Pak’s Af meddling will bite it in future: Army Chief

Pakistan’s western front continues to remain unstable and it fishing in troubled waters of Afghanistan is going to come and bite it in the future, Army Chief General M M Naravane said on Thursday.

Without naming Pakistan, he said the infiltration bids and terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir have increased during the last two and half months and these “activities” are being sponsored by “our western neighbour”.

When asked at a defence conclave if Pakistan can now concentrate more of its assets towards India as it sees its western front with Afghanistan under its control, Naravane replied: “I think it is too early to draw that conclusion.”

“I think their western front is equally if not more unstable. I think it is going to come and bite them, whatever they have been fishing in the troubled waters. It is going to bite them and they will realise how it hurts,” he said.

There has been increasing concern in the Indian security establishment following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on August 15.

The concern is over the possibility of terror spillover from Afghanistan into Jammu and Kashmir through Pakistan and rise in terrorist activities, particularly by groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed following the Taliban wresting power in Kabul.

Naravane on October 9 had not ruled out the possibility of Afghan-origin foreign terrorists attempting to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir once the situation stabilises in Afghanistan and had cited similar instances when the Taliban was in power in Kabul over two decades ago.

Naravane said on Thursday that there has been an increase in Pakistan-backed infiltration and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir during the last 2-2.5 months.

Five army personnel were killed in an attack by terrorists in Surankote in Poonch district on October 11, while four soldiers laid down their lives in a gunfight with the ultras in Mendhar last Thursday.

Earlier this week, Naravane visited the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, where a massive operation to track down terrorists hiding in forest areas of Mendhar, Surankote and Thanamandi has been going on since October 11.

The army chief explained the Jammu and Kashmir situation and said “from about the third week of February, when we had the ceasefire understanding between the DGMOs, there was the lull on the Line of Control (LoC).”

In fact, there has been no ceasefire violation from February till the end of June and the beginning of July, he mentioned.

“During this period, not only were there no ceasefire violations, but even the other trans-LoC activities (infiltration, etc) that normally takes place…also saw a downturn,” Naravane stated.

From the end of June and the beginning of July, there has definitely been an increase in these activities, the army chief mentioned.

“A number of infiltration bids have been made. We have been able to foil a few of them. But definitely, there has been an increase in the activities in the last two-two and a half months or so,” he said.

However, the Indian Army has its plan in place as it has a strong counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency grid that is reviewed from time to time, he mentioned.

“These activities will continue but there is no denying the fact that it is being sponsored by our western neighbour and without that support, this terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir could not be flourishing. They would not be able to carry out these activities unless they have this state backing,” he said.

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