By Shyam Khosla
President Musharraf'sdelayed offer?conveyed through media?of a ?soft LoC? to enable Kashmiris to meet relatives and assist in reconstruction after the devastating quake looks good on paper. But his intentions are suspect. Did the General make the gesture out of genuine sympathy for the people of J&K or was it a calculated move to exploit the emotionally charged atmosphere to sneak in more and more terrorists into the Indian State? Recent spurt in terrorist activities in the State, particularly merciless killing of innocent Hindus and gunning down of a Minister in a high security area in Srinagar, has strengthened the view that the colossal sufferings caused by the natural calamity has not brought about any change of heart in the jihadis. They are as determined as ever to execute their evil designs. There is no let up in their ferociousness and mindless killings to keep J&K issue alive. A soft or open LoC is most likely to be exploited by the terrorists to cross over in good numbers as they did in the aftermath of the quake that demolished bunkers on both sides of the line and kept the security forces busy in rescuing survivors.
Offering humanitarian help to people in agony and providing food and shelter to survivals of a tragedy comes naturally to Indians as to any other civilized society. That is what India did in the wake of the quake that caused more damage in PoK than in India. Islamabad took several days to allow Indian relief to be flown to Pakistan. The man who is now talking about soft LoC was reluctant to allow the Indian plane to fly to Pakistan with much needed supplies. The demand that India give some copters for relief work minus Indian pilots showed the same mindset. What is he trying to hide? The crafty General makes his moves carefully and indulges in gimmicks to impress global public opinion. New Delhi shouldn'tallow itself to be emotionally blackmailed. There is no question of making the LoC open or soft. Even if movement of people across the line of control has to be liberalised, it should be regulated to ensure that while genuine travellers are not harassed, terrorists don'texploit it for sneaking into India. There should be no let up in the security arrangements. No one should presume that the threat to our security has been reduced because some terrorist camps in PoK were damaged by the quake. Putting up temporary camps is no problem for outfits that are flush with funds and can always rely on administrative and financial assistance from the ISI, the Pak Army and the jihadi elements in Pakistan and elsewhere.
The colossal sufferings caused by the natural calamity has not brought about any change of heart in the jihadis. They are as determined as ever to execute their evil designs.
Soft borders are helpful where there is no or little hostility between nations as is the case in the European Union. The open borders between India and Nepal hurt no one till ISI set up a strong base in the Himalayan Kingdom and started exporting terrorism to India. One manifestation was the hijack of the Indian Airline plane that led to our humiliating capitulation. The strong links between Maoists operating in Nepal and India that enable them to undertake joint operations are a cause of worry for New Delhi. The need to regulate movement of men and material across Indo-Nepal border is now a burning question. If that were so between two friendly countries with cultural and religious bonds, one should think twice before making LoC between India and Pakistan occupied Kashmir soft or open. It has serious security implications and New Delhi shouldn'ttake Pakistan'soffer on its face value.
While the entire world has appreciated India'sprompt offer of relief for the survivors of the natural calamity in Pakistan occupied territories, certain ?liberal? Muslim intellectuals have alleged that the Indian trade and industry has not responded to the tragedy in Kashmir as they did in Gujarat simply because it were largely the Muslims who were the sufferers in the recent calamity. One of them accused business houses of being communal saying they are, by and large, sympathetic to the RSS and the BJP. There is hardly any merit in these allegations born out of the communal bias of these gentlemen. For one thing, these ?liberal? Muslims who are one of the strongest supporters of Article 370 that prevents Indians (that are not State subjects of J&K) to own any property in the State. Terrorism that has engulfed the State for long is yet another factor. Not many business houses are willing to invest in the State where personal safety and security is always a big question mark. So, most Indian business houses lack the infrastructure to rush relief. Of course, they have far less stake in J&K than they have in Gujarat where they see stupendous business opportunities. Businessmen donate money but most of them are not unmindful of their own interests. Let the ?liberal? Muslims do some soul searching and rethink about the utility or otherwise of Article 370 instead of accusing others of communalism.