Passing through a critical phase

By Dr. K.N. Pandita

There has been considerable increase in terrorist activities in Kashmir in recent weeks and months. We can recollect that in early spring this year, there were repeated reports of large number of well- quipped terrorists gathering at various points along the LoC, and also the international border to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country along its western border.

Onwards of last spring, incidents of recurring militancy in the valley were reported. A terrorist captured from Gurez sector in spring last revealed that he was one of a group of a hundred militants who had tried to sneak into Indian territory but the attempt was foiled by alert security personnel.

On September 9, a Major was killed in a gun battle with the infiltrators in Mendhar sector in Poonch area. Prior to that on the night of 31 August1 and 1 September, Pakistani rangers opened fire on an Indian post, Tiba Post (No. 437) in the same area killing one Indian soldier. 

In the valley, terrorists detonated car bomb with the help of remote control. One police office and a civilian woman were killed while ten wounded policemen were admitted to the hospital. A bus was carrying seven prisoners from Pulwama to the Central Jail when it was blown up. Jamiatu’l-Mujahideen accepted the responsibility. Obviously, the assailants had the instructions to free the prisoners, which according to available reports; they did not succeed to do. In Baramulla, gangsters attacked the house of a magistrate, something that has happened for the first time during two decades of militancy.

As far as the car blast outside the Central Jail on 12 September is concerned, there is no doubt that the news of seven hardcore terrorists being carried from Pulwama to Srinagar Central Jail in a police bus was leaked beforehand to the militants. Internal sabotage has been one of the weapons of militants though we know that by and large, security forces including the police force have made many sacrifices while combating terrorist and foiling their attempts of creating havoc.

This is on local plain in our state. No doubt during past two months, security forces have foiled several attempts of infiltration on international border thus denying miscreants any chance of perpetrating turmoil in our state.

Is this an isolated or a sudden phenomenon? It can never be. It is linked to a number of significant moves made by our neighour during past several months to destabilize the state and the country.

Political dissenters in the State mounted vigorous campaign to harass the government of Omar Abdullah and distract its attention from addressing core issues in the realms of state’s economy, education, healthcare, ecological environment, employment etc. It will be noted that attacks in the valley have come at the heel of Chief Minister’s announcement of one or the other mega project that would tremendously impact the life and standard of living of the people in the State. Being the messengers of destruction, the militants want that the State should remain glued to poverty and backwardness because then alone can they imagine misleading the youth. That is why some of the opposition groups have been stoking flames of strikes, shutdowns and civil unrest in Kashmir Valley.

Let us look at this scenario from a wider prism. Along with these developments in different parts of the state and on its border, there are increasing reports of drug and fake currency notes trafficking by cross-border adventurers. Some of those indulging in these activities have revealed alarming stories of how the agencies across the border promote such criminal activities in a bid to bring down Indian economy.

Then there has been unprovoked firing including firing of missiles from Pakistani soil on our border villages. There have been numerous violations of cease-fire agreement along the LoC. Flag meetings had to be called and responsible senior military and border security force officers of both countries met to defuse the situation. But intermittent firing at different points continues. According to available reports large numbers of terrorists are waiting along Pakistan and PoK border to sneak into Indian territory. Pakistani Prime Minister’s verbal assurance of imposing curbs on trans-border infiltration is eyewash.

On the eastern border, disturbing reports of Chinese troops repeatedly violating the sanctity of Sino-Indian border are coming in. Independent observers and reporters have said that Chinese troops have illegally occupied some posts and land that had remained in the hands of India from the times of the British colonial rule.

On military front, Pakistan has been swiftly improving its arsenal. It has now perfected the nuclear missile regime. China has provided her with much advanced weaponry and Islamabad has obtained from Japan highly sophisticated communication systems. Pakistan has immensely improved her naval power and openly dares India to move into the Arabian Gulf. In the north, along the Karakorum Highway, that runs over the head of Kashmir, China is reported to have constructed 16 airstrips from where jet fighters can take off or land. Besides, China is reported to have fixed long range missiles along this highway pointing southwards.

Taken in totality, all these developments have threatening portent for India’s security. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan is engaged in full-fledged war preparations against India. On international platforms her tone and tenor has radically changed and one can read between the lines that Islamabad is up for some mischief.

One analysis is that hard pressed by the Americans and NATO members to induct more army personnel into war against Taliban, Islamabad is feeling uncomfortable day after day. It is becoming more and more difficult for the regime in Islamabad to contain restive Islamic extremist and their armed legions. A duel with India would give her the pretext to withdraw her troops from the Taliban front and re-deploy them on her eastern front. The regime wants to escape the impending wrath of Islamic diehards. And China has an axe to grind if Pakistan and India come to blows.

But the most disquieting factor in this scenario is that Pakistan’s anti-India activities on the ground and on regional plane intensified after Obama administration decided to provide Islamabad with massive aid package to the tune of over five billion dollars plus items of advanced military weaponry. Though apparently the huge monies have been provided to fight the Taliban, but it is a well-known fact that not all the money goes to the war front. Much of it is diverted for purchase of conventional war materials. Even many Congressmen have raised eyebrow that there was no foolproof monitoring of the enormous amounts provided to Pakistan.

India is faced with a grim situation. It is this realization of ground situation that has made our home minister to visit Washington and talk to his counterparts of their negative logic of arming a country to the hilt but unable to control the flow of events.
(The writer is the former Director, Central Asian Studies Centre, Kashmir University).

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