This summer, a different Pakistan?
The new civilian government in Pakistan is negotiating a truce with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the North West Frontier Province. When the cease-fire goes into effect, the Pakistan army will no longer be under too much pressure. In such a scenario, it is likely to once again turn its attention towards Kashmir. Unless the presence of security forces is maintained and the people in the rural areas are simultaneously empowered to organise themselves to ensure their own security, Jammu and Kashmir may be in for another "hot" summer of militancy leading up to the elections to the state assembly.
Pervez Musharraf's military regime had declared: "Pakistan would continue to support with moral, political and diplomatic backing militants seeking independence of Kashmir from India." The army's new chief of staff has reiterated Pakistan's support for the struggle in Kashmir and could be expected to continue the pursuit of the military strategy to bleed India. The real problem between India and Pakistan is the Pakistan army and its abnormal influence in Pakistan's affairs, and not the Kashmir issue or any other issue.
While the Pakistan army will remain preoccupied with the emerging scourge of terrorism within Pakistan, India can ill-afford to let its guard slacken. Pakistani generals will invariably attempt to again enlarge the scope of the proxy war. In keeping with its tradition of doing things on a grand scale without due thought being given to the consequences, the Pakistan army, aided by the ISI, may attempt to get its mercenary marauders to "seize" a small town in Kashmir and proclaim that it has been liberated by the mujahideen . Such attempts need to be guarded against through effective intelligence networks and vigorous counter-insurgency operations by the security forces.
Further moves to resolve the Kashmir issue will remain on the back-burner for some more time. However, the Pakistani generals may not be averse to discussing additional confidence-building measures in the military field and it would be in India's interest to agree to do so. As the spectre of a Taliban backlash is gradually receding in Pakistan, the army can be expected to persist with its policy of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds in Afghanistan in covert aid of the Taliban militia. India must continue its efforts to build international consensus for an amicable resolution of that war-torn country's nightmarish problems.
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