Friday, July 1st, 2022 19:31:46

J&K: Unpredictability Pays

Updated: July 5, 2021 5:56 am

Now that the Indian government has taken the initiative to engage with political forces in J&K, Pakistan has been rattled. Its spin doctors were on an overdrive, who purveyed a ceaseless canard that J&K is going to be further divided. Internationally it went on hysterical diplomatic campaign.

Well the Indian establishment must emphatically send a message to the international community that engineering, re-engineering of territory is the sovereign right of any country. If such measures help the Indian establishment in purging fundamentalist Islam and Jihad from J&K, especially the latter, it must be done. After all the same territorial-social- religious context was responsible for exodus of five lakh Hindus, the original inhabitants of Kashmir.

The acid test of post-370 abrogation new territorial re-configuration will be how successfully the Hindus are rehabilitated. Those politicians who were tacit partners of Pakistani State and the global jihadis in this exodus have no right to sit on the round table and make political demands, such as restoration of 370 orgrant of statehood. It is like confabulating with Jinnah on India’s future.

On J&K, internally and externally, India needs to be unpredictable.

It is because of the boldness and unpredictability of the Modi government on Kashmir that Pakistan is behaving like a nervous wreck. It cannot predict the next move by Modi government, only Modi knows it! The Modi government does not consider Pakistan a player in the internal dynamics of Kashmir, much to the chagrin of Mufti, Abdullahs, and other Valley based politicians.

The fact is that Pakistan sponsored global jihad in J&K rested on three pillars i.e. the armed jihadis like the JeM, LeT or now the Resistance Force etc; the Hurriyat the overground face of the jihadis for legitimizing jihad; and the mainstream political parties who provided political and even indirect financial patronage to the jihadis. It is the last segment that came together to form Gupkar Alliance and were there on the table for discussing the political future of J&K. It was Farooq who had said that he will have 370 restored through aegis of China, it was Mehbboba who had said that Kashmir will burn if 370 and 35-A is abrogated. Hurriyat was not alone in demanding Shariat in J&K, Mehbooba too had endorsed it. When 40 security personnel were martyred in Pulwama none of these stalwarts paid their respects.

Most importantly the Modi establishment broke the “terror and talks” cycle, generated and calibrated by Pakistan. This was done through the instrumentality of surgical strike, Balakot strike, and abrogation of Article 370.

It was only to break predictability that Modi invited Nawaz for his swearing-in 2014, then suddenly landed in Lahore to pay personal visit to Nawaz on his way back from Afghanistan. He also put an end to the inexplicable and anti-national practice of facilitating visit of Pakistani dignitaries to Kashmir. This practice permitted by earlier dispensations,  God knows under what kind of external pressures, gave Pakistan legitimacy with regard to Kashmir.

The abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A threw Pakistan completely off-balance, it had not catered any options for this kind of scenario. In desperation it fell back on China and tried to rope it in, into its Kashmir agenda. Pakistan appreciated that because of the CPEC, and ever growing strategic ambition in the region, China would be more than willing to become a party. But owing to some deft diplomatic moves by India at the UNSC, all the moves by China were thwarted by vetoes by France and Russia.

It may be mentioned that in the post World War-2 world order, the lack of veto played hell with India’s Kashmir policy and posturing. Between 47 and 55 India had no veto support, consequently Britain and US could weigh down or even bully Indiaon Kashmir as per their strategic imperatives in the region. Probably it was the pressure of these powers that made the Nehru dispensation insert Article 35-A surreptitiously in the Indian constitution. It was only in 1955 that India was assured of Soviet veto support. This is how the dynamics of geopolitics changes.

Presently it is in India’s favour, so much so that Pakistan’s professions of Islamic brotherhood did not cut ice at the OIC on Kashmir. Such was the setback to Pakistan that in search of another principal benefactor in the Islamic world it reached out to Turkey and through Erdogan and Mahatir Mohammad of Malaysia tried to forge an alternative OIC. This too bombed.

Cornered Pakistan fell back to back channel diplomacy with India. This is how Bajwa made an offer of cease-fire on LoC. Bajwa, a military officer began talking of the primacy of geo-economics. This did not resonate with Indians who know the wont of Pakistan.

Does this indicate end of decades old Pakistan’s strategy with regard to Kashmir and India? Has it realized that geopolitics in the region has changed drastically dueto India’s unpredictability? Has it realized that 370 and 35-A is fate accompli, which Pakistan has to live with? Has it been compelled to re-strategize and therefore needs to buy  time? The answers to all these questions are affirmatively evident. Pakistan is indeed re-strategizing and is talking of geo-economics, need for good neighborly relations with India and Afghanistan only to buy time for consolidation and geopolitical restructuring. Those who understand the basic nature of Pakistan Army, have not an iota of doubt that Bajwa’s posturing on Kashmir is a calculated and temporary strategic retreat. Kashmir is the life line of Pak military, bereft of which it will bleed to death. This life line combines the Indian Muslim factor, the Jihadi factorand the anti-Hindu factor.

When the commerce ministry of Pakistan tried to ride over geo-economics as a sweetener to the bitter bilateral relationship by permitting sugar and cotton imports from India, Imran nipped it in the bud by saying “can’t trade Kashmir with blood”. He meant Indian imports cannot flow over the blood stream from Kashmir. He needs to be chastised that those bleeding Kashmiris are Pak-sponsored jihadis of all shades and nationalities — Afghan, Uzbek, Chechens, Punjabis and Pathans but not Sindhis and Balochis, Deobandis, Barelvis and Shias. Sunni jihadis from Turkey are the latest entrants.

The fact is that these Pak-sponsored jihadis are bleeding Kashmiris and India in the process of securing the latter is bleeding the jihadis. So, in actuality it is Pakistan which is exporting Pakistani blood to India. Just recently on 21 June, three LeT jihadis were killed by Security Forces in Sopore, one of them was a Pakistani by the name Abdullah. The commander of this team was one Mudasir Pandit. This is what majhab can do; it can turn a pandit into a jihadi killing machine. One week before this trio had fired several rounds indiscriminately in Sopore market, killing several Kashmiris and a policemen. Earlier they had killed two councilors as well. Jihad in market place, jihad against democracy, infact Pak cannot survive without jihadi industry. Hence if Pak imports of Indian sugar sweetens relationship, who will shed jihadi blood in India?

Why this volte face on trade by Imran? In the first place why did he permit the bogey of geo-economics? Possibly, because the jihadi institutions in Pakistan have become as strong as the military. In the Pakistani scheme of things the Jihadi groups and the military complement each other, but there are times when the relationship goes off balance. The objectives of jihadi organisations are much larger than that of the Pakistani state. Their targets could be in Afghanistan or Hindustan or elsewhere. If the military tries to restrict them, they revolt. That is the genesis of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Recently, on 23 June there was a huge bomb explosion in front of the Lahore residence of Hafeez Saeed. Three people were killed 20 were injured. Several shops and vehicles suffered damages. An explosive laden car was used for the attack. The head of the Punjab Police said that in absence of the police picket, human and material damages would have been enormous. As usual he hinted India’s hand. But the truth is that the military-intelligence  establishment of Pakistan does orchestrate such acts of terror against its own jihadi organisations to remind them of their limits. In a way the Inspector General implied that without the umbrella of the Pak state, the jihadi organizations are vulnerable and on their own risk. In order toobfuscate their role, the security agencies, in an inspired leak has named a Christian for his involvement in the bombings.

Jihadi organizations are intrinsic to Pakistan military’s Islamic war philosophy. Without the factoring of jihadi instrumentality, there can be no strategy, no geopolitics. The basic grounding of Pakistan’s military- intelligence complex is Jihad.

In Feb this year, there were talks between the two DGMOs especially with reference to LoC. It was also said that the core issues will also be addressed. Since the creation of Pakistan and till date, Pakistan’s only core issue has been Kashmir, and for India it has been jihadi terrorism, borne out of Pakistan’s Kashmir agenda. The larger truth is that jihadi Pak sponsored global jihadi terror in Kashmir radiates into the rest of India, and mutates into proxy war and Ghazwai Hind. The problem is far deeper, far wider than the latitude and scopeof the DGMOs Jihad in the Valley had made inroads into Ladakh, specially Kargil. The Gupkar gang and their forbears were the ones who pushed Islamic fundamentalism and radicalization into this region. It was with this devious intention that in the late 70s Sheikh Abdullah divided Ladakh into two districts, Leh and Kargil, ostensibly for administrative regions but actually with a communal agenda. Sheikh Abdullah was the one who began throttling Kashmiriyat and then embarked on the same agenda with regard to Laddakhiyat. Kargil continues to be on the agenda of Pak inspired global jihadis. Radicalization in this region is a cause of concern. Only recently, on 24 June, Delhi Police apprehended four youths, all from Kargil and all in their late 20s. They were planning big terrorist attacks in the Capital. They allegedly were also involved in the bomb blasts outside Israeli embassy in January this year, during the peak of farmer agitation. One of the youth is an ex-student of Ramjas College and an IAS aspirant. Belated though, thank God that abrogation of Article 370, and Union Territory status to Ladakh, has salvaged this very strategically sensitive region from the clutches of jihadi political class in the Valley. Post 370 abrogation phase, the Modi dispensation should ensure that Jammu does not remain a victim of this Valley based Pak sponsored jihadi political class.

Now that 370 has been abrogated Pakistan’s posturing is confounding. It talks of “conducive environment” as prerequisite for peace and talks. Does he mean restoration of 370? He has been singularly harping on this. Well, this amounts assault on India’s sovereignty. He implies if the Indian constitution is not amended to accommodate jihadi interests of Pakistan, jihad against India will continue. Well, India cannot sue for peace at all costs. We do not prefer such peace, we would rather remain at war.

The greatest dilemma before Pakistan is whether it should lay emphasis on 370 or 35-A. While 370 was an instrument of political relationship, 35-A an illegal insertion in the Indian Constitution deals with demography and impacts on the Pakistani agenda of Islamization, Radicalization and Jihadisation of J&K. The Gupkar Alliance needs 370 for mischievous anti-India politics and for filling their coffers, and needs 35-A for jihadisation, for eventual merger with Pakistan.




(The writer is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW)

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