Kashmir: Pak ups the ante, New Delhi must not be complacent

For the last seven decades, Pakistan has been shouting from rooftops that India is in “illegal occupation” of Kashmir but no one has cared to listen because this claim is factually untrue. To buttress its stand, Islamabad keeps talking about the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) resolutions and asserting that Kashmir is “disputed territory”, but even here it hasn’t been able to find any support from the international community because of its selective application and interpretation of these resolutions. But even after having twice failed to wrest control by force, the Pakistan Army still hasn’t given up and has been waging a proxy war in Kashmir for the last three decades as it gives it a face-saving mechanism and serves as a source that enhances its relevance amongst the people of Pakistan.

By abrogating Articles 370 and 35 A of the Indian constitution and reorganising J&K into Union Territories of J&K and Laddakh, India has sent out a loud and clear message that J&K is very much an integral part of India. This decision has punctured Pakistan’s balloon of lies and also proved that neither does Islamabad have the diplomatic ability to garner support of the international community to challenge this move, nor the military capability to intimidate India into making amends. Yet to think that Pakistan Army will finally reconcile with reality and stop its mischief would be suicidal because keeping the Kashmir pot boiling gives the military an excuse to corner a lion’s share of the impoverished country’s GDP.

Unlike other militaries who keep changing their stratagems to baffle the enemy, the Pakistan Army appears to be a ‘one trick pony’ which believes that it can continuously fool the world by disguising its personnel and then denying their existence even if it amounts to disowning their own dead soldiers. In 1947, Pakistan Army personnel masquerading as tribals invaded Kashmir; in 1965, they secretly infiltrated into J&K in the guise of ‘razakars’ (volunteers) and in 1999 they intruded across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kargil disguised as ‘mujahideens’ (holy warriors). Generals and those heading terrorist groups being nurtured by the military openly speak about the involvement of the Pakistan Army and terrorists in Kashmir and enumerated below are a few examples:

  • During an interview given to Der Spiegel in 2010, Gen Pervez Musharraf admitted that it was the Pakistan Army that created “militant underground groups to fight India in Kashmir.”
  • In 2012, Syed Salahuddin, who as chief of ISI created ‘Muttahida Jihad Council’ controls various terrorist groups operating in Kashmir said during an interview that “We are fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir” and even threatened that “if it (Pakistan Army) withdraws its support, the war would be fought inside Pakistan.” 
  • In a 2014 TV interview, Gen Musharraf accepted that Pakistan Army was fomenting unrest in Kashmir by admitting that “People in Kashmir are fighting against (India). We just need to incite them.” 
  • In 2015, Lashkar-e-Taiba co-founder who has been designated international terrorist by UN admitted that the jihad’ (holy war) in Kashmir being waged by his terrorist organisation was being supported by Government of Pakistan and its army.
  • Even a few weeks back, while at the US Institute of Peace, Prime Minister Imran Khan admitted “we still have about 30,000- 40,000, armed people who have been trained and (have) fought in some part of Afghanistan or Kashmir.”   

But despite such incriminating revelations, the indifference of the international community is surprising and so is the lack of determination in New Delhi’s part in highlighting the dangers being posed to the world by Pakistan Army’s continued patronage of terrorist groups. Resultantly, the military has been able to get away with only a mild rap on its knuckles and continues to nurture terrorist groups.

With no support forthcoming from the international community, Pakistan’s much publicised plans to gather international support and move the UNSC against India’s decisions has turned out to a damp squib. Due to this, the present situation has become extremely volatile because the only option the Pakistan Army is left with is resorting to the use of violence in order to reaffirm its relevance by ensuring that there is no peace and tranquility in Kashmir. The hostile reactions emanating from Pakistan substantiate this apprehension and therefore one can expect continued ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army in an endeavor to keep the LoC ‘hot’.

In the hinterland, the ISI will increase the tempo of its two-pronged strategy to disrupt normal life. Separatists would be instructed to organise demonstrations on a massive scale and incite protesters to indulge in acts of violence and arson in a bid to provoke law enforcement agencies to use force. Simultaneously, while intensity of terrorist activities will increase, an upsurge in frequency of grenade attacks against security forces in crowded places is likely as this could compel the security forces to retaliate and could cause collateral damage. By saying “We fear more bloodshed in coming days in the Occupied Kashmir,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has given a clear hint about Islamabad’s future plans for Kashmir!  

New Delhi needs to apprise the world of how, by airing apprehensions of Indian excesses against Kashmiris just to prejudice the thinking of the international community, Pakistan is cleverly preparing ground to facilitate deniability of its own deep involvement in inciting violence in Kashmir. On more than one occasion, Islamabad has talked about how India’s “reckless approach” could result in “some false flag operation” or a “Pulwama-2” type of action and “Pakistan blamed on the fake pretext of terrorism.” Whereas this prognosis is theoretically within the realms of possibility, but who would ever believe that a country would target its own citizens just in order to humiliate a neighbouring nation?

Tailpiece

Despite unsuccessfully trying to sell the “false flag operation” hypothesis a number of times, Islamabad still continues to do so. But this also has a positive side as it serves as a timely warning of an impending act of terrorism and that’s why Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s willingness to “go to any extent” to help Kashmiris should give New Delhi a wakeup call!

Nilesh Kunwar
Nilesh Kunwar
Writer is a retired Indian Army Officer who has served in terrorism-infested areas of Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. He is a 'Kashmir-Watcher' who keeps a close tab on the state's developments.

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