War by ProxyIgnominous
defeat suffered by Pakistan in the war of 1971 and loss of East Pakistan
without gaining Kashmir has been rankling in the minds of people and rulers
of Pakistan ever since. Cadets of Pakistan's military academy at Kakul
are known to swear an oath that they will avenge the defeat of 1971. That
explains why the military budget has been continously rising even though
Pakistan has been cut to half in size and population. It has also been
pursuing its nuclear program in a determined way and is reported to be
in possession of a few atom bombs and nuclear war-heads.
Kashmir it decided to change its tactics. Instead of making another direct
armed assault from outside it decided to create favorable conditions for
achieving its objectives "from within". Sh. Abdullah's return to power
in the state in 1975 came handy to it.
As stated earlier, Sh. Abdullah had not changed his spots. The way Congress party tried to
divest him of power once again in 1977 made him more circumspect and determined
to have his way somehow. He was no longer suspect in the eyes of Pakistan
and its agents and supporters in Kashmir. They appreciated his change of
tactics and were prepared to extend him all co-operation in his confrontation
with New Delhi.
of government at New Delhi in 1977 also helped him. Prime Minister Morarji
Desai saw to it that election to the State Assembly held in July 1977 were
fair and free. That enabled him to ride back to power on his own strength.
Janata Government of which Bhartiya Jan Sangh was a major Partner could
have cut the wings of Sh. Abdullah and ended the uncertainty about Kashmir's
accession to India by abrogating article 370 vf the Indian constitution.
But the volte face of Jan Sangh leadership on this issue proved to be a
shot in Abdullah's arm. He went ahead with this plan of making administrative
apparatus of the state amenable to his plan and responsive to his intentions.
involvement in Afghanistan in 1979 and return of Mrs. Gandhi to power at
New Delhi in 1980 created a new situation. Attention of Pakistan got diverted
to Afghanistan. It became the main conduit for the supply of US arms and
dollars to Afghan rebels. Soviet Union then wanted India to break Pakistan's
back, Pakistan on its part decided to bog down India in Punjab by extending
support to Khalistani separatists. Sh. Abdullah therefore could go ahead
with his plans consolidating his position by Islamizing and indoctrinating
the administr~tive machinery of Kashmir with impunity.
succeeded his father as Chief Minister on September 11, 1982. Sh. Abdullah
was reported to have left a political will or testament for the guidance
of his successors. But it was never made public. But according to knowledgeable
sources he had advised Farooq never to trust Mrs. Gandhi. Farooq Abdullah
was fully committed to the ideas and ideals of his father. He was not handicapped
by the emotional attachment and so.ne feeling of gratefulness that Sh.
Abdullah had toward Nehru dynasty. On the other hand he had developed close
links with Pakistan based Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front during his
long stay in Britain. He had also acquired British citizenship. He therefore
could go farther than his father in India-baiting without any qualms of
with Mrs. Gandhi and Congress Government at New Delhi began soon after
his elevation to the gaddi of Chief Minister. Elections to the State Assembly
were due in June 1983. He began to forge links with regional Parties and
also had long parleys with Bhindranwale, the leader of Khalistan faction
of Akalis at Amritsar. He expressed his happiness over the Congress debacle
in Andhra Pradesh in January 1983. No wonder therefore that the attempt
to force an alliance between his National Conference and Congress to contest
the election jointly failed. He then began to project Congress (I) as Hindu
Congress. He was reported to have said in one of his speeches that: "If
the Hindu Congress" won in Kashmir, the Kashmiri Muslims would meet the
fate of Muslims of Assam." This stand endeared him to Kashmiri Muslims
who were already being swayed by Islamic fundamentalism and propaganda
of Pakistan. He was returned to power with 46 seats in a House of 75; Ccngress
got 26 seats.
between National Conference and Farooq A bdullah, with Congress (I) and
Mrs. Gandhi continued until he was replaced as Chief Minister by his rival G.M. Shah who claimed support of 12 members of the Assembly who had defected
from National Conference in July 1984. Twenty six congress legislators
extended their support to Shah government from outside.
G.M. Shah was
known to be a clever and unscrupulous manipulator. He had developed close
links with pro-Pak elements in Kashmir when Sh. Abdullah was in wilderness.
He tried to bolster up Jamaat-e-Islami in Kashmir and Shiv Sena in Jammu
to further Communalize the politics of the State. The communal violence
of 1986 in Southern Kashmir in which scores of Hindu temples were destroyed
and thousands of Hindus of Anantnag district were rendered homeless cooked
his goose. It was alleged that Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, the President of
Congress (I) who coveted the Chief Ministership and was as unscrupulous
as G.M. Shah had a hand in organising that communal carnege. It gave Hindus
of Kashmir a fore taste of what was in store for them.
G.M. Shah government
was dismissed and Governor's rule was imposed on Jammu and Kashmir State
in March, 1988. Governor Jagmohan who then assumed all executive powers
acquitted himself very well. He toned up the administration and accelerated
the pace of development in all the three regions of the state.
was held in March 1987, Farooq Abdullah had learnt his lesson. He wanted
to get back to power somehow. He succeeded in developing a personal equation
with Rajiv Gandhi who had succeeded his mother Mrs. Gandhi in October 1984.
This helped him to forge an alliance with Congress (I). It was not to the
linking of a good section of Kashmiri Muslims.
groups and parties of Kashmir Valley then forged unit;y under the banner
of an organization called Muslim United Front (M.U.F) to challenge Congress
National Conference alliance. It was dominated by Jamaat-e-Islami and its
youth wing Jamaat-e-Tulbs.
manifesto pledged to free the Muslims of Kashmir from the Brahmin imperialism
of Delhi, and New Oelhi's unwarranted interference in the affairs of the
state." M.U.F. campaigned on anti-India fundamentalist platform. It stopped
short of challenging Kashmir accession to India to avoid disqualification
under the Electoral Law. It could win only four seats though it polled
about 30% vote in the valley. It alleged that Farooq Abudllah had rigged
The new coalition
government of congress (I) and national conference under the leadership
of Farooq Abdullah which took office in March 1987 faced stiff opposition
of M.U.F. and hostility of a large section of Kashmir Muslims from the
very beginning. Farooq Abdullah was conscious of it. He therefore began
to indulge in tight rope-walking. He spoke the language of Islamic fundamentalists
in Kashmir and posed to be secularist in Jammu and a nationalist at New
Delhi. When a depution of Arya Samaj led by its leader Swami Anand Bodh
Saraswati, met him for assistance to rebuild Arya Samaj temple at Srinagar
which had been destroyed by Pakistani elements, he advised it not to rebuild
the temple because it would be destroyed again. That gave an inkling of
tried to win support of Khalistani elements in the State. It was widely
believed that Hindu Sikh riots in Jammu in 1988 was indirectly engineered
by him because he gave permission for a Sikh procession against the considered
advice of district authorities. When the author met him at Jammu after
these riots he justified the raising of pro-Pakistan slogans and asserted
that Sikhs and Muslims have as much right on India as Hindus. This uncalled
for outburst gave his real self away. It became clear that he was playing
a double game and could not be trusted to safeguard national interests
in that strategic border state. President Zia of Pakistan decided to exploit
the situation in Kashmir and Islamized administrative apparatus in the
state to launch his "operation Topak". Another factor that influenced his
thinking was Soviet decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.
of USA and resultant thaw in the cold war between the two super powers
shattered his dream of some kind of confederation of Islamic Afghanistan
and Islamic Pakistan. He then decided to turn his attention ta Kashmir.
Large stocks of U.S. supplied arms for Afghan Mujahids and feasibility
of diverting some of Afghan insurgents to Kashmir also encouraged him to
adopt such a course.
the information obtained by the R.A.W., the Indian intelligence outfit,
General Zia addressed a meeting of selected military commanders and top
bosses of I.S.I. (Inter Services Intelligence) in April 1988 in which he
spelt out his plan. According to the R.A.W. report Present Zia said: "Gentlemen,
I have spoken on this subject at length before, therefore, I will leave
out the details. As you know, due to our preoccupation in Afghanistan,
in the service of Islam, I have not been able to put these plans before
you earlier. Let there be no mistake, however, that our aim remains quite
clear and firm and that is the liberation of the Kashmir Valley - our Muslim
Kashmiri brothers cannot be allowed to stay with India for any length of
time, now. In the past we had opted for, hamhanded military options and
therefore, failed. So, as I have mentioned before, we will now keep our
military option for the last moment as a coup de grace, if and when necessary.
Our Kashmiri brethren in the valley though with us in their hearts and
minds, are simple-minded folks and do not easily take to the type of warfare
to which, say, a Punjabi or an Afghan takes to naturally, against foreign
however have a few qualities which we can exploit. First, his shrewdness
and intelligence, second, his power to persevere under pressure; and the
third, if I may so say, he is a master of political intrigue. If we provide
him means through which he can best utilize these qualities he will deliver
the goods. Sheer brute force is in any case not needed in every type of
warfare, especially so in the situation obtaining in the Kashmir Valley,
as I have explained earlier.
Here we must
adopt those methods of combat which the Kashmiri mind can grasp and cope
with in other words, a coordinated use of moral and physical means, other
than military operations, which will destroy the will of the enemy, damage
his political capacity and expose him to the world as an oppressor. This
aim, gentlemen, shall be achieved in three phases.
"In the first
phase, which may if necessary, last a couple of years, we will assist our
Kashmiri brethren in getting hold of the power apparatus of the State by
political subversion and intrigue. We must therefore ensure that certain
"favored politicians", from the ruling elite be selected who would collaborate
with us in subverting all effective organs of the State? In brief, our
plan for Kashmir which will be code named as "Op Topac" will be as follows.
(a) "A low level
insurgency against the regime, so that it is under siege, but does not
collapse as we would not yet want central rule imposed by Delhi. (b) "We plant
our chosen men in all the key positions; they will subvert the police forces,
financial institutions the communications network and other important organizations.
(c) "We whip up
anti-Indian feelings amongst the students and peasants, preferably on some
religious issues, so that we can enlist their active support for rioting
and anti-government demonstrations. (d) "In collaborations
with Sikh extremists, create chaos and terror in Jammu to divert attention
from the valley at a critical juncture and discredit the regime even in
the Hindu mind.
(a) "Exert maximum
pressure on the Siachen Kargil and Rajauri Poonch sectors to force the
Indian army to deploy reserve formation outside the main Kashmir valley. (b) "Attack and
destroy base depots and HQ located at Srinagar, Pattan, Kupwara, Baramulla,
Bandipur and Chowkiwala by covert action at a given time. (c) "Finally a
special force under selected retired officers belonging to Azad Kashmir,
with the hard core consisting of Afghabs, will be ready to attack and destroy
airfields radio stations, block Banihal tunnel and the Kargil Leh Highway.
plans, for the liberation of Kashmir Valley and establishment of an independent
Islamic State in the third phase, will follow. We do not have much time.
Maximum pressure must be exerted before the general elections in India
and before Indian army reserves which are still bogged down in Sri Lanka
become available. By the grace of God, we have managed to accumulate large
stocks of modern arms and ammunition from US consignments intended for
Afghan Mujahideen. This will help our Kashmiri brethren achieve their goals. (b) Preparation
for this phase must be made by means of a big exercise-the biggest ever
held in Pakistan. (e) "I need not
emphasize any further that a deliberate and objective assessment of the
situation must be insured at each stage, otherwise a stalemate will follow
with no good for Pakistan."
The first phase
of "OP-TOPAC" was put into action by the middle of 1988. It began with
anti-India tirade all over the valley and mushrooming of a number of underground
militant organizations like J.K.L.F. and Hizb-i-Islami. The M.U.F. members
resigned their membership of the State Assembly and began to support under
ground activities openly. Farooq Abdullah and his government turned a Nelson's
eye toward such activists. But he kept Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in good
humor and therefore cared little about the criticism in the Indian Press
and growing resentment among Nationalists in all these three regions of
The death of
general Zia in a Pakistan Airforce accident in August 1988 made little
difference to the execution of operation TOPAC. Apart from the fact that
Benazir was not her own master and that Pak army under General Beg and I.S.I. had full grip over the President of Pakistan who held the whip hand,
she too was as intransigent about Kashmir, for political and tactical reasons,
as her opponents. The biggest military exercises of Pakistan named "Zarb-i-Momen"
(Hit of the faithful) was held on schedule and General Beg claimed that
Pak army was fully prepared not only for defense but also to carry war
into the enemy's territory. The terminology, the timing and the areas selected
for "Zarb-i-Momen" clearly showed that the exercises were a dress-rehearsal
of a new war with Incia.
Change of government
at New Delhi toward the end of November 1989 and the kidnapping of Rubiya,
the daughter of the new Kashmir Home Minister at New Delhi, Mufti Mohammed
Sayeed, gave a new turn to the developing situation. There was a general
suspicion that it was a pre-arranged affair. The release of the five top
terrorists in exchange for Dr. Rubaiyya in Srinagar made it clear that
the situation had beccome too grim and unless drastic steps were taken,
Kashmir might be lost. The public outcry forced V.P. Government to send
Jagmohan as Governor of the State for the second time. Jagmohan knew too
much about Farooq Abdullah and his team which included some of "Pakistan's
favored politicians." Farooq therefore resigned clearing the way for imposition
of governor's rule.
It was later
established that Rubaiya's kidnapping was a probing action of agents of
Pakistan. It was neither a surprise for Rubaiyya, nor perhaps for her father.
There was no danger to her life that perhaps explains why all plans to
free her by trained commando were vetoed.
his commitment to national interests, deep understanding of men and affairs
in Kashmir and vast administrative experience, was able to turn the tables
on Pak agents and terrorist within a short time. This was not to the liking
of the friends of Pakistan, and pseudo secularists. Bhartya Janta Party (B.J.P.) which, with a strength of about 90 members in Lok
a whip hand, lacked proper leadership. It went on harping on keeping V.P.
Singh government going instead of taking a principled and firm stand on
any issues of national importance during the period of eleven months when
it sustained V.P. Government. It withdraw its support on the issue of the
arrest of its leader L. K. Advani and not on any substantive national issue.
Had it taken a firm and unequivocal stand, it could have foiled the conspiracy
to remove Jagmohan from Kashmir.
Exit of Jagmohan
in May 1990 came as a relief to Pakistan and its agents in Kashmir. They
have been on the rampage ever since. The indoctrinated Muslim bureaucracy
has fulfilled the expectations of Pakistan. It has been waging a war of
nerves against lndia from within. The prolonged strike of over one lakh
Muslim employees proved that OP TOPAC as planned by Zia was moving on the
given a detailed account of the growth of insurgency in Kashmir and the
role of Sh. Abdullah and Farooq Abudllah on the one side and an indecisive
leadership at New Delhi on the other in creating and aggravating the prevailing
situation in Kashmir in his book, "My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir." Because
of the inside information and documents available to him, his book is an
authentic record of developments in Kashmir since 1981.
him, the role played by the two Abdullahs has been very dubious throughout.
Farooq had been a part of the JKLF outfit during his long sojourn in Britain.
His speeches of those days which were repeated by the Pak Radio in January
1990, clearly gave out his commitment to "Independence" for Kashmir. According
to Farooq's own admission before the India mediapersons in 1990, he had
asked his National Conference workers to go to Pakistan to get training
in arms. They have been collaborating with JKLF insurgents. It is significant
that during the years when Zia's Operation TOPAC has been taking shape
in the valley, Farooq has been keeping away from Kashmir. He has been spending
most of his time in UK since 1988.
taken George Fernandes whom V.P. Singh appointed his Minister for Kashmir
Affairs also to task for clandestine meetings with insurgents over his
head and for helping those who have been carrying on a campaign of disinformation
in favor of insurgents in India and the world. His indictment of successive
governments of India is as incisive as his indictment of Abdullah.
He has made
it clear that the "infirmities and negative forces that beset the Indian
social, political and moral order and are at root cause of Kashmir troubles
can be removed only by a reformed rejuvenated and motivated India with
a new vision and not by an Indian that has become a hunting ground for
small politics and whose shallow and superficial approach has exceeded
all limits in Kashmir."
been deteriorating since the recall of Jagmohan from Kashmir. Fall of the
V.P. Singh government and its replacement by the Chandra Shekhar government
in November, 1990 made things worse, because Chandra Shekhar was totally
dependent on the support of the Rajiv Congress. Rajiv in his turn was in
the pocket of Farooq Abdullah who suddenly returned to India and began
to have parleys for revival of state assembly and his re-induction as chief
minister. Fall of the Chandra Shekhar government and ordering of fresh
elections for Lok Sabha put cold water on his plans and he returned to
A new situation
was created by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 and emergence
of Congress as the largest party but fully short of clear majority in the
new Lok Sabha. P.V. Narsimha Rao, who has been leading a minority congress
government at New Delhi since June 21, 1991, is an antinationalist with
a long record of service to the country. But he is handicapped. Apart from
the minority character of his government, he is being pressured by the
Rajiv lobby to the Nehru-Rajiv line on Kashmir and other issues.
developments in Pakistan and rapid changes in the USSR where communism
has been discarded and communist system has been dismantled have created
new challenges and opportunities for India to put its home in order and
adopt a realistic and national approach to the Kashmir problem.
who succeeded Benazir Bhutto as prime minister of Pakistan in 1990, has
stepped up support to Kashmiri insurgents and launched a world-wide diplomatic
offensive against India over Kashmir. The resolution passed by the conference
of Islamic countries in July, 1991 supported the Pak stand on Kashmir.
inside the Valley, where Pak trained and supported insurgents have again
the upper hand is quite tempting for Pakistan. In a way, it is now or never
situation so far as Pakistan is concerned.
But its internal
situation and the sea change in the international situation because of
developments in the USSR are acting as a danger in Pakistan. It can no
longer bank on the USA. On the other hand, the end of Nehru dynasty has
opened the way for the rise of new leadership at New Delhi which may discard
the Nehruvian policy in regard to Kashmir and adopt a nationalist approach
together with a reciprocal policy toward Pakistan.
handicaps, Pakistan may be impelled by the situation it has created in
Kashmir to go to the logical end. Therefore the possibility of another
Indo- Pak war which may drive both into a third world war cannot be ruled
out. That points to the urgency of finding a feasible solution of the problem
at the earliest.