By Prof. SN Misra
Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain, PVSM, is a rare breed, I had the good fortune to meet in 2011 when he was the Corps Commander in Srinagar. He had declared 2011 to be the year of the ‘Kashmir Awam’, when he adapted ‘Aap over Tum’ as policy for troop behaviour, with Kashmiris.
He changed the timings of the long convoys that used to pass during morning rush houses, to 4.00 am; decongesting a serious bottleneck. He also kick-started the first Kashmir Premier League (KPL) with 300 matches between 193 teams; weaning local youth away from the violence.
General Hasnain recounted to me how delighted were these young cricketers when they were invited by Sourav Ganguly to his home for dinner! He brought a balance between hard power in counter-infiltration with the soft power of courtesy and cricket.
After the Pulwama attack, Hasnain writes that there is a return of car bombs and IED to Kashmir. The last IED attack took place in 2008; after which we imported a large cache of counter IED equipment. He observes that Indian leadership would do well not to be guided by electoral consideration but by long term national security consideration. He thinks that India cannot achieve its strategic objectives ‘by making all Kashmiri’s targets of physical abuse and harassment and vilify minorities on the social media’.
As the first Muslim Corps Commander in Kashmir and presently Chancellor of Srinagar University, he combines the sagacity of a scholar with the astuteness of a strategist. His sane voice is echoed by Lt. Gen. Deependra Singh Hooda, previously Army Commander of Northern Command and General Bipin Malik, COAS, who led the Kargil operation.
General Malik seems to indicate that the politicians must not outsource their headache of Kashmir to the Army to ‘face the music’. In an environment, surcharged with vilification campaign against every Muslim to reap bonanza in the upcoming hustings, there is a talk that India may use killer drones from Israeli to destroy enemy targets.
It must not be forgotten that the Pakistani counter-attack could be very robust; with China acting as a solid ally. China still refuses to list Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. Pakistan, of late, has been buoyed by the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
The return of the Talibans has strengthened the diplomatic leverage of Pakistan. The $20B help from the crown prince of Saudi Arabia could not have been more timely, to a financially beleaguered Pakistan. In this backdrop, we must not lose ‘Hosh’ in the ‘Josh’ of Pulwama; but look at long term national security interests, by taking all stakeholders on board, with tact, empathy & statesmanship!
Kashmiri’s are not out castes. Our security set up must take note of the reasons for the palpable intelligence failure that has led to the Pulwama massacre and take corrective action. The looming prospect of a hung Parliament must not give a handle to the central government to reap political dividends by whipping jingoism and dividing people into religious lines!
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The author teaches Economics. [email protected], Ph-91-7381109899
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