By Sania Siddiqui, Amity Law School, Jaipur.
The Kashmir conflict is a major territorial dispute between India and Pakistan that dates back prior to independence. While regular peace talks have occurred since 2010, a diplomatic solution has not been reached. The roots of the conflict between the Kashmiri insurgents and the Indian Government are tied to a dispute over local autonomy. Although thousands of people have died as a result of the turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir, the conflict has become less deadly in recent years. Protest movements created to voice Kashmir’s disputes and grievances with the Indian government, specifically the Indian Military, have been active in Indian Administered Kashmir since 1989.
The Kashmir dispute is one of the most dangerous disputes in the world ,which in the worst-case scenario could trigger a nuclear conflict. The recent warming of relations between Delhi and Islamabad has led to less threat over the Kashmir dispute. In 1998 India and Pakistan both declared themselves to be nuclear powers with a string of nuclear tests.
In 2002 there was a huge deployment of troops on both sides of the border as India reacted to an armed attack on the national parliament in Delhi which happened in the December of 2001. India said that the attack was carried out by Pakistani-based militants assisted by the Pakistan government, a charge which is till date denied by Pakistan. Although the insurgency today may not be as viogorously fought as it was in the 1990s, a possibility of a grave violent situation like it happened in 2010 is never a bleak possibility.
For much of the 1990s, separatist, militancy and cross-border firing between the Indian and Pakistani armies have left a death toll running into tens of thousands and a population traumatised by fighting and fear. While relations in general were warm from 2000 onwards, tension again resurfaced with the Mumbai (Bombay) attacks of November 2008 in which gunmen from Pakistan killed 165 people and terrorized the entire city.
The two back-to-back attacks in Jammu and Kashmir in the past week may further complicate the relationship between the BJP and the PDP, the ideological opposites jointly ruling the State, especially on the contentious issue of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). According to Lieutenant-General (Retired) Syed Ata Hasnain, who headed the Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps, the situation in J&K had improved to a large extent, but the turmoil conditions persisted in the neighborhood with Pakistan sponsored terrorist groups continuing to be active in the State. “The two recent attacks in Kathua and Samba are a manifestation of this,”.
The attacks at Kathua and Samba signify that the proxy war in J&K is not yet over and neither has the intent of Pakistan or the jihadi groups altered in any way. There are no clear cut answers to the problem of the AFSPA and it should be recognized that for any movement on this issue, there needs to be a deep discussion of alternatives among all stakeholders. Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said that his government would work towards the removal Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) after taking the army on board. On cross border firing issue chief minister said that he would do everything possible to ensure peace at the borders with Pakistan.
Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed 86.66 per cent more casualties of civilians and 30.58 percent increase in terror incidents in 2014 in comparison to the previous year. According to the 2014-15 annual report of the Home Ministry, there were 224 incidents of violence in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014 in comparison to 170 incidents in 2013. 28 civilians were killed in 2014 in comparison to 15 civilian deaths in 2013. A total of 110 terrorists was killed last year in comparison to 67 in 2013. “The ongoing militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is intrinsically linked with infiltration of terrorists from across the border both from the International Border as well as the Line of Control,” the report said.
BJP & PDP joined hands to form a coalition government in Jammu & Kashmir but, some decisions which were taken by PDP like the releasing of the separatist leader Masrat Alam without consulting the alliance partner (BJP) has weakened the relationship between the two political parties. BJP & PDP entered into alliance to bring peace and stability, but the decision taken by PDP alone to release Separatist leader have created an issue between the two.
PDP and BJP need to understand each other’s political sensitivities and need to act accordingly in order to restore the state emotionally and economically with the rest of India. Both need to acknowledge their conflicting motives and reasons for being in this difficult alliance, but are far from doing so. Right now their individual opinion of the benefits of the alliance is in sharp conflict. There is a need for long term plan for Jammu & Kashmir and should not waver from the ultimate goal. As far as article 370 is concerned, it is temporary and it will hardly bring any change. Politicians who are directly involved in the issue need to come up with a new prepositions/proposal, which could be beneficial for the both countries as well as the people of Jammu & Kashmir where innocent/sinless people are being killed off. Instead of opposing each other, political parties need to take necessary action to resolve the dispute proximately.
There is no easy option available to solve this issue (Jammu & Kashmir conflict) political parties need to have deep discussions before taking any further steps. According to Syed Akkramuddin (spokesperson in the external affairs ministry) there are only two parties and there is no place for a third party (Hurriyat) in the resolution of India-Pakistan issue. If Pakistan will involve Hurriyat, the turmoil condition between India and Pakistan will increase and this would probably deteriorate the present condition. Furthermore, Pakistan needs to stop the cross border firing in order to bring peace & harmony.