A visit to LoC -A Seminal Event Part 2

The Problem of J&K

As I have mentioned previously, I spent a lot of time meeting the locals, local businessmen, local professionals, soldiers, and ordinary people on the streets to get a sense of the atmosphere and what is going on.

Before I go into my findings, please allow me to give you some insights into J&K, what is terrorism etc. Trust me, you will appreciate the situation much better after gaining this understanding.

The perspective building

Have you even wondered about terrorism, why it happens and what can be done to control and eventually eliminate it from this world? Let’s face it, it helps no one. Even the terror organizations and terrorists don’t gain from it (at least we have not seen any real example of them benefitting from it).

By the way, terrorism is also known as low-intensity conflict.

It is important that we all think about it because for some reason the solution has eluded even the best of people and sometimes an outsider can think of things which a person in the middle of things cannot, and anyway there is no harm in trying…Have you ever wondered why even after being the most powerful country in the world US lost Vietnam, Russia lost Afghanistan, India lost in Sri Lanka, and now US in Afghanistan, Iraq (Post 9/11) etc. in control, Russia with Ukraine, India is trying with Kashmir etc. and everyone is struggling.

Clearly, something is not right in this scenario.

  • Traditional Warfare – A perspective:

The traditional warfare had some clear parameters:

  • The fighting entities were known, definable, and had a form. You knew the enemy, you knew its strength, and it was definable.
  • Both sides knew what they were fighting for, the prize was clear
  • Both sides knew where the other side was fighting-land, sea, air etc.
  • Using which weapons etc.

For the reasons above you could define the objective, work out an appropriate strategy, organize your military, train your men, ensure that support systems are in place and then fight.

From time immemorial, this is how wars were fought; think Alexander and his campaigns, think Ottoman Empire, think Mughals coming to India after defeating Ibrahim Lodhi and so on.

Whether it was the Second World War (Hitler’s desire to dominate the world), or Pakistan attacking India repeatedly to win Kashmir, India attacking East Pakistan to split the country. Wars have always been fought like the above.

  • Why do these new age, low intensity wars happen?

Quite honestly, there are no clear reasons for these new age low intensity wars, let me elaborate on this by giving you some examples and the reasons for these conflicts.

    • Punjab Crisis of the 80’s: It started as a political movement (very dormant though), which turned into a hostile situation after the advent of Bhindranwale and subsequently became very violent. All for the desire of having a separate Sikh country “Khalistan”.
    • Kashmir issue: India divided Pakistan and created Bangladesh. Pakistan wanted revenge. Kashmir was in a dispute but it was a very dormant problem till from 1947 to 1971. Since then Pakistan worked very hard to plan, strategize, and facilitate the creation and nurturing of terrorist organizations to foment trouble in Kashmir. The problem still continues. End objective – break Kashmir away from India (the way India did to Pakistan).
    • Afghanistan War of Russia: Russia decided to prop up the communist regime against growing insurgency. Purpose regional expansion during the cold war era. Result: Lost the low intensity war.
    • Vietnam War: US wanting to prevent the spread of communism. Fought a low intensity conflict with the North Vietnamese forces. Result: Lost the low intensity war.
    • Iraq and Afghanistan War of this century: To retaliate against the World Trade Center bombings, flush out Bin Laden; destroy terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Arab world. Result, billions of dollars in spent, Saddam Husain removed, Bin laden eliminated, no end of terrorism, no clear victory and finally had to withdraw.

What I have given are a few examples but what can be seen clearly is that there is no consistency in the reasons for fighting these LIW (low intensity wars).

  • Unequal “balance” of power but not unequal “ambition” of power

No terrorist organization is as powerful as US, or for that matter India, if you add up all the armaments, technology, men, material etc. but that has not stopped them to dream of ruling Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan or any such territory.

In modern day warfare, a very interesting situation is emerging. The war is between two sides in which one side is clearly stronger in terms of manpower, armaments, experience, technology and resources, however, it is still unable to inflict a crushing defeat on the enemy which is by all conventional counts, much weaker.

The reasons are that the way power, or balance of power is measured is no longer applicable or relevant anymore.

The definition of Power in modern day low intensity conflicts (mostly Anti-Terrorist Warfare) is not just measured by the number of tanks, artillery or for that matter men, it is in fact measured by many other factors including the ability to create surprise, stealth and close range damage to the enemy etc.

This unequal balance of power does not mean that the ambition, desire, goal or objective of the weaker arm is in anyway less than that of the stronger side.

How and why does this happen?

Looking at a very high level, it happens because the contours of war in low intensity conflicts are completely different. For example in Kashmir, the battlefield is the entire state, there is no boundary, there is no differentiation between enemy, civilian and military personnel, a building and people living in Srinagar are as vulnerable as personnel in a military base in Uri. Battle can happen on the boundary, inside the boundary or outside the boundary…

All the strategy, tactics of war, developed over hundreds of years, if I may take the liberty of saying so, have gone for a toss.

Imagine the era when swords gave way to guns or when horses gave way to armored vehicles; it is that level of change plus much more.

And this is precisely the reason why the side which is apparently weaker is not really weak, in fact if one looks carefully and reanalyzes the strength of two sides; one may come up with startling results which easily defy the common intuitive thinking.

This is also the reason why a man on the street wonders quite often that why is it that India and Indian army is not able to solve the Kashmir problem once and for all and is not able to understand the complexities of a low intensity conflict.

All the above enable the terrorist organizations to have huge ambitions. They know that if they play their cards right they can create trouble even against the toughest of opponents.

  • Availability of Technology

Today, technology used in armament is available everywhere. In the past, the two big cold war powers (or power groups) openly supplied arms and ammunition to its “camp” countries. Now, all of that is available to anyone who can pay. Also, even though the cold war got over, the supply chains still exist. Hence even when a country does not want to share its technology, supply chain components (embedded inside) ensure that the technology does become available to all.

Add nuclear technology and the threat from it to the above and you have a potentially very explosive situation.

  • Power Games – Mixing of Religion and Politics

The genesis of most of the low intensity conflict or terror wars lies in some people’s lust and hunger for power.

To give credibility to their malicious intent, the whole thing gets cloaked in the wrapper of religion.

Let’s look at some examples; Pakistan wanted Kashmir, it tried to win via conventional war in 1948. They won it partially but could not do so completely. Instead they learnt the “art” of terror and used this knowledge and experience to brilliantly learn how to create an atmosphere of terror and unrest in Kashmir.

  • It has tacit or open support of ordinary civilian population.

You can analyze, study any such conflict, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir, Punjab and so on, you will notice that at least some percentage of local civilian population believed or believes or was convinced into believing the “cause” of the militants.

  • Corruption

According to some reports, here are some of the things in relation to J&K:

  • Jammu and Kashmir has received around 10 per cent of all Central grants despite having only 1 per cent of the country’s population.
  • A Kashmiri gets eight times more money from the Indian Government when compared with citizens from other states of India.

Now, what do the above figures tell you? If someone took such good care of you would you revolt against it? Or is it that many of the above figures are only paper figures in the sense that all this money doesn’t reach the people they are intended for.

Clearly, the question therefore is, where is the money going?

  • Media and Human Right Activists

What do you think the media should be doing and what do you think it is actually doing?

Many decades back media was meant for news and whatever money it made was nice, today media is an industry to make money; if it also is able to give news in the correct perspective, it is nice.

This is a strong statement not intended for everyone. But there are enough of the wrong kind to do sufficient damage to whatever efforts the govt. is putting in.

Add the so called “human right activists” who believe that terrorist, who disturb peace, have human rights but those who try to stop them have none.

And the recipe for disaster is ready.

Hope you have got the full perspective on the issue by now, so, let’s talk about the situation today…

  • While the Jammu region is pre-dominantly Hindu and hence terrorism is more contained, however the Srinagar region (aka the Valley) has more Muslims (since Hindus have been driven out by terrorists). The Valley is more prone to terror attacks because of support from the locals. In Jammu area, the issue is mainly of cross border terrorist movement. The insurgency is not within the area. In the Valley, however, the problem is external as well as internal. I was told that an average child in the Valley is indoctrinated from the age of 2-3 (whenever he first goes to school). A typical Valley resident is told at least twice in a week by the local expert in Islam that this life is nothing; it is when you die as a jihadi you get to have virgins, alcohol and a great time. By the time the kid grows to be a young man, his indoctrination is complete. He is ready ti give away his life for the future beautiful world waiting for him when he dies as a Jihadi.
  • Does the above sound illogical to your intelligent mind…..it did to mine but the reality on the ground is that many of the people believe it. And 20 % of indoctrinated population is enough to create trouble.
  • Every time our Army tries to take some effective steps, the human right groups intervene. Human Rights applies to both sides equally – it is the right of the residents of the Valley not to be questioned without legal process but then when someone throws stones (paid by Pakistani organizations at the rate of Rs. 500 per day) or storms into Army camps, do Army personnel not have any human rights? Are we saying that one side can throw stones, fire bullets, explode bombs but need to be given human rights but at the same timeour own Army personnel don’t deserve it. A very seriously flawed logic that needs to be re-examined.
  • There are some political parties who consider J&K as their fiefdom; problem is that successive Indian Governments have allowed them to be like that. Their interests lie in fomenting trouble, so that a huge amount of money flows into the state and a large percentage of that flows into their coffers. It is called political corruption. It is nothing new and it happens in every democracy in the world including ours.
  • The biggest problems are Article 370 and Article 35A. These articles have made sure that J&K remain an isolated island state within India. As a result, J&K and its people never got physically, culturally, and mentally integrated with India.
  • Last but not the least, social media, and smart phones. Suddenly, there are very potent tools available to the enemy to spread misinformation and convert every jihadi into a spy on the ground. We noticed that whenever a military convoy passed, pictures were getting taken. I am sure that within hours our enemy knew how many soldiers, how many guns etc. were travelling on the road.

In summary,

  • The Valley is the hotbed of terrorism, Jammu is not. This is because of the local populations support or lack of it
  • Indoctrination starts at a small age. By the time youth is attained, it is complete
  • Smart phones and social media is being used effectively to spread and collect information
  • Political parties are taking advantage of the situation to fill up their coffers
  • Articles 370 and 35 A have given too much to the local J&K bigwigs
  • Human Rights groups do not understand that the human rights apply to both sides, equally.

Additionally our forces are divided between army, CRPF, local Police and many other such organizations. Same problems is with our intelligence agencies

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