Srinagar: The current situation in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Valley, is a classic example of our dithering political strategy, former GoC Northern and Central command Lt Gen HS Panag has said.
Gen Panag in a column for The Print wrote that the Indian Army had created an enabling environment for politics to take centre stage (in Kashmir) and resolve the problem. “Politics did come to the fore, but instead of a solution we saw the revival of the insurgency.”
In 2011, the general writes that the violence in Jammu and Kashmir was on the decline, the number of active militants had been reduced to double figures. There was little or no fresh recruitment of local militants. The Army had strengthened the counter-infiltration grid and infiltration was down to a trickle. People were tired and wanted to lead a normal life.
“This phase continued until 2015. Politically, a great opportunity was lost and despite having elected governments no headway was made. The previous central government relied on talks with Pakistan to find a solution and did not focus adequately to engage the stakeholders in the state.”
Gen Panag believes that the current government in New Delhi made a promising beginning.
“There was expectation in the air. Even sceptics were optimistic, but politics failed to deliver and insurgency saw a revival in Jammu and Kashmir. The unpopular coalition government could not provide the healing touch. There was no worthwhile political engagement. The coalition partners worked at cross purposes to pursue own ideological agendas. Special status of the state was questioned. A 25-year-old insurgency was now looked at as a law and order problem.
People got frustrated, which manifested into violent mass agitations, which were handled with crude use of force. Resurgent nationalism clamoured for a crackdown. Stage was set for the revival of the insurgency after the summer of unrest in 2016.”
The general writes that a great opportunity was lost, but it has come knocking again after two-and-a-half years. The security forces through a concerted campaign have brought the situation under control. The military battle is once again on the threshold of being won.
“It is my assessment that by summer of 2019 the stage would be set for politics to once again take centre stage. Hopefully by then, both the Centre and the state will have new governments. I hope the politicians, media and the public rise to the occasion and we collectively do not fail our nation, and the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he writes