IF anything the continuing violence in Kashmir underlines yet again that the lingering turmoil in the region is not about the numbers. No matter how many militants are killed in a year, it is unlikely to wipe out the militancy. The violence over the last year and the recent killings testify to this fact. This has also been made clear by the existing number of the active militants in Kashmir which is by and large same as that in the beginning of the last year. So killing ones way out of the problem in Kashmir is just not the option. And this is a reality that is borne out by the trajectory of the militancy over the past three decades. Though relentless counter-insurgency operations have succeeded in reigning it in intermittently, it has not been controlled. Nor is there a prospect of such a situation materializing in near future.
The reason for this is that the factors underpinning the turmoil in the state remain unaddressed. And to this end, there is little that has been done. A sustained engagement between India and Pakistan which could have contributed to the improvement in the situation remains suspended for the last more than a decade. Things have become only more vexed following the repeal in August 2019 of Article 370 that granted J&K its semi-autonomous status under the constitution. India and Pakistan have further drifted apart. The situation has also become complicated with China staging incursions along the Line of Actual Control in Spring last year. So far, the recurrent diplomatic efforts to end the stand-off have not succeeded, nor does it appear possible in near future.
At the same time, the situation in Kashmir is only getting worse as the contentious killing of the three youth by the security forces at Lawaypora shows. Or for that matter, the killing of a jeweller at Hari Singh High Street. Truth is that Kashmir needs a serious political outreach from New Delhi and more importantly a dialogue between India and Pakistan. And to start with we can do with a dialogue between the NSAs of the two countries as was the case in 2015. It were these interactions which were said to have led the Prime Minister Narendra Modi landing in Lahore for an impromptu meeting with the then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. The two countries need a similar dramatic gesture to resume the engagement. Here is hoping that 2021 sees the two countries to return to dialogue as that is the only sure way to progress towards solution of the festering issues which alone will lead to lasting peace in the region.
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