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December 4, 2000

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Varsha Bhosle

Ceasefire: a suspension of judgment

The death toll since Prime Minister Hajpayee's announcement of the unilateral ceasefire during aaarrrrgghhhh... "the holy month of" Ramzan: 6 Hindu labourers abducted and shot dead by Lashkar-e-Taiba; 4 Sikh and 1 Hindu truckers shot dead by Hizb-ul Mujahideen; 4 soldiers of 32 RR; 7 civilians; 8 soldiers of the Indian Army; 1 head constable; and 4 children, aged 3 to 15 years, pulverised in grenade blasts. This, of course, is not remotely a complete list.

Col Lalit Rai, Veer Chakra, has put me in a spot; I understand his point of view -- that the ceasefire is a clever move -- but am unable to live with it. Especially because the ceasefire was announced after the government was in receipt of fresh wireless intercepts which indicated that Pakistani fidayeen had been assigned to target the Indian Army's unit headquarters and the camps of the Special Operation Group of J&K Police in the districts of Srinagar, Baramulla, Kupwara, Poonch and Rajouri. For I believe that only those in a position of strength can afford to make such moves/gestures. Similar actions from those on the receiving end of the stick are nothing more than appeals to please, please halt the thrashing. If a unilateral ceasefire had been announced after breaking the back of Islamic militancy; if peace had been offered when militant attacks in Kashmir were only sporadic; if there was no such thing as Jaish-e-Mohammad since Masood Azhar was still carrying his lota in prison, I could have digested it. But, as things are -- and notwithstanding the overture by Pakistan -- India has, yet again, been sold out.

What "things" are these? One, the security forces have been suffering higher "peace time" casualties than before, which was becoming a political problem for the government. True, this year, the security forces killed the largest number of militants since insurgency erupted in 1989; in October alone, 228 militants were shot in encounters. But, although 1,450 militants have been exterminated this year, as against 898 in 1999, fact is that more Indian security personnel have been killed in the increased attacks since after Azhar's release rejuvenated the terrorists' morale. The home minister claims that India is acting from a position of strength; a cursory scan of daily headlines proves the lie. One's strength is evident when others hesitate to show aggression against one; no one can accuse India of it.

Two, the PM and his external affairs minister are obsessed with convincing the world that the much-reviled "Hindu nationalists" (not that any exist), will bring peace to the Muslim-majority valley. Which is why the ceasefire was reserved for aaarrrrgghhhh... "the holy month of" Ramzan. None of the rocket-scientists of South Block are in recall of the fidayeen attack on the SOG headquarters in Srinagar, in which 15 officers and cops were slaughtered, during aaarrrrgghhhh... "the holy month of" Ramzan last year. Not to forget the event which exposed the PM for the jalebiya he is: the hijacking of flight IC 814 during aaarrrrgghhhh... "the holy month of" Ramzan. Even a retard would know that during aaarrrrgghhhh... "the holy month of" Ramzan, jehad takes on special significance -- Islamists believe they get to the houris in jannat quicker. Indeed, Al-Badr's spokesdork rejected the ceasefire, declaring that Muhammad's first war against kaffirs, the Jang-e-Badr, was fought during aaarrrrgghhhh... "the holy month of" Ramzan, and that the dorks would uphold that tradition.

Three, the clincher: the Pakistan government -- and not just the "Islamic fundamentalist groups," as the national and international press are so fond of emphasising -- is far more involved with the terrorists than is believed. Make the connections between these two news reports, both date-lined November 23:

  • Agence France Press reported from Muzaffarabad that a joint squad of 13 militants of the Harkat-ul Mujahideen and Harkat-ul Jihad-e-Islami attacked two Indian Army posts in Nowshera, killing at least 30 Indian soldiers. Harkat spokesdork Amiruddin Mughal said the dead and injured were taken back to Pakistan. AFP wrote, "Mughal claimed the militants also took the body of an Indian soldier found lying in the Samahni area."

  • The Daily Excelsior reported that "Three army jawans... were killed and four others were injured, two of them seriously, as Pakistan army resorted to heavy shelling on Indian positions in Nowshera sector overnight... Havildar Mohammad Farooq was killed but his body couldn't be traced. Reports said that his body mighty have been whisked away by Pakistan army across the LoC. Late tonight, Pakistan army agreed to handover the dead body of Mohammad Farooq to Indian Army at Suchetgarh sector tomorrow morning."

Is that hand-in-glove or what! So maybe, just maybe, as many as 30 soldiers weren't killed at the LC on the night of November 22, but, how would Mughal know about the body of an Indian soldier dragged to Pakistan by its army? Or, why would the Pakistan army agree to formally hand over bodies taken by militants...?

The Kashmir insurgency is NOT about quelling militants anymore -- it is an out and out war waged by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. No other government in the world would have offered a ceasefire in conditions like the one India faces. Britain was never fighting Ireland. The US bombed Libya and Afghanistan. What the @#$%^ are we doing?! India's "restrained" response to the Kargil incursion was -- rightly, if you ask me -- viewed in Pakistan as a sign of weakness. No other nation would have acted with the sense of "responsibility" that India did in avoiding trans-LC ops to eliminate militant hideouts and training camps -- even though such actions are sanctioned by international law. "Responsibility"? ****s. Rather, a lack of them. Fact is, no nation cares what's happening here, and why should it? No mommy has or will come to bandage India and scold Pakistan. And the only one that just may -- Israel -- is already being pilloried by our great and good.

Recently, Pervez Musharraf said in an interview that the Pakistan government will not "automatically accept whatever the mediator concludes if it is wrongfully tilted towards the other side." Like the pinkos' rejection of the Supreme Court judgment vis--vis Narmada Dam. The mindset is the same: megalomaniacal, self-righteous, ideologically orthodox, obdurate. This isn't the type that sits across tables and talks peace. This mindset spawns and nurtures the likes of Lashkar as well as the People's War Group -- and then point fingers at the Bajrang Dal. It is extremely nave to believe that laathon ke bhooth baaton se maan jaayenge. The Kashmir issue is not some second-rate Vinod Chopra-produced movie where the terrorist is a hunk-with-a-heart-of-gold, simply alienated by accident. They are brutal, cold-blooded warriors with the single purpose of eliminating anybody who does not subscribe to their Islamic world-view. They *believe* that they can take Kashmir by force. And Hindu pusillanimity -- which anyway is under constant threat from pinkos and secularists -- bends over backwards to encourage that belief.

Sandeep Shouche, from Pune, put it well: "Prithviraj Chauhan defeated Mohammad Ghauri 17 times on the battlefield and every time he let Ghauri go, showing clemency to the prisoner. The 18th time, Ghauri defeated Chauhan by deceit, tortured him and killed him. That set the stage for over ten decades of rape and pillage of our nation. Our modern day leaders seem determined to repeat that mistake. It is an indication of the intellectual bankruptcy of our nation, that only one party [Shiv Sena] has actually opposed this insanity [the ceasefire]. And that party is written off by our intelligentsia as a fundamentalist outfit."

The entire argument for the ceasefire, and I've been swamped by them this last week, can be boiled down to two lines:

  • We must give peace a chance.

  • It will drive a permanent wedge between the indigenous Kashmiri militants and the foreign mercenaries, facilitating a political solution to the Kashmiri insurgency problem.

The first, meri jooti pe; I'm no 60s' child to go gaga over Lennonesque Strawberry Fields. However, the second argument was worthy of thought since even this psycho believes that separatism can never be *permanently* crushed by military means. And so I put on my thinking cap, and came up with this: No matter what the Lones and Maliks and Sallahuddins do, Musharraf and his Quran-waving cronies and his Saudi point-man will not stop exporting murderers to India. It's not just a revenge-for-East-Pakistan thing -- it's a jehad against, what they perceive as, Hindu India. Secondly, none of the arms-exporting countries want a calm sub-continent, and hence their reluctance to bear down heavily upon the terrorist state. Thirdly, even if indigenous Kashmiris reject Pakistan, that country will not allow peace in India -- the scale on which the ISI operates here, the crores it has invested in the south and northeast of India, are indicators to Pakistan's end-goals. To even think that a political solution can precede military action is total Alice in Wonderland.

There are two thoughts on the ceasefire prevalent in the Indian Army. One has been mouthed by the COAS: "We are also a party to the decision. We are quite happy with the decision and can look after ourselves and after everybody around us." The other has been put forth in two official letters, written a few days before the ceasefire came into force, by senior commanders -- officers who lead their men on counter-insurgency operations daily -- who have urged the decision-makers (the PMO?) to clarify the ceasefire offer on ground in a situation like Kashmir. They wrote that "if the CI ops are stopped or aggressive stance is petered down, it will hit the morale of the soldiers" and warned of serious consequences amongst the ranks. Asked to practice restraint, the field-level leaders are confused as to how to scale down the aggressive posture.

Trouble in the ranks... That the army was taken into confidence may not have been the complete truth. Hmm... know what? I will be *the* happiest person in India if I'm proved wrong, but I do believe that Chacha Hajpayee (yes, it's official: he's as popular as Nehru, according to the polls), will do with Pakistan what his idol did with China. And with no opposition to speak of, thanks to Signora Mussolini and her houseboys, we are soon going to kiss Kashmir goodbye.

Varsha Bhosle

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