Will 2023 See A ‘Hot’ Winter In Kashmir? – OpEd


Every year, prior to onset of winters, Kashmir Valley witnesses a flurry of activities. While the civil administration works overtime to complete stocking of essential items ranging from foodstuff, fuel, medicines to other items of daily use before roads get blocked due to snowfall, the locals too make necessary provisions to cater for the severe winters. 

However, feverish activity during this period isn’t restricted to the hinterland and inhabited areas only. This is also the time when Pakistan army’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence [ISI] which is overseeing Rawalpindi’s proxy war in J&K also undertakes a massive ‘stocking’ exercise, albeit of an entirely different kind. 

It is always the ISI’s endeavour to push-in maximum number of terrorists as well as adequate quantities of arms and ammunition into J&K before the mountain passes along the Line of Control [LoC] are rendered impassable due to snow accumulation. To sustain the proxy war, it’s necessary for ISI to ensure that the strength of terrorists and their stocks of arms and ammunition don’t deplete drastically due to ‘wastage’ as a result of encounters with Indian security forces. 

Hence it’s not at all surprising that just during the last 30 days, four infiltration attempts have been thwarted by joint teams of the Indian army and J&K police in which at least 10 terrorists were been neutralised. However, two things do stand out-one, there’s an exponential increase in the number of foreign terrorists vis a vis locals, and two, renewed focus on inducting weapons that can be easily concealed. 

The number of foreign terrorists in J&K has gone up exponentially. According to a report, out of a total of 46 terrorists killed in J&K during the current year, 37 were Pakistanis, which means that three out of every four terrorist killed was a Pakistani national. This indicates that despite the continuing efforts of Islamabad and its J&K based proxies like All Parties Hurriyat Conference [APHC], the locals have realised that they are being used as ‘expendable’ pawns by Pakistan.

The total number of pistols and hand grenades recovered from terrorists killed while infiltrating during the current year isn’t available. However, news reports about a haul of six pistols and four hand grenades on October 22 from the encounter site after an infiltration attempt in Uri sector was defeated in which two terrorists killed, is revealing. Since pistols are accurate only at extremely short range [50 m for Type 54 pistol being used by terrorists in J&K], it’s of no particular use in encounters.

Similarly, the hand grenade used by terrorists [Pakistan Ordnance Factory manufactured ARGES 84 P2A1] is manually flung and so its range is limited to the strength of the user, which is usually less than 100 feet. This grenade has 5,000 steel pellets [of 2-2.3 mm diameter each] which are effective within a radius of 20m from point of burst, and its limited range restricts it utility during encounters.

However, since both pistols and hand grenades are very easy to conceal and can be effectively used with one hand only, they are invaluable for use by ‘hybrid’ terrorists for attacking ‘soft’ targets and creating mayhem in crowded places. With locals wearing the traditional phiran [long cloak or robe] with hands tucked inside the same instead of being put through the sleeves in winters, a pistol or hand grenade can not only be effortlessly concealed but also used with matching ease. 

Concerted and sustained action against the well entrenched terrorism support system is one of the main reasons behind the low recruitment of locals into terrorist ranks in Kashmir Valley. Piqued by the targeting the jugular of the ecosystem nurturing and sustaining terrorism, the ISI has shed all the pretense of trying to portray terrorism in Kashmir as a ‘freedom struggle’ and instead, is now openly playing the communal card by instructing its proxies to target minority community members. 

Just recently, J&K Police DGP Dilbagh Singh remarked that terrorism “which had struck like a calamity on the entire J&K has been almost been finished and whatever remnants are left will be eliminated soon.” While there are no doubts that terrorism in J&K has been effectively brought under control through a proactive and comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, yet it may be a bit early to predict the imminent end of terrorism in J&K.

The harsh reality is that what we are facing in J&K isn’t mere militancy or terrorism- it’s a full-blown proxy war being waged by an inimical neighbour. And since it enjoys state sponsorship as well as the unconditional blessings of Pakistan’s all-powerful army, while the international community chooses to remain silent spectators, it’s not so easy to eliminate this menace. Hence, while there’s no need to unduly worry or lose hope, complacency would be suicidal.

3 thoughts on “Will 2023 See A ‘Hot’ Winter In Kashmir? – OpEd

  • October 31, 2023 at 5:18 am

    The harsh reality is that the J&K militancy is part of the proxy war waged by the all-powerful Pakistan Army, coordinated by the ISI and supported by Pakistan’s political establishment in power.
    Nawaz Sharif’s return from self-exile demonstrates that political leaders can never be written off in Pakistan’s politics. He on return during his speech said that he would wish friendly relations with the neighbours! Wonder if really means and will he be able to implement when he looks for yet another tenure as a PM with the blessings of the Army. Now India has strong majority Govt led by PM Modi. Any misadventure will be dealt strongly but complacency should not set in like the Israelis as it can be suicidal. Pakistan is likely to have elections in Jan 2024 so hopingly this winter should not turn hot with gun powder.

    • November 1, 2023 at 10:02 am

      Very rightly brought out. The present government is strong and capable of taking bold decisions (suitably demonstrated earlier) which in itself is a detrent. Hopefully with elections in sight in Pakistan we should have a milder winter with limited gunpowder fumes in the air.

  • November 1, 2023 at 9:55 am

    Its true that India has been engaged in this Proxy war since 33 years now, albeit the intensity of the same has to a great extent been tapering through the passing years. That almost 75% terrorists eliminated are foreign nationals is touch heartening that the local populace have begun to realise the futility of participating in such engagements. But that the foreign nationals are active in the area, there is no denial that their support system is still available and active and same can be exploited further by the ISI. It would however be interesting to gather as to how many of the encounters were on the LoC in the process of crossing into India, how many were chance encounters and how many were on a tip off by the populace would give us an indication on the course and concerted focus areas for our future planning. Proxy wars are more engaging in terms of time, resources and numbers and can never be won but be contained and gradually depleted by eliminating inland demographic support system. As rightly brought out, Complacency certainly would cost us heavy anytime.


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