Border Rejig, Infiltration and Terroristan

October 17, 2017 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army


Recent media reports headlined ‘Army changes tack, puts tanks at Akhnoor’ describe deployment of tanks and armoured vehicles in Chammb-Jaurian sector of J&K that had witnessed pitched battles during 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars. During these wars, Pakistan had tried to push through its mechanized columns through this region in order aiming to to cut off India’s access to the Kashmir Valley. It may be recalled that on September 1, 1965, the Pakistan army had launched Operation ‘Grand Slam to take seize control of the Akhnoor bridge in a bid to cut off the Nowshera-Rajouri-Poonch area from Jammu. Pakistan repeated the same tactics during 1971. In both wars, heavy tank battles took place in these areas. It is not that the Corps responsible for this region did not have mechanized forces.

However, their deployment and accretions serve a warning to Pakistan not to indulge in adventurism, and prevent any surprise by the enemy. Pakistan (recently described as ‘Terroristan’ by Eenam Gambhir, First Secretary at India’s Permanent Mission to the UN General Assembly), however, is unlikely to seek conventional conflict of this nature because a similar thrusts by India at places of its choosing would not only result in Pakistan losing precious territory but will jeopardize the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that China has tasked the Pakistani military to guard. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat speaking recently during the launch of a book said that the cross-LoC surgical strikes of last year were a message to Pakistan and hinted at more if necessary, saying, “The strikes were more of a messaging that we wanted to communicate and I think they understood that... If required and if the adversary does not behave, then we have to continue these kind of activities. But these are also other ways of doing things and they may not take the same form.”

With regard to the continuing infiltration by Pakistani terrorists, Gen Rawat said, “We are prepared for any infiltration. Terrorists are ready at that side of the border and we are ready on this side to welcome them. We will receive them and send them to their graves.” The Army is doing a wonderful job in blocking Pakistani infiltration across the LoC. In the run up to the first anniversary of the surgical strikes that were conducted by India into POK, Pakistan attempted three BAT (Border Action Team) actions within two months, last one being on September 26, exact date when India had launched surgical strikes into POK. The Pakistani BAT team comprised 8-10 personnel of army’s Special Services Group (SSG) and some LeT cadres that attempted to attacked forward Indian posts in Keran Sector but were successfully thwarted by alert troops. In the hinterland too, the Army has gone full hilt in eliminating numerous terrorist leaders and other terrorists; some 180 plus terrorists have been eliminated during 2017 alone as this article goes for publication. India has also effectively replied to Pakistan’s repeated ceasefire violations by inflicting heavy casualties on the Pakistani side though focused fire assaults; in one instance alone seven Pakistani rangers were reportedly killed. However, Terroristan (backed by China), is unlikely to change its policy of exporting terror, China’s concern not going beyond the security of CPEC; in which most Pakistani proxies will assist China – same way they are protecting Chinese economic ventures in Afghanistan. At the national level, India needs to focus on multiple issues.

  1. We may block the LoC to the best of our ability, but the open India-Nepal border provides ample opportunity for Pakistan to pump terrorists into India, especially with Pakistan's ISI known to have fairly deep roots in Nepal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had publicly stated last year that individuals (read terrorists) are coming across to sabotage our trains. Open Border does not imply cross-border movement should not be channelized. As per reports, the MHA is now enagaed in addressing the Indo-Myanmar border in wake of the Rohigya crisis. But we must address the India-Nepal border with equal vigour if we want to secure ourselves against terrorists.
  2. When no schools teach religious scriptures (even being run by Christian, Hindu, Sikh or other religions), how is that schools (not madrassas alone) in Kashmir Valley are teaching religious scriptures and teaching children to hate non-Muslims? Is radicalization coming from Pakistan not enough that we are radicalizing our own children? Whether the State Government is complicit by design or default, this is an issue that must be addressed immediately.
  3. We may be mighty thrilled about eliminating 180 plus terrorists but what is coming across from Pakistan is vermin terrorists (not army) and 32,000 madrassas in Pakistan are churning out some million odd terrorists annually. Terroristan is mighty happy with the existing attrition rate in its low-cost option. The requirement a decade back was to take this irregular war 'inside' Pakistan. Surgical strikes, that can be well conducted by regular infantry, and fire assaults are really not the solution. The political hierarchy needs to give a serious thought to this.