It is unfortunate, but inescapable: all summits, talks and ‘peace initiatives’ notwithstanding, the conflict in Kashmir will, eventually, have to be resolved in Kashmir, either by the terrorists, or by those who confront and eventually defeat them. The ‘peace processes’ of the recent past have only resulted in more people being killed.
In the little over two months following Prime Minister Vajpayee’s invitation to General Pervez Musharraf on May 23, 2001, an estimated 780 persons have been killed in Kashmir. The year 2001 has already seen over 1,650 persons killed, and this came in the wake of 3,288 persons killed in the year 2000, when a succession of ‘peace initiatives’ brought greater instability and an escalation of violence to the state. Incidentally, 2000 was the year of the highest fatalities since 1989, when the conflict became a major national concern.
The inevitability that attaches to the dyad of either a comprehensive victory for, or defeat of, terrorism in Kashmir — and the concomitant exclusion of the option of a ‘negotiated peace’ — results, at once, from the character of terrorism and from Pakistan’s basic goals and strategic perspectives. First, the terrorist seeks to extract, through acts of mass intimidation, what cannot rightly be conceded, and accepts negotiations only as a transient tactic in situations of perceived
Second, the dominant strategic orthodoxy in Pakistan regards Kashmir, and India’s balkanisation, as fundamental and defining elements of their own country’s survival. The conflict in Kashmir is not just about conflicting territorial demands — the ‘core issue’ is not, in fact, Kashmir. It is Pakistan itself.
As a country, Pakistan has no positive defining ideology or image of itself; politically, it is conceived essentially as a negation, a denial of India. The conflict with Indias will continue until a fundamental moral and ideological transformation occurs in Pakistan — or until that country is dismantled.
Recent history has introduced two new elements into the negativity that constitutes Pakistan: the perceived strategic and military ‘success’ of the covert war against the Russians in Afghanistan and the acquisition of nuclear capabilities. The future will, of course, determine whether Pakistan’s intervention in Afghanistan was a success or its greatest blunder.
Over 12 years of fruitless conflict, they have remained convinced that they are ‘winning’, and the delusional projection within Pakistan is of widespread ‘fatigue’ and demoralisation among security forces in J&K, and in India’s political leadership. As long as this belief persists, the proxy war in Kashmir will continue, infinitely strengthened by the false confidence created by Pakistan’s possession of what it flaunts as the “Islamic Bomb’’. But nuclear devices, when possessed by both the parties in conflict, are mere deterrents. It is, consequently, in conventional military and economic terms that Pakistan will have to measure its strategic depth, and realism would find it hugely deficient in this dimension.
Pakistan’s assessment of its psychological advantage within Kashmir is also increasingly erroneous. The initial groundswell against India did work in Pakistan’s favour, but the people of Kashmir today realise that they are mere tools to the political ambitions of
Pakistan’s leadership, and their overwhelming desire is now for peace. It is now within India’s powers to demonstrate that it can transform Kashmir into a region of democracy and freedom, while Pakistan can only hurl it further into the abyss of terror.
I have always felt that terrorism in Kashmir can be fought and squarely defeated on the soil of Kashmir, and when this is done, another summit can be planned. And it will produce a definitive peace.
Published in TimesOfIndia. K.P.S. Gill is president,The Institute of Conflict Management, and former
director-general of police, Punjab. I admire KPS Gill for his courage and ruthlessness in suppressing Terrorists.