Does the March 13 fidayeen (suicide) attack in Bemina in Srinagar, in which five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men were killed and another seven including civilians injured, come as a surprise? If one were to believe the security agencies, specially the intelligence agencies, the answer is a clear 'No'.
Reports sent to the South Block from the Northern Command Headquarters over the past few months have highlighted the following: increased activity at the Line of Control (LoC), inputs that suggest that launching points across the border have been activated much in advance than in the previous years, the increased number of training camps for young to be trained before being sent across the border. According to estimates, the number of camps is nearly 60 as opposed to 42 - the number of terror camps that India has been claiming to exist in Pak Occupied Kashmir (PoK) or Azad Kashmir.
Using statistics to predict a trend has its own pitfalls. Nonetheless, falling back on statistics, there have been more ceasefire violations and infiltration bids this year, that is, till March 2013, in comparison to previous years. Moreover, radio stations or communication facilities located across the border to pass on instructions and take back messages from terrorists, sympathisers in valley too have been more active as well as compared to previous years, intelligence assessments reports with New Delhi claim.
Generally, intelligence agencies across the world and more so in India rarely agree with each other. However, in this case, at least there seems to some corroboration. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) reports to the Government indicate an increased activity of Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) across the border. For instance, all the agencies confirm that training and launching points across the border and along the LoC were activated by January this year before the snows melted unlike in the past, when these facilities are activated in late March-early May. Radio communications intercepted by agencies show LeT asking its sympathisers in the valley to build capabilities to provide logistics and housing to mujahideens waiting to cross over. For instance, the IB was working on a radio communication since February which talked about two LeT mujaheeds who had crossed over and were in need for a place to stay, along with other logistics support. Even as they were investigating who the communication was meant for and how logistics was being provided, the fidayeen attack was carried out. Could these messages about the LeT mujahideens needing ground support be referring to Haider and Saif - the two fidayeens killed in the attack - and Mohammed Zuber, now arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police with the help of the IB after the attack? Or were the messages discussing a completely different module? The IB believes it refers to a separate module, which would mean unless the module is neutralised, there will be another attack sometime soon.Is Afzal Guru's hanging and AFSPA a new impetus to terrorism in Kashmir?
That Afzal Guru was hanged with unusual haste, perhaps to bolster up the UPA terror-fighting credentials, has been highlighted by many. Some in the security establishment believe that Guru's hanging will emerge as the new rallying point for the terrorist and separatist forces within and outside India. However, it must be pointed out that to revitalise the terror infrastructure, work out logistics, prepare the men and launch them across the border to avenge the hanging is quite difficult to achieve in such a short span of time. Such an operation would include recruiting young people to fight for the cause, training and arming them, preparing launching stations by identifying chinks in India's deployment along the border, and preparing ground within the valley for food, shelter and logistics.
Similar is the case with Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) - the law that gives sweeping and even dictatorial powers to the Armed forces deployed in insurgency prone areas. Agitations and demands by the state government to remove the act from the state have been met with stiff resistance from the Armed forces. The Union Cabinet is divided as well with P Chidambaram siding with the State and going against his Cabinet colleague and Defence Minister AK Antony. Last year, the armed forces had analysed the causes of several agitations in the valley and had claimed more number of agitations in the valley were triggered by a lack of power and water than the AFSPA.
Some of the major changes in the region - for instance, the proposed withdrawal of the US-led International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan in 2014 - cannot be overlooked or underestimated. With the ISI-Taliban combination jubilant at the prospect of the having a free run in Afghanistan, the Pakistan establishment will have more resources - both state and non-state actors - at their disposal to be able to concentrate on the Kashmir cause. In which case, the valley and Indian heartland is likely to see a rise in terror activity. Options for India
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week told the Parliament that relations with Pakistan cannot be normalised till the terror infrastructure is dismantled. The BJP too wants the Government to scale down relations and suspend the structured dialogue with Pakistan. In the past too, India has on several occasions suspended the structured dialogue with Pakistan - the last occasion being the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. However, on each occasion, India retracted from its decision to suspend dialogue with Pakistan either because of US pressure or other considerations that required recommencement of the dialogue, much to Pakistan's glee. India restarting of dialogue with Pakistan has been used by Islamabad as a vindication of its politics and foreign policy both within and outside its borders. No amount of deadlines to deliver, threats from New Delhi or efforts to isolate Pakistan internationally has helped. The issue is compounded by two crucial factors - first, the earlier mentioned withdrawal of US-led ISAF forces from Afghanistan, and second, the sagging Indian economy. The latter prevents India from considering military options.
India has tried to increase trade and allow more people-to-people contact to lock both sides in a virtuous embrace. However, the hidden hand of Adam Simth can work to reduce tensions only if both parties involved have something to offer to each other and more crucially interested in benefiting from the other. One cannot sell goods and in exchange keep getting dead bodies from terror strikes.
It is also time to dispel the carefully crafted and deliberately spread myth of shared culture and therefore oneness of the two countries. The two countries have followed different goals and ideals for the last 60 years. And, we do not look alike, from any angle or stretch of imagination. It is necessary, therefore, we accept that we are different and prepare to deal with Pakistan accordingly.
The best option available for India is perhaps to not only scale down relations with Pakistan but to completely sever relations and instead use time and energy to build stronger ties with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan and also strengthen ourselves in the Persian Gulf region - an area which no longer interests US after recent discoveries of Oil in the Southern Hemisphere and Shale Gas.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this blog are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing on the blog do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.