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A considerable focus on the Kargil ‘war’, at this time, is inevitable. The aftershock of the new pattern of creeping aggression launched by Pakistan – and beaten back at substantial cost in lives and resources by India – will linger on, not only in the sub-continent but also in a concerned world at large. The combination of fundamentalists and mercenaries with regular soldiers that Pakistan experimented with in this misadventure, is certain to be witnessed again, at least in the theatre of conflict in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). The current politics of both India and Pakistan has been radically altered, and an element of further instability has entered the region. In these circumstances, a great deal of strategic attention will undoubtedly be brought to bear upon an analysis of the execution and future impact of this conflict.

Such an exercise is critical. Nevertheless – and this is a particular danger in the Indian strategic establishment – it must not exhaust the entire scope of our responses. The media circus notwithstanding, it is important to understand that Kargil was a relatively minor skirmish in a war that has been waged over the decades – and shows no conspicuous signs of ending.

In India, today, new confrontations arise each day, and there are many others that have been simmering for decades. I have no hesitation in squarely placing the blame for these on the abysmal failure of institutional leadership in this country. Over a long career in the midst of some of the most violent of these crises, I have observed the mechanisms of this failure at close quarters. We have, as a democracy, simply failed to rise to the challenges of accomodating the contradictions that were inevitable in a young nation emerging from more than a century of colonial oppression. Instead of an imaginative process of assimilation that could embrace the great diversity that is India, policies that deepen divisions and exacerbate tensions have been perpetuated. In the Northeast, insurgencies have survived for decades – the oldest of these dates back to Independence – and yet, nothing has been done to address the fundamental problem of creating a place of honour for the many cultures and communities that constitute this nation. Indeed, it is only the consequences of these failures that are exploited, not only by Pakistan’s covert agencies, but by every political opportunist and scoundrel in India.

The fact is, our entire response to emerging and persistent conflicts has been formulated from positions of invincible ignorance and extreme prejudice. This is true of all our institutions – the political executive, the legislature, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, academics, the non-governmental sector, and the media. Slogans and politically correct postures, rather than facts and pragmatism, have dominated our thinking, and in most cases, robbed us of the ability even to react effectively. As far as the possibilities of prediction and pro-active response are concerned, these remain mere fantasies.

At the root of the problem is the fact that the tradition of informed public debate on national policy has been lost over the years since Independence. Faultlines is an effort to help restore such a tradition in the sphere of counter-terrorism and internal security policy, legislation and practice. The papers in this volume do not present any ‘final solutions’ to the problems they address. Rather, they are an attempt to initiate a level of informed debate that may, eventually, contribute to the approaches and instrumentalities that can lead us out of our present national excursion from crisis to crisis.

K.P.S. Gill

New Delhi

July 26, 1999





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