One security personnel was martyred and eight of them were injured, when terrorists attacked a security force convoy at Zakoora in the outskirts of Srinagar this evening (14 October, 2016). The terrorists opened fire, targeting a vehicle carrying security forces from patrol duty to their camp at Zakoora.
Going by the discourse and stand vis-a-vis Kashmir taken by the Deputy spokesperson of the US Department of State Mark C. Toner at the daily press briefing on Thursday, 13 October 2016, after a series of terror attacks on India by terrorists exported by Pakistan, one has no confusion and it is amply clear that the US is not interested in reining in Pakistan – a country that has become the epicentre of global terror.
During the press briefing, Toner did talk of Hafiz Saeed saying he is listed by the UN Security Council 1267 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee for targeted sanctions due to his affiliation with the terrorist group Lashkar-e Tayyiba. And both the LeT and Saeed are designated by the U.S. Government. The LeT is obviously responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens.
Hafeez Saeed, co-founder of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and the chief of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah, is also considered by India as a most wanted terrorist because of his involvement in attacks against India, including the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
On his attention being drawn to the Pakistani Government led by Nawaz Sharif and the Army – “two strains within the Pakistani Government” (in Toner’s own words) and it being pointed out (by a journalist) that the Sharif government wants peace with India or in the region, but the military government doesn’t want peace with India, Toner remarked: “our general position on this is that we want to see greater cooperation and greater dialogue between Pakistan and India. It’s frankly to the benefit of both countries. That includes, certainly, security issues. We want to see tensions go down, and we want to see, as I said, a greater cooperation between the two countries. Now, we’re not there right now, but that’s certainly our inclination.”
Responding to a query on the “Kashmir issue”, Toner said that the US stand on Kashmir is already known – implying thereby that the US treats it only as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and refuses to acknowledge the fact that Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India, is constantly under attack by Pak-sponsored terrorists. By dragging its feet and failing to call a spade a spade, the US, through its spokesperson, has conveyed to India in ample measure that its war against terror ends when it comes to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of India. As far as India is concerned, the US ought to know that the issue is not Kashmir but Pak occupied Kashmir, cross-border terrorism and the low intensity war being waged against India by Pakistan.
India has tried its best to keep open the doors of dialogue with Pakistan. India’s message for strengthening the ties between the two countries was loud and clear when Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Sharif to attend his swearing-in ceremony in May 2014 and once more in December 2015, when returning home after visiting Afghanistan and Russia, he had landed in Lahore to attend a wedding at Nawaj’s residence – this was the first visit by an Indian PM to Pakistan in more than 10 years.
The first major obstacle was encountered by the Modi Government in its efforts to build ties with Pakistan when Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit met Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah in Delhi ahead of another meeting that was scheduled in quick succession between him and two more separatist leaders Yasin Malik and Syed Ali Shah Geelani in the second fortnight of August 2014. Immediately after Basit met Shabir Shah, the Modi Government had castigated Pakistan for interfering in India’s internal affairs and called off the Foreign Secretary level talks with Pakistan.
Earlier in March this year, India had allowed a Pakistan’s joint investigation team (JIT), which included ISI and military intelligence officers, to visit Delhi and Pathankot to investigate the attack on the Pathankot Air Force base by Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists on 2 January 2016. After seeing clinching evidence, apparently about the ISI role in the Pathankot attack, Pakistan developed cold feet and refused to reciprocate and allow a team of investigators from India to visit Pakistan.
Despite best efforts by India, Pakistan has continued with its Kashmir agenda. Earlier this year, much to the chagrin of India, separatist Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani and others were invited by Pakistan to attend the ‘Pakistan Day’ function at its High Commission in Delhi.
Subsequently, India told Pakistan in categorical terms that talks with Pakistan can be held only about terrorism.
Before the Pathankot attack, a police station in Gurdaspur, Punjab, was attacked by terrorists in July 2015. The lid was off on September 18 this year when terrorists attacked the Army base at Uri killng 17. While the number of cease-fire violations by Pakistan have gone up in recent days, there have been more terrorist attacks in quick succession. On October 4, terrorists attacked a police station at Yaripora in Kulgam in Jammu and Kashmir. The same day, a few terrorists escaped after attacking BSF and army camps at Baramulla and killing one BSF soldier and wounding another. On October 6, three terrorists were killed in an exchange of fire when they attacked an army camp in Langate in Kupwara. No security personnel died in this incident. Two days later, a Policeman was killed in the Shopian sector by terrorists, who managed to escape. Early morning on October 10, a couple of terrorists attacked the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute building in Pampore. Security forces were engaged in a fierce gun battle and it took about fifty hours to neautralize the terrorists. The same building was also attacked by terrorists in February this year.
India has responded to the violent situation by taking steps to isolate Pakistan and by telling every nation how Pakistan is continuously engaged in exporting terrorism in every part of the world. On September 29, India’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh announced at a press conference in New Delhi that based on “specific and credible inputs that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along Line of Control to carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists. The DGMO further said: “It has been a matter of serious concern that there has been continuing and increasing infiltration by terrorists across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. This is reflected, among others, in the terrorist attacks on 11 and 18 September 2016 in Punch and Uri respectively. Almost 20 infiltration attempts have also been foiled by the Army at or close to the Line of Control during this year.”
One fails to understand why the US State Department spokesperson had to do such a balancing act when asked to spell out the US stand on Kashmir. Choosing to ignore Pakistan’s direct role in spreading cross-border terrorism, all Toner said, in the interest of regional security, was that “there’s a lot of contentious issues between India and Pakistan. The US wants the two countries to take a more conciliatory approach to each other and to work through some of these issues for the greater good of the region. This observation, at its face value, shows how serious the US is in fighting global terror.