Even as a top army commander maintained on Thursday that a change of guard in Pakistan was an internal affair of that country, experts and military officers remained sceptical about prospects of peace with some even warning about a rise in terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Northern Army commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh refused comments on the change in the political leadership, indicating that the internal dynamics and challenges that Islamabad faced should be left to their authorities and people to handle.

Speaking at a function in Dras to mark the 19th Kargil Vijay Diwas, Singh, however, said the army was fully capable of dealing with any contingency along the Line of Control (LoC).

As cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party looks set to form the next government, several experts and military officers HT spoke to saw no reason to be sanguine about a change in Pakistan’s attitude towards India or its stance along the LoC.

“As a result of the already stated rhetoric by Imran Khan along with his Islamist ideas and his being christened as ‘Taliban Khan’, we should see a spurt in terror activities in J&K,” said former Northern Army commander lieutenant general BS Jaswal (retd).

Other experts expressed similar apprehensions. Former army vice chief lieutenant general AS Lamba (retd) said that J&K would face more intense challenges in the coming times.

It’s too early to a make a prediction about what will happen but the fact is that past patterns hardly leave any room to expect any change in Islamabad’s behaviour, said an army officer on condition of anonymity.

Khan is said to have the backing of the Pakistan Army and his support to Islamist voices has led to apprehensions that the new leadership could adopt a harder line against India.

“The military calls the shots there. So prospects of peace appear to be remote,” said another officer, who did not wish to be named.

Jaswal said as long as there was primacy of the military in Pakistan, it was going to be the central instrument of state policy to foment trouble in J&K to ensure that the army remained relevant. Lamba said, “Look, the intentions of the Pakistan army do not change as it is focused on making sure that it’s the most enduring force in that country. It has always manipulated the outcomes of elections in favour of parties that are willing to toe its line.”

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