Surge in Proxy War on India

Lt. Gen Prakash Katoch

A new phase of Pakistani proxy war on India, backed by China, has been set in motion. Concurrently, there is increased Chinese activity astride the LAC – first 100 Chinese barged into Barahoti area and now there is news of 200 PLA intruding in Arunachal Pradesh last week. These incursions appear to be reconnaissance in force for future mischief as well as for staking illegal claim over these areas.

Targeted minority killings by terrorists have begun in Kashmir Valley; seven civilians (six in Srinagar) were killed in period October 2-7. On October 2, terrorists shot dead a civilian at Karan Nagar and later that night another shot and injured in SD Colony who later died. On October 5, Makhan Lal Bindroo, prominent pharmacist of Srinagar was shot dead at point blank range. Within next two hours Virender (Hindu street vendor) was shot dead in Hawal area of Srinagar and Mohammad Shafi Lone at Naidkhai in Bandipora District.

On October 7, terrorists lined up teachers of a Government Boys Higher Secondary School near Idgah, Srinagar, checked their ID cards and mobiles phones, and then shot dead the Sikh lady Principal Supinder Kour and the Hindu teacher Deepak Chand. According to police, the  manner of these killings indicates handiwork of ISIS and Taliban.

A Gurudwara in Kabul was recently vandalized. Taliban leader Anas Haqqani visited the tomb of Mahmud Ghaznavi and eulogized him as Muslim warrior who smashed the idol of Somnath. This is no surprise since  Haqqanis are another face of Al Qaeda and linked to the ISI. Return of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to Kabul in no way will mellow down the Haqqanis.

Shia’s are under attack in Afghanistan with Shia mosques in Kabul and Khan Abad district of Kunduz Province bombed recently by ISKP. It may be recalled that ISKP was raised in Peshawar by the ISI and pushed west into Afghanistan. In Pakistan, killings, abductions and forced abductions of minorities are a regular affair. Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims too are targeted in Pakistan.

The Al Qaeda statement issued on August 31 stated,  “Liberate the Levant, Somalia, Yemen, Kashmir and the rest of the Islamic lands from the clutches of the enemies of Islam….” The omission of Chechnya and Xinjiang obviously was engineered by the ISI. Pakistan has shifted anti-India terrorist camps into Afghanistan and there is evidence of Taliban allowing Harkat-ul Ansar to push terrorists from Afghanistan into Kashmir.

Three developments in Af-Pak possibly accelerated the China-Pakistan proxy war on India: first, Taliban are removing Uighur militants from the Afghanistan-China border as requested by China; second, Chinese presence in Bagram Base appears growing beyond that required to handle aircraft carrying relief supplies, and; third, indications coming from the US have reassured Pakistan it can continue playing the double game with America.

Recent statements of Wendy Sherman, US Deputy of State in relation to Pakistan are to soothe India – no different from what Hillary Clinton visiting Islamabad as Secretary of State in October 2011 told Pakistan. CIA’s newly established China Mission Center (CMC) to tackle current and future challenges that highlights threats including technology, people and partnerships, to address global challenge posed by China “that cuts across all of the Agency’s mission areas” will most likely incorporate the ISI knowing CIA’s ‘game-plan’ for South Asia. Aside from negotiating with Taliban, the added excuse now will be to hunt down IS-ISKP.

In the Valley, several Hindu and Sikh families have reportedly moved to safer locations because of rumours that terrorists are following a hit list. Sanjay Tickoo, President Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, terms the development a return of 1990 when the Valley experienced ethnic cleansing. One may think that these killings are in response to signs of normalization returning to the Valley and government plans to return Kashmiri Pandits to J&K. But the China-Pakistan plan may not be only that that.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has identified 25 ISIS suspects in Afghanistan trying to recruit Indians online to carry out jihad; identity of the foreign handler in the Bengaluru module not yet established. IS inspired modules are planned in Gujarat, West Bengal and Maharashtra for establish a caliphate by waging violent jihad; Jambusar, Burdwan and Ratnagiri to be used respectively to spread rabid ideology.

In January 2020, Mehboob Pasha, a resident of Bengaluru’s Gurappanapalya, and 16 others were apprehended. Pasha, in association with Khaja Moideen who is accused in several cases registered in Tamil Nadu related to terrorism and murder of Hindu leaders, recruited youth in south India and established the Al-Hind module in Bengaluru. Pasha and Moideen collected jungle training material to conduct training at a place in Shivanasamudra and Gundlupet in Karnataka for securing hideouts. They were communicating with foreign ISIS handlers through a secure chat (Dark Web) for perpetrating ISIS activities in India.

Recent reports of PLA officers contacting terrorists in POK who had operated in J&K earlier are for a purpose, as is the teaching of Tamil and Bengali, in addition to Hindi, at Beijing’s Foreign Language University. It has been mentioned in these columns earlier that China is investing in northern Sri Lanka to establish a base for anti-India activities in South India and will be assisted by Pakistan.

Our media on August 27 reported two persons nabbed near Kolkata Airport with 250.5 grams of Californium (radioactive material artificially made in a nuclear reactor) worth Rs 4,2500 crores. The report said CID had sent the sized material to BARC for investigation but nothing was heard thereafter. But according to inner sources both persons nabbed are jewelers who were in possession of these stones among many other. Obviously, CID wanted to earn fake brownie points. But Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan mentioned Californium caught in open in India.  Also, there is increased mention in Pakistan of loose fissile material in India. This may be prelude to a Pakistan-engineered CBRN terror attack on India, blaming it on an inside job.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently said that India is facing a three-front war, which actually has been the case for many years. However, China-backed Pakistan-Taliban-AQIS-Daesh now as the centre of radical Islam is staring us in the face and the threat will keep enlarging within India and around us. Most, if not all, who respond to the recent killings in the Valley saying “terrorism has no religion” actually support such acts.

No amount of blaming Pakistan directly or at any bilateral-multilateral-international forum will help, nor will pledges that we will dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in J&K. To say that these killings show terrorists are going desperate will be wrong – they are simply follwing orders. Just seven killings have changed the atmosphere in the Valley – deflecting from the development and shift from Pakistani influence that we were portraying in recent months; this is the peculiarity of sub-conventional conflict. For decades we have failed to establish sub-conventional deterrence against Pakistan, leave aside China.

We should have taken the sub-conventional war into Pakistan and developed the capability to react with 24 hours in double the measure to any act of terrorism. But we have not gone beyond political rhetoric and the odd airstrike or cross-border raid. Hence, the killings and induction of narcotics, weapons, ammunition and warlike stores by land, underground tunnels and using drones is going up.

Many scholars and scribes have examined why the recent minority killings have happened. However, unless we stop being ‘soft’ with anti-national elements within India and more importantly take the sub-conventional war inside enemy territory, the proxy war on India can take hideous dimensions. There are enough fault-lines in Pakistan waiting to be exploited. The earlier we start in earnest the better. Just applauding the TTP, BLA and Sindhudesh Army is not going to suffice. 



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