The Asian Age

‘ Pak Army pro­vides cover to mil­i­tants’

- D. K. Pathak

Why is Pak­istan in­dulging in such heavy fir­ing at the In­doPak bor­der?

Since July 17, fir­ing from Pak­istani side con­tin­ues un­abated. Pak­istani forces keep on at­tempt­ing such kind of snip­ing; this is not un­usual. When one of our boys got swept away in the Chenab river, we spoke to them im­me­di­ately, and also put pres­sure on them. Our jawan was re­turned in 48 hours on Au­gust 8. We thanked them pro­fusely. In fact, I sent a let­ter to the DG ( Pak­istan Rangers) thank­ing him. It was a good ges­ture on Pak­istan’s part. But what re­ally sur­prised us was that snip­ing re­sumed the very next day, on Au­gust 9. Since then, fir­ing has con­tin­ued — some­times it oc­curs early morn­ing, some­times late evening and, of course, late at night. We have re­tal­i­ated.

On a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions we have no­ticed move­ment of armed peo­ple in civil­ian dress very close to the in­ter­na­tional bor­der. Now why should civil­ians with arms move in that area? Since we have not caught them, we can­not say who are th­ese mil­i­tants, what groups they be­long to, but the nat­u­ral in­fer­ence is that if a civil­ian is mov­ing with arms in the dead of the night so close to the in­ter­na­tional bor­der, he is not a reg­u­lar per­son. Also, there has been in­tel­li­gence in­put on the pres­ence of mil­i­tant groups. How many ter­ror camps are ac­tive along the bor­der on the Pak­istani side?

Ter­ror camps ex­ist in good num­bers. Along the bor­der, there would be 35- 40 launch­ing pads of mil­i­tant groups. In each pad, mil­i­tants come and go. The num­ber of oc­cu­pants keeps vary­ing. While the train­ing camps are lit­tle inside the Pak­istan- oc­cu­pied Kashmir, the launch­ing pads are very close to the bor­der so that at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity the mil­i­tants can cross over. What is the mo­dus operandi of the mil­i­tant out­fits

op­er­at­ing along the bor­der?

When Pak­istan Rangers are fir­ing, in­fil­tra­tion at­tempts are made at a dif­fer­ent place be­cause they pre­sume that In­dian troops are en­gaged in fir­ing. The fir­ing is ba­si­cally done to di­vert our at­ten­tion. Some­times Pak­istan gives cover but only when there is no height­ened ten­sion be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan else they know it will be re­tal­i­ated. How­ever, there are cer­tain lo­ca­tions where mil­i­tants feel that they won’t be caught in the cross­fire and they can cross over. So th­ese kinds of at­tempts al­ways oc­cur. What do you think is the big­gest prob­lem on the bor­der?

There are too many play­ers in the game. Ques­tions like who com­mands whom, who gives di­rec­tion to whom, who is call­ing the shots at a par­tic­u­lar given time is very dif­fi­cult to say. Whether it is the hand­i­work of Pak­istan mil­i­tary, the In­ter- Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence, or the Pak­istan Rangers? It keeps on chang­ing. One thing is cer­tain though, that the Pak­istani Army has a pre­dom­i­nant role in bor­der man­age­ment un­like the BSF. We are not un­der the con­trol of the Army, we are in­de­pen­dent as far as the in­ter­na­tional bor­der is con­cerned. At a cer­tain stretch of LoC, we are with the Army that has op­er­a­tional con­trol. But on the IB, we are ex­clu­sive and the Army has no role at all. Has there been any pos­i­tive out­come of the flag meet­ings?

There have been two flag meet­ings — on Au­gust 27 and Au­gust 29 — but the out­come is not very en­cour­ag­ing. In fact, when the first flag meet­ing took place in Akhnoor sec­tor, Pak­istani offi- cers came not to dis­cuss any is­sue but to say that the level of the flag meet­ing should be raised to the sec­tor com­man­dant level from the bat­tal­ion com­man­dant level. Pak­istan could have asked for a sec­tor com­man­dant level meet­ing in the first place; it was only buy­ing time.

And on that night it­self there was an in­fil­tra­tion at­tempt at the very place where the meet­ing took place. Late in the night seven or eight peo­ple, who by their ges­tures and body lan­guage ap­peared to be well trained, were car­ry­ing arms and night vi­sion de­vices. They were ob­serv­ing us. It is all recorded in our surveil­lance de­vices. When they came very close to the bor­der, we fired and im­me­di­ately the re­tal­i­a­tion came from a nearby Pak­istani post in­stead of this mil­i­tant group. This shows that ac­tive support is be­ing given by the Pak­istani forces to the mil­i­tants.

On one hand, you call for a flag meet­ing and on the other you make in­fil­tra­tion at­tempts and pro­vide cover to mil­i­tants. This is not done. Are you sat­is­fied with the re­sponse of your men?

Yes, ex­tremely. We gave a fit­ting re­ply to fir­ing by the Pak­ista­nis — with heavy in­ten­sity and vol­ume of fire. Our re­tal­i­a­tion was many times stronger than fir­ing from Pak­istan’s side.

The gov­ern­ment has been back­ing all our ef­forts and our force is very spir­ited. The fact that the Pak­istani side came for­ward for the talks shows that they felt the heat. In our re­tal­ia­tory fir­ing, some Pak­istani sol­diers were in­jured. But the Pak­istani me­dia does not high­light the ca­su­al­ties or in­juries of their se­cu­rity forces. How has Pak­istan re­acted to our re­tal­i­a­tion?

As per their own me­dia re­ports, there has been mo­bil­i­sa­tion of Pak­istan Army troops; there has been di­ver­sion of Pak­istan Rangers from one area to another, par­tic­u­larly in the area where the fir­ing has been go­ing on. There have also been re­ports about mo­bil­i­sa­tion of tanks in that area on their side of the bor­der. Though we can­not see from our side since there is a very dense for­est cover on their side, me­dia re­ports from Muzaffarab­ad have re­ported mo­bil­i­sa­tion of tanks.

 ??  ?? D. K. Pathak, BSF DG
BUNNY SMITH ‘ We gave a fit­ting re­ply to fir­ing by the Pak­ista­nis... Our re­tal­i­a­tion was many times stronger than fir­ing from Pak­istan’s side. The fact that the Pak­istani side came for­ward for talks shows that they felt the heat.’
D. K. Pathak, BSF DG BUNNY SMITH ‘ We gave a fit­ting re­ply to fir­ing by the Pak­ista­nis... Our re­tal­i­a­tion was many times stronger than fir­ing from Pak­istan’s side. The fact that the Pak­istani side came for­ward for talks shows that they felt the heat.’

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