Futile to expect Pakistan and terrorists to mend their ways, Ramzan or no Ramzan

There has already been criticism from certain quarters, especially from the security experts, of the Union Government’s decision to announce a hold during the Ramzan period on its ongoing campaign to flush out militants. It has been said with some conviction that the ceasefire would allow the militants, now on the run, to recoup and seize the advantage they have lost. This is possible, given that the separatist/militant camp has pooh-poohed the Government’s initiative.

Stone-pelters are still active whenever they want to and there is nothing to indicate that militancy will end during the ceasefire time. But we have to wait and see the final outcome. Meanwhile, the other problem, that of Pakistani forces’ unprovoked firing from across the borders, remains as serious.

In recent days, Pakistani forces have resorted to shelling that has claimed civilian lives, including that of an infant. It is true that the Indian forces have given a fitting reply, destroying Pakistani bunkers in retaliation, but we can be certain that it will not deter Islamabad from its nefarious designs. The surgical strikes the Indian Army had carried out last had sent across a strong signal that India would not hesitate to cross the borders and hit if and when necessary.

Unfortunately, even the surgical strikes have not deterred the Pakistani forces from continuing with their offensive — not just against Indian military but also against innocent civilians. New Delhi has vehemently stated that while it would not fire the first bullet, it would respond strongly to unprovoked attacks. The Centre has added that the Indian Army was free to choose the scale of attacks, keeping in mind the situation at hand. All of this is fine, but a larger level of deterrence is required and India must be prepared to strike decisively. Incremental actions have not worked. Meanwhile, as is usual, demands are being made by sections of the political class in Jammu & Kashmir for resuming talks with Pakistan, and with the Hurriyat leadership too. New Delhi’s position is clear on the two: That Pakistan must cease militant attacks on Indian soil first, and that the Hurriyat should be prepared to talk within the parameters of the Constitution of India. Their track record offers little hope.

As Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken a string of bold initiatives, including talking to the Hurriyat leadership, to resolve the issue. His efforts had been universally hailed, but neither the militants nor the separatists kept their end of the bargain. It’s futile to trust them.