Islamic State Footprints in Kashmir and Challenges Ahead

A hard professional stance is needed as a surgery of cancerous terrorism, as soft homoeopathic treatment is not good enough. – Maj Gen. S. B. Asthana SM, VSM*

To any security analyst, the reported killing of four militants, on June 22, 2018, by synergized operation of security forces, in Anantnag district, with two out of them affiliated to the Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK), as a sequel to renewed “Operation All Out” is no surprise.

After shrinking of IS caliphate in Iraq and Syria it was well expected that their militant cadres will start disappearing in smaller groups to reappear in militant friendly areas, believing in IS ideology. The recent attack in Afghanistan during Ramadan, with many innocent killed, claimed by IS was a case in point. Kashmir, where IS and Pakistani flags have been coming up occasionally, is one such area, where such induction was expected.


Few years back, after the declaration of the caliphate, the newly-named Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi addressed jihadists the world over and said, “Muslims’ rights are forcibly seized in China, India, Palestine, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Caucasus, Sham (the Levant), Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Ahvaz, Iran, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco, in the East and in the West. Prisoners are moaning and crying for help. Orphans and widows are complaining of their plight. Women who have lost their children are weeping. Masajid (plural of masjid) are desecrated and sanctities are violated…Terrify the enemies of Allah and seek death in the places where you expect to find it. Your brothers, on every piece of this earth, are waiting for you to rescue them” (sic). The address explicitly mentions China and India as one of the prime targets of the ISIS, with an eye on Xinjiang and Kashmir. While China continues to deal with Xinjiang with full military might, without the handicap of vote bank politics/overactive HR organizations/media/ legal fraternity, India has been giving the impression of softness on the issue.
IS started showing signs of presence in India initially in the form of some sleeper cells caught in India, who are under investigation. While these may be the initially visible footprints, the efforts of IS to make inroads into India are on, and cannot be ignored.

Failed experiments of ceasefire and NICO

The ceasefire and NICO experiments defied all military logic notwithstanding the good intentions of peaceful Ramadan, hence were bound to fail, as they came due to the insistence of militant/separatists friendly, terrorized/sold out politicians of Kashmir, despite awareness of its non-acceptance by militants. The firing along international border/Line of control to infiltrate militants continued. Pakistan Army’s derives power from ‘India Threat Theory and boiling Kashmir’ hence its diversion from proxy war to peace is next to impossible, and its peace gestures are not more than a deception plan. Militants are their strategic assets being used for terrorism in India and elsewhere, besides the recent idea of getting them a political entry in Pakistan.

With all eyes set on Indian security forces, the expectations from them have multiplied | Image: PTI

Inside Kashmir, NICO gave them a chance to revive their terror industry, wherein the militants could move freely, kill some informers and terrorize the rest, raise finances by extortion/money laundering, carried out recruitment of young boys into their outfit by luring them or terrorizing their families, continued atrocities against terrorized innocent Kashmiries. The hiring of civilians from UP for stone pelting in the garb of job promise is a case in point of the revival of terror industry.

The passion of Kashmiris exhibited post-martyrdom of Aurangzeb, Fayaz, other soldiers and journalist Bukhari, brought in the Governors rule. The security cost paid was the one-month loss of initiative to militants causing a revival of terror industry, and gaining of expertise by militants to use stone pelting as an effective weapon.

Challenges Ahead

The immediate challenge to be faced in Governor’s rule will be safe and secure Amarnath Yatra. The security forces under Governor are going all out to control terrorism, ensure the security of Amarnath Yatris, and bring Kashmir to normalcy, but the lost ground will take some more time to achieve it. The cost of the flip-flop in ceasefire will buy some more casualties of security personnel and civilians. A hard professional stance is needed as a surgery of cancerous terrorism, as soft homeopathic treatment is not good enough. A synergy of civil administration and security forces is a must and we seem to be moving towards it.

UNHRC Report

The entire Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India, hence it is legally our domestic territory. The UNHRC Report technically is irrelevant for India and must be ignored. It’s obvious political bias also dents the credibility of UNHRC itself, because it’s based on unequal inputs. Pakistan wants to internationalize the issue and has done proper PR management, which India is not expected to do in its domestic territory.

How should India Respond to Future Challenges in Kashmir?

It’s time that all political parties to put National interest above their political interest before it’s too late. Politicizing national security is not in their interest from security as well as vote bank point of view, as all eyes are on Kashmir, and population from rest of the country understands what Indian national interest is.
India needs to declare a well thought, coherent, long lasting, hard state policy on Kashmir because any wavering of stance can be construed as a weakness. The NHRC, legal fraternity, motor mouth politicians, armchair tacticians, and writers should weigh their actions against National security and have confidence on the executors, having tried everything else and failed in last so many decades.

  • War with Pakistan is not a worthwhile economical option, but India must look at all overt and covert options against militants.
  • India cannot afford to put its guard down on account of the ceasefire.  India should not be talking to Pakistan unless it shuns proxy war.
  • While India expects the entire world to declare Pakistan a terrorist state, it is yet to scrap the ‘Most Favored Nation’ status accorded to it.
  • India should also take up the issue of Baluchistan in all world forums along with terrorism brewing in Pakistan.
  • We need to do the capacity building of our Defence Forces as we have been losing deterrence gradually due to inadequate attention over decades. Not having some critical equipment like strike drones is a case in point.
  • Stone pelters have to be treated as terrorists and dealt as such.
  • India needs to use the leverage of water sharing also with Pakistan.
  • The decision makers need to have an exhibit an honest intention to resolve it.

With all eyes set on security forces, the expectations from them have multiplied. They are delivering with repeated success, the sympathizers of militants continue to criticize the decision makers. It will take some time to stabilize but the big question remains; Will our politicians spare national integrity from their routine political fight?

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Maj. Gen. Shashi Asthana

Major General Shashi Asthana is a globally acknowledged Strategic and Security Analyst who has authored more than 400 publications. With 45 years of experience as a veteran infantry general, he has held numerous key positions in the Indian Army and the United Nations, including the Former Director General Infantry in the Indian Army. Major General Asthana is also the Director of Courses at USI of India, the oldest think tank in India, and is a frequent commentator on television and speaker at various strategic and military forums, UN organizations, think tanks, and universities. He has been interviewed by various national and international news channels, newspapers, and organizations on strategic, military, and UN-related subjects. Currently, Major General Asthana serves on the Governing/Security Council of the Confederation of Education Excellence (CEE), the International Organization of Education Development (IOED), and other UN organizations. He is on the Advisory Board of Global Advisors Consultants Corporation, IOED representative at the UN Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, a Distinguished Expert at the Bharat Centre of Canada, and an advisor to Amity University, Bharat Media LLC, USA. Major General Asthana is a former member of the Expert Group Challenges Forum in Sweden. He has received numerous awards, including twice from the President of India, twice from the UN, and the CEE Excellence Award for Nation Building from the Governor of Haryana. He has also been awarded twice for "International Diplomacy and Global Conflict Resolutions" by the IOED, a consultative body for ECOSOC, and the International Police Commission (IPC) India, by the former Prime Minister of Moldova.

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