"It should be a matter of concern---but not yet of alarm---- that the fedayeen attack by a group of two terrorists---- apparently from Pakistan --- in the Lal Chowk of Srinagar on January 6, 2010, has come at a time when emotions are once again being whipped up in Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. The fedayeen attack resulted in a 22-hour confrontation between the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the terrorists, who managed to entrench themselves in a local hotel before they were killed.
"The whipping-up of emotions has the following objectives:
* To divert attention away from the domestic challenges faced by Zardari and the PPP-led Government.
* To placate the Army due to fears that the Army might get involved in any conspiracy to force the exit of Zardari.
* To placate the Punjabi jihadi organisations, which have been itching for renewed action in J&K, in order to bring about a divide between them and the anti-Army Pakistani Taliban.
"As a result of an improvement in the ground situation during the last two years, the Government of India, with the co-operation of the Government in Srinagar, had embarked on a policy with the following components:
* A calibrated withdrawal and/or re-deployment of the Army troops in order to give the J&K Police and the CRPF a greater responsibility for maintaining peace and law and order in the State.
* Maintaining on the ground the confidence-building measures already agreed upon with Pakistan before the bilateral dialogue came to be suspended following the 26/11 terrorist strikes by the Lashkar-e-Toiba in Mumbai.
* Maintaining the momentum of the dialogue between the Government and representatives of different political formations in the State in order to work out a political solution to their demands which are considered legitimate.
"The first fedayeen attack since 2007 need not call into question the wisdom of continuing this strategy. At the same time, the danger that a besieged Zardari-led Government might try to undermine this strategy by stepping up jihadi terrorism in the State has to be constantly studied, analysed and assessed by our intelligence agencies, the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). "
--------- From my note of January 8,2010, titled " Terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir" at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers36%5Cpaper3595.html
The latest spell of unrest in Jammu & Kashmir ( J&K) involving clashes between stone-throwing and curfew-breaking mobs and the security forces has resulted in some fatalities----many of them allegedly young people. According to available accounts, the unrest has been partly spontaneous and partly orchestrated by elements suspected to be associated with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in the Sopore area. The exploitation of the unrest by the LET and its subsequent aggravation should not be a matter of surprise. The unrest, if it can be kept sustained, gives the LET and other Pakistan-based jihadi organizations an opportunity to turn the international focus back to J&K without incurring any international criticism. While the West has come out against jihadi terrorism of Pakistani origin in hinterland India outside J&K, it will be inclined to close its eyes to the role of the Pakistani jihadi organisations in the latest spell of unrest in J&K and focus only on the manner in which the Indian security forces have been dealing with the unrest.
2. In Mumbai and the rest of hinterland India, the focus was and continues to be largely on Pakistan, but in J&K it will be considerably on India. This makes it important for us to adopt a mix of firmness in discouraging violence and avoiding over-reaction in responding to acts of violence----particularly by young people. There is a need for a verbal restraint from all sides. Lionisation of the security forces by some political parties and praising their valour in facing the violent mobs would be as inadvisable as their demonisation by others. Similarly any attempt by the Governments in the State and at the Centre to demonise the Kashmiri youth participating in the demonstrations against the security forces would be unwise. Even if the Government has concrete evidence of the involvement of the LET in provoking and stoking the unrest, it should avoid for the time being any over-projection of the external involvement since this could further provoke the younger elements.
3. The immediate objective should be enforcement of law and order without letting ourselves be provoked into using more force than necessary and at the same time diluting the anger through interactions with the civil society and seeking its co-operation in discouraging violations of curfew and mob violence directed against the security forces. The Government has done well to advise the security forces to use restraint in dealing with stone-pelting mobs. It is an advice easily given, but difficult to carry out, but one has to find ways of doing so if there are a large number of children in the mob.
4. Remarks by political leaders on both sides of the political spectrum which lend themselves to misinterpretation by sections of the people that the political class and the security personnel are insensitive to the deaths of young people allegedly at the hands of the security forces add to the anger and tend to make the situation even more uncontrollable than it has been.
5. We cannot treat our Kashmiris as no different from the Pakistanis of the LET and other Pakistan-based organizations even if they let themselves be used by the Pakistani organizations. The Government has an obligation to ascertain their grievances and address those which seem to be legitimate. Perceptions of Government’s indifference to dialogue unless it is forced to talk through mob violence add to the violence and create fresh spells of unrest.
6. The Government of Pakistan, its Army and Inter-Services Intelligence cannot ask for anything better than a confrontational situation between the security forces and sections of the people of Kashmir. Confrontational situations play into the hands of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists and would enable them to keep J&K boiling again.
7. In the training of our security forces in mob control, we have to stress the importance of a balanced response and not getting easily provoked by a mob.
8. The coverage of the unrest in J&K by some of our TV channels has been unfortunate. This has been particularly so in the case of Shri Arnab Goswami, the Editor and Anchor of the Times Now Channel, who has converted his channel into an electronic Hyde Park. In a programme on the evening of June 30, he had invited a representative each of the Congress (I) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau, and two Kashmiri leaders who are not on the same wavelength as the Governments in Srinagar and New Delhi. Since the Kashmiris are the aggrieved people, one would have expected him to give adequate opportunity to the two Kashmiri leaders. Unfortunately, he allowed most of the discussion to be monopolized by the Congress (I) and BJP leaders, who fought in an unbecoming manner. The two Kashmiri leaders were hardly able to give vent to their feelings. The fact that Mr.Goswami is a man of many prejudices came out clearly. (1-7-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com )