A Soldier With A Heart

Lt Gen Ata Hasnain has been credited to bringing normalcy back in terrorism-hit Kashmir. He tells us how

5/3/2016 7:57:58 PM
written By : Nithya Subramanian & Shobha Tsering Bhalla Print

Nobel laureate Albert Einstein correctly said, ‘Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.’ For it is by skillfully using this soft power that Lt General Ata Hasnain has been able to bring back some normalcy in the militant-infested Kashmir Valley and create an atmosphere of hope for the people living there,

As General Officer Commanding in Jammu and Kashmir in 2010-2011Hasnain conceived and executed what is called the “Hearts Doctrine” which aims at people as the centre of gravity in Kashmir. His unique and innovative approach later got defined as “Playing Friend Not God”. Under his charge, the army, which was till then perceived to be oppressive, started helping villagers in rebuilding their lives and surroundings, even taking care of their basic amenities like arranging for cooking gas in winter. He realised that sports could be used to inject positivity among the youth and set up the Kashmir Premier League where different teams competed with each other. After all, this was the place where the best cricket bats in the world are manufactured.

Coming from an army background - his father was in the Indian army too - Hasnain has had an illustrious career always leading from the front. He has served in the Siachen Glacier, North-east India, was part of the unit that tackled Punjab insurgency, Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka, and with the United Nations in Mozambique and Rwanda. No wonder then, that he is one of the most decorated officers with medals that include a Param Vishisht Seva Medal. His success in the Indian Army as well in bringing back peace in the Kashmir Valley only reiterates the secular nature of India’s democracy where irrespective of language or religion, talent is allowed to rise.

Ever since his retirement as Military Secretary in 2013, he has actively pursued intellectual activities and promoted the cause and perception of the Indian Army. He is a prolific member of Track 2 diplomacy with Pakistan, bringing his vast experience of J&K to the meetings. He is now associated with two think tanks Viveka International Foundation and the Delhi Policy Group.

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