Terror groups would get time to replenish stocks of personnel, weaponry and cash, all of which would be running low after setbacks against security forces.

 

Whenever terror organisations go on the defensive as a consequence of effective action against them by the uniformed forces, those sympathetic to their cause call for an immediate ceasefire by the security forces. This would give the terror groups time to replenish stocks of personnel, weaponry and cash, all three of which would be running low after sustained setbacks against security forces. The LTTE in Sri Lanka was expert in such tactics. Each time the Tamil Tigers were on a losing trajectory against the Sri Lankan military, their international supporters would lobby Colombo to declare a cessation of hostilities, always succeeding in such a quest until Mahinda Rajapaksa took over as President of Sri Lanka and defeated and destroyed the LTTE, defying global calls to give the organisation an extra life through a ceasefire. Rajapaksa was different from other South Asians, who having emerged from three centuries of European domination, took advice coming from that corner as gospel, even when it was damaging. This South Asian propensity to swallow without restraint suggestions from the continent which colonised them applies also to guidance given by those in North America. Talk within the Lutyens Zone is that it was hyper-billionaire Bill Gates who took upon himself the cause of persuading the Narendra Modi government to make 1.26 billion Indians go cashless through a shock demonetisation. If it was Gates who first sounded the DeMo bugle, the refrain was soon picked up by some in the most consequential posts within the Modi government, all of whom championed the measure to the Prime Minister. The consequence was the 8 November 2016 demonetisation that set back growth in India through its aftershocks. Bill Gates is not reported as having weighed in on the issue of a Ramzan ceasefire, so hopefully there will not be a rush within the Lutyens Zone to urge the Prime Minister that such a measure be implemented, as indeed it was during the period when A.B. Vajpayee was Prime Minister. Vajpayee’s ceasefire in Kashmir gave terrorist groups there a welcome pause in actions against them by the military. This was used to recoup their strength. Despite or because of such a show of governmental restraint, the Pahalgam and other massacres took place during Vajpayee’s tenure.

Later, PM Vajpayee created a perception within the pro-Pakistan lobby of being ready to move beyond the Constitution of India. He promised to settle the Kashmir problem not wholly through law but via the diffuse concepts of “jamhooriyat” and “insaniyat”. These terms were interpreted by Pakistan-controlled elements as code indicating that Vajpayee would accept a change in the status quo that would get created through an intensification of the “Azaadi from India” movement. What the then Prime Minister ought to have done was to make it clear to each and every individual in Kashmir that its accession to India was final and irreversible, and that the Constitution of India was the inescapable basis of any negotiation, rather than poetic phrases such as those used by Vajpayee. Not surprisingly, the first BJP Prime Minister of India failed to overcome the problem of insurgency, which remained severe throughout his six years in office. As for Vajpayee’s Lahore journey of 1999, this show of one-sided goodwill was met with the perfidy of Kargil, besides countless other thrusts by the ISI and its proxies in India. Given that the central mission of the Pakistan army is the attempted disintegration of the Union of India, efforts to cast the potential for India-Pakistan relations in dreamy poetry rather than harsh prose is an errand doomed to failure from the start. In such a context, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s constant efforts to show generosity and forgiveness to Pakistan-directed groups have predictably made them even more intransigent and determined to delink Kashmir from the rest of the country. Given the failure of Vajpayee’s numerous peace initiatives, it is a mystery as to why the lady believes that similar gestures on PM Modi’s part will create outcomes different from those that faced Vajpayee. The Kashmir CM appears to be fixated on a policy of appeasement of anti-India groups, a line of action that has been directly responsible for the substantial deterioration in the internal situation in Jammu & Kashmir since the BJP installed her as the Chief Minister of the state through its incomprehensible alliance with the PDP.

Responsibility for the murder of a tourist from Tamil Nadu in Kashmir by stone pelters can be directly ascribed to the policy of amnesty for such elements that was—surprisingly for a party claiming to take a tough line on national security—meekly acquiesced in by the BJP. If the Union Home Ministry is in any way concerned by the tango being danced by the PDP in association with pro-Pakistan elements, that venerable if hardly venerated institution has kept such feelings to itself, barring a few ineffective disapproving clucks from Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Those who voted for Narendra Modi in 2014 did not expect just words from his government, but action. However, in Kashmir, the BJP seems to be a passive spectator to the systematic way in which the PDP is giving oxygen to pro-Pakistan elements by its permissive policies towards those seeking to once again drag the state into the same cauldron of hate and violence into which it was thrown during the period when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was Home Minister of India. Let it be admitted that on Kashmir, Manmohan Singh’s record was stellar when compared with the follies of the present government in handling the state. It is time for those in thrall to the Vajpayee years to remember that voters threw out his government in 2004, and that the BJP won in 1999 only because the country had just recently been at war. A war that was caused by the neglect of the Vajpayee government in protecting the country’s borders from nibbling by the Pakistan army, but which its superior PR skills passed off as a great victory. India needs real victories, not make-believe ones. And these can come only when realism replaces romanticism in policy.

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