There is a call for giving the Kashmir problem a new twist now. So far the call was primarily for Azadi, however, now a small group affiliated to al Qaida has been ranting that Kashmir militancy is for an Islamic cause and is not nationalistic. Musa is the newly appointed head of this group with barely a cadre, as yet.
The author traces the origins of fundamentalism and provides a glimpse into the affiliations of various groups. He also feels, that at operational levels, for the security forces it doesn’t make a difference though. For them a militant has but to be neutralised.
Al QAIDA Or HIZBUL: WHO IS THE BIGGER THREAT IN J&K?
Ayman Mohammad Rabir al Zawahiri, born 1951, is the current leader of Al Qaida and has pledged his support to Mullah Mansoor. He is a wealthy Egyptian who at the age of 14 was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Zawahiri is supposedly involved in Lal Masjid seize in Pakistan and also reportedly implicated in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. He was Osama bin Laden’s personal advisor and surgeon since 1986. On Osama’s death in 2011 he took over as the Chief of Al Qaida. ISIS is/was headed by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi nicknamed ‘The Invisible Sheikh’, who was interned by the USA in Camp Bucca in 2004. The ‘Caliph Ibrahim’ has reportedly succumbed to his injuries.
The breakaway faction of Al Qaida is the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS) which in 2014 took the world by storm when nearly 50,000 Iraqi soldiers trained by USA surrendered to these marauding rogues who were less than a thousand in number. They lost Mosul along with their complete weaponry and equipment. The recapture of Mosul in 2017 has broken the backbone of ISIS./ISIL/DA’ISH/IS. It is not uncommon to see many militant organisations changing their identities and names to remain intractable and continue to operate when one of the outfits is banned by the international community.
Al Qaida in J&K has been entrusted to ex Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militant who was a close friend of the killed militant Burhan Wani. Zakir Musa will head Al Qaeda’s Ansar Ghawat-ul-Hind in J&K. Global Islamic Media Front, which nominated Musa to head the Al Qaida expects him to repel the aggression of tyrant Indian invaders and through Jihad and with the aid of Allah be able to liberate Kashmir. Musa has been able to muster less than a dozen people to his outfit. This is the second attempt after 2014 to establish a global jihadi network in India.
Musa’s declaration that Kashmir struggle is for Islamic cause and has nothing to do with nationalism has brought in a major shift in the ideology between the local militant organisation HM, Jaish e Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) under Hurriyat’s umbrella which are fighting for Azadi and therefore all killed militants in J&K were wrapped in a Pakistani Flag to show its allegiance to its handlers. Musa has instead passed instructions that militants killed hereafter would be given a funeral wrapped in the ISIS flag. This has led to acrimony between the HM and Al Qaeda.
Hizbul Mujahideen, meaning ‘Holy Warriors’, was founded by Muhammad Ahsan Dar in 1989 as a Kashmiri separatist terrorist organization. USA has recently designated HM as a foreign terrorist organisation and the MEA spokesperson said it is an obligation for everyone to end moral, diplomatic and material support to such internationally designated terror outfits and individuals. US had declared the HM Pakistan based Chief, Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist in June 2017.
The Pakistani Prime Minister was forced to resign recently. The Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa has repeatedly praised Burhan Wani the slain militant of HM. Omar Abdullah has also praised the separatist activities of HM as being non Islamist. HM openly advocates accession of Kashmir to Pakistan.
Na Gali, Na Goli Sirf Boli (neither curses, nor bullets, only talks) has its own value. The value of dialogue can never be underestimated when two countries, India and Pakistan sit across the table to resolve the Kashmir problem. However, in my view, it is extremely difficult to be resolved since Pakistan wants resolution of the problem by occupying the Vale of Kashmir of the state of J&K which is an integral part of India.
Punitive deterrence against Pakistan is the only answer. Pakistan has always believed that the basis of its strategic relationship with China is its occupation of Northern Areas of POK which includes Gilgit-Baltistan, and thereby a common border with its all weather friend China. Pakistan’s perception of Kashmir is Azad Kashmir (held by them) plus Vale of Kashmir (part of J&K). Our perception of Kashmir is the whole of J&K which includes POK (Azad Kashmir plus Northern Areas).
One of the main factors for the rise of militancy in Pakistan and India is attributed to the mushrooming of madrasas in both the countries. Successive governments have not been able to invest adequately in education, health and employment, resulting in poor Muslim parents sending their children to these madrasas where they are provided free boarding and lodging and 3R’s (reading writing and arithmetic), it is here that their minds are radicalised and militants are born. These madrasas are adequately funded by organisations inimical to India as also Middle East countries. These madrasas support jihadi militancy and some of them have excellent infrastructure and provide weapon training and brain wash the children, which has led to radicalisation and violence strengthening the Ideological War.
The aim of jihadi militants trained and funded by Pakistan is to annex Kashmir. Despite numerous groups and their agendas, the overall trend is towards greater cohesion and an endeavour to achieve synergy in operations of various factions. Al Qaeda shares training facilities with LeT in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. ISI continues to exert influence over terror groups operating in Af-Pak region and in J&K. Turbulence in Af –Pak region, the so called strategic depth of Pakistan, affects J&K when they push these foreign militants into India.
It is generally believed that South Asian Muslims, referred to by the Arabs as Hindi Muslims have a distinctive history of their own. A large number belong to Deobandi School of thought as also Ahl al Hadith and Ahl-e Tasheeb.
Shah Waliullah’s (1703-62), teachings inspired both the Deobandi tradition which in recent years has inspired political Islamism in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda are inspired by Syed Ahmed Barelvi(1786-1831), followers of Muhammad Abdul Wahab of Arabia. To Muhammad Wahab is also attributed the spread of puritanical fundamentalist movement called Wahabism since 18th century. The ISIS and Al Qaeda are more fundamentalist and believe in the concept of a Caliphate, however the ISIS and Al Qaeda are no longer affiliates since 2014.
Haqqani Network (HQN) is an operating partner of Al Qaeda. ISI is supporting and promoting the terrorist organizations by diverting the aid provided to Pakistan by USA for eradicating militancy.
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq on being released on 18 August 2017 after a six week house arrest, justified the violence in the state and said at the Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid that if security forces kill one militant 10 more will stand up. Geelani, the anti national that he is, has stated, “The politics of socialism and secularism is totally unsound. I do not like any Muslim to adopt socialism and secularism as his political ideal.”
ISI Chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha in May 2011 had gone to USA to convince the Americans of Pakistan’s ignorance about Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden residing for years in premises adjoining the Pakistani Military Academy. He later resigned, unable to defend himself or the ISI, but it convinced USA of Pakistan’s deep involvement in harbouring terrorism. Geelani lead a funeral prayer for Osama bin Laden in Srinagar. The symbiotic interplay between the various tanzeems is quite evident.
Al Qaeda remains in its infancy in the Valley today even though it has a worldwide footprint, however, all these militant organizations have organisational ties. These local militants have yet to get under effective control of IS or Al Qaeda, but the trend is to establish an Islamist regime in Kashmir irrespective of the affiliation of the militant outfit. Haqqani Network (HQN) which collects its funds in Pakistan and from the Arab World has close links with Al Qaeda.
Pakistan will keep the pot boiling in Kashmir by supporting the ISI sponsored militant organisations like LeT, JeM and HM, and Pakistani Army will dictate the strategy to be adopted by the Pakistan Government when it comes to Kashmir. The instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is likely to cause more turbulence in J&K and the influence of IS and Al Qaeda will cause a ripple in the ranks of local militant organisations and give some disgruntled local militants an option to switch their loyalty for fun and money.
The need therefore is to eliminate militants being pushed by Pakistan in North Kashmir and at the same time neutralise the home grown militants operating in South Kashmir. Infiltration by elements like ’Kasabs’ must be detected by security agencies and neutralised before they can be effective. To the security forces operating on ground it does not matter to which tanzeem the militants belong. If the militants fire on the Security Forces (SF) they will be killed, irrespective of how many more spring up. The human shield provided by local supporters to the militants may also suffer when caught in the cross fire. To the SFs a dead militant is a good militant.
Lt Gen Sanjay Kulkarni (Retd)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BharatShakti.in)