The elusive peace

If the Deep State on both sides is the obstacle, why not allow spymasters on both sides to sort out the cobwebs which the principals cannot?

Srinagar, Publish Date: May 26 2018 10:37PM | Updated Date: May 26 2018 10:37PM
The elusive peaceRepresentational Pic

This to my mind was the first full summer’s day of the 45 I have spent in the valley so far, trying to come to terms with the kind of life the ten odd million of its people live, trying very hard to take the mostly rough with the rare touch of smooth. Trying to live with heartless, with curfews, “downtown  crackdown”, Pampur has had a grenade blast and, of course, the  inevitable wazwan and the ‘Taaziat” (condolences), the latter in some cases becoming another feast. That said the valley overall continues to be a grim experience, if you, like me have chosen to stay for a longish while. The town particularly wore a very sullen look, contend, as these must, with mostly unwelcome presence of the security forces in every nook and cranny, especially in places like Shopian, Magam, Anantnag, Kupwara etc, where cease-fire or not clashes between militants and the Security personnel are a commonplace: a few killed, a few houses burnt, property damaged. And you must learn not to protest too much – apart from the occasional pelting of stones or localized hartal.

And yet this, my longest stay in the valley in 70 years, did revive memories of younger days when the Valley was paradise. Incessant rain for days had suddenly transformed the valley into a soothing treat for eyes half burnt by 44-46 degree temperatures, that takes the shape of unannounced power failures. Yes, in the summer capital Srinagar as well, In fact power breakdowns in the valley are as unpredictable as the next flareup between protestors and the Forces.The so-called cease-fire, am told, is largely holding, thanks to the holy month of Ramzan . But the problem arises when each day you are plagued by stories of gruesome confrontation caused by gross violations of the asli cease-fire, along the  Line of Control and the International Border on either side, both promising to up the scale and each accusing the other of being intransigent.This has in some cases caused unprecedented tension involving shifting of civilian populations. So much so that the Indian Army Chief too did feel impelled to visit the State this week and even suggesting, unusual for him, a downscaling of the violations along the LOC. I say “unusual”  because for weeks on end and for months we have been forced to live with the legend of the “surgical strike” effected by the Army, a minor operation which was given the colour of a clash, a stroke of military genius, something reminiscent of the battles led by Field Marshals Rommel and Montgomery (Desert Wars). Might as well mention the General revealing the human side of the man on Friday by promising to initiate strong action against Major Gogoi, the perpetrator of the human shield episode when he had a year ago tied a local resident to his jeep for use as a human shield in a crowd control operation. An experience  that saddened a wee bit, not exactly that, given the Prime Minister’s Party’s known antipathy for its partner in governance in the State. Mr Modi who oozed charm from every pore of his being in his stopover en route to Srinagar at Leh was his usual setrn self while addressing an invitees only university gathering. The man who had promised to make Kashmir asli Janat and to promote boli (talking) over goli (bullet) obviously had chosen to dwell at any length on his vikas (development), choosing instead to harp on a four year grant of 80,000 crores. The Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti sounding ever so deferential in Modi’s presence erred to speak in terms of just 80 crores (an obvious error---80 crores or 80000 thousand hardly makes any difference given the State of basic civic amenities in away from Srinagar to distant Delhi. Kashmir, one did courtesy NDTV manage to catch an exhaustive report on an unusual encounter of sorts --- between the one time chief of the Indian RAW and the Pakistani ISI – Messrs A R Dulat and Lt. Gen Durrani, both hardened spymasters but quite capable – very obvious it was via the TV screen - of rational unbiased analysis, even retrospectively as in  the present  g case.  For its sheer audacity, Spy Chronicles, RAW, ISI and the illusion of Peace, was by itself a thrilling title, but it took ones breath away to know the Dulat and Durrani had put their heads together and have, without compromising fidelity to their respective oaths of office, produced a 320 page document which must now onwards inform those in the sub continent shaping policy on Kashmir and Indo-Pak relations. Alas, a calmer India, on its own, divorced from the sub continent, is just not possible. It is, likewise, not possible for Pakistan. 1947 was both a blessing and a curse. We could define our separate nations according to our lights but we were also yoked together by geography from which proceed historical and sociological currents which flow forward but also regurgitate into the past.That much for the present, the first concerted effort to wrench away from the sub continental centre of gravity came from Pakistan dictator, General Zia ul Haq. His push for Nizam-e-Mustafa invited nascent Islamophobia which has metastasized into the modern horror.

Just when fluctuations in Indo-Pak ties gives way to a seemingly interminable hostility, comes the Dulat-Durrani intervention, opening a ventilator in an otherwise suffocating hothouse.

What the book touches on is, in effect, the nub of the matter. Indo-Pak initiatives flounder on that ubiquitous document meant for the principal, say, the Prime Minister, marked “for eyes only”. If the Deep State on both sides is the obstacle, why not allow spymasters on both sides to sort out the cobwebs which the principals cannot?



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