India Preparing for Limited Strikes in Kashmir: Analyst

  • From: "Muslim-News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 16:36:07 +0100

Indian troops have been given the green light for "limited punitive"
action against targets inside Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, a leading
defense analyst said. 

Activists from the Akali Dal shout anti-Pakistan slogans with a poster
of murdered U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl, during a protest in New Delhi
May 21, 2002. The activists urged the government to retaliate over a
bloody guerrilla raid in disputed Kashmir last week in which 34 people
died has stroked tensions with Pakistan. REUTERS/Kamal Kishore 

"All indications are that the armed forces have been given the go-ahead
for limited punitive action against terrorist bases in Pakistan-occupied
Kashmir (PoK)," said Sridhar, a senior defense expert who recently
retired from the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA). 

Founded by an act of parliament, the IDSA is an influential defense
strategy think tank. 

"A limited military action looks inevitable but it has also been made
clear to the forces that this is not a war against the Pakistan army but
against terrorists in PoK," Sridhar told AFP Tuesday. 

Diplomats, however, believe India's leaders are still in a political
rather than a military mindset and that much of the Indian war-mongering
of the past week or so is aimed at pressuring Washington to put the
squeeze on Pakistan to clamp down on religious militancy in Kashmir. 

Washington on Monday urged the nuclear rivals to keep diplomatic
channels open and confirmed Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
would soon visit South Asia. 

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, meanwhile, called on the rival powers
to "exercise maximum restraint to avert a further escalation of

As part of the diplomatic flurry, US ambassador to India Robert
Blackwill called on India's national security advisor Brajsh Mishra
Monday evening to discuss the situation and reportedly asked India for
"more time to restrain Pakistan." 

French ambassador Bernard de Montferrand also called on Mishra,
according to reports Tuesday. 

Sridhar said while the Indian forces would "strike at a time and place
of their choice," some targets had already been identified. 

"The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) have built
huge 300-400 bed dormitories in and around Muzaffarabad in PoK," he

"If some of these structures are destroyed, the message would be

Both Let and JeM are Pakistan-based militant outfits and are blamed by
India for most attacks in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country. 

The analyst said Pakistan was unlikely to retaliate and will only end up
"increasing the intensity of shelling on the borders, abuse India and
make noises at international fora." 

Pakistan has already said it fears India is readying to attack "militant
camps" in PoK. 

Over the past few days, the government has taken a series of steps
normally reserved for conflict scenarios. These include bringing the
paramilitary forces in Kashmir under direct control of the army and
similarly giving the navy the full command of the coast guards and
merchant navy. 

"This meets a key requirement of war-preparedness and this is a clear
signal to Pakistan and the rest of the world that India means business,"
defense analyst Brahma Chellaney told the Hindustan Times. 

And on Monday, the Indian Air Force appointed a hero of the 1965 war
against Pakistan, Air Marshal A.R. Ghandhi, as the new Air Officer
Commander-in-Chief of Western Air Command -- which controls air combat
from Leh in Kashmir to Ganganagar in Rajasthan. 

Asked why such steps were being taken, India's hardline Home Minister
L.K. Advani reportedly told journalists Monday to read the "War Book" --
a classified document listing guidelines to be followed in the lead-up
to war. 

Earlier at a function, Advani said the government would have to change
its current policy of combating militancy in Kashmir. 

"The government is of firm belief that the way we are retaliating will
have to be changed," he said. 

Source:  AFP

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