Of course, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot be accused of meddling with every military or paramilitary move. The PMO does it for him. We do not know what was the urgency on February 14 this year to send 2500 CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar – one of the most treacherous highways with a long tunnel in the middle. The men were hurriedly collected and assembled in a transit camp. Was the government planning some action, or were the CRPF high-ups planning to replace the snow-weary Jawans in Kashmir with the ones fresh from warmer climes?
Be that as it may, someone did plan to send 2500 of our strong but unquestioning, disciplined and brave paramilitary personnel in 78 civilian buses in a convoy that was more like a wedding procession. That turned out to be one of the, if not the, worst catastrophic military moves ever executed in the recorded war chronicles of India. Forty of our young men were blown into smithreens at one go. A young suicide bomber went with them. with the eerily cheerful message: “By the time you see this video reaches you, I will be in heaven.”
Someone out there in Kashmir (Jammu is in the plains, Kashmir begins just beyond Udhampur, where the mountains begin to rise to imposing heights) certainly knew of the move. Someone – maybe heavily indoctrinated Jaish-e-Muhammad’s sleeper cell – knew the time the convoy would arrive, and had been preparing for it. India has a number of highly paid and even more advertised but incompetent, pen-pushing, book-writing intelligence officers; it would appear that JeM has silent, effective and result-oriented spies. The latter had studied the weakness of our unduly submissive security guards in stopping and frisking even moderately high-ranking officers in uniform, or their fake doubles.
The suicide bomber was an impressionable (his father said he was just a schoolboy) 22-year-old Adil Ahmed who disappeared from home in March 2018 and did not return despite appeals sent out by his family. Security organizations now tell us that Adil was trained on jihad and terrorism in Jaesh e Mohammad headquarters in Pakistan and was in touch with his handlers ever since he returned to India. He had been throroughtly brainwashed into believing that the government would try to convince him away from his sacred mission of taking human lives.
The local police knew him as a militant with a vengeance, for he was shot in the leg when he protested the killing of Kashmiri militant idol, Burhan Wani. The Police also knew that Abdul Rasheet Ghazhi, the IED specialist of JEM from Afghanistan had infiltrated into Kashmir and was on the prowl. They had even encountered Ghazhi a few days before the bombing in Pulwana, but he gave them the slip. It couldn’t take too much mathematics to know what he was up to. Yet no one noticed Adil Ahmad Dar, a known potential suicide bomber sitting at the wheels of a relatively large red car and waiting on the side streets for the convoy to pass. Isn’t it stranger, even if you take into account the lethargy and incompetence of Kashmir’s police force or Indian intelligence agencies, that the so-called lesser (Category ‘C’) militants were able to obtain within a few months 150 to 200 kilograms of a strictly controlled explosive like RDX and assemble it into a deadly bomb?
Adil had made his intentions very clear when he presented himself on his Facebook page as ‘Waqas Commando’ a-la Burhan Wani, holding an AK 47and several other weapons alongside. The kind of JeM indoctrination that went into his head could be gauged from his purported video message to Kashmiris,
Jaesh-e-Muhammad has been more effective than Taliban or Al Qaeda in indoctrinating young men in India to become suicide martyrs. Immediately after Masood Azhar founded Jaish e Mohammad in 2000, a suicide bomber struck outside Indian Army’s 15 corps headquarters killing one and injuring many. JeM had always marked the underbelly of definite targets before it struck – 2001 Srinagar Assembly attack and Indian Parliament attack for instance. Next year they beheaded Daniel Pearl, a journalist for Wall Street Journal. 2013 Army base attack, the fierce 2016 Uri attack on an army camp, 2018 Sunjwan Terror attack were all meticulously planned and neatly executed. In nearly every case, our jawans were sitting ducks – no camp guards challenged the attackers (except in one case, but they were easily overwhelmed).
There is little argument against the fact that Pakistan’s ISI – a wing of the army – has been the instrument for training terrorists who operated all over the world, including the ones who were responsible for the 9/11 attack on the towering twin-citadel of commerce in the United States. Ironically, the United States was that trained and equipped ISI to fight dirty with the Russians in Afghanistan. If the US had any intelligence worth its name, it should have known that the Soviet Union was already crumbling under its own weight. Since then, the ISI-mentored terror machine has spawned dozens, if not a hundred, of terrorist networks all the way from Philippines, Indonesia and India through Africa and Europe to the United States.
Partly on account of coercion from the US and partly in fear of the rapid growth of Jaish e Mohammad and rising popularity of its founder Masood Azhar, Pakistan made a show of arresting him and incarcerating him for a year. The jailing, evidently, was a drama played out to placate the American masters of the time. Most probably because the prosecution deliberately failed to present a strong enough case against him, Masood Azhar was released by a court on the ground that there was no evidence against him.
Masoor Azhar has been a terrorist from a very young age. In 1994, then only 26, Azhar proclaimed that “killing was one of the foundation pillars of Islam. ” Contradicting the clerical claims that Islam was a religion of peace, Masood is known to have told the students and teachers of a boarding school in Lancashire known as Darul Uloom Buty, “substantial proportion of the Koran had been devoted to ‘killing for the sake of Allah’ and that a substantial volume of sayings of the Prophet Muhammad were on the issue of jihad.” Britain believes that among the architects of 7/11 and 21/7 (2005) serial bombings was Masoor Azhar.
Azhar was jailed by Indian government in 1994 for trying to extend his terrorist activities in Kashmir while he was purportedly on a mission to make truce between two warring factions of terrorist outfits. In 1999, at the end of a dramatic hijacking of Indian Airlines which was taken from Nepal to Kandahar in Afghanistan, by diplomatic and political bungling combined with utter cowardice, the BJP-led government under AB Vajpayee readily agreed to release Masood Azhar and two others in exchange for the release of the passengers. Apparently, Taliban which occupied Afghanistan at that time was not in favour of the hijacking and landing the Indian airliner on Kandahar airport. They had actually warned the hijackers to leave within ten hours. Immediately on arriving in in Karachi duly escorted by Taliban, Masood Azhar told a large audience :
“I have come here because this is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed India,”
The conspiracy theory going around that Modi or his executioner Amit Shah engineered the Pulwama suicide bomb attack for electoral gains is possibly far-fetched, although Shah has not been beyond killing Modi’s opponents and Modi is not beyond using any means to extricate Shah out of imprisonment. However, the series of actions taken or threatened by Modi smacks of childish stupidity which will bring no good returns for India.
How deep is Pakistan’s complicity in the Pulwama affair? While Prime Minister Imran Khan has been showing the olive leaves to India after assuming the chair, ISI is not beyond extending facilities for an operation such as this. It is said that Masood planned and coordinated the suicide bid from his bed in a government hospital. Does that count as complicity of the government of Pakistan or even the usually belligerent army of Pakistan in the operation? Hardly.
Modi has obliquely, and some of the ministers have overtly threatened war with Pakistan. Ganpat Vasava, a cabinet minister in Gujarat State and a leader of Modi’s party said that India should attack Pakistan even if the election is postponed by two months. Amit Shah exhorted the electorate to elect Modi to ‘give a fitting reply to Pakistan. Yedyrappa, the leader of BJP in Karnataka, boasted that the bombing of Balakot by Indian Air Force will ensure the victory of BJP, giving the party 22 to 28 parliament seats from Karnataka in the forthcoming election. This, at a time when the opposition offered full cooperation to the government in its fight against terrorism that cost us forty precious lives.
While India has been threatening war, thus encouraging Pakistan to get ready to retaliate, there is no sign of India doing anything nearly like a preparation to launch an attack. Unless the media and the public have been forced into silence, we have noticed no military movements as we had seen in 1965, 1971 or Kargil skirmish. If the Government of India has constituted a war cabinet or committee, Prime Minister Modi is not in it. He’s on continuous tour of election campaign in states, occasionally spewing more venom on the opposition than on Jaesh e Mohammad who presumably is, flushed with success, planning another attack as they did in the UK after 7th July. 2005.
India has been threatening to punish Pakistan. The forms of punishment threatened are:
Denying Pakistan the ‘India’s share of waters from our rivers. Is that a punishment? Hasn’t this plan been on for some time to utilize the water within India since we are under no obligation by international agreement to share it with Pakistan?
India will not play Pakistan in the next Cricket World cup. India has always beaten Pakistan in World Cup, and if India declines to play Pakistan in the knock-out stages, it could be like calling it quits to give them 2 points. If we were to meet at the final, Pakistan will get a walk-over and the Cup. Perhaps the government hopes that BCCI’s money power on the cricket regime could get it what it wants. What is it that we will achieve, discontinuation of the World Cup series, which elevated India to the number one slot at least in one sport?
India denied visas to two Pakistani players for entering in the international shooting competition. International Olympics Association promptly advised all its members to refrain from participating in any event organized by India. That would be the deathknell for India’s plans for bidding for the Youth Games in 2026, Asian Games in 2030, and the ambitious hope to host Summer Olympics in 2032, not to speak of Indian Open in Tennis, and various other games that India has been hosting periodically or from time to time.
India withdraws Most Favourred Nation Status to Pakistan in mutual trade. This might look like a good move, since goods destined to India are already piling up on their side of the border with no takers from this side. In the long run, however, India is bound to lose three times as much as Pakistan. In the trade deal, India makes 75% export while Pakistan exports only 25% to India. Which is why Pakistan not reciprocating the MFN status to India had not bothered the latter. When Pakistan importers start rejecting our exports
By shooting in the foot, and doing little to get Masood Azhar, making no efforts to de-indocrinate the Kashmiri youth or even talk to them, not restraining the mob fury of Indians who do not hide their unconditional hatred for Kashmiris , Narendra Modi’s powerless bellicosity or the preposterous statements of his minions are most unlikely to improve India’s hold or security situation in Kashmir.
48 nations condemned the terrorist attack on Indian soldiers and decried terrorism. The condemnation was as much a platitude as any expressed any time a terrorist attack happened anywhere in the world. All of those governments, including Modi’s hugging-friend Trump also stressed the importance of regional peace. “”This is very bad situation,” said Trump, not wanting to upset the newly recovered affection for Pakistan.
What, in effect, all those messages had said betwwn the lines was:
“Don’t be stupid. Refrain from attacking Pakistan and setting off a potentially a nuclear war.”
Modi, one could bellieve, is not planning an all-out war any time too soon. His eyes are on the elections. With the strenuously and carefully created image of a ‘strong man,’ he hopes that the electorate would vote for him once again in the hope of winning a war later and eliminating the bothersome neighbour.
I believe India’s voting mutitude – mostly the urban poor and the rural peasants – aren’t that stupid.