After security forces killed 117 civilians inlast summer, took over as a top police officer here and saw a mess that his MBA degree could help him fix.
Last summer, young people led street protests against’s presence here that prompted deadly police crackdowns, which in turn fueled more protests. This summer, in contrast, the valley has been mostly calm.
Why the calm? Young Kashmiris were not happy with the police. So Mr. Ramesh tried a new tactic: The Central Reserve Police Force in Kashmir (CRPF) began organizing sports teams for young men, hired discontented youth from 70 villages, gave away computers, and set up medical camps to offer free health care.
“People’s problems can be put into mathematical equations,” says Ramesh, who cites business management gurus like’s and ’s for informing his counterinsurgency theories. "The more we manage [people’s] frustration, the more … the war cries for so-called independence will calm down.”
At first, few resisted. In this deeply conservative corner of Pakistan, the lure of Islamist rhetoric as well as a handsome purse of $350 a month enticed many, and the Taliban soon controlled most of the Bajaur tribal agency.
But three years ago Shahabuddin Khan, a farmer and the leader of the Salarzai tribe, called his men to arms to counter the Taliban, a group he calls “false Muslims.” That show of strength, together with the militants’ partiality for kidnapping and looting, helped shift public opinion here.
“Earlier people were fooled when they [the Taliban] played the Islam card. They carried out suicide attacks in our funeral prayers. They didn’t leave mosques alone. They can’t be Muslims, and the people now realize this,” he says."
— Issam Ahmed reporting from Pashat, Pakistan on a local lashkar (makeshift army of peasants and workers) that drove out the Taliban (false Muslims) from their village. Ahmed remarks that what they lack in equipment, members of the lashkar make up for in determination.