Pakistan is about to execute the plan to expand coverage of its mobile coverage in Jammu and Kashmir that is not only designed to help Pakistan-trained terrorists infiltrating into the valley but also neutralize the impact of a future communication blockade imposed by the government, people familiar with the matter said.
The plan to build new ones has been in the works for about a year. Initially, It was devised to strength the existing phone network to help terrorists who have infiltrated into Kashmir. But the Pakistani foreign ministry pushed hard to scale up the exercise to give it the ability to sabotage the communications blockade ordered in Kashmir after last year’s Aug 5 decision to end its special status. It wants Kashmiris to use Pakistani telecom services that cannot be blocked by Indian security forces,according to a top security official in New Delhi.
Jammu and Kashmir’s communication network went off before the announcement of abrogate Article-370 to be able to ensure that trouble-makers do not spread rumours on and off social media. Though, the restriction have been lifted lately but local security officials routinely snap phone links to prevent rumour. If Pakistan is able to see its plan through, this would provide Kashmiris with an alternative to Indian phone companies.
A top national security planner told Hindustan Times that Pakistan’s Special Communications Organisation (SCO) – the state-run firm mandated to provide telecom services in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the Gilgit-Baltistan region – had analyzed signals from 38 sites along the Line of Control and the International Border with India. It has told the army that Pakistan could get a spillover effect via 28 existing phone towers. According to its analysis, the GSM antenna would need to be reoriented in 18 locations to achieve this objective though it would reduce the coverage on its side of the LoC.
Setting up the new base transceiver station in Pak-occupied Kashmir and use of Wireless local loop phones in Indian territory is also the part of plan.
“This plan has been accepted and is being implemented,” the senior official said.
According to sources, Pakistan’s ISI is pushing for increasing the signal strength of SCO mobile towers in PoK nearest to Indian sites such as in Cham opposite Baramulla, Leepa opposite Sopore, Upper Neelam Valley and Athmuqam opposite Kupwara and Hillan Meera opposite Srinagar to provide coverage across the LoC.
SCO is also working on extending TV coverage in J&K.
According to a counter-terror official, These efforts are in continuation of the SCO’s previous attempts to install a small cellular system with Internet based backhaul that could cover Kashmir towns at some distance from the LoC.