New Delhi: A chapter from Kashmir’s bloody militancy days is likely to make a comeback, with intelligence reports suggesting that Pakistan is making an attempt to push as many as 100 battle-hardened terrorists from Afghanistan into the Valley.
The reason, according to defence sources, is the “low shelf-life” of local Kashmiri militants, who don’t have adequate training and are frequently killed in encounters.
The intelligence inputs suggest that, over the past two weeks, nearly a dozen potential infiltrators of Afghan origin have been identified at a terrorist launchpad at Lipa valley in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), opposite Uri and Tangdhar sectors of Jammu & Kashmir.
This is seen as part of the Pakistan deep state’s response to the Modi government’s decision to remove Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu & Kashmir into two union territories.
Defence sources said the aim is to ensure attacks in Kashmir, targeted at government forces and officials.
A JeM-Taliban nexus
The fresh intelligence inputs also referred to a meeting in Pakistan’s Bahawalpur, where the Masood Azhar-led terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) is based, on 19-20 August, which was attended by “launch commanders” or terrorist handlers.
The meeting, according to the inputs, was chaired by Azhar’s brother Rauf Asghar, and aimed at working out ways to push these foreign fighters into India.
The inputs also talk about a 10-day refresher training course held recently in Mansehra at PoK, where a recruitment drive was also held.
The JeM is responsible for the 14 February terrorist attack in Pulwama, carried out by a local youth, that killed 40 CRPF personnel. Amid the ensuing international outrage, India succeeded in getting a UN global terrorist designation for Azhar.
The intelligence inputs about the planned infiltration by Afghan terrorists come months after a dossier put together by India following the Pulwama attack hinted at a developing nexus between JeM and the Taliban, the primarily-Pashtun terrorist organisation that has waged bloodshed in Afghanistan for years.
To internationalise Kashmir
Pakistan’s fresh bid to push foreign fighters into India is reminiscent of what it did in Kashmir in the early and mid-1990s, when Afghan terrorists were pushed into the Valley at the height of militancy.
Intelligence inputs received in the wake of the Article 370 move suggested that the Pakistan army was expected to pump in arms and terrorists into Kashmir, besides orchestrating an attack.
It is expected that as and when a peace deal is struck between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the US, many of those fighting the American forces could actually be moved towards Kashmir.
Pakistan has been pushing hard to internationalise the Kashmir issue, something India is completely opposed to. According to sources in the security establishment, Pakistan believes that other countries will be drawn in if violence intensifies.