India must brace for enhanced trouble in Jammu and Kashmir
by Ramtanu Maitra on 12 Sep 2013 23 Comments

It seems that violation of the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) that separates the India-held part from the Pakistan-held part of Jammu and Kashmir became a daily event this summer. One much-reported incident occurred on Aug. 6, according to New Delhi, when Pakistani troops attacked an Indian post along the LoC in the Poonch Sector, killing five Indian soldiers. Although that was indeed a major incident, locals point out that ceasefire violations have been happening almost daily.


While Pakistan continues to deny its involvement in these killings, claiming that “active” anti-India insurgents within the Indian-part of Kashmir are responsible for the deaths, it keeps on hurling counter-accusations at New Delhi. Islamabad has said on many occasions recently that Indian troops were engaged in shelling across the borders, killing innocent civilians and Pakistani security forces. The LoC was set up in 2003 to prevent such conflict situations from developing between the two warring sides, and is not recognized by either side as a firm border.


On Aug. 22, the Pakistan National Assembly deplored a LoC firing incident that resulted in the death of an officer, a captain in the Pakistan Army. The legislators called it an “act of aggression,” but at the same time asked for “constructive” engagement with India. This was the second anti-India resolution passed by Pakistan’s National Assembly, or the lower house of Parliament, in two weeks. Sorting out which party is reporting incidents accurately and is not engaged in a propaganda campaign is a trying task. Nonetheless, it is evident that violence across the disputed LoC is occurring almost daily and the reason behind such stepped-up activity could very well be the increased infiltration of terrorists from the Pakistani side of the border.


It has also become evident that local Kashmiris living in the Indian-held part of the state are not fighting back against the terrorists, or making any serious effort to hand them over to Indian authorities. While the locals may abhor the terrorists, quite a number of them have no intention of helping New Delhi to apprehend the intruders. That has always been the pattern of things in the Indian-held part of Kashmir. Particularly since the late 1980s - when Pakistan began seriously pushing hardcore terrorists, trained in Afghanistan, into the Kashmir Valley to loosen India’s control over Kashmir and raise “hope” among those Kashmiris who never wanted to be part of India - a large number of locals have aided and abetted the foreign terrorists. It must be noted that over the decades, New Delhi has carried out policies that were inconsistent, and at times pointlessly violent, and, as a result, has failed to win the hearts and minds of a large section of Kashmiris who still pine for either Pakistani citizenship or an independent Kashmir.


Indian Failures to Blame


The mindset of those Kashmiris who do not want to be part of India has not changed much over the years, and it is unlikely to do so now. For years India has been governed by an indecisive administration, led by a weak prime minister. This indecisive government was the product of a coalition of divisive and bickering narrow-vision political parties, whose prime objective was to share the benefits of power.


These political groupings are intensely disliked by a vast section of India’s population. Facing general elections within a year, these parties are now busy trying to absolve themselves of their wrongdoings during their rickety reign, and are engaged in seeking targets to impose blame for their blatant failures. Under the circumstances, it is a foregone conclusion that a major issue such as resolving the Kashmir dispute peacefully, or otherwise, is far from the weak minds of the beleaguered politicians in New Delhi. It is a certainty that New Delhi will get no helping hand from Pakistan to ensure peace in the Indian-part of Kashmir, and it is also evident from the way things have begun to shape up that India will face waves of violence in its part of Kashmir in the coming months, if not years.


Although this prognosis may not seem surprising to some, there were in fact reasons to expect the emergence of a different scenario. To begin with, the Kashmir issue is now 66 years old, and it is reasonable to argue that flaying this weary issue further will yield no solution but only violence. That analysis is generally acceptable to individuals on either side of the LoC. But the respective party’s inability to move forward to actually resolve the problem, or even to maintain the fragile ceasefire along the LoC, encourages terrorists and all those who harbor them.


Added to this factor is the reality that India’s short-lived economic high expectations have bit the dust. The worsening economic situation in a country of 1.2 billion will put the brakes on all other not-so-urgent issues in the coming months. Then, in New Delhi, the general elections will approach. All hands on deck will now be preoccupied with trying to get to the seat of power.


Moreover, Pakistan’s internal security has long been in a perilous state and, indeed, there is no reason to expect any improvement in the coming months. It is anybody’s guess how many organized terrorist groups presently function virtually unchallenged within Pakistan and who they plan to target in the coming days. We know that some of these terrorist groups were created, nurtured and protected by the powers-that-be in Pakistan, with the sole purpose of killing the Shi’as, considered as “apostates” by the jihad-spewing Sunni terrorist groups. These groups were brainwashed and funded by the Saudis who promote Wahhabi/Deobandi varieties of Islam. To these “jihadis,” killing fellow Muslim Shi’as is serving the cause of Allah. Some others were created exclusively to take on “Hindu India” by undermining and “bleeding” India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir with the help of willing locals.


Then, in addition, a slew of terrorists, who were recruited from Arabia, North Africa and Asia, and funded, trained and harbored by the Americans, British, Saudis and Pakistanis, in particular, continue to flourish inside vast, virtually ungoverned areas of Pakistan. These terrorists were earlier armed with small arms supplied by China, among other countries, to beat back the adventurous Red Army from Afghanistan in the 1980s. Now, these terrorists can be found in Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and most parts of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.


Years after the Bolsheviks ceased to exist, a few of these terrorists who served the West’s, China’s and Pakistan’s interests in the 1980s were shipped out by their benefactors to “liberate” Libya and, more lately, Syria. Notwithstanding what President Barack Obama and his cohorts claim, many terrorists of the al-Qaeda variety have since been created and have received on-the-ground training in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. A bunch of jihadi-terrorists also operate within Central Asia, but most of them come back to cool their heels in Pakistan when the going gets tough for them in their theaters of operation. It is likely that those who fund these terrorists and those who provide them with their home-away-from-home will send them once more over to strife-torn Kashmir to rev up trouble under the guise of serving the Islamic cause. This could be a repeat of what was done in the 1990s.


It is to be noted that during those salad days after 9/11, when Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf, who is now fighting to save his neck from the hanging noose, joined President George W. Bush to declare a war on terror, his plan was to pretend that he was doing his best to eliminate Washington’s enemies - al-Qaeda, Taliban et al - in order to ensure a steady flow of cash from the United States to keep himself and his military buddies in business and power. It was an outright ruse, and a risky one, too. A number of assassination attempts were made on Musharraf’s life during those years. He survived those, but his duplicitous policy gave birth to a whole array of terrorists who hated Pakistan’s alliance with America against the jihadis. These terrorists had their sympathizers within the Pakistani security forums and, with the help of the Pakistani ISI over the years, have come to control a slice of Pakistan’s security apparatus.


All these developments have been exposed and re-exposed time and again. But when Nawaz Sharif was elected prime minister in 2013, he said he would bring to an end the endless India-bashing and spewing of anti-India venom that have been used to keep various diffident forces within Pakistan under one tattered umbrella. Everyone noticed that his election campaign did not try to stir up anti-India emotions among the Pakistani population. Instead, he talked about the grave economic crisis that hung over Pakistan’s future like endless dark clouds. He even went to the extent of arguing that Pakistan must widen and deepen its economic relations with India. He identified such a relationship as a potential key to getting Pakistan’s economy back on its feet.


Terrorists Rule Pakistan


The response to Nawaz’s initiatives from the Indian side was positive, although there were many who vocally opposed it. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wanted to talk; he still does, despite the disturbing incidents that have been reported daily from the LoC. Notwithstanding Manmohan Singh’s “hope” of improving bilateral relations by talking with his Pakistani counterpart, the prospect remains a non-starter. What must be realized is that while, indeed, Pakistan does not any longer have a central authority that could deploy terrorists to one area or another, that is precisely why the terrorists can go wherever they want or do harm to whomever they want when told do so by those who pay for or shelter them.


The pay-roll of these terrorists is not met by Islamabad, but by Riyadh and other Sunni Gulf countries. Pakistan, however, shelters them. The Gulf countries oppose the establishment of a Muslim Caliphate because it would take away their cushy family-run “kingdoms,” but they fund the jihadis who seek a Caliphate. Most of these jihadis are paid to convert all Muslims to the Wahhabi doctrine and do whatever is necessary to set up a Caliphate that would stretch from the Maghreb in Africa to the shores of the Volga River in Russia - a dream that will never materialize no matter how many hundreds of thousands get slaughtered, but pursuit of which keeps the jihadis away from the Gulf kingdoms. The aim of this “jihad” is to eliminate all those who either do not accept, or oppose, their “holy” mission.


How big is this operation, and how deep-rooted is it now in Pakistan? Knowing that would enable one to understand how fragile the India-Pakistan LoC is. In his Friday Times (June17-23, 2011) review of the assassinated Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad’s book, Inside al-Qaeda and Taliban, Pakistani journalist Khaled Ahmed said that reading the book brought him to the following conclusions:


(1) It is al-Qaeda rather than the Taliban who plan militant attacks in Pakistan, and the Taliban execute no operations without the permission of al-Qaeda;


(2) Jihadi organizations are subservient to al-Qaeda at the same time as some are also extensions of the Pakistan Army;


(3) Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was shaped by al-Qaeda through Uzbek warlord Tahir Yuldashev after the 2007 Lal Masjid affair;


(4) “Retired” army officers who earlier handled proxy jihad defected to al-Qaeda but continued to use contacts within the military on behalf of al-Qaeda;


(5) Benazir Bhutto was killed by al-Qaeda and not Baitullah Mehsud; he was merely an instrument;


(6) Mumbai was done by al-Qaeda through former Pakistan Army officers with help from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) without the knowledge of the ISI despite the fact that LeT was on the ISI’s leash;


(7) Army officers or freedom fighters trained by the army for Kashmir jihad spearheaded al-Qaeda’s war against the Pakistan Army;


(8) Islamic radicalization of Pakistani society and media mixed with fear of being assassinated by al-Qaeda agents (who include ex-army officers) have tilted the balance of power away from the state of Pakistan to al-Qaeda;


(9) The Punjabi Taliban is under the Haqqani Network, which is supposed to be aligned with the Pakistan Army;


(10) The Pakistan Army has ex-officers in al-Qaeda as well as serving officers collaborating with these ex-officers.


Moreover, Saleem Shahzad wrote: “There were at least 600,000 youths there since 1979. At least 100,000 Pakistanis were active members of different jihadi cadres. Over 1 million students were enrolled in various Islamic seminaries, and there were several hundred thousand supporters of Pakistan’s Islamic religious parties. The main handler of the Afghan Jihad against the Soviets was Pakistan’s army, which itself was not immune to the influence of radicalism. Several army officers had pledged their allegiance (bait) to different jihadi spiritual leaders, including Maulana Akram Awan of Chakwal. These groups were known in the Pakistan Army as ‘pir bhai’ groups. Although General Pervez Musharraf had purged some of these elements from the Pakistan Army after 9/11, including his very close friend, the then deputy chief of army staff, Lt Gen Muzaffar Usmani, he was unable to completely eradicate the radical tendency, which had become deep-rooted in Pakistan’s security services during the period from 1979 to 2001” (p. 9).


Talks Are Fine, But…


The talks between Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh are a non-starter primarily because the Pakistani military has been heavily infiltrated by the terrorists who are eager to commit violent acts within the Indian-part of Kashmir. In addition, the Pakistan military, a recipient of oodles of money from Saudi Arabia, serves the Saudi interest by keeping the majority Shi’as under the Sunni-ruler, al-Khalifa family, in Bahrain, the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet. Pakistan’s military is also at beck and call to protect the hide of the al-Sauds of Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Nawaz Sharif has long remained wholly dependent on Saudi Arabia. He was sheltered by the al-Sauds in Saudi Arabia for years after he was sentenced to life imprisonment by Musharraf following the military-aided coup that brought Musharraf to power in Islamabad in 1999.


What does all that add up to? It means that the Saudis fund the terrorists, partially fund the Pakistani military and altogether own Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. Under those circumstances, it is evident that none of the visible power-factors in Pakistan possess any independent decision-making capability. They will do what the Saudis would like them to do. And it is also not a secret what the Saudis want to do. That is evident since it was their money that created the Afghan Taliban, and it was also their money and arms that created the al-Qaeda killers in Iraq and the anti-Bashar al-Assad terrorist group, Jabhat al-Nusrah in Syria. All of these groups are hardcore terrorist outfits whose job is to spread Wahhaabism at the cost of human lives.


Whoever manages to claw to power in New Delhi through the increasingly convoluted electoral manipulations must keep these ground realities in mind if they want to protect their own people.


The Fallout from Afghanistan


On the ground, the potential of growing terrorism within the confines of the Indian-part of Kashmir and Central Asia is also directly linked to the 2014 withdrawal of a large number of US/NATO troop from Afghanistan. While the withdrawal of these occupying forces must be welcomed, the problem is that they are leaving behind an Afghanistan that is in the same unstable state it was when the US troops invaded in 2001 and a Pakistan that has witnessed a part of its national power slip into the hands of the Wahhabi-Jihadi terrorists.


Usually a failed war causes more problems than no-war, and Afghanistan and Iraq are shining examples. The bottom line is that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan could provoke jihadist resurgence in the region. This security vacuum has been created because of the departure of US and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops, the rapid growth of terrorists within Pakistan and their interlinking with Pakistani military and intelligence. All these add up to pose serious threats to the Indian-held part of Kashmir and Central Asia.


Intelligence reports indicate that terrorists have begun their migration northward from Pakistan’s ungoverned FATA. This relocation is taking place in light of the planned withdrawal of the majority of foreign troops from Afghanistan. These terrorists who were “used” to committing terrorist acts against the foreign troops will no longer have a role to play once the internecine battle for Kabul’s throne takes over.


The August 6 killing of Senior Superintendent of Police Muhammad Hilal Khan and two army officers in an ambush in the Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is an indicator that Gilgit-Baltistan, bordering the Indian-held part of Kashmir, has become a stronghold of jihadi-terrorists. The assassinated officials were involved in the investigation of the June 22, 2013, massacre of 10 foreign climbers at Nanga Parbat by 16 militants, reportedly dressed as Gilgit-Baltistan scouts.


Historically, the diverse communities of Gilgit-Baltistan have lived together in relative harmony. Ethnic and tribal identities and social ties were developed over centuries, and those were valued more than the population’s sectarian affiliations. In the 1980s, however, Gen Zia ul-Haq, an avowed Islamic zealot who pushed orthodox Deobandi Sunni tenets inside Pakistan and within the Pakistan Army, began to change all that. Bubbling over with anti-India venom, he injected sectarian poison into Gilgit-Baltistan to create jihadi foot soldiers who were later inserted inside the Indian part of Kashmir to commit violent acts. He focused on Diamer and organized his military and intelligence to launch a long-term plan to eliminate the majority Shi’a community of Gilgit. Over the years, orthodox Sunnis belonging to one terrorist outfit or other were brought in to bring about sectarian demographic change in that area. The violent process killed thousands of Shi’a Muslims and brought into the area busloads of the Wahhabi-Deobandi variety of Sunni killers.


Some people claim that the terrorists who killed the mountaineers at Nanga Parbat were not locals, but there is no question that the local religious elements played a pivotal role. Reports from the Pamir Times indicate that volunteers from the area routinely go to Miranshah in Waziristan for arms training and to help the Taliban. One article also pointed out that the presence of powerful jihadi forces in Gilgit-Baltistan could not have been possible without the logistical support provided by religious and sectarian elements with the help of Islamabad, whose objective was to undermine the Shi’a community.


A similar analysis has also been reported in Eurasia Review (Aug. 12, 2013), under the title, “Terror Thrives in Gilgit-Baltistan.” In that analysis, Tushar Ranjan Mohanty, points out that local analysts observe that the TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) has extended its influence deep into Gilgit-Baltistan and its local networks have been involved in several terrorist activities. Mohanty cites Sher Ali, a Hunza valley-based political activist, who notes: “Like in the neighboring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the TTP has opened a new front in Gilgit-Baltistan and their terrorists have been found in the region, among banned sectarian and jihadi groups.” As Mohanty reports, Wazir Baig, speaker of the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly, confirmed this separately: “The TTP’s claim of responsibility indicates that they have entered the region.”


The Ahl-e-Sunnat-wal-Jamaat (ASWJ), the front organization of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a banned Sunni terrorist group, has established a strong presence in the region, as well. It has vowed to ensure that Gilgit-Baltistan “remains a Sunni province.” As the South Asia Intelligence Review points out, Islamabad has turned the Pakistan-held part of Kashmir into a hub of Islamist extremism and terrorism since the 1990s. Terrorist groups functioning in that area include Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), among many others.


In April 2012, Zhang Chunxian, Communist Party secretary of the Muslim-majority Xinjiang-Uighur “autonomous region,” had alluded to the same threat. At the time, he addressed a high-level government meeting in Urumqi, capital of China’s western Xinjiang province, outlining new plans to boost security deployments in remote areas and towns near the border with the Pakistan-held part of Jammu and Kashmir to combat “growing” and “imported” extremism. At the time, Xinhua quoted an unnamed security expert saying the government was concerned by “growing religious extremism” that was “imported from neighboring volatile central and southwest Asian regions.”

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