Into : The Udhampur terror attack comes within days after the Gurdaspur attack on July 27, 2015 in which seven people were killed. There is an instant need to keep a tight leash by government on terrorist activity to ensure that it is not allowed to raise its ugly head again. India must change its counter terrorism narrative.
The trail of the terror attack on a Border Security Force (BSF) convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway in District Udhampur in which two soldiers have lost their lives is once again leading to Pakistan. One terrorist who has been caught alive has confessed to being a resident of Faisalabad in Pakistan. His statements are, however, contradictory. He is coining several names for himself and stating his age from 16 to 20. In due course, under sustained and professional interrogation, the truth will be known.
The national outrage towards this incident has been expressed in ample measure in the electronic media. The evening of August 5 witnessed stringent debates on all channels. The question is – what was new in the debates? A similar exercise with similar questions to the same set of commentators from India and Pakistan were posed after the Gurdaspur terror attack. The answers, in this instance, were the same as before. Indian “analysts” continued to deride Pakistan with emotive rhetoric while the Pakistani response continued to be one of denial.
It would be better to look at reality in the face. The reality is that export of terror to India is the only successful enterprise that Pakistan has to its credit since its existence. It is, therefore, the only national identity that binds the nation together. Obviously, the country is not going to let go of this success simply because a few aged “analysts” froth against it on Indian television! In fact, they look towards this opportunity to showcase their success to their people.
Imagine Hafiz Saeed gloating to his aides and followers about the discomfiture that he has caused to enemy India by sacrificing just a few Mujahideen who have, in any case, gone to heaven! By carrying out such repetitive debates, high on emotion and low on content, India is simply playing into the hands of the Pakistan’s psychological operation’s machinery.
Definitely, there is a need to expose Pakistan. This should be done, not through television debates, but by providing concrete evidence to world leaders and opinion makers. The world may not respond straight away but when it is ready to do so it
should have the ammunition to accost Pakistan with.
By refusing to talk India once again plays into Pakistan’s hands. The best option is to talk only about terror and its adverse affect on normalisation of relations. The talks should be reported in the media in a serious manner that emphasises India’s concerns without sensationalising them.
The third and most important step in the counter terrorism narrative is building up of a fool proof security apparatus that makes it too expensive for Pakistan to plan and implement its evil agenda. This is easier said than done but the effort has to be made.
There is a perceptible shift in the focus of Pakistan terror strategy from the Kashmir Valley to other areas in Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab. The reason for this is that the terrorists in Kashmir are not producing the required results. Hence, other options are being explored, unfortunately, with good results for the terror mongers. This
new challenge needs to be dealt with appropriately.
Within Jammu & Kashmir also there is a widespread perception that terrorism is witnessing a shift with newly indoctrinated local youth joining the terrorist cadre in large numbers. A reported census carried out by the J&K Police has indicated that 62 per cent of the terrorists now operating in the Valley are local youth. One would not be surprised if investigations of the Udhampur attack prove that the Pakistani terrorists carried out the strike with assistance of the local cadre. How could these two terrorists breach the line of control fence without proper tools and assistance? How did they sustain themselves over so many days? Could they have travelled almost a hundred kilometres across jungles and urban areas to hit a vulnerable portion of the national highway without local support? On the face of it, independent operation by these two Pakistani nationals looks highly unlikely.
The challenging security situation that is now emerging should give the Government of J&K a lot to worry about. Concrete steps need to be taken urgently to check those local youth who are being indoctrinated to pursue the evil path of terrorism.
National media and opinion makers are paying all attention to the ISIS flag waving at the cost of focusing on the more critical issue of radicalisation of the Kashmiri youth. The ISIS does not have a significant footprint in the Kashmir Valley, at the moment. The radicalised youth are joining, not the ISIS but the Hizbul Mujahdeen (HM), the newly created Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) and also the Lashkar-e-Toiba
(LeT) which are very much operational in the area.
The Army has flagged its concern and left it to the government to deal with the challenge since it is essentially in the political domain. The government needs to mark the words of the Army Commander, Northern Command, Lt. Gen. DS Hooda, when he says that, “The numbers (of local terrorists) are not too many, but the fact remains that it was down to single digit during two or three years. In that sense it is something that we need to look at seriously.”
The new policy of terror-mongers once again spreading their area of influence beyond the Kashmir Valley which poses the biggest challenge today. The existing scenario, if not checked in time, can have serious politico-security consequences.
The State as well as the Central Government needs to take corrective measures immediately, failing which, the dividend of peace created by the security forces cannot be enjoyed by the people. A tight leash has to be kept on terrorist activity to ensure that it is not allowed to raise its ugly head again.
Jaibans Singh (The writer is Delhi based security analyst)