Brig Anil Gupta
Pakistan, its proxies and sympathisers had hoped that post 05 August there would be a mass uprising and blood bath in Kashmir Valley and the adjoining areas south of Pir Panjal drawing the attention of the entire world thus justifying Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir. But to their dismay nothing like that happened. Even those who had threatened that “any tinkering with the constitutional provisions would be akin to setting a powder keg on fire” and further provoking the people “to get ready for a big fight” also had to eat an humble pie. The peace that prevailed after the epoch-making decision of the Central Government to not only abrogate unfair constitutional provisions but also announcing the reorganisation of the state into two Union Territories hurt the inflated egos of these political leaders who claimed to be nationalists but spoke the language of separatists and Pakistan. One of them even disrespected the people of India who had given a huge mandate to PM Modi by saying, “No matter how powerful Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become after winning, he cannot remove Article 35A and Article 370 from the state of J&K.” He went further too even threatening the accession of the state, “The moment they touch article 35A or 370, the accession of Jammu & Kashmir with India will end. I dare them to touch article 370 and 35A.” Thus, the relative calm in the Valley in the last two months suits neither Pakistan nor its proxies.
After, the bitter experience of two months, Pakistan has recalibrated its strategy in Kashmir. From the strategy of “Intifada” (Palestine style uprising) to the strategy of “Apple Terrorism.” Terrorism has remained a constant in the proxy war launched by Pakistan among various shifting strategies depending upon different phases of the proxy war. As claimed by General Musharraf, Pakistan launched ‘religious militancy’ in Kashmir to win over the Kashmiris and alienate them from its existential enemy India. Even post 05 August, Pakistan initially tried to invoke Islam to gain sympathy and unite the Muslim world against India. Imran Khan Niazi mobilised all resources at his disposal to unite the Muslim countries to put pressure on India but failed miserably. He even used the hallowed platform of United Nations General Assembly but had to face huge global embarrassment when except Malaysia and Turkey none of the other Muslim countries supported him and more so did not even make a mention of Kashmir. But he desperately and mischievously continued to instigate the Kashmiri youth to pick up arms through statements like, “It is jihad. We are doing it because we want Allah to be happy with us. Kashmiris would win, if the Pakistanis stood by them.”
Imran Khan is a self-appointed saviour of Islam and the Pakistan Army considers itself to be bastion of Islam. But Imran Khan is also the closest ally of Xi Jing Ping, the Chinese President, who in his country has banned celebration of all Muslim festivals, prohibited wearing of traditional Muslim dresses and has put the Ughyur Muslims of Xinjiang in Detention Camps to deracialise them. On the other hand Pak Army does not wink an eyelid to cooperate with US Army which has killed thousands of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. Since 1990, the jihadis trained and equipped by Pakistan have killed thousands of innocent Kashmiri Muslims as well as Indian soldiers who were also proud Muslims. Thus, Islam is being used only as a smoke screen by Pakistan to promote jihadi terrorism. Otherwise, what explains the recent killings of peace loving Kashmiri traders and a Muslim driver from Rajasthan by these jihadi zealots? Majority Kashmiris have understood the Pak game plan and hence are unwilling to dance to their tunes.
The underlying aim of Apple terrorism is to create “Khauf” (fear). Fear of the gun has been used in the past very successfully to subjugate the people. Majority of the Kashmiris are peace loving and want to be a party to the new phase of prosperity and development in Kashmir but are scared of the gun. Thus, the Apple terrorism is being used to exploit this inherent fear among the majority Kashmiris in order to ensure that they remain confined indoors and thus delay the return of normalcy allowing Pakistan to carry on with its sinister campaign of “All is not well in Kashmir. Hell has been let loose on the Kashmiris.”
Apart from hurting Kashmir’s economy by deterring move of the apples to different fruit mandis (Markets) in the country, Apple terrorism also aims at attacking another important segment of Kashmir’s economy namely tourism. The withdrawal of advisory issued by the governments to the tourists despite the enforced civil curfew has not gone well with those who are still toying with the ideas of Azadi /Autonomy. Even Pakistan is not ready to give up so easily its cherished dream of “Kashmir Banega Pakistan” (Kashmir as part of Pakistan) if tourism picks up, it would hasten the process of return of normalcy and peace would prevail sooner than later. Therefore, through killing of non-Kashmiris these forces want to warn and discourage those Indians who were harbouring the idea of touring Kashmir to enjoy the best weather of autumn months. The message intended to be conveyed is that Kashmir is not as yet safe for the tourists. With apples rotting in the orchards and no tourism, Kashmiris will be deprived of their sources of livelihood making them vulnerable and more amenable to anti-India propaganda and narratives, hope the forces inimical to the new Order.
Apple terrorism is also being used as a tool of hybrid warfare to carry out psychological operations. Apples with pro-Pakistan, pro-Imran, pro-azadi and anti-India slogans written on them are being packed in the boxes being transported to different markets across the country in the hope of generating a sympathy wave. But the move has mostly backfired because of the strong nationalist wave sweeping across the country.
Another purpose behind apple terrorism is to generate a violent counter reaction in other states of the country in response to killing of people from those states which may develop into communal riots subsequently. However, these forces while attempting to do so are undermining the strong secular fibre of our great nation. Such nefarious designs of the enemy have been rejected on numerous occasions in the past as well by the matured citizens of India.
The most damaging intent behind the Apple terrorism is to warn those Indians who after abrogation of 35A may be willing to move to Kashmir and participate in its development and economic growth by settling down there or by establishing their business. By targeting even non-Kashmiri Muslims, the message being conveyed is that no one other than the Kashmiri Muslims will be welcome to Kashmir. The very idea behind this smacks of exclusivity and discourages inclusivity, the sole purpose of abrogating the discriminatory constitutional provision. This appears to have the support of status quoists as well. Otherwise, what does the National Conference MP Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi desire to convey by stating, “Chanting plebiscite slogan only option with NC. If there is no 370 there is no relation with India?” There are few more of his type who through their insane statements are refusing to accept the reality and continue to sow a seed of confusion in the mind of a common Kashmiri.
All these elements have to understand that they are now dealing with a different leadership in New Delhi. The leadership which is not only willing but more than willing to catch the bull by horn. Thus, Apple terrorism will also meet similar fate like many of its predecessor strategies unleashed by the nation’s enemies. The people have to play their part by remaining alert and not falling prey to scare or rumour mongers.
(The author is a Jammu based political commentator, columnist, security and strategic analyst. He can be contacted at email@example.com.)
Brig Anil Gupta