Re-visiting our northern security strategy
by K.N. Pandit on 11 Oct 2008 0 Comment

In response to BJP President Rajnath Singh’s idea of an enclave for internally displaced Kashmiri Pandits and nationalization of the Amarnath route - floated during the BJP conclave in Bangalore recently - the PDP chairperson reacted frantically and threatened a mass uprising in the valley. Handing out unbridled, albeit meaningless, threats and blackmail is her political style. Theo-fascists, meanwhile, have accelerated their destructive activities in major cities. 

In recent months, Kashmir separatists have been persistently defying law enforcing authority and obstructing normal flow of administration in the valley. They issue threats to those who intend to participate in the democratic process. The Peoples Democratic Party, which remained in power for six years, is now pandering to a pro-separatist agenda. Day in and day out, its chairperson is accelerating hostile attitudes and adopting confrontational postures vis-à-vis the Indian State.  

The pretext of an imagined economic blockade during the Jammu agitation has been made an instrument of inciting mass agitation against authority. The State is sought to be made a private fief of a few Kashmiri ruling houses and dissident groups who are playing a dangerous religious card. The call to march to Muzaffarabad in reaction to the so-called economic blockade has exposed the ambivalence of many political leaders in the valley. They were in the forefront of anti-India brigades whose bravado of crossing the LoC was trumpeted to the international media.

This situation has developed in Kashmir simultaneously with the resurgence of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda combine in Afghanistan and Waziristan. Pakistan’s ISI appears to be visualizing a new role for itself in intensifying theological crusades in the region east and west of Waziristan. Islamists revive the dream of an Islamic Caliphate in a sensitive geographical region from the Dardanelles to Xingjian in China, then down to the Straits of Malacca. Kashmir is integral to this scheme of things. An article by PDP chairperson published under the title ‘Let’s Revive Silk Road’ in Jammu-based journal Epilogue (25 July 2008) speaks loudly of the grandiose plan of the Caliphate.

Given the anti-India nexus between Islamabad and Beijing, and their avowed policy of stonewalling India’s growing international stature, the security of India’s eastern and western borders has come under heavy pressure. Their overt and covert support to theo-fascists, terrorists and subversive elements is India’s primary concern. New Delhi cannot let border vulnerability go unplugged.

In this background it becomes unavoidable for India to re-visit her security plans for her northern border. Kashmir is crucial to this re-think. Curbing anti-India hysteria is a prerequisite for fortifying territorial integrity of the State. The Constitution authorizes adoption of feasible measures to ensure national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Further, the State, drawing power from Parliament, can make constitutional amendments to any proviso that it thinks will help combat subversive and disruptive activities against the state.

Article 370 ensures the special identity of Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian Union. But when territorial integrity is at stake, neither the constitution of J&K nor of India permits secession of a part of the Union under any pretext. India responded to such a threat in August 1953. Any campaign under the pretext of “freedom” is treason under national and international law, and has to be dealt with accordingly.

It is increasingly felt in political circles that restructuring the border State of Jammu and Kashmir is unavoidable in view of the nefarious designs of our western neighbour and its inroads in Kashmiri Muslim society. Informed circles emphasizing security parameters suggest restructuring the State. 

The idea of nationalizing the route to the western border of Tibet in Ladakh region surfaced in security and political circles in New Delhi after the Kargil war. The internal displacement of the minuscule Pandit community from its original habitat cannot be accepted as a permanent phenomenon. Their relocation is an obligation under the constitution and under international law.

Thus, the BJP President struck the right note in Bangalore that an enclave be created for the internally displaced Pandits in their original habitat. Nationalization of the road running through the valley and connecting the farthest point on the border with China/Tibet is of paramount strategic importance as revealed by the Kargil episode. Way back in December 1990, internally displaced Pandits in a conclave in Jammu adopted Marg Darshan Resolution which asked for a Homeland in the valley and a nationalized route that linked their contemplated homeland to the national highway. 

The exiled Hindus want the homeland be placed under union administration for security. This idea has been picked up by the BJP and it is hoped it will catch the imagination of wider sections of civil society. Panun Kashmir, the frontline political organization under whose aegis the Homeland resolution was adopted, has already drawn the map delineating the Homeland territory. 

India must establish a Himalayan Mountain Command from Kupwara to Guraiz region. The area must be safeguarded with ballistic missile installations of long range strike capability. If need arises, the districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and some tehsils of Uri should be vacated within a ten kilometers long strip along the western international border, and displaced persons re-located in the hinterland. A motorable border road like the Karakorum Highway should run from Leh through the western border down to Kathua. Vacated border strips should be placed under joint military and civilian administrative mechanism with full participation of local panchayats.

The sole purpose of this planning is to secure the borders against infiltration and to scuttle internal subversion. This has to be the re-structuring concept of Naya Kashmir if the Centre wants lasting peace in the sub-continent. 

The writer is former Director, Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University 













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