Monday, October 3, 2016

Army wants six months to smash terror infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

India’s armed forces have told the political executive that only a sustained six-month campaign will seriously damage the terror infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Top military officers, speaking off record, told ET that after India went public with its surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) last week, the armed forces brass had told the government that off and on strikes will not damage terrorists’ capabilities, and a medium-term plan is needed.

Armed forces’ seniormost strategists have also told the government that the country should be prepared for repercussions in Kashmir — there was a terrorist attack on a Border Security Force-Army camp in Baramulla on Sunday — as well as terrorist attacks elsewhere.

Good opportunity for action

Armed forces’ strategists also said a determined campaign is needed to target launch pads for such attacks.

A top army officer said: “We have to look at a sustained campaign. The terror network is on the back foot, but to really achieve something, we have to look at a medium-term plan, a six-month campaign. A one-off event will not deter them.”

India’s generals are of the view that Pakistan-based and sponsored terror handlers will attempt to push in more terrorists in the coming weeks to seek ‘revenge’ for India’s surgical strikes.

Therefore, more terrorist launch pads are likely to come up in PoK. These need to be neutralised, India’s military brass feels. Armed forces’ top officers have also told the government that the declared strike across LoC means India will have to up its game on Kashmir security, both beefing up the manning of the border as well as smarter political approaches in the Valley that include “credible healing touches”.

The brass feels demoralisation among groups in the Valley that help terrorists presents a good opportunity for further action. “We have the opportunity right now. Everyone is geared up and we have a much stronger hold on LoC than the other side.

This is the time to make an actual difference that will deter cross-border terror support,” another top army officer said. India’s military and intelligence assessment is that PoK hosts over 40 terror training camps.

These are located deep inside PoK. There are also around 50 launch pads, hosting more than 200 terrorists, close to LoC on the PoK side. These sites are protected by the Pakistan Army.

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