It’s War From Pakistan’s Perspective
By Insisting On Calling It Proxy War, Are We Compromising National Security?
Proxy War. This is a term that we are familiar with. Every time Pakistan carries out its terrorist activities in Kashmir, we again hear the term ‘Proxy War’.
On June 29, BharatShakti.in shared on social media the link to an investigative report. The link read: If ever there was a doubt about Pakistan’s proxy war in J&K, here is an on ground investigation by our team providing its involvement to the hilt. The comprehensive document indeed establishes that Pakistan is waging a war against India, and using Kashmir as easy ground.
I realized as I read the investigation: From Pakistan’s perspective, it is war against India. Then why are we calling it a proxy war? More importantly, by insisting on calling it a proxy war, are we diluting the response of the diverse stakeholders and compromising national security?
Our denial to accept that this is a war is impacting us adversely in multiple ways. Tangible and intangible damage is being inflicted upon India. But since we continue to dilute the perception by calling it a Proxy War, we are not able to grasp the magnitude of the damage.
Hard facts and data from the ground establish that in battleground Kashmir, Pakistan is waging a War against India. Continued infiltration attempts, presence of Pakistani terrorists, use of religion as tool for sustained indoctrination and brain-washing of Kashmiri youth, the regular supply of arms, the deep tentacles of narco terrorism – all reveal that for the Pakistani deep state, there is nothing proxy about this war.
This is my question. By giving it the label of Proxy, are we giving convenient grey space to Pakistan to continue with its audacity? Are we hence compromising national security?
Questions may be asked whether it is important to focus on semantics. It may be pointed out that irrespective of what nomenclature we give it, we are facing a difficult situation in Kashmir.
Semantics matter. Words carry strong and specific messaging. If India continues to call it a Proxy War, the response of the state and the populace is diluted in multiple dimensions. From the perspective of a nation’s security, all these dimensions are significant.
The caveat: In the strategy framework drawn by the deep state, there is no space for jingoism. There is no need for banner headlines across newspapers and news channels screaming, ‘It’s War!’ What we need is an effective strategy that needs to be complemented with hard action on the ground. This must involve the bureaucracy, the Army, police, Kashmir’s local populace and politicians, and the population of mainland India – the largest stakeholders in the Kashmir conflict. Once the people understand the Kashmir problem better, the right understanding in the media shall follow.
Let us step back and see what shall be the shift if we call it a War instead of Proxy War.
From The Perspective Of The Indian Deep State
The deep state of a nation does not undertake strategic planning for five or 10 years. The deep state plans for 40-50 years ahead, and more.
We have been fighting the so-called Proxy War in Kashmir for over 40 years. Let us not forget that Maqbool Bhat had carried out multiple attacks in Kashmir and was hanged at Tihar Jail in 1984. His hanging was 38 years ago. His actions would have carried on for years till the Indian state reached a point where he had to be arrested, convicted and hanged.
How long do we intend to keep fighting this so-called Proxy War? For another 40 years? Definitely not. Does this mean that we do a Balakot on Pakistan every week? No. What we need to do is to formulate our national strategy in such a way that we progressively score over Pakistan in winning the war in Kashmir.
From The Perspective Of The Bureaucracy In Kashmir
There is feedback from multiple channels that the bureaucracy in Kashmir is highly arrogant.
There is something about the cultural environs of a place that makes bureaucracy arrogant. In Kashmir, the bureaucracy is an extension of the times when the political masters — whether of NC or PDP — lived gilded lives. Despite their imperial ways, the political system had some windows from where the people could connect. And finally, democracy makes politicians accountable.
The current security situation in Kashmir is not conducive for elections, hence the bureaucracy shall continue to be in power. There are exceptions among bureaucrats and top cops who have formed deep and abiding connect with the people. But a sizable number of those in the bureaucracy and police are hubristic.
Will these bureaucrats and top cops continue with their hubris if they are aware that India is fighting a war in Kashmir? In this war, it is not just the Army that is our first line of defence. It is also the people of Kashmir.
It is the people of Kashmir who are standing up against the sabotage attempts by the enemy nation. A section of Kashmiri youth is becoming militants, hybrid militants or Over-Ground Workers (OGWs). There is also a sizable section of Kashmiris who identify with India.
These Kashmiris face a direct threat from the terror ecosystem, but they are regularly informing the Army and the security agencies about the operations of the militants, hybrid militants and OGWs so that these are neutralized. These Kashmiris regularly organize events for the youth so that they are not swayed by the terror players.
The large majority of Kashmiris pursuing normal and peaceful lives also identify with India. They do not speak out for fear of the gun, but their peaceful support of India is important.
If the bureaucracy realized that India is fighting a war in Kashmir, their communication channels with people would be open and robust. The bureaucracy would realize the significance of owning the people and identifying with them. You have to work and know the Kashmiris to state this: If you reach out to them with honesty, own them and identify with them, they shall respond with greater warmth and identify with India.
Sitting in ivory towers, a sizable number of bureaucrats in Kashmir have tended to look up to the Kashmiris as benefactors of the welfare state, and not the support system that keeps India strong and vibrant in Kashmir. The realization that India is fighting a war in Kashmir shall jolt them out of their mai-baap sarkar approach and make them feel accountable to the people.
How The Kashmiris Stand By India
Elections to the District Development Councils were held in Jammu and Kashmir in December 2020. The regional politicians of Kashmir projected the elections as a referendum on the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K. Kashmiris came out in sizable numbers to vote and did not give NC or PDP a clean sweep. They negated the theorists who had warned of dire public anger against the Centre.
Reports emerged from polling stations across north, central and south Kashmir that a number of Kashmiri polling officers cursed the people for casting their vote and making India’s democratic exercise successful. The polling officers who indulged in such behaviour are Jamaatis within the system.
A sizable section of the common Kashmiris aren’t Jamaatis. These Kashmiris are part of our bulwark against Pakistan. We need to incentivize and strengthen this constituency to ensure higher national security.
In the war waged by Pakistan, the large majority of the people of Kashmir are standing by India. This constituency needs to be strengthened so that it can grow. We need to see it as a war so that we can put it in black and white how to win it and respond accordingly.
From The Economic Perspective
A nation cannot function in silos. The social, political, economic, diplomatic or military perspective — all these are enmeshed together.
The skilling of the youth of Kashmir and incorporating them in the economic mainstream is vital. Productive involvement of Kashmiri youth in economic activities is not simply the function of a benevolent welfare state. It is hardcore security strategy. The more the Kashmiri youth shall be involved in productive activities, the less available they shall be to the indoctrination and brainwashing by Pakistan to engage in violence against the state.
Which Wolf Are We Feeding?
There is an old story. A man tells his grandchild that all of us have a good wolf and a bad wolf in our head – the good side and the bad side. The child asks, “Which wolf shall grow big in my head?” The grandfather answers: The one that you feed.
Why does separatism continue to be an issue in Kashmir? Because separatism was fed by faulty GOI policies. To supposedly counter hard separatism, the Centre made space for soft separatism. The result was that while hard separatism stayed, soft separatism got normalized. Wrong continues to be wrong – whatever the degree.
Even now, which wolf are we feeding in Kashmir? At the grassroots level, young Kashmiris are rising to stand up with India. Are we incentivizing them? Are we giving them recognition and honour? Are we making their constituency grow?
The security agencies take swift action to neutralize all terrorists and hybrid militants. The response to the negative is swift. Is it not in order that the response to the positive shift among the youth must be acknowledged and rewarded simultaneously?
If the deep state clearly articulated to the various arms of the government that it is clear and present danger in Kashmir, the state would respond swiftly to incentivize the pro-India youth.
These youngsters are saying loud and clear that India is their nation. Are we hearing their voices? Are we strengthening them? Here the state lags. This comes at the cost of national security.
Identifying the pro-India Kashmiri youth, strengthening them and giving them recognition needs to be institutionalized. It will cost far less than the cost of fighting Pakistan in Kashmir. It will also counter Pakistan’s false and vicious narrative that the conflict in India is home-grown.
Strengthening the pro-India youth will mean rapid grassroots change. Are we doing the needful?
Ultimately, the larger the India constituency in Kashmir, the higher shall be the number of those who stand up for peace and prosperity. The higher the number of those who refuse to let militancy grow in Kashmir, the better the security situation in our sensitive border state.
How Do We Make The India Constituency In Kashmir Grow?
The numbers of those who identify with India shall grow if we incentivize them. We do not have to buy their support with monetary handouts. That shall be self-defeating in the long run.
The way to incentivize the pro-India youth, the pro-India Kashmiris is by acknowledging their contribution and honouring them. This can be done by bestowing them with coveted titles, on the pattern of the peace-time awards given by the state.
It has to be noted that the youth who are actively engaged in persuading their peers and juniors to identify with India are not fighting any proxy war against Pakistan. They know that they are fighting a war. They know that they have to win this war against the enemy country.
Many defense and security experts say that a war has definite established global parameters. They assert that the situation in Kashmir cannot be described as war — that would be sensationalizing the issue.
What I say that we must strategize and frame our public policy with the understanding that we are fighting a war in Kashmir. By calling it a war, I am not engaging in yellow journalism. I am driving home the point that as a people and as a country, we need to acknowledge the full gravitas of the situation we are facing in Kashmir and respond accordingly.