Kashmir: The Storm center of the World
Table of Contents
   Index
   About the Author
   Foreword
   Abode of Kashyap
   The Making of J&K
   Hundred Years of Dogra Rule
   Quit Kashmir Movement
   Hari Singh's Dilemma
   Accession to India
   First Indo-Pak War
   Bungling at U.N.
   Kashmir Divided
   The Dixon Proposals
   Shadow of Cold War
   The Chinese Factor
   Indo-Pak War of 1965
   Indo-Pak War of 1971
   The Great Betrayal
   Back to Square One
   War by Proxy
   The Way Out
   Appendix
   Book in pdf format  
   Official Site  

Koshur Music

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Chapter 17

War by Proxy

Ignominous defeat suffered by Pakistan in the war of 1971 and loss of East Pakistan without gaining Kashmir has been rankling in the minds of people and rulers of Pakistan ever since. Cadets of Pakistan's military academy at Kakul are known to swear an oath that they will avenge the defeat of 1971. That explains why the military budget has been continously rising even though Pakistan has been cut to half in size and population. It has also been pursuing its nuclear program in a determined way and is reported to be in possession of a few atom bombs and nuclear war-heads.

As regards Kashmir it decided to change its tactics. Instead of making another direct armed assault from outside it decided to create favorable conditions for achieving its objectives "from within". Sh. Abdullah's return to power in the state in 1975 came handy to it.

As stated earlier, Sh. Abdullah had not changed his spots. The way Congress party tried to divest him of power once again in 1977 made him more circumspect and determined to have his way somehow. He was no longer suspect in the eyes of Pakistan and its agents and supporters in Kashmir. They appreciated his change of tactics and were prepared to extend him all co-operation in his confrontation with New Delhi.

The change of government at New Delhi in 1977 also helped him. Prime Minister Morarji Desai saw to it that election to the State Assembly held in July 1977 were fair and free. That enabled him to ride back to power on his own strength. Janata Government of which Bhartiya Jan Sangh was a major Partner could have cut the wings of Sh. Abdullah and ended the uncertainty about Kashmir's accession to India by abrogating article 370 vf the Indian constitution. But the volte face of Jan Sangh leadership on this issue proved to be a shot in Abdullah's arm. He went ahead with this plan of making administrative apparatus of the state amenable to his plan and responsive to his intentions.

Soviet military involvement in Afghanistan in 1979 and return of Mrs. Gandhi to power at New Delhi in 1980 created a new situation. Attention of Pakistan got diverted to Afghanistan. It became the main conduit for the supply of US arms and dollars to Afghan rebels. Soviet Union then wanted India to break Pakistan's back, Pakistan on its part decided to bog down India in Punjab by extending support to Khalistani separatists. Sh. Abdullah therefore could go ahead with his plans consolidating his position by Islamizing and indoctrinating the administr~tive machinery of Kashmir with impunity.

Farooq Abdullah succeeded his father as Chief Minister on September 11, 1982. Sh. Abdullah was reported to have left a political will or testament for the guidance of his successors. But it was never made public. But according to knowledgeable sources he had advised Farooq never to trust Mrs. Gandhi. Farooq Abdullah was fully committed to the ideas and ideals of his father. He was not handicapped by the emotional attachment and so.ne feeling of gratefulness that Sh. Abdullah had toward Nehru dynasty. On the other hand he had developed close links with Pakistan based Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front during his long stay in Britain. He had also acquired British citizenship. He therefore could go farther than his father in India-baiting without any qualms of conscience.

Farooq's confrontation with Mrs. Gandhi and Congress Government at New Delhi began soon after his elevation to the gaddi of Chief Minister. Elections to the State Assembly were due in June 1983. He began to forge links with regional Parties and also had long parleys with Bhindranwale, the leader of Khalistan faction of Akalis at Amritsar. He expressed his happiness over the Congress debacle in Andhra Pradesh in January 1983. No wonder therefore that the attempt to force an alliance between his National Conference and Congress to contest the election jointly failed. He then began to project Congress (I) as Hindu Congress. He was reported to have said in one of his speeches that: "If the Hindu Congress" won in Kashmir, the Kashmiri Muslims would meet the fate of Muslims of Assam." This stand endeared him to Kashmiri Muslims who were already being swayed by Islamic fundamentalism and propaganda of Pakistan. He was returned to power with 46 seats in a House of 75; Ccngress got 26 seats.

Confrontation between National Conference and Farooq A bdullah, with Congress (I) and Mrs. Gandhi continued until he was replaced as Chief Minister by his rival G.M. Shah who claimed support of 12 members of the Assembly who had defected from National Conference in July 1984. Twenty six congress legislators extended their support to Shah government from outside.

G.M. Shah was known to be a clever and unscrupulous manipulator. He had developed close links with pro-Pak elements in Kashmir when Sh. Abdullah was in wilderness. He tried to bolster up Jamaat-e-Islami in Kashmir and Shiv Sena in Jammu to further Communalize the politics of the State. The communal violence of 1986 in Southern Kashmir in which scores of Hindu temples were destroyed and thousands of Hindus of Anantnag district were rendered homeless cooked his goose. It was alleged that Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, the President of Congress (I) who coveted the Chief Ministership and was as unscrupulous as G.M. Shah had a hand in organising that communal carnege. It gave Hindus of Kashmir a fore taste of what was in store for them.

G.M. Shah government was dismissed and Governor's rule was imposed on Jammu and Kashmir State in March, 1988. Governor Jagmohan who then assumed all executive powers acquitted himself very well. He toned up the administration and accelerated the pace of development in all the three regions of the state.

Fresh election was held in March 1987, Farooq Abdullah had learnt his lesson. He wanted to get back to power somehow. He succeeded in developing a personal equation with Rajiv Gandhi who had succeeded his mother Mrs. Gandhi in October 1984. This helped him to forge an alliance with Congress (I). It was not to the linking of a good section of Kashmiri Muslims.

Pro-Pak Islamic groups and parties of Kashmir Valley then forged unit;y under the banner of an organization called Muslim United Front (M.U.F) to challenge Congress National Conference alliance. It was dominated by Jamaat-e-Islami and its youth wing Jamaat-e-Tulbs.

The M.U.F. manifesto pledged to free the Muslims of Kashmir from the Brahmin imperialism of Delhi, and New Oelhi's unwarranted interference in the affairs of the state." M.U.F. campaigned on anti-India fundamentalist platform. It stopped short of challenging Kashmir accession to India to avoid disqualification under the Electoral Law. It could win only four seats though it polled about 30% vote in the valley. It alleged that Farooq Abudllah had rigged the election.

The new coalition government of congress (I) and national conference under the leadership of Farooq Abdullah which took office in March 1987 faced stiff opposition of M.U.F. and hostility of a large section of Kashmir Muslims from the very beginning. Farooq Abdullah was conscious of it. He therefore began to indulge in tight rope-walking. He spoke the language of Islamic fundamentalists in Kashmir and posed to be secularist in Jammu and a nationalist at New Delhi. When a depution of Arya Samaj led by its leader Swami Anand Bodh Saraswati, met him for assistance to rebuild Arya Samaj temple at Srinagar which had been destroyed by Pakistani elements, he advised it not to rebuild the temple because it would be destroyed again. That gave an inkling of his mind.

Farooq also tried to win support of Khalistani elements in the State. It was widely believed that Hindu Sikh riots in Jammu in 1988 was indirectly engineered by him because he gave permission for a Sikh procession against the considered advice of district authorities. When the author met him at Jammu after these riots he justified the raising of pro-Pakistan slogans and asserted that Sikhs and Muslims have as much right on India as Hindus. This uncalled for outburst gave his real self away. It became clear that he was playing a double game and could not be trusted to safeguard national interests in that strategic border state. President Zia of Pakistan decided to exploit the situation in Kashmir and Islamized administrative apparatus in the state to launch his "operation Topak". Another factor that influenced his thinking was Soviet decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

The decision of USA and resultant thaw in the cold war between the two super powers shattered his dream of some kind of confederation of Islamic Afghanistan and Islamic Pakistan. He then decided to turn his attention ta Kashmir. Large stocks of U.S. supplied arms for Afghan Mujahids and feasibility of diverting some of Afghan insurgents to Kashmir also encouraged him to adopt such a course.

According to the information obtained by the R.A.W., the Indian intelligence outfit, General Zia addressed a meeting of selected military commanders and top bosses of I.S.I. (Inter Services Intelligence) in April 1988 in which he spelt out his plan. According to the R.A.W. report Present Zia said: "Gentlemen, I have spoken on this subject at length before, therefore, I will leave out the details. As you know, due to our preoccupation in Afghanistan, in the service of Islam, I have not been able to put these plans before you earlier. Let there be no mistake, however, that our aim remains quite clear and firm and that is the liberation of the Kashmir Valley - our Muslim Kashmiri brothers cannot be allowed to stay with India for any length of time, now. In the past we had opted for, hamhanded military options and therefore, failed. So, as I have mentioned before, we will now keep our military option for the last moment as a coup de grace, if and when necessary. Our Kashmiri brethren in the valley though with us in their hearts and minds, are simple-minded folks and do not easily take to the type of warfare to which, say, a Punjabi or an Afghan takes to naturally, against foreign dominion.

"The Kashmiris however have a few qualities which we can exploit. First, his shrewdness and intelligence, second, his power to persevere under pressure; and the third, if I may so say, he is a master of political intrigue. If we provide him means through which he can best utilize these qualities he will deliver the goods. Sheer brute force is in any case not needed in every type of warfare, especially so in the situation obtaining in the Kashmir Valley, as I have explained earlier.

Here we must adopt those methods of combat which the Kashmiri mind can grasp and cope with in other words, a coordinated use of moral and physical means, other than military operations, which will destroy the will of the enemy, damage his political capacity and expose him to the world as an oppressor. This aim, gentlemen, shall be achieved in three phases.

Phase 1

"In the first phase, which may if necessary, last a couple of years, we will assist our Kashmiri brethren in getting hold of the power apparatus of the State by political subversion and intrigue. We must therefore ensure that certain "favored politicians", from the ruling elite be selected who would collaborate with us in subverting all effective organs of the State? In brief, our plan for Kashmir which will be code named as "Op Topac" will be as follows. (a) "A low level insurgency against the regime, so that it is under siege, but does not collapse as we would not yet want central rule imposed by Delhi. (b) "We plant our chosen men in all the key positions; they will subvert the police forces, financial institutions the communications network and other important organizations. (c) "We whip up anti-Indian feelings amongst the students and peasants, preferably on some religious issues, so that we can enlist their active support for rioting and anti-government demonstrations. (d) "In collaborations with Sikh extremists, create chaos and terror in Jammu to divert attention from the valley at a critical juncture and discredit the regime even in the Hindu mind.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Phase 2 (a) "Exert maximum pressure on the Siachen Kargil and Rajauri Poonch sectors to force the Indian army to deploy reserve formation outside the main Kashmir valley. (b) "Attack and destroy base depots and HQ located at Srinagar, Pattan, Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipur and Chowkiwala by covert action at a given time. (c) "Finally a special force under selected retired officers belonging to Azad Kashmir, with the hard core consisting of Afghabs, will be ready to attack and destroy airfields radio stations, block Banihal tunnel and the Kargil Leh Highway.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Phase 3 (a) "Detailed plans, for the liberation of Kashmir Valley and establishment of an independent Islamic State in the third phase, will follow. We do not have much time. Maximum pressure must be exerted before the general elections in India and before Indian army reserves which are still bogged down in Sri Lanka become available. By the grace of God, we have managed to accumulate large stocks of modern arms and ammunition from US consignments intended for Afghan Mujahideen. This will help our Kashmiri brethren achieve their goals. (b) Preparation for this phase must be made by means of a big exercise-the biggest ever held in Pakistan. (e) "I need not emphasize any further that a deliberate and objective assessment of the situation must be insured at each stage, otherwise a stalemate will follow with no good for Pakistan."
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The first phase of "OP-TOPAC" was put into action by the middle of 1988. It began with anti-India tirade all over the valley and mushrooming of a number of underground militant organizations like J.K.L.F. and Hizb-i-Islami. The M.U.F. members resigned their membership of the State Assembly and began to support under ground activities openly. Farooq Abdullah and his government turned a Nelson's eye toward such activists. But he kept Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in good humor and therefore cared little about the criticism in the Indian Press and growing resentment among Nationalists in all these three regions of the state.

The death of general Zia in a Pakistan Airforce accident in August 1988 made little difference to the execution of operation TOPAC. Apart from the fact that Benazir was not her own master and that Pak army under General Beg and I.S.I. had full grip over the President of Pakistan who held the whip hand, she too was as intransigent about Kashmir, for political and tactical reasons, as her opponents. The biggest military exercises of Pakistan named "Zarb-i-Momen" (Hit of the faithful) was held on schedule and General Beg claimed that Pak army was fully prepared not only for defense but also to carry war into the enemy's territory. The terminology, the timing and the areas selected for "Zarb-i-Momen" clearly showed that the exercises were a dress-rehearsal of a new war with Incia.

Change of government at New Delhi toward the end of November 1989 and the kidnapping of Rubiya, the daughter of the new Kashmir Home Minister at New Delhi, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, gave a new turn to the developing situation. There was a general suspicion that it was a pre-arranged affair. The release of the five top terrorists in exchange for Dr. Rubaiyya in Srinagar made it clear that the situation had beccome too grim and unless drastic steps were taken, Kashmir might be lost. The public outcry forced V.P. Government to send Jagmohan as Governor of the State for the second time. Jagmohan knew too much about Farooq Abdullah and his team which included some of "Pakistan's favored politicians." Farooq therefore resigned clearing the way for imposition of governor's rule.

It was later established that Rubaiya's kidnapping was a probing action of agents of Pakistan. It was neither a surprise for Rubaiyya, nor perhaps for her father. There was no danger to her life that perhaps explains why all plans to free her by trained commando were vetoed.

Jagmohan with his commitment to national interests, deep understanding of men and affairs in Kashmir and vast administrative experience, was able to turn the tables on Pak agents and terrorist within a short time. This was not to the liking of the friends of Pakistan, and pseudo secularists. Bhartya Janta Party (B.J.P.) which, with a strength of about 90 members in Lok Sabha, held a whip hand, lacked proper leadership. It went on harping on keeping V.P. Singh government going instead of taking a principled and firm stand on any issues of national importance during the period of eleven months when it sustained V.P. Government. It withdraw its support on the issue of the arrest of its leader L. K. Advani and not on any substantive national issue. Had it taken a firm and unequivocal stand, it could have foiled the conspiracy to remove Jagmohan from Kashmir.

Exit of Jagmohan in May 1990 came as a relief to Pakistan and its agents in Kashmir. They have been on the rampage ever since. The indoctrinated Muslim bureaucracy has fulfilled the expectations of Pakistan. It has been waging a war of nerves against lndia from within. The prolonged strike of over one lakh Muslim employees proved that OP TOPAC as planned by Zia was moving on the charted course.

Jagmohan has given a detailed account of the growth of insurgency in Kashmir and the role of Sh. Abdullah and Farooq Abudllah on the one side and an indecisive leadership at New Delhi on the other in creating and aggravating the prevailing situation in Kashmir in his book, "My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir." Because of the inside information and documents available to him, his book is an authentic record of developments in Kashmir since 1981.

According to him, the role played by the two Abdullahs has been very dubious throughout. Farooq had been a part of the JKLF outfit during his long sojourn in Britain. His speeches of those days which were repeated by the Pak Radio in January 1990, clearly gave out his commitment to "Independence" for Kashmir. According to Farooq's own admission before the India mediapersons in 1990, he had asked his National Conference workers to go to Pakistan to get training in arms. They have been collaborating with JKLF insurgents. It is significant that during the years when Zia's Operation TOPAC has been taking shape in the valley, Farooq has been keeping away from Kashmir. He has been spending most of his time in UK since 1988.

Jagmohan has taken George Fernandes whom V.P. Singh appointed his Minister for Kashmir Affairs also to task for clandestine meetings with insurgents over his head and for helping those who have been carrying on a campaign of disinformation in favor of insurgents in India and the world. His indictment of successive governments of India is as incisive as his indictment of Abdullah.

He has made it clear that the "infirmities and negative forces that beset the Indian social, political and moral order and are at root cause of Kashmir troubles can be removed only by a reformed rejuvenated and motivated India with a new vision and not by an Indian that has become a hunting ground for small politics and whose shallow and superficial approach has exceeded all limits in Kashmir."

Things have been deteriorating since the recall of Jagmohan from Kashmir. Fall of the V.P. Singh government and its replacement by the Chandra Shekhar government in November, 1990 made things worse, because Chandra Shekhar was totally dependent on the support of the Rajiv Congress. Rajiv in his turn was in the pocket of Farooq Abdullah who suddenly returned to India and began to have parleys for revival of state assembly and his re-induction as chief minister. Fall of the Chandra Shekhar government and ordering of fresh elections for Lok Sabha put cold water on his plans and he returned to UK.

A new situation was created by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 and emergence of Congress as the largest party but fully short of clear majority in the new Lok Sabha. P.V. Narsimha Rao, who has been leading a minority congress government at New Delhi since June 21, 1991, is an antinationalist with a long record of service to the country. But he is handicapped. Apart from the minority character of his government, he is being pressured by the Rajiv lobby to the Nehru-Rajiv line on Kashmir and other issues.

Meanwhile, developments in Pakistan and rapid changes in the USSR where communism has been discarded and communist system has been dismantled have created new challenges and opportunities for India to put its home in order and adopt a realistic and national approach to the Kashmir problem.

Nawaz Sharif, who succeeded Benazir Bhutto as prime minister of Pakistan in 1990, has stepped up support to Kashmiri insurgents and launched a world-wide diplomatic offensive against India over Kashmir. The resolution passed by the conference of Islamic countries in July, 1991 supported the Pak stand on Kashmir.

The situation inside the Valley, where Pak trained and supported insurgents have again the upper hand is quite tempting for Pakistan. In a way, it is now or never situation so far as Pakistan is concerned.

But its internal situation and the sea change in the international situation because of developments in the USSR are acting as a danger in Pakistan. It can no longer bank on the USA. On the other hand, the end of Nehru dynasty has opened the way for the rise of new leadership at New Delhi which may discard the Nehruvian policy in regard to Kashmir and adopt a nationalist approach together with a reciprocal policy toward Pakistan.

Despite these handicaps, Pakistan may be impelled by the situation it has created in Kashmir to go to the logical end. Therefore the possibility of another Indo- Pak war which may drive both into a third world war cannot be ruled out. That points to the urgency of finding a feasible solution of the problem at the earliest.

Kashmir: The Storm Center of the World

 

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