There are cases when terrorists are tracked down by security forces in Kashmir, asked to surrender and eliminated when they don’t. Of late, there have been increasing occasions when jilted girlfriends have snitched on the terrorists. Many take to the path of militancy merely to seem heroic and glamorous for the girls. The idea is to sneak around in the hinterland, be seen by common folk and keep the flag of radical Islam and separatism flying. The primary goal is to stay clear of the security forces, get paid by the Pakistani handlers and, on occasion, make threatening videos. It is rare when the terrorists actually attack the security forces directly – a mostly suicidal act – which happens when orders come from above for strategic reasons.
The latest attack in Anantnag is part of this pattern, coming as it does before Prime Minister’s visit to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan for the Shanghai Cooperation Summit, where he is expected to interact with China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, etc. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will also be present and the death of CRPF personnel will certainly harden India’s attitude, precluding any ‘spontaneous’ reach out by Modi.
This has happened so many times that it is natural to wonder which forces are so desperate to prevent India-Pak rapprochement at any cost. Going by the shape of past talks, any diplomatic agreement between the two countries on Kashmir would basically give permanent shape to the present status, under which POK would remain with Pakistan. However, those who do not want any such compromise between the two countries, or improvement in overall relations, continue to sabotage the process. Even if India decides to overlook such provocations, the ante is upped to the point where these cannot be ignored.
It is the consensus among experts that these inimical agencies are the Pakistan Army, the jihadist groups being funded by the likes of Saudi Arabia, and those making money out of it, particularly the overground separatist organisations. Public opinion in Pakistan is kept in favour by promoting dreams of Ghazwa-e-Hind, etc.
A secondary purpose is to embarrass the Indian leadership by making it seem weak on multi-lateral forums such as the SCO. It is almost a certainty that a similar attack will be carried out when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits India later this month. Under the circumstances, India is left with two extreme options – isolate Pakistan to the point where it is forced to address the saboteurs within; or, take determined steps to engage the Pakistan leadership, irrespective of the attacks. The latter unfortunately is not possible because the political leadership in Pakistan is subservient to the military; which leaves only the long term option of hitting back hard on all fronts – economic, diplomatic and military.