Srinagar: Describing the killings of youth during last year uprising in Kashmir as “unfortunate”, former RAW chief of India Amarjit Singh Dulat said that “heavy-handedness” is not the answer.
“One message which comes out of Kashmir is that a lot can be achieved with love and compassion but never by force. And, I think that is the mistake we have made in the last 15 months,” he said.
Dulat was addressing an event entitled ‘Spymasters Speak: Can intelligence agencies do good?’ at the London School of Economics (LSE) on Friday evening.
The former intelligence chief was of the view that talks with Hurriyat leaders should not be ruled out as all matters “need to be discussed upfront” between Delhi and Srinagar.
“Democracy works. Apart from the mess we have created, the mistake we are making is not talking to people. It is high time we started talking…even to the Hurriyat. The idea of talking to them is to mainstream them and get them into the democratic process,” he said.
Dulat, who was also a former special director of India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) and served as IB joint director in Kashmir in the late 1980s, claimed that the Kashmiri people are “not happy” with the BJP-PDP coalition for bringing the RSS into the Valley.
“The RSS may have come into the Valley but will not achieve anything,” he said.
Dulat was joined on the panel by General (retd) Ehsan ul Haq, former director-general of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), at the event organised by the UK-based South Asia Future Forum and chaired by the LSE’s South Asia Centre.
The two former spies concurred with each other on the need for the intelligence agencies of the two countries to cooperate more closely but had predictably divergent views on the Kashmir issue.
“The Kashmir dispute cannot be wished away. If it is left unresolved, it will keep recurring with increasing intensity,” said Haq.
“Kashmir has regained centrality in Indo-Pakistan policy focus and from Pakistan’s perspective it remains the core issue within bilateral relations,” he said.
On the issue of terrorism, both former spy chiefs called for coordinated efforts between India and Pakistan to tackle the menace together.
“We have borne the brunt of it for a long time. We know that Pakistan is also suffering because of terrorism. Delhi is justified in its stand of no talks until there is terrorism.
But there is no way but to talk. In the case of Pakistan, we need to make this one exception and talk along with terror,” said Dulat.
Haq said: “There are no problems between India and Pakistan that cannot be solved through dialogue. War is no more an option. But setting preconditions is untenable.