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SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/07/2017 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, PINR, PBTS, MOPS, KDEM, KISL, PK, IN SUBJECT: TERRORIST INFILTRATION FALLING IN INDIAN KASHMIR, INCREASING IN INDIAN HEARTLAND

REF: NEW DELHI 02072

Classified By: PolCouns Ted Osius, Reason 1.5 (B,D)

1. (S) Summary: The Indian Home Ministry released its finding on May 10th that terrorist infiltration from Pakistan and Pakistani Kashmir into Indian Kashmir fell to an all time low from January through March of 2007. Although these winter months are often considered a low period in violence and infiltration, the numbers demonstrate a continuous positive drop since 2003. Our interlocutors say, however, that while infiltration across the Line of Control may be falling, it appears to be continuing through alternative routes such as Bangladesh and Nepal or sea-based incursions into Mumbai. They explain further that the drop in violence (with the exception of the Samjhauta Express bombing) may be due to a temporary effort by Pakistan to build goodwill with India in the peace process, but that sleeper cells in the rest of India continue to build a network capable of doing significant damage in India's heartland if these restrictions are lifted. End Summary.

Dropping Numbers ----------------

2. (S) The Indian Home Ministry released its finding on May 10th, in response to a written question in the Rajya Sabha, that terrorist infiltration from Pakistan into Jammu and Kashmir fell to an all time low from January through March of 2007. While there were 59 missions during those months in 2006, in the same period in 2007, there were only 39, by the Home Ministry's calculations. Press reports also detail a significant drop in violence in J&K from a peak of more than 4,000 deaths a year in 2001 to less than 1,000 in 2006, although like infiltration, it is unclear how these numbers are calculated.

Calibrating for the Peace Process ---------------------------------

3. (S) Hindu journalist Praveen Swami, who has strong ties to India's security services, told Poloff on May 8th that the drop in infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir was part of a clear calibration by Pakistan. It is obvious, he commented, that someone in Pakistan has made an order to cut off infiltration across the LOC. The drop in infiltration, he explained, along with the slow down in large scale terrorist attacks outside of J&K for nearly a year -- with the exception of the Samjhauta Express bombing -- is all part of an effort by Pakistan to build goodwill with India to support the peace process. This does not mean, he qualified, that infiltration into India has stopped. Instead terrorists were infiltrating from third countries, including Bangladesh and Nepal. They would travel through several countries first to hide their connection to terrorist camps in Pakistan. Just recently, he said, there were nine highly trained terrorists caught on their way into Mumbai. They were all coming from Pakistan originally, but they had traveled through several countries, and eventually tried to enter Mumbai by sea. While most of the nine were headed to Mumbai, he explained, at least one was told to travel to Northern Kashmir. Swami said his sources had no idea why the terrorist was told to go to Northern Kashmir, because the suspect himself did not know why he was sent there. This and other arrests demonstrate, he warned, that Pakistan-based terrorist groups continue to build a very capable network of sleeper cells inside India. They are waiting to strike, he said, when the restrictions are lifted.

Denial of Deniability ---------------------

4. (S) Institute for Conflict Management analyst Dr. Ajai Sahni told Poloff on May 10th that the Home Ministry's statistics are part of a steady drop in infiltration and violence from a peak in 2001. He attributed this to several factors: First, Pakistan had withdrawn more than 80,000 troops from the LOC, leading to a steady drop in covering fire that had allowed terrorists to infiltrate easily into J&K. Second, India constructed a fence along the LOC, and although there were certainly places where infiltration was still possible, the fence makes these incursions more difficult. Third, Pakistan was clearly under significant American pressure to end support for terrorism, leading to what Sahni called a “denial of deniability.” In essence, he explained, Pakistan had to be less obvious about what it was doing. This was not, he declared, a change in Pakistan's intentions. The fact that Pakistan is still unwilling to dismantle terrorist training camps, he said, means that they still want to keep the violence in J&K at a sustainable level, albeit at the smallest sustainable level so as to ward off international attention.

Sleeping Cells --------------

5. (S) Dr. Sahni said further that in the rest of India there was a change since the early 1990s in the tactics of Pakistan-based terrorists. While previously these groups would link up with small local networks to support localized attacks, now they were building a system of sleeper cells that could attack anywhere in the country. Each cell, he explained, is independent from the others and receives information only from terrorist leaders in Pakistan, who plan the attacks. Regardless of where a cell is located at any particular time, he described, it can be mobilized at any moment to launch an attack anywhere in the country. All that was needed was to contact local handlers in a specific area, who would handle logistical issues. Each cell had little to no information about the other until they were mobilized. The groups were now using this pattern to maintain their network inside India. While violence has been down for the last year, Dr. Sahni underlined, this should not be mistaken for a lack of capacity.

6. (S) Comment: Indian analysts don't necessarily believe that this drop in violence is a permanent trend. They see it instead as a change in Pakistani strategy, keeping violence at a minimal level temporarily to support peace negotiations or to escape U.S. scrutiny. In the long term, they remain distrustful that this trend will continue, especially if U.S. influence over Pakistan were to diminish. On the other hand, observers from the G-8 community (see reftel) are taking the trend seriously. End Comment. PYATT