Changing Tack on Kashmir

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THE General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 15 Corps in Srinagar Lt Gen BS Raju has in an interview to News18 said that the number of militants in Kashmir was lowest in a decade. According to him there are over 125 local militants and 90 foreign militants. “We will like to keep it that way or reduce it further for peace to prosper in the Valley,” said Lt Gen Raju. The Army commander who is set to take over as the next Director General of Military Operations was speaking in the wake of the re-affirmation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control by India and Pakistan. The agreement, the GOC said, will contribute to peace along the LoC and also in Kashmir.

True, there’s hope that the ceasefire agreement and likely resumption of dialogue between the two countries could go some way to reduce the violence in Kashmir. More so, when there’s already a precedent for this when the LoC ceasefire agreement was first signed. The 2003-07 peace process between the neighbours not only came close to resolving Kashmir issue but also for the first time since its beginning in 1989, militancy went through a progressive decline. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, from 2,542 militancy related fatalities in 2003, the number went down to 777 by 2007. A similar history can very well repeat itself. The talks and the progress towards resolution of the issues between the two countries will go a long to positively impact the situation in Kashmir.

But things can go awry too. As far as the number of militants there are over 200 active militants in J&K if we go by the estimate of the Lt Gen Raju. This has been more or less the annual number of militants over the past four years. And there’s little hope there will be marked decline in the near future. The simultaneous recruitment of the local youth in the militant ranks and the infiltration from across the border invariably replenishes the shortfall caused by the killings of the militants. And it will continue to do so unless the dynamic that animates the militancy is addressed. And this redressal is not in the killing of the militants but in a meaningful political outreach to the people of J&K and also in a dialogue between India and Pakistan. But this outreach and the bilateral talks with Pakistan have been more or less absent over the past six years. The LoC truce has generated fresh hope on this score. Here’s hoping it’s followed by a sustainable dialogue.

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