‘Delivers keynote address at Army’s ‘CLAWS’ Seminar at Delhi Cantonment
New Delhi, Jun: Speaking at the Indian Army’s Centre for Land Warfare Studies’ (CLAWS) Seminar on “Pakistan – Perception Management & Constructing a Positive Narrative in J&K” held in New Delhi on Wednesday, National Conference Leader and Party’s State Spokesperson, Junaid Azim Mattu said it was not the primary responsibility of the Indian Army to deal with internal political strife in Kashmir in perpetuity in the complete absence of a political process and that the State cannot resolve the vexed Kashmir Issue militarily. Delivering a keynote address on ‘Prevention of Political Polarization and measures to Improve Public Discourse for prevention of instability’, Junaid also said the Army’s decision to reward Major Gogoi for using a human-shield in Kashmir and frequent, deliberately leaked videos of atrocities on youth as well as jingoistic narrative by retired Army officers on national mainstream media had done more harm to the Army’s image among young Kashmiris than what a hundred years of Operation Sadhbhavna could possibly repair.
Held at the Taber Hall of the Army’s Manekshaw Centre at Delhi Cantonment, the Seminar saw speeches from Fomer Deputy Chief of Army Staff (DCOAS) and Former GOC 15 Corps Lt. General Gurmit Singh (Retd.), Former GOC General Subrata Saha (Retd.), Former DGP of J&K, K. Rajendra (IPS), GOC Victor Force, Major General Ashok Narula, Senior Columnist and Author Ms. Nirupama Subramanium and Senior Supreme Court Lawyer, Advocate Aman Hingorani. A galaxy of veterans from the Army, media and bureaucracy constituted the audience for the seminar. The seminar delved on various issues and facets of related to the obtaining situation in Kashmir where solutions were discussed and deliberated upon.
In his keynote address, Junaid said the Army’s role was to safeguard the borders and the Line of Control and not to deal operationally and militarily and in perpetuity with internal strife and political disturbances caused by an underlying, unaddressed political issue. “The problem in Kashmir is neither a law-and-order problem, nor one that can be dealt with militarily and operationally alone. It is not the role of the Army to tackle an inherently political situation in Kashmir and somehow for us to expect that this approach would lead to normalcy. Similarly, an excessive reliance on para-military forces to handle the situation – while choosing to abstain from political engagement and refusing to have a political initiative – is proving to be counterproductive. We have reached the rock bottom in Kashmir with the space for the mainstream at an all time, dismal low. We have gone to the lowest possible electoral turnout and have had to witness the abortion of an election. These are unprecedented signs and developments and no amount of military and operational handling is going to improve things unless there are sustained and well-meaning talks with everyone willing to talk and engage – including the mainstream in J&K and those separatists who have constructive solutions to offer”, he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Junaid said Pakistan was a party to the political issue in Kashmir by the very nature of the unresolved geo-political dispute and would continue with its own agenda that would at times be detrimental to the establishment of peace in the Valley. “We have created this misleading perception that we can deal with and contain the situation in Kashmir without taking Pakistan on-board and that somehow cross-border firing and surgical strikes are the best way to deal with Pakistan and consequently with the obtaining situation in Kashmir. What has hostility delivered till now apart from misery and pain in Kashmir? While there is no doubt about Pakistan’s intention to keep the pot boiling in Kashmir, to solely blame Pakistan for the basic political problem – that of broken promises, robbed autonomy, alienation and political isolation – would be a convenient lie. Successive regimes in New Delhi – their constitutional and political intrigues against the State’s special status and autonomy – are far more culpable and responsible for the current situation in Kashmir than Pakistan”, the NC State Spokesperson said.
Lashing out at the regressive role played by the mainstream electronic media in polarizing the narrative on Kashmir, Junaid said some new channels were actively following a script of the powers that be in Delhi where demonizing Kashmiris was being seen as a tool to discredit the political issue there. “We have reached a stage where a certain Major Gaurav Arya, on national TV, questions why our children in Kashmir have red-cheeks and why our farmers don’t commit suicide and how this needs to be investigated. Gentlemen like him have become the faces of the Army thanks to these channels as against the official spokespersons of the Army. The narrative set by these men is communal, bigoted, racist and confrontational and has a direct bearing on the psyche of the Kashmiri youth. Today, it would not be wrong to say that the mainstream electronic media is the biggest threat to the very survival of the ‘Idea of India’ – not just in Kashmir but in the entire country”, Junaid said in his address.
“As far as the Separatist Leadership is concerned – despite all their flaws, deficiencies and shortcomings, talking to them is inevitable and a far better option than ceding more space to the violent constituency. A sustained engagement with the Hurriyat leadership would ensure an incentive for non-violent mediation and representation of the sentiment and also put the onus on Hurriyat to move from sinecurism to active conflict resolution through innovation and creativity. The longer we choose to brush the issue under the carpet militarily and operationally and choose to not talk, the more fillip we provide to and violence in Kashmir. And the fact that, for the first time since the early 90s, the number of local militants far exceeds the number of foreign elements should snap us out of our slumber and make us adopt a realistic approach”, the NC leader said.
The NC Spokesperson said the youth of Kashmir were feeling cornered and suppressed and needed to be heard out respectfully and constructively. “We need to talk to the youth and we need to empower them to articulate their political aspirations in a positive and result-oriented atmosphere. Robbing them of the space to disagree with the system will only rob Kashmir of peace and stability and would also result in a further deterioration of the situation”, Junaid added. (KNS)