Changing Landscape of Terrorism in Kashmir

Ever since the partition in 1947 on the lines of a skewed religion based two nations theory, the state of Pakistan has not been at peace with itself. From time to time it has engrossed in turmoil largely of it’s own making. Pakistani state has been like a sheep without a shepherd, wandering aimlessly, chasing a Non existent Mirage in the desert.

History that Pakistan has made for itself reflects a very sorry state of affairs. Three major wars and Kargil conflict with India without success of getting territory, losing half of the country in 1971, three military coup in 1958, 1977 & 1999, hanging in FATF Grey list and a bankrupt economy. Pakistan has made a solid case to become a failed state. It would need nothing short of a miracle to see Pakistan complete it’s 100yrs intact in it’s present geographical form.

Raison D’etre.

Pakistan still struggling to identify it’s Raison D’etre, confusing religion as the only idea of existence. It has repeatedly identified wrong priorities for the nation – Founded on the basis of Muslim nationalism; but practiced secularism till 1956 when it became an Islamic republic, it wanted Kashmir as additional territory; but ended up with the loss of entire East Pakistan, it was envisioned as a democratic state; but governed by dictators for almost half its existence. It’s Military infamously known as to have a state for itself, has had multiple misadventures resulting in wars without success. The liberation of Bangladesh has psyched it’s Military to be in a state of forever war with India.

Taking a Radical Path.

Pakistani military (better known as Establishment within Pakistan) lost it’s face in front of it’s people by losing half the country in 1971. It was now fighting for relevance and to maintain it’s preeminence in Pakistan. After a recess of about six years came the second military coup by General Zia Ul Haq on 5 July 1977. The tenure of General Zia Ul Haq witnessed a phase of transitional policies towards India. Lessons drawn post defeats at the hand of India convinced the Pakistani military to find alternative tactics to direct confrontation and thus the policies of terrorism and proxy war came to fore, General Zia Ul Haq’s famous doctrine of ‘Bleeding India through thousand cuts’ thus began taking shape.

General Zia Ul Haq’s success in handling of Afghan Mujaheddin rebel against Soviets made him strong believer that he can replicate it in Kashmir and drive out India through insurgency. It was No coincidence, but a plot in the making for some time, that Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan led to rise of an era of insurgency in Kashmir. Pakistan bloated with confidence of it’s success with Afghan Mujaheddin went full steam ahead in Kashmir. At it’s disposal were the out of job Afghan mercenaries, funding from US(for Afghanistan operation), heavy stock of weapons, loose money from Afghan narcotics, a complete ecosystem of Terrorism from terrorist training camps, steady influx of radicalised youths and terror management skills now mastered by ISI. The Pakistani establishment was clearly overjoyed as if, it had finally hit upon a guaranteed success formula against India.

Bloodbath in Kashmir

The ‘success through terrorism’ plan indeed took India by surprise in early 1990s. The plan was to be executed in three phases – first the massacre of Kashmiri Pandits, to force entire minorities to flee from Kashmir, second attack came on the civil administration to get the entire region defunct of governance and the third was the attack on Kashmiri intelligentsia. This left the field open for an oppressive narrative to be built upon subsequently. For common people hope from future evaporated into despair. It swiftly led to rise in radicalisation, lack of faith in the government and a magnetic attraction to join the ranks of terrorists. The mid 1990s witnessed terrorists having a sway on the society.

What’s the Difference After all.

What Pakistan didn’t factor in or as has the case been with them mostly, they fell prey to their own propaganda and almost forced themselves to believe it. Complimenting themselves for their planning they overlooked stark differences – Kashmir was No Afghanistan. Soviets went in to extend support to government of Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), it was neither their territory nor their people unlike Kashmir was for India. The major support Pakistan got from USA in terms of money, weapons or diplomacy was due to the ongoing Cold War dynamics. There was popular local support from Afghan people for Mujaheddin fighting Soviets. Afghanistan had an existing base of ready to hire mercenaries with tribal leaders fully understanding ‘language of Dollars’. None of these were the case in Kashmir.

The Changing Landscape.

The late 1990s and next decade of 2000s saw security situation nearing a state of equilibrium with terrorist infiltrating steadily and security forces dominating the overall security paradigm. The first change affecting this state of equilibrium was India’s construction of Anti Infiltration Fence on LoC, in 2003 which greatly affected the Pakistani efforts for infiltration. By middle of 2010s India adopted a firm policy of ‘No Dialogue with Terror’. Then came Uri and Pulwama which busted the Pakistani propaganda of Kashmir being ‘Nuclear Flashpoint’ of the world. India with strong offensive measures demonstrated it’s capacity to teach lessons as well called out Pakistani bluff.

Pakistan stood stoned when India demanded safe return of it’s Pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan. Harsh geo-strategic reality hit Pakistan when it’s Army Chief ‘Recommended’ Indian Pilot be returned safely. The three decade old Pakistani formula on Kashmir was wearing out, the remaining doubts were put to rest with abrogation of Article 370 on 5th August 2019. After making all the noises Pakistan realised No one is now prepared to ‘listen’ and worse world seems to have changed, wherein it’s being advised by majority of nations to refrain from ‘K word’ now.

What’s the Change.

World has indeed changed and changed a lot. Present geo strategy has gone a full circle what it was in late 1980s. Simple fact check suggests that was the time when Soviets were pushed out of Afghanistan with US supporting Pakistan, now US has been pushed out with Russia maintaining tactical silence. International concern in 1980s was Cold War and Soviet expansionism in Afghanistan, now the concern has shifted to Chinese expansionism in Indo-Pacific. Economy of India in 1980-90s was in shambles with country pledging it’s gold reserves to IMF for a bailout, now India has progressed to become World’s 5th largest economy. Pakistan was love child of US in 1980s during Afghan war, now US wants to investigate Pakistan’s role in Taliban resurgence. India before 1990s was a closed economy growing with famous ‘Hindu rate of growth’ where just No one was interested, now India is fastest growing major economy of the World, where just about every one is keenly interested.

What’s Ahead Then.

Pakistan suffers from a complete policy paralysis, to say that Pakistan is pursuing a policy of hostility towards India is like crediting them with too much. A policy for that matter is a sum total of a national approach wherein a country identifies it’s capability in every which way and that the policy itself is in it’s larger national good. None of which qualifies the approach of Pakistan at present as it is having towards India. Today it comes out as a completely confused and divided state with very limited sense of either National security or National prosperity. So while it is pushing terrorists in India, it realises the importance of continued ceasefire on LoC. It had ceased all trade exchanges with India, still it wants to establish strong economic ties with India or atleast this is what it has brought out in it’s just released National Security Policy.

For now it appears Pakistan will continue to push terrorists on and off, as it would want to be seen as continuing ‘moral support’ to ‘Kashmiri insurgency’. Pakistan has been obsessed to maintain parity with India since it’s Independence. A comparison for the sake of it brings home some stark realities. At 1.98 trillion dollars Indian economy is seven times larger than that of Pakistan. By GDP India is fifth in the world while Pakistan is 46th. Pakistan has a foreign reserves of 24 billion dollars while India has more than 640 billion US dollars which is 4th largest reserves in the world held by a country. Pakistan is under IMF bailout for record 22nd time. Pakistani economy is spiraling towards bankruptcy, it takes loan to pay interest on previous loans. Mismanagement of economy has disastrous impact on population which is reeling under huge inflation. Today Pakistan has become synonymous with terror funding and terror harbouring. One very clear understanding comes out of this all – India can very well do without Pakistan and has demonstrated it in last 7-8 years, question is, can Pakistan do without India? By all accounts it appears extremely difficult. It’s so called moral, political and diplomatic support for the ’cause of Kashmir’, is now completely unsustainable.

By Ravi Srivastava

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