The week just past witnessed the visit of the former President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to India on the invitation of an organisation headed by Subramanian Swamy, who has been a close friend of the Sri Lankan leader for decades. Neither the External Affairs Minister nor even the Foreign Secretary seemed to be in Delhi during the three days of the Rajapaksa visit, for if they were, surely both would have met an individual who at the lowest point in his popularity still commanded the support of 43% of the population of Sri Lanka, and by now most probably enjoys the backing of a comfortable majority of the electorate. Of course, such indifference to public sentiment is not new within the establishment within South and North Blocks. It will be remembered that the same crew ensured that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not meet with Candidate Trump either in 2015 or in 2016 during the former’s visits to the US, presumably out of anxiety that doing so would cause a frisson in the Hillary Clinton camp. Had the PM met Donald Trump, the relationship between the two would have got off to a faster start than took place after the election and swearing in of the US President. Of course, until the results were tallied on 8 November 2016, both South and North Blocks were united that the 45th President of the US would be Clinton and not Trump. This time around, where the Rajapaksa visit was concerned, Prime Minister Modi clearly followed his own counsel, and had a cordial interaction with former President Rajapaksa as well as his son Namal (Member of Parliament from Hambantota). The Prime Minister needs to be complimented for the bold manner in which he reached out to a leader temporarily out of office, but who has warm feelings for India and its people, as was evident throughout the visit, where he was accompanied by the scholarly former Foreign Minister and trusted confidant, G.L. Peiris. During the period when the LTTE was on the cusp of oblivion, several influential countries that included the US, the UK, France and of course that reliable ally of the LTTE, Norway, sought to force the Sri Lankan Army to cease fire. This would have allowed the LTTE leadership led by Velupillai Prabhakaran (who to his credit was a devout Christian, as were several of his associates) to escape and fight another day, the way they had in the past when international pressure forced Rajapaksa’s predecessors to abandon their military campaign against Prabhakaran. Unlike his predecessors, President Rajapaksa ignored such commands and went ahead with the campaign, finally ensuring the elimination of one of the world’s most lethal terror organisations, and the originator of the suicide vest and lady suicide bombers, one of whom was responsible for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. In Kashmir, the efforts of successive governments in India to eliminate Pakistan-sponsored terror nests have repeatedly been stymied by interventions from countries such as the US, France, UK and Germany, all of whom seem to have a weakness for the Wahhabi International in view of the century-long involvement of Wahhabis as auxiliaries to the UK in the battle against first the Turks, then the Arab nationalists and finally the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
Neither the Abdullah nor the Mufti family has done much to ensure a cooling down of separatist sentiment in Kashmir, and have resisted efforts at closer coordination and integration between their state and the rest of the Union of India. For too long, these two families have been allowed to set the pace of political development in Kashmir. In effect, the Abdullahs and the Muftis have been handed a veto over much of the policy in Jammu & Kashmir. Indeed, the BJP ensured that first Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and later Mehbooba Mufti took over as Chief Ministers of the state, ensuring a separatist-friendly, Valley-centric administration, which neglected the needs and wishes of the people of Ladakh and Jammu, neither of whom favour remaining as part of a state run by, for and of the Valley since long. Indeed, it may be said that rather than being part of the solution, they have often been part of the problem. Hence the effort to derail the local body elections in the state through the PDP-NC threat of boycott should not result in a craven surrender to such disruptive efforts. If PDP and NC wish to stay away from the elections, that is their decision. However, those political parties wanting to fight the elections on time should not be sacrificed for the sake of those playing a disruptive hand. The few who are playing the game of GHQ Rawalpindi must be made to understand that there is no way that they can wrest Kashmir from the rest of India, or at least that part of it still in Indian hands after Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to a premature cessation of hostilities as a result of his belief that the UN would take steps to ensure that Pakistani forces left the whole of the state. That error has dire consequences to this day. The only way to put a stop to such bleeding would be to stand firm and defeat the disrupters. Local body elections should take place in J&K, and if the Abdullahs and the Muftis sit it out, that would be their responsibility.