Military strategists and analysts are pouring over the recent attacks by Pakistani terrorists on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan and soldiers of India’s Army in Kashmir. Some have come to the conclusion that Pakistan is sending terrorists over both the eastern and western borders in support of their Afghanistan strategy post American-troops’ withdrawal in 2014 as well as to inject fear and instability during the coming general elections in India.
Mayhem in Afghanistan: Nine Afghan children were killed and 24 others wounded on August 3 after terrorists from Pakistan blew up a car loaded with explosives targeting the Indian consulate in the Afghanistan city of Jalalabad. All three terrorists were also killed, but no Indian lives were lost.
Mayhem in India: On August 6, the Pakistan Army’s Border Action Team (BAT) crossed over the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch sector of Kashmir and killed five Indian soldiers who were on patrol inside the Indian Territory. The next day, on August 7, Indian Army troops opened fire on the Pakistani post at Uri along the LoC a few miles away and killed two Pakistani soldiers in retaliation.
Since then, sporadic firing has been going on between the two armies in which Pakistan’s objective is to push through as many terrorists into Kashmir under BAT-cover to cause chaos in the valley and India-at-large down the road. The objective of the Indian Army is to kill most of those terrorists before they can do damage in India and this killing/counter-killing of troops and terrorists has been going on ever since the 1947 partition that gave rise to the Pakistan and India of today.
As with previous incidents in which the 2003 ceasefire agreement between the two countries was breached repeatedly by Pakistan, India’s leaders made lots of political noise and threatened to boycott all future peace talks, while those from Pakistan expressed deep sadness but denied any Pakistani involvement. Additionally, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) for both countries burned a few minutes on the hotline repeating rehearsed complaints and defensive arguments; bureaucrats went back to the drawing boards to figure out next steps to diffuse the situation and how to resume useless talks that in the past have produced little or no results in this endless border resolution business.
Pakistan is known as a country that has been ruled by ruthless dictators for most of its 66-year history of independence and therefore, Pakistanis are at ease with “dictatorship governance,” unlike democratic mores and rules prevailing in the neighboring India. Both the lower and upper Houses of Indian Parliament were closed for political business because the opposition protested the UPA-government’s statements that initially tried to minimize the repercussions from the border tragedy. Not till the ruling party admitted its mistake and pinned the border atrocity to Pakistan’s Army did the matter subside.
So what is different this time?
Indian Army investigations have established that 18-20 BAT-men comprising of army regulars of Pakistan and terrorists from Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) – the two militant outfits that enjoy open support of Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) - were behind the cruelty dished out recently to the Indian soldiers.
The new Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, who was reinstalled only a few days ago after he was deposed in his previous PM-stint (1997-1999) by the former dictator Army Chief Pervez Musharraf, is known to be friendlier towards India than all the past leaders of Pakistan. Sharif wants to take the Pakistan-India relationship to a new height; however, the billion dollar question is – can he succeed when Pakistan’s Army (including ISI) dominates the country’s affairs even when Pakistan has elected leaders like him and earlier Asaf Ali Zardari?
Experts on both sides of the border are of the opinion that the Pakistani Army loses out big time should Sharif be successful in his bid to improve ties with India. They suspect Pakistan’s Army had a hand in this incident and all previous border incursions, including the beheading of one India soldier in January of this year.
Sharif faces both challenges and opportunities in his India friendship mission.
Controlling militant groups like Jud and LeT is equally difficult as it is for him to control ISI. Hafiz Saeed - chief of JuD/LeT, the mastermind of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, India, with a $10 million bounty on his head – openly speaks out against India and the U.S. and inspires terrorist acts against the two countries with the full protection of the ISI. (One should not wonder then why a former American Seal hasn’t collected the bounty as of yet!)
Sharif is also known to have been forced to go to ISI headquarters for an intelligence briefing when CIA of USA or RAW of India provide intelligence reports to their respective leaders regularly, as well as on demand. But Sharif holds the ‘ace of spades’ since he will be appointing the new army chief in November of this year. Till then, experts are doubtful this type of border chaos and mayhem will stop.
There were 44 ceasefire violations by Pakistan in 2010 followed by 51 in 2011 and 93 in 2012; over 60 violations have occurred in 2013 so far, and counting. Evidence of infiltration escalation comes from the fact that till July 2012, the Indian Forces killed only 12 terrorists crossing the LoC while they have killed more than 24 this year for the same number of months.
Citing escalation of ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army and cross-LoC infiltrations of hundreds of terrorists with their help in the past few years, opposition leaders from India want all government peace talks with Islamabad to halt until they see some clarity as to who is in control of Pakistan.
However, snapping all channels of communications with Pakistan is unwise since no positive action ever takes place without talks, however cheap and fruitless. In fact, the option of “no talks” is very risky since it can cause a more dangerous border situation to handle down the road.
We hope commonsense will continue to prevail in South Asia for the good of its people.
Reporting from somewhere on the India-Pakistan border. Nita Anand’s father, Gen. Rajeshwar Singh, a highly decorated officer, served in the Indian Army. Dave Anand has written and published two books: "People Super Highway, the Mystique & Quest of Soul" and "The Verses."