Mehbooba cornered on truce call

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“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

– Nelson Mandela


 Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti may have tried to follow in the footsteps of her father, the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, in calling for a ceasefire within the state, but finds herself cornered with leaders from the BJP accusing her of playing politics over the issue. Her call for a ceasefire to ease tension during the fasting period of Ramazan and the Amarnath Yatra has been questioned by the BJP, the coalition partner of the PDP in the Mehbooba-led government in the state. Mufti has asked the Centre to consider a unilateral ceasefire in the state starting from Ramzan in mid May till the completion of the Amarnath Yatra in August. She made the remarks after chairing an all-party meeting, which was convened to discuss the present situation in Kashmir Valley, especially after a tourist from Chennai was killed in stone pelting on May 7.  This period has seen increased violence and many youth taking to guns. They appear to have been caught by romanticism and glamour of the gun. So, the Centre seems not too keen about initiating a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir as of now as the situation is not conducive and such an exercise in 2000 did not give the desired results. There was no guarantee that the Pakistan-based terrorists groups would not reciprocate if the Centre agrees to the state government’s request for a ceasefire. Mainstream political parties asking New Delhi to announce unilateral ceasefire during Ramadhan is a “cosmetic exercise” because the Chief Minister can take such a decision at her own level in the capacity of the chairperson of the Unified Headquarters, a section of people opined.

Recalling the Non Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO), announced by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2000, a senior government functionary said there was a major terror attack at the Srinagar airport during the crucial four-month period 18 years ago, and the announcement of such a decision now may be termed as a “weakness” in the current situation in the state. There is no denying that the situation in the Valley today is very different from 2000. The question is — what does the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir mean when she asks for a ceasefire? It seems with the ceasefire proposal she played to the galleries. But she has done little to bring it on her turf. All she wants to do is to appease the people. She has failed to realize that far from “restoring the confidence of the people”, or improving the situation on the ground, even creating a conducive climate for a fresh political initiative in Kashmir, a ceasefire at this stage will not do any good.

Army chief General Bipin Rawat has expressed his readiness to suspend military operations, but has – very rightly – asked who will stand guarantee that there will be no attacks from the other side. With no guarantors on a cessation of violence from the other side, a unilateral ceasefire is tantamount to making the security forces cannon fodder for terrorists and murderous mobs. So temporary truce is no solution to Kashmir problem.

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