February 14, 2013:
India recently found out why more Islamic terrorists were getting into Kashmir during the cold weather. The heavy snow in the mountain passes usually halts infiltration attempts during the coldest periods. But this year border guards captured some terrorists trying to get across and found they had a new bit of equipment that helped them survive extended exposure to the cold. The terrorists were carrying heat tablets. These were developed in the West and the Pakistani Army buys them from Germany for troops operating in high altitudes during cold weather. The 14 gram (half ounce) tablets burn for 12 minutes and (most importantly for infiltrators) are smokeless. One tablet can bring half a liter (a pint) of water to a boil. With a few dozen of these per man, infiltrators have a much better chance of making it across the border via the mountain passes in cold weather. The terrorists have been caught using other Pakistani Army equipment, although the infiltrators don’t wear uniforms and pretend that they have no assistance from the Pakistani government.
These infiltrators still have to worry about other obstacles besides cold, snow, wind, and avalanches. A decade ago, using Israeli sensor technology and advice, India erected a 580 kilometer electrified fence along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir. In 2004, India bought more radars and special jamming equipment (to shut down radios used by Islamic radicals trying to cross the border) for use in Kashmir and along the LOC. The use of ground radars, thermal imaging, and other electronic gear along the LOC reduced illegal movements into Indian controlled Kashmir. But the Islamic radicals keep coming, although in much reduced numbers. In 2001, it was estimated that 2,417 Islamic terrorists got across from Pakistan (where the government tolerates the terrorist training camps) to Indian Kashmir (where the terrorists are trying to drive the Indians, and all non-Moslems, out of the region). In 2002, that went down to 1,504, in 2003 it was 1,373, and in 2004 it was 537. The earthquake in late October, 2005, wrecked portions of the fence system, so 597 terrorists got across in that year. In 2006, fewer than 400 got across and that number has continued to decline.
India believes there are still several hundred Islamic terrorists in Kashmir, down from 1,400 six years ago. Most are from Pakistan, and the rest are locals. As a result, India is reorganizing its security forces in Kashmir. India has withdrawn most of the additional police from the area over the last six years. Six years ago Kashmir (population ten million) had 65,000 police, 23,000 Special Police, and 40,000 part time security personnel (guarding 3,000 villages). In addition the army had over 70,000 troops there. That force of 200,000 has been replaced mostly by locally recruited police battalions.
Pakistan is under international pressure to shut down the terrorist training camps near Indian Kashmir but has been unable or unwilling 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 retained 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. The prospect of independence is also popular, but neither India nor Pakistan would tolerate that. 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. It will take more than new gadgets, like the heat tabs, to save the Pakistani terrorist effort in Kashmir.