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The News International, Friday, May 17, 2002
Indian assertions defy logic

By Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: Whenever a high-profile visitor particularly American comes to the region, an alarming violent incident takes place in the occupied Kashmir or India. It defies logic and reason that Pakistan would be involved in any of such violent act that is to Islamabad's worst disadvantage and to New Delhi's best advantage.

The prime objective of senior US diplomat Christina Rocca's air dash to India and Pakistan was to de-escalate the tension between the two South Asian nuclear rivals. Just hours before her arrival in India, 34 persons were killed in Kaluchak near Jammu and without any impartial inquiry or investigation, Pakistan is accused of it.

Only a stupid person would say that those on a suicide mission would have their identification papers with them. Indian claims are beyond comprehension. This time again, India has indulged in its favourite pastime of levelling wild accusations against Pakistan. Since word go, Pakistan has demanded a proper inquiry into the incident. India hasn't paid any attention to this plea.

Shortly after the suicide bombing in Karachi that also killed 11 French engineers and technicians, Pakistan invited French investigators and other countries having sophistication in investigating such terrorist incidents to help trace the perpetrators. But India prefers not to follow such a practice for obvious reasons. "We had nothing to hide and wanted a thorough investigation by independent people, so we invited foreign experts," Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi, Director General, Inter Services Public Relations, told The News on Thursday. Why is India shy of an independent inquiry or investigation if it has nothing to hide? he asked.

The Indian pattern over the past few years has been the same during the visits of region by President Bill Clinton, the Japanese prime minister, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Central Investigation Agency Director Tenet and now Rocca, who all were on important missions. A number of innocent persons have fallen victim to terrorist incidents.

When these foreign leaders came to India, nearly three dozen Sikhs were massacred in Chattipura Singh in the occupied Kashmir; Hingu Yatra pilgrims were killed in the held Kashmir; attack on the occupied Kashmir Assembly in Srinagar took place, there was attack outside the Indian parliament building and now the Kaluchak incident.

These world leaders had come to the region to stress, among other points, reduction in Pakistan-India tension. There is near consensus in Pakistan that all these incidents were stage-managed by India to accentuate its accusations of Pakistan's involvement in terrorism. Many countries of the world are seeing through the Indian game and that is why they are not buying the Indian argument about Pakistan's involvement.

The threatening language being used by Indian leaders is nothing new. They have to when there is comprehensive frustration in India that the concentration of troops has failed to browbeat Pakistan. Indian leaders are now thinking to do something else to get rid of their frustration. Pakistan has condemned the civilian deaths and called for an impartial inquiry to unmask the motives of its perpetrators, Qureshi said.

If the target of the fighters was the army camp, why would they attack the bus. What happened was the Indian troops killed people while retaliating against the fighters' attack is the view prevailing among Pakistani circles.

 

The News International, Sunday, May 19, 2002
Senseless violence and accusations

Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema

The writer works for Islamabad Policy Research Institute

The killing of innocent civilians anywhere is an act that deserves prompt and strong condemnation. The recent spate of killings of innocent civilians in Pakistan as well as in Jammu is indeed deplorable and condemnable. Admittedly, the perpetrators of such acts tend to provide some form of justifications but such explanations rarely make any impact. Those involved in a freedom struggle or insurgency or an actual war may have a fairly convincing case for initiating or perpetuating violence, but what needs to be highlighted is that even such eventualities do not permit violence against innocent civilians.

The recent killing of civilians in Jammu by three gunmen wearing Indian army uniforms attracted quick and strong condemnation in Pakistan. As usual, the Indians blamed Pakistan without any proof. While this was not unusual, no sane individual in Pakistan could condone such senseless acts of violence. Unlike most Indian governments, it is somewhat admirable that Pakistani governments are often prompt in denouncing violence.

A larger question that needs some probing, however, is the identity of the Jammu violence perpetrators, their operative needs and compulsions pushing them to indulge in such a reprehensible act. Who were the attackers? Even before the injured were moved to a hospital, an Indian army official accused a Pakistan-based group called Jaish-i-Mohammad, which was banned in January 2002 with all its offices in Pakistan sealed. According to NAFA news agency in Srinagar, a little known group called al-Mansoorian claimed responsibility.

It is somewhat understandable if these wild accusations were made by sensational barrens of media or struggling politicians, but if these ludicrous statements are the product of the official policy, then a careful analysis of compulsions under which they are issued is needed. Unlike Vajpayee's reaction, the outburst by George Fernandes appears to be unfounded and rubbish. While Vajpayee asserted that such acts requires retaliation, he refrained from pointing fingers at anyone. However, Fernandes accused Pakistan of being involved without offering any proof. According to the Times of India, he even went to the extent of saying, "General Musharraf appeared to be training young people to indulge in such acts across the border."

Among the possible candidates who could have indulged in such a despicable act include the Indian agencies and their sponsored groups, the Jammu and Kashmir state authorities, militant groups operating in India and Kashmir and the militants along with their splinter groups based abroad including in Pakistan. Indian agencies are not just known to be actively involved in such activities but they also sponsor renegade groups to undertake nefarious missions in the target areas. The involvement of Indian agencies and state authorities in such activities has been proven so many times in the past that one does not need to recount them here. However, it might not be out of line to mention the Chittisinghpura, Allochabagh incident and high jacking drama of an inland flight in India.

What could be the objectives involved in such pursuits? One interpretation of the recent Jammu violence is that it was meant to damage the peace mission of Cristina Rocca. In a similar fashion, President Clinton's visit was preceded by the Chittisinghpura massacre. Just before Rocca's departure for South Asia, it was announced that Americans would make concerted efforts to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan. Since the Indian government is not ready for any kind of peace overtures, it will not be far fetched to assume that the Indian intelligence agencies are making concerted efforts to sabotage such attempts by one tactic or the other.

The second objective could be what can be referred to as "focus shifting". During the last two months, the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat and the involvement of state authorities in perpetrating atrocities against the Muslims have been the focus of the world attention. The BJP government's handling of the situation, Gujarat state administration's involvement and brutalities of militant Hindu groups have attracted flak not only internationally but also many Indians have asked probing questions. Apart from the main opposition party Congress' positive role in highlighting the criminal involvement of authorities and militant Hindu groups, many other groups and rational individuals have been constantly raising their voice against the ongoing developments in Gujarat. However, with vociferous noises, though ludicrous in contents, the BJP has now been able to shift the focus from Gujarat's anti-Muslim riots to Jammu's violence.

The third objective could be to create a situation with the purpose of accusing Pakistan of not doing enough. To ride a tiger may be easy but to get off it may not be. A critical review of some recent developments in India clearly reflects a total failure of the BJP administration. Its inability to resolve Ram Mandir-Babri Mosque controversy, electoral losses in almost nine states, initial reluctance to control Gujarat riots and later when the situation got out of control it appeared helpless to control Hindu zealots, no marked improvement in economy, extremely dismal performance in containing Kashmiri freedom fighters and finally raising tensions to unprecedented levels in order to pressurise Pakistan to agree to Indian demands, all point to a less rosy future. The Indians apparently believe that a situation is required that should result in greater gains for India in some form, which, in turn, would enable smooth dismounting of the tiger.

A linked candidate for such acts is the state authorities of Jammu and Kashmir. Since the state elections are coming closer, current rulers of held Kashmir may be trying to create a situation -- as they have done in the past -- that could prove to be useful for electoral purposes. Besides, some allies in the NDA, like a Kashmir-based party, seemed to be acting more enthusiastically than the BJP regime in promoting war hysteria. The minister of state for foreign affairs has frequently suggested to BJP stalwarts hot pursuits and strikes at the alleged training camps in Azad Kashmir. Oblivious of ensuing repercussions, the state authorities are under an illusion that they would be able to recapture sufficient seats to retain power. Since the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) has refused to contest the next elections, the incumbent state authorities feel that they can capitalise on the situation. What they need to take into account is that any strike on Azad Kashmir would certainly invite strong reactions both by the government and the people of Pakistan.

The third group that can be viewed as one of the candidates for indulging in such brutal acts consists of either militant groups based in occupied Kashmir or in India. Since the intensification of Kashmiri freedom struggle, many groups have emerged on the scene. These freedom fighters only target India military and avoid targeting innocent civilians.

The fourth possible candidate could be the militant groups based in Pakistan. Despite the reformulation of Pakistan's Afghan policy and the banning of terrorist organisations in January 2002, there may still be pockets of angered and annoyed individuals and groups. Many banned groups may have gone underground. The objective of such groups may be to send signals to the government that they are still able to effectively function despite strong official action against them, damage government's improved image and sabotage peace moves especially with India.

A realistic assessment, however, points finger to the Indian agencies along with the state authorities and sponsored groups. Although al-Mansoorian was allegedly involved in the Jammu killing, one does not know anything about this group. One way out is to conduct an impartial and independent inquiry. Would the Indians allow such an inquiry? Following the Allochabagh incident in which many Sikhs were killed, the inquiry conducted by Gen Mukerjee Committee clearly stated that the Indian army was responsible for such reprehensible acts. Another way out is to agree to international observers who can monitor the LoC but this route could also reveal the dubious Indian designs.

 

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