The horrific and heartbreaking terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama that killed 40 men has sparked a wave of understandable outrage in the country.

The fidayeen was an Indian Kashmiri youth and a member of the Jaish-e-Mohammed headed by Azhar Masood.

This is the same Masood who once was in safe custody of an Indian jail, but who was accompanied by a central minister in a special aircraft to Kandahar to secure the release of hijacked passengers of an IA flight.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s failure to condemn the attack led to much outrage in India, with TV anchors asking “how long does it take him to put out a simple tweet”. But such questions are naïve as Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf is heavily backed not only by its Armed forces but also blessed by militant groups such as the Jaish. Only with their support was he able to dislodge long established parties such as the PPP and the PML.

There is a growing clamour for launching military attacks against Pakistan. But wars instead of finding solutions create more problems. Military action also means the spilling of more blood of our soldiers.

Some sensible Tweets asked those advocating war if they will go to the border and fight. Of course the troll sena jumped in full force against such sensible voices.

Just a day prior to the CRPF attack, Iran accused another Pakistan-supported terror outfit, Jaish-al-Adal, of carrying out a suicide attack that killed 27 of its soldiers.

Its elite Revolutionary Guards blamed the Pakistani Army and the ISI for supporting the perpetrators. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last week made a brief stopover in Tehran to condemn this attack, as Pakistan faces the joint ire of both India and Iran for these attacks.

There is constant condemnation for Pakistan’s support for terror outfits by world powers, despite its continued support from all-weather friend China and Saudi Arabia. But what is worrisome is our constant failure to safeguard our soldiers.

Apart from blaming Pakistan for the death of 40 CRPF soldiers, questions also need to raised for our failure to safeguard their lives.

Could we have averted this colossal tragedy?

Uncomfortable questions

While there is all-round anger about intel failure, apparently there was a warning letter issued on February 8 by the Intelligence Bureau in the Kashmir Zone addressed to CRPF, BSF, ITDP, etc, which said, “Before occupying your place of deployment, please sanitise the area properly as there are inputs of use of IEDs. Matter most urgent.” The attack took place on February 14, and the convoy was unusually large with 78 vehicles carrying 2,500 CRPF men, most of them stuck in Jammu during the unprecedented snowfall resulting in closure of roads.

There were media reports quoting unnamed CRPF officers who said that the CPF had sought the Home Ministry’s request to airlift its men as “travel between Jammu and Kashmir involves too much risk”. But there was no reply.

The third question is that in a zone where militancy is rampant and separatists aplenty, why allow the movement of civilian vehicles while security forces are being moved? Traffic is stopped at the drop of a hat for the movement of VIP politicians in many parts of the country; why not for our soldiers? Breastbeating and hailing our “martyrs” and “bravehearts” is common when tragedies occur, but when a jawan, Tej Bahadur, recently exposed the poor quality of food soldiers get, how much support did he get?

As for the 20-year-old Kashmiri youth responsible for this ghastly attack, how demented and brainwashed he was can be seen from the video he had recorded before driving the explosive-laded vehicle into the convoy.

There are also disturbing reports of Kashmiri students being thrown out from rented accommodation in Haryana and Bihar. A Shiv Sena MLC has called for boycott of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir for two years as tourism “benefits the local people and these resources are used against the country and the security forces.”

These knee-jerk reactions are counterproductive and will only help swell the ranks of terror outfits such as the Jaish.