Changing Landscape of Terrorism in Kashmir Post Article 370
Ever since the partition in 1947 on the lines of 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 from within. Pakistan 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 for itself to become a Failed state. It would need nothing short of a miracle to see Pakistan complete it’s 100yrs in present geographical form as today.
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), Kashmir over it’s territorial integrity (but lost East Pakistan), 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. Repeated misadventures of Pakistan resulting in wars and loss with India has psyched it’s Military to be in a state of forever war with India.
Blood in the Valley.
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 Gen Zia Ul Haq on 4 July 1977 which was a phase of transitional policies towards India. Lessons drawn post defeats at the hand of India convinced the Pakistani military to find alternative tactics of No direct confrontation with India and thus the birth of Terrorism and proxy war took shape.
The dictatorship of Gen Zia Ul Haq ended abruptly and completely unplanned in 1988 with his death in a plane crash. Zia Ul Haq was known to be responsible for complete islamisation of Pakistan, fanning radical islam as a state policy. His success in handling of Afghan Mujahideen rebel against Soviets made him strong believer that he can replicate the success 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 Mujahideen 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.
Rise of Terrorism in Kashmir was an extension of Pakistan’s Afghan policy to Kashmir and an opportunity for it to salvage some lost pride within Pakistan. Insurgency in Kashmir was meant to build a narrative of oppression by India and yearning for self determination by Kashmiri people. Religion was identified to be the strongest common factor as was the case in Afghanistan. The Pakistani establishment was completely overjoyed as if finally hit upon a guaranteed success formula against India.
Bloodbath in Kashmir.
The ‘success through terrorism’ idea indeed took India by surprise in early 1990s. First the massacre of Kashmiri Pandits sent a chilled message to entire minorities to just flee from Kashmir. Second attack came on the civil administration to get the entire region defunct of government presence and even the most basic of necessity to become a precious commodity for people. Third was the attack on Kashmiri intelligencia and rational political leadership. This left the field open for an oppressive narrative to be built upon subsequently. With complete lack of essential necessity, No avenue of employment or development the 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 militants. The mid 1990s witnessed militants having a sway on the society. The narrative being built upon did attracted a sizable population early on resulting in some sort of local support aswell.
What’s the Difference Afterall.
What Pakistan didn’t factor in or as has the case been with them mostly, they fell prey to their own propoganda and almost forced themselves to believe it. They overlooked stark differences from the Afghan situation. 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, it was not to be there in case of Kashmir. There was popular local support from Afghani people for Mujahideen fighting Soviets, it was not the case in Kashmir barring some initial support. Afghanistan was a case of extreme poor nation with strong Guns and Narcotics culture, it was not the case in Kashmir. Afghanistan had an existing base of ready to hire mercenaries with tribal leaders fully understanding language of Dollars, it was not 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 situation. Early 2000s had Rashtriya Rifles have fully engrained into the dynamics of terror grids, effectively dominating their AOR while terrorists succeded in some spectacular incidents in between. The first change affecting this state of equilibrium was Indias construction of Anti Infiltration Fence on LoC, in 2003 which greatly affected the Pakistani efforts for infiltration. By mid 2010s India adopted a firm policy of ‘No Dialogue with Terror’. Then came Uri and Pulwama which busted the Pakistani propoganda 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 Wg Cdr Abhinandan. Harsh geo strategic reality hit it 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 alot. Present geostrategy has gone a full circle what it was in 1990s. 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 1990s was Cold War and Soviet expansionism in Afghanistan, Now the concern has shifted to Chinese expansionism in Indo Pacific. Economy of India in 1990s 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 1990s 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.
The dynamics have undergone major changes and is reflecting on ground. Inspite of a choice government in Afghanistan for Pakistan it is fighting them for keeping own territorial integrity around Durand Line. US has huge stake in India’s world view. Russia continues to be very close friend for India a strongly acknowledged fact in both the capitals. Finding of Bin Laden in Abottabad has not helped Pakistan it’s self destructive policies have landed Pakistan in FATF grey list. It’s iron friend China has not done any better than ammassing great wealth and power it has lost trust, friends and allies due to authoritarian and territorial expansionist approach. World now stands more integrated and United after suffering COVID and expansionist approach from China. Kashmir formula of Pakistan has now become a severe irritant no one wants to invest their energy into while strongly acknowledging India’s right to defend it’s territorial integrity.