Pakistan steps up firing across the border

By K.N. Pandita

In recent months Pakistan has stepped up unprovoked firing and shelling at many sites along the LoC in J&K. Deviating from the previous practice and in blatant violation of the ceasefire agreement of 2003 between the two sides, Pakistani Rangers are now using heavy weapons and targeting the civilian locations on our side of the border. Several civilian casualties have happened and a large number of civilians living along the border had to be shifted to safer places. Pakistani troops have a definite purpose of scaring away the border population which they consider a hindrance to the armed jihadis clandestinely crossing the border without being detected and reported by the civilian population. In simpler terms, these are not skirmishes but part of the new war tactics of Pakistan.

At the same time Pakistan-abetted Kashmir Valley terrorists, too, have increased the frequency of ambushes of and attacks on the patrol parties of security forces. Recurring encounters and cordoning off in areas infested with terrorist activities in Kashmir are also intended to whip up anti-Army hysteria among the local civilian population that, more often than not, comes out in large numbers after each encounter to show solidarity with the fallen terrorist and express hatred against the troops. According to a report more than 90 terrorists including three of their commanders have perished in encounters with the security forces during the past four months. Nearly one third this number on the side of the security forces has also been martyred. The question is why the sudden spurt in encounters and killings?

Pakistani authorities claim that escalation in armed clashes in Kashmir is their reaction to India scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, abrogating Article 370/35-A and dissolving the statehood status of J&K by converting it into two union territories.

However, Pakistan has to understand two things very clearly. The first is that Article 370 was accepted by a majority of the vote in the India Constituent Assembly in 1949. It was scrapped by a majority vote in the same Parliament on 5 August 2020 given majority vote in favour of scrapping it. The simple logic is that Parliament is the supreme law-making body in the country decided in 1949 which had to be implemented, and again a decision on 5-6 August 2019 which had to be implemented and has been implemented along with all its ramifications. In either case, the sovereignty of the Parliament stands out pre-eminently. What locus standi has a neighbouring country to fret and fume on a matter that is absolutely an internal one?

As far as Article 35-A is concerned, it is a blatant and shameful story of fraud and deceit in which all legal, democratic and moral values were thrown to the wind and the parliament was hoodwinked. The Article was surreptitiously incorporated at an obscure place in the Constitution text normally going unnoticed by the readers and parliamentarian. There is a question mark on the role of Prime Minister Nehru on his hobnobbing with Kashmir in tandem with Sheikh Abdullah.

Pakistan concluded the Karachi Agreement in 1953 by which it separated Gilgit and Baltistan (Northern Areas) from the rest of part of the State of J&K under its illegal occupation. There was no representative from Gilgit-Baltistan as part of the team that signed the Karachi Agreement. Not only that, the “Azad Kashmir” High Court, while dispensing a supplication to define the political status of Gilgit-Baltistan (Northern Areas) said in its judgment that Gilgit and Baltistan (the Northern Areas in Pakistan’s official parlance) were the part of the Kingdom of Dogra rulers of the State of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and Tibet ha.

How Pakistan has been handling PoK and GB, the areas of the original state of J&K under its illegal occupation since 1947, is a bizarre story of blatant occupation, suppression and oppression. How many illegal rules were framed and arbitrarily imposed on the people of these unfortunate regions is the repeat of an unknown saga of inhuman colonial oppression. How many uprisings in opposition of the occupying forces have been brutally quelled is what the dispassionate historians of the region will tell you. How many leaders, artists, journalists and human rights activists have vanished in this region leaving no trace behind is what their family members will recount. And all this because they demanded the civil, political and human rights as admissible o any free people on the globe.

Not satisfied with the perfidy, Pakistani authorities ceded more than five thousand square kilometres of Raksam and Shaksgam valley in Gilgit and Hunza to China enabling her to build the railroad to Lasah in Tibet. The ceded area belongs to India, the country to which the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir formally and legally acceded on 26 October 1947. Also, Pakistan invited China to build the Karakorum Highway connecting Urumchi with Gwadar across the Karakorum Mountain and through the Indian part of J&K State. Now the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) the offshoot of China’s Belt and Road programme will be bringing Chin into Gilgit and Baltistan physically and militarily. China is reported to have received the consent of Islamabad for setting up a military base in Skardu and is also persuading Afghanistan to provide her with a military base in the Wakhan corridor. This is actually to encircle India in the north what is termed by Beijing as a Necklace of Pearls.

Forgetting all this highly inimical and provocative activity, Pakistan went about beating its breast that India, in her own words, has let loose a reign of terror in its part of Kashmir. Hours after the Indian Parliament passed the J&K Reorganization Act on 6 August 2019, which all big powers recognized as an internal affair of India, Pakistan started issuing threats, invoked the role of the dirty bomb and above all called it the occasion to initiate Islamic jihad against India. Imran Khan complained to the US President and some more Heads of the Western States. Its foreign minister undertook the mission of visiting many countries and raising the bogey of Kashmir as a “land where Muslims were being decimated”. On receiving only a negative response, Pakistan turned to the Muslim world and OIC only to be given a cold shoulder, Saudi Arabia and UAE declared that it was an internal matter of India and they would not interfere. Dismayed and dejected Pakistan began issuing nuclear threats. Her ministers had no qualms to announce on television interviews that they had nuclear bombs of half a kilogram weight. India did not budge nor give it any importance.

Finding that Arab countries showed no interest in the Kashmir tantrum, Pakistani leaders began accusing them of being unmindful of “infidel” India attempting to destroy Islam. It equated Indian PM to Hitler and India’s Hindutva as the re-incarnation of Nazism. At home, Pakistan whipped up anti-Hindu and anti-India passions in a massive way polluting the minds of the entire Pakistani nation. Imran Khan went to the length of scorning the Arab Islamic countries “for not coming to the rescue of Kashmiri Muslims.” Overnight he forged camaraderie with non-Semitic Muslim countries, namely Turkey, Malaysia and Iran and managed to extract anti-India statements from Erdogan of Turkey and Mahathir of Malaysia. Iran, however, observed restraint on Kashmir perhaps because India had summoned the Iranian ambassador in New Delhi to protest a baseless statement of Iranian President Khamenei, which India had considered harmful to her interests and relations with Iran.

Why Erdogan and Mahathir fell in Pakistan’s trap is not difficult to understand. Erdogan has been refused admittance to the EU, something Turkey went on aspiring for since long. In revenge, Erdogan is now brandishing the defunct Ottoman Empire card to the gullible and scantily informed Muslim masses in the subcontinent. He aspires for the leadership of the Muslim world and in the process must do something to oust the Saudi monarch. His extraordinary interest in Pakistan bonhomie is to see if he can obtain the nuclear secrets from Islamabad. And about Mahathir of Malaysia, becoming a puritanical Musalman at the age of 94 knew that unless he pleased the Islamic segment of his party he would not win the impending election. He tried but failed and is now a forgotten entity.

Thus having failed on all fronts to denigrate and blackmail India on Kashmir issue, Pakistan finds that at the end of the day the only option open to her is to keep the Kashmiri Muslims in good humour that Pakistan cares for them. The way of doing that is of accelerating violence and terrorist activities in Kashmir, go on shelling and firing across the border on even civilian population and thus provoke India to a massive retaliation so that Pakistan would find a justification for raising the Kashmir issue and the threat of “Hindu Nazism”. But the reality on the ground is that Indian security forces are dealing with the terrorists befittingly, most of their senior commanders have been liquidated, and the security forces are committed to cleaning the valley of every militant so that not a single among them can hide or escape.

The truth is that Kashmiri Muslim youth who had responded to the allurement of the ISI in the past, have begun to realize how fragile and pathetic Pakistan is and how the world community takes its Kashmir tantrum nothing but a big lie to fulfil the aspiration of Punjabi ruling elites to grab Kashmir and rule the roost. Pakistan’s greatest frustration in the course of this narrative is that it is fast losing the trust of indoctrinated Kashmir Muslim youth. To them, Pakistan’s claim of being the biggest supporter of the Muslims world over, and more particularly of Kashmir, began asking why Pakistan does not speak a single word about those Muslims of Pakistan who is groaning under the iron heels of Punjabi soldiers. They ask why Pakistan does not talk about the brutal killings undertaken by the legions of Islamic Caliphate. They ask why Pakistan does not make any mention of the Uighur Sunni Muslims of Xinxiang province of China whose population is three times that of the Kashmir Muslims. Pakistan’s biggest frustration is that almost 90 per cent of the encounters taking place in Kashmir between the terrorists and the security forces are taking place on the intelligence brought to the security forces by the locals as they are fed up with the presence of terrorist outfits in their villages and localities.

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