Ramzan Ceasefire in Kashmir: It’s Humane and Worth the Effort
There has been an intense debate on whether declaring a unilateral ceasefire in the Valley was a correct decision. Those against have felt that the decision would impact security forces operations, permit the militants to regroup and rearm, as also make security forces lose the upper hand they had so painstakingly established. Those in favour feel this action may give peace a chance and enhance confidence on the political process.
The intention is to break the over ground worker network based on information gleamed from captured militants, which has been instrumental in radicalising youth and pushing them into militancy. The aim is also to give those youth, who desire to return to society, a chance.
Pakistan Losing the Kashmir Plot?
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s claim that Pakistan also adopt suit and declare a ceasefire, is unrealistic. There is no logic for Pakistan to respond to India’s unilateral action solely aimed at the Valley, despite tall claims of its army seeking dialogue with India.
The confidence of the Indian government in controlling the Valley was evident when it announced the appointment of an interlocutor and declared a unilateral ceasefire. This has Pakistan worried, as it appears to be losing the Kashmir plot. It has militants ready to cross, but most have failed in their attempts. Therefore, it would never accept a ceasefire, as it is already on the backfoot.
Mufti also called for militant groups to respond positively. The Lashkar-e-Taiba has already rejected her offer, while others would too. They have no affinity to Kashmiris. Their sole role is to create unrest in the state irrespective of local casualties. This, sadly, has never been accepted by Kashmiris who remain brainwashed on the belief that Pakistan would support their cause for ‘Azadi.’
Mehbooba has been supported by the National Conference, its main Opposition party, which has stated that those who oppose the ceasefire are enemies of the Kashmiri people. Political parties have realised the significance of the announcement, knowing it could be a harbinger for peace, and have supported it. On the other hand, anti-national separatists and militant groups have opposed it, based on the directions of Pakistan.
Operations against foreign militants would continue, while those against locals may be slowed as most such encounters are in built up areas. Even in these operations, the aim would be to seek surrenders, rather than eliminate them. This would be a major respite for the local population.
Instructions would also have been passed to the army to stay away from mosques during specific timings, thus avoiding any offensive display of force. Further, the army would seek to enhance its interactions with the local populace by being over-supportive during this period.
Local Population Should Welcome Ceasefire
The local population, which has been facing the brunt of anti-militancy operations, needs to welcome this decision. There would be lesser hinderances by security personnel. Taking advantage of the situation, families of local militants could ask them to re-join the mainstream.
The fact that militant groups have rejected the call, clearly indicates who the enemy is. Pakistan-based militant groups are willing to act and draw the army into residential areas, break the ceasefire and cause civilian casualties, because for them a peaceful Kashmir, even for a few days, is anathema.
They would resort to any action only to satisfy their masters in Pakistan. Hence, the army seeks to engage them in the forests, rather than in built up areas, unless essential.
This gesture by the government is to convey to Kashmiris that their demand projected by their local leadership is acted upon by the Centre. Further, it projects that Delhi is sensitive to their religious needs. It also provides time to those who picked the gun in anger and haste to reconsider their options and return home.
The Kashmiri youth need to realise that Delhi is not an enemy, but desires changing their mindset and would take more than a step forward to convince them. It is now up to right-thinking senior Kashmiris to explain to the youth why it is better to engage in dialogue with the centre, rather than fight it.
There is, therefore, a greater human side to this ceasefire than meets the eye.
(The author is a retired army officer based in Lucknow. He can be reached @kakar_harsha. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same)