M.M Khajooria We in India have a phenomenally short and blurred memory. The bonhomie between Prime Minister Modi and Obama/ Trump and open display of ‘affection’ through many too many hugs in public has blinded us to the reality of US role in promoting Pakistan and attempt to destabilize this country especially in Jammu and Kashmir and the Punjab. “There is compelling evidence that elements of the Pakistani Government have sponsored a significant flow of arms to Kashmiri militants, as well as an extensive training programme. There is also substantial evidence that Sikh militants in Indian Punjab have enjoyed ready access to Pakistan’s arms stockpiles.” And so, many blood-stained years after Pakistan began its proxy war against India, first in Punjab and then in Jammu & Kashmir, a major human rights organisation come out with a damning and detailed report charging the government across the border, especially the ISI, for supporting, training and equipping the terrorists in their campaign against India. But the 60-page report, Arms and abuses in Indian Punjab and Kashmir, by the Washington-based Human Rights Watch Arms Project, goes beyond merely blaming Pakistan for colluding with the militants in Kashmir and Punjab. It draws a direct link between the militants’ easy access to sophisticated weapons and the suffering of the people in both states, including the flight of one lakh Kashmiri Hindus in 1990 following a terror campaign. It maintains that the responsibility for the human rights abuses by the armed groups has to be borne not just by Pakistan but also by the US. The sordid affair sprouts from President Ronald Reagan’s decision in 1981 to flush out the “evil” Soviet empire from the hills and valleys of then Communist-ruled Afghanistan. Of necessity, it had to be a proxy war. Covert operation was therefore launched by the CIA to supply weapons to the Afghan mujahedin through the Pak ISI. It was a massive arms transfer, increasing from 10,000 tons in 1983 to 65,000 tons in 1987and so on .The arms shipments included rifles, light machine guns, landmines, mortars, anti-aircraft guns and finally, in 1986, the deadly but easy-to-use Stinger surface-to-air missiles made by the US (which may also have landed in the hands of Kashmiri militants.The trained manpower was supplied by Madarsas run by Moulana Fazal ul Rehman and Co in Pakistan appropriately named Taliban. Once arms were handed over to the ISI, the CIA took little responsibility. Large amounts of arms and ammunition were siphoned off from the Afghan pipeline by the Mujahedin commanders and by ISI officers, resulting not only in a massive arms bazaar in Dara and other North West Frontier Province (NWPF) towns but more significantly providing the ISI with its own huge arsenal. Ed Gargan of The New York Times has quoted a former ISI chief claiming that” the ISIstill had access to three million Kalashnikovs, packed and greased. Many of these could be the Type 56 assault rifles (with the Type 56-1 variation having a convenient folding stock) purchased by the CIA from China in “massive amounts” for the mujahedin. The Chinese rifles have not just showed up in terrorism-plagued Indian states, but were also part of the consignments offloaded by Tiger Memon before the Bombay bomb blasts. The Arms Project confined its investigations to the weapons supply to Punjab and Kashmir militants, but its Washington director, Stephen Goose, told India Today that “it would not be surprising” if the Chinese-made Kalashnikovs seized in Bombay and other places were also from the same Indeed, as the report by ‘Human Rights Watch Arms’ reveals, source from all account the packages remain untouched. These will in all probability be unpacked as and when Pakistan chooses to mount major strikes in Kashmir. AS it is, the local recruits to terrorist outfits are starving for weapons. The import from across the CFL and IB is stalled largely due to vigilance by the Indian Security forces on the borders and intense focus by Indian intelligence agencies. This, however cannot be allowed to generate complacency. In fact, there is need to further strengthen counter-measures to any push of weaponry and Communication Equipment by Pakistan particularly during the on-going tension between the two countries. To be deceived by ‘the comparative surface calm’ in Kashmir would amount to inviting a disaster.
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