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Military options for India in Kashmir
India has limited military options in Kashmir. It is very difficult for it to attack 'Pakistani administered Kashmir'. But at the same time Indian defense establishment should not abandon the state till a lasting solution is found for the Kashmir dispute.

Indian government is facing criticism, both internally and externally, for keeping the high presence of troops in the Kashmir Valley. The fact is no matter how suppressive it may appear to some, the presence is required.

If Indian troops return to barracks, Pakistan can fuel more insurgency in Kashmir, making the comeback for Indian army more difficult. Another equally important thing is that troops are required all around the state to keep Jammu and Ladakh regions away from militancy. Any increase in militancy in these regions could increase militancy in the valley.

Recently, two Indian soldiers were killed in exchange of fire along the Line-of-Control (LoC) and one of the bodies was mutilated. It created rage all around India. Some argued about attacking Pakistan administered Kashmir. There were similar talks when Ajmal Kasab and his nine associates attacked Mumbai in 2008. The fact is that it never happened.

In order to understand things more closely, one needs to understand as to why the global media does not talk about Kashmir. The prompt reply would come that India is a big market and would be a global Asian power very soon. This is correct. But this is no reason for global media to ignore covering the Kashmir issue. After all, the White House and the State Department do not run American media. Moreover, there is always continuous talk about the Middle East dispute in the Western media even though Israel is America’s strongest ally in the Middle East and is a derivative Western power. India is neither America’s ally nor a Western country in derivative sense.

So what could be the reason? The segmentation! Kashmir would not be discussed in global media or in diplomatic circles overtly for three reasons: India would not overtly aim at Pakistani Kashmir militarily, would support the union of Kashmiri people and would support secretive talks over Kashmir. Such boosts the morale of Indian authorities and may keep others happy. The fact is that the whole of Kashmir territory is considered disputed. In view of that, Pakistani parts of Kashmir; the Northern Areas and 'Azad Kashmir' are disputed too. Even though Pakistan claims to have merged Northern Areas into its Union, India and the US do not recognize it.

Therefore, it becomes easier for India to attack Karachi than to attack Pakistani administered Kashmir. There is something ‘disputed’ about attacking people whose nationality is not yet decided. True that Pakistan has the military and even administrative control of Pakistani Kashmir and its military and intelligence agencies promote anti-Indian terrorist activities from inside the territory, but the fact is that for all practical reasons India has to ignore attacking Pakistani Kashmir. If Indian government takes a very precise and consistent position over the issue, then the world powers would make Kashmir an overt international issue.

That is the cost that India needs to pay in order to keep Kashmir away from becoming an overt international issue. India’s options are to contain militancy inside its administered areas by any legal means and not to pursue militants hotly inside Pakistani territory. India can not compare itself with Israel as the difference between Israel and Palestine is very huge and both are very small 'countries'. And as already discussed that the Middle East dispute is discussed almost daily somewhere in the Western media.

India has superiority over Pakistan in conventional matters and no matter how many threats Pakistan issues, the fact is that Pakistan can not attack India with nuclear weapons. If somehow India is able to attack Pakistan Kashmir without wishing to control it, then it would be a big gain for India and a big jolt to militancy in the region. It is altogether a different thing that the valley people may feel more distanced with Indian authorities thereafter.

India can think about reducing its presence in the valley but it would require the intervention of high offices of federal government. Both India and Pakistan need to discuss reducing their troops along the border and LoC and inside their respective parts of Kashmir. They should agree on a ceasefire and Pakistan should put on hold all militant activities inside Indian Kashmir. Both should see how their people in respective parts of Kashmir react to the proposed reduction in military operations. Sure, situation is neither symmetric nor equal for India and Pakistan but if the US is involved then India can buy time to effectively pursue its realistic and genuine policies towards Kashmiri people, particularly towards the valley people.

The best thing for Kashmir is to talk symbiotically and realistically. The fact is that Kashmir dispute can not be resolved by arguments and counter-arguments. The resolution requires granting concessions, allowing inconsistencies and inexactness. It requires understanding others’ viewpoints other than asserting self’s. The argument of waging hot wars with Pakistan and carrying out surgical strikes as Israel does towards Hamas may not be the correct and realistic approach in Kashmir. Such opinion is based on uncontested consumerism induced nationalism.

The valley’s Muslims would never abandon their dominance. If India continues the same strategy then a day will come when the Valley would abandon its relationship with the rest of India. India should be realistic in its approach towards Kashmiri people and Pakistan should understand that because of its daring actions it can not dismember India and take revenge for the creation of Bangladesh and division of Kashmir. But India should be cautious about the cost of running India and Pakistan about omnipresent and omnipotent radicalization of the country.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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