The army commander, Northern command, Lt Gen. Deepak Kapoor told FORCE (page 36, May 2006) that, “You must understand that infiltration is happening from other routes as well. We are now talking of J&K terrorists being involved in the Delhi blasts and the more recent blasts in Varanasi (the interview was done well before the recent Mumbai blasts). So if the terrorists are travelling out of J&K from other routes what stops them from travelling into the state from the same routes?” This suggests two things: First, infiltration into J&K is unstoppable as the LC is no longer the sole route of entering the state. And second, as terrorists infiltrate from all available routes, their area of interest is no longer confined to J&K state. This is the real worrying bit and leads to the second element of Pakistan’s changed strategy: Islamabad is attempting to destroy the secular fabric of India in a planned and co-ordinated fashion. This is being done in two steps. On the one hand, Islamabad has succeeded in bringing most of the Jehadi or foreign (Lashkar-e-Tayabba and Jaish-e-Mohammad) and J&K based terrorists (Hizbul Mujahideen) under its umbrella. On the other hand, these terrorists under guidance from the Pakistani ISI have formed local terrorist modules in various states in collaboration with anti-national and disgruntled elements across the length and breath of India, including the Naxal that have infested large parts of Central and South India.
The third strand of Pakistan’s strategy is increased international pressure (read, the US) on India to continue with the peace process despite the provocative stance adopted by Pakistan; Islamabad has enhanced its terrorist infrastructure in PoK, and is creating new modules across India to incite communal violence. Pakistan sponsored terrorism is no longer confined to J&K but has spilled into India’s heartland. What are India’s options?
It has the diplomatic option to continue the peace process with Pakistan while stressing to the world community that Islamabad must stop terrorism inside J&K. There is the political option whereby Delhi should continue the dialogue with the people of J&K, and assist in more people to people contacts across the LC divide. Then there is the intelligence option under which all intelligence agencies, civilian and in uniform, should work together to beat the growing terrorist tentacles. The military, however, would emphasise upon yet another option.
For example, speaking at the second anniversary of FORCE (August 2005), the chief of air staff, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi had eloquently argued that, “If India ever wants to exercise the option of changing this (status quo in J&K) then the only means — worthwhile means available to us — is through the medium of air and therefore I believe the aerospace power will play a major role.” The air force chief was certainly not suggesting that India use air power against terrorists, but was saying that should the conflict enlarge, the air force would play a decisive role. But why should the conflict enlarge? This of course would be the job of the Indian Army, and this is what Musharraf is worried about. The Indian armed forces have come a long way since the end of Operation Parakram on 16 October 2002. It now has the capability, will and a war winning strategy against Pakistan. There is little gainsaying that this has been communicated to the government as the last option should others produce no results.