Post 05 August 2019, Pakistan has tried different tricks to remain relevant in Kashmir. However, most of the Pakistani moves have either failed or backfired. But as far as Pak sponsored terror is concerned, it is once again threatening to thwart the desire of the Government of India to restore normalcy and bring everlasting peace in Kashmir. It is the last ditch attempt of Pakistan which is certain to fail but may succeed in delaying the process of normalisation. A new wave of terror is emerging in Kashmir with indigenous flavour. Having been recognised world over as fountain head of terror and the biggest promoter of cross border terror, Pakistan is desperately trying for an image makeover by recruiting locals and giving them an image of home grown resistance against the atrocities committed by the government forces. The lurking fear of being black-listed by the Financial Action Task Force, a global watchdog for terror funding and financing has also compelled Pakistan to take a backseat and remain a latent promoter of cross-border terror.
The all familiar names of jihadi terror organisations active in Kashmir till recently like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Hizbul Mujahidin (HM) are gradually being replaced by new tanzeems like The Resistance Force (TRF), Lashkar-e-Mustafa, Gaznavi Force, AlBadr. Most of the new tanzeems are the old wine in new bottles but with majority cadre being locally recruited. Their operational and financial control remains with their akas (leaders) in Pakistan. These new terror outfits are not as well equipped as their parent tanzeems and rely mainly on the arms smuggled into the Valley through various means using the over ground network. The local youth is lured into militancy in the name of jihad after being radicalised through social media platforms and venomous speeches of the mullahs and anti-India leaders. They are not being trained in the jihadi training camps in POJK or Afghanistan but locally in the jungles of South Kashmir and blooded into terrorism by lobbing grenades at security forces pickets or crowded places. The focus is also shifting from rural insurgency to urban insurgency with encounters taking place in and around Srinagar while Jammu is emerging as another preferred base of these terrorists. Target selection has also undergone a change with giving up of earlier modus of large scale attacks on security forces or suicidal (fidayeen) attacks on their camps and now concentrating more on targeted killings and use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Nizam-e-Mustafa and retaining monolith character of Kashmir being the main motivator of the local terrorists. Minorities and police personnel form the main targets of the targeted and motivated killings. IEDs are used for mass casualties to the security forces.
Earlier, the weapons captured from the terrorists use to be a big give away of the Pakistan hand because all the weapons and ammunition either had the Pakistani (POF) or Chinese (Norinco) markings. To overcome this Pakistan is now encouraging the Kashmiri terrorists to buy locally made weapons from Bihar. Smuggling through tunnels and dropping with the help of drones also continues since the supply from Bihar and its transportation all the way to J&K is prone to interception by various law enforcing agencies. Bihar also being the major source of supply to the Maoists active in the red corridor is not able to meet the full requirement of Kashmiri terrorists.
Pakistan’s intention in all this is very clear and obvious. It wants Kashmir to remain as a flashpoint on the screen of international radar, keep Kashmir on the boil, discourage outside investment which is likely to generate employment as well as wean away the youth from militancy and also create a 1990s like environment of insecurity among the minorities so that the possible return of Kashmiri Pandits is thwarted or jeopardised. By ensuring the youth remains unemployed and frustrated, it wants to ensure the readymade supply of fodder to the jihadi cadre is not affected so that the pot remains boiling in Kashmir. The image of an insecure environment will also keep the tourists away from Kashmir and hence prevent the revival of tourism industry, the backbone of Kashmir’s economy. To this end, Pakistan has been successful in selling a narrative of demographic invasion and minimising the Muslim-majority character of Kashmir and promoting the Hindutva agenda of RSS backed BJP government at the centre. Unfortunately, many so-called nationalist mainstream leaders in Kashmir have been vociferously promoting the Pakistani narrative.
The deep state in Pakistan is not satisfied with the indigenous uprising being confined only to Kashmir as this makes its case weak globally. A concerted effort post 05 August 2019 has been diverted towards reviving the militancy in the Jammu region as well. Large number of sleeper cells have been created. The terrorists are also being trained for Lone Wolf attacks basically to disturb the communal harmony and flare it up into communal clashes. There are other reasons for shifting the focus towards Jammu by the ISI. Jammu’s location close to international border and its heterogeneous population with close proximity to Punjab, another target of ISI, provides the ideal breeding ground for militancy. Also the killings of local Kashmiri Muslims by the terrorists both Pakistanis and locals has created huge resentment among the common Kashmiri masses. The awam is not only fed up but is turning against the terrorists. They are not as forthcoming in providing them shelter as in the earlier days. They are sharing the information of their presence with the security forces as a result of which most of the top terrorist commanders have been killed by the security forces. Thus, safe havens in Jammu are considered more lucrative. But the latest successes of JKP in capturing top commanders of the TRF as well as Lashkar-e-Mustafa in Jammu has sent shockwaves not only to them but to their akas in Pakistan as well.
Due to a very strong anti-infiltration grid on the Line of Control (LOC) by the Indian Army, terrorists and their handlers have been preferring the IB sector for infiltration hence Jammu acts as a suitable base for their further despatch to Kashmir or Punjab. Similar is the argument for smuggling and distribution of narcotics. Hence Jammu has emerged as an ideal and suitable base for narco-terrorism.
Like Kashmir, the ISI also wants to send a signal of insecurity in Jammu region as well so that future investors are discouraged. It has not gone down well with the ISI that the J&K government is planning to not to confine the new industries to Jammu-Kathua belt only but is encouraging the investors to setup industry in the far-flung districts with additional incentives.
The new wave of terror in J&K if not nipped in the bud may prove costly and damaging as had happened many times in the past. Surely, our leaders, experts and planners would have learned lessons from the past and would not let another window of opportunity for installing lasting peace slip away from their hands. Terrorism whether local or imported is enemy of peace and radicalised jihadi terrorists are the enemies of humanity. Unfortunately, the Pak apologists operating in the country continue to remain silent and hence accord their latent support to the madness. They refuse to condemn, name and shame Pakistan as well as take a firm stand against targeted killings of the minorities, quite similar to the manner they followed in 1990s. Only a united approach would lead to elimination of the menace of terror and return of much needed peace.