|Security & strategy …. DC Pathak …|
COMMENT / SECURITY & STRATEGY
By DC PATHAK
THE SUCCESSFUL strike made by a dozen Mirage2000 jets of the Indian Air Force on February 26 to destroy the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed at Balakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, in just about ten days after the terror attack on the CRPF at Pulwama, speaks as much of the decisiveness of the Modi government on the national security front as of all that obviously went into that action by way of defence preparedness, functional consolidation of India’s intelligence set-up and a comprehensive diplomatic reach out to the world by our Prime Minister himself on the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terror.
For decades now, Pakistan’s deep state had been unabashedly pursing a ‘proxy war’ against India in the name of Kashmir using faith-based terrorism to avenge the ignominious defeat of 1971 it had suffered at the hands of India in the Bangladesh war. It first instigated militant separatism in Kashmir — through the slogans of Plebiscite and Azadi and also sponsored the armed ‘Khalistan’ movement in Punjab but could not derail the overpowering democratic processes there. It was in the 90s that, following the success of anti-Soviet armed campaign in Afghanistan for which Pakistan was given all the credit by the US-led West, the Pak army-ISI combine planned to replicate the Afghan Jehad in Kashmir by sending in Mujahideen from across the Valley and subduing the Kashmiris to the call of Jehad through its agents and acolytes. Jamaat-e-Islami outfits like Hizbul Mujahideen and Dukhtarane Millat were made to take orders from the Pak-based Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Maulana Hafiz Sayeed. The Hurriyat totally converted into a Pak proxy. The network of Pak agents within the administration and outside, including those who took shelter under the umbrella of politics, was constantly expanded to create an atmosphere of alienation and public unrest.
Also, Maulana Masood Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which was an old collaborator of Al Qaeda-Taliban combine — it was a constituent along with Taliban of the first set of Mujahideen sent to the valley under the label of Harkatul Ansar way back in 1993 — was utilised for raising fidayeen or suicide bombers. These were lately being trained for using car bombs. What is more disconcerting is that the Balakot training camp was the venue for raising Border Action Teams comprising of both Jaish militants and army soldiers. The attack on the CRPF convoy at Pulwama was the doing of a Jaish fidayeen who used a car bomb with over 60 kg of RDX mix. The act owned by the Pak-based JeM was a manifestation of the new level of escalation of terror caused by the Pak army after it had discovered that stone pelting and grenade lobbing on security camps by its agents in Kashmir were bringing it diminishing returns.
For lack of understanding of the distinction between Islamic radicals of Al Qaeda-Taliban axis who took on the US and the India-specific outfits nurtured by Pak ISI as instruments of cross border terrorism against this country the then government first committed a foreign policy blunder of granting a ‘shared victimhood’ to Pakistan in regard to terrorism, at the Havana summit and then went on to spinelessly accept the line of John Kerry — visiting Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee — that 26/11 was solely the doing of ‘non state’ actors of Pakistan.
In the period that followed, the Pakistan army worked with the presumption that it could keep up its proxy offensive against India without any fear of retribution. It is the Modi government that got President Donald Trump to abandon the artificial construct of a distinction between ‘good terrorists’ and ‘bad terrorists’, call the bluff of Pakistan on its role in the ‘war on terror’ that was a combat against Islamic radicals and clearly direct Pakistan to stop providing safe havens to terrorists across the Islamic spectrum. The government has unflinchingly stuck to the policy of ‘talks and terror do not go together’ and Indians are totally behind the government on this — the charge of ‘politicisation’ raised by peaceniks and sections of the opposition is not cutting much ice.
In the current geo-political context, Pakistan is left with no option but to sue for peace — its sabre rattling by way of sending some F-16s to unsuccessfully attempt to bomb a military establishment on our side of LOC a day after the Balakot strike, has not taken it anywhere. An Indian pilot intercepting the enemy plane fell in Pak hands. Pakistan was compelled to declare his release after India rightly warned it that any ill-treatment of the pilot would be considered a war provocation.
Since India’s Pak policy revolves round the issue of Pakistan effectively giving up on cross-border terrorism, India should legitimately demand handing over of Maulana Hafiz Sayeed and Maulana Masood Azhar for trial in 26/11 and Pulwama attack respectively as a condition for talks.
Pakistan should not be permitted to exploit its proximity to Saudi Arabia and UAE in the OIC nor should it be allowed to manoeuvre the support of Russia and China on the Afghan table. Meanwhile, India’s war machine should remain in full swing to take on any military adventure of Pakistan — the threat of nuclear flash point does not work for Pakistan any more. Pakistan, however, is likely to step up its aggressiveness in Kashmir and it would be quite in order for India to take to an approach of ‘offence is the best defence’ along the LOC.
—The writer is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau. –IANS /IHN-NN