Dual Lashkar Plan Behind Attacks On Army
13 September 2000
The Asian Age
New Delhi: The fidayeen (suicide squad) attacks on Indian Army establishments by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jamait-ul-Mujahideen in Kashmir are part of Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence''s two-pronged strategy. It aims at convincing the international community that the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and JUM are not killing civilians in Kashmir but targeting the Indian Army as part of their jihad. It is also aimed at terrorising and tiring out Indian Army units deployed in the Valley. The attacks, the first on August 21 and the second on September 12 also came at a time when there is a move in Washington to declare Lashkar-e-Tayyaba as a terrorist outfit. Civilian intelligence sources here say that the first fidayeen attack, on the Badami Bagh cantonment in the heart of Srinagar, on November 3, could have been countered had the Army taken intelligence reports, both of RAW and military sources, seriously. Soon after Gen. Pervez Musharraf seized power in Islamabad on October 12, 1999. Lashkar-e-Tayyaba held a three-day conference at Muridke, on the outskirts of Lahore, between November 3 and 5 and intelligence reports indicated that something ''spectacular'' was to occur in Kashmir during the meet. The Badami Bagh killings took place on November 3. Reporting the incident, in which one Indian Major, six jawans and two fidayeen perished, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed told the Muridke participants that ''a very successful strike'' had been carried out in which two fidayeen had become shaheed, while two had managed to return to safety by hoodwinking the Indian forces. Thus, while attempting to demoralise Indian troops, the return of two suicide-squad members was sought to be lionised and taken as an indication of lax security in cantonments. Sources say that information about the plan for a strike on an Army establishment had been communicated even to the DGMO in Army Headquarters by an official posted in Indian high commission in Islamabad. Apparently the warning, along with similar intelligence reports, was not taken seriously. In the aftermath of Tuesday''s attack in central Kashmir, experts here feel that by launching a series of suicide squad attacks on Army establishments, the ISI''s twin strategy is being sought to be carried out. Ironically, on Wednesday, a day after the attack, the home minister and the defence minister seemed too preoccupied with the need to impose President''s Rule in West Bengal. The defence minister seems preoccupied with finalising major arms purchase deals. He has put off his visit to South Africa apparently because he does not want Mr Advani to be the only member of the Cabinet Committee on Security Present in New Delhi (three others, including the Prime Minister, are in Washington). However, the presence of two members of this key panel here did not merit an apex discussion on the grave threat posed by the fidayeen attacks on Army camps in Kashmir. The Kargil report was not discussed by Parliament despite it having been tabled in both Houses. A post-Kargil flashpoint is emerging due to ISI strategy on Kashmir. Will warnings be heeded or will they be subject of post-mortem inquest, as in the case of Kargil?