Thursday, September 22, 2011

This new offensive needs new response

This new offensive needs new response
Ajit Doval,

Aug 8, 2010, Times of India

The situation in Kashmir is grave but quick-fix solutions can make it worse. A government is in crisis when it doesn't know what to do (crisis of ideas and decision making) or is unable to do what it wants to (crisis of action and capacities). In Kashmir, the government is facing both. The Army chief was right when he recently said that opportunities were squandered by the local government when militancy was low.

We need a proper strategic plan. The NDA government's 1998 Kashmir plan has neither been updated nor replaced. The current crisis is being blamed on political mismanagement, insensitive governance, faulty assessment of ground realities and low capacity to deal with mobs. But, there is more. Such a widespread, well coordinated and determined action with precision timing and uniform action can not be spontaneous. It is part of Pakistan's covert subversive offensive.It assumes importance as Pakistan, unable to achieve its objectives through military means or terrorist actions, now embarks on a new course.

Beginning 2008, Pakistan has been targeting civil society and exploiting the local people's grievances to cause disaffection and instability in the Valley. The offensive is designed to degrade India's legitimate claim over Kashmir. With international disapproval, domestic compulsions and decreasing support for militancy in Kashmir, terrorism is increasingly becoming unaffordable. The new offensive is premised on the assumption that emotive consolidation of Kashmiris can be better achieved with slogans exploiting local grievances than a larger political agenda. Once it assumes a critical mass, demands can be raised for MLAs to resign, government servants to boycott offices and the right for self-determination.

The movement has become so big because different sets of local interest groups are directly or indirectly supporting it for different reasons, becoming unwitting pawns in somebody else's grand strategy. For the opposition, the agitation means the fall of Omar Abdullah's government and fresh elections. For the separatists, it signifies an opportunity to denounce India's claim of enjoying the people's support and press for a political settlement acceptable to them (read Pakistan). And then, there are common people who are incensed by certain actions of the security forces. Pakistan is using its agent-provocateurs to bring all these groups together and using terrorists in disguise to raise the ante of violence. Pakistan is trying to convince the West that the de-radicalization of Pakistan and its people's support against terrorism is not possible without providing them comfort on the Kashmir issue.

We will be falling into the enemy trap if we try to tackle the subversive offensive with tools used to combat terrorism. Winning the trust of a civil society is a different ball game. The present phase of violence may abate after a while but the task of tackling civil society should not be forgotten. It may return with vengeance because Pakistan will continue to upgrade its tactics and the international setting may change to our disadvantage after the US starts to drawdown its troops from Afghanistan in July 2011.

Ajit Doval is former director of the Intelligence Bureau

Read more: This new offensive needs new response - The Times of India

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