SOMEWHERE IN KASHMIR

Dear Soldier,

During the last few weeks Kashmir has seen choreographed bloodshed, at a scale not witnessed in the recent past. And you, my friend, are in the middle of a media firestorm. They say that you have not exercised adequate restraint. They sit in air-conditioned TV studios and claim that you are a killer.

Over 3000 of your brothers have been injured in the past one-month, some critically. Many have been martyred. No one knows about this because for those who disseminate news, the country is inconsequential and you are expendable.

And this is how they want you to die – unknown, unwept, unsung and unforgiven.

All throughout your training and your service, you were taught that the enemy is across the Line of Control. I am afraid that is no longer true. The LoC has shifted from Kashmir to Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai and to hundreds of towns and cities across India. That is where the new enemy is, our own fifth column.

This enemy does not use guns. He uses social media. He uses lies and half-truths to tarnish your image. He tells common Indians that you, the Indian soldier in Kashmir, are a rapist and a murderer. Are you flabbergasted and heartbroken? Welcome to the new war, my friend, a war without honor and rules of engagement.

The enemy knows that you are undefeatable and so he has decided to break your morale.

You ask me what is this “azaadi” that the Kashmiri separatists want? You say that they have their own flag, their own penal code and their own constitution. What more could anyone want? My friend, they want Kashmir to break away from India and merge with Pakistan. That’s why whenever there is a mob on the streets of Srinagar you will never see a Kashmiri flag. You will only see Pakistani flags and the flags of the Islamic State (ISIS). This is the new reality.

Kashmiriyat died the day the first Kashmiri Pandit was killed in the Valley.

Kashmiri separatists love “funeral politics.” Have you ever wondered why the protestors who are hurt during clashes die when they could have easily been saved? Because Pakistan trained terrorists stop the ambulance midway and don’t allow it to reach the hospital. When the injured person bleeds to death, there is a grand funeral the next day. A new martyr is created out of thin air.

Doctored and fake images of bleeding women and children with pellet wounds are being circulated on social media, and young, gullible Indians are being told, “Look, this is what your army does in Kashmir”.

I am afraid for you because I know your own death cannot break you, but the image of a bleeding 5-year-old child easily can. You are a father, too. They want to break your heart so that you lose the will to fight.

But there is hope. Millions of Indians who were dormant are waking up. They now know the truth. They were scattered earlier. They are uniting now and every day they grow stronger. They may not wear the uniform but they are soldiers in spirit. And when the time comes, they will stand with you till the very end. You are not alone.

Soon, the sun will complete its westward journey. It will soon be time to clean your AK 47, fill your magazines and prime four HE-36 hand grenades. Your company commander is waiting for you. He will give you your mission brief for tonight.

Intelligence sources from Brigade Headquarters have confirmation that there are 5 Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists holed up in a single-storied house on the outskirts of Chowkibal, Kupawara. Your mission is to “neutralize” them.

It is 0300 hrs and a large Chinar tree close to the house is blocking the moonlight. This is the opening that you need. You will ask your buddies to quickly surround the house, blocking all exit routes.

As you stealthily move towards the house with four of your buddies, your rubber-soled boots ensure pin drop silence. You position yourself under a window near the main door, your AK’s fire selector switch now on “automatic” mode. The team’s number two takes out a HE-36 hand grenade and pulls out the pin and starts reverse counting. Five, four, three, two, one…the grenade is lobbed inside, followed by a loud explosion after 4 seconds. You kick the door open and storm the house.

There will be gunfire, smoke, screams and explosions. And then there will be the sweet stench of blood. Tonight, you will kill.

Good luck and happy hunting.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

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PAKISTAN – THE JIHAD FACTORY PART 2

 

Pakistan has two narratives. That it is the fortress of Islam, and hence, irrespective of credibility and capability, it is somehow responsible for the leadership of the Muslim world. And that Kashmir is an integral part of Pakistan. Everyone knows that these narratives are as real as Santa Claus. Everyone, except Pakistan.

Pakistan has two fathers, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Maulana Abu Ala Maududi.

While Jinnah found it perfectly acceptable to use Islam and the Two Nation Theory to create Pakistan, he realized soon enough that he had created a monster. And he realized this before 14 August 1947. On 11 August, he outlined his vision for the fledgling state. “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed; that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” Soaring words indeed, from a man who had conspired to create a theocratic state over the dead bodies of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Maududi, an influential cleric amongst many other things, had never reconciled to the creation of Pakistan. He was of the opinion that Islam did not recognize geographical boundaries, the Ummah being the glue that bound Muslims together. He also felt that partition was counter-productive because while Jinnah thought he had divided India, he had actually divided Muslims. Maududi was an Islamic supremacist in the strictest sense of the word. His party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, found legitimacy in Iqbal’s poetry.

Soon after his death, Pakistan buried Jinnah, and with him his ideology of hypocrisy. It is now unabashedly in the bosom of its other father, Maulana Abu Ala Maududi. Today, the Pakistani Sunni majority hates Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and everyone that there is to hate. True democratic secularism has been achieved. Everyone hates everybody equally, without discrimination.

This hatred has a history. And it all started with Pakistan’s hatred towards Hindus and India, an illogical hatred of a long subjugated majority, which came to power using democracy and non-violence, and hatred of India because of Kashmir.

With each passing year Pakistan realizes that its dream of Kashmir is fading, and with each passing year the wound deepens further, suppurating and festering. This pain of impotence finds voice in delusions of Jihad.

There are many reasons for violence in Kashmir, strategic depth and “economies of low intensity conflict” the most obvious. A lesser-known reason is that Pakistan has no option. It has built up mass hysteria for 70 years, an opiated populace finding solace in a synthetic utopia. Pakistan is riding a tiger.

Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, Chief of Pakistan Army and the President of Pakistan, had an eye for talent. In the early eighties, he spotted a fiery cleric from Sargodha (Pakistani Punjab) with a small yet passionate following. So impressed was he with the cleric that he appointed him to a senior position in Pakistan’s powerful Council for Islamic Ideology.

In the mid-eighties, 1986-87 by some accounts, the cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed joined his friend Abdullah Azzam and spawned the Marqaz Dawa wal Irshad, a non-government organization dedicated to the resettlement of former militants from the Afghan jihad. This was a façade. In the early 90’s, Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence and Hafiz Saeed together formed the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the Army of the Pure.

Terror organizations are not new to Kashmir, but there is an interesting learning to be had here. All terror organizations that had Kashmir as their central charter have all but disappeared, a case in point being the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) which considered Pakistan to be as much the aggressor as India. In fact there is hardly any operational terror group with the word Kashmir as part of its name. The so-called “azaadi” struggle has been highjacked by terror organizations with Arab and Pan-Islamic names like Hizb-ul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Al-Badr and many more.

Terror groups in Kashmir are funded by Joint Intelligence (North), the ISI’s Kashmir Desk, based out of Islamabad. JI (N) receives funding from the intelligence fund, which is an undisclosed part of the Pakistan national budget. Some funds are received from Saudi Arabia. Mostly, these funds are not for Jihad but for propagating the Saudi Wahhabi school of thought. Diversion of funds is a Pakistani specialty. They have been doing it since the days of the US funded Afghan jihad in the eighties.

These funds are mostly funneled through Hafiz Saeed of the LeT and Syed Salahuddin, the Chairman of the United Jihad Council. The method is the age old and trusted hawala system, wherein money is transferred to the ISI’s assets in J&K for further dissemination. Terrorists carry Indian currency with them when they infiltrate. Fake Indian currency is a huge state-sponsored racket in Pakistan. Next time you go to the bank to deposit cash and the cashier rejects a few currency notes, specially the 1000 or 500 denomination; you know where they are coming from.

With over 20,000 madrasas, mostly unregulated by the government, Pakistan already has a mass base of would-be Jihadis. Quranic studies form a lion’s share of the education imparted in these madrasas. In most madrasas, the only education is the Holy Quran. When the students come out of the four suffocating walls of their Islamic seminary, they find that they do not have the educational skills to get a respectable job.

Well indoctrinated and well motivated, the most brainwashed amongst these students find themselves at a tri-junction once they graduate. They either join the ranks of terrorists in Kashmir mostly through the LeT or Hizb-ul Mujahideen, go to fight the coalition forces in Afghanistan or join the ISIS. So much for career choices!

The LeT has training modules for selected students. Only those who are ideologically indoctrinated and see this temporal world as a temporary residing place and those who live for the afterlife are welcome.

You have all heard stories about how terrorists look forward to death because of the promised 72 hoors and rivers of milk and honey. For an impoverished teenager who has only seen poverty, has a worldview nurtured by an illiterate maulvi and who has absolutely no future, 72 virgins are not a bad deal, the rivers of milk and honey be damned.

Once the potential Jihadi is selected, he is put through Daura-e-Sufa, a 21-day religious indoctrination course in which he is taught about the futility of life and how Jihad is a shortcut to Jannat (paradise). Sustained effort is made to religiously indoctrinate him so that he is emotionally calloused enough to kill with impunity. Remember, this to-be Jihadi has spent his entire life in a madrasa. He is looking forward to die. It is this part of the Wahhabi philosophy, which is taught.

The next step is Daura-e-Aam, which is again a 21-day capsule course. But in this training course they are put through a physically demanding schedule and taught basic weapons and uniform recognition of Indian security forces. Only about 10% of the batch makes it to the next level.

The top 10% are then sent to receive advanced training as part of the Daura-e-Khas module. Here they learn about weapon systems and the LeT organization. They are taught the finer details of how to conduct attacks on military camps, driving, explosives, use of radio sets, using of crew served weapons (weapons requiring more than one person to operate). They are taught to evade Indian Army patrols, navigation and survival. The training is extremely tough and only few pass this advanced course. Less than 10% make it.

The training instructors are retired personal of the Special Service Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army. SSG is Pakistan Army Special Forces. JI (N) and the Covert Action Division (CAD) of the ISI overview the entire training module.

The best of those who qualify are sent to fight the Indian Army in Kashmir.

The main staging bases for infiltration into Kashmir are located in Muzzafarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), and are controlled by Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin, under the overall supervision of JI (N).

The topography of the Kashmir Valley and Jammu area ahead of Akhnoor, Surankote, Krishna Ghati, Bhimbar Gali, Mendhar and Poonch & Rajouri and Doda and Kishtwar is extremely uneven. In many areas in the upper reaches, it snows heavily and there is constant firing along the Line of Control. Hence it is not possible to build a physical barrier everywhere. These gaps have to be guarded physically, usually by ambush teams. The ambush teams cannot cover every inch of ground. There are gaps between ambush teams. These gaps are further covered by army patrols. This is not a 100% foolproof method, but it is the best and the most practical under the circumstances.

Pakistan Army units give covering fire to infiltrating terrorists. Many terrorists are killed during infiltration along the Line of Control. Those who manage to escape then fight as fedayeen (suicide squads) and target security forces. Very few go back alive. Most of them are killed.

Kashmiri militants are not battle hardened enough to afford the kind of traction that Pakistan wants in Kashmir. They are just not ruthless enough. Many feel homesick after some time and want to go back. Some become informers. Hence the burning need for Pakistan to export terror into India.

Indian Kashmir has a separate flag. It has a separate constitution. It has a separate penal code. Then what is this “azaadi” that Kashmiri separatists keep demanding? “Azaadi” is a synonym for wanting to merge with Pakistan.

That’s why during protests on the streets of Srinagar, you don’t see the Kashmir flag. What you see is a sea of Pakistan flags. It is not so much emotion, but the willingness of the separatists to wear the sponsor’s logo on their jersey.

Kashmiriyat is dead. What you have are the foundations of the Khilafat, and the seed of the Islamic State.

PAKISTAN – THE JIHAD FACTORY (PART – 1)

 

When people talk about Kashmir and Pakistan’s role in fermenting militancy, and now terrorism in the Valley, they have a peculiar habit of jumping decades. They discuss the 1947-48 Kashmir War and the UN plebiscite issue, which is effectively all that there is to Pakistan’s foreign policy. Cut to 1989, and we have a full-blown insurgency, duly sponsored by the grandmasters of strategy and protectors of the ideological frontiers of Pakistan, at Rawalpindi.

What happened between 1948 and 1989?

Pakistan was declared a nation state on 14 August 1947. On 11 September 1948, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan died. On 16 October 1951, Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan was assassinated. Those two bullets, which killed Liaqat Ali Khan, were in effect the last two nails in the coffin of the democratic story of the fledgling nation state.

Ever since, a non-elected leader/military dictator has initiated each war that Pakistan has fought with India. The 1947-48 war was launched on the instructions of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. It was Ayub Khan in 1965. Yahya Khan presided over Pakistan’s 1971 debacle, and the subsequent creation of Bangladesh by the Indian Army. The Kashmir insurgency in the late eighties was the brainchild of Zia-ul-Haq. Pervez Musharraf laid the Kargil egg.

Kashmir has always been politically volatile, the popular sentiment mostly against India. Before Zia, it was politically charged but benign. There were no overt displays of Pakistani flags; no stone throwing rent-a-crowd politics and Shammi Kapoor built a career romancing Sharmila Tagore on the picturesque Dal Lake.

On 24 December 1979 the USSR invaded Afghanistan. It was that day that the groundwork for the Kashmir Jihad was laid, except that no one knew about it; neither the Indians nor the Pakistanis.

Eight months before Soviet tanks crossed the Amu River into Afghanistan, Zia had hanged his own Prime Minister. It did not help that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was a democratically elected mass base leader and was wildly popular in Pakistan. As the Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, his core support lay in the semi-arid Sufi influenced Sindh province. But the Punjabis loved him, too. Bhutto had received 60.1% of the popular vote in the 1977 General Elections, defeating Khan Abdul Wali Khan, the Pashtun leader of the National Alliance.

Bhutto was unapologetically confrontationist. He loved whipping an adoring crowd into absolute frenzy, hubris his favorite sin. Gen. Zia was uncomfortable with his Prime Minister and so, in the finest parliamentary traditions of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, he set up a kangaroo court, accused Bhutto of murdering a political opponent Ahmad Raza Khan Kasuri, and hanged him.

For 8 months, Zia faced international censure quietly, waiting for his chance. When the Soviet tanks rolled into Kabul, Zia made the Americans an offer they could not refuse. It was done in a manner that would have made Don Vito Corleone proud. “Give me the money and weapons, and I will turn Afghanistan into Russia’s Vietnam”, he said. Well, he didn’t say exactly this but he did exactly that.

Ill equipped insurgents in Vietnam had humiliated America. Soviet arms, money and training had a large role to play in America’s most forgettable war. Zia’s offer was tempting. After initial hesitation, the US was in on the deal. Operation Cyclone was launched, with billions of dollars of slush funds. It was the height of the Cold War. Money was of no consequence.

Thus started the Jihad and Kalashnikov culture in Pakistan. Afghan fighters had to be reinforced by additional manpower, so Madrasas (Islamic seminaries/ schools) in Pakistan were pressed into service, to produce ideologically sound warriors. “Taleem” is the Arabic word for education and a student is called a Talib. Taliban refers to a group of students. While the Taliban was formally created by Pakistan’s ISI in the early and mid nineties, the core was active a decade earlier.

The Afghan struggle became Jihad, and the fighters became Mujahideen (holy warriors). Large belts of Deobandi* influenced North West Frontier Provinces (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Pakistani Punjab were soon injected with the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. Wahhabi Islam is exactly like the place of its birth, the deserts of Saudi Arabia – stark, arid and merciless. The cocktail was explosive.

*Deoband is 156 km North of Delhi, in the Saharanpur District of Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the largest seats of Islamic learning in the world.

Jamia Binoria Karachi, a self-admittedly liberal Sunni Deobandi Islamic learning center had a unique guest for some time, a secretive man by the name of   Osama bin Laden.

Osama was a terrorist in his mind long before became one in deed, and had money to fuel his ambition to become a Ghazi, a Muslim faith warrior. But he needed training. Enter the CIA. No teacher knows what kind of a monster his student will become, and during those times, there could be no evil bigger than Communism. So the CIA took this innocuous “maybe” civil engineer under its wing.

Since Pakistan and the US were working very closely to defeat the Soviets, it was natural for Osama bin Laden to develop a close working relationship with Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, Director General ISI. This relationship endured even after the Soviets left Afghanistan on 15 February 1989. Many say that Hamid Gul knew of the 9/11 attacks, though Gul had vociferously denied any such knowledge.

Hamid Gul was a Zia acolyte and he was the man responsible for shifting the center of gravity of the Afghan Jihad from Kabul to Srinagar.

Gul used the same stratagem in Kashmir that he had inherited from his predecessor in the ISI, Lt. Gen. Akhtar Abdur Rehman. Jihad, Kalashnikovs and dollars had worked wonders in Afghanistan and there was no reason why the model could not be replicated in the Kashmir Valley.

Zia-ul-Haq died in 1988. In 1989, the Kashmir Valley exploded. Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), with its pro-Independence ideology started terror attacks on Indian security forces. In 1990, the Government of India retaliated by creating the Rashtriya Rifles, a crack counter insurgency/counter terror force dedicated to the Kashmir Valley. Suddenly, there was a dip in the graph; the terrorists were running for cover. Afraid that its plan would come apart at the seams, the Pakistan Army decided that if the Kashmir insurgency were to be given the façade of a political struggle, it would lend legitimacy to the cause. Also, the struggle was unstructured, with many political parties agitating and giving statements, which served no purpose. Like any good corporate would do, the Pakistan Army decided that this was as good a time as any for business aggregation.

In 1993, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq received funding from Pakistan’s ISI to create the All Party Hurriyat Conference. The APHC was meant to be an umbrella organization for 26 political, social and religious bodies, all dedicated to “azaadi”.

Why did Pakistan sponsor terrorism in Kashmir? And why specifically in 1989?

The Maharaja of Kashmir wanted to be independent, and refused to sign the Instrument of Accession with India. India did not act. Pakistan did. Within 9 weeks of becoming a nation state, Pakistan launched tribesmen from Waziristan and its North West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) into Kashmir, led by serving officers of the Pakistan Army. The aim was to capture Kashmir by force. The Maharaja panicked and called Delhi, agreeing to sign the Instrument of Accession, which would make Kashmir a part of India. And sign he did.

The rest is history. Indian troops were airlifted and on 3 November 1947, Major Somnath Sharma of 4 Kumaon Regiment was martyred defending Badgam, Srinagar. He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra. Four other brave hearts were awarded PVCs – Naik Jadunath Singh of the Rajput Regiment, Second Lieutenant RR Rane of the Bombay Sappers, CHM Piru Singh Shekhawat of the Rajputana Rifles and Lance Naik Karam Singh of the Sikh Regiment.

The UN brokered ceasefire resulted in Pakistan controlling a third of Kashmir. India controlled two-thirds of the state. 1500 Indian brave hearts were martyred and 3500 were injured. We counted 6000 Pakistanis dead on the battlefield, along with about 14000 injured.

This 740 km line separating India and Pakistan was called the cease-fire line. After the 1972 Shimla Accord, this was re-designated as the Line of Control.

Since, 1948 Pakistan has tried every strategy to take Kashmir from India. From wars in 1947-48 and 1965 to ill-planned diplomatic offensives worldwide, there is absolutely nothing that Pakistan has not done to make its Kashmir case stronger.

In 1999, Pakistan tried to take Kashmir by force again, this time in Kargil. The immediate operational aim was to cut of lines of communication and supply through Highway A1, and isolate Kashmir. It would also put pressure on Siachen glacier. The larger objective was to internationalize the Kashmir issue.

We all know how the Kargil War went for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s last great hope is fuelling terror in Kashmir. Terrorism is the preferred strategy because it gives Pakistan three advantages – terrorism is economically viable (no army involved), it offers plausible deniability (we are giving only moral support) and it can be passed of as a people’s revolt (UN Resolutions/ plebiscite not happening so people are angry).

This was Zia-ul-Haq’s favorite strategy of ‘death by a thousand cuts’. It had humbled a mighty superpower in Afghanistan. It is this very legacy of Zia that is orchestrating the implosion of Pakistan. The story of Pakistan, the Qila (fortress) of Islam, is unraveling at great speed.

While no one disputes the geo-strategic importance of Pakistan, one may have overstated the case a little too much. Being geographically narrow does fuel a sense of insecurity. No country wants to fight a war on its own soil. Enter Pakistan’s proclivity for creating “strategic depth”. Zones of direct influence (and indirect control through fifth columnists) ensure that when an enemy attacks (India in this case), it has to pass though its own areas, which are under Pakistan influence. Khalistan movement in Punjab, terrorism in Kashmir, Taliban in Afghanistan and Jundullah on the Iran border are markers on how Pakistan conducts foreign policy through other means.

However in Kashmir, Pakistan has faced two major problems. One, Kashmir is an integral part of India and hence, India is on a higher moral ground. Two, Pakistan lacks international credibility. Such is the lack of international credibility that Pakistan has been called “double-faced” on three different occasions on the floor of the US Senate. This is, admittedly, amongst the nicer adjectives used for Pakistan.

Pakistan has consistently failed in all its Kashmir endeavors, diplomatic and military.

Every year on 5 February Pakistan celebrates Kashmir Solidarity Day. It’s a national holiday when half the nation sleeps and the other half burns government property.

For 70 years, successive Pakistani governments, both military and democratic, have been riding the Kashmir tiger. Each election, political parties promise “azaadi” for Kashmir. No promise of electricity, jobs, roads or water holds such allure. Kashmir is peddled as the panacea for all of Pakistan’s ills. They truly believe that once Kashmir is part of Pakistan, the roads will be wider, the cities safer and the cricket team victorious.

And this is why Kashmir continues to burn.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

Twitter: @majorgauravarya

NOTE:

“Pakistan – The Jihad Factory” is a two-part article. Part-1 deals with the history and genesis of Pakistan’s obsession with Kashmir, and why Kashmir is so important for Pakistan. Part-2 (next week) will deal with how Pakistan’s ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) recruits young terrorists both from Pakistan and Indian Kashmir, how indoctrination and brainwashing is done, how and where training is given, and how money is funneled into India to fuel terrorism. It will also speak about the role of Hafiz Saeed and the importance of Lashkar-e-Toiba for the Pakistan Army and the ISI.

 

THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE

Kashmir continues to burn. Kashmiris continue to beat their chests in an unprecedented outpouring of grief over the death of Burhan Wani and the rest of India continues to ask – why this grief over the death of a terrorist?  Was he a hero to Kashmiris?

Well, the truth is that Burhan Muzaffar Wani died on 8 July. And till 7 July, no one outside Kashmir had heard of him. He was known inside Kashmir, but had a niche audience. On 9 July 2016, Burhan Muzaffar Wani became a poster boy for Kashmiri separatists and certain media houses in India. Why and how did this happen?

Burhan Wani was popular amongst the young and radicalised of Kashmir. He was also popular with the security forces. Both wanted to meet him, but for different reasons.

It is important to deconstruct the manufactured myth surrounding him before it solidifies into something tangible. India must know the truth.

On 26 May 2014 Narendra Damodardas Modi took over as the 14th Prime Minister of India. Pakistan had already branded him a Hindutva-RSS man, who they thought would focus specifically on a domestic right-wing agenda like the Ram Mandir and the alienation of Indian Muslims from the mainstream. Pakistan planned its India policy based on these assumptions, and as usual wrapped Kashmir around it.

None of what Pakistan assumed, happened. Instead, Modi surprised everyone and went on a global charm offensive. He did three things very effectively.

1…he reached out to the Indian diaspora in all the countries that he travelled to and was received like a global statesman. 2…he pitched for massive foreign investment in India, and got it. 3…he adopted a constant and consistent policy of isolating Pakistan on the global stage.

As an extension of point…3, Modi started strengthening diplomatic ties with important members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a close-knit body of 57 Muslim majority countries.

It is because of point # 3 that Burhan Muzaffar Wani became a manufactured celebrity overnight.

India considerably improved and cemented its relationship with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel, all at the same time. Those who understand foreign affairs will agree that not only is this truly remarkable, but till it happened, was thought to be entirely impossible.

For the past seven decades, Pakistan has based its foreign policy on 5 parameters only.

1. Its friendship with China. Its role in the 60’s of playing mediator between USA and China cemented this relationship.

2. Its geostrategic location, with land access to Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia (through Afghanistan) and India. It also has two warm water ports; Port Qasim & Karachi Port Trust in Karachi, and Gwadar, a semi-operational port in Balochistan, built and operated by the Chinese.

3. Kashmir and the related UN Resolutions.

4. Being US’s front line ally in the war against terror, and using this handle to get massive foreign aid.

5. Being the only Muslim nuclear weapons state.

As Modi collected frequent flier miles and the position of Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif took a beating at home, three things happened in the 2nd week of July 2016.

To the untrained eye, they may seem totally unrelated. But related they are, like conjoined triplets.

On July 9, Burhan Wani was elevated to dead rock-star terrorist status.

On 14 July, huge billboards started appearing in major Pakistani cities urging Gen. Raheel Sharif to take over Pakistan and establish military rule. No one could initially figure out who was responsible for this and what was the motive – http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/16/world/asia/pakistan-raheel-sharif-nawaz-sharif.html?_r=0

On 16 July, Imran Khan, the Chairman of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf said that the people of Pakistan would distribute sweets if the Pakistan Army took over the country https://www.geo.tv/latest/109592-Pakistanis-will-distribute-sweets-if-army-takes-over-Imran

Pakistan has traditionally been an insecure state. Conspiracy theories are a national pastime. For seventy years, it has been teetering on the edge. In the last 14 months, Modi pushed it over that edge. An isolated Pakistan was desperate for a foreign policy win. It had suffered a hiding of hideous proportions very recently in the US Senate. Pakistan has been called a rouge state, compulsive nuclear proliferator, and the Haqqani network a veritable arm of the ISI, all this on the floor of the US Senate, by its number one partner in the war on terror, the United States of America.

When Burhan Wani was killed, the Generals at GHQ Rawalpindi, the purveyors of all foreign policy disasters of the Fortress of Islam, had a brainwave. Why not project Burhan Wani as an image, a representation of how brutal Indian occupation in Kashmir was? Why not shake up the world’s conscience?

So on the evening of 8 July, images of a “young and handsome Burhan Wani” donning a stylish camouflage combat dress surrounded by his followers started going viral. A person, whom very few knew of, suddenly became a celebrity, thanks to the Inter Services Intelligence of the Pakistan Army, and its paid stooges in the Kashmir Valley.

A few days later when the hype had reached critical mass, Pakistan did what it does best. It shot itself in the foot. It declared 19 July a “black day” in honor of Burhan Wani, the leader of a designated terrorist outfit. It then shifted the date to 20 July.

The elevation of a hitherto unknown terrorist to a hero is nothing more than the Pakistani Army trying to reassert itself domestically, using Kashmir. Why Kashmir? Because that is all that aid-dependent Pakistan has ever used in 70 years. It has nothing else to use.

It has denied its own citizens for 70 years, exhorting them to sacrifice at the alter of Kashmir. But it is not Nawaz Sharif, who lives on a 400-acre farmhouse near Lahore, who sacrifices. It is not the Pakistani Army Generals who zealously guard their corner plots in Islamabad and Lahore, who sacrifice. It is the common man on the street that sacrifices, who gives donations to Hafiz Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Toiba and sends his sons to die in Kashmir.

During the Afghan jihad, Gen. Zia ul Haq, President of Pakistan called Lt. Gen. Akhtar Abdur Rehman, the then Director General of the ISI and told him, “The water in Afghanistan must boil at the right temperature”. Zia wanted to create enough problems for the Russians in Kabul, but without pushing them over the edge. He feared Soviet retaliation. The ISI has now taken a leaf out of Zia’s book. It is trying to boil the water at the right temperature in Kashmir. But  it is faced with two problems.

One, India is not the Soviet Union and we are in Kashmir, which is an integral part of India. Two, Pakistan is an aid-dependent country with ZERO international credibility. The global community does not remember the last time Pakistan spoke the truth.

And these are precisely the reasons why the myth of Burhan Wani, so synthetically created, will crumble.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

TWITTER: @majorgauravarya

#kashmir #indianarmy

LETTERS FROM KASHMIR

The response to my Facebook post “Open Letter to Burhan Wani” has been overwhelming. I received responses from all over the world. And Kashmir.

There were the usual threats of violence, many accused me of glorifying the armed forces and some shared horrifying stories of human rights abuses. Interestingly, there were some very intelligent and well thought through opinions and voices from Kashmir, who while condemning the violence by state agencies, also condemned the violence perpetrated by the Hurriyat and local leaders, including militants.

These young men and women spoke about conflict fatigue and posttraumatic stress of having to spend an entire life in an operational zone. I can only imagine.
I also received letters from the rest of India, some extremely unflattering. Many left leaning opinions pointed out that the Indian Army was an occupation force and was murdering Kashmiris. Karl Marx was dragged out of his grave and made to bear witness.

The vast majority of Indians have been absolutely supportive. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I wish to share my point of view and in many ways, it is the view of many brother officers of the Indian Army. What I am writing is NOT the official Indian Army line. This is just what many faujis think privately.
It is important for young Kashmiris to know what we think, too. Communication needs to be both ways.

The army is a blunt instrument. Think of it as a broadsword, not a scalpel. It functions on the basic premise of massive disproportionate force. We do not particularly enjoy laying a cordon at 0300 hrs and doing a house-to-house search. It gives us absolutely no pleasure to search cars of civilians or do public pat downs. The army is an armed force of the union and is trained in defense and attack, amongst a million other things. We would rather train, defend the borders and fight wars. Dealing with civilians in the counter insurgency grid is a pain.

Then why is the army there in Kashmir? Well, the answer is fairly simple. The militant dimensions of the entire Kashmir problem are artificially manufactured by Pakistan and its “deep state” agencies. The Kashmir issue was and remains primarily a political problem, but Pakistan has left no stone unturned in making it a military flashpoint. Four wars and two insurgencies have proved beyond doubt that Pakistan is militarily inferior to India. In 1971, they lost half their country. In the next 20 years, they are likely to lose 44% of their landmass. I am referring specifically to Balochistan.

I am sure you would have heard of Pakistan’s Don Quixote-like obsession with strategic depth. That is why Punjab burned when the masters of strategy at Rawalpindi launched the Khalistan movement. And that is why Kashmir still burns. Pakistan is geographically narrow. Too narrow to sustain a lightning armour thrust through Punjab, onwards to Lahore. And too narrow to sustain an infantry assault through Muzzafarabad (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). Hence, the need to create artificial depth so that our fifth columns within India bog down our own forces during war.

You, my Kashmiri brothers and sisters, are part of the strategic depth plan of the Pakistan Army. Pakistan went about this plan in a systematic manner. In the late eighties they introduced armed militancy in Kashmir. Young men were taken to Pakistan to be trained and were then sent back into India. That was not a resounding success because Kashmiris did not fight with the ruthless abandon of the Afghans and they still thought of the Kashmir issue as a political dispute. Look at the history of Pakistan. The army has resolved all political disputes. They do that by simply sending the 111 Brigade stationed at Islamabad to take over the country. Yes, they have a dedicated Infantry Brigade just for this.

As a next step, Pakistan sent in Afghan and Punjabi fighters into Kashmir. These were battle-hardened warriors who had fought the Soviet army during the Afghan jihad and who were unemployed, staying in putrid refugee camps in Peshawar or in non-descript towns of South Punjab (Pakistan). And into this toxic mix Pakistan introduced Islam. Not the gentle Sufi Islam of Kashmir, but the Wahhabi Islam of Saudi Arabia. Those fighting against the Indian Army became Mujahideen (holy warriors) and the fight itself became Jihad (holy war).

A lot of images have been circulated on social media by a few Kashmiris, which have shocked Indians. Images of kids being shot with pellet guns and women being manhandled. These images are not the complete truth. They are meant to convey a message to Indians and tell them, “Look at your forces. They are murdering Kashmiris and killing innocent children”.

Let me tell you the truth.

These protestors and stone throwers never target a large cantonment or large presence of security forces. They pick a BSF or CRPF picket, which may have ten to 15 people or more. Then they get a mob of hundreds of people to surround the picket and start pelting stones. Women and children are placed in front. As the mob advances, the pressure inside the picket grows. Firing starts and in the smoke, sound, pressure and confusion a bullet or rubber pellet hits a child, because the child is placed right in front of the soldiers. The child dies.Why would a mob deliberately take a 5-year-old child to throw stones at a security force picket? Why would they place women in front when the firing starts? Because the dead body of a child makes for a perfect photo op for the Hurriyat leaders and adds fuel to the fire. The Hurriyat is not responsible for law and order, development, roads and electricity, education or any of those things that “leaders” are supposed to do all over the world. They accept money from Pakistan’s ISI to formant trouble in Kashmir. That’s all they do.

With all the moral authority at my disposal, I wish to tell my countrymen one thing – a soldier is also a father and a son. No soldier deliberately shoots at a child. And in the rare case that there is a bad apple amongst us, the Army Act ensures immediate, severe and deliberate action. Hundreds of cases have been disposed off in typical army fashion – “fast and ruthless”. We are not only a powerful army. We are a moral army.

Why do the security forces use rubber pellets to disperse crowds? Why do the “bloodthirsty security forces” not use real bullets? Because the intent is to stop, not kill. Do you really think that Kashmiris would have been out on the road throwing stones if they knew that the BSF had 3 mounted Light Machine Guns in the alley? I think not.
Most of the stone throwers are not political activists. They are daily wage laborers who are paid to do this work.

The Hurriyat is a sickness typical to Kashmir. They do politics on the dead body of children. How are they different from ISIS?

Who funds the lavish lifestyle of the Hurriyat leaders? Who buys the convoys ofSUVs and who pays their office bearers? What is the source of funds of the Hurriyat? Who has elected them? Once you have the answers, you will understand why the Indian Army is involved. And that is why the military solution to the Kashmir problem (otherwise political) lies in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Someone from Kashmir wrote a response to my article and mentioned about how he was slapped by the security forces when he was just ten. This is condemnable and in the strongest possible terms. My article was about Burhan Wani only, and not about security forces violations. And if every ten year old who is slapped, picks up a gun, we are going to have a lot of dead 23 year olds.

Kashmir’s “azaadi” sponsors, Pakistan, have very low international credibility. By extension, the so-called Kashmir issue has very low international credibility. Think about it for a while. The primary (and only) supporter of Kashmir’s secession from India is a nuclear proliferator, a global leader in exporting terrorism and an international migraine. All these fine words from Pakistan’s chief ally in the war on terror, the US of A.
Pakistan wants a referendum in Kashmir. If it weren’t so tragic, it would have been funny. A country that has murdered three of its elected prime ministers (I am including Benazir Bhutto here), had four military coups and recently celebrated its first democratic transfer of power in 70 years (because most of the earlier prime ministers were killed, exiled or both) has a view on democracy and referendum.

Think of Pakistan as an Urdu speaking North Korea.

Are Kashmiris really so naïve as to believe that IF Kashmir achieves this so-called “azaadi”, Pakistan will quietly step back and allow Kashmir to be independent? Has Pakistan crushed the aspirations of Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluchis, Pashtun, Hazaras and other citizens of Pakistan for 70 years so that Kashmiris can walk into the sunset with music playing in the background? No Sir. For Pakistan,this is the biggest property deal in living memory, Kashmiris be damned.

The primary solution of the Kashmir issue is political. The day Kashmiris try to find salvation within the pages of the Constitution of India, they will find true “azaadi”. Over 1.2 billion Indians find solace in those pages, and so will the Kashmiris.

Burhan Wani’s successor has a code name – Mehmood Ghaznavi. They could have named him Changez Khan and he would still have a remarkably short shelf life. A 7.62 mm full metal jacket round does not respect fancy historical names. The 7.9 g (122 gr) projectile flies at 2350 feet per second and destroys whatever it comes into contact with.

Mehmood Ghaznavi, the moment you were declared successor, you were a dead man. They have started hunting you. They will kill you. Soon.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

OPEN LETTER TO GEN. RAHEEL SHARIF COAS, PAKISTAN ARMY

Dear General,

I start by accepting that the difference in seniority between us would take a remarkably gifted physicist to fathom. You are a serving general, Chief of the Pakistan Army, no less. And I am an ex-Indian Army officer, a sometime company commander of Charlie Company, 17 Kumaon Regiment. Having tabled the obvious, I must now state what is on my mind.

We are adversaries, not enemies. Your enemies sit beside you. I would expect a soldier of your remarkable caliber and wisdom to understand this. It is not the divisions to your East that threaten you. It is the hordes to your West that will unravel the story of Pakistan. You are the most credible leader that Pakistan has had for a long time. That, Sir, is not much of a compliment but that is all that is factually available. We do not want war with you. Truth be told, the last thing we want is a war with you. But the Indian Army is not ornamental, as you may have noted to your detriment in 1948, 1965, 1971 and Kargil.

I do not know if India supports the secessionist movement in Balochistan. Company commanders in charge of a post and a few bunkers are normally not privy to such information. However, I hope we do. Do we fund the MQM? Not something that a person of my insignificance would know. However, I hope we do.

In the last 72 hours, we have lost our brothers (officers and other ranks) not to the terrorists whom you breed and train to give you strategic depth, but to their own extraordinary heroism. They could have put an 84 mm Carl Gustav HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) round into the buildings that were housing the terrorists. God knows, the Israelis and the Americans would have done so gladly. But that would have meant loss of innocent lives; something that our code of honour does not allow. So these brave young men took bullets to their chest. Just like that.

These games of brinksmanship that you think you are so adept at playing have started to backfire. The snakes that you bred in your backyard for biting India are now biting your own. They are killing your children in schools, your young in mosques and your people in their beds. And yet your obsession with India refuses to abate. You still do not realize that your snakes owe you no loyalty. It is in their nature to bite. They eat their own.

The Indian Army is willing and capable of extraordinary violence. We fight and we train. That’s all that we ever do. On 6 December 1971 you lost your elder brother, Maj. Rana Shabbir Sharif, Nishan-e-Haidar to an Indian army tank commander. I grieve for you. You lost half your country on 16 December 1971. I celebrate it.

Balochistan constitutes 44% of Pakistan’s landmass. Karachi contributes 20% to your GDP.

Sir, with the above stated facts reiterated for your kind information, you may want to reconsider and re-evaluate your policies vis-à-vis India.

And if it is really war and martyrdom that you want, fight the good fight…man to man…face to face. Don’t hide behind brainwashed Lashkar terrorists, teenage stone throwers in downtown Srinagar and traitors from JNU.

Maj. Rana Shabbir Sharif, Nishan-e-Haidar died fighting like an officer and a hero. Stop hiding behind facades. Make your brother proud.

We are waiting.

Respectfully,
Maj. Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
17th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment
Indian Army

#MajorGauravArya #adgpi

THANK YOU

Many friends have asked me why I write only about matters pertaining to the army and other defence issues. Do I have nothing else to talk about?

Well, for one, I am a fairly uni-dimensional person. I have led a pretty average life. Sometimes, below average. I am, self admittedly, not an achiever in any sense of the word.

The only miracle that has happened to me was OG in colour. And for that I may say “thank you” a million times but it will never be enough.

You taught me many things and this is what I took away, the OLQs that still form the cornerstone of our collective lives.

1. Keep your word.
2. Be loyal, always.
3. Lead by example.
4. India first, every time.
5. Respect women.
6. Be selfless.
7. Take responsibility, not credit.
8. No fear.
9. Do the right thing, and damn the consequences.
10. Stand up for those weaker than you.
11. The regiment is your identity. The paltan is your family.

You taught me that integrity is binary. You taught me that an officer displayed OLQs when no one was looking.

I left you 16 years back and this is perhaps the greatest mistake of my life. We do things that we do not understand. And then we live with regret.

The designation has become fancy, the cabin larger. I have perfected a tone of voice that is very corporate, sophisticated and a total put on. But sometimes, it’s good to remind people that beneath all that nonsense, the OC of Charlie Company 17 Kumaon is alive and kicking. All of a sudden there is sometimes a whiplash of a command, brooking no discussion. It leaves stunned people in its wake. All of us OG types have a “drill square” voice hidden inside. And when it is unleashed, it descends like a Hellfire missile on a soft target.

I want you to know that I am not the epitome of OLQs. I falter. But I also want you to know that I always try my best. I believe in you, and what you taught me.

Whatever I am is because of you. If you ever deem me worthy of your call, I will answer.

You will always have my everlasting gratitude.

Maj. Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
17 Kumaon Regiment
Indian Army