Peace In The Valley May Be Deceptive

Peace In The Valley May Be Deceptive

6 July 2012
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AS Dulat

New Delhi: Despite a glorious summer we seem to live from day to day in Kashmir or at best from April to October when the Darbar moves up and down between Srinagar and Jammu. Not in many years has the valley looked as verdant nor Srinagar been as packed with tourists as this June. It appears better than the best times in Kashmir. But it would be wrong to imagine that all is hunky dory in Kashmir. Even though infiltration, militancy and violence are down the security scenario is far from reassuring. The calm appears deceptive. There is a sullen undercurrent as if the present bounty is too good to last.Already there are disturbing signs. Sopore, Pulwama, Shopian and Tral conjure militants to challenge normalcy whenever tasked. And even in downtown Srinagar 'sleeper cells' emerge periodically to target not only civilians but security forces as well. The euphoria of last year's Panchayat elections reckoned to be a milestone in the history of Jammu and Kashmir is fast waning, more so with the Panches being denied their Constitutional validity. Sajad Lone was spot on when he said that selective silence of certain political leaders was perpetuating the dance of death in Kashmir. Both Yasin Malik and SAS Geelani have in recent times suggested that guns may return to the valley if peaceful means failed or the separatists were denied political space. Geelani who only last winter in Delhi spoke of Srinagar's civic problems now talks of 'holy war' as a religious duty akin to namaz, roza and haj as part of the Kashmir struggle. He also said that those who were supporting the NC and PDP were harming the cause of Islam. Simultaneously there are reports of radicalism growing silently in mosques and madrassas with globalisation helping Salafism challenge the traditional Sufi soul of Kashmir. Likewise there is talk of Jamaat-e-Islami followers gravitating from the countryside to the city, particularly in Hyderpora area where Geelani Sahib resides. Jamaatis have also infiltrated the services and the secretariat in large numbers. Syed Salahuddin has also been prompted to say that if Pakistan did not support the Kashmiri cause then militant guns would be turned on Pakistan. There are whispers of influx of fresh militants and of something big happening in Srinagar which like a pressure cooker is beginning to hiss. The Kashmiri social network is replete with references to martyrdom. As in the past separatists could be the first target. One hears of their security being upgraded. But recent attacks from point blank range have been audacious enough to indicate that no amount of security may suffice in the event of a suicide attack. There is no other way out but political. What is required in Kashmir is a comprehensive political approach rather than knee jerk reactions every time something goes wrong. A pity that in the current void Prof Abdul Jani Bhat's significant acknowledgement that the UN resolutions were outdated and pragmatism was needed to move forward in Kashmir, went almost unnoticed. A few days later on his home turf in Sopore he went a step further to suggest that separatists and mainstream parties should join together to evolve a minimum political programme for Kashmir. Ali Sagar was alone in reacting when he said that political change was imperative to find an amicable solution to Kashmir. He also added that Omar Abdullah would willingly step down if the separatists were prepared to contest the polls. As of now the chances of that are next to nil. Sajad Lone among separatists appears the only one who may join the fray in 2014. Having come to fisticuffs not long ago, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference is in shambles. Prof Jani and Moulvi Abbas, veterans of the movement are neither out nor in. Bilal Lone is hanging on by a slender thread. And the Mirwaiz, the Chairman, the key to the conglomerate is torn like Hamlet 'to be or not to be'. Thanks to Pakistan and the imbecility of the APHC the gun culture has created a whole industry with a vested interest in the status quo. Many a time we have lost control because of lack of foresight; which is bad enough. But overreaching as we do quite often is even more damaging. Force ultimately does not work beyond a point in Kashmir. It is high time to move beyond the security paradigm. Referring to the interlocutors' report, Muzamil Jaleel said recently that Delhi had missed another opportunity to move forward. The report is as good as it can be except that it satisfies nobody. The key to resolution in Kashmir, whatever name we give it, is still autonomy. The 'heartbeat of Kashmir' as Abdul Rahim Rather (seniormost NC minister) called it in a seminar in Srinagar on June 17. He added that the erosion of autonomy was the prime cause of Kashmiri discontent. The Centre would be well advised to take note of what Judge Bilal Nazhi said recently: that if the Constitution was applied to Kashmir in the same manner as the rest of the country there is no reason why Kashmiris should not accept a settlement within the Constitution. 2014 will again be a critical year. There is no better time than this to capitalise on the dividends of peace. Tomorrow may be too late. The writer is a former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing