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The Afpak flu and India

By M P Anil Kumar
May 15, 2009 15:06 IST
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The time is ripe for a reduction of troops in a phased manner and moving the rest of the army units on internal security remit to the Line of Control, to eliminate infiltrators.

In the concluding part of his series on strife-riven Afghan-Pakistan, M P Anil Kumar, a former Indian Air Force fighter pilot, says it is time for India to launch bold initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir.

With cash, goodies and rewards pouring into Islamabad's coffers like the river Amazon in spate, one can expect the Pakistan army to turn the heat on India by stepping up its wickedness. Yet, I believe the iron is hot and it is time to strike it with bold initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir.

Given the popular participation of the voters in J&K, it now behoves on the Centre to make the next move to carry the process forward. The time is ripe for reduction of troops in a phased manner and moving the rest of the army units on internal security remit to the Line of Control, to engage and eliminate the infiltrating terrorists there.

The counterterrorism grid in the interior should be manned by the state police. It smells sense to position the state police in the vanguard of the counter-terror forces. You see, when our soldiers fall to the terrorist bullet, the pain is felt elsewhere in India, not in J&K.

When the victim is a local cop, the pain is felt right in J&K. This would lead to rallying critical support from the local populace, result in better intelligence gathering, and overall, it would aid in turning the tide against the jihadis.

Just recall the spontaneous outpourings of grief during the last rites of martyr Shabir Ahmad Malik in his village Dab -- nearby Srinagar -- after the paratrooper made the supreme sacrifice in the Kupwara gunfight with Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists this March. I sound cruel, but then we are up against ruthless murderers.

Just to jog everyone's memory, here's what Lashkar founder-cum-mentor Hafiz Muhammad Saeed thundered: 'Kashmir will not be solved by talks, not by American arbitration, not by its division, but only by jihad, jihad, jihad!' If we have yet not primed up the state police, then we have only ourselves to blame.

One of the issues that reverberated during the 2008 J&K assembly election campaign was the revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. Once the army is relocated to the LoC, the AFSPA can be revoked sector by sector, thus strengthening the hands of the present chief minister of J&K, and delivering another blow to the sulking secessionists.

Since the US is desperate to exit Afghanistan with their dignity intact, since Pakistan pathologically gripes about the Indian army's 'bloated' presence in J&K (as its chief impediment to smash the undesirables on its western border), the US will definitely lean heavily on the new Union government to reduce troops.

Since troop reduction is right up our street, we should shun our reflexive 'mind your own business' or 'go, climb a tree', and instead, notwithstanding the fact that President Obama is focussed on China and Pakistan and seemingly India-blind, our new government should use the J&K-leverage creatively to cast a less troublesome northwestern neighbourhood whenever the opportunity comes knocking.

Postscript: A clever dog does not foul his own doorstep. If only policymakers, not just in India but the world over, understood the essence of this utilitarian canine wisdom.

Part I of the series: Deceit comes naturally to Pak military!
Part II of the series: US erred in blindly trusting the Pak army
Part III of the series: ISI's rogue child has turned its guns on Pakistan

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M P Anil Kumar