Winning: The Battle for Kashmir

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April 19, 2007: India is not ready to declare victory in Kashmir, but it's looking more and more like that. India believes there are still about 1,400 Islamic terrorists in Kashmir, about 40 percent of them from Pakistan, and the rest locals. As a result, India is reorganizing its security forces in Kashmir. For a population of ten million, Kashmir currently has 65,000 police, 23,000 Special Police and 40,000 part time security personnel (guarding 3,000 villages). Moreover, two army corps are stationed there as well. The new security force will mainly be 200,000 locally recruited police, in fifty battalions. Eventually, many of these battalions would be moved to other parts of India. Five of the fifty battalions have already been formed. India may not form all fifty battalions, even though the program is pitched as a way to solve the unemployment problem in Kashmir. Years of terrorism have wrecked the economy.

The war with Islamic terrorists from Pakistan, in Kashmir, has been going on for over 18 years, and has killed some 40,000 people so far. But in the last six years, the government has managed to beat the terrorists down. In 2001, there were 4,507 dead in Kashmir. That number has come down every year since, until 2006, when 1,116 died (a 36 percent drop from the previous year.) While the Islamic terrorists are popular in Pakistan (which believes that it should have gotten Kashmir when Pakistan and India were created in 1948), the Pakistani government is trying to back away from an effort which appears to have failed.

Currently, the Indian government believes there are no Islamic terrorists coming across the border from Pakistan. But that's mainly because of very heavy snows over the Winter, which made travel through the mountains extremely difficult. In addition, India has, over the past few years, bought thermal sensors, and much other security equipment, from Israel. This gear has made it impossible for the terrorists to move across the border along the easiest routes. The more difficult routes become impossible if the snow is deep enough, as it was this year. India believes there are several hundred Islamic terrorists waiting, on the Pakistani side of the border, to attempt a crossing once the snows melt a bit. Many of the terrorists will make it, although the terrain, and Indian patrols, will get most of them.

Pakistan is under international pressure to shut down the terrorist training camps near Indian Kashmir, but has been unable to do so. The fight to take Kashmir back from India is very popular inside Pakistan. India will never let the province go, as that nationalism works both ways. Both countries claimed the province when India and Pakistan became independent of Britain in 1948. But India took control of most of Kashmir, and has retained it since then. Unable to take it using the military, Pakistan encouraged Islamic radicals to try. The terrorist approach has failed, but the media eats it up, and backing off now would be political suicide for the Pakistani leadership.

Most Kashmiris are Moslem (thus the Pakistani claim in the first place), but they have had it with the terrorist violence. Most would rather be ruled by India, as its common knowledge that the Pakistani government is a mess by comparison. Increasingly, the Islamic terrorists in Kashmir spend most of their time attacking Moslems, to keep them in line. This helps the Indians, but does nothing to bring a quick end to the fighting.

 


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