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Is Pakistan taking advantage of global Covid crisis to turn on terror tap against India?

Three CRPF personnel and a 14-year-old boy were killed in an attack by militants in north Kashmir’s Handwara Monday.

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Three CRPF personnel and a 14-year-old boy were killed in an attack by militants in north Kashmir’s Handwara Monday. This comes after the killings of five security personnel by militants — including two senior Army officers — in the same region Sunday. There was heavy exchange of fire at the Line of Control after ceasefire violations by Pakistan. Monday’s killing is the third major attack in the Valley since India went into the coronavirus lockdown.

ThePrint asks: Is Pakistan taking advantage of global Covid crisis to turn on terror tap against India?

Pakistan has failed to internationalise the Kashmir issue, terrorism remains its only option to wound India

Kanwal Sibal
Executive council member, VIF, and former foreign secretary

Pakistan has no arrows left in its quiver except the use of terror against India. With the changes in J&K’s territorial and legal status, Pakistan can no longer discuss ‘Kashmir’ with India as before. Despite China’s support, it has also failed to internationalise the Kashmir issue.

Terrorism remains its only ground option to wound India. It is still a low-cost option despite India’s game-changing Balakot operation. Limited Pakistan-abetted terror attacks not only impose a disproportionate security burden on our armed forces, but India’s retaliatory action also gets constrained. The cost to Pakistan thus remains bearable.

India is now battling the ‘Wuhan virus’ crisis in J&K too, which puts an additional burden on the administration. Pakistan, with the mind-set of a rogue state, wants to exploit this by keeping alive an atmosphere of violence in J&K.

Pakistan feels emboldened by its role in the US-Taliban peace process and the postponement of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) pressure because of the pandemic. It has removed 1,800 names from its terrorist watch list, including Zaki-ur-Rehman, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Repeated cease-fire violations and sponsoring attacks in Kashmir despite the
pandemic derives from Pakistan’s ingrained terrorism syndrome.

Blaming Pakistan is India’s default position, wants to camouflage its reprehensible actions against Kashmiris

Salman Bashir
Former foreign secretary of Pakistan

Blaming Pakistan is a convenient ‘default’ position for India to escape bruising realities, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistan terror sponsorship theme somehow sells domestically and serves as a cover up for India’s own wrongs. Dissolving the state of Jammu and Kashmir, inflicting a brutal military crackdown on the Kashmiris and unleashing an all out assault on Kashmiri identity were all done in the name of Indian nation and perhaps, as a patriotic duty. These reprehensible actions against innocent Kashmiris cannot be camouflaged by allegations against Pakistan.

The Kashmiris have resisted foreign occupation and alien domination stoically, mostly with non-violence. Self-defence is an inalienable right of individuals. Freedom struggles have historically been dubbed as terrorism but universally, they have succeeded. This is what drives the indigenous, people dynamic in Kashmir.

Recently, Indian forces have repeatedly violated the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir — with mortar and assault weapons, and targeted sniping of civilians.

One wonders whether India has lost its bearings completely. They have no vision of peace, prosperity or harmony within the country and with the neighbours. The terror tap is not in Pakistan but its fountainhead is the policies and practices of aggrandisement by the Indian state. Covid-19 pandemic should have instilled the virtues of peaceful cooperation in the region. The common threat of the coronavirus needs to be combated with common resolve and active cooperation. Alas, all that is available in Delhi is the ‘default’ position.

Pakistan’s efforts to inflict harm on India are finding little traction on the ground

Ajay Sahni
Executive director, Institute for Conflict Management

The idea that Pakistan is taking advantage of the Covid-19 crisis to “turn on the terror tap” against India is misconceived and based on ignorance of trends. While the killing of five security personnel — including a colonel, a major, a sub-inspector and two jawans — in a single incident is tragic and shocking, they are not indicative of any abrupt escalation. It is useful to underline that these fatalities occurred in a security forces initiated incident.

Pakistan’s efforts to create problems in Kashmir remain unflagging, but have had a relatively diminishing impact in the Union territory. It is, in fact, intelligence-led counterterrorism operations that are inflicting the overwhelming proportion of fatalities in J&K over the past months. Of a 105 fatalities in J&K this year (SATP data till 3 May), 74 are terrorists, 22 security force personnel and nine civilians. Both the security forces and civilian fatalities in the first four months of the year are well below the four-month average for these categories in 2019, at 26 for security forces and 14 for civilians; while the terrorist fatalities have gone up from a four-month average of 54 in 2019.

The Covid-19 crisis cannot be linked to the trajectory of terrorism in J&K. Pakistan’s agenda against India remains unchanged, and it will seek to inflict harm whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself. Its efforts, however, are finding little traction on the ground at present, even as Pakistan comes under increasing international scrutiny.

Real terrorist is coronavirus, India and Pakistan should fight it jointly

Hamid Mir
Pakistani journalist and author

I don’t like this question — “Is Pakistan taking advantage of global Covid crisis to turn on terror tap against India?”

Reason is simple. I am over occupied by the problems created by the Covid-19 outbreak. Everyone is facing these problems but the job of a journalist is not different from the job of a doctor and other health workers. They cannot work from their homes.

Some of my colleagues were infected with the coronavirus in the last two months — some of them recovered while some died. I want to stay at home but cannot do my TV talk show from there. I am doing it by risking my life every day and my focus is Covid-19.

Every day I am receiving messages from Pakistanis stuck in different countries. They want to come back but I cannot help them. I receive messages from doctors and nurses fighting against Covid-19 without proper medical equipment but I cannot help them. I am surrounded by the problems created by this crisis that’s why it is strange for me to respond to a question related to the old war of words between India and Pakistan on terrorism. This question is strange for me in Covid times but I pray that India and Pakistan must stop fighting in these crucial days and help the victims of Covid-19. Real terrorist is coronavirus. Fight it jointly.

Also read: Will Trump’s WHO attack hurt global health readiness or much-needed wake-up call?

By Pia Krishnankutty, journalist at ThePrint

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  1. Pakistan, failing in handling the situation at home, is once again raising a bogey of kashmir. India needs to be aware.

  2. Can we get out of this fixation with a mullah-military co-operative that is on a race (of its own) to hit the bottom on all sorts of economic and social indices? Let us concentrate on our nation building, social, economic or otherwise. Modi, Pappu, Mamta et al are making immense contributions to make all the journos’ professionally busy anyway. Turn your camera away in to our internal issues please.

    Eliminate all the trash that is sent in from across the border. With Balakot breaching the threshold, give back in kind handsomely should the neighbour fancy another strike within our territory. There is no scope for any more tea, biscuits and talks anyway since the Kashmir story is over. The retired playboy PM out there may beat the drum on and off, but then their Big Boots have their own way of invalidating his actions.

  3. A good balanced segment giving both sides a view. Agree with Hamid Mir on both should work jointly to fight this virus. Would be nice to get his views on Pak government’s hijacking of global conferences to fight virus with self serving Kashmir agenda?

  4. Apart from comments from the persons in the article, what is baffling is the apparent efficiency and strength displayed by the terrorists. In the first incident, 5 commandos died while killing 5 terrorists. The second incident when 5 people including a Col. and a Major died while 3 terrorists were killed. And now the latest incident. To be ambushed with such sickening regularity by terrorists is very disheartening to listen to. Hope we are plans to end this quickly and permanently.

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