Monday, March 27th, 2023 23:12:45

Pakistan’s Global Jihad in Kashmir

Updated: June 15, 2017 2:15 pm

Zakir Musa, the successor of Burhan Wani as Hizbul Commander, in a video message has decried nationalism, democracy, and exhorted, rather warned his fellow militants that they are fighting only for the cause of Islam, Ummah, Shariat and Caliphate.

Incidentally, the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) comprising 57 countries and the only inter-governmental body based on religion, describes the world’s billion plus Muslims as the ‘Nation of Islam’. India has the second largest population of Muslims in the world but is excluded from this so called ‘nationhood’ of the OIC which is also euphemistically called ‘the mini-UN’ of Muslim countries.

The pro-Pak elements, in the Valley, like ordinary Pakistanis, are being seduced by this irrational, fake, spurious and trashed idea of ‘nationhood’. If it was not an impossibility Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran would have dissolved to constitute one country. The feeling of nationhood cannot be created by one imposed ‘’cut-off year’’ in history and promise of ‘’unseen heaven’’ after jihad against humans in this world.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the two progenitors of global jihad, play the most active roles in the OIC. Zakir Musa and his ilk have been infused with this bigoted version of Islam, which is against the Indian nationhood. It is therefore not surprising that he has issued dire warnings to Kashmiris against portrayal of global jihad in Kashmir in political terms.

In another audio message he says: “I want to ask those people if this is not an Islamic struggle, then right from our childhood why we have been hearing slogans azadi ka matlab kya? La ilaha illallah (what does azadi mean? There is no God but Allah) or Pakistan se rishta kya? La ilaha illallah (what is relation with Pakistan? There is no God but Allah.)’’ He further added:’’ If this is not an Islamic struggle, you should hold dharnas on roads and do politics from there and not mosques.’’

The stranglehold of global jihad in Kashmir manifested in the abduction and murder of Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz while he was on leave to attend a marriage in his hometown in the Kashmir Valley. Lt Fayaz was murdered because he dared to be a nationalist, because he had the daring and character to join the Indian Army, and he was rooted to his ancestors’ soil of Kashmir.

Another immediate manifestation was stone-pelters’ seeking out security personnel from their premises for stone assaults after the Friday prayers. Friday prayers in the Valley invariably end up with Islamic sloganeering and violence. Waving of Islamic State flags after Friday prayers has become a routine affair. Mosques in the Valley have become the biggest impetus of terror. The Islamic State has arrived in Kashmir in a big way.

It is not just Musa, who is advocating against nationalism. Non-territoriality of Islam has been an abiding feature of the Wahabi, Salafi and Deobandi brand of Islam and some very erudite and educated muslims in sub-continent have lent weight to the tenet. Muhammad Iqbal in his lectures on ‘The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’ – went so far as to suggest that,’’ Muslim

states, to begin with, be treated as territorial states and that too only as an interim measure, since they are later on to be incorporated into commonwealth of Muslim states. Each one of these states has to acquire strength and stability before it is able to prepare the ground on which a unified state of Islam can appear on the historical scene.’’

It may be reiterated that Iqbal was a Kashmiri and was closely related to Tej Bahadur Sapru. In his ideological scheme religion had no regard or sentimentality for ethnic or historical identity. The attack on Kashmiriyat thus began long ago.

The book ‘’The Quranic Concept of War’’ which is a must read for military professionals in Pakistan says:’’ the idea of Ummah of Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam is incapable of being realized within the framework of territorial states, much less be made an enduring basis of viewing the world as having been polarized between the world of Islam and the world of war.’’

Though the Ahlihadith movement, an extension of the Wahabi movement, made inroads into Kashmir 150 years ago, in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, it has suffused the Valley by its penetration and influence, particularly in the last three decades. The Valley is now strewn with ‘Darsgahs’ (religious schools) in various Ahlihadith mosques. The very purpose of this movement is to cause fatal rupture between Kashmiryat and Islam. The spread of this desert Islam could not have been possible without easy petro-dollars available with Saudi Arabia.

The most sadistic assault on Kashmiriyat was when foreign jihadis from all over the world began to enter Kashmir. These foreign jihadis were veterans of the war against Soviet Union in Afghanistan and had no love for Kashmir but were imbued with global jihad. As per an estimate some 35,000 jihadis from foreign countries participated in the Afghan War. The same mercenaries came in handy to the Pakistan Military in Kashmir.

Under Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s status as ‘frontline state’ for Islamic jihad against Soviet Forces in Afghanistan diluted the notions of jihadis about nationhood and statehood. Similarly, the use of Afghan and other foreign militants for jihad in Kashmir deepened the non-territorial orientation of jihadi groups operating in the Valley. With the exodus of half a million Kashmiri Hindus from the Valley the last link of the land with Kashmiriyat was snapped.

The respected Pushtun leader Bacha Khan(Frontier Gandhi) made a prophetic statement in 1980 in the beginning of Afghan Jihad:’’ I can see the rivers of blood flowing across Pakistan and when it reaches India it would be catastrophic for the entire region.’’ His perplexed audience asked him as to why bloodbath in India? He replied: ‘’I have seen the violent response of Hindu Bania in retaliation to Mullah’s provocation during Partition riots.. Violence shall not confine itself to geographical boundaries, but it will travel far and wide and would be impossible to extinguish’’.

When Bacha Khan spoke about consequences, or rivers flowing into India from Af-Pak region, he was only emphasizing the nature and demographic character of the sub-continent. Any major geopolitical upheaval that takes place with regard to Pakistan is bound to impact on India. Similarly any major changes in the chemistry of one religion will have impact on other religions’, particularly Hindu religion given its shared history and common ancestors with adherents of other faiths.

The global jihadi industry that Pakistan created with American weapons and Saudi money unleashed its own dynamics in the Islamic World after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Nurtured in the larger narrative of global jihad, a sizeable segment of the jihadis refused to be to confine themselves to Pakistan military’s bidding. Jihadi groups like Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) turned against Pakistan while some others continued to ‘cooperate’ with the Pakistan Military for strategic reasons. Nevertheless, groups like LeT and JeM have never abandoned the philosophy of global jihad. There is a very complex relationship between various jihadi groups but they are all linked to the Al-Qaeda in various ways. The Islamic State is also another version of Al-Qaeda.

Also, Indian national Mullah Asim Umar, the head of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) continues to be sheltered in Pakistan. Umar’s journey traverses much of the global jihadi institutional framework in the Indian subcontinent as it impacts on Kashmir. He attended Darul Uloom Deoband Seminary. He later studied at Jamia Uloom-ul-Islamia in Karachi and Darul Uloom Haqqani in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Karachi institution boasts of alumni like Mullah Omar( leader of Taliban), Masood Azhar(leader of JeM), Qari Saifullah Akhtar( leader of HUJI), Abdulmalek Rigi (leader of Jundullah) and Abdul Aziz Ghazi(leader of Lal Masjid). Haqqani seminary in KP on the other hand boasts of leader of Haqqani network Jalaluddin Haqqani. Significantly, Asif Umar then provided ideological training in Harkat-ul-Jihadi camps in PoK.

Islamic fundamentalist organizations, which are not in consonance with the global jihad philosophy of Islamic State are now being targeted in Pakistan and elsewhere. The recent (12-May-2017) terrorist attack on a retinue of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) in Mastung in Balochistan in which 27 people lost their lives, and wherein Deputy Chairman Senate of Pakistan, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, was injured along with 30 others, has been claimed by the Islamic State. The Islamic State considers JUI-F as an inimical organization because it finds it politically opportunistic at the expense of Islam. It may also be recalled that the Islamic State targeted devotees in the Lal Qalandar Sufi Shrine in Feb this year in which nearly a hundred devotees were killed. The Wahabi / Salafi philosophy of the Islamic State treats Sufi strand of Islam as cancerous. The same forces are engaged in ruthless obliteration of the Sufi strand in the Kashmir Valley.

In fact in the larger perspective, it is the Islamic State/Al Qaeda which is now impacting the Valley. The Islamic State Khorasan Chief Hafeez Saeed Khan in an interview in Dabiq, the IS magazine, that Pakistan had reduced Kashmir to a strategic project rather than Islamic project, and that is why he said IS is expanding in Kashmir. It is important here to understand the symbiosis between military and jihadi groups. While the jihadi groups allow the military to assign them roles against India and Afghanistan, they do not let the military interfere in their relations with other global jihadi groups and their global agenda. The jihadi groups are on top of pecking order in Pakistan, followed by the military and the political dispensation, or more precisely the Prime Minister. It would therefore not be wrong to construe that that the Pak military is beholden to the global jihad complex which includes the Islamic State or Al Qaeda The genesis of the militant phase of the Wahabis goes back to the year 1979. This was the year, when the Iranians laid siege to the American Embassy which lasted for 444 days. In the same year, the Grand Mosque in Mecca was attacked by radicals led by Juhayman al-Otaybi, an influential family member in Najd. Concurrently, there was a revolt by the Shia Muslims in the oil-rich Al-Hasa province of Saudi Arabia. Also at the same time was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Thus, 1979 was the watershed year in the Islamic world in geopolitical terms. Saudi Arabia with its Wahabi brand of Sunni Islam was strategically embraced by the Americans to neutralize Shia Iran. For America, Wahabi brand of Islam prove to be a double edged weapon to defeat Communism in the battle-fields of Afghanistan. Since then the larger geopolitical narrative of the Islamic World is the fierce contest between Wahabi Saudi Arabia and revolutionary Shia Iran. The Saudis, of course, have the support of the US and Israel, while Shia Iran and other Shia entities like Syria supported by the Russians.

Given the innate hostility that US and Israel harbor against Iran, this geopolitical scenario in West Asia suits American strategic imperatives. In the Af-Pak-India region, it is the Islamic State, which is now impacting in a major way. The US is not enamoured anyway with the Wahabi religious philosophy but finds the ideology expedient for containing Russia and China in the region. The Pakistan military-intelligence establishment over the years has been too Wahabized to resist the Islamic State. In fact, it has become part of the Islamic State (Al-Qaeda) project. Moreover, the war of attrition contending jihadi groups suits the US.

The Americans and the Saudis have too many leverages over Pakistan to ensure that the Generals do not deviate from this global jihad ideology. The appointment of former Pakistan Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, as the head of Saudi-led 39-nation Islamic military alliance is not without the blessings of the US. The move in fact gives a kind of enduring military colour to Saudi Arabia – Iran conflict or Shia-Sunni conflict. The unfortunate victim of this foreign ideology expedient is ‘India’.

The solution therefore lies in unravelling the ideological weapon that afflicts India from without and from within. Wahabism has to be defeated by the Indian brand of Islam, which over the years has been allowed to be eclipsed by Wahabism in deference to vote-bank and election funding by petro-dollars.

India after all has the second highest number of Muslims in the world. It is incumbent therefore, for India to determine what brand of Islam should be promoted and which should be prevented and discarded.

Security personnel and weapons can only subdue the jihadis in Kashmir. It is also foolish to compare the present situation with the past. The trajectory of Wahabi ideology on a steep upward trend since 80s.

We completely failed to discern the phenomenon. Soviet Union and Afghanistan are perfect examples of what havoc ideological winds can wreck. Hundreds of panzer divisions could not destroy Soviet Union, but global jihad did.

India therefore needs intellectual soldiers, who can defeat the Wahabi brand of Islam, impacting on India in various forms like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. In Kashmir the detoxification has to begin with abrogation of Article 370. We need these soldiers to prepare, fortify and reclaim a robust narrative of Indian Islam. There are many Muslim and Hindu scholars of Indian Islam, but they were sidelined because the political class found them uncomfortable.

By RSN Singh         

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