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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 12 New Delhi March 9, 2019

War is No Solution: It only Causes Loss of Near and Dear Ones

Monday 11 March 2019

by Purusottam Bhattacharya

The terror attack carried out by the Pakistani outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammed, on the CRPF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway at Pulwama in south Kashmir on February 14 is unprecedented. Forty CRPF jawans lost their lives. It is said that the Pulwama incident has taken the largest toll of lives of all the terrorist attacks made in Kashmir for the last 30 years. This attack has again highlighted the total failure of the Modi Government’s Kashmir and Pakistan policy.

What pains most is the fact that the jawans who were killed belonged to almost all States of India (twelve in all). The State that suffered the greatest loss is Uttar Pradesh (12), Rajasthan (5), and Punjab (4). Two jawans from West Bengal also lost their lives. All these forty soldiers are the sons of their families, or happen to be the husband, brother or father of someone. This tragedy brings back to mind the chain of events of the last thirty years. The two brave jawans of West Bengal who laid down their lives are Sudip Biswas of Nadia and Bablu Santra of Howrah. Their death is particularly painful to us, though the self-immolation of the other 38 are no less heart-rending.

The question that naturally arises is: Was this blood-letting during the past thirty years really necessary? No doubt, Pakistan’s covert role is mainly responsible for these terror attacks in Kashmir. It was Jaish-e-Mohammed which immediately owned up the responsibility for the Pulwama attack. They were also involved in the attack on Pathankot airbase in January, 2015. And it is no secret that Jaish is nurtured by Pakistan. The United Nations has already dubbed Jaish as a terrorist organisation. India has been demanding for the last thirty years that the UN declare Jaish leader Masood Azhar a terrorist. But this has not been possible due to the opposition of China. Besides Jaish, two other active terror outfits, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, are also supported and helped by Pakistan.

The role of Pakistan in terrorism in Kashmir has been widely discussed. It is further well known that Pakistan, especially its intelligence agency ISI, is carrying on a proxy war in Kashmir for the last three decades. It is also no secret that in the unremitting skirmishes between the security forces and terrorists, both sides are suffering casualties in thousands.

Usually, after every incident like Pulwama there is a demand that strong steps be taken against Pakistan—both diplomatic and military. At Uri in Kashmir nineteen jawans lost their lives in a Jaish attack on an Army camp on September 19, 2016. The terrorists used both firearms and grenades. India retaliated by its ‘surgical strike’ on September 29, 2016. This time, after Pulwama, India conducted an air attack crossing the Line of Control. But how far has it been effective? After Uri, it was claimed by the Modi Government that an all-out diplomatic offensive would reduce terrorist activities in Kashmir and, at the same time, Pakistan would be branded and blamed as a state promoting terrorism.

The same trend is visible after the Pulwama incident. India is sharpening its attack on Pakistan, both bilaterally and internationally, against Pakistan. Globally, there is a storm of criticism against Pakistan. Especially, the Trump Administration has again made a strident demand that Pakistan control and ban the terror outfits and stop their activities.

So, what next? India’s Kashmir and Pakistan policy is again facing a question. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his five years in office has failed to formulate a consistent policy on Pakistan. It has been a hesitant policy. The main problem is: India has to decide what its attitude should be toward Pakistan, what should be the direction of its policy. The internal politics of Pakistan is also a complicating factor. Add to this, the Modi Government’s ‘tit-for-tat’ policy on terrorism in Kashmir. India holds Pakistan responsible for endangering India’s national security and challenging her sovereignty and territorial integrity by its proxy war through the terrorists.

From this position flows New Delhi’s policy on Pakistan, namely, that as long as terrorism continues there will be no talk with Pakistan. The previous UPA Government had made the separatist Hurriyat a party to Indo-Pak talks. But the NDA Government has clearly stated that inclusion of Hurriyat in the talks will endanger national security.

The real danger, however, is the Modi Government’s refusal to admit that Kashmir is a ‘problem’ and it is a ‘political problem’. The government is trying to hide this truth and sidetrack the main issue behind the smokescreen of sovereignty, territorial integrity and nationalism. But what is necessary now is to begin talks anew with all stakeholders in Kashmir. The government can stick to its position that Kashmir is an inalienable part of India and still open dialogue with the Kashmiri people, treat them respectfully and seek a solution. The Pulwama incident reminds us of the necessity of realising that a merely military approach will not unravel the complex problem of Kashmir and bring a solution. This realisation is absolutely necessary after so much of blood-letting.

To come back to Nadia again. In the midst of the charged atmosphere when ‘revenge’ is being loudly demanded, one hears the voice of the widow of Bablu Santra, one of the martyrs of Pulwama. Hers is the voice of sanity which says: “War cannot bring a solution. War can only make more mothers lose their children. Rather, the government should try to find a solution. But this cannot be through war.”

This is also nothing new. Near and dear ones of martyred jawans have expressed such senti-ments before. It is time to realise that by closing all the doors of negotiation and relying only on muscle power, more blood will flow.   

[Courtesy: Anand Bazar Patrika (Bengali)]

Dr Purusottam Bhattacharya is a retired Professor and former Head of International Relations as well as erstwhile Director, School of International Relations and Strategic Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

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