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Pakistan’s Valentine’s Day Shocker
News analysis

Pakistan’s Valentine’s Day Shocker

Prof.T K Thomas

The tragedy that unfolded on Valentine’s Day, last Friday that resulted in the martyrdom of 40 brave hearts of the Central Reserve Police [CRPF], probably the largest paramilitary force in the world, has angered, anguished and saddened all Indians. How someone around 20 years of age hailing from the Pulwama region was ready to kill himself with the suicide attack raises many pertinent questions. Such commitment to a diabolic act obviously is the result of the radicalization of the gullible Kashmiri youth by fanatics from across the border. The valley has been plagued by terrorism for long and a handful of separatists and anti nationals have succeeded in alienating people in a few districts of Kashmir. A majority of the people of Jammu and Kashmir wants peace and that is a silver lining amidst fear and anger in the country.

Death of a Major and three jawans in Pulwama and injury to a DIG of Kashmir in an encounter on Monday,20th February has further confounded the situation. This has raised questions about the efficacy and alertness of our enforcement and intelligence agencies. The first reaction to the murder of 40 CRPF jawans from the J&K governor hinted at security lapse. This is a matter that calls for thorough review and investigation which the government would do.

There is no doubt that acts of terrorism are engineered by state players from across the border. The present predicament of our country in giving a befitting reply to Pakistan for killing our security forces have many dimensions at a time when the present ruling party at the center is facing imminent crucial general elections. The party seems to pursue military solutions to satisfy its core hawkish base baying for blood and a policy of revenge. So we hear phrases like “muh thod jawab” or about overt or covert military actions like surgical strikes. Pakistan seems to be foolhardy enough to continue to remind us of its nuclear power. Any such adventurism would be perilous for it.

As far as the present political dispensation is concerned, there seems to be a deliberate attempt to convert a very bad situation into an opportunity to reap electoral returns. All opposition parties especially the largest opposition has fully supported the government at this point of time. No party has so far accused the government of laxity or lowering of the guard in preventing such a heinous crime by Pakistan supported terrorist group Jaish-e- Mohammad. Various media reactions however point fingers at the government for inadequate vigilance in Pulwama. They ask how sixty kilograms of deadly RDX could be acquired by the suicide bomber; questions are also asked about the failure of pickets and Road Opening Parties who were supposed to have sanitized the Jammu Srinagar highway through which a large convoy of 76 trucks and over 2500 CRPF men were moving. Questions are also raised as to how a car with enormous quantities of explosives reportedly entered the highway from some narrow byline. Such an unwieldy convoy should have been avoided and the men of CRPF should have been airlifted, some former heads of security forces and security experts opine.

Terrorism is not new to Kashmir and the present political dispensation at the center claims to have inherited it from their predecessors. But after 2014 there has been a spurt in violence by terror groups and an equally violent response from the security forces. Stone throwing street protesters sustained pellet gun injuries in response from the security forces. Such violent responses only further alienated people in the valley, some of whom openly supported the terrorists and even protested when terrorists were killed by the security forces.

Aligning with the PDP, a party accused of pro Pakistan leanings by the BJP even during the election campaign in J&K turned out to be a complete fiasco. After the BJP abruptly ended the alliance with a party with diametrically opposite political convictions, the law and order situation in Kashmir had only deteriorated and the alienation of certain sections of local population further aggravated. More and more young people took up guns and many got eliminated by our security forces.

The responses and reactions to what happened on February 14 have to be viewed from the volatile situation prevailing there for long. No doubt it was a dastardly act and had to be condemned but the responses from ruling party members and even elected representatives were couched in violent communication of revenge and retribution. Not even a single leader hinted at a peaceful solution by a country with a legacy of a Father of the Nation, hailed the world over as an Apostle of Peace. There was no room for any discussion or dialogue as we had severed all channels of communication with Pakistan. It was the same government that appointed interlocutors with Dineshwar Sharma as its head in October 2017 for talks with all stakeholders to arrive at a peaceful solution but later backed out from any dialogue or discussion on the ground that terror and talks cannot go on simultaneously. Only by opening the channels of communication and dialogues there would be any peaceful solution.

There seems to be deviation from the policy of seeking the path of peace, initiated by the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who was one of the founders of the BJP. His now famous conceptual trilogy of ‘Insaniyat’, ‘Jamburiyat’ and ‘Kashmiryat’ has not been followed by his successors. Such an approach would have at least reduced avoidable confrontations and loss of life. Any confrontation would mean severe damage to both the countries.

Our efforts to diplomatically isolate Pakistan are being questioned. The moment the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman signed a joint statement with Pakistani PM Imran Khan on Monday, it was clear that the Saudis would continue to support Pakistan. It was reiterated when the crown prince referring to India’s efforts to list the main perpetrator of the February 14 massacre and many earlier attacks, the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masoor Azhar as global terrorist on the ground that “politicization of the UN listing regime” should be avoided. The Saudi support to Pakistan was further asserted when the prince announced a 20 billion dollar aid to Pakistan on Monday and lauded Pakistan for ‘fighting terrorism’! China while condemning the Pulwama mass murder was silent on protecting Pakistani terrorists. Let’s wait and see what the Saudi Prince will say when he visits India on Tuesday.

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The opinions expressed in the article above are those of the author.