|| By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd.)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army
With the killing of Burhan Wani, Pakistan was waiting to stoke the fires in Kashmir. Most ironically by default or design, the Mehbooba Mufti led J&K government played into the ISI’s hands. Just four days earlier, some 634 stone pelters were granted amnesty and released from jail. This, despite the fact that when jailing them there was clear evidence they had been indulging in stone throwing on behest of the ISI. Significantly, Israel has passed legislation that caters for minimum three year jail term for stone-pelting and cessation of state benefits for such individuals. Just two months back many CRPF bunkers were removed in Srinagar area exposing security forces and making protection of passing vehicles difficult, one consequence of which was terrorist attack on the CRPF convoy at Pampore. Then you had the J&K CM meeting the Army Chief, calling for army presence to be reduced. There was talk of removing / toning down AFSPA and return of Kashmiri Pundits. All this while ISIS and Pakistan flags were being waived and hoisted periodically in the Valley and Hurriyat separatists were visiting and getting briefed by Abdul Basit at the Pakistani High Commission. No action was being taken for the Pakistani and ISI flags being unfurled during Friday prayers and during anti-India rallies by separatists.
On balance, ISI’s psychological war to inflame the youth of J&K directly and through the separatists was given a totally free hand. India’s permanent representative to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin has just told the UN General Assembly that Pakistan has pumped in some Rs 50-60 crores into J&K for terrorism. But then look at the way India has been pampering the Hurriyat separatists, which any self-respecting country would never do. According to 2015 media reports, the J&K Government spent over Rs 506 crore on Hurriyat separatist in last five years including travel, hotel stay and meetings with Abdul Basit and his cohorts at Delhi. In addition, the Centre reportedly spent around Rs 7207 crore on security related issues – and Hillary Clinton once accused Pakistan of breeding snakes in the backyard!
Burhan Wani was being called the poster boy of HuM because of pictures like the above on social media depicting these fellows as some kind of Rambos. It is well known that ISI handles the propaganda and psychological plans of organizations like the LeT and HuM. Wani incidentally was one of the few left of the pseudo-Rambos in the picture above. His killing has reportedly brought down the number of HuM terrorists in J&K to 179. As per media reports there was evidence Wani planning a big strike in South Kashmir that led to his killing. Obviously intelligence of the location of his hideout where he was killed may have come last minute, but the fact that he was planning the big strike must have been known to intelligence agencies for some time, so why no assessment was done about the aftermath? Not only did the state machinery go into rigor mortis after he was killed, the public burial and permitting thousands to attend it naturally inflamed passion.
In the aftermath of marauding mobs attacking police including stone pelting some 36 persons have died and some 1300 injured till last reports. The number of injured of course need to be taken with a pinch of salt because the number is more than doubled every time for receiving compensation. Nawaz Sharif, as earlier has shown his true colours by terming the deaths in J&K as extra judicial killings, even as Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahudeen kissed and hugged in POK under tutelage of the Pakistani military. As Pakistan continues with her ‘Kill and Dump’ policy in Balochistan, killing of Shias in Gilgit-Baltistan and indiscriminate aerial bombing and artillery shelling of its own population in her northwest frontier, the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade and Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee has just concluded its hearing titled ‘Pakistan: Friend or Foe in the Fight Against Terrorism’. As per Pakistan’s media: the US congressional panel has demanded cutting off all US assistance to Pakistan to persuade Islamabad to act against the Afghan Taliban groups allegedly using its territory to launch operations into Afghanistan. But the fact remains that the focus of US-NATO is towards Pakistan and not much towards India.
General VK Singh (presently MoS External Affairs) as COAS had said that army can only keep the violence at particular level but balance is to be taken on by the state administration. Though this is relevant to all insurgencies, Farooq Abdullah went ballistic hollering that the General was overstepping his jurisdiction but why blame Farooq, an SC bench referring to continuing AFSPA in Manipur recently said, "Were such a blanket position accepted, it would reflect poorly on our armed forces that they were unable to effectively tackle a war-like situation for the last almost six decades”. This shows gross misunderstanding of any insurgency, where where armed forces only can keep the violence at certain level but the balance has to be done by the State, insurgency being a politico-socio-economic problem, not military. Perhaps it would be good for these judges to be put in insurgency area for some time, as George Frernandes had sent MoD bureaucrats to Siachen. But the fact is that the present J&K State Government needs giant steps to improve administration, connect with the population and counter ISI plans. Indicting Pakistan by a US congressional panel and exposing them at UNGA at the national level by itself is hardly going to be enough.
Photo Credit: Social Media