Pakistan’s Operation Topac: The Attempted Siege of Kashmir Comes to an End

Operation Topac Jammu Kashmir

During the discussion on abrogation of provisions of article 370, Home Minister Amit Shah among other things talked about how Pakistan has sponsored terrorism in the Kashmir valley since the late 1980s. The Home Minister had used a term Operation Topac at one place in his speech.

So, what is Operation Topac? And, how it is different from Operation Gibraltar launched by Pakistan in 1965?

Operation Gibraltar

In 1965, Pakistan had started a mission to infiltrate its own citizens and soldiers in the valley to create unrest and kick up the violence. The idea was to occupy Jammu and Kashmir with the help of the locals. But this nefarious plan didn’t succeed as locals helped Indian forces to capture infiltrated Pakistanis.

Operation Topac

Taking lessons from its earlier operation, the invisible government of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) came out with a more dangerous plan. In 1988, under the new Operation Topac, instead of sending its own people into valley, it started brainwashing the local youth to resort to violence against their own armed forces and the government. The photos of youth pelting stones on armed forces are the pieces of evidence of this still ongoing operation. Operation Topac was initiated by the former military dictator of Pakistan, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq.

According to a book Memorial of Mistakes Converted Kashmir – A bitter saga of Religious Conversion by Narender Sehgal, the aims of Operation Topac included:

Giving training to Kashmiri youths in the handling of sophisticated weapons.

To destabilize and discourage the state administration.

To make the Kashmir valley a Hinduless Muslim area.

To prepare Kashmiri Muslims for “Jehad”.

General Zia-ul-Haq’s Proxy War against India

General Zia-ul-Haq had delivered a speech at a highly secret meeting in Islamabad on April 18, 1988 briefing his people about Operation Topac. Some of the excerpts of his speech clearly tell the evil designs of Pakistan’s proxy war in India.

“In the first phase this infiltration will assist Kashmiri brothers. In order to seize state administration, they will organise political disruption. Muslim United Front (MUF) is engaged in a conspiracy under different constitutional forms so that the administration is established and the entire Government machinery is paralysed… In the beginning we have to create conditions for launching unarmed and armed campaigns against the State administration…we want infiltration of our men in the administration so that work in the police, banks, transport, communications and in other departments is paralysed… the scheme needs to be implemented in such a way as the telecommunications links not only between Jammu and Kashmir but also between Kashmir and Ladakh are snapped.”

“Islam is our goal. Quran is our constitution. Jehad is our path. War till victory, God is great. The war of Hizb is pronounced: Allah-u-Akbar. The call of Hizb is beware of India.”

There should be no mistake, our aim is totally clear and strong Liberation of Kashmir valley. We cannot now allow our Kashmiri brethren to remain with India for a long time. In the past we banked on unarmed military camapigns, that is why we failed. Therefore, now, as I have already said it, we shall continue our military action, as per the requirement, till the overthrow of the Government. Though the people of the valley are mentally and physically with us, but they are very simple-minded people and, therefore, they cannot fight like Punjabis and Afghanis against the foreign rule. Still Kashmiris have some qualities which can be exploited. First, their cleverness and calibre. Secondly, they can rise under pressure and thirdly, their political conspiracy. If we provide them the facilities for using these qualities, they can do our work. In every warfare it is not necessary to use brute force, especially in the conditions that exist in Kashmir, as I have already made it clear… In the first phase, if it was necessary, we can help our Kashmiri brethren to grab power through political subversion and intrigue. I want to make it clear that without the approval of Delhi, no Government can run in Kashmir. It will not be right to believe that the Muslim United Front or any other similar organisation can seize power through democratic or any other means. It should be kept in view that power will remain in the hands of those who have the patronage of Delhi. Therefore, we shall have to ensure that we should select some ‘favourite’ ruling politicians who will support our political subversion.

The basic idea was to have a prolonged proxy war with India. So that, the mild responses or defensive strategy of Indian armed forces would one day allow Kashmiris to measure swords with them without troubling the Pakistani army at all.

Status of Operation Topac

According to the aforementioned book by Narender Sehgal, most of the objectives of Operation Topac were being achieved (as explained below) by Pakistan.

The ISI has been successful in taking youths from Jammu and Kashmir to training camps set up in Pakistan where they have been given training on handling sophisticated weapons.

The administration in the state also came under the control of separatists and the intended people. The shops, schools and many other institutions used to get closed on their call.

Kashmir valley has already been made Hinduless Muslim area.

And, the final objective of preparing Kashmiri youth for Jehad was also not very far from its completion. In recent times, many rebels in the valley have been heard admitting that they are on jehad against the Indian state.

Over the last 30 years, Pakistan sponsored militants and terrorists have attempted everything to grab Kashmir.

However, the Modi government has changed the ground realities. It has factored Jammu and Kashmir in its overall policy towards Pakistan. India under PM Modi has seen a policy shift from being defensive to offensive against Pakistan. An Operation All Out was launched against the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir eliminating many of them. But the decisive blow to evil designs of Pakistan came from the recent move of Modi government.

Abrogation of Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir – Scrapping the Provisions of Article 370

The bold decision of the government of India couldn’t have come at the more opportune time than this. Pakistan was happy that condition in Jammu and Kashmir are now ripe to achieve its ultimate objective of grabbing the state. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in his meeting with US President Donald Trump urged the latter’s intervention in Jammu and Kashmir. Also, withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan would have brought Pakistan and Taliban back in power leading to more violence in Kashmir.

But, one stroke of Government of India has undone much of the hard work Pakistan’s ISI did in Jammu and Kashmir over the last 30 years. Jammu and Kashmir have now been fully integrated with the country, giving more scope to the union government to deal with terrorists with iron hand instead of the velvet glove. The assets (or people) set up by ISI in the administration of Jammu and Kashmir will become irrelevant as it is a union territory now. The union government will bring development to the state at a much faster pace. This will help in mainstreaming the discontented youth.

And, thus, Operation Topac has come to an end in one masterstroke of the Indian government.