Escalation of terrorism in quake affected areas calls for a robust response
Ghulam Nabi Lone was education minister of India’s Jammu & Kashmir state until last night. That’s until he was shot dead by jihadis from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Such a high-profile assassination would have been despicable at any other time. Right now, it is infinitely more so.
The gloves have come off. Far from nursing naive thoughts about troop reductions and ceasefires it will be foolish not to recognise that the jihadis have interpreted the India’s response to the quake victims as a chink in its armour. They must be proved wrong.
Thanks largely due to India’s investment in a peace-process with Pakistan, the Indian government will find tough going back to the international community and recalling the image of Pakistan as a sponsor of cross-border terrorism. It must, but it will not be easy. For their part, the United Jihad Council insinuated some kind of a ‘ceasefire’, but the resulting escalation in terrorist violence proved that Syed Salahuddin and his outfit was little more than a toothless paper tiger. The jihadis didn’t take him too seriously. Neither now will the Kashmiri people. Nor should India. The Moderate Mirwaiz and his clique are out scoring cheap political points. The entire political exploitation of this immense humanitarian disaster will be complete when Pakistan, citing the destruction of some jihadi camps in its territory and the escalation of terrorism in India’s, will point out that all this is vindication of its age-old claim that terrorism in India is a ‘home-grown’ affair.
The good news, however, is that the people of the region have seen through Pakistan’s claims. But public memory is short, and easily manipulated. But it will be a crying shame if the jihadis are allowed to gain in strength just because India’s attention, as well as that of the world, is turned on disaster relief.
The jihadis are counting on the fact that humanitarian relief and counter-insurgency are zero-sum. The need for reinforcing troop levels in Jammu & Kashmir is obvious.