Troublemakers at home
Ahead of Friday prayers, curfew has been reimposed in many parts of Kashmir for the maintenance of law and order. Normal life remained paralysed for the 63rd consecutive day in the Valley where 73 persons have been killed and several thousand others injured during the current spate of unrest. Separatists have made life difficult for the region's common people due to curfew and the shutdown call by separatists groups. PTI has reported that the separatists have extended the shutdown programme till September 16. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions in the Valley continued to remain closed. Engaging the separatists to end the ongoing unrest in the Valley is a seemingly futile option for the Indian state.
Their decision to reject the dialogue process should have been long evident to the Government of India and PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s strategy to include the likes of Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani in the recent round of talks was bound to fail. Engaging with separatists, who double up as Islamist terror ideologues, is a fool's errand. But without a peaceful resolution to the ongoing violence, more innocent civilians are going to suffer. The solution lies in greater engagement with Pakistan, and a responsible state government. These columns have often discussed the role of the current PDP-BJP government in exacerbating the current unrest. Nonetheless, another solution lies with the Pakistan state, military and intelligence establishment, despite the NDA government’s insistence to the contrary.
All-party delegations, interlocutor groups and engagement with separatist elements should find a place in the larger Kashmir discourse. But it is the Pakistani establishment that has propped up the insurgency. Interference from rabid elements from Pakistan in the Kashmir Valley cannot be condoned. However, sustained periods of peace in Kashmir have always been a result of better ties with Pakistan. In November 2003, India and Pakistan agreed to a formal ceasefire along the International Border, the Line of Control and the Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir.
This agreement not only saved countless lives, both civilian and military but also ushered a period of sustained peace in the region. The ceasefire across the border was further strengthened during the Manmohan Singh era until the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. Both sides had come close to a resolution, which would have initiated a certain degree of autonomy and demilitarisation to the state.
Unfortunately, both sides lost their nerve and since 2008 Kashmir has entered a new phase of civil unrest.