India’s relation with Pakistan Part IV (Terrorism): Target IAS 2018 and Beyond

A constant refrain from India is the country’s sense of Pakistan being a state that sponsors ‘terrorism’.

 

Initially, this was associated with Pakistani support given to Kashmir and Sikh insurgents in the 1970s, part of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s strategy for forward strategic depth, an instrument to substitute for the lack of strategic depth and early warning capabilities of a Pakistan that had been truncated in two following the 1971 war with India.

 

Internal Kashmir developments, including the death of Sheikh Abdullah in 1982 and harder-line coercive policies by Indira Gandhi had sparked a growing insurgency in the valley of Kashmir in 1989.

 

In Pakistan the political leadership, now headed by Benazir Bhutto, gave political support to the Kashmir dissent, whilst the ISI gave material and substantial support to the insurgent groups, funnelling aid across the ceasefire Line of Control leading from Pakistan-controlled Azad Kashmir/Baltistan into the Indian-controlled valley of Kashmir.

 

 

 

 

India's External Affairs Report
The results were clear enough, growing identification and denunciation of Pakistan as a terrorist-sheltering state. Typical was India’s Ministry of External Affairs Annual Report 1998– 1999: Our concerns regarding Pakistan’s continued, and active involvement in instigating and sponsoring terrorism in J& K and other parts of India, were made clear to them on several occasions during the year – and reiterated during the composite dialogue, and conclusive evidence to this effect was also presented. It was emphasised that our resolve to defeat cross-border terrorism and to safeguard our security interests was total. We have advised them that abandonment of this activity, and full respect for their commitments under the Simla Agreement, including avoidance of provocative acts across the LOC and hostile propaganda, were essential steps.

 

 

Such Pakistan-sponsored support for insurgency groups was further strengthened by the ending of the ISI-supported mujahideen groups that had been operating against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

 

In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal, such Afghanistan-conflict mujahideen veterans, based in Pakistan, turned their attentions eastwards to Kashmir.

 

Instead of formal state–state war (as in 1947–49, 1965 and 1971), Kashmir was the scene for ‘covert war’ waged by jihadist groups aided and abetted by Pakistan’s ISI.

 

However a further problem for India has been the readiness of such Pakistan-sponsored groups to take the fight to other parts of India.

 

In 1993 ‘Pakistan’s complicity in the planning and execution of the bomb blasts in Bombay resulted in an increased perception of the public in India of Pakistan’s designs to interfere in India’s internal affairs and to engineer conditions of instability’.

 

In 2001 it was the bombing of the Indian parliament, which brought large-scale ‘near-war’ mobilization of Indian forces along the border with Pakistan.

 

 

 

Indian Government's Analysis
It also brought detailed analysis by the Indian Government: The abortive terrorist attack against Parliament on 13 December, by elements of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-taiba (LeT) and JeM [Jaish-e-Muhammad], was undoubtedly the most audacious, as also the most alarming act of terrorism in the nearly two decades of Pak-sponsored terrorism in India. This time, the Pakistani-based terrorists and their mentors across the border had the temerity to try and wipe out the entire political leadership of India. Much thought and reflection have been given as to why Pakistan based terrorist groups and their mentors decided to raise the stakes so high […] The only answer that satisfactorily addresses this query is that Pakistan – a product of the indefensible Two Nation Theory, a theocratic state with an extremely tenuous traditions of democracy – is unable to reconcile itself with the reality of a secular, democratic, self-confident and steadily progressing India, whose standing in the international community is getting inexorably higher with the passage of time.

 

What is striking is the rejection of Pakistan’s very foundations, the two-nations theory, as being indefensible, not only then in Pakistan’s 1947 formation, but also logically for its continuation in the 21st century. What is also noticeable is this sense of Pakistan dragging India down from its otherwise straightforward international rise.

 

The more fragile a Government, the more it tends to act in an irresponsible fashion. Pakistan’s responses to our various demarches on terrorist attacks is an obvious example […] Those in charge of the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan have resorted to other stratagems to infiltrate terrorists into India.

 

Infiltration is occurring via Nepal and from Bangladesh, though it has not totally ceased via the Line of Control in J&K. We are aware that the sea route is another option that is now being exercised.

 

A few interceptions have taken place, though we failed to intercept the 10 Pakistani terrorists who came by sea from Karachi on November 26.

 

The terrorist attack in Mumbai was clearly carried out by a Pakistan-based outfit, the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

 

 

On the basis of the investigations carried out, including the Agencies of some foreign countries whose nationals were killed in the attack, there is enough evidence to show that, given the sophistication and military precision of the attack it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan.

 

Talk of ‘some official agencies in Pakistan’ is another word for the ISI. What is noticeable is India’s sense of terrorist attacks circumventing India’s military hold on Kashmir, through operating from Nepal and Bangladesh.

 

The next article (Part V) will cover the issue of Strategic Culture, Legacy of War and Military Arms Race Dynamics.

 

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