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Pak’s Psywar in Full Swing as Pro-Khalistan Protests Organized in UK Ahead of Modi’s Visit

Pakistani-origin British MP Lord Nazir has been instrumental in organizing anti-India protests in the past.
Pakistani-origin British MP Lord Nazir has been instrumental in organizing anti-India protests in the past.

New Delhi: India today summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner here and lodged a strong protest over attempts to raise the Khalistan issue during the visit of Sikh pilgrims to that country.

India told Pakistan to stop all such activities that were aimed at undermining its sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

Last year in December, the minister of state for home affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir informed the Rajya Sabha that GoI had inputs which indicate that ISI operatives are making efforts towards moral/financial support to pro-Khalistan elements for anti-India activities as well as to revive militancy in Punjab.

Anti-India protests and Nazir Ahmed

Clashes erupted outside the Indian High Commission in London in January when demonstrators, led by Pakistani-origin British MP Lord Nazir Ahmed, staged protests calling for the independence of Kashmir and Khalistan.

The anti-India ‘Black Day’ protest organized by Ahmed launched five vans with billboards championing separatist movements, including “Free Kashmir”, “Free Khalistan”, “Free Assam”, “Free Nagaland” and “Free Manipur”.

Ahmed has organized many anti-India protests in the past. Speaking to The Hindu he said that the vans will travel to other areas with a large Indian diaspora, including Birmingham, and Manchester.

“We want to tell people that this so-called democracy that they are celebrating is actually an expansion of Hindutva,” he said, drawing a parallel between the treatment of minorities in India and under Adolf Hitler’s Germany.

Sikh Federation UK and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir supporters have been circulating some buses on the streets of London with banners such as “Free Kashmir” and “Punjab Referendum 2020 Khalistan”.

“The primary focus of Sikhs protesting will be the Indian PM, Narendra Modi, but they will also be there to show support for the Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau, for standing up for the rights of Sikh nationalists when he recently visited India,” a statement from Sikh Federation UK said.

PM Modi will leave for Britain where he will hold a bilateral summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May on April 18.

Rogue elements & the Sikh diaspora

Some Sikh groups in the United Kingdom and Canada are trying to revive the Khalistan movement by providing terror training to the youth, and funding hate propaganda against India, according to a report by Daily Mail. Such groups receive funding and support from rogue elements within the Sikh diaspora, who are well-placed in countries such as Canada, Britain, and America.

During Modi’s UK visit in 2015, a detailed dossier on Sikh radicalization in the UK was shared with the British authorities. According to this report, these radical outfits are planning to reignite the movement for a separate state within Punjab, and are organizing ideological indoctrination sessions at gurdwaras for young members of the Sikh diaspora. The youths from the diaspora are also being trained on how to make improvised explosive device (IEDs) with commonly available chemicals.

The idea for an independent Sikh state is being reignited by Sikh emigrants and Pakistan is currently supporting such elements. In Canada and UK, Sikh radical outfits are using social media platforms to organize events which are openly calling for the resurgence of the Khalistan movement.

1971 war and the US factor

B. Raman, a former officer of India’s intelligence agency R&AW in his book titled The Kaoboys of R&AW — Down Memory Lane, wrote, “the Nixon administration colluded with the Yahya regime by initiating a covert action plan for the destabilization of India. This plan envisaged the encouragement of a separatist movement among the Sikhs of India’s Punjab for an independent state to be called Khalistan.”

“US interest in this operation continued for somewhat more than a decade and tapered off after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh security guards on October 31, 1984,” the book reveals.

Pakistan’s defeat in 1971 is remembered by its army as the darkest moment in its history and the ultimate humiliation. The loss of East Pakistan is one of the main reasons behind Pakistan’s support for groups fighting for separate Khalistan.

Breathe in, bleed out

India occupies a central position in Pakistan’s foreign and domestic policy right from 1947 and Islamabad is never going to accept India’s centrality and stabilizing security role in the South Asian region.

ISI has been organizing low-intensity terror attacks in Kashmir to keep India bleeding from inside and Operation Tupac is the best example in this regard.

By the mid-1980s, Pakistan started working on the contours of Operation Tupac, a revised version of its 1947 and 1965 enterprises, this time built around a sustained low-intensity conflict in Kashmir, followed by a mass uprising.

The objectives of Operation Tupac were to disintegrate India, to utilize the spy network to act as an instrument of sabotage and to exploit porous borders with Nepal and Bangladesh to set up bases and conduct operations.

It is clear that India is slated to play an increasingly larger role in the coming decades; therefore, it is important to ensure that the secular fabric of the nation remains undisturbed by internal as well as external factors.

Making the right move

The current situation in Kashmir is highly disturbing. The valley has witnessed massive gatherings in funerals of killed local terrorists post-2016 unrest. The encounter of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016 provoked many young men across the valley to continue the resistance against the state. His death inspired dozens to join the armed struggle and motivated the younger generation to follow in his footsteps.

The youth have become so disillusioned that they now seek refuge in armed insurgency. Both pro-Indian and pro-resistance political parties are equally responsible for this problem as they don’t have any vision or programme for the youths.

Raising the issue of Khalistan is not a one-off incident but is part of Pakistan’s wider nefarious designs and India can’t afford to remain soft on issues such as this. For Pakistan, Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of partition, and India has made it clear that Kashmir is an integral part on which it won’t compromise as giving up on Kashmir will open the floodgate to demands for separation.

Pakistan is dependent on multiple factors to corner India on the issue of human rights violation in Kashmir and by resuscitating the issue of Khalistan it is planning to create a position to deliver crushing blows against India. It’s time for New Delhi to make a move or risk losing.