ON FEBRUARY 12, a day after Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) fidayeen launched another terror attack on the military camp in Sunjuwan near Jammu, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti made a fervent appeal to Delhi—“talk to Pakistan”. Risking, in her own words, “being labelled anti-national by news anchors,” she said, “dialogue with Pakistan is necessary if we are to end bloodshed. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering. We have to talk because war is not an option.”
The same day, evidently smarting from the audacity of the strike, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman swore retribution in Jammu, in a contrary but clear indication that New Delhi intended to continue with its muscular policy on Kashmir that precludes any dialogue with Islamabad.
But it is obviously not working. The conflicting impulses of Mehbooba’s People’s Democratic Party and the Narendra Modi-led BJP may be aiding a revival of the terror campaign in the Kashmir Valley. Although security forces have had significant success against militants, 24 civilians and security personnel have been killed in less than two months this year— the highest death toll since 2007. There has been a worrying rise in terrorism-related deaths since 2013, the year Parliament attack conspirator Afzal Guru was hanged. And the numbers have risen sharply in the wake of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in July 2016.
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