Nagrota attests to futility of Modi’s aggressive Pakistan policy
If anything, the attack on the Army camp in Nagrota which killed seven soldiers including two officers is one more proof that the new aggressive policy towards Islamabad isn’t delivering. Instead, as the rising influx of the militants into Valley demonstrate, the LoC exchanges may be only giving Pakistan an opportunity to bolster militancy in J&K.
The figures for this year bring this fact home. There has been a three-fold hike in infiltration into Kashmir. Against just 33 in 2015, as many as 105 militants have infiltrated into Kashmir in the first nine months of 2016 in 121 infiltration attempts, according to the information provided recently to Rajya Sabha by the Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir.
Besides, a recent security estimate, puts the number of active militants in Valley at 300 as against 100 or thereabouts over the past several years.
The rise in infiltration has bolstered the local recruitment. According to estimates of J&K Police, around 50 youth joined militancy in the first 100 days of the turmoil, the highest such number in such a short period since early nineties. Some of these youth have joined from places which have seen least militant activity in recent years. One such place is Baramulla where thirteen youth are believed to have taken up gun. Two of the new recruits were killed in recent encounters in South Kashmir.
The surge in militant numbers has, in turn, led to a corresponding rise in the violence. As against 113 in 2015, the number of killings of militants, security personnel and the civilians has so far risen to around 245, a more than two-fold increase. Nagrota is just the latest example. And it will not be the last.
Already, this has brought about a significant change in the ground situation in Kashmir. From a point where these had been reduced to being fewer and far between, the militant attacks have become more frequent. And the militants from across the border have lent it a hitherto missing sting. It is mostly the Fidayeen from Pakistan who conduct the attacks on the security camps and cause the maximum damage, as Uri and now Nagrota attack prove.
Point is if the PM’s hardline policy on Pakistan was expected to reduce militant attacks in Kashmir, it has so far done the opposite. The militancy has only grown stronger in Valley, so is the frequency of attacks, with the otherwise fortified Army camps the choicest and the relatively easy targets.
On the contrary, a sustained and a meaningful dialogue geared to resolve the longstanding issues, including Kashmir, has helped lower the violence. The fact is attested to by the productive 2002-2007 bilateral engagement which had purportedly almost pulled off a Kashmir solution had the then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf not lost the power in lawyers’ agitation.
Musharraf’s talks with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh achieved a ceasefire agreement in 2003 which progressively brought down infiltration from 1504 in 2002 to 118 in 2015. Similarly, there was a progressive decline in the killings in Kashmir: from 3022 killings of the security personnel, militants and civilians in 2003 to just 174 in 2015. But Modi’s penchant for an aggressive policy is threatening to reverse this trend. The only pragmatic way out seems a return to a purposeful engagement with solution of the disputes between the countries as its goal.
But for this to happen, Islamabad too will have to share the responsibility by not letting jihadis to derail every fresh attempt at an engagement. After all, this was the case during Musharraf’s years, a reason for the dialogue to hold and offer a promise of a possible settlement of Kashmir and the other issues. This trajectory could be replicated, if Pakistan keeps its own side of bargain and stops using extremists as an instrument of its India policy.