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As Opportunity

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In the aftermath of the Pulwama blast, even if for
a brief while, partisan politics has been suspended by the politicians and media commentators (TV anchors aside). As a result, most of them are talking sense, which indicates that they are capable of doing so and it is only politics that prevents such behaviour in normal times. This is sad because national interest should not become clear only at times of such tragedy and should always be the basis of their politics.
Of course, this feeling of solidarity does not mean that shortcomings should not be pointed out, but it should be done with the purpose of improving the situation, not a means of putting the other down. As it is, the real weaknesses are so many, particularly the inability to keep long term objectives in mind. There is also squeamishness in telling the inconvenient truths. There is absolutely no doubt that Pakistan sponsors terrorist activity in Kashmir, but why do so many locals play into its hands? As always – in such a long surviving insurgency – there are people in the background who are profiting from it, be it the jihadi jamaats in Pakistan, or the separatist leaders in India. In this context, it is a good thing that, in the immediate aftermath of the incident, the government has withdrawn the security cover provided to the Hurriyat leadership.
Although the authorship of the attack has been claimed by the JeM, the actual work could only have been done in Kashmir on building the car bomb. This is not an easy task and would have required a network of activists. All of these can be identified and punished. Public opinion, today, allows for strict measures that would otherwise be targeted by the ‘leftist pseudo-human rights brigade’. That most of the terrorists operating and being killed nowadays are locals indicates that action on the LOC is more effective in keeping out foreigners. Which is also why the tactic has shifted to using human bombs – there are not enough volunteers to continue with the classic insurgency.
Contrary to general perceptions, the ability of Pakistan to sponsor Jihad has also diminished. Measures over the years to isolate Pakistan taken not just by India, but also other countries, have created a major economic crisis, which is Prime Minister Imran Khan’s primary headache at present. He cannot afford any more sanctions and crackdowns. Even hardcore allies like China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, etc., will extract heavy concessions for bailouts. The emerging situation in Afghanistan and Iran will also pose problems that will keep it occupied. India must focus on tough measures within Kashmir to ensure those involved in violent jihad are dealt with effectively, while allowing legitimate expression of political aspirations. This is an opportunity that should not be missed.