15th October 1997
Dr. Farooq Abdullah has spoken out frankly on the problems and prospects of Jammu and Kashmir. He is entitled to credit on quite a few counts. The one-year period of governance under his stewardship has shown a marked improvement in the security environment. He has functioned with great limitations under perilous conditions created by the on-going proxy war viciously planned and meticulously executed by the Pakistani army and the ISI. Life is getting back on the rails for people who have lived dangerously in the valley and the plains. Those who wanted to visit the shining outpost of India as tourists or businessmen are going there cheerfully. From Hazratbal to Pehalgam and Gulmarg, there is a heartening revival of normal activity despite terrorist onslaughts and the fear psychosis generated by hostile forces from across the border. Panchayat elections have been held after a gap of 17 years and 30 per cent of the total numbers number of the seats have been reserved for women - a thing unheard of in the neighbouring country. Grassroots regeneration is a sure sign of the assertion or the democratic process. Schools have reopened and opportunities of employment \are increasing with the slow but steady growth of industries-- big and small. Winter does not appears to be a nightmare this year: essential commodities have been stocked well and in proper time. Social welfare, rural development and horticulture are back on the priority list. Above all, the Dal Lake is shedding its dull look, figuratively as well as realistically.
Much, however, remains to be done. This is what Dr. Abdullah wanted to make clear when he interacted with media persons on Monday. There is need for a realistic assessment of the difficulties of Jammu and Kashmir. Thoroughly demoralised in the Kashmir belt, the Pakistani agents have sought and got armed help from Islamabad to keep the Jammu region unquiet. The Line of Control is being violated repeatedly. "If the Gujral doctrine is to hold". Says the Chief Minister, "Islamabad must really respond". And now is it responding? "With impunity and we are not retaliating adequately." The USA is being given undue credit for putting Harkat-ul-Ansar on its terrorist list. What about the fountain head of such killer outfits? To be fair to the world community, the Clinton administration must call the sponsors and importers of terrorism by their proper and collective name -- a terrorist state! The Union Government has to take a deep and hard look at the menace affecting it. Dr. Abdullah has taken a bold step by starting the process of the Army's withdrawal from major towns. Doors are open for a political dialogue and the question of granting greater autonomy to the state is being examined. There is not enough money for the development projects. The Pandits' self-exile will have to end in peaceful rehabilitation. New Delhi and Srinagar will have to work with greater care and foresight. Nothing failed like failure in Jammu and Kashmir. Nothing will succeed like success now.