‘Not only in Kashmir, but in the rest of the country.’
‘Like Pervez Musharraf and [then Pakistan foreign minister] Sartaj Aziz said during and after Kargil that there will be 10 more Kargils. They will create a Kargil-like situation in any part of India and impact the entire security of the nation,’ says Lieutenant General D B Shekatkar [retd], chairman of the Shekatkar Report on defence expenditure and combat readiness.
Recently appointed as chancellor of Sikkim Central University, the general with 40 years of service in the Indian Army, discusses Kashmir with Rediff.com’s Archana Masih, in the concluding part of his interview.
What are the new security challenges for the army and paramilitary in Kashmir?
When it comes to security at the Line of Control with Pakistan or at the Line of Actual Control with China, any hope that we will be withdrawing our troops from there in the next 10 years, we can forget it.
A continuous presence of the army is required there and it will impact on the defence budget. It will lead to an increase in the defence budget.
I have been chairman of the committee trying to reduce the defence budget and we know what we have gone through, but if you have to deploy troops on those mountainous terrain, there will be a drain on the economy. You will be made to bleed in terms of money.
Secondly, Pakistan will find different mechanism and ways to keep you busy not only in Kashmir, but in the rest of the country.
Like they -- Pervez Musharraf and [then Pakistan foreign minister] Sartaj Aziz said during and after Kargil that there will be 10 more Kargils. They will create a Kargil-like situation in any part of India and impact the entire security of the nation.
On one hand we are thinking of reducing our troops and on the other hand we will be forced to deploy more.
Will Pakistan flood the valley with Taliban after the US withdraws from Afghanistan?
That is what will happen. Because of NATO troops, Pakistan was forced to vacate that area and get the terrorists into Pakistan to prevent them from getting killed by American bombings.
Once the Americans pull out, once again the entire field is open to them. Pakistan has a tremendous impact, not on the people of Afghanistan, but over the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Pakistan is saying it will have to deploy more troops on the eastern border, but it will be sending more terrorists into Afghanistan and use Afghanistan as a reserve forest. As and when required, they will send them to Kashmir to create problems for us.
How can we fortify Kashmir against Pakistan's design of using the Taliban?
Our defences on the LoC will have to be further strengthened. It will lead to criticism that they removed Article 370 and are increasing troops. It gives a counter propaganda weapon to the adversary, but we have no other option because ceasefire violations are not stopping at all.
Pakistan will go all out to ensure that this issue is kept alive by raising it internationally because they have lost the battle in India.
Kashmiris feel Delhi wants Kashmir, but not Kashmiris -- how can this view be addressed?
Education. The younger generation has to be convinced that as more colleges start opening, they start getting training and jobs outside and see India outside, then they will realise what they have been deprived of.
They would not want their state to return to that former situation. It is a time taking process, but it should not take 40 years.
We have to show results in the first 5-7 years and work overtime. We must employ good people to do that who have concern for the people of Kashmir and India.
Every Kashmiri is not against India, I assure you.
There has been a communication blackout for 23 days, the longer the clampdown, won’t this risk a greater backlash from the people when it is lifted?
This clampdown has restricted false propaganda and misuse and abuse of social media. The clampdown will be withdrawn slowly, it won’t remain for long. A mechanism to monitor propaganda has to be made and the black sheep identified. The information and psychological warfare has to be strengthened more and more.
There are 243 influential families, if you neutralise their influence, then 60% of the problem in Kashmir will be over.
It is these people who are creating problems, not Kashmiris. It is wrong to say every Kashmiri is against India. It is not so.
Sometimes harsh measures are needed, not every time.
How long will this clampdown exist? It is not a good thing in a democratic country to have elected officials and people detained and restricted like this.
Not more than a month or so. At this time if they are released they will again start anti-India propaganda. The communication clampdown is being slowly lifted. It cannot and should not be continued for more than two months.
What is the new kind of political leadership that will emerge?
It has to be pro-Kashmiri sentiment, not pro-Pakistani and not anti-Indian. We need fresh minds. The whole system has been hijacked in the last 70 years.
Once elections are held, a new leadership will emerge.
Umeed par duniya kayam hai -- the world works because of hope and we should hope for the best.