Pakistans objective of debilitating the Indian State, which is the driving force behind its proxy war, is, however, not strictly of recent origin dating from its experience of its successful (as perceived by it) role in the Afghan War of the 1980s.
Pakistan’s objective of debilitating the Indian State, which is the driving force behind its proxy war, is, however, not strictly of recent origin dating from its experience of its successful (as perceived by it) role in the Afghan War of the 1980s. This has nothing to do with the two-nation theory; this has nothing to do with the so-called “unfinished agenda of the Partition of 1947,” as Pakistan describes its quest for J&K, by hook or by crook.
It has everything to do with a mindset, riddled with complexes, which is marked by a permanent hostility to India, by a compulsive urge to take advantage of every difficulty faced by India and to keep the Indian Security Forces bleeding and by a burning desire to prevent, by every manner possible, the emergence of India as a major regional power.
It was this mindset, which was at work in the North-East before 1971, in the Punjab thereafter and in J&K since 1989. Pakistan’s proxy war against India dates back to the 1950s and the 1960s, when it started training and arming the Naga and Mizo hostiles. It suspended it after the humiliating defeat of its Army in 1971 and started it again – this time in Punjab after General Zia-ul-Haq seized power in 1977.
What is new about the latest phase of its proxy war in J&K and other parts of India is the use against the Indian Security Forces of the expertise, the experience and the arms and ammunition and other tools acquired by it under the supervision of the CIA in Afghanistan. What is equally new is the use of the clandestine Army of Islam of the Afghan War vintage, without the direct involvement of its Army of the State.
The Pakistan Army thinks that its demonstrated nuclear and missile capability has insured it against a retaliatory response from the Indian Security Forces due to the fears of the Indian leadership that retaliation could degenerate into regular warfare.
The diversion of this Army of Islam from the battlefields of Afghanistan to J&K serves three purposes, in Pakistan’s perception:
- It keeps the Indian Security Forces and civilians bleeding without the Pakistani Security Forces suffering any casualties.
- It keeps the fanatical jehadis dying at the hands of the Indian Security Forces, thereby preventing their return to Pakistan and clamouring for the imposition of a Talibantype rule there. In the Pakistan Army’s perception, the longer the jehadis are kept fighting and dying in Indian territory, the longer it would be able to prevent a possible Talibanisation of Pakistan.
- It provides a training and motivating force and a training ground for Muslim extremist elements from other parts of India such as the cadres of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) just as it (the Army of Islam) had functioned in the 1980s as a training and motivating force in Afghanistan for Muslims from Muslim and non-Muslim States wanting to take up arms against the State.
The post-1989 phase of Pakistan’s proxy war has an overt as well as a covert component. The overt component relates to its political, moral and diplomatic support to the indigenous Kashmiri organisations, its orchestration of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, its psywar against India on the human rights and other issues and its attempts to internationalise the issue. The covert component is about its letting loose its Army of Islam against the Indian Security Forces and civilians.
Since 2000, this Army of Islam consists essentially of the following organisations:The Pakistan Army thinks that its demonstrated nuclear and missile capability has insured it against a retaliatory response from the Indian Security Forces due to the fears of the Indian leadership that retaliation could degenerate into regular warfare. Its feeling of having acquired a psychological asymmetric advantage over India due to the nuclear factor has given it a confidence that it can persist with its proxy war at no cost to itself.
- The HUM.
- The LET.
- The Al Badr, an off-shoot of Pakistan’s JEI, which was used by the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment for the massacre of the Bengali intellectuals in the then East Pakistan in 1971.
- The Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM), formed by Maulana Masood Azhar by splitting the HUM in 2000 after he had been released from jail by the Government of India in December 1999, as demanded by the HUM hijackers of an Indian Airlines flight.
- The Al Qaida of bin Laden. Till September 11, 2001 the Al Qaida, at the instance of Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment, was training the Pakistani members of the Army of Islam before they were infiltrated into J&K.