New Delhi: Two days after at least 40 CRPF jawans were killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into their bus, a retired Army veteran said efforts should be made to reach a political consensus first.
Talking to CNN-News18 about the key military options available with India at present, Lt Gen (Retd) Syed Ata Hasnain said, “We should not allow Kashmir to become a dividing point for political parties and rest of Indians. We need to realise that an all-out conventional war is not in relevance today. There are smarter and hybrid ways to do things which are non-military like weakening Pakistan financially.”
Amid demands from several quarters, including the slain jawans' families, for military attacks in the form of 'surgical strikes' to punish the perpetrators, the Army veteran said there were covert operations which can be used to “bleed Pakistan."
While stressing the need to enhance maritime capabilities as a way to corner the neighbouring country, he said the return of IEDs and car bombs is something which analysts have been warning about for some time now.
This is going to impose a tremendous amount of caution on the security forces, the lieutenant general added.
Recollecting the time when the use of IEDs was rampant in the 90s and early millennium and the amount of deployment that it required to physically look for them, Lt Gen (Retd) Hasnain told CNN-News18, “Now that it has come back again, it is going to lead to increase in population controls measures, larger number of checkpoints and much more intense checking of the civil population and that is exactly what our adversaries want us to do. They want us to make the population suffer a little more and we really have very few options besides doing that. This is going to create more antipathy and alienation and this is how the spiral of terrorism will continue. And, this what they want.”
When asked if the use of such cars would become a trend in the Valley, Lt Gen (Retd) Hasnain said there was very little possibility of that happening.
He said, “In the history of militancy and terrorism in Kashmir, there have been only three major incidents — the incident at the J&K assembly in Srinagar, the one at Badami Bagh gate and third one which most people are unaware of is the ramming of a car on an Army bus near Pattan. Three incidents in the last 30 years.”
“It takes tremendous amount of technology and a lot of care to put a car bomb. Handling 350kg of sensitive explosive is not easy. This is mostly handled by experts who are called IED doctors, who had virtually disappeared after 2008. However, it seems somewhere that a high profile doctor has been brought back who has done this complete fabrication. The intelligence agencies will go after him and get hold of him in a short while. We have to make sure that explosives are under control,” the retired Army veteran said.
On the security dynamics in Afghanistan, Lt Gen (Retd) Hasnain told CNN-News18, “With the American pull-out from Afghanistan, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and USA are all looking at Pakistan to play a decisive role in Afghanistan. So Pakistan’s strategic importance has increased and officials are feeling emboldened. In such a situation, Pakistan has given full support to terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad) to carry out attacks on India.”
Stressing the need to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, he said, “It is India’s voice which should be heard in all major countries and not Pakistan’s.