Not many analysts are willing to stick their necks out and wager that peace is around the corner. But looking at recent develop-ments on the security front, as well as at the multiple initiatives taken by the Centre, it seems more than likely that peace will final-ly descend on the state, troubled by three decades of Pakistan sponsored terrorism.
As we go to print, the troubling news comes in of four brave hearts, including one officer, Killed in Action (KIA), near the Line of Control in the Rajouri Sector on 23 December. Such aberrations unfortunately will continue to occur as they indicate an act of desperation by the Pakistan military, which is losing its ploy of defeating India through its infamous policy of ‘death by a thousand cuts’. My reasons for optimism are as under:
First, the murder, rape and mayhem indulged in by the terrorists, has alienated them from most of the local population. A similar trend was noticed in Punjab, when the public, fed up with the depredations of those who claimed to be fighting for a cause, chose to sideline them. In J&K, it is the common people now, who are provid-ing information to the Army and to the police forces, of the location of the terror-ists which indicates diminishing local support.
The second reason for optimism is the continuous elimination of terrorists in the state through focussed application of force by the Indian Army. More than two hun-dred terrorists have bitten the dust, a num-ber significantly higher than Pakistan’s abil-ity to infiltrate replacements into India, to make up the loss. The dwindling numbers of terrorists in the state suggests that the critical mass required to sustain an insur-gency is reducing, which has enabled the public to raise their voice against the terrorists.
Thirdly, action taken by the Centre to hit out at terrorist sources of funding and in taking legal action against members of the Hurriyat Conference, whose members have amassed unbelievable wealth in the last few decades, is having a salutary effect. The incidences of stone pelting are down and the public, fed up of violence, is appealing to their children to give up the gun, surren-der to the forces, and come back home. In their view, it is better to see their sons in jail for a few months, rather than being brought home in a coffin.
Fourthly, the international pressure brought on Pakistan, through deft political and diplomatic handling of the situation, has reduced Pakistan to the status of a pari-ah state. With international opinion, includ-ing from the Arab world increasingly going against Pakistan, its room for manoeuvre is rapidly being reduced. This, allied with the Indian Army effectively sealing the border and making it a nightmare for the terrorists to infiltrate, is leading to an upsurge of con-fidence in the people, that the Indian State will not let them down.
But a few pitfalls remain. The first of these is the oft seen change in policy, as and when the terrorists are losing the war. The peaceniks then shout for peace, and if the Centre acquiesces to such demands, the terrorists are provided a breathing space to recover. There must hence be no compro-mise or let up in the war against terror. The will to win and to finish the proxy war, once and for all must never flag. Victory is around the corner. It must be seized. Secondly, action needs to be taken against a corrupt bureaucracy, both at the Centre and the State, which sees a fortune to be made in these troubled times. Thirdly, the radicalisation of youth through Madrassas and schools needs to be checked. Lastly, we need political will to finally amalgamate this section of our society with the rest of the country. It is time that Article 370 is abrogated, to bring peace and stability back to the State.