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What are Indian Adversaries Trying?

With no change International border/LAC/LoC/AGPL, this administrative reorganisation is an internal matter of India, which was essential

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Indian, Adversaries, Jammu and Kashmir
The sight of only the Tricolour on the Secretariat building in Srinagar symbolises complete integration as 'One Nation, One Constitution and One Flag', which represents national will. Pixabay

Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) became history after August 6, when the Bill was passed by more than two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament, through the laid down democratic process in consultation with Sadr-e-Riyasat vested in the Governor of the erstwhile state. The Bill reorganizes the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate Union Territories (UTs), J&K being one (to get statehood when there is peace) and Ladakh being another UT. The sight of only the Tricolour on the Secretariat building in Srinagar symbolises complete integration as ‘One Nation, One Constitution and One Flag’, which represents national will and resolve. With no change International border/LAC/LoC/AGPL, this administrative reorganisation is an internal matter of India, which was essential for inclusive growth of the erstwhile state.

This reform was long overdue, as it was seen that Articles 370 and 35A were hurting India and common people of J&K since inclusion. These provisions were being misused by few local politicians, separatists, elite businessmen, terrorists and their supporters, at the cost of brewing inequality, depriving legal benefits, voting rights, welfare related rights to common people of Kashmir including safai karmacharis, and daughters marrying outside and their children. It helped the agenda of Pakistan and terrorists, allowed forcibly pushing out some natives like Kashmiri Pundits with blatant abuse of power and left India helpless in mitigating their grievances.

No investments were possible to create jobs, hence terror industry bloomed. Needless to say that the people enjoying such abuse of power will continue to cry foul, along with some more trying to gain political mileage out of it but the fact is that this decision was backed by thumping mandate of the country through laid down democratic process.

What are Indian adversaries trying?

Indian, Adversaries, Jammu and Kashmir
Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) became history after August 6, when the Bill was passed by more than two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament, through the laid down democratic process in consultation. Pixabay

Pakistan’s frustration is that declaration of J&K as UT will expose its terrorists fuelling proxy war in Kashmir, out of the umbrella of local political patronage. The separatists will be exposed to central security forces and laws, and its terror industry/infrastructure built in Kashmir over decades will start crumbling. Pakistan Army, ISI and political class have enjoyed power domestically, on their narrative of efforts of Kashmir’s liberation so far; hence the Indian action has disturbed their plans. China’s disgruntlement stems from the fact that Ladakh becoming a UT weakens their false, incremental claims in that region, besides weakening Pakistan’s proxy to keep Indians engaged on their behalf.

Pakistan has been waging hybrid war with a large number of terrorists already infiltrated, along with separatists instigating violence, coupled with conventional fire at LoC in the last few decades, resulting in more than 42,000 deaths. Its efforts to re-ignite hybrid war post abrogation of Article 370 have not met much success because of heavy deployment and alertness of Indian security forces and restrictions on mobile and internet.

Pakistan’s irrational actions like lowering of diplomatic relations with India, scrapping trade ties, stopping rail communication and blocking air routes have been to its disadvantage. Pakistan and China went through diplomatic offensive by approaching UNSC for informal meeting, which also yielded no results as the world community did not find it a worthwhile to even issue any joint statement. On the sidelines of the G7 Summit, Prime Minister Modi, while talking to President Trump, ruled out any mediation efforts by any other country, which Pakistan was vehemently trying. This has put to rest all diplomatic efforts of Pakistan for internationalisation or mediation of Kashmir Issue. Enhanced military deployment including SSG and artillery along LoC is part of escalating hybrid war.

Large-scale attempts of infiltration of terrorists including under water operators, is to create fear psychosis amongst people of Kashmir, especially their erstwhile sympathisers not to change sides and be helpful in commencing terror actions in Kashmir as and when the restrictions on communication means are lifted by India. China seems to be signalling moral and material support to Pakistan through MoUs for defence capacity building and cooperation during visit of Deputy Chairman of its Central Military Commission, which seems to be more of optics as China already accounts for more than 70 per cent of import of military hardware to Pakistan. After UNSC embarrassment, China has been relatively quiet on propaganda or rhetoric.

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Information Warfare by Pakistan

Pakistan has enhanced the dimension of warfare by graduating to all out ‘Information Warfare’ (IW), which encompasses propaganda, fake news, threatening statements, rhetoric, manipulating social media and invisible cyber warfare. To combat this warfare it is necessary to understand the strategy of Pakistan regarding application of IW. Their first narrative is to give religious colour to propaganda campaign, falsely projecting it as Hindu encroachment on Muslim rights, and restrictions on internet and mobile, (which is lifeline of its terror networking, propaganda campaign and terror strikes) as atrocities on Muslims. The aim being to garner support of Muslims globally including Indian Muslims to stand up for supporting terror in the garb of Jihad to prevent falsely claimed atrocities on Muslims.

Unfortunately for them, except for members of their terror industry and their sympathisers, not very many have bought this narrative. The second narrative is posing fake Indian threat from India (Although India has no intention of any war with Pakistan, except that it intends respond offensively to any threat posed by Pakistan, including terror attacks), posing helplessness, repeatedly threatening the world of its nuclear status and its irrationality to get into nuclear exchange, blackmailing the world community to intervene and save the situation.

The third narrative is to remind US, China and India of its terror potential, blackmail US for its need to quit Afghanistan in exchange of leverage on Taliban (if any?) and blackmail China for protecting its economic interests and workers in the country and doing the dirty job of containing Indian forces on their behalf. Imran Khan’s acceptance of approximately 40,000 terrorists on his soil and threat to unleash his strategic assets (terrorists) for Pulwama type actions does not deter India, which anticipated such actions in its strategic calculation.

Indian, Adversaries, Jammu and Kashmir
The Bill reorganizes the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate Union Territories (UTs), J&K being one (to get statehood when there is peace). Pixabay

Pakistan’s targets for information warfare are different for each type of narrative. For religious agenda it is targeting people of Kashmir valley, people of Pakistan, terror groups, Muslim diaspora, global community of Muslims (like planned processions in UK), Khalistan terrorists and sympathisers (to exploit another fake narrative of alleging suppression of minorities under Hindu regime). It is also targeting some disgruntled elements in India including political opponents/aspirants trying to fish in troubled water by following a narrative against the national mandate to score some petty political gains. The methodologies adopted for IW ranges from management of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), psychological operations, electronic warfare, misinformation campaigns, information attacks and manipulating public perception through social media.

Mobile, internet and radio transmissions are fast modes of connectivity being used. Structured television programmes are also being made use of with YouTube links having operators stationed globally. Fake videos of atrocities on people picked up from any global incidents are being played up as current situation in Kashmir, which are getting identified to be of different incidents globally on investigations. Pakistan has also influenced some international news agencies, which carried fake news on their behalf, as sensational news for commercial interests.

Combating Information Warfare of Pakistan

Information war by adversary cannot be taken lightly and needs to be combated professionally. One of the best methods of combating it is to flood the global environment with hard facts countering fake news and propaganda. India had anticipated the security challenges arising out of such decision and has done its best to quarantine the potential problem creators and flash spots with tight restrictions. Kashmir valley has been quite peaceful as never before in last so many years, after India strengthened the security force level in the terrorist threat prone areas, and restricted use of mobile and internet there to ensure safety of citizens.

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India’s priority is to save lives of innocent people; hence it is carefully lifting restrictions in graduated manner, resulting in delay in risky areas causing some inconvenience to some people there. With Pakistan openly trying everything possible to re-ignite Kashmir valley through its terrorists, Indian administrators and security forces/agencies will have to strike a fine balance between relaxing restrictions or continuing it to save lives, on daily basis, with an option to re-clamp some restrictions, if problem creators manage to pose threat to prevailing peace.

The criticism against restrictions by those who abused power under Article 370, interested groups/political opportunists/activists is natural, but if it can save lives of innocent people then it can be endured, as loss of lives will also invite criticism, which will be the worst case. In IW, the propaganda campaign has to be based on partial truths to succeed; hence Pakistan has cleverly picked up some internal criticism in India, which is routine to any matured democracy like India, and mixed it with fake information of atrocities, backed by fake videos to base its propaganda campaigns. It needs to be understood by all making public utterances in India that any divergence from the mandated decision will be picked up by adversary and twisted to launch fake propaganda; hence there is a need to exercise caution to combat Pakistan’s IW.

Propaganda has to be confronted with truth by organised IW apparatus. All forms of Indian media need to call the bluff of adversary by exposing fake news. Rebuttals to wrong news by paid/motivated authors globally, need to be given rebuttals in the form of facts by all Indian authors. Every Indian using social media is an information worrier of India; hence every fake news he/she comes across must cease circulation or marked fake. Awareness campaign needs to be planned for population, especially people from Kashmir. The recent attempt of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan trying to portray himself as the poster boy for Muslims and Kashmiris must be rebutted with his continued silence over atrocities in Baluchistan and Xinjiang internationally to expose human right record of both adversaries.

The Indian secular fabric is strong not to fall prey to religious fundamentalism, but counter propaganda speeches in various forums may well be the need of the hour to quarantine the thought process of innocents from radicalised sleeper cells. The education system in madrassas in Kashmir will need monitoring to check anti-national agenda of terrorists. Besides IW, India needs to ready for next round of hybrid war, because the terrorists and sleeper cells will be active again, whenever the restrictions are lifted and a temporary dogfight period is likely till the situation is controlled again. These actions need to be backed by inclusive growth plan rolled out simultaneously so that people of Kashmir can visualise their bright future in comparison to the life of people in POK and Gilgit-Baltistan. (IANS)

Next Story

Internet Shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir- Longest Lockdown in a Democracy

Kashmir Internet Shutdown Takes Toll on Economy

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Kashmir girl
A Kashmir girl rides her bike past Indian security force personnel standing guard in front closed shops in a street in Srinagar. VOA

By Niala Mohammad, Yusuf Jameel

The internet shutdown in India’s Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, which shows no signs of abating and has been the longest lockdown in a democracy, is taking a toll on the local economy and has led to the loss of thousands of jobs, according to rights groups and analysts.

Access Now, a global digital rights group that has been monitoring the situation in Kashmir, told VOA the “loss of connectivity in the valley” because of the shutdown has been “devastating to the local economy.”

“India’s internet shutdown in Kashmir is the longest ever in a democracy,” Raman Jit Singh Chima, Access Now’s senior international counsel and Asia Pacific policy director, told VOA.

“The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce has gone on record to speak of the immense economic cost that the internet shutdown has caused to the region, undermining the very economic goals that the Union Government promised it would drive through integrating the area into the wider Indian Union,” Chima added.

The lockdown has been in place since August, when New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s semiautonomous status and imposed a curfew on the region, including shutting down the internet.

The government defended its decision, saying it was a temporary measure to prevent possible terrorist attacks.

In a televised address to the nation in August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The Kashmir decision will bring positive changes in the lives of the common man. It would mean the protection of Indian laws, industrialization, a boost in tourism and, therefore, more employment opportunities.”

India Kashmir
Indian security personnel guard outside the civil secretariat of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir during the annual reopening of the former state’s winter capital in Jammu, India. VOA

However, opposition parties in the country argue the opposite is happening.

“You have redefined the definition of normalcy, the J&K [Jammu and Kashmir] definition of normalcy now prevails in the rest of the country. This is uncaring and unthinking government,” Indian National Congress said on twitter this week in reference to what’s happening in Kashmir and the passage of a recent controversial law.

India’s parliament recently approved legislation that allows Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who are living in India illegally to become citizens. The applicants must prove they were persecuted because of their religious beliefs in neighboring Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan.

However, the law does not apply to Muslims, which critics say is discriminatory.

Terrorism or protests? 

India’s government, led by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), defends its continued lockdown of internet connectivity in Kashmir as a deterrent to terrorist attacks.

While briefing the country’s lawmakers in November, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, a close ally of Modi, said the internet would be restored as soon as local authorities felt it was appropriate.

“There are activities by our neighbors in the region, so we must keep security in mind. Whenever local authorities see fit, a decision will be taken to restore it [internet service],” Shah said, referring to Pakistan’s alleged interference in the region.

India has accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency of fomenting instability in Kashmir by supporting local militant groups, a charge Islamabad has denied.

Some analysts, however, say the internet lockdown is largely designed to prevent collective political protests.

“The stated reason [by the Indian government] was to contain possible terrorist attacks. In my view, it is largely designed to prevent collective political protests of any sort,” Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science and the Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilization at Indiana University, told VOA.

Other analysts, such as Ashok Swain, a professor of peace and conflict studies at Uppsala University in Sweden who follows Indian politics, said the reasons behind the Indian government’s decision to shut down the internet in Kashmir are multifaceted.

“As I see [it], the real reason for [the] internet shutdown is not to restrict communication within Kashmir Valley, but to restrict Kashmir’s communication with [the] outside world,” Swain said, adding the government is more concerned about its global image as a democracy.

“By taking away the internet, [the] regime is also controlling the local media and its publication as the journalists are dependent on [the] regime’s mercy to communicate with [the] outside world and to contact with their offices,” Swain said.

India Kashmir
A masked boy in Kashmir throws stones at a police drone flying over Jamia Masjid mosque where Kashmiris are offering their first Friday prayers since Aug. 5 in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir. VOA

Local economy 

Sheikh Ashiq, the president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told VOA that there has been a rapid rise in unemployment and a significant drop in Kashmir’s cottage industry.

“Our handicraft sector, that is solely based on the internet, is at a standstill. As a result, 50,000 artisans are jobless,” Ashiq said, adding that the export of its heritage industry handicrafts had declined by 62%.

Experts say the action against Kashmir has led to losses in tourism, health care, education and in the communications industries.

“The state economy has lost more $1.5 billion due to [the] lockdown. Several companies, whose operations were internet-dependent, have been closed,” Swain said.

The internet lockdown “has affected education, health service and even regular movement of the people, creating a severe humanitarian crisis. Business, particularly fruit trade and tourism, have [been] affected severely,” he added.

Local voices 

Young Kashmiri entrepreneurs like Muheet Mehraj see a bleak future in Kashmir, as the internet shutdown has placed a cloud over future employment prospects.

“If something doesn’t change for the better with time or our internet isn’t resumed, then I don’t understand what I am going to do in the future,” Mehraj told VOA.

Many businesspeople told VOA they have been forced to leave Kashmir to earn an income.

Syed Mujtaba, the owner of Kashmir Art Quest, shifted his business to Delhi because of the lockdown.

“Eventually, my family and my own logic told me it was best to leave Kashmir,” Mujtaba told VOA.

“Now I am in Delhi, you know … in search of new opportunity … and halfheartedly so, to be honest. My heart is still in Kashmir and will always remain in Kashmir,” he added.

The government, however, continues to paint a normal picture of the situation on the ground.

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“The situation in Kashmir does not need to be normalized. The situation in Kashmir is already normal,” Home Minister Shah told lawmakers last month.

Ashiq, of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, paints a different picture.

“We are handed a narrative of development. However, we do not see any form of development,” he said. (VOA)