With the cowardly killing of 22-year-old Indian Army Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz by Pakistan-backed terrorists in south Kashmir, Islamabad’s undeclared war against India has touched a new low. It was for the first time when an unarmed Indian soldier was targetted by terrorists. It also shows that Pakistan’s proxy war against India in Kashmir has reached a new height of desperateness and it can go to any extent to hurt India, even if it involves kidnapping and killing unarmed Indian soldiers.
What is more troubling about Fayaz’s killing is the time chosen by the terrorists for this dastardly act. Last month, Pakistan put on death row Kulbhushan Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer-turned-businessman, who was kidnapped by terrorists and sold to Islamabad. Incidentally, the new of Fayaz’s killing came on a day when India had secured a stay on the death sentence to Jadhav at the International Court of Justice.
Fayaz was killed when he was on leave at his home in Kulagam in south Kashmir. Commissioned into the Army on December 10 last year, Fayaz had taken leave to attend a marriage. But he was kidnapped from Batpura village and killed by terrorists. Fayaz was with the Rajputana Rifles. His bullet-riddled body was found in Harmen area of Shopian in south Kashmir on Thursday morning.
Lt. Ummer Fayaz of 2RAJRIF was an exceptional sportsman, his sacrifice reiterates nation's commitment to eliminate terrorism from the Valley
Indian Army has termed Fayaz’s killing as a “watershed moment” in Kashmir Valley, saying people of the region may now turn the tide against terrorism. “This marks a watershed moment in Kashmir Valley and people of Kashmir will decisively turn the tide against terrorism,” Abhay Krishna, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of South Western Command and Colonel of Rajputana Riffles, said, in a condolence message to the family of Fayaz.
India, however, cannot sit back in the hope that this one incident would turn the tide against terrorism in the Valley on its own. Senior journalist Harinder Baweja writes in HT that killing of Fayaz is also a “political watershed moment that New Delhi must seize” by an “outreach to the Kashmiris at this very juncture.”
That the militants kidnapped an army officer & murdered him shows a new mindset devoid of fear of retribution/revenge & that is very scary. https://t.co/UR2UCaxl1Y
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) May 10, 2017
In the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is languishing in an undisclosed jail in Pakistan, the chances of his return to India are not so bright, even after India’s move to the ICJ. Praveen Swami writes in The Indian Express that “courtrooms at The Hague (where ICJ is located) have often proved poor refuge for men on death row.”
According to Swami, “Even if India succeeds in getting an order that the Naval officer on death row should have consular access, that alone won;t win him freedom. The law isn’t the same thing as justice — and it might do precious little to save Kulbhushan Jadhav’s life.”
Terrorism sponsored by Pakistan in Kashmir is not a recent phenomenon. It has made deep inroads into the Valley and managed resources to carry out attacks on Indian soldiers and police personnel on a routine basis.
So, what are the options India has right now to deal with Pakistan?
There is one group of experts and lobbyists in the country who believe that India should restart the dialogue process with Pakistan as well as the separatists in Kashmir.
India has been talking to Pakistan for the last 70 years. And it has not yielded any desired result. Pakistan has refused to shun its anti-India programme, which includes its continued covert or overt interference in Kashmir and terrorism.
Former foreign service officer Kanwal Sibal writes in an article for Vivekananda Foundation, “Pakistan remains fixated on Kashmir, hanging on to 70 year old UN resolutions – which its has repeatedly violated by resorting to force, subversion and terrorism – when the world has moved on. It continues to nurture jihadi groups targeting India as they are considered assets in the proxy war against us.”
Sibal suggests India should reinforce the early warnings issued to Pakistan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The early signals sent by Modi on Baluchistan, surgical strikes and the IWT therefore need to be reinforced so as to change the calculus of all parties. Equally importantly, our internal consensus on pursuing this course has to be strengthened. The opposition and the peace lobby should take a position that transcends party interests and ideological leanings.”
In a speech in August 2013, PM Modi had warned Pakistan, saying, “Pakistan forgets that it bombs its own citizens using fighter planes. The time has come when Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against people in Baluchistan and PoK.”
Last year, India had started an international campaign to get Pakistan declared as a terror state. But the campaign lost steam after some time. Even the Indian Parliament has not yet declared Pakistan a sponsor of terrorism. Besides, PM Modi had also talked about reviewing Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan. But no action has been taken in this regard.
Shouldn’t India start acting on the options that are already available?
(With agency inputs)