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Experts, military men differ on ceasefire suggestion

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By Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

Srinagar, May 13: The suggestion to call for a temporary, unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir evokes a mixed response from the experts and military men.

 

Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, had on Wednesday, after convening a meeting of all the mainstream political parties, asked New Delhi to announce ceasefire for the month of Ramadan.

The suggestion was later opposed by her ruling ally, BJP.

Defence analyst, Kapil Kak said he favoured any initiative that could reduce the “pain, despair and the despondency” in Kashmiri youth.

“Ceasefire shall be announced. I believe we shall follow the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s initiative of 2000, when he had announced a unilateral ceasefire,” he said.

He said the security forces would, however, retain the option to target the foreign militants about whom “they have incontrovertible and unambiguous actionable intelligence”.

He said the “anger and pain” in the youth was “fully justified”.

“Youth must desist from attacking the security forces. Our friend Pakistan, if they have sympathy for the people of Kashmir, shall halt the infiltration and attacks being carried out by proxy on the security forces,” he said.

Kak is presently involved in the track II diplomacy as a civil society representative.

“Early initiative for dialogue with Pakistan shall be taken. There is no regular government in Pakistan. At least, we can make the ground for dialogue. The elections are due in India and Pakistan after some time,” he said.

“We should enhance connectivity, bring halt on the blood bath and violence, the dialogue should be sustainable and ensure the resolution of the Kashmir issue,” he added.

Analyst, Ajay Sahini, however, said that it was undesirable to bring “an artificial interval” in the operations at the moment.

“Unless there is indication from the other side that they are for resolution, ceasefire shall not be announced. Ceasefire will give freedom to the militants to regroup,” he said.

“They may only suspend violent activities. The ceasefire will be applicable on the security forces only. The interval will be used for consolidation.”

Former GoC of the army’s15 corps, General Ata Hasnain said any major decision in the field of operations must have a focused aim.

“The decision on ceasefire must be clear, the aim needs to be derived from the situational need and the necessity to allow things to calm and emotions to stabilize,” he said.

“Yet, it cannot allow a leeway for rebuilding terrorist capability and wherewithal. That is why a ceasefire in such operations has to be a graded one, with nuances that will ensure both adequate control and sufficient freedom.

“The political community which has been unable to engage with its constituency (the people) will get the chance to go back to the grassroots and engage,” he said.

“For the army there will be also a greater chance to engage with the populace, as has always been done. The spelling of saner narratives will also be possible in the absence of ever ready triggers towards violence. The one thing to guard against is disinformation and misinformation enabled by the social media,” he added.

For naysayers, Hasnain said “I may only argue that in the world of sub-conventional operations, ego must be shelved, since there are no winners and no losers against your own people.

“At least that is the notion with which the Army always operates. A unilateral ceasefire is no indicator of weakness. In fact it is a display of confidence and will to seek peace. Political astuteness and ability to build bridges creates the winning situation,” he added.

He said that the terms and conditions for ceasefire would be an “essential aspect” that must have the opinion of military commanders on the ground.