The recent conviction of Yasin Malik, the chief of the banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), on terror funding charges by an Indian court has been received with hostility by Pakistan. The reaction of Pakistani establishment demonstrates the level of toxicity prevailing in the neighbouring country and their unabashed support to terrorist elements out to foment trouble in India. The toxic and provocative language being used by the Pakistani leaders belies hopes of normalising the bilateral ties. Islamabad’s tactics of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy has been the main reason for the collapse of the bilateral relations.
Awarding life imprisonment to the JKLF leader by a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, after following the process of law and due hearing, is purely an internal matter of India. It is quite clear that Pakistani politicians will continue to politically cash in on Kashmir by selling the pipedream to the public of the Islamic republic in the hope that one day the valley would be co-opted by force from India on religious grounds. The argument put forward by the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a conglomeration of six J&K-based political parties, that the life imprisonment of Malik could fuel more alienation in the region is a flawed one. India cannot afford to take a lenient approach towards those openly indulging in terrorist activities and seeking foreign help in funding them. It must be pointed out that Malik was convicted after he pleaded guilty to all the charges. The soft approach to terrorist elements will only embolden their Pakistani handlers. At this point, India doesn’t have the option of soft diplomacy with a neighbour that chooses to remain adversarial and has umbilical links with another military adversary, China.