By Shah Abbas
Srinagar, India, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- At least 18 people lost their lives in various violent incidents across Kashmir since Feb.25, when India and Pakistan renewed their pledge to a cease-fire along the troubled border between the two countries in the disputed Himalayan region.
Eleven militants, five security forces personnel, and two elected officials were among the dead in the escalating violence that has rocked urban and rural areas of Kashmir even as the border remained peaceful after a year of bloody skirmishes.
The reaffirmed pledge to maintain border tranquility had sparked hopes that the people in the troubled valley will also reap the dividends of peace between the two countries that claim Kashmir in its entirety but rule it in parts.
A police officer, who requested anonymity since he is not authorized to speak to the media, said that cross-border infiltration from Pakistan had halted after the reaffirmation of a cease-fire agreement inked in 2003.
“Anti-militancy operations by security forces are going on (across Kashmir). Militants are also continuing their activities,” the officer told EFE.
Many in the conflict-battered region say the pledged commitment to the border truce between the two armies is okay, but it should extend to the mainland also.
“The stability of fragile tranquility at the rim-lands is deeply connected with the stability and sustainability of peace in the mainlands,” political analyst Raashid Maqbool told EFE.
Analysts are also wary of labeling the cease-fire as the solution to the dispute over Kashmir, which has battled decades of armed rebellion against Indian rule.
“Kashmir dispute is not a border issue between India and Pakistan. It is a question of a political future of around 13 million people living on both sides of the border,” poet-activist Zarif Ahmad Zarif told EFE.
Zarif, also a well-known Kashmiri oral historian, said political disputes like Kashmir could not be resolved by “mere gimmicks.”
“They need comprehensive processes,” he said.
Raashid said such a process demanded “honesty of purpose, ingenuity of method and sincerity of intention.”
He said the development was necessary and a matter of right, but it could not replace other rights and dignity of life.
“Peace with dignity is real peace. Otherwise, it is just management”.
Pro-India political parties also urged the two countries to address the broader contours of the dispute.
“India and Pakistani leadership must join the table for an open dialog,” former Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah told the media earlier this week.
Another ex-chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, asked the neighbors “to go beyond rhetoric, deepen the process of dialog and broaden the scope of political engagement.”
She said Kashmir needed to be at the front and center of the process to make the exercise “result oriented and sustainable.”
Anti-India politicians have also welcomed the border initiative but warned of its futility unless the Kashmir dispute settles for good.