Kashmir and Terrorism

J&K poll turnout, end of separatism?

It won’t snuff out fundamentalist terror

Brahma Chellaney
Strategic affairs expert

Economic Times, November 28, 2008

As the horrific Mumbai terrorist killings are a reminder, jihadists will stop at nothing. Unravelling the jihad culture will not be easy in Pakistan, Afghanistan or the Kashmir Valley. But it is essential.

India has created a safety valve for all its citizens, including those in Kashmir — true democratic participation that empowers the masses and allows issues to be decided at the ballot box. The high voter turnout in Kashmir is a positive sign of such empowerment.

But “separatism” in the Kashmir Valley is symbiotically tied to fundamentalism, ethnic cleansing, terrorism and external incitement to attacks. Therefore, it will be naive to expect that the high voter turnout can help snuff out those evils.

From the ceaseless meddling by Pakistani intelligence to the promotion of medieval Wahhabist beliefs through infusion of petrodollars, Kashmir remains a happy hunting ground for outside interests. Add to that picture, New Delhi’s own blundering policy, and what you get is a recipe for unremitting political ferment.

Today Pakistan may be tottering on the brink of bankruptcy. But its military continues to infiltrate trained and armed terrorists into Kashmir. After all, Kashmir remains the glue holding a fractious, unruly Pakistan together.

Every Indian admission of Kashmir as an unresolved issue has only whetted Pakistan’s desire for India to yield further ground. It began with the Lahore Declaration defining only one issue by name as an outstanding dispute — J&K. By June 2004, India had committed itself to a “peaceful, negotiated final settlement” on Kashmir and juxtaposed the UN Charter with the Simla Agreement.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh first embraced the sponsor of terrorism as a partner and set up a joint terror mechanism, which formalised Pakistan’s parity with India as a victim of terror.

Not content with that misstep, Singh has peddled a compromise on Kashmir that goes beyond the Line of Control — an LoC-plus settlement that would make frontiers “meaningless and irrelevant” so as to create a “borderless” Kashmir. He has thus opened the path to inevitable concessions to Pakistan, further emboldening the hardliners there.


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