General Qamar Javed Bajwa
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa | File photo: Flickr
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One of my favourite arias is from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut where the protagonist sings a heart-rending “Sola Perduta Abbandonata” (I am lost and abandoned) before she dies waiting for her lover to rescue her while she is stranded in the middle of the American desert.

In many ways, this describes the situation Pakistan is stuck in – it has run out of its only oxygen, the supposed “internalisation” of the “Kashmeer Isshoo” as Musharraf used to call it, being used to divert attention to external follies. Perhaps, a bit like Manon, Pakistan needs great Coloratura to draw the world’s attention.


Also read: What Modi didn’t say but meant – govt’s take-over would end Islamisation of Kashmir


Signs are worrying

The playbook has been that every time Kashmir was disappearing from the horizon, Pakistan would resort to some outrageous action in order to refocus the international community. Today, thanks to satellite-based open-source intelligence (OSINT), we can predict that a similar operation is quite possibly underway, in order to relieve the domestic political humiliation that the Pakistani army and its ‘selected’ prime minister are facing. Below are a set of three images showing that almost the entire Pakistani fleet has been put out to sea, from the three major naval ports of Karachi, Ormara and Gwadar.

All images courtesy @detresfa_ used with his/her permission

The main image above shows that the Jinnah naval base at Ormara is now totally empty. The inset on the right shows Gwadar, again totally empty, while the inset on the left shows the naval docks in Karachi with just three ships. Now contrast these with the reference peacetime images below of the same three bases, showing large number of military ships (easily identified because of the grey camouflage) in base from last month.

All images courtesy @detresfa_ used with his/her permission

By itself, this would be worrying, but we have also detected that the C-130 transport aircraft station, closest to the Line of Control, at PAF base Nur Khan in Chaklala, Rawalpindi, has also been emptied out, suggesting a sudden and significant uptick in military transport requirements. The image on the left was taken on the evening of 4 August in response to reports on online messaging groups that there was some panic reaction over what’s likely to happen in Kashmir. The image on the right shows the normal peacetime deployment.

All images courtesy @detresfa_ used with his/her permission

The image below is the latest from the airbase, acquired just this (Friday) morning, and the numbers are nowhere near normal, with just two C-130s in clear operational readiness mode.

All images courtesy @detresfa_ used with his/her permission

Add to this, we have a sudden increase in the number of VIP flights to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) since 5 August  (four flights in two days). The image below is of a VVIP Gulfstream IV, indicating that this could have possibly flown Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa himself (I was unable to decipher the call sign RED2).

All images courtesy @detresfa_ used with his/her permission

Since Thursday, again acting on the tip-offs from online messaging groups, OSINT surveillance has further revealed significant air activity. The image below, taken Thursday night and the GIF earlier Friday morning, indicate a massive and intensified defensive air cover patrol. We know this because of the Pakistani AWACS flying in a classic pattern accompanied by an aerial refueller at a distance. This would clearly be in support of 5-7 PAF fighter aircraft (which do not turn on their transponders). There is also a significant movement of VIP aircraft monitoring or supervising these movements, as seen in the animation.

All images courtesy @detresfa_ used with his/her permission
All images courtesy @detresfa_ used with his/her permission

Also read: Pakistan doesn’t have any bargaining chip to change Modi govt’s mind on Article 370


Call for action on the streets

However, I was able to correlate this information with several online messenger groups (the same ones that had tipped me off about the activity in Chaklala on 4 August) associated with militants and their sympathisers, known to be run by the Pakistan military. Till the night of 5 August, the messages had been mostly acrimonious, slamming Pakistan for sleeping on the job. Sometime around the morning of 6 August, these messages changed from shock to yet-unseen desperation for “action on the streets” with promises of Pakistani support. The strangest one was “you need to go out on the streets and JUST DIE (my emphasis), we cannot help you unless we have some just cause”.

By itself, these satellite images and online messages would mean nothing, but put together, I believe they conform to a classic and old Pakistani plan, which can be summarised as follows.

No matter the movement of military material into Kashmir, the fact is that a major infiltration a la Kargil or 1965 or 1947 is not feasible. Yet, the matter is time-sensitive, and if Pakistan takes long to draw a plan for massive infiltration, the international acceptance for the abrogation of Article 370 would be deemed legal, due to the lack of a legal or political challenge.

Pakistan is therefore desperate, asking its local agent provocateurs in Kashmir to foment street trouble. For instance, one message said, “just go out in the streets and die”. This would play into the expressed concerns of the UN and international community, which revolve around human rights.

Such a large-scale death of protesters would also give Pakistan grounds for a major military escalation under the guise of humanitarian intervention or the responsibility to protect. Given the imminent lifting of restrictions and the celebration of Eid on 12 August, such messages should be taken very seriously.

Known Twitter handles on the Pakistani payroll: Zaid Zaman Hamid and others have already been putting out (false) stories of a mass uprising and claiming massive fatalities of 250 and upwards. Given that none of these handles has any credibility and that we have media correspondents on the ground, we know that this is complete rubbish.


Also read: Kashmir Banega Pakistan: A dream sold to brainwash us since childhood now lies in tatters


India must exercise caution

The main intent of this article is to ensure that India is not lulled into complacency.

To be clear, it is also not to suggest that Pakistan will go to war over the deaths, if they happen. Pakistan is in no position to do this, not so quickly at any rate, and not given the economic situation it is in.

What we will, however, see is a major ground and naval build-up in response to security forces’ apparent overreaction in the Kashmir valley. The intent of this will be to THREATEN war and get the international community involved. Optimally, from the Pakistani point of view, this will lead to demands for the withdrawal of the abrogation of Article 370. Minimally, it would give Pakistanis a chance to say, Article 370 or not, we internationalised the issue and created a new paradigm.

Clearly then, India has to exercise significant caution. It has two options. It can continue the curfew in the Valley for a month till such time as the abrogation of Article 370 is seen as fait accompli. Alternately, it can enforce rock-solid discipline in the security forces and micro-manage the ground situation very carefully to avoid flare-ups. One can only hope that this was factored into the Indian grand strategy.

The author is a senior fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. He tweets @iyervval. Views are personal.

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55 COMMENTS

  1. Al this skull cap think India is sleeping then think why army will tell their programme what they are doing and by the way which war has so far beggar country has won so mohammed followers start praying now 10 times as you know what I mean

  2. The author has very well explained the situation from the War Room. When Article 320 was abrogated, Both Modi and Amit Shah had bitten the bullet to the core of converting Kashmir. And the grand strategy plan is already unfolded. With all the protests India faces internally, gave a chance to our internal security to clean up the sleeper cells which the Pakis were desperately trying to wake up, through our different opposing politicians, who desperately want to Modi out. The Pakis completely forgot that Modiji has more time in politics to rise to heights. Ram temple has to be built, economy has to be given another shot in the arm. Assam has to be reset. Kashmir is under the cleansing process. And above all our Armed forces, Navy and Air force are wild hungry and thirsty for Pakis blood. The Chikes will play their dirty coward part as well, thats the reason Amit is checking forces readiness. BJP is not just a party until yesterday, but the main stream of Hindu Blood flowing from Kaskmir to Kanyakumari , creating the awareness that Hindustan is for Hindus, Other religions were all imported during the British Raj. So the minorities have to behave themselves like you behave in Saudi, or Pakistan,. Jai Hind

  3. Agree with the author.It would be a great shame and dereliction of duty, if the Governrnent and the Armed forces let this happen.
    As it is Pakistan is a TRUNCATED and bankrupt Nation. The suffering of their citizens, is worse than that of India. We in India,
    have for the last 70 odd years have been enjoining a path of appeasement. This does not mean we should go to war with them. If they should attack, and it is very likely they will, to save their so called honour, this time the Government acts very n decisvely and dither along as we have done ion the past.
    I, say foreign sentiments be ignored. It is time we really showed the world, that we mean what we say and not give the impression of being wishy washy as we shown all along.
    Whilst, I am on this subject, the Government, should also take vry firm action, against all Muslim Baiting etc., which is being done in the name of Hindutva. This is utter nonsense. The Muslims of India, if they have been antagonised is because, the present Government has not taken any action against the perpetrators.
    We must never forget, that the present Muslim community in India, were PRIMARILY Hindus. They prosletyised, on becausepof of pur wonderful caste system and also to avoid the payment of Jaziya, the tax levied by th Moghuls and their satraps. Also, try and if possible make the issue of caste creed etc be illegal, even though the Constitution bars it. In short enforce the law as it is written and intended.not to please A B or C community.
    Treat them as well as your own family member, see how peace and harmomy prevail.

    • they have lots of peace in Kerela, still that did not stop love jehad or going to Syria, some of them are wired differently. You need to address these issues head on..

  4. If this is true then this is best chance to break pakistan in to no of small. Countries. They should attack india, which will be then opportunity to invade pakistan. Same time we should keep nuclear weapons ready. US used nuke and then only world war end. And world never faced world war again and japan,Germany both are anti war countries now. So this is the justified chance to settle pakistan case once for all.

  5. Abhijit write as if he is good photo reader. By reading photo he thinks he can predict what Bajwa will do next. These guys know few details about guns and aircraft and think that they defence strategists and know everything about next move. Please tell us what Modi is going to do in next 48 hours. There are so many photos of him floating around.

  6. Pakistan can hit India at any place by the jihadis it has trained just to internationalize the Kashmir issue. India should ponder upon how to defend itself and teach a lasting lesson to Pakistan. At the same time there is no need to loose much the precautionary measures under the pressure of media etc. India should learn how the global powers act in similar situations.

  7. India is planning something SINISTER…. Putting out FAKE NEWS to divert attention from their GENOCIDE of the innocent Kashmiri people. India is doing the same thing that the Tyrannical zionist israel doing to Palestinians

  8. First of all, in the picture Bajwa looks exactly like the buffoon he is. Next, let them move their asses including Imran Khan’s to hell, they would be finished off and this time it would be hard to cover up, like the unfortunate paki pilot who died unsung alongwith his doomed F16. Bahwa is fit for cannon fodder and Imran as a transgender dancer, both are top class beggars.

  9. A very articulated and eye opening Article. We should excercise restraint in kashmir and also be ready for any military intervention by the neighbour.

  10. Dear all Indians (pee-drink nation) … Plz do not forget your ancestor historical habits of cunning and treachery nature , first ! Secondly, within no time 2-3 Bold Indian Pilots were down attempting to Show-off Indian piss’ strength!!! which later seems that those planes or pilots you don’t Own ‘ .

  11. We say it very humbly, bharat b prepared for a ass whooping never witnessed before. Shanghai brigade needs to be tamed and harnessed. IA, God willing, it will b tamed and eliminated.

  12. Phat gai itni jaldi ab dekho aagy aagy kiya hota hai filmo mai tu bara hero kamaal dikhata hai lekin real mai ab pata chaley ga bulao na ab un heroes ko jo movies mai banty hai hero akshay jhon Abraham in sabko bulao zara hum b dekhe kese mission jeet ty hai

  13. If all is well why India has more than 700,000 troops in Kashmir; why Kashmir has been blanked – no internet, no contact with outside world.
    Moodi thinks India can retain by force. It’s not Pakistan rather Kashmiri youth that will free their home from occupying Indian forces.
    It’s just matter of time the radical Hindu India of RSS will meet its fate.

  14. Hahahahah. Journalism is dead after this so called article. Indians have their own world where they live.

  15. China will supply weapons,intelligence to Pakistan and see both India and Pakistan destroyed so that they can reign undisputed in south Asia.

  16. Nothing on treacherous pak army can be ruled out. They would fire on all guns . Street vandalism in kashmir through their comrades is the easiest option. Mind it they have to succeed only in one of their tactics, and it can spoil the narrative. India must keep the heat on, swift containing of violent protest with utmost heavy hand, avoiding killing, and dont release their leaders including mirwaiz, geelani for at least one month, internet blockage is a must and should continue for 3 months, local press is untrustworthy and every print be edited by security forces. I have personal experience of engaging with locals, they are weak in their knees and only in mob attempt bravado. Military , Air superiority must be upped . Finally, India has only to course correct where as for PAK Army it is their SURVIVAL !

    • Well said Akram, iam sure the Indian Govt has thought this out & Street protests & possible terrorist attacks hv been factored in. We will be vigilant & won’t be pushed over by a supposed kasmiri desire for Paki liberation. Kashmir will remain a part of India whether the kashmiris like it or not as kashmir is also the land of the pundits.

  17. You quote Zaid Hamid’s tweet? really? He is a master in spreading fake news and tells everything exaggerated and thats your source? Have some shame.

  18. I think India should seduce Pakistan into a military adventure and then defeat it squarely. With a square defeat, Pakistan army cannot be shamed before the eyes of the Pakistani population. They cover small defeats and setbacks with such dexterous propaganda as if they were on the winning side. It is time for India to teach Islamic Jihad a lesson.

  19. What a 007 bond story. This article seems to be plagiarized conspiracy theory. 😂
    What a standard of thought process. Good keep it up.
    But Remember! It’s just a matter of time. Modi has done an immense harm to India. By the time people of India will realize …. It will be too late.
    Just…. a matter of time!!! Wait & See…

  20. I wouldn’t worry about their missing Naval ships, as soon as they sense any sort of preparation from IN during sensitive times, they haul ass out of their bases and stay close to their coastlines. The PN is unfortunately not built for a slugfest with the IN. If they choose to make some military posturing, they will wait for the comms to be restored in Kashmir valley, only then any military move/posturing can be exploited fully by triggering their sleepers and UGWs in the valley to come out to the streets in strength or mount a high visibility terror attack.. They might something small that can be inflated to something spectacular on social media. They will declare victory on twitter and quickly offer talks and invite international mediation. This seemed to have worked quite well after the Balakot strikes.

    This move must’ve been gamed already by the Indian government (if they haven’t, then pain is in store) which so far has handled this move with surprising secrecy and speed. As a long time observer of India’s maneuvering, this has caught me completely off guard. I agree with the author completely on the internal challenges. Once the restrictions slowly go away, one might see a drastic uptick in violence. How India handles this will be interesting to watch. In case internal strife intensifies, how the international reaction would change would be another gripping watch. All in all a momentous occasion for the nation and India watchers.

    • India should remain vigilant on all fronts, but the terrorist/street-violence strategy is the cheapest one for Pakistan. India should find ways to impose reciprocal cost on Pakistan, whether in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, or places that Pakistan doesn’t want to see internationalized. Certainly, Pakistan is pressed for time here. Perhaps a distraction on the Afghan front could preemptively force Pakistan to change focus of attention.

      • Get some real thought. India in Balochistan? And dont forget China. They are busy in Hong Kong right now. But soon, we must expect something in Dokhlam and Aksai Chin frontier.

    • Mr. K
      Thanks for your comments. Today India is in Point B, moved from point A which was unpleasant. No one has convinced India that point B is bad for India or Kashmir. More terrorism is always factored in.
      When you say “international reaction”, we are unimpressed. We weren’t intimidated by US bullying till 1990s, all the West, so called champions of democracy ganging up against India. Now the West and the rest of the world has tasted Jihad, India’s position is much stronger, not to mention growth of strategic and economic relations.. I hope you are not referring to toilet paper like New York Times when you refer to “international reaction”.
      Nobody can coerce India on Kashmir. It is a true Red Line, non negotiable.

    • Makes sense. However, if there are no instigators (read local leaders, other so called secular ones) don’t incite, it us less likely people will come out strongly to protest as common people seem to slowly understand the plot. I also feel administration should relax as such. It will take time and such time should be used to build confidence and that people are nit at loss due to #370 gone.

  21. It is amazing to see world second largest country & biggest democracy spooked by a country 1/10 its size……………No wonder China treats India with as an adolescent teenager !!!!

    • Typical Paki delusion😂.

      If a journal writes in an online news site, it means “India” is “spooked”.

      This delusional mindset is what has made you a failed terrorist state with begging bowl. Why would be “spooked”!

    • Not exactly-India us not . But any loss of life is to be avoided which might be intent of Pak. That’s why any complacency is to be avoided.

    • Says a Nuclear power pakistani which gets spooked by our Conventionally armed Afghan forces . No wonder world sees pakistan as a handicapped pyscho.

  22. THE AUTHOR WRITES
    “Clearly then, India has to exercise significant caution. It has two options. It can continue the curfew in the Valley for a month till such time as the abrogation of Article 370 is seen as fait accompli. ”
    Is he really serious, they people will starve if they are shut up inside their houses.
    Curfew quickly caused starvation if the citizens are not allowed to go out to buy food after three days.
    Surely the author is not advocating a situation similar to the horror of the Nazi concentration camps. A genocide by starvation if curfew without respite.

    • Going by last few years of flood history during this time of the year, kashmiris are smart enough to store enough rations for such contigencies.
      Its only wishful thinking by fear mongers like you who want to see death by starvation.

    • Enforcing curfew is not enforcing starvation. Food, water electricity will never be in short supply. Emergency medical conditions are also being looked after. Only telecommunications and transport are being halted because of the practice of the Kashmiri youths to participate in stone pelting. All these restrictions will be lifted once everybody in Kashmir accept India as their motherland and their own country.

    • Calm down, Mr Lone, already curfew us being relaxed and authorities are as concerned about the fare if people as you sound or any right minded person would. But you can’t allow people getting killed in violent protests or giving opportunity to terrorists.

    • Keep dreaming and believing your online agents who feed you such lies that you think it’s TRUE.

      Only time will tell if India PM becomes Hitler n whole nation explodes.

      I have to give it to the author though. He should be given Bollywood writers job for his investigative journalism award.

      • Difference between Hitler and Indian PM is that Hitler was in favour of the Muslim population over the pig-faced Jewish

  23. Even before the abrogation of the article 370 by the present government of India, this is what prompted GoI to bring 370 bill during Amaranth Yatra, just before 15th August, Rakhi and Id. Govt must have got some inkling of Pakistan’s misadventure in JK. As is analysed here, Pakistan wanted to draw the international attention towards the armed conflicts between the two neighbors. Now they are waiting for reaction of Kashmiris on the abrogation. And it’s twitter handlers, both in India and Pakistan, are doing there duties faithfully.

  24. Really, hindus are that insane. Wow, things are falling into the exact location where they are suppose to be

    • Dear Pak friends, India may take some blows from any misadventure from you but you will be completely destroyed. You started the Kadhmir problem by invading Kashmir when the sovereign and people of Kashmir were still thinking of theirl course of action.. You will delf destruct if you get unto a misadventure with India..Stay as a peaceful country and develop yourself

  25. They should also get some satellite images of Pak SS missiles moved in forward locations. Occupied Kashmir is not a paper from a book called Indian constitution it’s a matter of life and death of 14million Kashmiris. With 950000 troops(as of today) shoved onto Occupied Kashmir, ModiDovalAmit(MAD) circus wants the World to believe that Bhya All Is Well. Give me a million soldiers and I will impose a one month curfew in Maharashtra and C who comes out..This is the peace of graveyard. Can this MAD circus disallow Kashmiris to offer Eid Prayers on Moday..it’s just Shameless. If y don’t like my comments, listen to Shashi Tharoor and Owaisi

    • Wishful thinking straight from Madrassa.
      After being split into two countries in 1971, beaten down 4 times in war, the pakistanis dont seem to understand that they have completely lost the plot on kashmir.

    • Why doesn’t pak mind its own business and try to make life of Pak people a but better, improve its economy and take part in world peace and humane activities. Nothing will be gained from continued attitude.

    • Kashmir belongs to India . And India is right in not letting any Paki-paid people to do riots . All Afghans are with India Inshallah Indians will be victorious…

    • This is a logical possible response. What India has done is no different from what Pakistan did in Gilgit and Baltistan. So, it is hard for Pakistan sell their current outrage anywhere outside of Pakistan. Trying to change the disputed Siachen, since it isn’t considered demarcated, could be claimed as a limited response. Nothing else, not even terror attacks through sleeper cells, could change anything in Kashmir.

      Another alternative would be to foment massive and sustained rioting in Kashmir. That would be embarrassing for India and face saving for them (remember that face saving is really important in the Islamic world) but is unlikely to change anything long term.

  26. Any misadventure by pakistan will lead to disintergation of pakistan as in 1971 when bangladesh was formed.POK Bulochitan NWFA all be gone.

  27. The article started out with a lot of details about military ship and aircraft movements. Unfortunately these were not brought any logical conclusion about what they might signify.
    The lifting of Section 144 and resumption of phone services, clearly shows that Indian intel does not anticipate any outpouring of hostile reaction by the local populace.
    There will be isolated attempts of incitement to violence and actual acts of violence which will have to be handled deftly.
    In 1971, the US actually sent the 7th. fleet into the Bay of Bengal and threatened to use planes to bomb India. There is no such threat to India this time. So Pakistan is unlikely to take any military action at this time .
    We have to remember that all said and done, the ISI and the Pakistan Army are manned by professionals.
    However, even they could be driven to wrong decisions if the Indian press has editors who revel in raising bogies about coup attempts by the Indian Army and the supposed superiority of Pakistan Army soldiers over Indian Army personnel.

    • You would like to present yourself as a thoughtful person but this statement of yours “Pakistan Army are manned by professionals” shows you are very ignorant.

      Pakistan Army is anything but professional. History is replete they are very unprofessional clowns who indulged in large scale slaughter of civilians in 1971. Started wars with poor planning and with delusional mindset.

    • This Article shows India is planning something SINISTER…. Putting out FAKE NEWS to divert their GENOCIDE of the innocent Kashmiri people. India is doing the same to what the tyrannical zionist israel is doing to the Palestinians

  28. May wise counsel prevail on both sides. Easier to start a military conflict than to end it. That is what PM ABV used to tell the Editor, even in the face of Pakistan’s provocation. That is also why we have an MEA. The dialogue should have continued, no matter how little it yielded. Shutting down – for all practical purposes – the two missions will add to the gloom. 2. Andy Mukherjee has tweeted that Indians are now replacing their toothbrushes once in four months, as against two earlier. FMCG companies are sending an SOS to the FM. Does it require an IQ of 140 to join these two sets of dots.

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