STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF KASHMIR
In any act of commission and omission there are always many views based on the perception and interpretation of the viewers. Hence it is obvious that they will be many views on this almost earth shaking act of abolition of Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution.
However, without going into historical facts and the legality of the action let me state categorically that J&K and Gilgit-Baltistan Areas have a very high geo-strategic value for all the countries of the region. Russia,China,India and Pakistan. For that reason it assumes importance for the US and its allies and by extension for the rest of the world. Hence, perhaps the entire world is interested in this region. The Western world has taken it as a bulwark against communist expansionism under Russia and China. Whereas both these powers, now perhaps China alone need this area for expansion towards the West and South to control both West Asia and Europe as well as the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific zone. The significance and therefore the power play is based on this logic and narrative.
Pakistan has never had any foreign policy except 'anti-Indianism' for their survival. Ever since its creation it has been struggling with an 'identity crisis' and survival. It has remained dependent on foreign powers, initially it was US and its Allies now its China, and followed their directions in all internal and external matters except India. In Pakistan only the army and to great extent the hardline Punjabis are concerned with keeping the Kashmir issue alive or to annexing the valley while retaining Gilgit-Baltistan which will give them a geo-strategic advantage over India.
Russia has already expressed its support to Indian position and is not interested in any military adventure by any side. China which has a major stake in view of its heavy investments and ambitions of CPEC has also advised restraint so has the US. It is evident that for their own national interests and ambitions in this area none of the external powers want a military conflict. Pakistan will never attempt any direct military adventure under these circumstances when it has no support whatsoever from the rest of the world including China. Even otherwise it knows the heavy cost it will have to pay for it which would mean even losing the entire POK . I do not believe we should worry too much from Pakistan. Yes the militancy may increase but that can be easily handled. What is of real concern to me is the reaction of local population and their leaders. Unfortunately we have failed to realise the real problem and have not taken the correct and effective remedial action. Hence aggravating the problem.
This is not a purely military problem as is being made out and the solution does not lie in military action alone. In fact they have only helped in alienating and even radicalising the people. The problem now is multi-dimensional and has to be handled with extreme dexterity and competence in all dimensions at all levels.
Social,cultural,economic,political,judicial,military and above all psychological where we have failed miserably and allowed Pakistan to gain advantage over us. We need to ensure that we restore traditional Kashmiriat based on inclusive and syncretic 'sufi' culture to arrest radicalisation of youth and assimilation in the true 'Kashmiri Islamiat'. We need to remove social differences and distances created by vested interests between the two major communities and restore the fraternal feelings they have cherished for so long. We have to root out corruption and vested interests and promote ;meritocracy' to restore popular faith in the system eroded systematically. All systems,organs and institutions of the state must run efficiently for the benefit and welfare of the people with the concurrence of the people. In brief we need efficient and dynamic civic action to effect an all round improvement in governance.
Pakistan having failed to capture Kashmir by force in 1965 and losing Bangladesh in 1971 realised the futility using conventional direct military option to achieve its objective. It therefore conceived, planned and implemented an un-conventional war which was both cheaper and more effective than the former. This war was launched in the early 80s and our response was typically on the expected lines give it all possible appellations from proxy war to terrorism and is to be fought by the army. Period. The most incredible,unwise,imprudent,debilitating and emasculating act born out of gross incompetence but calculated political and financial bonanza. The army as is normal was grossly misused for a task which is completely out of its purview for the benefit of our shrewd and astute political masters. The result! everyone was losing heavily most of all the Indian nation and the people of J&K both in human and financial resources except the mighty politicians and their loyal cohorts and hangers on. This also led to vested interests created by them in continuation of this war. In the interest of both Kashmir and India it has to completely stop and change.
We are today faced with an irregular warfare very well supported by psy ops. This must be recognised. This is not a conventional war for which our troops are trained and therefore are unable to defeat it successfully even after two decades if not more. Indeed the enemy is slowly but surely winning it. Perhaps that has prompted the government to take the drastic step of abrogation of special status. But that alone will not help. Civil action to be taken has already been described. Militarily we need to adopt a two pronged strategy. First is to adopt and indirect approach like them by inciting, aiding and abetting insurgencies in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ,Sind and Gigit -Baltistan. This should be strongly supported by Psy Ops At present Pakistan is deeply divided between Punjabis and non-Punjabis who are extremely angry, frustrated and rebellious. We should aim to f fight the Pakistan army in the western parts of Balochistan, Pakhtunkhwa and Afghanistan. We have a wealth of friendly population comprising Baloch,Pathans,Muhajirs,Sindhis, Shias and minorities including muslims like Ahmediyas and Kadianis. Even Punjabis from Saraiki areas as well as sane and moderates. I think our whole strategy has been lopsided and needs a radical change. Given the current socio-economic-political situation it will just implode. To handle the irregular war unleashed in our part we need to create special forces both overt and covert under our paramilitary or intelligence agencies having extraordinary intelligence and surveillance capabilities. These forces would be unfettered by common laws of the land and operate on both sides of the border. Army should be used only as a last resort and that too against regular forces or in aid of these special forces if required.
In conclusion I would state that what we need is to integrate the people of Kashmir socially, culturally, economically and psychologically and not alienate them further. Militarily we should adopt an indirect approach and not direct military action through specially created forces exploiting popular dis- affection, dis-enchantment and rebellions backed by a really effective nationally planned and implemented psy ops.