By Col. (Retired) Anil Bhatt New Delhi, Aug.11 : Yet another desperate attempt was made from Pakistan to further incite people of Kashmir Valley to rise and widen the ongoing unrest there following Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Burhan Wani's killing.
On August 1, 2016, Pakistan's largest religious organisation and one of its mainstream political parties, Jamat-e-Islami (JeI), led by its leader, Senator Siraj-Ul-Haq and other leaders marched from Lahore to eight kilometers short of the Wagah border near Amritsar to hold a rally.
Ranting venomously against India during the rally which was attended by about 10,000 people, Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) 'supreme commander' Syed Salahuddin (actively supported by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)), urged Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to immediately "suspend trade and diplomatic ties" with New Delhi, and asked why the Pakistan government had invited India's Home Minister, Rajnath Singh to the SAARC Home Ministers' conference.
Members of the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), led by Hafiz Saeed (also head of Lashkar e Taiyyaba (LeT) and prime perpetrator of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack) and some Hurriyat/Kashmiri separatist leaders were also seen taking active part in the rally, making anti-India hate speeches and threats of launching a violent resistance to stop Rajnath Singh's visit.
"Inshaallah, we will do everything to stop him", said Salahuddin, while protest organiser Senator Siraj-ul-Haq called on the Pakistan government to ban Rajnath Singh's visit.
The organisers even made children holding toy guns participate in the rally. Saeed, whose 26/11 Mumbai attack was widely aimed not only at Indians, but also at foreigners, particularly Americans and Jews, is on the United States' most wanted list with a USD 10 million bounty on his head.
Ironically, the Jamat-ud-Dawa is on the Pakistan government's 'terror watch list', while the HuM is a declared banned militant organisation as per the Pakistan Interior Ministry's records.
Yet, they freely hold protests and rallies in major cities of Pakistan. The JeI is planning to hold another such a march and rally on August 15, 2016 from Muzaffarabad to Chakothi in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
Also on August 1, 2016, thousands of people in the Kashmir Valley reportedly reached the Karimabad graveyard in Pulwama district, following a call given jointly by hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, so-called 'moderate' faction leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yasin Malik to pay tributes to terrorists killed during the recent unrest.
Abu Dujana, the most wanted LeT terrorist, was also reported to have participated in the gathering, wearing a mask and surrounded by many people, as pro-freedom and anti India slogans were raised with the waving of Pakistani and LeT flags.
It may be pertinent to mention that in 2015, there were 117 attempts by Pakistani terrorists to cross the Line of Control (LoC) into Kashmir Valley of which 33 were successful.
In 2016, till July itself, there have been 80 such attempts, of which 54 have been successful. These have led to 96 terrorists being killed in 2015 and 93 being killed till July 2016, both near the LoC and in the hinterland.
Only 170 terrorists remain in the valley after such attrition which is a major reason for increase in frustration/desperation by ISI and terrorist leaders.
Daanish Bin Nabi has written an article in the online website Daily O titled "South Kashmir becoming hotbed of terrorism" that elders are wary of the emerging discontent, and its manifestations.
He further states that they believe that the political, economic and social rights of the youth have been compromised by the state government, and that they blame social media tools like WhatsApp and Facebook for playing an important role in the recruitment of militants and in the radicalising the Kashmiri youth.
He adds that after Burhan uploaded his video in early September 2015, in Nizampora, Shopian, terrorist organisations recruited 17 youth.
On Pakistan's role in Kashmir, its "non state actors" (NSAs) and use of social media, Mohammad Shehzad, one of Pakistan's bold journalists, says in his piece titled 'The War Within'(December 2013 issue of Newsline), is very relevant: ".the ground reality is that we are a state at war with itself, a state sans the state's writ.
The society is being governed by non-state actors - terrorists, religious extremists, clerics and criminals.
The state has cowardly ceded its writ to non-state actors, of which the most powerful are the jihadis and sectarian outfits who are exceedingly well-organised down to the street level.
.. violence against Shias and Ahmediyas, terrorist attacks against hapless civil populace by Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan and a large number of jihadi outfits, including those meant specifically for anti-India operations has been business as usual, despite claims of disbandment of some of the outfits, which have merely been changing names and street locations.
The Nawaz Sharif government's promises about tackling terrorism and sectarianism amount to naught, because at least 55 of its members represent some or the other jihadi outfits, with the TTP being a major factor".
Shehzad also wrote that during the tenure of People's Party of Pakistan (PPP), jihadis/sectarian outfits started making use of the social media to extend their dangerous mission, not only in Pakistan, but across the world.
However, instead of banning the provocative pages, the PPP government blocked all those Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that raised concerns about the rising militancy and sectarianism in the country.
The electronic media too played a very negative role by glorifying the jihadi/sectarian militants. There are some very interesting and significant inputs on the current situation came from senior Kashmiri journalists this writer interacted with, whose names are not mentioned for the sake of their safety.
One is about a very recent incident in North Kashmir, where an Army officer's reaction to grave provocation was highly praised.
A violent crowd converged on an army post shouting anti-India/'Azadi (freedom) slogans and throwing stones.
When the officer came out and requested the crowd to stop stoning, one of the ringleaders came up to him and slapped him.
The officer surprised the agitators by not reacting aggressively and urging the crowd to listen to him.
He conveyed that while it was very easy for him to react by firing on the crowd with telling effect, he did not do so as he considered them as his own countrymen, though they were agitated.
He explained that the army could not grant them Azadi (Freedom), but said their demands should be addressed to the government.
In this situation, if the officer had ordered his troops to fire, the public reaction would have spread far and wide in North Kashmir.
"This officer's very mature and patient handling of the situation despite great provocation, saved many lives.hats off to him," said the journalist.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken, albeit over a month late, and appealed for "insaniyat" (humanity/humanism) , "jamhooriyat" (republic/democtacy), Kashmiriyat (spirit of Kashmir), "India loves Kashmir..only some have been misled", he said, and also said that he would be guided by the policy followed by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
BJP's National General Secretary Ram Madhav has also been reaching out to people in Srinagar. While there is no doubt about robust political initiative and reaching out to sooth hearts and minds, steps are still required to assuage hurt feelings and this can only be possible with the help of a strong political will and deftness.
The involvement of the army has been debated and there are experts who have questioned whether their presence is required.
What is important is to break the apparatus which keeps Pakistan supported terrorism alive and incites the public to commit acts of violence.This must be neutralised.
The media must also stop eulogizing and lionising terrorists. They must report correctly and in a balanced manner. They must show the plight of victims of terrorism and not be mindlessly driven by TRPs, sensationalism or circulation figures.
Unfiltered/unedited footage by audio-visual media can cause much damage as it did during the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai.
And last but not least, innovative use must be made of the same social media which has been misused by the ISI and separatists for radicalizing Kashmiri youth.
Having interviewed many Kashmiri children brought on all-India tours by the Army and BSF over the past two decades, one can say that all is not lost and there is hope for retrieval.
And now, no time should be lost in taking the necessary steps for security and the launching of positive projects.
The views expressed in the above article are that Lt. Col. Anil Bhat, a strategic analyst.