Monday, August 19, 2013

Solutions to the Kashmir problem

The Kashmir problem is predominantly an issue that has been created by Pakistan; however, it has magnified over the last few years due to the policy paralysis at the Center and State levels. The Indian government continues to commit errors in resolving the Kashmir issue and this has also led the people of Kashmir to set wrong aspirations. While tackling the Kashmir issue, inside-outside strategy will need to be adopted wherein the government needs to focus on two main challenges viz., internal and external. The medicine for each challenge will be different; however, the cure will be the same. 

In this article, we will first discuss various possible solutions that can help us to resolve the internal issues and then, we will move on to the external challenges.

Resolving Internal Issues
Although solution to Kashmir problem is highly improbable under the current leadership, it is not impossible if we have strong-willed leaders at the centre and state level. Nonetheless, I suggest the following steps to improve the Kashmir situation:
  1. Remove special status for J&K: Granting special status is not bad; however, it should not result in the isolation of the state from rest of the country. In case of Kashmir, special status has only isolated the Kashmiris. Therefore, removal of special status will help the Kashmiris to intermingle with other Indians and will eventually help them to live harmoniously. 
  2. Resettle KPs back to Kashmir: Implement a program that allows Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) to come back to Kashmir in a proper and phased manner. For example, the government can launch new 'Real Estate' projects which will help in the development of organized residential real estate as well as allow the KPs to start afresh. All the KPs who were rendered homeless and still continue to live under poor conditions should be given first preference to re-locate to Kashmir.
  3. Settlement of Army officers and Sikhs: Along with each KP family, send one family from Army and one Sikh family to settle in Kashmir. Ideal places for resettlement could be near 'Army Areas/Units'. The short term goal will be resettlement by forming diverse communities and long-term goal will be to facilitate demographic change  
  4. Infrastructure projects: Launch new infrastructure projects that help in providing jobs to the local people. Identify the weak areas within infrastructure, for example, road, rail, power, airports or any other. Work on improving the infrastructure and hire locals as well as outsiders. However, during the process of job creation, some reservation can be kept for people from different states of the country. For example, the government can keep 33% reservation for people from other states.
  5. Offer economic incentives: Offer economic incentives that attract businesses to invest in various areas such as science and education, transportation, infrastructure and other industrial sectors. This will help the government to offer opportunities in which the Kashmiri people can be gainfully and positively employed.
  6. Digitization of the Valley: This is a very important aspect through which the government can offer jobs and increase the participation of locals. Digitization will further help the Kashmiris to be in sync with rest of India. Dr. C Rangarajan's recommendations are the first steps to initiate such a change.
  7. Leverage technology to ward off terrorist strikes as well as infiltration: Implementation of technology can help the government to prevent terrorist strikes in the valley. The government can also form partnership with Israel to develop or implement such technology that stops infiltration and prevents terrorist strikes. This will also help us to save precious lives of our high quality soldiers.
  8. Conditional Removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA): Once, the government restores normalcy in the valley and once, the other steps (as mentioned above) have been adequately implemented, then only the government can consider the removal of AFSPA. 
Resolving External Issues
Since India's independence, Kashmir has continued to be a major issue for Pakistan. This is primarily due to Pakistan's inability to accept a stronger India as it's neighbor. Even though Pakistan has lost every war with India, it still harbors ambitions of dominating the sub-continent by adopting cheap tactics such as Jihad and separation of Kashmir. Pakistan will continue to support the Separatists in Kashmir because they serve its agenda of weaker India. 

Also, the separatists are incorrigible who are only lusting for power and do not have any concern, whatsoever, either for J&K or its people. The Kashmiris need to understand that their situation is not going to improve if they play into the hands of the separatists. Simultaneously, the Centre and J&K's state government need not be soft on Jihadi elements who intend to destabilize the situation further. 

Therefore, if India needs to stop Pakistan's proxy war, then the following steps will help: 
  • Step 1: As a first measure, try preventing the entry of any terrorist from the border; however, if this continues (which does), then move to the next step.
  • Step 2: Close all economic, sociological and political interaction with PAK. Deport all Pakistanis. Isolate PAK to the extent that it is forced to retreat from its unfriendly position towards India. If PAK's attitude doesn't improve, then move to step 3.
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Currently India is at step 2; however, Indian government has not been aggressive enough in this step as well. Ideally, this should be the "Red Line" and Pakistan is quite close to it. In such a situation, Indian army, government and citizens should be physically and mentally ready for any kind of fallout between Indian and Pakistan. 

Moving to Step 3 is inevitable, so it will be better if all of us are prepared for it.
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  • Step 3: Target the terrorist camps in PoK. Destroy each and every terrorist camp through air strikes. However, if the situation doesn't improve and PAK continues to train terrorists in order to destabilize India, then move to step 4.
  • Step 4: Don't warn - Just attack PoK with the purpose of destroying 100% of the terrorist infrastructure and then recapture PoK. PAK still continues with its loser attitude, move to step 5.
  • Step 5: Attack PAK's nuclear capabilities in order to disable them and to avoid any kind of misuse. This step will place a full stop to PAK's nuclear blackmail and will allow India to offer a more secure environment to its citizens. However PAK being PAK, it still pricks India, then move to step 6.
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If we want to attack PAK's nuclear capabilities, then we must be ready with the plan at Step 2 only. This plan to deactivate PAK's nuclear capabilities is important because if Taliban takes over PAK, then Hindus risk to lose a lot of lives. This will help us to save valuable time as well as lot of lives.
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  • Step 6: Launch an all-out attack on PAK in order to integrate it into India. India should also align with the dissatisfied regions in Pakistan, for example, Balochistan to subdue PAK. This would be the end of it.
Thus, the inside-outside approach will settle the Pak and Kashmir issue once for all and will also help India to emerge as a much stronger nation in the subcontinent. The strategy could be a game changer in relation to India's stature on the world politics.