Indo-Pak talks and terror attacks
The Indian held Kashmir is facing a surge in terrorist attacks, some definitely made-up while others rather real. One incident recently occurred in a relatively calm area of Jammu when a police station and military camp were targeted. Among the dead were an Indian Army lieutenant colonel and 14 others.
The terrorists, who were disguised in the Indian Army uniforms, managed to enter the Heera Nagar Police Station in Kathua district, some 200 kilometres from Srinagar. Later, they hijacked a truck and using it attacked the base camp of a cavalry regiment some 25 kilometers away. Additional police, paramilitary and army soldiers were rushed to the spot to assist the army men in flushing out the militants.
Interestingly, an unknown Shohada Brigade (Martyrs Brigade) claimed responsibility for these attacks in a phone call to local English daily, The Kashmir Monitor. “Three locals carried out the attack,” a spokesperson of the militant group claimed. It said three men, Mohammad Akram, Furkan-ul-Haq and Engineer Waqas, attacked the police station in the morning hours and killed almost all the policemen stationed there. After the deadly attack on the police station, the three men moved into an army camp at Samba and killed three army officers, including a Lt Colonel, said the statement. However, the militant group’s claim does not get us very far.
What is interesting is the fact that the attacks coincided with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York. The Indian prime minister soon after the attacks issued a statement saying “such attacks would not deter India from pursuing peace through dialogue and that such attacks will not be allowed to derail efforts to find solutions of all problems through peaceful dialogue.” It was a constructive and mature statement. Pakistan, as expected, strongly condemned the incident.
Pakistan’s High Commission in India gave a timely rebuttal to the Indian media allegations stating that Pakistan was not involved in these attacks and that Islamabad was also a victim of terrorism. The HC pointed out the recent terrorist attack at a Peshawar church, which killed around 90 innocent Pakistani civilians.
However, despite the positive statement by the Indian prime minister and denial by Islamabad, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blamed Pakistan for the attack and asked Manmohan to call off the talks. On the other hand, the chief minister of Indian held Kashmir Omar Abdullah said 12 people including an army officer had been killed in the attack and added that he was not sure from where the militants had come.
Unfortunately, what we are seeing is that the BJP is exploiting the Pakistani factor to win the Hindu votes on hate-Pakistan slogan in the forthcoming elections. In this context, one may ask who is openly opposing a constructive dialogue for Pakistan-India relations? Why are such elements so hostile to a positive dialogue with Pakistan? Can they also manage attacks on the Indian Army like that of the Samjotha Express? Who runs the Shohahda Brigade and what are its objectives? Isn’t homespun terrorism now a buzzword?
The Indian government should also look at internal factors and clearly identify the people behind the terrorist attacks. To be sure, it is in the interest of the two countries that talks should not be derailed. The war babble must subside in India and a coherent diplomatic discourse should be taken up.