To staunch the breach

Upsurge in cross-border infiltration in Kashmir

As many as 30 terrorists were killed last week trying to cross over from Pakistani territory into India’s Jammu & Kashmir state. The Indian army engaged infiltrators in gunbattles in some of the remotest regions of Kashmir. There are similarities and differences between these attempts and those Pakistan adopted six years ago, which resulted in the battle at Kargil.

The similarities lie in the fact that Pakistan attempted to inject terrorists into Indian territory in the midst of a near-euphoric peace process. Then as now, terrorists sought to cross over in some of the more remote regions of Kashmir — the routes leading to Gurez are at elevations of over 4850 metres — expecting to cross into Indian territory undetected. During Kargil, the Indian army had retreated to its winter positions, while at Gurez, recent snowfalls had supposedly damaged some of the high-tech sensors that it had placed to detect infiltration.

But while the Kargil intrusions were carried out in winter, the Gurez intrusions are taking place in the summer months. Gen Musharraf’s game plan at Kargil — as fantastic as it seems — was to march to Srinagar. The latest surge of infiltration attempts do not (yet) suggest such grandiose ambitions, but point to a sustained strategy to keep the ‘insurgency’ alive in Kashmir.

The biggest difference, however, lies in how early these infiltration attempts were detected. The combination of increased vigilance, investment in fencing and surveillance equipment and robust counter-terrorism operations succeeded in nipping this latest threat in the bud. The Indian army estimates that there are currently as many as 2000 jihadis on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control waiting to cross over. The Gurez breach was staunched in time. It should serve to alert the Indian goverment that it is, after all, negotiating with a gun pointed towards its head.

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