Indian Army crossed the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday midnight into Pakistan administered the so called Azad Kashmir and claimed to have killed two Pakistani soldiers and 36 cross border terrorists. This is considered as an act of retaliation for killing 17 Indian soldiers by Pakistan sponsored terrorists who crossed into Uri sector of Kashmir from Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir on 18 September. Pakistan usually practices proxy war and this time it was no difference. It is suspected that the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed carried out the attack funded and heavily equipped by notorious ISI of Pakistan. Jaish is one of many terror groups ISI funds to carry out terror activities, especially in India and Bangladesh and such groups exist under different names in these countries. Pakistan has already been branded as a country which is very generous when it comes to exporting militancy and terrorism to serve its own needs and Pakistan’s ISI practically operates independent of the Pakistan’s civilian rule, though its civilian rule itself is at the mercy of ISI.
The dispute between India and Pakistan over the issue of Kashmir is historic that dates back to 1947, the year of Partition of India. Along with the independence of India and carving out Pakistan out of the Sub-continent the British Paramountcy over 562 Indian princely states ended and they were left to choose whether to join India or Pakistan or remain independent. Jammu and Kashmir, the largest of the princely states, had a predominantly Muslim population ruled by the Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh. He decided to stay independent because he expected that State’s majority Muslim population would be unhappy with the accession to India and the Hindus and Sikhs would become vulnerable if he joined Pakistan. But impatient Pakistan could not agree to Hari Singh’s decision. In July 1947, just a month before Partition took place Jinnah is supposed to have written to Hari Singh to join Pakistan promising him ‘every sort of favourable treatment.’ Jinnah did not stop there. His party, Muslim League agents clandestinely worked in Poonch to encourage the local Muslims to revolt against their Maharaja. It was Pakistan’s first private war. Supplies of essentials to the dwellers of the region was stopped through would be Pakistan (Punjab). Soon Pakistan sent tribesmen to invade Kashmir and the inaction of the Indian troops which were still under British command was a tragedy for the common people. Thousands of innocent people, both Muslims and Hindus were killed as a result of rioting that ensued following the invasion. Pakistan’s plan to occupy the entire princely state failed to materialise as the tribesmen who crossed into Kashmir after occupying part of the princely state began looting public property and getting involved in rioting. They were not a disciplined force and had no central command. As the atrocities were going out of control India’s Prime Minister Nehru requested the Governor General Mountbatten to intervene. The Governor General asked before any such intervention takes place Kashmir must decide to join India. The Maharaja accepted the invitation to accede to India, an instrument was signed on 26 September and Kashmir’s undisputed leader at that time Sheikh Abdullah who the local Muslims respected was released on 29 September. Mountbatten while accepting the accession of Kashmir stated that eventually it would be the people who would decide on the future fate of Kashmir but Pakistan would not have anything of that sort. They kept on arming the tribesmen and locals who were branded by them as Azad Army. According to US Defence analyst Christine Fair, that was the beginning of Pakistan using irregular forces and ‘asymmetric warfare’ to ensure plausible deniability, which has continued ever since. Lord Mountbatten and UN advocated on plebiscite to decide whether the people of the princely states would prefer remaining independent or join either India or Pakistan and both the Indian and Pakistan army would be asked to withdraw back to their national boundaries. Jinnah refused to accept the proposal fearing that whatever was gained through the tribesmen invasion of Kashmir may be lost. According to Indian scholar and analyst Asif G Noorani, Jinnah ended up squandering his leverage. Jinnah was politically short sighted compared to other politicians of his time.
Pakistan began another bout of proxy war in Kashmir in September of 1965. It set up a clandestine radio station called ‘Sada-e-Kashmir,’ funded and armed Kashmiri militants and helped them to raid Indian border outposts in Kashmir. Pakistan always boasts of its military supremacy and super-capability of its armed forces ignoring the fact that military might always does not win wars. If that was the case US, the world’s strongest military machine would have won in Vietnam or former USSR in Afghanistan. Military strength must always be complimented by good strategies. When Pakistan was trying to destabilise the Kashmir front and to keep the Indian forces busy Pakistani regular troops also invaded the desolate wasteland of Rann of Kutch in Sind-Gujarat area in April of 1965. India instead beating around the bush marched towards the capital of Punjab, Lahore in September and arrived at the gates of Lahore. The city and the adjacent area were defended by the East Bengal Regiment, comprising mostly of Bangali soldiers. Lahore was saved as a ceasefire was accepted by both by Pakistan and India. Pakistan risked the loss of Lahore. The war lasted sixteen days and finally at the behest of Moscow an agreement was signed in Tashkent resulting in the withdrawal of troops within the borders of the respective countries. In this war India occupied huge areas in Punjab and Pakistan some areas in the desert of Kutch. The loss of life on both sides was quite big. In 1971 Pakistan again fought another war with India in the backdrop of the War of Liberation in Bangladesh. Again Pakistan lost. If a ceasefire in the western front was not agreed upon Indian soldiers could have bifurcated what remained of Pakistan after the independence of Bangladesh. But Pakistan, which always played in the hands of its military intelligence, the ISI and the Mullahs, refuses to learn from its past mistakes and does what it expertises in – cultivate and export militancy and terrorism. Along with India and Bangladesh now it has added Afghanistan to its list of countries where its militants and terror outfits are headed for.
After the Uri incident the retaliation of India was not unexpected. Few months back, Indian army conducted a similar raid in Myanmar killing dozens of secessionists. The Indian policy makers and its diplomacy in the meantime managed to isolate Pakistan from its traditional friends. According to Times of India of 30 September ‘The (Indian) government laid out ground in the preceding days, briefing key countries about the spike in infiltration and mounting evidence gathered by India including captured terrorists,. These include the P-5 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States) countries and key nations such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE, all Pakistan allies. China was briefed during the Sept 27 counter terrorism dialogue. India’s former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi acted similarly preceding the final battle for Dhaka during our Liberation War in 1971. US, a good old friend of Pakistan, has slammed Pakistan for cross-border terror. Pakistan practically does not have good relations with any of the SAARC country. It has isolated itself from rest of the world. In its home front it is now battling Baluchistan, which is fighting to free itself from the rule of Pakistan. Innocent people are killed every day by suicide bombers and militants. It is a strange country where a section of its own people put up posters in public places asking the military to take over the control of the government though in Pakistan the elected civilian government always had to share bulk of its power with its military. The civilian government always remained a puppet at the hands of ISI.
Both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers. After the Uri incident and the Indian army’s pre-emptive strike and killing of militants inside Pakistan held Kashmir many asks will there be another war between the two nuclear powers? Considering the overall condition of Pakistan, going to another war would be luxury for Pakistan. Its economy is crumbling, the internal security is constantly being challenged and it is fighting a protracted war in Baluchistan while it has a meek civil society and Indian diplomacy has virtually converted India into a pariah state. There to be another war Pakistan will have to make another strategic mistake. It is out numbered in terms of military might and fighting capability, vis-à-vis India. Unnecessary sabre rattling and rhetoric do not win wars. Wit, intelligence, strategies, diplomacy and cause must be combined with the military might. It is a lesson from history and Pakistan always refused to learn from history. It must also realise that war only causes misery to common people. On the Indian side it must realise that the human rights issues in Kashmir needs to improve substantially and the hearts and the minds of the people won. And this can only be done through peaceful means and not through excessive use of force. This can only aggravate the situation. Let us hope there will not be any war and the winds of war will subside and peace will be given a chance.
The writer is an analyst and commentator.