February 2019 News

Pulwama Attack Threatens To Rattle Indo-Pak Relations

14 February 2019
The Tribune
Arun Joshi

Jammu: Today's terror incident on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in which nearly 40 CRPF men were killed in a suicide attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammad recruit of Pulwama district in south Kashmir has brought forth the dangerous situation that spotlights Kashmir and the ramifications of which are likely to travel beyond the borders. The toll is the highest-ever in the state. The toll is more than that of the 2002 Kaluchak (near Jammu) massacre in which more than 30 soldiers, their wives and children were killed in May 2002 when the Indian and Pakistan armies were in an eyeball- to-eyeball position following the December 13, 2001, terror attack on Parliament. The attack carried out by a local youth, Adil, of Kakpora is not purely local as the Jaish-e-Mohammad group that owned the responsibility for it has its policy and planning headquarters in Pakistan protected by Rawalpindi. The attack has come less than a fortnight after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of fight to finish against terrorism during his visit to the state early this month. He had specifically mentioned how the Indian forces had subdued terrorism by undertaking surgical strikes against Pakistan after the attack in Uri in September 2016. In the Uri incident, 20 soldiers were killed by Lashkar militants. Governor Satya Pal Malik has traced the attack to inimical forces across the border, as he said, 'Visibly it seems to be guided from across the border as the Jaish has claimed the responsibility for it.' He also vowed to finish the inimical forces. That is an indication of intensified counter-terrorism in the coming days and a robust response to Pakistan's provocations on the Line of Control that separates Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit claimed the responsibility for the attack to spotlight its exploits and to raise the level of confrontation between India and Pakistan which were paving a path of peace and reconciliation with the Kartarpur corridor. The problem, however, is that the so-called non-state actors have the protection and patronage of state actors. No action was taken against Masood Azhar even after the terror assault on the Pathankot airbase in the opening days of 2016. Former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had warned the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government of the consequences of setting free Masood Azhar, then with Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, and two others in exchange of the passengers and crew of the hijacked airliner IC-814 parked in Kandahar on December 31, 1999. He had told Vajpayee and LK Advani that it would cost many more lives than were at the stake at that moment. His prophecy has turned out to be true time and again since then. Within weeks of his release, Azhar founded Jaish-e-Mohammad and mounted severe suicide attacks at prominent places - the first was a car suicide bombing by a local youth outside the gate of Badami Bagh cantonment, Srinagar, resulting in more than 20 deaths in April 2000. The attacks on the Legislative Assembly on October 1, 2001, and Parliament in December 13, 2001, were joint operations by Jaish and Lashkar militant outfits. Social media is already abuzz with calls for revenge and the government would be judged by the retaliation standards that it claims to have set with the surgical strikes in response to the Uri attack. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has already warned: 'Terrorists will be given a unforgettable lesson for their heinous act.'