When Geopolitics asked me to write this piece with the given theme it was after long that I was being asked whether hard power could be an approach in ‘resolving’ Kashmir. For those familiar with the history of the 27 year old proxy war it would not be difficult to recall that the last time the Indian Army effectively employed a higher degree of hard power in the Valley was during the early Nineties. Thereafter, almost all senior commanders of the Army have followed a calibrated approach in balancing hard with soft power. Hard power alludes to the use of different shades of force to prevent the violent side of the separatist resistance movement becoming dominant. It is employed in different degrees of counter violence from the LoC inwards to the hinterland.
For the less informed it may be appropriate to remind them that the situation in Kashmir through the nineties remained extremely challenging. A descriptive analysis may be good for the reader as public memory is short.
In 1989-90 every Kashmiri presumed that Azadi was about to dawn the next day. Once the Kashmiri Pandits had been evicted on the symbolic date of 19 Jan 1990 this belief became stronger. The Indian Army then had four frontline divisions in Sri Lanka and the Punjab problem was almost at its peak even as the Mandal issue was simmering and internationally India’s stature was nothing to write home about; recall that the Cold War had just ended and there was uncertai