Pakistan's low-intensity war against India which, while long ongoing, has been
effectively broadened since the United States-led invasion of Afghanistan and
India's expanding presence there.
Pakistani covert operations alone would never have posed a threat to Indian
security and stability, but rising anti-Hindu sentiments among India's
150-million-strong Muslim community have complemented Pakistani operations and
enhanced the threat posed to India's communal harmony and economy, a result
that likewise increases the chances of an unintended India-Pakistan war.
Since Pakistan's independence in 1947, a central goal of Pakistani governments
has been bringing an end to New Delhi's
political control of the Muslim-dominated Kashmir region of India's Jammu and
Kashmir state (J&K). Pakistani policy has tended to look toward eventually
annexing the region to the Pakistani state, while the sentiments of India's
Kashmiri Muslims have shown no unanimity on the issue, with some supporting
annexation and others preferring the formation of an independent Muslim state.
Islamabad's support of Kashmiri separatists has included political support,
agitation at the UN, funding for separatist organizations, and - especially
since General Zia ul-Haq's tenure as Pakistan's president - the training and
arming of Kashmiri Islamist insurgents.
Pakistan's Kashmir policy has never been framed as an effort to "defeat" India.
The policy has rather been a combination of religious obligation - helping to
free brother Muslims dominated by polytheist Hindus - and overall defense
policy, with the latter probably being the dominant motivation. Islamabad's
support for the Kashmiris provided an outlet for the free-Kashmir ardor of the
country's Islamist political parties and served to tie down an inordinate
number of India's military forces in J&K.
Faced with India's overwhelming superiority in military manpower, Pakistan
believed that its interests were favored by a military equation that saw the
largest possible number of Indian troops diverted away from a possible Indian
strike force aimed at Pakistan and toward internal security operations.
Islamabad also believed that it could calibrate and control this policy,
thereby avoiding a situation where Muslim dissident activities in Kashmir might
lead to a conventional war between Pakistan and India. 
The above policy formulation largely met Islamabad's goals until the Afghan
jihad ended with the fall of Muahmmad Najibullah's communist regime in Kabul in
April, 1992. Thereafter, Islamabad's policy remained more or less constant, but
several other influences made J&K an increasingly dangerous Indo-Pak
For one, the Afghan mujahideen's victory over the USSR inspired Islamists
across the Muslim world; for Kahsmiri militants it suddenly became conceivable
that - if Moscow could be beaten - perhaps New Delhi was not invincible.
Second, a moderate number of Pakistani and Indian Kashmiris received training
and combat experience in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet war and believed
they were ready to fight Indian forces.
Third, Islamist non-governmental organizations from the Arabian Peninsula
looked for post-Afghan jihad causes to support and fund, with Kashmiri
separatism near the top of their agenda. Fourth, al-Qaeda, after its formation
in 1988, took a strong interest in the fortunes of Kashmiri Islamists and
sought to assist them after the Soviet withdrawal.
Each of these factors lessened Islamabad's ability to effectively regulate the
violence in Kashmir and thereby limit chances for a military confrontation with
India; other forces - some richer and more influential than Pakistan - provided
the Kashmiris with other support options if Islamabad tightened the spigot.
This less predictable but still manageable situation was dramatically worsened,
however, by the mid-1980s rise of a force entirely beyond Pakistani control;
that is, Hindu nationalism and cultural chauvinism - termed Hinduvatu in India.
The formation and rapid growth of Lal Krishna Advani's Indian People's Party
(Bharatiya Janata Party - BJP) and the simultaneous expansion of the
Mumbai-based Shiv Sena (Army of Shiva) organization's political power and
influence began to challenge the secular nature of the Indian state in a manner
that was unabashedly anti-Muslim.
The turning point in India's Hindu-Muslim communal relations began in 1990 when
Hindu fundamentalists occupied the ancient Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodha
and then destroyed it 1992. This event was followed by a Shiv Sena-led
anti-Muslim pogrom in Mumbai in December 1992 - January 1993, which was
responded to by the serial bombings of predominantly Hindu targets in Mumbai by
Dawood Ibrahim's D-Company criminal organization - assisted by Pakistan's ISI -
in March, 1993. 
Thereafter, and certainly by the late 1990s, India's response to Kashmir's
Islamist insurgents and Pakistan's support for them took on the more bellicose
tone pressed on New Delhi by the Hindu fundamentalists. Hindu-nationalist
leaders also effectively pushed for the imposition of domestic policies -
especially in the area of counterterrorism - that widened the Hindu-Muslim
communal divide and created fertile ground for the growth of anti-Hindu
Islamist militancy and organizations in India.
Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan has continued its covert
operations in J&K and - probably as a response to India's greatly expanded
Afghan presence - has sought to simultaneously create an insurgent/terrorist
capability across India, attack the booming Indian economy, and better hide its
hand while doing both.
The ISI has long worked with several Islamist insurgent/terrorist groups that
are active in Kashmir and Bangladesh - especially the Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT),
Jaysh-e-Muhammad (JeM)and Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami-Banglasesh (HUJI-B) - but
these organizations lacked both an all-India presence and the ability to build
According to Indian security officials, however, Pakistan and the ISI have used
Dawood Ibrahim's Karachi-based D-Company and the Students' Islamic Movement of
India (SIMI) to provide the contacts, safe houses and front organizations
needed to allow LeT, JeM and HUJI-B to become all-India threats. The recent
terrorist operations in Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Surat (July 25-27), for
example, are thought by Indian security officials to have been made possible by
the support of D-Company and SIMI for the aforementioned terrorist groups.
Pakistan's economic undermining of India's economy also seems to be executed by
the same set of organizations. Islamabad's major tool for this aspect of its
low-intensity campaign is counterfeit Indian currency, what New Delhi calls
Fake Indian Currency Notes or FICN. The FICN are printed on high-quality
security paper similar to that used by New Delhi; is all but indistinguishable
from genuine Indian currency; and is moved into the country by LeT, JeM, HUJI-B
and D-Company members before being distributed across India.
Some current estimates show that up to a quarter of the Indian currency in
circulation could be FICN, and Indian officials worry that this fact may
account for part of the country's high inflation rate and may lead to decreased
confidence in New Delhi's ability to protect the credibility of its currency.
Indian officials also believe that the profits derived from the sale of FICN
are being used to fund Islamist activities in J&K and perhaps elsewhere in
Finally, Pakistan clearly has been able to better hide its hand in its
operations inside India. Indian security officials term the process by which
Islamabad has accomplished this goal as "indigenization", meaning that more and
more terrorist, insurgent and economic-sabotage operations in the country are
being carried out by Indians and not by Pakistanis or Bangladeshis sent across
the border by the ISI.
The difference between the attacks by Islamists in Kashmir and the more recent
attacks in India is that, whereas the former involved either foreigners or
"hardcore" locals, the latter involve individuals and cells from a broader
section of India's Muslim population.
While all intelligence agencies try to hide their hand in covert operations -
that is, after all, what makes them covert - Pakistan's ISI should not be given
too much, or even a majority of the credit for indigenization. Much of that
dubious honor probably should be awarded to the rising power and influence of
the Hindu nationalist parties in India politics.
Muslims have in recent history been second-class citizens in India, but since
the rise of the Hindu chauvinists their marginalization has deepened. India's
Muslims are less educated, less employed, less healthy and - in the past decade
- less protected than Hindus; after an Islamist attack in spring 2002, for
example, more than 2,000 Muslims were killed in Gujarat state by rioting Hindus
as police and local government officials stood by and watched.
So far in 2008, the radicalization of anti-Muslim Hindu politics in India has
increased, and most terrorist attacks have occurred in Indian states ruled by
the Hindu-nationalist BJP party. After July's terrorist attacks, for example,
Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray - the man who managed the above-noted 1993
anti-Muslim riots in Mumbai - called on Indian authorities to use an "iron hand
... this kind of barbarism was characteristic only of the Moghul [Muslim]
invaders". Vaguely urging a violent Hindu response, Thackeray added that
"Hindus will be digging their own graves if they remain defensive in the face
of these attacks".
Then, perhaps unwittingly, New Delhi added fuel and credibility to Thackeray's
incendiary statements. On August 12, India's National Security Adviser M K
Narayanan, told the media that there are "800 terrorist cells" operating in the
country, each with "external support" and "almost all of the terror cells being
headed by Muslims".
Islamabad and the ISI now seem to be riding the tiger they created, rather than
controlling it. The cost of success in hiding Pakistan's hand in operations in
India is Islamabad's growing lack of control over the targets, scale and pace
of attacks by its Islamist and criminal allies in that country. Pakistan
probably can still exert some control over these factors among Kashmiri
Islamist insurgents in J&K, but Islamist activities, violent and otherwise,
elsewhere in India appear to be beyond Pakistan's full control and the ISI's
In India, the piper's bill appears to be coming due for New Delhi's attempts to
appease growing Hindu chauvinism, the net impact of which appears only to have
made the BJP a likely partner in the national government formed after the next
The response of New Delhi to terrorist attacks and the growing popularity of
the Hindu nationalists' anti-Muslim agenda are resulting in a greater "communal
polarization", enraging Muslim Indians and making their support for Muslim
"self-defense" more likely. "The indigenous Islamists," Indian social scientist
Pradip Bose recently wrote, "have thrived on Muslim alienation since the
phenomenal rise of the Hindu right in the country in the mid-1980s ... so there
is no use blaming the 'foreign hand'. We in this country have created this
There is little doubt, however, that for the foreseeable future, and no matter
which party or parties govern India, New Delhi will allot the major share of
responsibility for Islamist-conducted domestic terrorism to Pakistan and the
Thus, the traditional measured, tit-for-tat intelligence struggle between
Pakistan and India is being eclipsed by a scenario in which neither Islamabad
nor New Delhi can be certain of controlling post-terrorist-attack events.
If Islamist terrorists/insurgents - whether acting alone or with Pakistani aid
- strike an Indian target of heretofore unprecedented economic importance or
one that produces huge and mostly Hindu casualties, the road to war may be
quite short. For two nuclear-armed and mortal antagonists, this is a new and
very dangerous level of unpredictability.
1. A detailed analysis of Pakistani policy and ISI actions can be found in
Shaun Gregory's, The ISI and the War on Terrorism, Studies in Conflict and
Terrorism pp. 1013-1031.
2. The events of this period are recounted and incisively discussed in S
Hussain Zaidi, Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts, New
Michael Scheuer served in the CIA for 22 years before resigning in 2004.
He served as the chief of the bin Laden Unit at the Counterterrorist Center
from 1996 to 1999. He is the once anonymous author of Imperial Hubris:
Why the West is Losing the War on Terror; his most recent book is Marching
Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq. Dr Scheuer is a senior fellow with
The Jamestown Foundation.