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The attack on an army convoy in Kashmir by Pervez Musharraf’s ‘freedom fighters’ belonging to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba can be regarded as an ominous sign. It is quite possible that the terrorists fleeing from Afghanistan will now find their way, with or without Islamabad’s help, into Kashmir.

An upsurge of violence in the state, therefore, cannot be ruled out. However, there is no reason to be overly concerned, for it is also evident that the terrorists will no longer have as much of an easy run as before. First, there is little doubt that the cosy vipers’ nest which the Taliban had built with Pakistan’s help to accommodate Osama bin Laden is on the verge of being wiped out. Secondly, for the first time there is a frontal assault on an acknowledged promoter of Islamic terrorism by other Islamic groups and countries in which the latter are seen to be winning. The result may well be to encourage the saner sections among the Muslims, who had so far been intimidated by the fundamentalists into silence, to reassert themselves.

There is already evidence of this mood in India where prominent Muslim personalities have dissociated themselves from the pro-Osama observations of bigoted clerics like the Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid. In Pakistan, too, there have been a few voices, though still faint, who have questioned Islamabad’s earlier sponsoring of the Taliban and the detrimental effect it has had on Pakistani society. Given this churning in Muslim society, the terrorists and the pro-independence and pro-Pakistani groups in Kashmir will probably have to reassess their tactics. So far as the militants are concerned, not only can they no longer feel sure of being primed for ‘action’ in the training camps of Pakistan and Afghanistan, any fresh act of terror will also not be ignored any more by the international community.

At the same time, while both Pakistan and the terrorists will have to ponder over these new difficulties, they will also have to keep in mind that if fewer incidents take place now, it will show that the violence in Kashmir was not the handiwork of ‘freedom fighters’ after all but of mercenaries. There may still be a few desperate acts by the terrorists, therefore, as on Sunday, just to show that they are still around. But, by and large, it should not prove too difficult for the security forces in Kashmir to keep the situation under control. The insurgencies in North-eastern India began to lose their momentum once China lost interest in them and the rebels could no longer take shelter in East Pakistan after 1972. Similarly, the current discomfitures of Pakistan and the Taliban should take the sting out of the terrorism in Kashmir.
Editorial of TimesOfIndia