On February 10th six people were killed during a gun battle when three Pakistani members of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) stormed the Indian military camp of Sunjuwan near Jammu in the disputed area of Kashmir.
Five Indian soldiers were killed as well as the father of one of the soldiers. 10 were wounded, including women and children. The Indian army said that the attackers had assault rifles, grenade launchers, and grenades.
Hundreds of police, army, and paramilitary personnel were called in after attackers barricaded themselves in a multistory building. They were finally killed February 11th after a 36 hour long fight. The assault was the largest since September of 2016 when another Indian army base was stormed killing 18 soldiers.
India has long accused Pakistan of arming and training terrorist groups and insurgents, as well as helping them cross the heavily militarized line of control into Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan denies giving aid to fighters in Kashmir, claiming to provide only diplomatic and moral support.
An Indian defense minister said on February 12th that Pakistan is extending the arc of terror and that they will provide evidence to prove that Pakistan are the masterminds behind the recent attacks.
However, on February 13th in Kabul during the “Chiefs of Defense” meeting Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa said Pakistan “eliminated all terrorist sanctuaries” within its borders. He also blamed the remaining terror “residual” on the Afghan refugees living in the country.
Bajwa comments echoed those of other military commanders and politicians, but arguments fall flat against evidence that known terror group leaders continue to operate inside of Pakistan with little to no resistance.
One example, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed, whose group is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks and numerous other attacks in Afghanistan and India. This terror group has been linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and operates openly in Pakistan. But on February 14th, Hafiz Saeed and his charities Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) were banned from operating in Pakistan.
This decision by Pakistan came just days before a meeting was to be held by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The global coordinating body was expected to place Pakistan on a list of countries that fail to prevent terrorism financing, a motion promoted by the United States.
The President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain amended the anti-terrorism act “to proscribe entities banned by the United Nations.” Saeed is a designated terrorist on both U.N. and U.S terror lists.
The violence within Kashmir has been ongoing since 1947 when both countries gained their independence from Great Britain. In the past three years 56 members of India’s security forces in Kashmir have been killed in cross border exchanges.
While the decision by the Pakistanis to expand its terrorism law is a positive, it’s unlikely to represent a long-term decision by the Pakistanis to terminate their support for Kashmir jihadist groups.
If backing Kashmir fighters remains a relatively consequence-free way for Pakistan to apply pressure to Indian forces, we can expect it to continue.