Homeland Security

Kashmir in the Islamic State?
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 28 Jun , 2018

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Whenever a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader was droned, one was intrigued to question, why was the US so charitable towards Pakistan. At the first instance it appeared that it was the American method to elicit quid-pro-quo in order to prod the military-intelligence establishment of Pakistan to act against Afghan-Taliban. However, this has never happened.

There is another concurrent phenomenon in the Af-Pak region, i.e., the growing strength of the Islamic State.

The droning of TTP leader began in 2004. It is 14 years now. The heads that were droned in these years include Nek Muhammad Wazir (2004), Baitullah Mehsud (2009), Hakimullah Mehsud (2013), and now Mullah Fazlullah (2018). In March 2018, Fazlullah’s son, Abdullah, was also killed by a US drone.

Fazlullah had once presented a credible threat of over-running Islamabad from the Swat Valley, compelling the military to launch an all-out offensive.

The news about killing of Fazlullah was conveyed personally by Afghan President Ghani to the acting prime minister of Pakistan Nasirul Mulk. Never before messages regarding killing of TTP leaders were conveyed at this level and manner. Was it to elicit quid-pro-quo from Pakistan with regard to Afghan-Taliban? Was it to warn the Afghan-Taliban? Was it to prod Afghan-Taliban to come to the negotiating table?

It is the same Ghani who in 2014 had broken the diplomatic protocol to meet the then Pakistan Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif at GHQ Rawalpindi with the request to crackdown against the Afghan-Taliban.

There is another concurrent phenomenon in the Af-Pak region, i.e., the growing strength of the Islamic State. Those swelling the ranks of the Islamic State are none other than Pashtuns. These Pashtuns predominantly are the ones disaffected from the ranks of the TTP and to an extent the Afghan-Taliban. Every time a Taliban leader gets droned, there is disaffection and disarray in the ranks. Internal differences become sharp and begin to assert. Such disaffected lot obviously drifts towards better jihadi future in terms of stature, pay & perks, and gravitate towards jihadi organization, which they feel are better propositions.

Ironically, the Afghan-Taliban had declared that during Ramzan, they would not kill any Muslim, but the concession, they said, could not be extended to the NATO personnel. The suicide bomber was but a Muslims.

There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that the US and Afghanistan were desperate for a jihadi antidote to Afghan-Taliban. It is also well-known that Afghan-Taliban and the TTP were linked in a subtle way and they never clashed with each other.  Who could therefore fill the antidote role?

The countervailing role to the Afghan-Taliban is now being fulfilled by the Islamic State. Such is this antidote that it recently killed 36 people in an Iftar party in Eastern Afghanistan. They were all Muslims and they were all Pashtuns. Some belonged to the Afghan Security Forces (ASF) and some were jihadis from Afghan-Taliban. For the first time in two decades they had come together. There was great deal of excitement, expectation and relief. The bombs turned all that into blood. Ironically, the Afghan-Taliban had declared that during Ramzan, they would not kill any Muslim, but the concession, they said, could not be extended to the NATO personnel. The suicide bomber was but a Muslims.

Today the Afghan-Taliban is active nearly in 70 per cent of the country. This is no doubt that Islamic State is being encouraged by certain powers to neutralize the spread and influence of Aghan-Taliban. In the Islamic World, particularly in the Af-Pak region, creating a new jihadi organization is not a difficult proposition. All it requires is money and weapons. This process does not involve any ideological shift. This is also no need of big change in indoctrination and recruitment patterns. It is so, because every jihadi organization is motivated by the concepts of Caliphate, Shariat and Ummah. It can be extrapolated that there is no phenomenon called local jihad. At one level every jihadi organization is global in its import. Local jihadi organizations become an imperative for ease of logistics, finances, pay, weapon supply and ethnicity for purposes of recruiting.

In the Kashmir Valley, jihadis from Chechen, Uzbek, Pashtun and Punjabi Musalmaan stock do not come to fight for Kashmir or Kashmiriyat. They come riding over global jihad in to the Valley. LeT, JeM or HM function as different organizations because they have different catchment areas.

The jihad in Kashmir is not about Azadi, it is about global jihad. Zakir Musa in his video message categorically stated that whether Kashmiris are fighting with guns or stones, it is not for Kashmir but for Caliphate.

Hence it is not at all surprising that Islamic State flags are becoming ubiquitous in the Valley. The waiving of Islamic State flags outside Jama Masjid after Friday prayers is not without reason. This is religious messaging and in effect a clarion call to shift loyalties to the Islamic State. This message is of course from Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. In case if he did not subscribe to the Islamic State, he would have disabused the idea and organization of Islamic State in his Friday sermons.

Whatever the Kashmiri leaders may say, the Islamic State has spread its tentacles throughout the Valley.  To display Islamic State symbols has become a fashion with the youth in the Valley. Recently, one TV channel showed visuals from the Valley, wherein women in large numbers were passionately sloganeering in favour of the Islamic State.

The jihad in Kashmir is not about Azadi, it is about global jihad. Zakir Musa in his video message categorically stated that whether Kashmiris are fighting with guns or stones, it is not for Kashmir but for Caliphate.

For powers that must contest China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Islamic State is the most appropriate organization, not only from Afghanistan but India (Kashmir) as well. This may not be a Pakistan project, but surely Pakistan will manipulate the Islamic State against India, even at the cost of blow-back.

Pakistan cannot survive without jihadi organizations.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

RSN Singh

is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW and author of books Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and The Military Factor in Pakistan. His latest book is The Unmaking of Nepal.

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One thought on “Kashmir in the Islamic State?

  1. A well nuanced article on situation in Kashmir. As I understand, focus of Kashmiri separatist has been shifting over the years due to bad mishandling right from beginning. Earlier, few handful of Kashmiri separatist collaborated with Pakistan/ISI for fulfilling their personal political ambitions to be in prominence in politics of Kashmir. This provided leverage to Pakistan in manipulating Kashmir politics against India.After Soviet-Afghan war Pakistan diverted material and ideological resources to Kashmiri separatists. This further encourage many other separatists to open new profitable terror shop. This terror shop not only gives money but also recognition to terror shop operator and encourages others to become terrorist. Government should stop flow of funding in Kashmir from outside. Even infrastructure development work should be stop for few years in Kashmir so that extortion money could not be generated for funding terrorism. Social media should be banned and government controlled media should only operate and that should promote moderate Sufi Islam and not a fanatic Wahabi Islam. Kashmiri Hindus who has left Kashmir should be rehabilitated in Kashmir with self sufficient integrated colonies fully protected by military and paramilitary forces. A committee of experts on Article 370 of Constitution must be constituted to examine and advise that how people from other parts of India can be settled in Kashmir.
    It appears that Kashmiri separatists have been toying with many ideas at different point of time. Initially they wanted separate Kashmir independent from India and Pakistan, then perhaps Kashmir going to Pakistan. However, over the years they have realized that in both the above mentioned options they will fall prey to Pakistan. And India will not let it happen. That’s why Kashmiri separatists have gone for other options in desperation i.e. sitting in lap of Islamic State. Hypothetically If Islamic States captures and takes over the Kashmiris will become second class citizen and life of Kashmiris will become miserable for ages, because their will be cultural invasion in the name of religion that very painful. Moreover, in time to come Pakistan will pay a heavy price as it will be the next target of Islamic State being a Islamic country in vicinity.

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