|By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army
As per recent reports, Pakistan is deploying several battalions of its Mujahid Regiment, along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) to infiltrate terrorists and target Indian security forces. According to intelligence sources, these Mujahid battalions are 641, 647, 654 and 655. Mujahids are equivalent to our Territorial Army and these four battalions now are permanently embodied. With manpower being locals, Mujahids have been used by Pakistan earlier as Border Action Teams (BAT) against India, mixed with SSG and terrorists from LeT, JeM etc. As per Afghan intelligence, during 2012-2013, Pakistan was training three Mujahid battalions to operate as Talban in Afghanistan in conjunction Taliban, even as the Mujahids were raised to form part of the fire base in an offensive and assists in providing protection to attack formations, participate in anti-helicopter/anti-parachute dropping operations, protect logistic installations in combat zones and participate in nation building and relief operations. It is possible that some of these are being redeployed against India since Pakistan-supported Taliban appear to be gaining ground in Afghanistan, or to relieve regular troops from the Indo-Pak border due to the deteriorating internal situation in Pakistan and the perception of growing threat to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Pakistani Mujahid troops have also been fighting in Yemen covertly on behalf of Saudi Arabia. Now that Pakistan is sending regular troops to Saudi Arabia, Mujahids could be getting reverted. On ground it makes little difference to our security forces. Mujahids may be adept in ‘dirty’ tricks and know the terrain but so does the Pakistan army – especially with the common recruitment base for their army and terrorist organizations. Democracy is defunct in Pakistan but for the army to stay in power, it has to escalate conflict with India and Afghanistan. The nexus with terrorist organization and rabid mullahs is to control and divert attention from Pakistan’s sovereignty sold to China, rising instability within Pakistan and the restive radicalized youth mass with only 39.1 pre cent of the population urban. As per Pakistani scholar, Zahid Hussain, the exploding population bomb is has puts Pakistan’s future in jeopardy with 60 pre cent of the population younger than 30, some 1/3rd living in poverty and 58 pre cent illiterate. Incidentally, the median age in Pakistan is just 22.7 years. Pakistan’s population bomb is to rise to 240 million by 2030 and so, terrorism is one major avenue of employment.
The ceasefire agreement is dead even as our media keeps talking of ceasefire violations (CFVs). During 2017 alone there were 860 ceasefire violations (CFVs) by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and 120 along the International Border (IB). Pakistan denies all CFVs, alleging India is initiating cross-border fire every time. Hence there is little merit in counting the number of CFVs by Pakistan. Pakistan is likely to keep raising the tempo with its army in synch with terrorists leaders Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, with full backing of China. Open rallies are being conducted in Pakistan for jihad against India, calling for breaking up India and undertaking terrorist attacks in India cities. Pakistan is offering scholarships to Kashmiri youth to radicalize them and perhaps train them for lone wolf attacks. Pakistani terrorist organizations are calling upon Rohingyas to take up arms while the Al Qaeda in Subcontinent (AQIS) are calling upon Indian Muslims to join jihad and target Indian cities. Significantly the chief of AQIS, Asim Umar, and chief of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), Ata Ullah, are both Pakistani nationals; both linked to Pakistan’s ISI and the LeT-JeM. Pakistan’s ISI had brought cadres of both Afghan and Taliban together in Peshawar to kick start the Islamic State, pushing them west into Afghanistan.
Now the Islamic State is releasing photograph of its presence in Kashmir. China is instigating Pakistan for keeping the Indo-Pak border boiling to divert attention from Chinese actions and plans alng the line of actual control (LAC), in Indian Ocean and in Nepal, Afghanistan and Maldives. Ironically, the US is continuing joint military training with Pakistan and Pentagon has denied any plans to undertake operations inside Pakistan. Under pressure of increasing western economic sanctions, Russia has been leaning towards Pakistan and Taliban. Similarly, because of the US-Iran estrangement, Iran too is siding to some extent with Pakistan and the Taliban. What India needs to do is go much more pro-active. General Bipin Rawat has stated that we are ready to call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff, if tasked to do so. But India should be seriously thinking of waging continuous sub-conventional war on our adversaries. This will be the smarter way. The sub-conventional war must be transported from our territory into Pakistan. We must do so in conjunction Afghanistan, who is more than ready. Along the LoC and IB, we should surprise the enemy intermittently using our superior firepower, decimating Pakistani posts and infiltration launch pads – Mujahid, regulars, rabble of LeT, JeM or whatever. We should not hesitate to use flame throwers against infiltrators and BAT actions, even napalm and thermite grenades to blow up Pakistani ammunition dumps, akin to Russia using the latter. Before the cessation of firing astride the actual ground position line (AGPL) in the Siachen region, India was drawing much more Pakistani blood because of superior observation from our posts on the Saltoro Range. With the Pakistani army not respecting the IB any more, there is no reason we should respect the AGPL anymore. Unless we raise the costs to Pakistan, its rogue army will not be tamed.