By Gurmeet Kanwal
Raise the cost for Pakistan army’s proxy war
IN recent months the Pakistan army has been behaving in a rather aggressive manner on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir in blatant violation of the mutually observed ceasefire. Its rogue actions have included the beheading of an Indian soldier in January 2013 and an ambush on the Indian side of the LoC, which resulted in the death of five Indian soldiers in the Poonch sector. Since then, there have been daily incidents of trans-LoC firing, including in the relatively quiet Kargil sector. The Indian army has responded appropriately to this unprovoked firing.
The Pakistan army has denied that its personnel were involved in the ambush on August 6 and that so-called Kashmiri terrorists may have sneaked across the LoC and ambushed the Indian patrol. This preposterous denial lacks credibility as every military professional familiar with the LoC environment knows that incidents of this nature can occur only with the direct involvement, wholehearted operational planning and full logistics support of the Pakistan army.
Complex operations by Border Action Teams (BATs) are invariably led by personnel of the Special Services Group (SSG, Pakistan's Special Forces) and include specially selected regular soldiers. A large-sized terrorist group simply cannot get through the Pakistan army's well-coordinated forward defences, navigate the anti-personnel minefields and then come back safely after several rounds of firing have taken place and plenty of noise has been generated. In short, explicit connivance is an inescapable prerequisite for a trans-LoC raid to succeed.
Why did the Pakistan army orchestrate such an incident at a time when the Nawaz Sharif government wishes to reach out to India? General Kayani has himself admitted that India is not Pakistan's number one national security threat and that the danger lies within. Quite obviously, the Pakistan army is not in sync with Prime Minister Sharif regarding his policy of normalising relations with India and would like to keep the pot simmering in Kashmir. Though it has carefully calibrated the number of incidents of violence and the targets to be attacked, the army considers it necessary to keep the machinery created for terrorism and insurgency well-oiled so that the so-called Jihad can be ratcheted up when needed.
Perhaps the Pakistan army is of the view that the Jihad in Kashmir is flagging and needs to be revived through a series of spectacular incidents designed to raise the morale of terrorists. Lt Gen Gurmit Singh, GOC, 15 Corps, has said that 28 hard core terrorists have been eliminated since June 24. Of these, 18 were killed while attempting to infiltrate. Approximately 500 terrorists now remain, including sleeper cells, and about 2,000 are waiting in Pakistan and PoK to be inducted. The Indian army is making it difficult for them due to sustained counter-infiltration operations. This summer has seen a major increase in the number of attempts that are being made to infiltrate newly trained terrorists. According to a statement made by Defence Minister A. K. Antony in Parliament, there have been 57 violations of the ceasefire agreement so far this year compared with 93 in 2012. Most such violations are of small arms fire to aid and facilitate infiltration across the LoC.
On another plane, there could be a connection with the situation in Afghanistan. The incident on the LoC has come close on the heels of the ISI-sponsored attack on India's consulate in Jalalabad. Is the Pakistan army sending a message to India to reduce its involvement in Afghanistan, particularly its military aid and training support to the Afghan National Army? It is well known that the Pakistan army is deeply concerned with the support India enjoys in Afghanistan and India’s continuing commitment to Afghan reconstruction and would like to limit India's influence.