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WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN KASHMIR -- T.O.I. EDITORIAL--useful for SBI PO DESCRIPTIVE ENGLISH

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN KASHMIR

A multi-pronged initiative, with security, political and economic dimensions, is needed. 
That Kashmir is an integral part of India needs no reiteration (पुनरावृत्ति / दोहराना) . But that very reiteration needs to prompt genuine concern cutting across partisan political divides, on the pace at which the Valley is spiralling out of control. What can be done about it? There are no easy solutions. But a multi-pronged initiative, meticulously (पूरी बारीकी से) planned and uncompromisingly implemented, is the crying need of the hour. 

Firstly, the effectiveness of our armed forces in Kashmir must be urgently upgraded to minimise the frequent loss of lives of our brave soldiers and paramilitary forces. Most security experts agree that the strength of our army along the LoC is below functional requirements. We need to increase numbers by at least 30% to minimise jihadi infiltration (घुसपैठ) from across the border, and provide a deterrent response to Pakistan's repeated ceasefire violations. 

Equally, the equipment with our armed forces needs substantive upgrade. Far more night vision devices, better anti-infiltration systems such as state of the art infrared and ground sensors, and much greater surveillance by UAVs, are needed. 
The terrain above 12,000 feet is mountainous and dotted with nullahs and rocky outcrops that make conventional fencing difficult. In fact, in winter, the fence on the LoC is dwarfed by 12-15 feet of snow. Funds to regularly resuscitate (पुनर्जीवित करना) fencing and anti-infiltration equipment, and upgrade weak perimeter security around military installations ¬ as the latest attack on Kupwara shows for the nth time ¬ must be provided immediately. A review of our entire intelligence apparatus is also far overdue. 

Secondly, it must be understood that merely escalating (बढ़ते हुए) the level of violence within Kashmir cannot be either an enduring or sustainable solution. While security cannot be compromised, and planned violence against the state must be dealt with firmly, the government must also seriously get down to the task of finding, or creating, interlocutors (वार्ताकार) with whom a dialogue process could begin. Those who are clearly Pakistani agents, or secessionists, should be ostracised (बहिष्कृत) and punished under the law. This would include part of the Hurriyat leadership. But all attempts should be made to engage with moderates (उदारवादी) among the Hurriyat, as has been attempted in the past. 

Strategically agile states create interlocutors where none seem to exist, including through the right mix of incentives and protection. Sections from within Kashmir's fractured civil society should be explored. Associations other than Hurriyat should be probed. For instance, there is a network of clerics, scholars and ulemas with whom talks should begin. Student leaders, who can be persuaded to talk, should be approached. The important thing is to convey that the government is willing to engage instead of merely upping the level of retributive (प्रतिकारात्मक / प्रतिवादी) violence. 

Thirdly, Kashmir needs economic development and investments for the creation of jobs. Given the troubled situation, this is easier said than done. But the thousands of young Kashmiris who recently lined up for a few hundred jobs on offer in the Territorial Army provides definitive proof that jobs could finesse alienation. Apart from government jobs, why can't the government think of providing impossible to ignore economic incentives, accompanied by strong assurances of security protection, to private entrepreneurs from across India? Indians are born entrepreneurs, and if provided the right mix of incentives, will surely respond. 
Fourthly, concrete steps must be taken to stop the rampant (उग्र /बड़े पैमाने पर) Islamic radicalisation unfolding across the Valley for the last several years. Mosques and madrasas, under extremist Wahhabi, Salafi or Ahl-al-Hadith influence, have proliferated in every village. Funds for this have come clandestinely from several Islamic countries. With digital tracking of financial transactions now commonplace, the time has come to cut off the umbilical cord of this funding. 

Fifthly, diplomacy must be strategically leveraged. Bilateral talks with Pakistan, even if restricted to that country's nexus with terrorism, should begin, for it conveys to hardliners in the Valley that we can talk directly to their masters. A track two dialogue, conducted away from the arc lights, should also be attempted with the deep state within Pakistan, the ISI and army. 
Simultaneously, international pressure on Pakistan, especially that of America, should be mobilised. In the last decade the US has provided around $25 billion to Pakistan in military and civilian aid. If President Donald Trump is serious about acting against Islamic terrorism, this is the time to persuade him to tighten the screws on Pakistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington should take place soonest possible. 
Finally, BJP must clamp down on its communal rhetoric. Issues like beef ban, cow vigilantism and the creation of a Hindu rashtra unsettle minorities across the country. Attacks on Kashmiri students studying in universities outside the Valley is most reprehensible. The BJP leadership condemns these attacks, but it appears its cadres believe such advice is purely cosmetic. In fact, the government should create more seats in universities across India for Kashmiri students, as this will make them stakeholders in peace as also role models for other aspiring students. 
When a house is on fire, not doing anything is hardly the solution. Hostility between alliance partners PDP and BJP has brought governance in Srinagar to a standstill. Will at least the central government wake up now and implement a comprehensive plan to salvage the situation?

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