Along with shock and anguish, there was hope in the Indian establishment after
the September 11 attacks. It was felt that now that terrorism had hit home at
the very citadel of American prosperity, the US would appreciate India’s
position vis a vis Pakistan (which had been exporting terrorism not only in
Kashmir but in other parts of India) better. Unfortunately, expediency dictated
that the US understands Pakistan’s position first as it launched the global war
on terrorism (GWOT) with the support of the international community. Pakistan
was its executing partner. India had to remain content with the assurance that
in the second phase of the GWOT India’s concerns would be addressed. However,
not just India, but the world in general, is still waiting for the second phase
to begin. Unfortunately, the US has got a bit distracted with problems in Iraq
and now probably Iran. If at all there was any doubt, then the US president made
the extra effort in his inaugural address to remove them by making it clear that
the much-publicised GWOT has turned into a US war. And obviously there is no
room in that for Indian concerns just yet.
Yet, it would be incorrect to say that 9/11 and the subsequent war in
Afghanistan did not have any impact on militancy/terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
A Kashmiri government official says that to begin with, international pressure
on India ceased. Moreover, the US put pressure on Pakistan that it has to stop
cross-border terrorism. Meanwhile, Pakistan President also changed his tune:
from supporting jihad in Kashmir, he claimed to be supporting only ‘morally and
principally’ the indigenous freedom struggle. Ironically, the immediate impact
on ground in Kashmir was increased violence. Just a month after the attack in
the US, terrorists attacked the Jammu and Kashmir assembly on 1 October 2001. On
December 13, they followed it up with an attack on Indian Parliament in New
Delhi, which enraged India enough to launch Operation Parakaram, ostensibly to
give Pakistan a taste of its own medicine. Encouraged by the US war in
Afghanistan, the initial thinking was that India should do to Pakistan what the
US was doing in Afghanistan. Both were just wars. Unfortunately, India missed
one small detail. Pakistan was orchestrating the US war in Afghanistan, its
troops were doing the dirty work for the US; hence, there was no way the US
would have allowed India to do anything against Pakistan at that moment. For
appearances’ sake, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf went on the national
network to condemn terrorism of all hues and shades and swore that he would not
allow his territory to be used by acts of terror. The purpose was two-fold: to
tell his domestic audience that the reversal of Pakistan’s policies in
Afghanistan was a pragmatic and a necessary step and also to impress upon the US
that he is doing his best not to provoke India into a war. If India persists
with the mobilisation of its troops then it would be the aggressor, which may
jeopardise the US war.
Sure enough, the sum total of the 10-month-long mobilisation was the assembly
elections in J&K in October 2002, which brought the People’s Democratic
Party-Congress alliance to power. Despite the fact that the Indian forces were
mobilised for war all along the Line of Control in J&K, the casualties in
terrorist violence in 2002 were quite high. There were more concerted and
coordinated attacks on security personnel and their family members as well.
Officially, the figure of deaths was 1,000 civilians and 400 security personnel.
But 2002 may have been a freak year because of the assembly elections as the
level of violence reduced in the following years.