Four weeks before Mr Dineshwar Sharma was appointed as the special interlocutor for Jammu & Kashmir, US diplomat Joshua Goldberg, the political unit chief Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs in Washington visited Kashmir and confabulated with various political and religious leaders (both Shia and Sunni) as well as Human Rights and Civil Rights activists. On taking over as a special interlocutor, Mr Sharma had categorically stated that he was open to talks with anybody and everybody with ‘legitimate aspirations’. The Hurriyat certainly does not fall into the ‘legitimate aspiration’ category.
It is widely believed that the architect of Hurriyat was an American diplomat Ms Robin Raphel. Her characterization of Kashmir as ‘disputed territory’ endeared her to Pakistan. Significantly, her first husband Arnold Raphel was also the US Ambassador to Pakistan.
The visit of US Diplomats may be happening in the past; nevertheless it leaves an uncomfortable feeling and dents our ‘resurgent’ and ‘sovereign’ status. It casts shadow on the sincerity, wisdom and efficiency in dealing with the problem.
The Americans must realize that out of 180 terrorists that have been eliminated in this year, 102 were foreigners. The problem is therefore of ‘global jihad’ and not of Azadi. Sitting in Afghanistan, the Americans know the entire construct of the global jihad in the larger South Asian region.
The Americans have so far winked at those jihadi tanzeems operating from Pakistan against India. However it has been aiding Pakistan in targeting those global jihadis, who do not subscribe to the idea of Pakistan and have turned against the country. Some of these organizations are the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), Harkat-Ul-Jihadal-Islami (HUJI) and Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Since 2004, a number of anti-Pakistan global jihadis have been eliminated by means of US drones. In this year in the month of October itself, more than 70 ground and drone attacks were conducted. Some of the prominent jihadi leaders, who have been eliminated by the US drones are: 2004 – Nek Mohammad (first chief of TTP), 2009 – Baitullah Mehsud (involved in assassination of Benazir Bhutto), 2011 – Illyas Kashmiri (Al-Qaeda, responsible for attack on Karachi base), 2013 – Hakimullah Mehsud (Chief of TTP, had executed two ex-ISI Officers), Oct 2017 – Saifullah Akhtar (leader of HUJI and closely linked to Illyas Kashmiri), and again in Oct 2017 – Omar Khalid Khorasani (leader of JuA, responsible for massacre of children in Army Public School in 2014).
As per noted Pakistani columnist Khalid Ahmed, the Pakistani state is in predicament in dealing with Islamic warriors, as it considers them as ‘soldiers of God’. Years of proselytization by Taliban or Wahabi version of Islam has created a vast constituency of global jihadis, who consider the Taliban’s ideology superior to Pakistan’s constitution. Fearing backlash from this formidable constituency, the Pakistani dispensation, or more accurately the Pakistan military has been urging the Americans through covert channels for droning the troublesome anti-Pakistan jihadi leaders. As per Mr Ahmed, one Brigadier (retired) Shaukat Qadir, now chief of Islamabad based think-tank, confirmed this in an interview in Friday Times.
Mr Muneer Akram – former US envoy to the UN, has detailed the consequences of crackdown on Afghan Taliban by Pakistan, as desired by US. Mr Akram in his column in Dawn says that any action against AfghanTaliban would force them to join the anti-Pakistan, TTP, JuA, and even ISIS. He laments the fact that earlier Washington encouraged Pakistan to maintain contacts with Taliban to promote political settlement, now it wants to kill or capture them.
As per the Washington Post, the White House released list of three types of militant groups, i.e. those who launched attacks in Afghanistan, those who attack Pakistan, and those who are focused on Kashmir. The US decision makers are fully aware that these groups are linked ideologically and in many other ways. It must be emphasised that just as the US, India too reserves the right to eliminate the jihadi leaders like Hafiz Saeed of LeT or Maulana Masood Azhar of JeM by drone or any other means.
There are number of geopolitical parallels and contrasts that could be drawn between Afghanistan and Kashmir as far as the US is concerned. Both Afghanistan and Kashmir are victims of global jihad emanating from Pakistan. Both have been consumed by Wahabism. The US has found resolution of Afghanistan problem by political means elusive. The country continues to suffer on account of the democratic template that has failed to satisfy most segments.
On the other hand Kashmir, which is confined to only seven percent of the total area of Jammu and Kashmir, has been exploiting and misusing overdose of democracy. People living in seven percent of the area have been lording over 93% of the territory in perpetuity. The three main regions, i.e. Ladakh, Jammu and the Valley, have different religious and cultural demography, however, the people of the Valley have been trampling over the territorial sentimentality of Jammuites and Ladakhis.
The US must also realize that unlike Pakistan, India has not used aircraft, tanks, artillery guns, helicopter gunships against its own people. Some of the operations launched by Pakistani military in the recent past against its own people includes:-
Readers will aver that no major operation involving the three services has been carried out in Punjab (Pakistan). The December 2014 massacre in which 144 children were killed shook the nation and compelled the Pakistani establishment to embark on a 20 point National Action Plan (NAP), which envisaged speedy trial military courts, countering hate-speech, chocking financing, countering religious prosecution, and regulation of Madrasas. However, none of these have made much headway. The NAP had also recognized Punjab as the heartland of jihadism, but the Pakistani military establishment instead of taking on Punjab based groups like LeT and JeM, have been using them as strategic assets against India particularly in Kashmir. Unlike Kashmir, jihadi terror attacks within Pakistan have not been by foreigners.
The global jihad issue that bedevils Kashmir has got nothing to do with the territoriality of PoK. Hence, the statement by Farooq Abdullah and Rishi Kapoor on territorial status of PoK is most suspicious. Mr Farooq Abdullah emphasized on the Instrument of Accession. He needs to be reminded that the Instrument of Accession of all major princely states was the same as that of Jammu and Kashmir. There is nothing special about it.
Farooq Abdullah and Rishi Kapoor underestimate the forces of history and geopolitics when they say that the present status of territoriality of Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan is fate-accompli, permanent or frozen. Rishi Kapoor’s father and grandfather migrated from the part of India (Peshawar), which is now called Pakistan. Nearly half of Pakistan 25 years down the line became Bangladesh. Has the physical and psychological integration of truncated Pakistan enriched since then? The Sindhis, Balochis continue to be restive, and the Pushtuns are now on the edge. It is very much possible that Rishi Kapoor may be able to reclaim his ancestral property in what is called Pakistan in his lifetime. Who therefore are Farooq Abdullah and Rishi Kapoor to have the final word on Indian territoriality? Moreover, this author has always been at variance with the framers of the Constitution, who decided to decide that we have seen the last of the religions in this world. If Islam could engender Pakistan, some new religious discourse could even undo it.
This author is of the firm belief that Pakistan is a transient reality. Ethnicity will finally prevail over religion as in the case of Bangladesh. Different ethnicities in their collaboration with Islam spawned different shades of religion. To reject these and supplant them with one Wahabi variety is being fiercely resisted giving rise to global jihad. The Wahabi variety has been resisted in Sindh and Balochistan province of Pakistan and has made little inroads, on the contrary the same cannot be said about Kashmir Valley in India.
On 23 March 1940, Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his address to the Lahore Session of the All India Muslim League had said: “We are a nation of a hundred million, and what is more, we are a nation with our distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and tradition, aptitudes and emotions; in short we have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. By all canons of international law, we are a nation.”
The above statement reflects Jinnah’s poor and phony intellect. He forgot that new religions do not create new languages, new cultures, new music and new architecture. Yes, they can create new temporal laws which could be in conflict with laws of nature. I am sure, Jinnah while talking of separate laws of Muslims was not talking of Sharia. In case he did, then the wine drinking and pork eating ‘Quid-e-Azam’ would have made for the heavenly abode much earlier in a Saudi dispensation. Also Jinnah did not realize that Urdu is not the language of the Muslims of the subcontinent. One major reason for East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh was that the Bengalis repudiated and rejected Urdu as the language of a new skewed entity called Pakistan. In very large parts of Pakistan, particularly in Sindh and Balochistan, the Urdu language still is viewed with disdain andhostility. There is also nothing known as Islamic architecture, yes there is definitely Persian or Central Asian architecture.
Mr Abdullah very well understands that Pakistan is not waging a jihadi or a proxy war in Kashmir because of our uncompromising and legitimate claim of PoK. It covets the territory of J&K rather the Kashmiris living in 120 x60 kmof the Valley areas. Just as it covets the Baloch territory and not Balochis, because of Gwadar, gas and minerals, it is desperate to control the rivers of Indus system that flow from India to Pakistan. Mr Abdullah would be aware that what Pakistan refers as Azad Kashmir is a very tiny portion i.e six percent of J&K, i.e. the tail of a kite called PoK. All through the tail has been suffering on account of the Pakistani Punjabis. In the recent elections in the tail, the political narrative of the contest was between Rajput Muslims and the Jaat Muslims who had aligned with PML-N and PPP respectively.
Some elements in Kashmir valley may harbor anti-India designs and feelings, but the majority of inhabitants of Gilgit-Baltistan, predominantly Shias continue to be emotionally integrated with India. Gilgit-Baltistan, constitutes about 80 percent of PoK. This area, excluded from Pakistan’s so-called’ Azad Kashmir’ was till recently named as ‘Northern Areas’, as if it was just a just a territorial entity, devoid of heart and soul. It is this Pakistani attitude that has manifested in denial of constitutional status and state sponsored Sunni demographic assault on Gilgit-Baltistan. It is this attitude that prevented Pakistan from claiming the dead bodies of Shia soldiers of Northern Light Infantry during the Kargil War. But for this attitude Pakistan would not have gifted more than 5000 sq km of Gilgit-Baltistan territory to China in 1963 and subsequently put the entire area at disposal of the Chinese for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. No motherland jettisons its territories in this manner. The people of Gilgit-Balistan want to be free from this China-Pak yoke. So which PoK are Abdullah and Rishi Kapoor are keen on gifting to Pakistan?
Farooq Abdullah mentioned compulsions of landlocked status of J&K as imperative for remaining as part of India. Well some anti- India elements may consider the Valley to be landlocked, but for all patriots the ownership of Indian ports is as much with J&K as any other state of India. To vitiate this sentiment is an antinational act.
The remarks of Farooq Abdullah and Rishi Kapoor is not incidental. While the Bollywood is driven by commercial interests in Pakistan, Abdullah finds the geopolitical narrative on J&K slipping away from his grasp. Article 35(A) may be killed by judiciary, the Hurriyat is in docks, and the prevailing notion of stake holders is fast expanding to embrace all Indians, thanks to the TV debates. Then the Chinese stakes in the region is has become acute given the strategic thrust by way of CPEC. The US will do everything to contest this Chinese strategic thrust. This partly explains the recent visit of the US diplomat.
Some people living in seven percent of the area i.e. valley, particularly the Abdullahs and Muftis, have taken their ruler status for granted and think that they have the divine right to decide the territorial status of rest of the remaining 93 percent of the area. They think it is their divine right to parcel away territories of the state to Pakistan and China. They also nurture the mistaken belief that together with Pakistani Punjabi they will lord over Laddakhis, Shias of Kargil and Jammuites.
Well, Indians have decided to no more allow the global jihadi narrative to be masqueraded as territorial narrative. Nuclear weapons or no nuclear weapons, the Pakistan military, Mr Abdullah must realize which is high on hatred and low on enduring courage is bound to dissolve because of its reliance on dubious courage of jihadis.
By RSN Singh