Wednesday, April 8, 2009




"The heavily-forested Kupwara is not the sprawling urban Mumbai. Encounters within forests have nothing in common with encounters withterrorists entrenched inside urban buildings and going on a shooting spree in crowded public places in a big city such as Mumbai. But thereare disconcerting similarities between what happened in Mumbai between November 26 and 29, 2008, and between what has happenedduring the last five days in the Kupwara area----- simultaneous, well-orchestrated attacks on multiple targets, whether static or moving armypatrols, a skilful use of hand-held weapons and gadgets such as GPS systems, suicidal and not suicide terrorism, strike, stay and fighttactics instead of the hit and vanish tactics and an ability to keep the encounters with the security forces going for a long time in order tomake an impact on the local population and the international community through dramatic media reports. "
----- Extract from my article dated March 26,2009, titled "From Mumbai To Kupwara In Jammu & Kashmir" available at

While the Government of Dr.Manmohan Singh has maintained its usual silence on what has been going on in Northern Jammu & Kashmir(Kupwara, Uri and Baramulla areas), there have been worrisome reports in the media about the infiltration of one more group of 30well-trained terrorists-cum-insurgents from the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) into J &K. This group, which has been described as a"Taliban group" to distinguish it from the earlier infiltrators who belonged to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), is well-trained and has shown acapability to keep our security forces engaged in conventional style battles. If the media reports of the way the new infiltratoras arefighting are to be believed, what we are seeing is reminiscent of the infiltration of a re-trained and better-trained Neo Taliban of MullaMohammad Omar into Afghanistan in 2003. The re-trained Neo Taliban showed a remarkable capability for mixing conventional style standand fight battles and suicide or suicidal terrorism. The US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan are still struggling to grapple with the re-trainedNeo Taliban infiltrators from their sanctuaries in Pakistan.

2. The use of the word Taliban in describing the new batch of infiltrators into Northern J&K can be confusing. The Pakistani media refer tothe anti-India terrorist organisations, which consist largely of Punjabis and Punjabi-speaking Kashmiris (Mirpuris) from Pakistan-OccupiedKashmir (POK), as the Punjabi Taliban and to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which consists largely of Pashtuns, as the PashtunTaliban. The TTP consists largely of the Mehsud and Wazir sub-tribes of the Pashtuns. Next to the Punjabis, who constitute about 75 percent of the Pakistan Army, the Pashtuns constitute the second largest number in the Army---- about 20 per cent. They are recruited fromboth the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)---- with the Mehsuds and the Wazirsconstituting the largest single group of Pashtun tribals recruited into the Army from the FATA.

3. When the Pakistan Army tried to annex J&K after Pakistan bacame independent in 1947, it first sent into J&K Mehsud and Wazir tribalswho projected themselves as local Kashmiris. Initially, the Pakistan Army totally denied any responsibility for their depredations, butultimately it accepted that the tribal infiltrators were from the army. These infiltrators managed to occupy some parts of J&K which wereconstituted into the POK. As a reward for their services, many of these Mehsuds and Wazirs were allowed to settle down in the POK aftertheir retirement from the Army .

4. When Ayub Khan wanted to occupy J&K in 1965, he again sent the Mehsuds and the Wazirs into J&K and tried to project them asindigenous Kashmiris. If Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Indian Prime Minister, had not retaliated by ordering the Indian Army to enter theLahore area thereby creating panic in the Pakistani army, these tribals from the Pakistani Army posing as indigenous Kashmiris would haveprobably occupied Jammu and even Srinagar. After the war was over, Ayub Khan had these Mehsuds and Wazirs from the Pakistan Armyre-settled in POK. During the military confrontation between India and Pakistan after the foiled terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament onDecember 13,2001, Pervez Musharraf used to say that there were 150,000 ex-service-men re-settled in the POK, who would put up a fierceresistance to any forays by the Indian Army into the POK. These ex-servicemen largely consist of Punjabis, Mehsuds and Wazirs.

5. Against this background, the new group of infiltrators into J & K could be either members of the so-called Punjabi Taliban or membersfrom the families of Mehsud and Wazir re-settlers in the POK who are being referred to by the locals as the Taliban, meaning the PashtunTaliban. In the past----in 1947-48 and in 1965---- the infiltration of the tribals was a prelude to a regular invasion by the Pakistan Army. Thistime, the objective of the infiltration seems to be to strengthen the claims of some non-governmental and governmental experts close tothe administration of President Barack Obama, who have been saying that a solution to the so-called Kashmir problem should be thestarting point of any effective fight against terrorism emanating from the Pakistani territory by the Pakistan Army. (8-4-09)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: )