The way the Pakistani leaders, across the political spectrum, reacted to the conviction of Yasin Malik, the chief of the banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), on terror funding charges demonstrates the level of toxicity prevailing in the neighbouring country and their unabashed support to terrorist elements out to foment trouble in India. A […]
The way the Pakistani leaders, across the political spectrum, reacted to the conviction of Yasin Malik, the chief of the banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), on terror funding charges demonstrates the level of toxicity prevailing in the neighbouring country and their unabashed support to terrorist elements out to foment trouble in India. A look at the statements made by Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto on Kashmir makes it clear that despite change in the political dispensation nothing much has changed in Islamabad’s policy towards terrorism. The toxic and provocative language being used by the Pakistani leaders belies hopes of normalising the bilateral ties. Islamabad’s tactics of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy has been the main reason for the collapse of the bilateral relations. Awarding life imprisonment to the JKLF leader by a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, after following the process of law and due hearing, is purely an internal matter of India. It is quite clear that Pakistani politicians will continue to politically encash Kashmir by selling the pipedream to the public of the Islamic Republic in the hope that one day the Valley will be co-opted by force from India on religious grounds. Since Islamabad continues to adopt a hard line on Kashmir, there is no meeting point with India which wants the neighbour to put an end to cross border terrorism and Islamic jihad in the union Territory as a precondition to normalising the ties.
The argument put forward by the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a conglomeration of six J&K-based political parties, that the life imprisonment of Malik could fuel more alienation in the region is a flawed one. India cannot afford to take a lenient approach towards those openly indulging in terrorist activities and seeking foreign help in funding them. It must be pointed out that Malik was convicted after he pleaded guilty to all the charges. He had received training in Pakistan. After raising a guerrilla war against the Indian armed forces by targeting several government officials, his JKLF also kidnapped the daughter of then Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Rubaiya Sayeed, in 1989. Malik never renounced secession as his objective but always orchestrated violence in the guise of political struggle. Given this reality, it is preposterous to suggest that his conviction would be a setback to the peace efforts in the Valley. The soft approach to terrorist elements will only embolden their Pakistani handlers. At this point, India doesn’t have the option of soft diplomacy with a neighbour who chooses to remain adversarial and has umbilical links with another military adversary, China. The onus is now on Shehbaz to normalise ties with India by asking his Army to stop exporting terror to Jammu and Kashmir.
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