Indian security forces on Wednesday discovered another tunnel built by Pakistani security officials to push terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir, people familiar with the matter said. This is the second tunnel found by Indian security forces since November last.
The Border Security Force has told the national security establishment that the underground tunnel, like the last one found in November, was a professionally-engineered effort to infiltrate terrorists trained in terror camps commissioned by the Pakistan army.
The entry to the tunnel was spotted about 300 feet from the zero line; about 65 feet from the fence on the Indian side, a senior Border Security Force officer said. The 3-feet wide tunnel appears to have been constructed at a depth of 25 to 30 feet.
But this time, the BSF did not stumble upon the tunnel. “Given the sophistication of the last tunnel that had been found, we had figured that the Pakistan army had started building cross-border terrorists to create a new infiltration route and had constituted special teams to look for them,” the BSF officer said.
Counter-terror officials in New Delhi said the tunnel also explained instances of ceasefire violations by Pakistani Rangers in this region.
It has been an old tactic of Pakistani security forces to open fire at border guards on the Indian side to distract them. Usually, it was to help terrorists infiltrate into India. “Now, it is also being used to draw the attention of security forces from spots where they are building tunnels,” a counter-terror official said.
And there has been a sharp increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces all along the border in Jammu and Kashmir in 2020.
According to statistics compiled by the Jammu and Kashmir police, there were 930 instances of ceasefire violations in 2020, a 54% increase over the 605 instances the previous year. There was also a 22% increase in recruitment of terrorists by Pakistan’s deep state.
“But the security forces were on their toes,” a top Jammu and Kashmir police officer said. Only 52 of the 174 terrorists recruited in 2020 are still active. “Nearly 50 of them were arrested or surrendered. Another 76 were killed in security operations,” the officer said.
A national security planner in Delhi said the Pakistan army’s approach to infiltrate terrorists via tunnels reflected how desperately they wanted to keep Kashmir on the boil. “The general understanding earlier was that the Pakistani side would largely pause infiltration attempts during the winter. The tunnels indicate that General (Qamar Ahmad) Bajwa does not want the terror tap to be turned off…. That he does not want a dip in terrorist attacks in Kashmir,” he said.
But the desperation to keep the Kashmir Valley in the news, he said, could also be linked to Imran Khan’s troubles from the opposition that has united to target the PM Khan and even the army. This would explain why PM Khan and Gen Bajwa have been trying to focus on Kashmir back home.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement, an alliance of opposition parties formed in September to mobilise nationwide protests against Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government is already gaining public support.
“If the economic situation is not properly controlled, Pakistan will face political instability with growing risks of government collapse,” an internal assessment by the United Nations’ department of safety and security said.