Think Before you act

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  • New, and right, strategy needed

An alarming situation has developed in Kashmir. Day in and day out youth get killed in encounters and new ones join militant ranks to take on India, the country that has the 2nd largest army in the world in addition to various paramilitary wings. Kashmiri youth take on armed forces thinking that they could defeat India with an AK-47 rifle fortified with “iman” (Islamic faith) oblivious to the fact that “iman” does not win wars. Only strategy and technology do.

Technology is on India’s side. State forces use armoured vehicles, machine guns, rocket launchers, mortars, helicopters, drones and above all tracking devices. Mobile phones carried by militants betray their location. AK-47 rifles may be good for posing for a picture to be displayed on Facebook and thereby getting identified. But they are no match to weapons possessed by armed forces. One thing, however, goes in favour of militants to the irritation of men in uniform, and that is the civilian intervention at encounter sights. Forces punish such civilians by killing and maiming some of them.

Yet, as a matter of strategy, they desist from taking extreme action against civilians despite their contempt for them and their capability to decimate them en mass. They know in that case Pakistan, the other party to Kashmir dispute, may succeed in persuading the international community to intervene.

India’s policy of exercising comparative restraint (comparative to what Pakistan itself did in East Bengal; Myanmar did to Rohingyas; Isreal is doing to Palestinians; Syria is doing to own people; Saudi Arabia is doing to Yemenis) and its projection of militancy in Kashmir as international terrorism, have led to failure of Pakistan to internationalise the issue.

So before taking to militancy in a hurry, Kashmiris had better ponder on some questions first. Where does the AK-47 come from? Who pays for it and why?

Rather than exploring ways and means to enlist the support of the international community and of the Indian public, the new-age militants, as also the old guards (read Hurriyat Conference leadership) prefer to indulge in religious rhetoric (the latter, less for love of religion, more for political ambition) thereby dealing a deadly blow to original Kashmir cause. Coupled with the label of terrorism, the rhetoric of Islamic emirate/caliphate has made the Indian citizenry and the international community allergic to the happenings in Kashmir. They see Iraq and Afghanistan being re-enacted here.

Therefore, it is time to shun the rhetoric of religion and to save religion from the pernicious effects of politics. Politics was the root cause of emergence of sects in the early Muslim community.

Politics could be compared to cow dung and religion to milk. No amount of milk can purify dung whereas a pinch of dung is sufficient to render unclean a barrelful of milk.

Mixing religion and politics will only deepen division among Muslims because no two sects see eye to eye on any issue. Civil war and mayhem would be the only result if it ever came to the appointment of caliph for a simple reason that there is no laid down procedure in Islam for appointing one. All the four caliphs of Islam were appointed in different ways depending on the particular situation at the time. Seeking establishment of Caliphate in the modern world is like chasing a mirage in the desert.

So before taking to militancy in a hurry, Kashmiris had better ponder on some questions first. Where does the AK-47 come from? Who pays for it and why? Does Pakistan seek resolution of historical Kashmir issue (if so, well and good)? Or, does it seek revenge on India for the 1971 defeat? There are other points to remember: Where was JeM group between 2004 and 2014? Why is election participation projected in Kashmir as something irreligious when LeT group’s political umbrella, the Jammatud-Dawa, seeks to participate in elections in Pakistan under the name of Mili Muslim League (boycott of elections ensures a walk over to “mainstream” political parties to the corridors of power, the power they use to strengthen India’s position in Kashmir)? How is it that a takfiri group, ISIS and/or its “Kashmiri” affiliates, as the latest reports suggest, succeeded in capturing space in Kashmir? If the reports are correct, then what is on their agenda? It cannot be the resolution of the historical Kashmir dispute. There is no love lost between them and the other militant groupings.

Time to rethink!