ISSN 2330-717X

WikiWrecks: The Kashmir Escalation Effect


By Radhavinod Raju

‘Terror training camps, though not directly run by the Pakistan government, continue to operate along the India-Pakistan border creating potential for conflict with India and instability in the region, according to secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.’

‘Terrorist organisations, like al-Qaeda, have begun using these camps as recruitment centres. After additional training… recruitees are then poised to commit terrorist activities,’ a senior British Foreign Office official Laura Hickey is reported to have told American diplomats.

‘Expressing Britain’s concern over what is described as the “Kashmir escalation effect”, Ms. Hickey reiterates the British view that a resolution of the Kashmir dispute would take away one of the main planks of extremist groups.’

After spending billions in Afghanistan in the last nine years, and having lost over a thousand of its soldiers, the US is nowhere near the goal that it set for itself in Afghanistan, and is now looking at ways to end the conflict, and get an honourable exit from there. In this effort, there are voices in the US and the UK that ask India to go the extra distance to ‘help’ Pakistan to concentrate on their bad lands bordering Afghanistan, so that the US and NATO forces can effectively tackle the Taliban.

Why does Delhi get upset over such remarks? Even if India agrees to settle the Kashmir issue with Pakistan, is there a guarantee that terrorists based in Pakistan will stop their anti-India actions? Consider the following narrative. It will be clear that organizations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba have different ideas about executing jihad in India. Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists caught by J&K police in Jammu’s Doda district in late 1999 have disclosed during interrogation that for them Kashmir is only the first step to going further deep into India. Hafeez Saeed, the chief patron of the Lashkar, is on record that the process of dialogue between India and Pakistan has no bearing on the ongoing jihad against India, and that even after Kashmir got liberated, the jihad would continue in the other parts of India. The Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad continued their terrorist attacks not only in Kashmir, but other parts of India, even after 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror. The attack on the J&K Assembly took place on the 1st of October, 2001. The attack on the Indian Parliament took place on the 13th of December, 2001. Several murderous attacks have taken place in Delhi and Mumbai in which hundreds of innocent Indians have been killed by these mad men, one of the worst being India’s 26/11. Bangalore, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Pune and Jaipur have witnessed terrorist attacks. So these threats of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its patron are not idle threats, they are real threats. Ajmal Kasab, the lone L-e-T terrorist arrested in the 26/11 case, has given details of the training he got in the L-e-T camps and the directions given by Hafiz Saeed. David Headley, the American of Pakistani origin, has given details of the training he received from L-e-T handlers and the ISI officers during his India visits to prepare the ground for the 26/11 attacks, to the FBI and NIA officers. The nearest Pakistan has come to admitting the Pak establishment’s connection with the 26/11 terrorists is to say that rogue elements of the ISI could be involved in the attacks. The L-e-T dreams of establishing a Caliphate from Spain to the Philippines that includes India. And the Pakistani establishment considers this group its strategic asset to check India.

India has, nevertheless, walked the distance with Pakistan through the Track II medium to try and resolve the Kashmir issue. Pakistan’s foreign minister of the day Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri has admitted that the two countries were close to agreeing on a final solution to the intractable problem. It is Pakistan which is now going back on this understanding. India called off the Track II talks only after the Mumbai attacks by Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists. For the first time, one of the terrorists was caught alive, and the world in general, and Pakistan in particular, had to acknowledge that these terrorists were launched from Pakistani soil to cause death and destruction in Mumbai.

India showed tremendous restraint in the aftermath of this attack. Had such attacks taken place in Israel or the United States, the response of their governments would have been swift and deadly. India has only asked that the perpetrators of this dastardly attack be brought to book. The manner in which Hafiz Saeed, the principal conspirator of the Mumbai terrorist attacks struts about in different cities of Pakistan, spewing venom against India, and the snails progress in the court against a few minor actors in the 26/11 attacks, indicates the patronage that these terrorists have in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has clearly indicated the extent to which India is prepared to go to solve the Kashmir issue with Pakistan. He has ruled out any re-drawing of the boundaries on communal lines, but has shown willingness to make borders between the two Kashmirs irrelevant. That appears to be the only way forward for India and Pakistan to resolve Kashmir. This appears to be the position reached by the Track II group as mentioned recently by the former Pakistan Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri during his India visit. Can the US and UK nudge Pakistan to take the final steps on the lines recommended by the Track II group, destroy the terrorist infrastructure in that country, and resolve this long pending problem with India?

Radhavinod Raju
Former Director General, NIA
email: [email protected]

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IPCS (Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies) conducts independent research on conventional and non-conventional security issues in the region and shares its findings with policy makers and the public. It provides a forum for discussion with the strategic community on strategic issues and strives to explore alternatives. Moreover, it works towards building capacity among young scholars for greater refinement of their analyses of South Asian security.

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