Whether Taliban infiltrators have actually entered Jammu and Kashmir has yet to be confirmed. But if they have, two conclusions can be drawn. One: they are from Pakistan, not Afghanistan; it is Baitullah Mehsud’s men and not Mullah Omar’s who have sneaked in. Two: however much the Taliban may be at war with the Pakistani state, setting off bomb blasts across the country, some sections of the same Pakistani state must have helped them in their bid to enter India.
The militants could not have travelled the distance from the Pakistan tribal areas to the India-Pakistan border undetected unless the Pakistani security forces connived to let them through. There is also a huge presence of the Pakistani army all along the Line of Control. Could Taliban elements have crossed over without the army knowing?
“Allowing the Taliban to enter India seems to be an clear attempt to draw attention away from the grim situation in Pakistan itself and turn it towards the Kashmir dispute,” said Amitabh Mattoo, international relations expert.
For India, the entry is ominous. Taliban infiltrators are bound to be even more ruthless and committed than groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammed that the Indian army has after years been able to put on the defensive.
The large turnout in the November-December elections, despite the separatists appeal to boycott them and the disinterest lately shown by the Kashmiri people in separatist activity may have affected the morale of overground separatist lobby and local militants. The All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) has already decided not to oppose the Lok Sabha polls as staunchly as it did polls in the past. Shabbir Lone of the People’s Conference is actually considering participating. Similarly, the number of local militants killed is falling.
Of the 34 militants killed in encounters in the last fortnight, 29 were found to be from Pakistan and only five from J&K.
But the sections in Pakistan bent on winning Kashmir are not fazed. The Pakistani militants remain as determined as ever. “There is a high level of infiltration right now,” said Kuldeep Khoda, director general of police, J&K.