by GHALIB SULTAN
First Published on: Sep 7, 2009
Figures from Indian sources all indicate that the violence is way down in Indian Held Kashmir. The number of civilian deaths in 2007 were 170, in 2008 147 and in 2009 58 up to July. These include people killed by Indian security forces. Indian security force personnel casualties were 122 in 2007, 85 in 2008 and 39 up to July 2009. The cease fire violations on the Line of Control were 21in 2007 and 77 in 2008 and overall incidents are down from 1504 in 2002 to 236 in 2009 so far. The trend is definitely towards a reduction of violence and the credit for this must go to Pakistan. India has neither acknowledged this to Pakistan nor has it reciprocated in any way.
Again according to Indian sources the voter turnout in the last elections was ‘massive’ and that the various militant organizations within Indian Held Kashmir have lost their clout and credibility but that they still exist there. India has not been able to close them down in spite of intelligence on their leadership and activities—probably because the backlash may revive the freedom struggle. The rape and killing of two teenage Muslim girls in the Shopian area of Indian Held Kashmir led to protests that were put down with excessive levels of force. There was also a furor in the State Assembly indicating the fragility of the ‘political’ environment that is supposed to replace the ‘violence prone’ environment. India has done nothing tangible to promote the political track to encourage and reassure those who have doubts and fears. Nor has India reined in its brutalized security forces.
As summer sets in the Indian authorities have started their usual talk of ‘camps’ in Pakistan. This time locations are being indicated. Indians are voicing fears of renewed violence completely ignoring the statistical trends indicated by their own observers. Also being ignored is their own observation that ‘jihadi’ elements within India and Indian Held Kashmir could trigger events and situations to disturb the India-Pakistan situation. If India is not willing to credit Pakistan with the reduction in militancy and violence and if it is not prepared to carry out demilitarization in proportion to the reduction in violence and if it is not ready to eschew the use of lethal force against Kashmiris then what options do others have?
The logical course of action is to start a dialogue—whether it is called composite or something else does not matter. Even here Indian fears of non-state actors retaliating to progress in talks tend to dominate. The Indian Army Chief has made a totally unwarranted and confused statement about ‘Pakistani capacity exceeding deterrence level requirements’. Surely he should know that it is Pakistan’s prerogative to decide the level of sufficiency in deterrence just as it is India’s prerogative to decide how much it wants to spend on its military build-up and how much on poverty alleviation! The Indian Army Chief has also talked of increased levels of ‘infiltration and violence’ in Kashmir without mentioning any statistics. No one in India wants to discuss Indian involvement in Baluchistan and FATA—in fact the US should note that if this involvement is proved with evidence then the public and media support for the military action in those areas could change. This is not the time for hare brained pro-active policies of the past. The recent indications that the trail of the attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore goes back to Tamil Tigers may well take it to Indian support of the Tamil Tigers! India and Pakistan need to talk to each other before it is too late.