Homeland Security

Upgraded tactics of Pakistani terror in J&K
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 20 Jul , 2022

In a press conference at Jammu, the Additional Director General of Police, J&K, disclosed some sensitive information about the drone deployment strategy of Pakistan’s ISI in its Kashmir terror policy.

No less than 20 drone sorties in the area along International Border in Kathua and Samba and Rajouri districts have been detected last week. 15 of these drone sorties carried consignments of weapons which were dropped in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts, and the rest in Rajouri. The dropped consignments included AK rifles, pistols, remote control, IEDS, stick bombs, silencer pistols and cash in Indian currency. Each drone dropping is estimated to have carried currency worth Rs.80000/- and in total, a sum of 25 lakh rupees has been dropped through these drones out of which 4-5 lakh rupees have been recovered by the police so far.

The police say that seven LeT operators have been arrested in this connection so far and the continued investigation may necessitate the arrest of more operators. Three terrorist modules have been busted in the Rajouri district where the terrorists were planning targeted killings. A hideout has been discovered in a private house in Talab Khatikan, a Muslim-dominated locality in the heart of Jammu city.

This revelation of the agenda of the terror handlers in Pakistan clearly shows that they are planning on a big scale to dislodge the Union Territory administration by forcing it to utilize its resources to meet the terrorist challenge.

This is not the first occasion that drones have been employed by Pakistan across the LoC or the IB. The Hindustan Times of 1 Dec 2020 published the alarming news; “Pakistan’s ISI, inspired by the success of using cheap drones to carry out small bomb attacks, has been exploring this option for terrorist groups. The ISI had laid out its plan first at a meeting with senior Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed commanders in Punjab province’s of Taxila in April this year (2020). There was a follow-up meeting the next month at the brigade headquarters in Kotli district of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, according to an intelligence report reviewed by Hindustan Times in October. The paper went on to say, “Latest reports also indicate that Pakistan-based Khalistani groups are also being pushed by their handlers to exploit the farmers’ agitation in Punjab as part of its continuing effort to revive militancy in the border state.”

After allowing the US to launch drone attacks on the terrorists in the Waziristan area of KP in which almost 3000 militants were killed during 2004-5, the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI thought of utilising the new weapon against India by dropping arms and ammunition and radical Islamic literature. The use of drones by Pakistan to drop arms and ammunition on J&K is part of its latest strategy to carry out drone swarm attacks—which gives deniability and carries an element of surprise. It also marks a tactical shift from the decades-old strategy of infiltrating terrorists into the Indian Territory.

However, with time, and after Pakistan succeeded in motivating China and Turkey to lend full support to her stand on Kashmir, the ISI actively looked for the cooperation of sorts between three adversaries of India, namely Pakistan China and Turkey, in using the new war weapon – swarm drone — against India to make a dent in her defence strategy.

The Week Magazine of Oct 22, 2020, had splashed the following sensational news: “33 AK series rifles, 28 pistols, half a dozen M16 rifles, under barrel grenade launchers, sniper rifles, three dozen magazines, grenades and more than 500 rounds of ammunition were airdropped by Pakistan using Chinese drones into Indian Territory between June 8 and October 12. The data of arms and ammunition airdropped by drones flying from Pakistan and recovered by Indian security forces along the Line of Control and International Border is a wakeup call to the new emerging threat from Pakistan which is desperate to stir unrest in Kashmir, and has failed to counter the abrogation of Article 370….”

ISI has also been working on a changed strategy for Kashmir after India abrogated Article 370/35-A and reorganized J&K into two Union Territories. In the changed strategy, new terrorist outfits under different nomenclature like Resistance Front, Peoples’ Anti-Fascist Front, Joint Kashmir Front and the Jammu, Kashmir Ghaznavi Front and Ghazavatul Ansar are the new proxies deployed in addition to traditional ones.

The idea of extended use of drones as a war weapon was spurred by last year’s war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh which demonstrated the decisive advantage attack drones could bring to any battlefield. Drone strikes by Azerbaijan targeting Armenian troops, destroying military installations, tanks, air defence systems, and artillery gave the Turkey-backed country a decisive upper hand in that short war. After the fighting was seized, Nagorno-Karabakh was unequivocal proof of the strategic advantage provided by armed drones to the militaries possessing them.

Well-informed sources assert that Pakistan is evincing a keen interest in acquiring Turkish TB2 drones. This speculation may not be out of place if we recollect that for some time strong ties have developed between the two countries, especially in the defence field. At the same time, Turkey’s undisguised opposition to India on the Kashmir issue in the UN General Assembly and the malicious anti-India statement of the then outgoing Chairman of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir of Turkey are morale boosters for Pakistan. Moreover, as reflected in the Nagorno Karabakh battle, the Bayraktar TB2 can deceive modern air defence systems. The case of Russian Pantsir and S-300’s inability to detect the drone is an example.

The apparent success of Pakistan making extensive use of drones as a new terror weapon in Kashmir is because Pakistani rabid Islamist organizations supported by the local Jamaat-e-Islami of Kashmir valley have made a dent in the Kashmir Muslim youth to lend underground support to the new drone tactics of Pakistan. They have established a sophisticated network as revealed by the seven operatives arrested by the police so far. Stunning revelations of ISI trying to make the Pir Panjal mountain region a strategic base for providing a variety of sophisticated arms to the local fighters in South Kashmir received through drone consignments.

The incident has some new indications that cannot be ignored. Pakistan-based terrorist organizations have made a deep dent into the segments of the local Muslim population of the valley and those on the borders of the State be it the International Border or the LoC. It also indicates that the network of terror operatives in Kashmir Valley, Rajouri and IB are fully motivated and trained on how to sidetrack the security agencies. After all the sites where droppings are made are fixed in advance by local terrorists who convey the information to their handlers in Pakistan. In other words, one can say that a very powerful and effective digital communication system has been evolved by Pakistan and the LeT/JeM operatives on our side of the LoC have been given the essential technical training. ISI has been doing it for more than three years, as can be deduced from the preliminary statements of the arrested LeT operatives.

We have a full appreciation of the State police force that has courageously got hold of the main culprits and obtained from them some sensitive information about the tactics of the ISI in enforcing its agenda in Kashmir. Pakistan sees a very satisfying performance by border guarding force of Rangers with wonderful support from the drones that carry much-needed arms and ammunition and drop it across the border without being detected because it has a very low sound while flying. Finding that drone is producing the desired result, Pakistan and her intelligence agency would like to upgrade the drone technology for effective results.

Pakistan is not alone in bolstering its drone attack capability against India. She seems to be tying up the tactics of new weapons with Turkey and China. Against this India depends on obtaining on lease the US and Israeli armed drones to secure the border with Pakistan. According to reports India “has employed Israeli – imported Searcher and Heron drones only for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes.”

In some political circles, it is often discussed whether India would prove a match for the combined drone war if unleashed by Pakistan covertly supported by China and Turkey.  

In the final analysis, India appears to be in dire need of upgrading her anti-drone strategy in a situation of extended drone warfare. Yes, Turkey has mastered some advanced technologies to make drones more deadly and, of course, she will transfer these machines to Pakistan. But before doing that Turkey will closely watch her irons in the fire. Ever since Erdogan has been nursing the ambition of revival of the Ottoman Empire, entire Europe and the US have mounted close watch on her movements. A country desirous of being considered more a European than an Asiatic, and one that is a member of NATO will have to think twice before she unfolds any sinister design against the world’s largest democracy. This apart, India has to develop an indigenous anti-drone mechanism without the loss of a single day that can be immensely effective in obstructing and finally destroying the enemy drones with a vicious mission. The exercise also includes neutralizing the underground networks built by the ISI in Kashmir and the adjoining Pir Panjal region.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

KN Pandita

Former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University.

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