Uncertain Times

NATIONAL Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday warned the government that it shouldn’t live in “cuckoo’s land” and that the militancy was still alive and kicking in Jammu and Kashmir. He also hinted that the situation could take a turn for the worse in view of the changing situation in the neighborhood. “God knows what will happen in future,” he made these remarks in the presence of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at an official event in Srinagar. Abdullah also called for providing security to the panchayat leaders who were facing militant threats. In response, the LG Sinha assured Abdullah that the government is doing everything to provide security to the Panchayat members.

Abdullah’s concern springs from the fact that some panchayat members have been killed by the militants over the last one and half years forcing the government to put them up in secure places far away from their homes. This has kept them away from performing their duties as elected members of their respective panchayats. Government can’t do much about this. The militancy, as Abdullah has rightly pointed out, has not gone anywhere and the challenge might become more difficult in times to come as a result of the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

Government’s policy so far has been to tackle militancy through an iron-fist approach. But the policy is far from achieving any success, even though it might have kept the violence under check. Over the last two and a half years, the frequent killings of the militants has created an impression that there would be a substantial decrease in their number. But such expectations of security agencies have often been belied. Militancy remains very much alive. And as the history of the past thirty years proves, while the number of militants has occasionally declined, it hasn’t reduced the challenge of militancy. And that too, when the Valley had no more than a hundred militants (2012-13) and South Kashmir which now boasts of over a hundred militants had just 15 of them.

One reason for this is the overwhelming public support that the militancy continues to enjoy in the region. And no magic bullet would reduce this support. It would need a sustained political engagement to address the issues that fuel the militancy in the region including also a resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan. But one expects that India and Pakistan do return to serious and meaningful dialogue. This alone has the potential to avert what looks like to be very uncertain times ahead.

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