By K.N. Pandita
Ground situation in Kashmir is a mix of normalcy and uncertainty depending on the level of understanding of local and regional response to current happenings.
Killing of Osama bin Laden did not create any backlash in the valley except that the hardliner Hurriyat leader Geelani, along with a handful of his colleagues, offered the prayer in absentia for the departed soul. Radicals like staunch Jamatis preferred to remain silent on the otherwise volatile issue.
Anti-regime mass movements in some of the Middle East countries initiated by Tunisian revolutionaries and extending to other Islamic countries primarily to Egypt, Yemen and Syria, signaled that the woes of contemporary Islamic World were essentially political or economic and not religious. This made Kashmiri separatists re-examine the basics of their anti-India movement.
The Abbotabad episode intensified the dilemma of the Muslims in the sub-continent including Kashmir of how the Pakistan Army and the ISI can compromise the sovereignty and integrity of their country in their pursuit of remaining in positions of power. Osama episode revealed that Washington had one set of rules to deal with Pak Army and another to deal with its elected government.
For the first time in many years of camaraderie between Pakistani intelligence outfits and anti-India groups, the latter began to realize seriously if they needed major change in their strategy of exporting terror to J&K. ISI moles assigned to Kashmir turmoil were in need of reviving their profile with their Kashmiri clientele.
Killing of Osama and many top Taliban leaders in their war with American-Pakistani combine in Af-Pak region, and also Pakistan Amy’s action against TTP on Pakistani soil disappointed Kashmiri separatist elements. Their faith in Pakistan or the US extending outright support to their separatist movement in Kashmir was severely shaken. They talked less about Pakistan sticking to her oft repeated commitment of extending moral, psychological and diplomatic support to so-called Kashmir freedom movement.
Many factors contributed to the depletion of Kashmiri youth recruits opting to go to the training camps in PoK and Pakistan… It could have been the result of their changed political thinking or J&K government’s conciliatory policy towards stranded Kashmiri militants in PoK willing to abjure violence and return to Kashmiri indigenous fold or the India Army’s strategy of beefing up anti-infiltration operation. Kashmir DG Police and sections of ruling apparatus conveyed that militancy had come down in Kashmir in comparison to what it was in previous years.
Embroiled in TTP related home-bred violence, the fallout of Abbotabad operations, deepening mistrust of Washington and rising casualties at home as a result of frequent suicide squad attacks, and the Mehran air base attack, the Pakistan Army and the ISI both are exasperated by the declining graph of their popularity and acceptability with the Pakistan civil society. Sensational disclosures made by Headley and Tahawuur Raana in connection with court proceedings in Chicago further besmeared the two organizations with notoriety and ignominy in the eyes of international community. Pakistan has come to be known as the hotbed of world terrorism.
However, the elected civilian government of Islamabad has been engaged in damage repairing exercise, and its representatives often take jaunts to Washington to assure the authorities at the White House that despite sticking irritants like Davis issue or the activities of CIA operatives in Pakistan or frequent attacks of militants on convoys carrying war supplies to Afghanistan front should not derail US-Pak comradeship in war against terror.
It should be reminded that in order to retrieve their tarnished image, the Army and the ISI, both are now engaged in jointly upgrading operations of subversion and proxy war in Kashmir. They are fully aware that ever since independence, Kashmir has been projected as the jugular vein of Pakistan, and the masses have been highly sensitized about Kashmir as incomplete task of partition of India in 1947.
This is the reason why for many weeks in the past, Pakistan’s border security forces have revived their strategy of shelling Indian border posts so as to provide cover to the infiltration by Pakistani youth trained in her terrorist camps. During past two months Indian security forces have foiled a number of attempts of infiltration and our Generals have said in clear words that Pakistan has neither shut down terrorist camps operating on her soil or in PoK nor has it taken any step to stop terrorist using its soil for operations against India.
According to knowledgeable sources, roughly a thousand well-trained and heavily armed terrorists have infiltrated into the Indian side in J&K thus causing alarm to security scenario of the state. It will also be noted that in past one month, the Prime Minister held two meetings of the cabinet team to discuss security scenario. The Home Minister also had meetings with senior security officers in recent weeks and he also visited the valley on a security assessment mission. Northern Command and the Corps Commanders, too, have met and discussed the situation arising from massive infiltration scenario. India has to return fire.
With all said and done, one thing seems to make big difference in case a large scale confrontation takes place between the security forces and the armed terrorists from Pakistan. The latter should not expect the same level of moral and logistical support as was available to the Pakistan-sponsored terrorists in early 1990s. The reason is that Pakistan stands exposed in the eyes of Kashmiris. Even the responsible leadership of the APHC (M) confessed that Mirwaiz Maulavi Muhammd Farooq and Abdul Ghani Lone and many more personalities were done to death by “our own men”.
The killing of the chief of Ahle Hadith, Maulana Showkat Ali in a Srinagar mosque, served an eye opener. The enquiry committee constituted by the APHC (M) has yet to submit the report on its findings despite a lapse of three months.
The impact of rapid measures taken by the Union government in recent months to help the state overcome the main problem of youth unemployment cannot be underestimated. The Prime Minister deputed a special team led by Mr. Rangarajan to report on ways and means of boosting state’s economy, strengthening its industrialization and directing its technological transformation. The report has focused on creating a hundred thousand jobs in various sectors to absorb unemployed youth. The Army, in its turn, unfolded its military-civil socialization programme and arranged Bharat Darshan tours for young students to give them an idea of what India is and what it stands for. Frugal allocation of ever-high plan allocation for the fiscal year 2011-12 is bound to boost the economy of the state and open new avenues for employment.
Indian security apparatus is prepared to meet any challenge posed by the infiltrating terrorists. They will meet their icy grave on the snow-clad peaks of Kashmir mountains and passes. This has to be their fate. (The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).