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jaipur, rajasthan, India
retired Army Colonel

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri Resurgence

Killing of Burhan Wani literally, had set the Kashmir Valley on fire that continues to simmer till today. No other killing of a terrorist has ever resulted in high octane volatility as this. Why? It's a question we all must ask ourselves and dig out answers for. Those who feel otherwise are either na├»ve or pretend to be one. It's  not matter of conjecture but a simple fact that occurred undeniably in the valley. His funeral gathered unprecedented solidarity and anger against the Indian State.
Burhan, was romanticising militanthood to avenge his brother’s killing. The least any professional terrorist would never do is to post selfies on social media. A staunch radical Islamist only desists the very camera, Burhan was toying with. There were no known or acclaimed terrorist attacks alleged on him. He and his whole gang apparently took up, otherwise easily available gun in Kashmir to become a hero in the eyes society which is largely petrified, specially the young girls. His bravado was an arrogance towards the might and merciless iron hand of security forces.
Those following the insurgency in Kashmir, closely and empathetically, had not only foreseen the cataclysmic results of Burhan’s killing,  but are also pulling their hairs at the annoying disconnect between military and the political establishment, which is so very visible. Whereas, the field units of Security Forces are conducting operations to eliminate terrorists in their conventional stride, the finer strategic direction to their colossal effort is found apparently missing. An intelligent target analysis and realistic damage assessment, in context of counter insurgency would require deeper understanding of complex strands that such evaluations bear. It's the job of our worthy intelligence agencies to continuously evaluate otherwise a fluid situation, and feed our political leaders as well as commanders so that they can keep fine-tuning their strategy. Killing of Burhan Wani explicitly displayed the disconnect, or was it incompetence at strategic level?
 This makes it a classic example of how not to fight insurgency. Any Counter Insurgency campaign would require a clear cut strategic thought and direction. Resorting to fire fight or retaliations, is simply faulting the basics. The strengths of a State in neutralising any political uprising are perseverance, strategic capacity and political acumen. On the contrary, by adopting reactive and punitive approach towards the alienated population and insurgency, the State agencies tends to get personal over a protracted period of deployment, thus losing their superiority of edge.  It not only does create a bloody melee but dissipation of state effort. And we have created such a melee in Kashmir.

We would view Kashmir better through an Indian prism rather than a Pakistani lens. Islamist Violence and religious fundamentalism has disturbed the global peace matrix. Pakistan, couldn't help itself to avoid becoming part of the problem and the world is aware of the same.  She has got cornered internationally for sure, and it's  outrageous support to Kashmir is waning on two accounts. Firstly, the World Community pressure and secondly, a severe resource crunch it faces in house. Its own domestic violence and public opinion are only making the situation worse. Our focus should well now be shifted to people of Kashmir away from Pakistan's proxies.

This, would put us in context of Burhan Wani, and his likes who are picking up gun not to defeat India but to wriggle out of life of an inmate a Kashmiri lives strangulated in barbed wire. The youth want to rebel and push the barrel of gun away, that always seen pointing at him or her. A joint strategy of political wisdom and military prowess can bring peace and tranquility back in Kashmir if we all put our hearts and minds together as Lt Gen Hooda, Northern Army Commander rightly said.
It's the delivery boy or the messenger that not only bears the brunt of war but also put up a front face of the back office, that may be any insipid, distorted, disjointed and ill-intended.