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Aggressive talk

December 06, 2012

AN example of the negative signals that come from New Delhi from time to time is the provocative and debatable statement made in parliament on Tuesday by India’s junior foreign minister. His country, said Mullappally Ramchandran, had identified 42 training camps for 2,500 militants in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. He said that no less than 249 attempts had been made by militants so far this year to sneak into “Indian territory” by which he meant the part of Kashmir that is under Indian occupation. Then there was the allegation that all this enjoyed support from Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. Mr Ramchandran’s remarks come on the heels of Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid’s recent press talk. While the foreign minister admitted that no one should be optimistic, he said there were “peace constituencies” in the two countries and that these had begun to have an impact on Pakistan-India relations. Does Mr Ramchandran’s tirade reveal a rift in the Indian establishment on Pakistan?

All observers of the South Asian scene, including sections of the Indian media, admit there has been a reversal of Islamabad’s undoubtedly flawed, pre-9/11 policy with regard to militancy: Islamabad had to crack down on the networks because they had become a threat to Pakistan itself. The ground reality in held Kashmir has changed: armed clashes between Indian security forces and militants have become a rarity, and Kashmir’s struggle is now being led by educated, urban youths, whose only weapons are stones and moral strength. Armed thus, they have kept their struggle for self-determination going. What Mr Ramchandran and his ilk should note is that the end of support from militants from outside the Valley does not mean that the Kashmiris have acquiesced in their state’s occupation by India. The protest is likely to continue irrespective of support or lack of it from beyond. All that Mr Ramchandran’s uncalled-for outburst does is to give an inkling of the Indian government’s approach, which shies away not only from a Kashmir solution but from a resolution of less contentious issues such as Siachen and Sir Creek.