New year, new beginning

That a fidayeen attack was carried out by the militants on the last day of the year in which 218 militants were killed by the security forces underlines yet again that the lingering turmoil in Kashmir is not about the numbers. No matter how many militants are killed in a year, it is unlikely to wipe out the militancy. And this has been made clear by the existing number of the active militants in Kashmir which is by and large same as that in the beginning of the last year. So killing ones way out of the problem in Kashmir is just not the option. And this is a reality that is borne out by the trajectory of the militancy over the past three decades. Though relentless counter-insurgency operations have succeeded in reigning it in intermittently, it has not been controlled. Nor is there a prospect of such a situation materializing in near future. The reason for this is that the factors underpinning the turmoil in the state remain unaddressed. And to this end, there is little that has been done. A sustained engagement between India and Pakistan which could have contributed to the improvement in the situation remains suspended for the last two years. True, in 2017, centre initiated a political outreach to Kashmir by appointing the former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as the new interlocutor, but it has been hobbled by the limited nature of its mandate. Truth is that Kashmir needs a serious and a result-oriented dialogue not only between New Delhi and the separatist groups in the state but more importantly one between India and Pakistan.  It is in this light that one more meeting between the NSAs of the two countries Ajit Doval and Nasir Khan Janjua assumes significance. Last time, when they had met in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had landed in Lahore for an impromptu meeting with the then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. The two countries need a similar dramatic gesture to resume the engagement. Here is hoping that 2018 sees the two countries to return to dialogue as that is the only sure way to progress towards solution of the festering issues which alone will lead to lasting peace in the region.

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