Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Pakistani terrorism faces manpower crunch; starts new strategy


As India has learnt the hard way multiple times: Pakistan is not to be trusted.

After starting 4 wars (1948, 1965, 1971, and 1999) with India, losing each time, and mounting a vicious campaign of Radical Islamic terrorism over three decades that has left over 100,000 Indians dead by conservative estimates, Pakistan has now started talking about "peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue".

Why this sudden change of heart ? The answer is not hard to find.

The first question to ask is: when did Pakistani-sponsored terrorism first take off in a big way in Kashmir ? The answer: 1989. Though Pakistan was trying very hard to get terrorism started a lot earlier, 1989 was when it first really took off in a big way in Kashmir.

What was so special about 1989 ? What else happened in 1989 in South Asia ?

The erstwhile-USSR withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989. Before that, from 1979 to 1989, the CIA and Pakistan were fighting a Radical Islamic war against soviet forces in Afghanistan. With money and arms from the CIA, violent and suicidal Radical Islamic Wahabi/Salafist Sunni ideology from hardcore Radical Islamic clerics of Pakistan's ISI, and manpower from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya and assorted other Islamic countries with large numbers of stupid uneducated and poor Muslims unhappy with their lives on earth and ready to lay their lives down for Allah, zannat and 72 virgins in the afterlife, the USSR was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan.

After 1989, those Islamic terrorists became free for use elsewhere.

Pakistan sent them all to Kashmir to kill the Hindus and Sufi Muslims of Indian Kashmir. The Wahabi and Salafist Sunni Islamic terrorists were happy to kill both.

Kashmir started boiling. The entire Hindu population was either killed or evicted. Sufi shrines were blown up and Sufi moderate secular Muslims killed. Altogether, over 100,000 Indians were killed by these Pakistani terrorists by the most conservative estimates.

India complained and provided hard evidence of Pakistani terror, such as satellite images of Pakistani terrorist-training camps in PoK, and movements of Pakistani terror teams trained in Pakistan and PoK across the LoC into Indian Kashmir, but nobody listened. Most countries outwardly supported Pakistan's claim that the violence and unrest in Kashmir was simply a "struggle for self-determination" by the people of Kashmir against Indian rule, a struggle to which Pakistan claimed to give only "diplomatic and moral support", and nothing else.

The International Community acted hypocritically, but they cannot be blamed; they saw no benefit in upholding the truth. Supporting Pakistan on Kashmir gave them lucrative arms deals from Pakistan (funded by Saudi oil money), and gave them leverage against India. They could play both India and Pakistan and extract trade concessions, arms deals, etc from both.

It was a nice game to play. It made them money. Making money is more important than upholding the Truth, to most people. And who cares about Indian Hindus and Sufi Muslims dying ? The West would rather focus its attention on making money.

On September 11 2001 the International Community woke up to the danger of Radical Islamic terrorism.

In subsequent attacks (3/11 in Spain, 7/7 in UK, attacks targetting Western tourists in Bali, etc) it became clear that 9/11 was not a fluke; the West was really being targetted by the Islamic terrorists it had earlier found useful.

In 2003 the Iraq War started. Most of the Syrian Libyan Egyptian Afghan Pakistani and Saudi fighters left Kashmir to fight against the US in Iraq. Now that most Muslim terror-recruits are most interested in fighting in Iraq, Pakistan is finding it very hard to find enough Islamic terrorists to send to continue the unrest in India. This is a massive manpower crunch.

At the same time, international attention could no longer be averted from evidence of Pakistani terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India.

Though the West initially tried very hard to avoid mentioning acts of Islamic terrorism against India in the same breath with acts of Islamic terror against the West, eventually it became so obviously untenable that it had to declare that Islamic violence against India in Kashmir by Pakistan was not a "freedom struggle", it was indeed terrorism.

The rapidly rising performance of the Indian economy helped a lot too. The West could no longer equate India and Pakistan like it used to do. Playing India and Pakistan against each other and extracting arms deals contracts and trade concessions from both in turn, was no longer possible.

The Presidency of George Bush was a great help too. In contrast to slippery customers like Bill Clinton who never even had any intention of stopping Pakistani terrorism, George Bush is a more direct and more honest man. He truly understands the danger of Islamic terrorism to Civilization globally and is not willing to let Pakistani terrorism continue against India just to keep his leverage on India alive.

In each of the last two face-to-face meetings between Pervez Musharraf and George Bush, Bush has brought up the issue of Pakistani terrorism against India and asked Musharraf to stop terrorists crossing into India across the LoC. Musharraf has pledged to do so each time, and though he has not done anything to stop Islamic terror against India yet, he is running out of time. Sooner or later he will have to stop it. Bush does not seem like he will forget to bring up this subject in future meetings. And Musharraf depends on Bush for his own survival.

Before 9/11, Pakistan used to flatly deny having any hand in terrorism in India, and in spite of convincing evidence to the contrary provided by India, the west used to allow Pakistan to get away with the flat denial. Now things have changed drastically, and Pakistan is starting to pay the diplomatic price of its uncivilized conduct and Crimes Against Humanity.

Pakistan is thus now under massive international pressure to end terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

The LoC is being keenly observed by satellites of not only India but also more than a few Western nations. At the same time, the India Army is now using better technology on the ground (motion sensors, etc) to detect and deter Pakistani infiltration.

At the same time, the Kashmiris now have more confidence that the Indian Army will protect them from Pakistani terrorists. They are now more willing to help Indian Army soldiers find terrorists hiding among the civilian population.

Thus, it is no surprise that Pakistan's strategy of terrorism is no longer working effectively.

Pakistan is trying to salvage the situation by offering "peaceful resolution". This is simply a ploy to buy time. India has made multiple offers of peace before -- at the end of Pakistan's humiliating defeat in 1971, for example, India released all 90,000 Pakistani prisoners-or-war in Bangladesh without using them as leverage against Pakistan to resolve Kashmir on terms favourable to India. India also returned all Pakistani land that had been gained by Indian Army in the war. Since then, every new Government of India has spent a considerable portion of its time trying to improve relations with Pakistan. Hundreds of "confidence-building measures" have been unilaterally declared by India, like bus and train services between India and Pakistan. Each time, Pakistan has taken advantage of Indian magnanimity.

This time, the change in heart in Pakistan in favour of peace, exactly at the same time it is facing a terrorist manpower crunch as well as international pressure to end Islamic terror in India, just cannot be a coincidence.

Pakistan is obviously buying time. It wants the war in Iraq to end, so that large numbers of Islamic fighters become available to it again.

At the same time, it is waiting for international pressure against Pakistani terrorism to ease.

Then, when times are better, it will restart its terror campaign again.

How then should India respond to the Pakistani offer for peace ?

India should ask for known Pakistani terrorists wanted in India for Crimes Against Humanity and acts of terror (such as Dawood Ibrahim, Maulana Masood Azhar, ISI officers in charge of Pakistani terror in Kashmir etc) to be handed over to India as proof of Pakistani sincerity in fighting Islamic terror.

India should insist upon this as the pre-condition to any talks for "peaceful resolution" of Kashmir. This is the only possible proof of Pakistani sincerity in fighting Islamic terror.

It is well-known that many well-known terrorists are living in Pakistan. The ones wanted by USA are living in hiding. The ones wanted by India are living in broad daylight with nothing to fear.

Once all the kingpins of the Pakistan terror infrastructure are arrested and handed over by Pakistan to India for the crimes they have committed against innocent Indian citizens, Pakistan's credibility in the Islamic terror network will be destroyed. Pakistan will never again be able to recruit Islamic terrorists to create trouble in India.

Hindustan Times reports:

Death of face-to-face attack
Neelesh Misra
Kupwara, December 5, 2006

In the murky mathematics of Kashmir’s insurgency, a lean, soft-spoken man from Pakistan is proof that some equations might be changing.

Saqib Aziz Malik, a 25-year-old man from the Pakistani village of Kot Addu, studied to be a homeopathic doctor on his father’s instructions, but instead became a Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) suicide attacker.

He received weapons training and trudged across snow for five days with five other armed fighters this month, headed to a mountain hideout where they would await further instructions on their satellite phone.

But local people reported their presence to security forces at two different places, and five of the six terrorists were killed. Malik, with two fingers broken from a fall into a gorge, finally took shelter in a Kashmiri house.

His host gave him clothes and food and promised to take him to a doctor — but instead turned him over on November 7 to a plainclothes police officer in the busy market in Kupwara town.

Malik, who said he belonged to the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba group, still likes to talk tough. "The mujahideen are still in a contest with India. Allah willing, we will still prevail," he told HT.

But that optimism seems misplaced. After losing more than 19,000 fighters, Kashmir’s armed terrorism has run into a series of problems, forcing them to drastically change their strategy.

Pakistan, from the accounts of officials and terrorists, has clamped down on armed training camps on its territory. Guides for terrorists, who lead them through mountains, are becoming hard to get.

Infiltration is down and local recruitment is a trickle, bringing the number of terrorists in Kashmir down to between 600 and 700, the police say. If true, that would be their lowest number ever in the insurgency.

Alongside, the spontaneous support for terrorists earlier witnessed in Kashmir's villages is waning.

Many Kashmiris say this is partly because they do not see the insurgency bringing them any gains and also because any form of association with the terrorists brings severe trouble from the security forces.

"Crackdowns" against terrorists - a dreaded spectacle for Kashmiri villagers, involves cordons and searches in which villagers sit outside their homes all day while their homes are searched. When terrorists hide in homes, gunbattles often mean the death of civilians in cross-firing.

In many villages, people have rushed out of homes when terrorists walked in — a sure sign for security forces that terrorists are hiding there. "We told them not to leave, but they started running out of their homes. They were probably scared of what the army would do to them," the lean, mild-mannered and soft-spoken Malik said. He was referring to the second gunbattle at Kulgam, where two of his fellow terrorists were killed.

HT was given access to interview him for almost two hours in Kupwara. He was in custody but spoke freely, slamming what he called the oppression of Kashmiris by India.

At least 19,050 terrorists — more than 6,200 of them Pakistanis —have been killed by security forces in Kashmir since the insurgency began in 1989, according to army estimates.

More than 24,300 have been arrested and some 3,650 have surrendered. Security forces have also seized about 26,500 assault rifles, 59,700 grenades and 6,700 land mines.

Now, officers say, the terrorists are hard-pressed and changing their tactics. “The focus has shifted from rural to urban areas. Infiltration came down in huge numbers. It was felt by them that terrorism is losing steam.

"To gain mileage and headlines, they began targeting Srinagar and other towns," said Kuldip Khuda, the state’s additional director general of police.

To save their numbers, terrorists are now increasingly avoiding direct gunfights, using landmines or grenades in larger numbers than before, police and army officers say.

"Ambushes are a matter of history. There are barely any frontal attacks," Khuda said.

"Their tactics are changing. The terrorist has become far more invisible. Earlier, they were trying to battle face-to-face," said an army commander in Anantnag on condition of anonymity.

The logistics crunch is also affecting morale among terrorists. Former members say Pakistani terrorists, like Malik, receive preferred treatment, and that many families of dead terrorists often do not get lifelong pensions promised by their groups.

"The camps of Kashmiri youth are usually located in the forest area, whereas the camps of foreigners are in posh areas with all modern facilities," said former Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Pervaiz Ahmed, from Budgam district in central Kashmir.

Ahmed surrendered before the army on November 25 in Baramulla with 19 other former terrorists, who had a tearful reunion with their families. "Kashmiri youth are given the worst form of treatment there," he said.

(With inputs from Tejinder Singh Sodhi in Baramulla)

Email Neelesh Misra: neelesh.misra@hindustantimes.com




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