September 2001 News

Islamabad won''t ''lay off'' J&K, Govt tells forces

23 September 2001
The Pioneer
Rahul Datta

New Delhi: The government has asked the security forces to remain focussed in their fight against terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of terror attacks in New York and Washington, by initiating steps to further strengthen the Unified Command in the State. It is not yet clear how far Taliban-inspired foreign mercenaries will respond to Mullah Omar''s call to return to Afghanistan, but the Government feels that there can be no let-up in vigilance in Jammu and Kashmir. If at all there was a decline in militant activities, the security forces operating in the State would have to use the opportunity to improve the counter-insurgency grid. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the post-September 11 period came up in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting on Friday which devoted considerable time on the subject, sources said on Sunday. The Government urged the security forces to shape the Unified Command into a well-oiled fighting machine. Realising the importance of a well-tuned and integrated counter-insurgency grid in Jammu and Kashmir, the security forces had in the past informed the Government of various measures needed to be taken immediately. Though now embroiled in the Afghan affair, Pakistan would not like to lose its grip over the decade-long proxy war in the State. The military rulers in Islamabad were likely to push in ultras owing allegiance to Pakistan into Jammu and Kashmir if the Taliban fighters go back to Afghanistan. The Pakistani strategists would not like to keep a vacuum in the State for too long as the ''Kashmir cause'' was one of main strategic focus of the Pakistani army, sources said. The Unified Command comprises the Army, Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Jammu and Kashmir Police. There were reports of lack of co- ordination vis-a-vis sharing intelligence information about terrorists and carrying outjoint operations. With the terrorists widening their area of activities from north of Pir Panjal ranges to Jammu region, the security forces wanted the Unified Command to get over these issues fast. The mountainous terrain of Poonch and Rajouri were now witnessing increased terrorist activities, though the security forces had managed to account for a large number of these elements, sources said.The killings of innocent civilians in Doda and at Jammu Railway Station last month saw the Government immediately sanctioning Rs 400 crore for purchasing specialised equipment and weapons needed for counter-insurgency operations. The security forces, reportedly, also shared notes with their Israeli counterparts when they visited the state a few weeks back. Sources said a batch of Indian officers was expected to visit Israel to gain first-hand knowledge about counter-insurgency techniques. The Government that insurgency was expected to come down in the next couple of months. Since the pressure would be considerably reduced on the operational commanders, the outstanding problems in the Unified Command could be sorted out, they said.

 

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