Kashmir Tensions Mount
Image Credit: REUTERS/Danish Ismail

Kashmir Tensions Mount

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India’s northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is under pressure on multiple fronts. A string of militant attacks in the Kashmir Valley in recent months accompanied by incessant shelling across the Line of Control (LoC) separating Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir over the last fortnight has set alarm bells ringing in New Delhi. To add to the tension, the Jammu region was convulsed in Hindu-Muslim violence last week.

Indian security analysts are warning that the recent violence in the Valley – the main bone of contention between India and Pakistan – could presage the start of another phase of armed violence in J&K.

On March 13 this year, militants attacked a camp of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Srinagar, the state’s summer capital, killing five CRPF personnel and injuring ten others. Another encounter between security forces and militants less than a fortnight later left three Indian soldiers critically wounded. Two major attacks followed in June, one of them on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Srinagar. Heavily armed militants opened fire on a military convoy killing eight soldiers and wounding 14 others. The attack, widely described as “audacious” given the fact that Srinagar was in a tight ring of security ahead of the prime minister’s visit, is the deadliest in Kashmir in five years.

Things were looking up somewhat in strife-torn J&K in recent years. A Ministry of Home Affairs’ Annual Report, 2012-13 released in April this year drew attention to “the signs of considerable improvement” in 2012 over previous years. “The level of infiltration from across the border [with Pakistan] and the resultant terrorist activities in the valley of Kashmir showed a significant decline,” the report observed, going on to provide figures of falling fatalities among civilians, security forces and since 2009.

That has now changed. In the wake of the recent surge, respected journalist Praveen Swami observed that for the first time since 2001-2002, when India almost went to war with Pakistan over an attack on India’s parliament building by a Pakistan-backed militant group, fatalities among Indian security forces have increased. “In the first six months of 2013,” he pointed out, “India has already lost more police and military personnel than it did in all of 2012, and more than it did in 2011.”

Why are militant attacks increasing? 

Indian intelligence officials who spoke to The Diplomat blame Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the anti-India terror groups it backs. “Outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have in recent months stepped up mobilizing against India,” an official of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), India’s internal intelligence agency, said. NATO’s withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is being interpreted by jihadi groups as a defeat for the U.S. “It is  encouraging them to rally their followers to fight Indian troops in Kashmir,” he said.

Indeed, at a rally in February in Lahore, LeT founder and Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed demanded that India “leave Kashmir,” else it would face defeat like the Americans in Afghanistan. “No one could defeat the Muslims,” Saeed thundered amid chants of “al-jihad, al-jihad” from his supporters. “If America had to run away [from Afghanistan], then India, you will have to leave Kashmir as well,” he warned.

Security analyst Maroof Raza, a former major in the Indian Army, told The Diplomat that following NATO’s pullout, Afghanistan “would become the next strategic battleground with India and Pakistan jockeying for influence along with others neighbours of Afghanistan.”

There is a “high possibility” of the ISI stepping up violence in Kashmir “to divert India’s attention away from Afghanistan,” the IB official warned, adding that this scenario could be unfolding already.

Comments
13
Sardar KHAN
September 7, 2013 at 20:52

It shows how much you bunderstanis are kept in the dark by your own government from the ground realities in Jammu & Kashmir.If it was only the interference of Pakistan in J&K,then why there are so many strikes and riots against terrorist bunderstani army's occupation of the J&K?Why you are keeping eyes closed from the facts?Have you ever thought about why the people of J&K do not like the bunderstanis occupation of their country at all?The day you people realize the truth and stop blaming ISI/Pakistan falsely.Then you will automaticaly force your government to let people of Kashmir go and freedom will the reward for their strugle against occupation.As freedom is a birth right of every person in the world.Don't be rigid and think and do not let your prejudicial mind against Pakistan make you blind and make your mindset against Kashmiris freedom from occupation of their country.

rayriaz
August 31, 2013 at 12:14

Putter Anjaan, I am worry about india,whose muslim papulation growing rapidly to close to 450 millions.Things are not good for Maha-Bharat dream next ten or fifteen years.

Anjaan
August 25, 2013 at 23:28

1.  A large number of Kashmiri muslims are happy to live with India, under Indian constitution. Your Pakistani media propaganda is to feed the Paki barbarians like yourself.  The world is not with Pakistan on Kashmir any more…… Pakistan stands isolated on Kashmir……. Pakistan stands exposed on terrorism …..

2. The small number of pro Pakistan Kashmiris are free to do what they want, but that will change nothing. The only option they have is to cross the borders and go to Pakistan for an Islamic sharia way of life.

Sardar KHAN
August 24, 2013 at 22:01

If you think bunderstanis(indians) are so clever and know the game plan of Pakistan,then why you are crying wolf all the time.Your cleverness fails you to see the hate is being shown by Kashmiris against occupation of their country by terrorist army of bunderstan and shown how they are resisting this occupation inspite of killings,raping of women and putting young people in prisions.Score of Kashmiris are resisting the tactics of the terrorist army of bunderstan.But you still claim it is ISI and Pakistani Army doing.What a stupid argument you bunderstanis are putting forward?Why can't you admit the simple truth,"Kashmiris don't want to be part of bunderstan at all".They wan't freedom and will get it eventualy,no matter how much terrorist actions committed by the occupying army of bunderstan.FREEDOM IS A RIGHT OF EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD AND WILL BE GAINED ONE DAY.NO MATTER HOW MUCH FORCE IS USED BY THE OCCUPIER.

Anjaan
August 23, 2013 at 11:00

@ M Alvi,

Does not make sense at all ….. Kashmir a muslim majority state ……. Pakistan has nuclear weapons  …….  what is the argument here ….. ? …….In India muslim majority in a state, or a district, or a village means nothing for the Muslims ………are you suggesting that Pakistan can get away with its plans in Kashmir, and India will do nothing just because Pakistan has nukes …… ? ….. have you Pakis not learned anything from Kargil fiasco by the Paki army …. ?

M.Alvi
August 23, 2013 at 08:32

India can no longer force occupation of kashmir.It’s muslim majority state. India must remember Pakistan might have his own problems. But it’s nuclear state it’s not a push over. India must think ten times before attacking Pakistan. Best way to unite a Pakistani nation pick a fight.

Anjaa
August 23, 2013 at 07:45

You got it my friend …. it is no different from street level gangster culture ….. the strong man extracts protection money from some, and tries to destroy those who do not fall in line ….. it is basically rule of the jungle, "survival of the fittest".

Anjaan
August 23, 2013 at 07:24

@ kanes,

1. India spends close to 2% of its GDP on defense. Therefore defending Kashmir should not be a big deal for India.

2.  India will do what it takes to protect its territorial integrity, that includes Kashmir. There is no question of any referendum any where.

3.  India has been dealing with Pakistani trained terrorist since 1989, long before the world has seen any thing like this.  India is fully prepared to deal with post 2014 situation. India's 700,000 strong armed forces positioned on the borders with Pakistan, are not for picnic.

Devesh Kumar
August 22, 2013 at 16:34

Exactly anjaan.U.S. is playing the monkey between the cats. But given the complicated relationship of the south Asian states eexternal agents like U.S. are bound to reap harvest.now what shud India do in such a situation. ???? We are equally buying military hardware from it., while our neighbor’s getting freebies. …..
But then should nt we remember that hypocrisy is one of d basic elements of diplomacy. ……. and above all this civilization talks remains the rock solid fact that MIGHT IS RIGHT nd WINNER TAKES ALL…….

Kanes
August 22, 2013 at 13:20

India should relinquish control of Kashmir for this to resolve. Otherwise it will eat up Indian defence resources more and more without any gain.

Holding a referendum in entire Kashmir on their self determination is the right thing to do. They can decide whether to be part of Pakistan, India or become an independent nation.

After December 2014 things will get really messy with an Afghan spillover into Kashmir. From there it will enter India with unprecendented catastrophe.

Anjaan
August 21, 2013 at 22:27

@TDog,

Your assessment is accurate. But there are also some covert actors involved and acting against Indian security interests.

India has the will, and the wherewithal to deal with the Pakistani army and the ISI on the Kashmir issue. The generous economic and military aid to Pakistan from Britain, the US and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan's closest allies,  complicates the matter for India.

TDog
August 21, 2013 at 12:51

India's problem in Kashmir can't be solved without Pakistan and it can't be solved with Pakistan as it is right now.  If Pakistan gains control of Kashmir, India faces an intolerable threat to its heartland as Pakistan in its current state is a hotbed of chaos.  If India chooses to retain control of Kashmir, Pakistan continues to agitate for control, said agitation resulting in acts of aggression and/or terrorism.  Even should India and Pakistan make peace, there is no guarantee that the ISI in Pakistan or the various separatist groups in India would abide by the terms.   

Anjaan
August 20, 2013 at 23:01

This Pakistani game plan was known for a long time, that after withdrawal of the American led NATO forces from Afghanistan, the Pakistani army will give its one final do-or-die thrust into Kashmir, with as many Afghan Taliban & LeT cardre  as possible,drawn into the conflict.

The Americans, meanwhile, cleverly adjusted their policy, from outright support to Pakistan, to non-interference in Kashmir. They have done so, only after quietly transferring a huge and impressive array of weapon systems and air-to-air missiles to Pakistan in 2005.  This means, this time they would simply watch from the sidelines, the impressive show of bloodshed, while appearing as a friend of both sides. And regardless of the winner or loser, American interests in the region would remain intact ……..

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