Next Stop - Kashmir - by Tashbih Sayyed Back   Home  
September 11, has changed our world in many ways. It has changed the way we look at, comprehend and understand issues confronting societies, communities and nations. Geo - political disputes, once considered regional in their impact with limited or no consequence to the civilized world at large have suddenly assumed a level of universality in terms of their impact on world stability. The whole civilization in the aftermath of September tragedy, has awakened to a bitter reality that the commonization and easy access to scientific, industrial, scientific and technological advancement of modern times can easily be used by its enemies to destroy the freedoms that in the first place had made these advancements possible. It is no secret that some people in this world want to turn the clock backwards to the dark ages. This awareness of this new threat has forced us to investigate, interrogate and analyze the minds of all such people and their leaders who claim to be fighting for a cause, before we offer our support to them. Kashmir was once a regional dispute between two countries - Pakistan and India. As such the world took due interest in its solution. The United Nations passed a number of resolutions. Why those resolutions were not acted upon, who was responsible for the failure and what should have been done to make the parties to submit to the will of the world body is not such a puzzle that can not be solved. And experts believe that it was going to be solved one way or another, Simla agreement signed by Pakistan's Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and India's Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was a step in that direction. But before these efforts could bear fruit, the government changed in Pakistan. Ziaul Haq, an army general and a devout Wahhabi, became the president of the country. He wanted to change Pakistan into a Theocracy, by introducing Saudi Arabian brand of "Islamic" laws. A fight for freedom was now presented as a Jihad - A Holy War. And the Kashmir dispute was transformed from a regional conflict to an Islamic Jihad.

Islamism, was General Ziaul Haq's need too. Having come into power by deposing and later murdering a democratically elected leader, he had virtually no support in the country. He neither had a constituency nor any other support base. By playing the card of religion, he thought he could gather around him, those clergy, who could never otherwise dream of entering the corridors of power. He was right. No sooner than he announced his program of establishing a theocracy in Pakistan, all the fundamentalists and Islamists in the country threw their weight behind him. He was now their " Amir Ul Momeneen (king of the believers)." The Islamists, supported by Saudi Arabia, had a perfect cover to spread their venom of hatred among an unsuspecting masses who by tradition loved their religion.

Luck, it seems, also, played a very vital part in helping Islamists gain ground in Pakistan. During the period when Islamists were busy setting up their shop in Pakistan, Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Afghan masses rose against them and we rightly thought, they needed our help. Islamist government of Pakistan became United State's natural choice to send our help through. And it was thought that if the war against Soviets is dubbed as 'Jihad", we will be able to recruit many more Muslim fighters not just from Afghanistan but from all over the world. The assumption was correct, soon, Afghanistan became a hub of Jihadist activities - the biggest training camp for jihadists ever in modern history. These Islamists hated all non-Wahhabis, including the US. They were neither fighting for Afghans nor for the US, they were fighting their own "Jihad." And Afghanistan was soon to become a launching pad from where they were to launch their attacks on every infidel. They were using both Afghans and the US to achieve their missionary goals. As soon as they succeeded, with our help, in defeating the Soviets, they turned their hatred toward us - the very hand that fed them. September 11, will remain a testimony of this misguided mind.

Now that we have learnt our lessons in Afghanistan, albeit so tragically, we will have to be extra careful before we extend our hand of cooperation to any such "freedom movement." The first lesson is that there is no conflict or dispute any where in the world which can be ignored as "just a regional" dispute. All disputes territorial or otherwise, have the potential of affecting us, one day. We do live in a globalized village. The second lesson is that all those movements, which are motivated by Islamist forces are basically against the United States of America.

The freedom movement in Kashmir was originally a freedom movement against Indian occupation, but after it was transformed into a Jihad, it has been hijacked by Islamists - the same people who constituted Al-Qaeda and formed Taliban. Al-Qaeda and Taliban had many faces - Lashkar-e Tayyaba, Harkat ul Mujahideen, Jaishe Muhammad, Sepahe Sahaba etc. That's why it is very easy for them to disappear in one form and reappear in another. One proof of this arrangement is the claim of Islamists in Pakistan that Al-Qaeda and Taliban are intact and will re-emerge some where very soon. One region that, experts believe, they will re-emerge is Kashmir where the ground for just such an event was prepared long time ago.

Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, which has been declared a terrorist organization by the US, in order to prove that it is not a Pakistani outfit, shifted its bases from Pakistan to Indian controlled Kashmir and its Pakistani chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Chairman, Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, stepped down in favor of Maulana Abdul Wahid of Poonchh, Indian controlled Kashmir. In addition to this change at the top, all of the cabinet of Lashkar-i-Tayyaba is now consist of Indian Islamists. It is interesting to note that the leadership of jihadis does not include a single Muslim of secular or liberal leanings. Hafiz Saeed says that there is no justification of declaring Lashkar-i-Tayyaba a terrorist organization. 'We had written to the US State Department to debate this issue at any forum. "We will continue to write to the world fora in this connection, he added. "He said the Lashkar always hits military installations and not a single event a single occasion can be quoted when the Lashkar attacked civilians or was engaged in terrorist activities. It's the war with Indian Army which is suppressing the popular plebiscite movement in Kashmir.

Another example of the fact that the freedom movement in Kashmir has been hijacked by Islamists who represent Al-Qaeda, is an address by Hafiz Saeed, Chief of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) before a gathering in Lahore recently, attended by tens of thousands of people. Among the participants were several thousand women, wearing Islamic covering and (many) with face veils. The women had their own women's security force. The area of the gathering was secured by fighters of L-e-T armed with automatic rifles. The crowd enthusiastically supported L-e-T and donated large amounts of cash for Jihad.

In his speech, Hafiz Saeed condemned the US bombing of Afghanistan and praised the courage and endurance of the Taliban. He said the Taliban have withdrawn intact with their weapons and will re-emerge. Prof. Saeed expressed the Islamic will against Indian atrocities in Kashmir and vowed to continue the struggle to liberate the Islamic land of Kashmir. He categorically rejected and condemned the Indian assertion about L-e-T's involvement in the attack on India's Parliament.

Looking at the ground realities in South Asian region it is more than obvious that Islamists have been very successful in establishing their bases there. Kashmir as a result of this Islamism process presents a dilemma that is not so easy to solve. Al-Qaeda and Taliban have been so successful in using Kashmir freedom movement to their advantage in Kashmir that if it joins Pakistan, it will surely, enhance the Islamist's influence, already at a peak there and if it remains under Indian occupation, it will become more dangerous than Chechnya providing a very potent raison de etre for a Jihadist mentality (holy war frame of mind), which will be harnessed by Islamists to recruit more Taliban and form many more Al-Qaeda like organizations. The suicide bombings will become a more common phenomenon in the world. In case, as a result of the third choice, it becomes an independent state, the world will have to deal with a Taliban government afresh which will be very difficult to dislodge. The choices of using Daisy Bombs or other means of technologically advanced warfare will be limited because of the congested population centers in Kashmir and the possibility of Islamist's use of India's other urban centers for terrorist attacks.

So how can the world disentangle itself from this Kashmir predicament? There is only one way. The world has to focus its attention, energies and funds to purge Pakistan of Islamism and Saudi Arabia has to be stopped from exporting its hate-filled and anti-civilization message to destroy the US.
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