As US Engages Pakistan, India Fears Escalation In Militancy28 March 2010
New Delhi: The growing US-Pakistan engagement and the Pakistani army’s crucial role in anti-Taliban operations could result in a significant increase in terrorist violence in India. Several key players in the Indian security establishment feel an emboldened Pakistani army and ISI could step up anti-India activities, leading to sensational terrorist strikes in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country. These concerns are reflected in interactions at the highest levels between key Indian officials. Sources say the Pakistani security establishment’s crucial role in the American strategy in Afghanistan should be the biggest worry for New Delhi in the coming months. “They will leverage the situation, we will suffer,” a senior military officer said. Every time the Pakistani security establishment has become indispensable to the US strategy in South Asia, it’s been trouble for India, many point out. Terrorism in Punjab and Kashmir was mostly nurtured when the Pakistani establishment was executing the US strategy to uproot Russia from Afghanistan. An intelligence officer said, “India must brace up for tough times.” The first indication would be in Kashmir, where a rise in violence in the coming months is a forgone conclusion for most in the security establishment. Kashmir’s situation is also reflected in Pakistan’s recent approach to the issue. Of late, sources say, Islamabad has been pressuring the Hurriyat leadership to not engage New Delhi in dialogue. “It is part of a strategy to pressure India into toeing Pakistan’s line on larger bilateral issues,” a senior official said. The hardening of Pakistan’s stand is also visible in the way it has reverted to its original position of self-determination for Kashmiris. For the past decade or so, there was a tactical shift away from this demand and Islamabad was amenable to other solutions. Because of this shift and increase in violence in recent months, home ministry fears a significant step up in militant activity in summer. However, what is baffling officials is the bizarre infiltration trend. Officially, not one terrorist has entered Jammu and Kashmir in the first two months this year. In January, 62 terrorists tried to enter India via Jammu, one was killed while others went back to Pakistan. In February, there was just one infiltration attempt by three people. However, the level of violence in January and February went up noticeably. There has been over 25% increase in violence this year. Against the 50 violent incidents in January 2009, there were 62 incidents this January. In February this year, there were 33 incidents as against 22 last February. Observers say violence can’t go up without increase in infiltration. They are beginning to suspect infiltrations might be going unnoticed.