ĎArmed Struggle Is Kashmir Solutioní

ĎArmed Struggle Is Kashmir Solutioní

20 January 2013
Times of India
Rajeev Deshpande

New Delhi: Fresh challenges are brewing for India in Jammu & Kashmir with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed's 'threat' to step up terror in the border state being complimented by increased activity in LeT camps in eastern Afghanistan not far from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The shift of 'assets' to camps run in the remote provinces of Kunar and Nuristan are being read alongside Lashkar boss's reported remarks to a Hurriyat delegation, which visited Pakistan recently, that 'armed struggle' was the only solution to the Kashmir tangle. Indian agencies feel Saeed's assurance that militancy is poised to flare up in Kashmir in a year's time needs to be seen in the context of the expected drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan in 2014 and Pakistan reactivating its 'strategic depth' strategy against India. Sources said Lashkar camps in eastern Afghanistan that have been working in tandem with Taliban against US and Nato forces can easily redirect their energies against India, supplementing LeT's terror launch pads in PoK not far from the Line of Control (LoC). The two provinces, bordering Pakistan's tribal and northwestern regions, are seen to be ungovernable and have had a growing presence of LeT. Hurriyat leaders, who were in Pakistan in last December, have neither confirmed nor denied their meetings with Saeed and United Jihad Council leader Syed Salahuddin. The Lashkar boss's remarks after the beheading of an Indian soldier along the LoC that border tensions can turn into an 'ugly situation' like war are seen in the context of the incident but the terror group clearly sees violence as a means to force concessions from India. The Hurriyat visit has raised questions in India over persons travelling with Indian passports reportedly meeting the mastermind of the 26-11 attacks. The visits have been always been facilitated due to India's sensitivity to international opinion although the Kashmiri amalgam is backed by Pakistan. Saeed's aggressive statements, doubts about the Pakistani Army's commitment to the bilateral peace process and the evolving LeT strategy are posing tough choices for the Indian security and foreign policy establishment in the run up to the US disengagement in Afghanistan. There is a real threat of billions of dollars of Indian development assistance in Afghanistan, including an important highway in the west, being written off unless New Delhi ensures it has a say in the post-US scenario. It is felt that although the US is keen to draw down in Afghanistan, it will not leave the country for Pakistan and Taliban to run as this has implications for its own security. But India may well need to accelerate its hunt for allies and friends, even if this at times runs counter to US interests.