Political Outreach Needed

INSPECTOR General of Border Security Force, Kashmir, Raja Babu Singh said on Monday that about 135 militants are present at launch pads across the border, waiting to infiltrate into India. However, he acknowledged that the overall situation at the Line of Control (LoC) is "peaceful" since the signing of the ceasefire agreement and the number of infiltration bids was lesser last year in comparison to previous years. According to Singh, 58 infiltration attempts were made, in which 31 militants crossed over, five of whom were killed, 21 returned and one surrendered. As against this, 130 militants had infiltrated in 2019 and 36 in 2020. However, when asked about the Taliban threat, the IG Singh said that nothing like that had come to pass so far but that the security forces were keeping an eye on the evolving situation.

It is true that the Taliban control of Afghanistan has markedly altered the security climate of the region.  All neighbouring countries fear some kind of fallout. At the same time, the Taliban has assured the world that it won’t allow its soil to be used for carrying out attacks against any other country. But the world remains chary of taking the Taliban assurances on their face value. So, this year would be crucial for the region, including also for Kashmir.

Truth is that the situation remains very fluid and its future direction is difficult to predict. An Afghanistan that is stable and at peace with itself is in everyone’s interest. But the chances of this happening anytime soon appear slim.  In the event that Afghanistan once again becomes a battleground between its neighbours, the consequent instability in the country could have far-reaching security implications.

Kashmir is regarded as one of the places that could be most impacted by a Taliban controlled Afghanistan.  Experts in South Asia predict a renewed phase of militancy in the former state, already grappling with three decades of turmoil.  But would such a scenario play out again? There is no telling as yet. But as the security experts have also indicated, the Taliban victory could create a challenging security situation for the government.  It very well can. Over the last two years, even though the militancy in Kashmir has been low-key, and a large number of militants have been killed, the militancy is very much alive and kicking.  It is true that the militancy can receive fresh inspiration and impetus from the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. Could this be pre-empted?  Difficult to say. But the government shouldn't only tackle the situation arising from the Afghan fallout through the usual iron-fist approach but also urgently initiate a political outreach, something that has been absent for the last seven years.

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