The footage was shocking. Syed Salahuddin, commander-in-chief of the Hizbul Mujahideen, flanked by two terrorists holding Kalashnikov rifles and ordering a group of terrorists to cross the Line of Control (LoC) and attack India.
This most certainly appeared to be a launch pad somewhere in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). The words were full of hate and the orders were to kill and be killed. Salahuddin, a wanted terrorist in India, is an 'honoured guest' in Pakistan. He travels freely between Muzaffarabad and Islamabad.
"Go to India, wage Jihad. You will be fighting in the most inhospitable weather conditions. You will be killed there but your martyrdom will be supreme," screams Salahuddinin the visuals accessed exclusively by Headlines Today.
In the video, Salahuddin is seen indoctrinating his suicide attackers. They are armed to the teeth with rocket launchers and Kalashnikov rifles.
"The battlefield of Kashmir is no doubt the most difficult of all battlefields. That is why compared to others, the holy war (Jihad) in Kashmir will bear you the sweetest fruit," Salahuddin is seen in the video motivating his cadres before they cross the LoC.
He warns them of the might of the Indian army. He tells his terrorists they will be killed in Kashmir and that they would be fighting in the most inhospitable weather conditions and altitudes.
Highly placed sources told Headlines Today this is a very recent video - as recent as late January or early February 2010. Salahuddin is seen on video talking about the 21-year-old fight in J&K. "Recently on the 5th of February 2010, Kashmir Solidarity Day was observed across Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, where Salahuddin was quoted talking about the 21-year-long struggle in Kashmir," highly placed sources told Headlines Today.
This is not literature, Mr Salman Bashir"For the past 21-22 years, in the beautiful valleys and snow clad peaks of J&K, along the Dal Lake and Jhelum River, we have been fighting a war with the 7.5 lakh-strong Indian army," Salahuddin tells his band of suicide bombers.
Sources also tell Headlines Today that this video is in line with intelligence intercepts and warnings about expecting "one of the hottest summers ever" in J&K. Intelligence agencies have warned that terrorists across the LoC have been ordered to carry out a series of intensified spectacular terror strikes in J&K.
Bullets rang out at Lal Chowk, the heart of Srinagar, early on Tuesday morning. Within minutes, a CRPF jawan lay martyred. In a daring attack, a terrorist walked up to the jawan and shot him at close range before disappearing in the early morning crowd at Lal Chowk, popular among locals as 'Bomb Chowk'.
"Terrorists are now attacking security forces at least once a week. According to reports, Pakistan has reactivated training camps in PoK and infiltration figures are on a sharp upward curve," sources said. Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Op Vayu Shakti in Pokhran last week, said: "Our real concern is the existence of terror camps intact across the border after the 26/11 attacks. There are 42 terror camps. And there has been no serious effort to dismantle these camps."
According to sources in the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the number of trained terrorists who crossed into Kashmir has risen dramatically by a hundred percent. "Sixty sneaked in during 2008 and that number doubled to 120 in 2009. The army and intelligence agencies are now estimating this to double once again in 2010," a top-ranking police officer told Headlines Today.
Sources also tell Headlines Today this is evidence of terrorists openly using Pakistani territory to launch terror attacks across the LoC into India. "Terrorists like Syed Salahuddin, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Illyas Kashmiri represent the terror troika openly operating out of Pakistan. Salahuddin has been leading the oldest group of terrorists. He is not confined to PoK and has a house even in Pakistan's capital Islamabad,'' the sources said.
Even as India prepares for one of the hottest summers ever in the counter-terror operations, attacks like the one at Lal Chowk and the recent ones at Tral and Sopore - where the army lost a special forces officer and an infantry officer - are proof of Pakistan's stepped up operations to spread terror across the LoC.
Pakistan's terror troikaThe civil establishment in Pakistan does not really matter. They parrot the lines given to them by the all powerful military establishment. And for the military establishment, Salahuddin, Hafiz Saeed and Illyas Kashmiri are strategic assets.
Pakistan has fought and lost four conventional wars to India. This proxy war is a win-win situation for the Pakistan army and the terror troika — Saeed, Salahuddin and Kashmiri — are generals of the Pakistan army fighting this proxy war.
From Saeed to Salahuddin, the terror masterminds misuse Islam to indoctrinate the terrorists. The Pakistan army is understood to be giving them better training, teaching them more advanced tactics and giving them better weapons to take on the security forces. This is apparent from the diverse tactics terrorists have used in J&K recently — a 72-hour stand-off in Sopore where Captain Devender Singh Jas and two other Para commandoes were martyred, the 30-hour stand-off in Tral where Captain Yadav was martyred and the hit-and-run attack in Lal Chowk, Srinagar.
Options for IndiaOne thing is clear. Whether you talk to Pakistan or not, terrorists armed, trained, funded and nurtured by the Pakistan army and ISI will continue to strike. The intensity may vary - from an occasional Mumbai 26/11-style attack to the more frequent Pune, Jaipur and Delhi serial blast-style attacks. This has been the history of Indo-Pak talks. The attack on Parliament and Mumbai may have forced our old, weak kneed and equally if not more weak-minded political leadership out of their slumber and threaten Pakistan with war. But both Pakistan and India know that our politicians lack the will and army the preparedness for war.
The world knows we lack a foreign policy, especially a Pakistan policy. They have a consistent policy to bleed us. Our prime ministers keep reading Urdu couplets, taking buses to Pakistan or selling out the country's interests at Sharm-el-Sheikh.
India clearly needs to set benchmarks and put it in public domain. If talks have to resume in the right earnest, Pakistan has to crack down on the forces hostile to India on Pakistani territory. If Pakistan is not even willing to do that, why even go through the charade of talks? Unless Hafiz Saeed, Syed Salahuddin and Illyas Kashmiri are put behind bars, it cannot be business as usual.
Chidambaram's litmus test for PakistanThe only hope in India's otherwise rather dismal political leadership is Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. One feels safer with Chidambaram at the wheel. At least he is honestly trying to ensure that the security apparatus delivers.
Post-26/11, there has been a sea change in the style of functioning of security forces on ground, and at least the first steps have been taken to ensure there is accountability in the intelligence agencies.
Speaking at the India Today conclave 2010, Chidambaram asked Pakistan to walk the talk on terror. If Pakistan is actually serious about cracking down on terror, especially terror aimed at India, it should provide the voice samples of terrorist handlers who were guiding the terrorists during the Mumbai attacks. At least then there is hope that Pakistan is serious about fighting the cancer of terror.
If Pakistan does not do any of this and yet calls for resumption of composite dialogue and India agrees, we would once again be let down by our political and diplomatic leadership. Then only God help India. We cannot keep raising the bar and then do a low jump.