As India prepares for Independence Day celebrations, attempts are being made by the terrorist groups in Kashmir to create disturbances as a means of drawing attention to their cause. Ideally, they would like to trigger a major event on the day or as close to it as possible that would create a Pulwama like situation. This being ratcheted up with the killing of unarmed pro-government civilians, as well as attacking security personnel. This is also to counter the narrative that J&K has returned to normalcy in many ways.
The government has, on its part, made every effort to underline the mainstreaming of the Union Territory with hard-hitting moves like throwing out Pakistan and separatist sympathisers from its service, as well as symbolic ones like bathing the Clock Tower at Lal Chowk in colours of the national flag. The security crackdown, particularly in the last two years, has greatly depleted the terrorists’ ranks, but Pakistan does its utmost on ‘special’ occasions to encourage bloodshed.
While most of the terrorists being eliminated in gunfights these days are Pakistani nationals, there is still the occasional local youth amidst their ranks. This is a matter of concern and requires the establishment to ramp up efforts at integrating the general population through welfare and confidence building measures. An important part is the de-radicalisation of religious institutions. Unfortunately, much of the propaganda is from across the border. Despite the fact that Pakistan is paying heavily because of this in its own polity, it remains deluded it can keep its people insulated from extremist ideologies while exporting them.
The situation hinges also upon how the situation on Pakistan’s western border turns out in relation to the Afghan conflict. Will the Tehreeq-e-Taliban – the Pakistani version of the movement – be emboldened by the successes in Afghanistan to fight for Pakhtunistan? Will the Baloch separatist movement continue ramping up the stakes? Pakistan believes it can provide a corridor to Taliban fighters to enter Kashmir. The reality may well prove to be otherwise, with it having to curb their ambitions in its own territory. The Kashmiris, who stay well-informed in this regard, may realise the consequences of being drawn into the black hole opening up in the neighbourhood. They may choose to accept a modern civilised existence with all its challenges, instead. Just keep nudging them in that direction.