Pak’s Desperation In J&K, Valley Politics And AFSPA

Pak’s Desperation In J&K, Valley Politics And AFSPA

6 September 2011
The Asian Age
Anil Bhat

New Delhi: Four encounters in the Kashmir Valley over the month of August, which resulted in 35 to 40, mainly Pakistani and some Kashmiri terrorists, being neutralised (i.e. killed, captured, retreated, on the run) and reports of many hundreds more waiting to succeed in crossing the Line of Control (LoC) indicate Pakistan’s desperation at keeping the region on the boil. Within two days top Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) commanders Habib Gujjar and Abu Usmaan were killed in Kishtwar and Surankote forest, respectively. Within a span of 10 days, there were least eight major infiltration attempts in which at least 10 terrorists and six soldiers were killed. According to the police, terrorists across the state are on the run. Intelligence inputs also say that there are several hundred terrorists waiting at some launching pads to infiltrate across the LoC before the snow closes the passes. Speaking to this newspaper, Lt. Gen. S.A. Hasnain, GOC 15 Corps said: “What has been very marked this year is the elimination of about 11 to 12 top leaders of the LeT, Jaish-e-Moham-mad (JeM) and partially the Hizbul Mujahiddeen (HM), which has actually resulted in the high levels of desperation now. I’m hoping to be able to prevent, pre-empt or neutralise these desperate attempts being made on the LoC.” Lt. Gen. J.P. Nehra, GOC 16 Corps, said: “Our counter-infiltration posture has been very strong. We have a fence, electronic surveillance, UAVs. Our troops are extremely motivated and vigilant. As a result, so far this year, despite many attempts, there has been zero success in infiltration.” What becomes quite clear is a mockery of the recent ministerial-level India-Pakistan “peace talks” and the fact that despite Paki-stan literally burning by daily jihadi attacks and its Army’s commitment to fig-ht domestic terror has not curtailed its pre-occupation with exporting terror to J&K and rest of India. Lt. Gen. Hasnain’s estimates there are 700 terrorists at nearly 42 Pakistani arms training camps waiting to cross over. As per Lt. Gen. Nehra, nearly 175 LeT and HM militants were operating in the south of Pir Panjal. He said militants in the state are now more relying on Internet and social networking sites, besides manual communication. A security portal states that Pakistan has opened three training camps for women militants in Manshera, Tarbela and Chhattar for engineering violence in J&K. These recruits are imparted training to use small arms, communication systems and carry out suicide atta-cks. Inter-Services Intellig-ence (ISI) has also formed control groups comprising serving and former soldiers and officers to train militants, chart out their movement within PoK, and identify leaders among the recruits and plan infiltration through the LoC. The hawala money supplied by Pakistan for the militant “commanders” and separatists through cross-LoC trade route of Uri (India)-Muzaffarabad (Pakistan) has been wor-ked out around '60-70 million. Interrogation of the arrested persons and investigations by the intelligence agencies have revealed that Firdous Ahmed Dar, arrested on August 20, was not the only conduit but nearly half-a-dozen persons had received hawala money and weapons through the cross-LoC route. Stone-pelting was revived in the Valley during the last week of August even as chief minister Omar Abdullah announced an amnesty for nearly 1,200 youths arrested during 2010 summer agitation. Responding to a question about the rehabilitation policy of militants willing to return from PoK, he said the governments of Pakistan and PoK are acting as stumbling blocks. On the Truth and Reco-nciliation Commission, the CM said that it applied to various offshoots of militancy and not alone on alleged human rights violations by SFs. Three days after the CM announced general amnesty to Valley-based youth, the BJP questioned his intentions and also alleged the move was reflective of discrimination with Jammu youth who continue to face cases related with the 2008 Amarnath land agitation. Mr Abdullah kicked up a controversy when he tweeted about a parallel between the Tamil Nadu Assembly’s resolution pleading that the death sentence given to three killers of former PM Rajiv Gandhi be commuted and how would such a plea from J&K for Afzal Guru be received. His father, Mr Farooq Abdullah, reportedly agreed with his stand. S.A.S. Gilani and his cabal of separatists, extremely disappointed at not being able to effectively ignite the Kashmir Valley this summer, have been active in initiating whatever possible means of creating unrest. After fiery speeches and attempts to reviving stone-pelting, he is all out to try to cripple the Valley with strikes or shutdowns. It is also not surprising that after the Army and SFs’ recent successful operations, once again the Armed Forces Special powers Act (AFSPA) is back into focus in the Valley. A section of the J&K media has criticised some of the so-called human rights associations like the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, the Citizens for Democracy, the Radical Humanist Association, the Manav Ekta Abhiyan and similar other associations and their leaders. The newspapers stated that reports by these groups are nothing but an affront to the nationalist Indians and to the Indian state. These reports deserve outright rejection and condemnation by all right thinking people. The so-called human rights champions appear to have openly joined the secessionists and pro-Pakistani elements in denouncing the policy of the Indian state. Arundhati Roy and Gautam Navlakha are just two among them. Their views on the handling of the Kashmir situation are identical with those expressed repeatedly by the Pakistan government and its print and electronic media, Kashmiri separatists, and even some “mainstream” Kashmiri leaders. The AFSPA, necessary for protecting soldiers and constabulary handling internal security situations (even if externally linked), is not a patch on Pakistan’s latest “Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011 for FATA”. Comments of Mr Waqqas Mir, a Pakistani barrister merit some attention: “The preamble of the 2011 regulations states that it is ‘imperative that proper authorisation be given to the armed forces to take certain measures for incapacitating the miscreants by interning them during the continuation of the actions in aid of civil power’. Furthermore, the 2011 Regulations have been given retrospective effect and have been deemed to have taken effect from the February 1, 2008. This draconian new law creates the spectre of a counter-insurgency strategy that is purportedly in compliance with legal and ethical norms but it achieves neither. It allows any authorised officer of the military or even civil armed forces to detain any person whose internment is ‘expedient for peace’ in the defined area - the defined area is any area defined by the governor of the province and is a reference to areas where the armed forces are acting in aid of civil power. The duration of any such internment is apparently limitless as these regulations themselves provide that the power to intern shall be valid from the day that these regulations take effect till the continuation of actions in aid of civil power. It covers everyone from persons who ‘may obstruct actions in aid of civil power’ to an individual who ‘by any action or attempt may cause a threat to the security of Pakistan’ as well as anyone who ‘has committed or is likely to commit an offence’ under these regulations.” The panel of three interlocutors on J&K have come under criticism by some local newspapers for: (a) “The mention of autonomy by interlocutors is not going to serve any purpose. The final decision on autonomy shall be taken by Parliament. New Delhi will find it increasingly difficult to get the issue settled in Parliament. The Congress Party does not have the required number of parliamentarians. The BJP will oppose such a move tooth and nail. Further, the people of Jammu and Ladakh do not want any arrangement that dilutes state’s relation with India. And last but not the least, the people of Kashmir are totally indifferent to the autonomy demand. The Rather Panel seems to have realised this harsh reality.” (b) Ms Radha Kumar, writing a resignation letter to the Union home minister saying that she doesn’t want to be associated with her colleague M.M. Ansari, who criticised her for attending a Kashmir seminar in Europe organised by the Tramboo Centre. Earlier, Mr Ansari had slammed chief interlocutor, Mr Dileep Padgaonkar, for attending a seminar organised by US-based Kashmiri separatist Ghulam Nabi Fai (arrested by the FBI for illegally lobbying for Pakistan and ISI). With all that is afoot by Pakistan, New Delhi must ensure that the Army’s effectiveness in countering terrorism is not in any way diluted and politically it will need to be astute eno-ugh to maintain the geo-strategically located state’s and the nation’s security Anil Bhat, a retired Army officer, is a defence and security analyst based in New Delhi


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