The Proposed Long March By Pakistan
| Col. Bipin Pathak - 01 Oct 2019

By Col Bipin Pathak 

Pakistan Army is adopting new tactics of sending large groups of civilians to the Line of Control ( LoC) to force  Indian Army to open fire which would inflict a high rate of casualties.  A test case had occurred on 06 Sep 19, when a group of six civilians had reached 150m from the LoC in Lam Area ( Nowshera, Dist Rajauri) raising slogans to instigate the Indian Army. However, the Indian army restrained and fired in the gaps to disperse the crowd. On 08 Sep 19, the Pakistani police had prevented protesters under the aegis of POK JKLF near village Dawarandi in subdivision Hajira ( Dist Poonch) to reach LoC.  This Long March by Pakistan is aimed at ensuring civil casualties so as to instigate the emotions of hinterland Kashmiri’s to rise and revolt and also impact the world opinion against India specially the Muslim Umma.

The primary aim of the proposed Long March is to highlight Kashmir as an International Flashpoint and ensure international attention on the Kashmir dispute so that it does not recede from global focus. The forced breaching of LoC may witness Indian retaliation which Pakis intend to exploit at the International arena by terming it as killing of unarmed civilians. The aftermath of the long march may attract the attention of International players like Trump who may request India for conceding to third party mediation. Pakistan may be under the impression that as America is desperate to extricate from Afghanistan as the services of Pakistan is required for working out a deal with Afghan Taliban and this assistance to America may ease application of pressure by the USA on Pakistan in terms of Pakistan support to Kashmir militancy and also avoiding blacklisting by FATF. 

POK based JKLF has announced a march to the LoC on 04 Oct 19 from Bhimber to Chakothi. This announcement had been made by JKLF Spokesperson Mohd Rafiq Dar in Muzaffarabad on Sep 19. This march is to be led by JKLF acting Chairman Abdul Hameed Butt. More recently Habib –Urhman-Afaqi, President of JEI, Dist Kotli and members of Jamiat – Ahle – e – Sunnat had also stated that thousands of youths are waiting to trample across the LoC. Islamic NGO’s associated with terror outfits have been directed to strengthen the march by providing manpower. The likely sectors of the breach may be areas in the vicinity of Garhi Dupatta, Kotli, Bhimber, Chakothi and areas opposite Tangdhar.

Even earlier,  JKLF has had made three attempts over the past three decades to cross the LoC. On  12 Feb 1992, its march had reached Chakothi, where Pakistani army opened fire to refrain them from getting closer to the LoC and as a result, seven people were killed. 0n 24 Oct 92, another attempt was made and one marcher was killed. On 05 Oct 99, Pakistani Army had pushed back an attempt by JKLF marchers to cross the LoC near Hajira (PoK), Nearly 250 JKLF marchers were reported to have been arrested while trying to cross over from Hajira. Among the marchers was Pakistan-based JKLF chief Amanullah Khan. It is doubtful if the leadership of the JKLF will be able to capitalize on the present upsurge in Pakistan after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A. The outfit is poorly organized and operates from Muzaffarabad with a very insignificant cadre strength.

 Pakistan Army for international consumption has stated that they would not allow anyone to cross the LoC , this seems to be a contradiction as on one end they garnering support of Islamic NGO’s and on the other threatening action. In all likelihood the intent of Pakistan is to push in armed foreign militants through these breaching groups from a particular identified sector and as a diversionary have multiple attempts along the LoC of civilians attempting to trample the LoC.

Besides the mainstream political parties like Muslim Conference, PML (N) , PPP, POK’s PTI and United Journalist Council, the religious outfits and the United Jehad Council, a conglomerate of various Kashmiri militant groups have also committed support and intent to march towards the LoC. In official statements, PM Imran Khan has appealed for deferring the march till he exhausts the diplomacy tool. The mainstream political parties to embarrass their PM would make endeavours for the March implementation. To call off the same they would seek that the  Imran Khan govt condones all acts of corruption as per National Reconciliation Ordinance ( NRO), against various leaders of political parties and unconditionally release those in jails. Pardoning those accountable for corruption seems remote as the PM is committed to prosecuting such leaders whose acts of corruption stand exposed. Hence, India should be prepared for all contingencies, if,  the Long March is not called off.

Structural faultlines such as Sindhudesh, Pashtunistan, and the Free Balochistan movement be exploited at an International level including with the Muslim Umma and also human rights abuses in Gilgit – Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunwa, Baluchistan and POK, ranging from political repression, electoral fraud, forced disappearances, torture and suppression of freedom of speech. Lastly , the troops on ground should be alert , the areas mined, aggressive patrolling and be prepared to shoot anyone attempting to cross.

Anchors and participants on Pakistan TV debates do convey that they fear that another attempt to breach the LoC will lead to PoK Kashmiri’s being killed by the Indian Army, thereby triggering another war with India. Do we take PM Imran Khan’s appeal for refrain or be prepared for the worst. As PM Imran Khan is projecting himself as the Messiah of Muslims and Kashmiri’s, in all likelihood he would not attempt to stop the marchers nor like before would the Pakistan Army fire at the marchers. If he attempts to force stop the protesters it would affect his image as the torchbearer of Kashmiri’s and the opposition would call for his removal for the double standards.

(Author Col Bipin Pathak is a Retired officer from Military Intelligence of Indian Army. The views expressed in this article are his own. He can be contacted at bipin146184@yahoo.com)

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