Millennium Post

Of terror and deviousness

Responding to India’s move to cancel talks, the Pakistani foreign office stated that it was ‘a setback to the efforts to promote good neighbourly relations with India’, and that the meeting with Kashmiri leaders was a ‘long-standing practice’ prior to Pakistan-India talks. While past governments raised objections, but took no action when Pakistani diplomats and leaders met Kashmiri separatist leaders, this time Pakistan high commission officials said that New Delhi’s decision had come as a ‘surprise’.

‘Meeting with these so called leaders of the Hurriyat undermines the constructive diplomatic engagement initiated by Prime Minister Modi in May on his very first day in office.’ This was part of New Delhi’s response with the decision to call off India-Pakistan secretary level talks scheduled after a two-year break conveyed by foreign secretary Sujatha Singh to high commissioner Abdul Basit on 19 August, just minutes after he met the leader of J&K Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Shah.

India’s annoyance was elaborated by stating, ‘The invitation to so-called leaders of the Hurriyat by Pakistan’s high commissioner does indeed raise questions about Pakistan’s sincerity, and shows that its negative approaches and attempts to interfere in India’s internal affairs continue unabated. Under the present circumstances, it is felt that no useful purpose will be served by the Indian foreign secretary going to Islamabad next week.’

Meanwhile, Pakistan Army/rangers had been violating the ceasefire across both the International Boundary (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K on a daily basis. While Indian villages along the IB in south J&K were targeted with mortars in addition to small arms, disrupting life and causing civilian casualties, Pakistan Army’s pet terrorist groups Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) launched attacks in the Valley. The tally of violations in August itself had crossed 100, exceeding the previous year’s figure. Defence minister Arun Jaitley who toured forward areas of the LoC and international borders, criticised Pakistan for ‘deliberate ceasefire violations’ and said, ‘Pakistan and ‘powers within’ it clearly do not want ties with India to be normal.’ And yet again, Army discovered a cross-border tunnel opening almost 50 metres inside India in Pallanwala sector of J&K.
In fact, even during severe floods in J&K, LeT continued its attacks in the Valley.

The very next day after India’s refusal for talks on 20 August, Basit came to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Delhi with a posse of diplomats to peddle lies and innuendos to the media.
Grilled by journalists on Pakistan’s compulsions to parley with Kashmiri separatists, Basit kept parroting Pakistan’s commitment to the ‘peace process’ and ‘include all stakeholders’. To my queries on why Pakistan involved separatists when two elected governments were to hold talks and how could talks succeed when Pakistan Army continued to violate the ceasefire, Basit commented ‘those are your views’ and continued with his hogwash.

On 9 June 2002, a joint raid by Income Tax and the J&K police at Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s Srinagar residence yielded Rs 10.5 lakhs, $10,000 and a diamond-studded watch with an inscription of the Pakistan government. Time and again, the Union home ministry has reportedly pointed out the involvement of the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi channelling funds for fomenting terrorism in Kashmir. A couple of weeks later in June 2002 the Union home ministry reported informed that a ‘good number of cases’ could be cited, pointing to the involvement of the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi in funding anti-India activities.

Top home ministry sources claimed that at least half a dozen cases indicating the ‘involvement’ of the Pakistan high commission’s involvement in channelling funds for fomenting terrorism in Kashmir had been brought to the notice of the meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee held recently then. Responding to Islamabad’s denial of the allegations levelled by then home minister L K Advani, that the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi was channelling funds for anti-India activities, Ministry sources provided details of specific cases, which the law enforcing agencies had stumbled upon.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Pakistan of conducting a proxy war in India, the Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha stated to an Afghan TV channel that terrorists who come to Afghanistan, come from Pakistan which has become a nursery for training terrorists.

Kashmiri pandit scholar Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani, forced to leave Srinagar in 1984, was reported to have stated, ‘Geelani embodies the idea of Islam flexing its muscles against non-believers. It is this idea that caused the greatest tragedy of independent India, the genocide of Kashmiripandits that cannot be wished away.’

On 26 August, Border Security Force director-general D K Pathak said that Pakistan had set up launching pads close to border to facilitate infiltration under the cover of repeated heavy firing. ‘We have intelligence inputs that Pakistan has set-up several launching pads close to the border and in a bid to push them (militants) this side the Pakistan troopers are targeting 25 locations.’ He also said that Pakistan used such a huge volume of firing for the first time since 1971 adding that Pakistan forces were targeting the civilian areas along the border under a changed strategy, with using high powered explosives.

Centre for Land Warfare Studies director Major General Dhruv Katoch while discussing border violations and India’s so far defensive policy, opined, ‘While Pakistan Army supported terrorists crossing over into India are dealt with by Indian Army, the cost to India is high while the cost to Pakistan remains minimal. This needs to be reversed by imposing a heavy cost on the adjacent Pakistani military posts that are perceived to be supporting the terrorists.’

While the Modi government is responding assertively compared to its predecessor, what needs to be done further is institutionalising doctrinal responses to ceasefire violations and terrorist attacks by Pakistan.

The author is a defence and strategic analyst
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