A Pakistani's objection for defining J&K Terrorism - by Ershad Mahmud Back   Home  
This article was published as it is from an anti-India newspaper.

As an aftermath of the attacks on September 11 on key American installations, the challenge of terrorism seems more real than ever. The world media is giving it a renewed hype sometimes even at the cost of accuracy. United Nations is drafting new rules to combat terrorism. United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a wide-ranging resolution against terrorism on September 28. The resolution is aimed at addressing multi-faceted issue on long-term basis. A few points of the UNSC resolution are of significance to many freedom movements including mass resistance in Kashmir.

Following points of the resolution merit serious attention:
  • All states should prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, as well as criminalise the wilful provision or collection of funds for such acts. The funds, financial assets and economic resources of those who commit terrorist activities and entities acting on behalf of terrorists should also be frozen without delay.

  • States should prohibit their nationals or entities in their territories from making funds, financial assets, economic resources, financial or other related services available to persons who commit terrorist acts.

  • States should also refrain from providing any form of support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts; take the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts; deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, commit terrorist acts and provide safe havens as well.

  • All states should prevent terrorists from using their respective territories against other countries and their citizens. They should also ensure that anyone who has participated in the financing, planning, preparation or perpetration of terrorist acts or in supporting terrorist acts is brought to justice.

  • All states should intensify and accelerate the exchange of information regarding terrorist actions or movements; forged or falsified documents; traffic in arms and sensitive material; use of communications and technologies by terrorist groups; and the threat posed by the possession of weapons of mass destruction.
The resolution seems "very clear and effective to contain terrorist activities". However, as long as the term 'terrorism' remains vague any given state can mould it to suit its own interests. A clear distinction needs to be made between freedom movements and terrorism. With the persisting vagueness, the world community can create more armed foes while supposedly eliminating terrorism. Freedom movements from Canada to Ireland or Spain and Jammu & Kashmir to East Timor are likely to be bracketed with terrorist movements by their respective governments. All those fighting under the umbrella of freedom struggle may not qualify for the same. However, a clear distinction between the two phenomena at a global platform no less than the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council is necessary.

While the United States has a past of killing or removing its disliked personalities without being sanctioned by the UN, this resolution provides a tailor-made excuse to it as well as other powers to go for the hunt. The inherent flaws in the resolution are in fact not inadvertent but deliberate as the Americans would never shy away from interpreting them in line with their policies and interests in the days ahead.

Besides the Palestinian movement, it may have many negative ramifications for the ongoing freedom struggle in Kashmir as well. India is already bracketing the movement as 'cross-border terrorism'. The motive behind such interpretations is not only to deprive the freedom fighters from Pakistan's marginal moral support but also seek any kind of military backing to crush their movement.

Pakistan has already barred the Kashmiris from raising money for their fellow Kashmiris fighting across the Line of Control. In case these movements are bracketed with terrorism, the fund-raising for Kashmir cause, political or military, would be illegal besides imposing a complete halt on any movement of civilians across the LoC. During the Kargil war, world community had called upon both the warring parties to respect the sanctity of LoC. The changed scenario would lay added moral and legal obligations on Pakistan to prevent Kashmiris to fight for their freedom.

Presently, the West seems too paranoid to consider Indian demands of including the Kashmiri freedom movement in the ambit of 'war against terrorism' or to term Pakistan a terrorist country. Nonetheless, American Secretary of State Colin Powell told BBC: "Yes, terrorism is also going on in Kashmir".

On October 1, unidentified terrorists attacked the Srinagar State Assembly building and the Indians put the blame on Jaish-e-Mohammad, which denied the charges. Jaish believed it to be the job of the Indian intelligence agencies aimed at maligning the indigenous freedom movement.

In a telephonic conversation on October 8 with George W Bush, Mr Vajpayee complained against Jaish for carrying out the suicidal attack. Bush assured him of putting the group on the watch list of terrorist organisations. The very next day, a State Department Spokesman confirmed that the listing of Jaish with terrorist organisations was under review. On October 12 State Department said that Jaish assets have been frozen for suspected links to terrorism.

India is working hard to build linkages between Kashmiri Mujahideen and Osama. Indian intelligence leaked false intercepted messages that Osama called back many foreign Mujahideen to fight in Afghanistan against Americans. Moreover, Indian government handed over a list of alleged training camps situated in Pakistan to Washington. Failing in drawing international community's attention to 'the terrorism it is facing' and 'the link between Osama and those who are fighting against it', India resorted to 'staging acts of terrorism' out of desperation.

In his letter Vajpayee wrote that Pakistan must understand that there is a limit to the patience of the people of India. Any future escalation might compel him to act in defence of India's supreme national interest.

Moreover, India staged another drama of hijacking on October 8. No sooner the 'news' of hijacking was concocted the blame was put on Pakistan. The comments of prominent Indian commentator Kanti Bajpai provide an insight into the Indian aspirations. He called upon Washington to "get Islamabad to act hard and fast against these groups and at least disarm them". Kanti believes "the second front that the US should move on, quietly but firmly, is to bring Kashmiri groups round to participating in Kashmir's electoral process."

All Indian moves are leading to one-point strategy to divert international attention towards Kashmir movement and malign it internationally. In this context, main challenge before the APHC and Pakistan is to save Kashmir movement in this defining moment. There is an increasingly thin line between freedom movement and terrorism. The more worrying apprehension is that only those movements would qualify to be called 'genuine armed political struggles' that West would like to recognise. I think the following sum up the essence of the ongoing freedom struggle in Kashmir.
  • Kashmir movement is a struggle for right of self-determination rather than terrorism. Pakistan should relate Kashmir's freedom struggle with that of Palestine, and must also press upon the notion of state-terrorism. Basically Kashmiri movement is political in its nature and the youth have resorted to armed struggle when they found peaceful means were shut on them.

  • Kashmiris are fighting only for their right of self-determination. They are fighting Indian army not because they are Muslims but because of being deprived of their legitimate rights.

  • Kashmiri Mujahideen neither have any global agenda nor do they radically oppose the West or America.

  • Mujahideen do not attack civilian targets or installations. They hit only at the Indian security forces.

  • Kashmir movement is indigenous. Its leadership cadres belong to Indian held Kashmir. Undoubtedly a small number of youth from Pakistan have also joined the movement. While 1.5 million Kashmiri refugees are now settled in Pakistan, especially in Punjab, 2.9 million live in Azad Kashmir and more than half a million in Europe and America. They all contribute to the struggle in different ways, lives, money, and advocacy.
Now is the time to settle this issue once and for all. It is possible that India or the world community pacifies the Kashmir issue for the time being but definitely it would re-emerge after the war against Osama loses momentum. More than ever, Pakistan needs collective wisdom and national initiative at this testing time.
Published in Pakistan Newspaper Jung with the title "Kashmir struggle in changing regional setting". The writer is a freelance journalist, and a research associate with the Institute of Policy Studies Islamabad. He visited Indian-Held Kashmir recently. He can be reached at ershadmahmud@hotmail.co