakistan, the talking about the civilian causalities is nowhere. But in India, it is a major concern. So India is facing a pressure and may results in bigger trouble for Modi in coming elections. It has to take Pakistan on board if it wants peaceful campaigning in elections,” said one of the senior Kashmir based journalist.
Security forces want Political outreach
The army chief who one year ago ordered an operation All Out to clean the Kashmir from militancy wrote on his twitter handle a month back that India shall talk to Pakistan if the peace ensues in the region. Following his tweet, the Jammu and Kashmir police Chief SP Vaid echoed the same views on his social media website and insisted that talks with Pakistan must go on for the peace in Kashmir.
While the views of these officers had no takers in New Delhi at that time, the brewing crisis for the Modi government apparently seems compelling him to resume the dialogue with Pakistan. The talks with Pakistan have not been held since 2008 when Mumbai attack took place killing more than 166 people in Taj hotel. India had blamed Pakistan and the latter had denied vehemently of its involvement. However, the incident marked the end of talks between the two countries.
BJP is going for the Parliamentary elections next year and for the party which envisions its pan India presence is facing a severe crisis in Jammu region. The migration of thousands of people continues to mount the pressure on Narender Modi government while Pakistan continues its aggression on borders to force India to go for talks.
Given to the ongoing hostilities both the countries also face international pressure and are insisted to start the dialogue.
Amid this situation, the statement by the Union home minister to start a dialogue will carry significance and it is expected that India may take some more measures to ensure it doesn’t face the crisis on the home ground during the political battle in 2019.
While no one can predict the future of talks between the two countries who share the deep animosity but any misadventure alongside the 760 kilometres of Line of Control may cause a serious dent to its political campaign in 2019. So Pakistan must be trying to take an advantage of the situation.
The recent meeting held by the Union home minister Rajnath Singh of all top security officials in New Delhi where the consensus was built to hold the dialogue with Pakistan is a significant step in the direction.
Meanwhile, more will be depending on the separatists and Pakistan also. It is to be seen how the offer of New Delhi is reciprocated by the two and are they really in a mood to cease this opportunity. However, the separatists in Kashmir have already disclosed its cords and maintained that talks could happen only after India accepts the disputed nature of Kashmir. Pakistan is yet to respond.
Dialogue only way forward
The senior separatist and President Muslim Conference, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat is affirming that no war will take place between India and Pakistan. However, the only thing they do will be talking.
“India and Pakistan can never fight a war. No military solution, therefore, can happen. It may happen in dreams and if the war happens between India and Pakistan it must spell a total disaster and no country chooses disaster for its people. So no war only talks,” he told The Legitimate in an exclusive interview.
Meanwhile, for next five years, this may be the only opportunity if there is any breakthrough in dialogue. After the 2019 elections where the predictions are affirmed for the return of Modi, the chances for bargaining over dialogue will be lesser for both separatists and Pakistan.
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