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  • Counterinsurgency and "Op Sadhbhavana" in Jammu and Kashmir

    Counterinsurgency and "Op Sadhbhavana" in Jammu and Kashmir

    Critiques of the Indian Army's counterinsurgency practice have overlooked a critical aspect of “organisational innovation and operational learning” formalised as Op Sadhbhavana. These initiatives have had a limited but salutary impact in transforming the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir.

    Sree Kumaran asked: Why J&K cannot be treated as any other State in the country by withdrawig the special status amending the Constitution?

    Arpita Anant replies: There is no denying that historically, the state has a claim to a special status. At the time of Independence, the National Conference, which was the torchbearer for integration of the State of Jammu and Kashmir with India, also advocated for a special status i.e. autonomy within the Union of India. Given the circumstances at that juncture, a special status was granted vide Article 370 of the Constitution. It was then elaborated on by the Constitution Application to Jammu and Kashmir Order 1950; and further reiterated in the Delhi Agreement of 1952.

    However, due to a combination of domestic and international developments, as Sheikh Abdullah moved away from a commitment to integration with special status, Nehru moved away from the commitment to autonomy. What followed were several years of a perceived ‘erosion of autonomy’. When the National Conference contested elections in 1996, it included the restoration of autonomy in its manifesto. More recently, the People’s Democratic Party too has articulated its own version of autonomy as part of its formula of self-rule.

    Given the history, and the fact that the idea of autonomy is central to the political discourse of two important, and what are called ‘mainstream parties’ of the state, it will not be possible to simply amend the Constitution to withdraw the special status at this juncture.

    Kumar Gaurav Sonkar asked: Why China is issuing "staple visa" to the citizens of Arunachal Pradesh as well as of Kashmir?

    Prashant Kr Singh replies: Recently, China has appeared to be revising its three-decade old policy of formal neutrality on the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. In 1960s and 70s, China had supported Kashmir’s so-called right to self-determination and armed-rebellion against India. It had even supported Pakistan in its war against India in 1965 and 1971, though this support never crossed verbal limits. However in 1980s, it changed its policy due to combination of factors. It declared that the Kashmir issue was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and that they should settle it through peaceful diplomatic methods. Since then, China had followed this policy of formal neutrality on the Kashmir issue, though it continued to intensify its military (including nuclear) cooperation with Pakistan during this period. But now it seems that China wants to revise its policy on Kashmir. In the last few years, China has started issuing loose leaf stapled visas instead of properly stamped ones to the Indian citizens of Jammu and Kashmir.(J&K) Last year, it had denied visa to a General from the Indian Army who was commanding in that region. This implies that China does not recognise India’s sovereignty over J&K. However, China has not made any formal statement to this effect. It has simply conveyed that giving properly stamped visas to the Indian citizens of J&K would amount to Chinese recognition to India's authority on Laddakh which China claims as its own. But China is very subtly asserting disputed status of Kashmir by such actions. It has been observed that in international politics, when a state does not recognize another state’s authority over some territory, it does not issue a proper visa to the residents of that territory. By giving stapled visa to those residents, it registers its protest over the existing status of their citizenship. China has followed the same practice in case of Indian citizens of Arunachal Pradesh which it considers part of its territory.

    Arnab Dasgupta asked: Why Pakistan does not face the same situation in the POK as India does in J&K? Is it only religion that protects it or something else?

    Priyanka Singh replies: First of all, it is incorrect to assume there are no problems for Pakistan in the PoK (AJK and Gilgit Baltistan). There is simmering unrest in the PoK and a great deal of discontent amongst the people against Pakistan. There are nationalist groups who are demanding independence from Pakistan’s control over the region. Due to Pakistan’s deliberate strategy of not allowing these groups to flourish and denying them the right of expression, the leaders of such groups are forced to flee their homeland and operate from outside PoK, majority of them being based in Europe and US. The region has been kept under closed wraps largely beyond the reach of media attention. After the earthquake of 2005 when international relief poured in PoK, the ground realities including the existence of militant training camps were taken note of by the outside world.

    However, the nature of problems which India faces in J&K is quite different from that of PoK. The biggest of all is the cross border militancy in J&K unleashed by Pakistan for more than two decades. Pakistan’s role in promoting terrorism against India lies at the core of the problems which the GOI faces in J&K. Popular sentiments resulting from governance issues have at times been tapped and manipulated by Pakistan to sponsor terrorism in J&K.

    Ethnicity and culture rather than religion bears upon the state of affairs in PoK. The demographic composition of the region has been tampered by Pakistan to reduce the majority of shias into a minority. Sectarian clashes between the people have led to violent incidents thus serving Pakistan’s purpose behind divisive politics. This has led to further disaffection in PoK gravely hurting the sensitivities of people on culture and origin.

    India provides fair democratic processes in J&K which allow dissidence, debate and discourse. In the absence of basic rights and liberties, the possibility of street protests and demonstrations in PoK are far fetched. The political processes in PoK are farce- designed merely to strengthen Pakistan’s unlawful control on the region.

    Kashmir: The Problem, and the Way Forward

    There is an overwhelming sense of déjà vu in Kashmir today. This could have been deemed tiresome but for the grave implications it has for us as a nation, and as a people. We are now used to long cycles of violence interspersed by political ennui or tokenism and the ubiquitous ‘economic package’ which only serves to open up newer avenues for corruption in a state orphaned by history and politics for over six decades.

    March 2011

    Empowering the Kashmiris

    Insurgencies as well as popular unrests are generally rooted in political, social and economic deprivations, which in turn lead to the alienation and estrangement of a community. A popular sentiment seeking the empowerment of Muslim Kashmiris has been in existence for the past five centuries. History is replete with instances of the political deprivation and poverty of Kashmiri people during periods of their subjugation by the Mughals, the Pathans, the Sikhs and later the Dogras. Kashmiri alienation took firm roots during the Dogra rule (1846–1947).

    March 2011

    Autonomy in Jammu and Kashmir

    The demand for autonomy in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) followed by heated discourses on the subject has been appearing and fading intermittently. The demand as well as discourses, articulated by particular parties in the state, receives equal responses from political parties and analysts at the national level. In fact, the subject has acquired sharp political overtones over a period of time.

    March 2011

    Addressing Kashmir

    The spate of rioting which plagued Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) from June 2010 is testimony to the mismanagement of developments by both the state and central governments. This is all the more unfortunate as near normalcy had been established in Jammu and Kashmir following the November 2008 elections and the downtrend in insurgency through 2009 and early 2010.

    March 2011

    The Need for a Strategic Response to Insurgency and Terrorism

    Countering ideological narratives, effective communication of developmental measures to the people, and adherence to the principle of judicious use of force should form integral elements of India's strategy to counter insurgent and terrorist groups.

    November 26, 2010

    Revisiting China’s Kashmir Policy

    China’s moves concerning Kashmir evoke apprehension regarding retrogressive changes in its Kashmir policy, designed to give it a hold over India. The best case scenario for China is that the Kashmir issue is never resolved; and if this issue inches towards any kind of resolution, that China should be considered a party to the Kashmir dispute.

    November 01, 2010

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