India Fears More Militants as US Quits Afghanistan
New Delhi- India is bracing for more militancy in the battle-scarred region of Kashmir, believing that fighters now focused on resisting U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan will shift toward the Himalayan flashpoint with Pakistan. Some say increased violence recently along India’s heavily militarized border with Pakistan proves that shift is already underway.
As a result, India is increasing use of drones, thermal sensors and foot patrols as it tries to catch out any battle-hardened militants moving through the forested mountains near the frontier. At the same time, Indian troops have increasingly been engaging in skirmishes with Pakistan’s military. Rebels “are testing us. They’re making their presence felt by launching audacious attacks,” an Indian army commander in Kashmir said on condition of anonymity, in line with army policy. “They have started recruiting young people into their folds. They are training some of these boys locally.”
U.S. officials and experts acknowledge there are valid concerns, though the U.S. government has not discussed such a risk publicly. The chief of its forces in the Pacific says the U.S. is increasingly discussing terrorist movements with countries in the region. “We are thinking about it more and more each day, and this includes dialogue with our partners in India and Pakistan,” Adm. Samuel Locklear told reporters in Washington this week.
India has long accused Pakistan of arming and training militants who fight in Kashmir, a charge Pakistan vehemently denies. Pakistan has consistently said it gives the rebels only moral and diplomatic support. (AP)