Failure of WHAM doctrine

Published at January 14, 2018 01:37 AM 0Comment(s)5064views

According to JKCCS, Kashmir witnessed a total of 451 killings in 2017

Mohammed Sharjeel

There are many ways to explain the present situation of Kashmir. It’s the epicentre of a conflict between the two nuclear powers. As Kashmir stands caught in the paradox of history, the only thing that is persistent here is the death.

The year 2017 according to the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) witnessed a total of 451 killings, which included civilians, militants and armed forces. The deadly conflict that is unfolding in the Valley must be a cause of concern as it is rapidly turning the Valley into the cesspool of death, destruction and fear.

Though the disturbance is mostly restricted to Valley but it can have serious consequences for the entire sub-continent. Each time, it seemed as though the militancy had been curbed and physically exterminated. Each time, militancy re-emerged, more structured, more determined, more effective and deadlier than ever.

Today entire north and south Kashmir is affected by the militancy, the behaviour of security grid while conducting the counter insurgency operations is leaving behind a furious, isolated and marginalised society.

So, it will be ridiculous to expect the society to not react violently to such happenings. As almost every democratic institution of the country has failed to deliver in the Valley, it has resulted in the creation of a vacuum both on the governance as well as on the administrative fronts.

The absence or non-recognition of the alternative resistance in the Valley has left no option for the people, but to resort to violent means. Now, it will be naive to expect people to observe a sit-in or a dharna while people are being killed, blinded or maimed and houses are vandalised or raised to ground during counter-insurgency operations.

The continuous failure of institutions have resulted in widening the gap between the people of Valley and the rest of India to the extreme levels.

The government’s initiative to accelerate the community driven development programs to reduce the impact of huge militarization and to improve the people’s perception of their economic welfare as well as in their attitudes towards the government - be it on the local or central level.

However, not a single positive outcome of such operations vis-a-vis people’s perception towards central and state government can be found in and around the cities, towns and villages.

As the central government looks at the Kashmir conflict through the prism of macro-economics, but here exists an absolute negative correlation between unemployment rates and the magnitude of armed insurgency.

The young men picking up arms because they have no income-generating activities to keep them busy and sympathetic towards the mainstream politics is a flawed narrative.

The governments assumptions that by the “hearts and minds” model of counterinsurgency, development programs will increase support for the mainstream politics among the population through the provision of public goods and services is likely not going  to work in  the Valley.

As there is no indication that the economic development in the Valley will lead to apparent improvements in security situation.

So there exists a situation where policy makers need to find some concrete explanations as to why we do not observe an improvement in the security situation in the Valley despite announcing huge economic initiatives and employment drives under the doctrine of Winning Hearts and Minds (WHAM).

The WHAM approach requires the counterinsurgents to adopt an approach known as ʺdo no harmʺ but Kashmir is witnessing its reverse since the insurgency began.

Another important feature of the WHAM model requires the counterinsurgents to reduce the chances of collateral damage which unfortunately is on the rise since the operation “AllOut” began.

Hence Kashmir conflict doesn’t completely undermines the main logic of the strategy of “Winning Hearts and Minds” as a counterinsurgency strategy but it does show that this strategy has its limitations which find its roots in the functioning of security establishments.

The answer to Kashmir lies not in increasing the military footprint, but by winning hearts and minds of the people by engaging the relevant stakeholders in the meaningful and result oriented dialogue.




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