Calculative Shifts: “Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove”

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(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

High time for Modi to invoke calculative “Chanakya/Bismarck” strategic skills – take out the “Iron Fist” and strike hard at the separatist-terrorist-stone pelter’s menace in the Kashmir Valley.

“Soft posture” will not pay peace dividends as the past experiences have amply demonstrated over the past nearly three decades. Instead, they have only emboldened Pak inspired and abetted separatists-terrorists-stone pelters to further ‘Bleed” India. Adopt “Hard Posture”.

Gone are the days of ‘rubber bullets’. The message should be clear to the people of valley: “We will strike hard in self defense if we are assaulted with stones” irrespective of political directions.

In the past one week, the army has suffered 7 killed in the cross border firefights. And, security forces personnel are being subjected to stone pelting, vehicles damaged and untold humiliation.

Let me highlight that stone-pelters, provoked, aided and abetted by terrorists and Pak sponsors, cannot be treated as ‘misguided youth’ any longer. They too are terrorists when the strike at the security forces.

Let me recall major terrorist strikes: innocent Amarnath pilgrims – 7 killed and 19 injured, 17 soldiers killed and 19 injured in Uri Army Camp in 2016, Corps HQ complex at Nagrota near Jammu, killing of J & K Police personnel including of lynching of SHO and almost daily cross border fire fights resulting in casualties,

Furthermore, the stone pelter’s in the streets are on the rampage against security forces with the latest brazen attack an Army Convoy that resulted in a political uproar in the J & K State Assembly and the call by Pak sponsored separatist leaders to ‘up’ the fight against the security forces are real.

Under such grave provocation political leaders cutting across the spectrum from ruling party to opposition parties must stop playing politics to build up their vote banks and self interests instead of security forces interests, safety and security lest they take laws into their hands in self defense.

The latest is the release of over 7000 stone-pelters from Jails by Mehabooba Mufti, Chief Minister of J & K, is likely to boomerang on her politically. Surely, and the released stone-pelters would reinforce the ranks on the streets to launch major strikes at the behest of Pak agents.

Next, stone pelters are stone pelters always and forever.  How can a person indoctrinated and nurtured to hate and kill ever revert to civilized status after drawing and tasting blood for the first time? In particular, when Pakistan is letting lose diehard criminals from the jails to conduct “Jihad” in Kashmir valley, it is foolish to expect restoration of peace easily.

So, security forces are heading for a critical challenge – “Counter the combined onslaught of stone-pelter’s, terrorists and vilification by separatist leader – with “BOTH HANDS TIED TO THE BACK”.

All past failed political leaders including Farooq Abdullah, former CM and now MP, could not provide peace-breakthrough in the past. They must realize that the “security forces’ cannot go on doing such a dirty and thankless task to cover up the phenomenal political failures starting with Nehru.

In reality, “Hate India” is the avowed policy followed in Pakistan over the past seven decades. And, Pakistan sponsored terrorists are indulging in systematic use of murder and destruction to terrorize individuals, groups, communities or governments into conceding to the terrorist’s or separatists political aims. The state and the people of J &K are mute spectators to terrorist’s indiscriminateness, inhumanity, arbitrariness and barbarity over the past three decades.

Let none of the rest in India have doubts about the “TOTAL PSYCHOLOGICAL ALIENATION”  of civilians living in separatist-cum-terrorist  infested towns in South Kashmir like Shopian.

Media must also realize that the high-decibel cacophony and sensationalism by analysts, panelists and intellectuals only reinforces the “PSYCHOLOGICAL ALIENATION IN THE VALLEY”.

Failed are the initiatives. No end to the cycle of peace talks. Key peace initiatives since 1947 include: UN intervened and mediated ceasefire in 1948; Nehru-Sheikh Abdullah talks ending the “Kashmir Conspiracy” case; Tashkent Agreement following 1965 War; July 1972 Shimla Accord following 1971 War, 1975 Indira–Sheikh Accord, !986 Rajiv Ghandy-Farooq Abdullah Accord; Vajpayee-Musharraf Agra Talks; PMs visits (over 13 visits by Manmohan Singh during UPA regime), announcement of financial packages, visits by VIPs and ordering enquiry commissions following incidents, demand for dismissal of the current PDP-BJP regime, imposition of President’s Rule, conveying condolences and awarding financial compensation to families of civilian families, ceremonial burials, jingoistic war-rhetoric, etc have failed to give peace-breakthroughs.

Not only Modi and the BJP must wake-up and stop living in “fools Paradise of Peace”, even all the opposition parties and the so called peace-brigades, recognize that the “Soft” approach has failed to give a peace breakthrough. Realize politicians that power respects power and not appeasement.

Let me reiterate my past pleas to all alike. First, intellectual bankruptcy baffles me.

Second, Islam, particularly Salafism, as a religion of peace is quite absurd. By conception, Islam may be an idealistic prescription. But in reality, its spread from Mecca to other parts of the world has been by the “Sword”.  In particular in India, Ghori and Ghazni raids not only devastated and plundered temples, raped women, but also spread fear that led to conversions. Even the stories of atrocities during Aurangzeb and Tipp regimes continue to haunt people even today.  “Sunnism” mostly adheres to “Salafism”. Islamist radicalism is spreading all over not only in J & K but also in all parts of India. In contrast, “Sufism” can be certainly viewed as ‘ism’ of peace.

Second, Pakistan is waging a religious war – 1000-year Jihad – to settle past scores. Myriad of terrorist outfits and their hydra-headed growth and consolidation is unstoppable due to ‘soft peddling’- ISIS-Al Qaeda-factions of TTP-LeT, HuM and so on.

Third, time is ripe for conduct of an aggressive “Information War” campaign. The ‘theme’ should be constructed highlighting horrendous communal carnage of partition in 1947, brutal killing of co-religionists and devastated townships in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, human rights violations, rapes by the ISIS cadres, besides inhuman atrocities in Philippines, Nigeria and other African countries in the name of establishing Caliphate.

Finally, Kashmir valley is an integral part of India. Instead of separatist leaders asking Indian’s to leave the valley, they may like to leave the valley in their own self interest.

The study of wars and violence provides key lessons. War fighting outcomes are predictable – victory/defeat/stalemate. In the ultimate, Victory goes to the ‘strong willed; but not ‘weak kneed’.

Furthermore, victory also goes to the side with “greater punishment withstanding capability”.  Who has more punishment withstanding capability – separatists and non state and state actors, Kashmiri Muslim people, democratically elected representatives or the Indian State? Surely, the Indian State has more resilience than others.

So, weak-kneed and weak hearted pseudo secular leaders like Rahul Ghandy,  P Chidambaram, Mani Shankar Ayer, BJP Sinha’s duo and their peace brigade déjà vu at the prevailing crisis situation is quite cynical, alarmist and most quixotic. It only provides “Oxygen to the other side” to persist with the seven decades old war-like eyeball to eye ball confrontation combined with ‘proxy war’.

Finally, Modi and the BJP must stop chasing peace shadows in J & K. The recent peace initiatives include Modi’s sudden visit to Lahore, All Party Delegations to Srinagar and Yeshwant Sinha’s 5-member delegation have failed to produce tangible peace breakthroughs.

Realpolitik is ruthless in hawkish global strategic environment. No place for moral and ideological considerations in advancing national security interests.

Realize Modi must that appeasement politics mostly in defensive-cum-reactive mode inherited from the Congress Party’s dumb strategy (dangerous mixture of idealism and opportunistic coalitions) or Vajpayee’s failed Agra peace initiative cannot promote enduring peace. Withdrawal of AFSPA or pellet guns cannot alone restore sanity in the valley.

At the cost being labeled as a “Hawk” but with in-depth insight into the happenings in J & K, I cannot help reiterating: Impose Presidents Rule including replacing the Governor by former General Ata Hasnain; Exile all separatist leaders to a remote uninhabited Nicobar Island; No talks under bullets, Declare Pakistan as a terrorist state; No MFN status; No trade and transit facilities; downsizing Embassy’s; and so on.

If Modi and the BJP fail to take decisive and bold actions, people who voted them will also vote them out.  Time is running out politically even for Modi and the BJP. Modi will go down in history as a ‘betrayer’ of national interests at the cost of pursuing the goal of getting “Noble Peace Prize.”

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