Recall that gruesome incident on February 27, 2000. Ilyas Kashmiri, the leader of Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI), a banned militant group with close links to al Qaeda, led a group of terrorists to raid an Indian Army post. He took back to Muzaffarabad the head of one of the Indian soldiers, sepoy Bhausaheb Maruti Talekar, and showed it off like a trophy. According to reports that appeared in the Pakistani media at that time, General Pervez Musharraf had rewarded Kashmiri for the barbaric operation. What else was expected from ideologues of hate?
Ilyas Kashmiri is now dead. US drones, not the Indian Army, killed him. The recent act of Pakistani troops to kill two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir reminds one of the brutality displayed by the dreaded terrorist in 2000. It seems Kashmiri is alive in the Pakistani troops even today.
A number of reports suggest that the Special Services Group (SSG), the Pakistan Army`s commando unit, executed the January 08 attack on Indian soldiers. Reports have even claimed that Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed - the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks - had visited the Line of Control (LoC) a week before the gruesome killing of the two Indian soldiers to incite the Pakistani troops.
Only two days ago, Pakistan had accused Indian troops of killing one of its soldiers. Probably in retaliation, Pakistani troops sneaked into Jammu and Kashmir`s Mendhar sector and killed Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh. The Pakistani
s beheaded Sudhakar and Hemraj and carried the latter’s head back across the border. Could the Pakistani troops have acted in a more gruesome manner?
Well, this is not something unexpected from Pakistan. The Islamic country has a habit of double talk: they talk of peace from Islamabad but continue their misadventures at the border. But what is expected from India? New Delhi vowed not to engage in talks with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. It eventually did. Of late, India also played host to Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik, whose futile visit was of no help to either sides. His silly and irresponsible comments angered Indian leaders but that was not enough.
The skirmishes on the border are not new. In fact, a report in a newspaper indicates that the tensions between India and Pakistan have been growing for the last few months, probably sparked by a grandmother who crossed over to the other side of the border wanting to spend her last days with her sons and grandchildren. But the brutal mutilation and beheading of the Indian soldier has drawn attention of the whole world to the simmering atmosphere at the border.
Add to this the reaction of Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, which was just so bleak. “Three days back, Lance Naik Aslam was brutally murdered because of Indian firing, 400 kms inside Pakistani territory. The DG (Military operations) of Pakistan asked his counterpart in India for an explanation. You did not see any hostile reaction coming in from the foreign minister, as we believe that these things must be dealt in a responsible manner,” Khar said. If India failed to `explain`, will Pakistan go ahead and behead Indian soldiers? Is this the answer, Ms Khar?
India has a habit of advocating soft diplomacy. I am not saying that India should stop engaging in talks with Pakistan. But again, New Delhi has no strategy to put a pressure on Islamabad to end its dastardly acts. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has not even delivered a statement on the whole incident. While External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said "we will take this up very firmly with the Pakistan government," who will tell the minister that now is the time to walk the tough talk.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)