Kashmir after Pulwama attack: Govt between a rock & a hard place

Chest thumping over ‘surgical strike’ and cries of‘How is the Josh’ in the wake of propaganda film ‘Uri’ have returned to haunt the PM and his NSA in the wake of the deadliest terror attack in Kashmir

PTI photo
PTI photo

NH Political Bureau

Even as the Cabinet Committee on Security met at Prime Minister’s residence on Friday morning to take stock of the situation after the deadly suicide attack in Kashmir yesterday and the death toll of CRPF jawans rose to 44, the Government is groping for a suitable response.

The attack has exposed several fault lines in the Government’s Kashmir policy and strategic thinking. While the Government promised development and good governance to the state, its drifting policies have allowed the situation to spin out of control, point out commentators.

The Government failed to deliver on development and governance. And then it talked big on defeating militancy and has failed to deliver again.

Experts have already weighed in on the colossal intelligence failure that is evident. The suicide attack on Thursday would have required at least three months of preparations, say security experts. To arrange for over 300 KGs of explosives, a vehicle, calibrating the timing and getting precise information on movement of the CRPF convoy needed more than one person, they point out. The fact that the security apparatus failed to gather specific inputs has caused concern and experts agree that security protocols and standard operating procedures are in for an overhaul.

There is also concern over the use of explosives and suicide attacks, which increase the unpredictability of attacks. While the J & K Governor publicly admitted to intelligence failure, both he and the MOS in the PMO, Jitendra Singh, have blamed ‘politicians’ without naming them for the mess.

But the blame game is unlikely to stop the clamour for accountability. The NSA Ajit Kumar Doval, the security czar, is also under fire. While he has been busy negotiating the Rafale deal and manipulating the CBI, the area of his immediate concern was ignored by him.

While jingoistic TV channels clamoured for a ‘suitable response’, the Government is clearly in a quandary. While politically it may decide to ramp up on nationalism, especially ahead of the general election, it will be a high-risk option, feel commentators.

Another surgical strike or more overt military action have the potential of leading the country to the brink of war. But having bungled on Kashmir and having wasted the last five years, the Government’s ‘stock response’ for more blood and sacrifice may not work for it any longer.

The other option is for the Government to broaden consultations and seek to build a consensus. But judging by its arbitrary and authoritarian conduct in the past few years, it is doubtful if such belated overtures will carry much credibility or conviction.

The long and short of it is that the Modi Government finds itself between a rock and a hard place.

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