By M. Suleman & Saadat Hassan Bilal
Jan 9, 2015
On December 31, 2014, India’s Border Security Force (BSF) troops invited the Punjab Rangers personnel for a flag meeting, but greeted the unsuspecting soldiers with a volley of unprovoked fire, causing severe injuries to two soldiers. The unabated Indian firing denied timely medical attention to the wounded soldiers who succumbed to their wounds and embraced martyrdom. After this incident, the indiscriminate cross-fire started, and both sides have been facing civilian and military casualties.
There are at least four conceivable purposes of initiating the skirmishes at the current time by India:
- India wants to distract the world’s and attention away from the results of Kashmir election in which the ruling party could not get aclear majority.
- India wants to disrupt Pakistan from Operation Zarb-e-Azband and divert its attention to the eastern border by escalating the tension.
- The Indian military establishment wants to justify the increase in its defence budget by portraying Pakistan as the offensive enemy.
- BJP, a conservative rightist party, wants to continue its anti-Pakistan policies to gain its supporters’ sympathies.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have won 28 and 25 seats, respectively, in the 87-member Legislature of Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). They are currently holding talks to mutually form the government,but both parties have opposite views on Pakistan-India relations. The PDP conducted its election campaign on the agenda of restarting composite dialogue with Pakistan, initiating talks with the Kashmiri freedom fightersand to form stable and peaceful relations with neighbours.
The BJP is not ready to accept PDP’s stance on stabilizing Pakistan-India relations and holding talk with Kashmiri freedom fighters. It is said thePDP’s opinions demand an interruption in the country’s externaland internal policy, which can promptparallel calls by other states. TheBJP holds a provocative stance on formation of government in Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and is of the view that they already have a government in country’s capital, New Delhi, and a“sizeable” 25 seats in J&K, so they have the right to establish their government in the state.
The PDP leadership met Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) individually before it took a final call ahead of its meeting with the Governor of the state on January 1. “If we go with the BJP, it will be political suicide for us,” One of the MLAs said, “It is better to have Governor’s rule if required.” The BJP wants to establish its own government in J&K at any cost. In this context, the Indian government wants to divertthe world’s attention and that of its own people from the Jammu and Kashmir elections. It is a time-tested tactic practiced by New Delhi whenever it wants to shift the world’s focus away from the basic human rights violationsin the Kashmir Valley. Hence, an escalation on the border from the Indian side is being currently witnessed.
Pakistan’s Defence Minister, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, has said that India wants to engage Pakistan in a “low-intensity war”, while expressing confidence that Pakistan is capable of replying to any aggression. He said, “India wants to keep us busy in a low-intensity war or low-intensity engagement on our eastern border. They are pursuing the same tactics of keeping our forces busy on all fronts and the anti-Pakistan mentality of the Indian leadership is now fully exposed.”
India started cross-border shelling to engage Pakistan’s armed forces on the eastern front at a time when it was busy in the fight against terrorists inside the country and on the western border. As Pakistan Defence Minister said, “It seems that India does not want to see a durable peace in Pakistan, Afghanistan and in the region.”
Now it is anopen secret that India is supporting and training Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and Balochistan Liberation Army against Pakistan. For this purpose India has launched its “defensive-offensive” policy against Pakistan in the guise of terrorists and insurgents. India had developed close relations with the Northern Alliance during Afghan Civil War against the Taliban regime; and, after 9/11, India has further strengthened its relations with the newlyestablished government of Afghanistan. During this era, India has established many consulates near Pakistan-Afghanistan border to provide training and support to Balochrebels.
In addition, when the TTP emerged in 2007, the Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies quickly grabbed the opportunity to use the outfit and its affiliates against Pakistan. In this context,the Afghan intelligence agencies have been providing proper training to these elements for years. Latif ullah Mehsood, former Deputy Chief of Hakim Ullah Mehsood (deceased chief of TTP),was trained by the Afghan intelligence. In 2013, American forcefully took him when he was travelling with Afghan intelligence officials in Afghanistan. Afghan and Indian intelligence revealed the activities which they have done through terrorists and insurgents.
The TTP is also affiliated with the East Turkmenistan Independence Movement (ETIM) which is active in causing disturbance in the Chinese province Xinjiang. India wants to destabilize Pakistan-China relationsthrough the joint venture of its proxies, i.e., the TTP and ETIM. Pakistan launched the operation Zarb-e-Azb against Taliban in Waziristan in last year to protect its homeland and strategic relations with China.On December 16, 2014, the gruesome Peshawar incident which left 149 school children, including some of their teachers,dead,compelled Pakistan to take a decisive military action against terrorists all over the country.
India is disturbed at the surge in Pakistan’s policy to counter Indian war of shadows which it is fighting in the form of terrorists and insurgents. It is escalating its military skirmishes on the Line of Control in Kashmir and the Working Boundary with Pakistan to divert Pakistan’sfocus away from eradicating its shadow war inside country.
In addition, the Union Budget of India FY 2015-2016 is going to be presented soonand, before the preparation and presentation of the budget, India wants to create a fear in the minds of its own government and people so that it gets a hike in its defence budget and the Indian establishment can also justify this increase. In late November 2014, the Indian Army’s artillery breathed a sigh of relief when the government gave clearance to a Rs. 15,570 crore ($2.5 billion) project for mountain artillery guns. The news came just a month after the Indian government cleared 80,000 crore worth of defence project deals. The guns to be purchased are 155 mm/52 calibre with a range of 40 km, and will be part of the “Buy & Make India” programme. At present, there is a plan to acquire 814 guns for the Indian Army. While 100 guns would be acquired off the shelf, the remaining 714 guns would be made in India.Intrinsically, it is the Indian military organizational interests to get budget rise from the central government through creating such border clashes type of serious scenarios.
Apart from this, the hardcore BJPcame to power on the basis of its “anti-Pakistan” slogan. In due course of time, the BJP would continue its agenda against Pakistan in the form of initiating border skirmishes to imply.It should be noted that even though Pakistan is blamed to be an extremist country, with the exception of 2002 elections, extremist parties have never gained many seats in the National Assembly as also the Provincial Assemblies. The people of Pakistan have time and again rejected these forces but, unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Indian politics. India’s 2014 elections proved how Indian has chosen an ultra-rightist government, known for its anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim stance. It needs to be seen how the Indian government behaves in future, especially vis-à-vis Pakistan.
Muhammad Suleman is a Research Associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) Islamabad. Saadat Hassan Bilal is a Ph.D Scholar at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.