Dr Shabir Choudhry London, 04 July 2017
Muslims of Kashmir need to understand hidden agenda of Pakistani sponsored militancy.
Before analysing the current situation in Kashmir; and what future holds for the people of Kashmir, it is imperative to look at the background of the Kashmiri militancy. Who started it and what were the objectives of this militancy in which more than eighty thousand people have lost their lives.
Militancy in Kashmir was not spontaneous or an accident. It was carefully planned and executed. All military operations and planned actions have clearly defined objectives. Militancy in Kashmir also had a clear agenda. Operation Topac gives full details of the Kashmiri militancy that started in 1988/89. While speaking to his senior generals and ISI officials, Military ruler of Pakistan, General Zia Ul Haq said:
‘Let there be no mistake, however, that our aim remains quite clear and firm-the liberation of the Kashmir Valley-our Muslim Kashmiri brothers cannot be allowed to stay with India for any length of time, now’. 1
I would like to refresh memory of readers about the objectives of the Operation Topac. In Phase one it was clearly stated that:
- ‘A low-level insurgency against the regime, so that it is under siege, but does not collapse as we would not yet want central rule imposed by Delhi’.
- ‘We plant our chosen men in all the key positions; they will subvert the police forces, financial institutions, the communication network and other important organizations’.
- ‘We whip up anti-Indian feelings amongst the students and peasants, preferably on some religious issues, so that we can enlist their active support for rioting and Anti-Government demonstrations’.
- ‘Organize and train subversive elements and armed groups with capabilities, initially to deal with paramilitary forces located in the valley’.
- ‘The Government of Pakistan should leave all covert action to Azad Kashmir and ISI and maintain a position in which ‘plausible denial’ remains feasible’. 2
By reading the Operation Topac and analysing the on – going militancy, it becomes crystal clear that the planners of militancy wanted to make Kashmir part of Pakistan; and they did not want to liberate Kashmir in the sense to make it independent. It also becomes clear that they wanted to divide former State of Jammu and Kashmir on religious lines; and for that purpose, promotion of extremism, religious intolerance and hatred was necessary.
If the planners of the Operation Topac had been successful in their plan, then that would have given justification of creation of Pakistan – Muslims and non – Muslims cannot live together. Despite my serious disagreements with Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, I can give benefit of doubt to them.
Maybe they sincerely believed that Pakistani government and the ISI were serious and trustworthy. While accepting funds, guns, bullets and training to fight the Indian army in the Kashmir Valley, they possibly thought that the leopard has changed its spots; and that they have changed their heart and mind to support an independent Jammu and Kashmir.
Many thinking citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, including some members of the JKLF now believe that the ISI misled them and betrayed them. Their hidden agenda was:
- To take revenge of fall of Dhaka, entangle India in Kashmir; and keep India bleeding;
- For this purpose, use Muslims of Kashmir; and not Pakistani army, as their lives were more important than the people of Kashmir;
- Indian wrath and heavy military response will widen the gulf between New Delhi and Muslims of Kashmir; and hate India campaign will get a big boost.
- Make a political dispute a religious one, and promote intolerance, extremism and hatred to divide people of Jammu and Kashmir state on religious and ethnic lines.
The planners of the militancy wanted to make this struggle a pro Pakistan Movement. When they realised that majority of the people were going in the direction of independence they instigated their policy of divide and rule. They stopped help and support to the JKLF, and set up more than 180 militant groups. They knew that if there were only a few big and strong militant groups they can resist pressure and become difficult to control.
Countries like China and America have only one Commander in Chief, or call him Army Chief; in small Valley of Kashmir we had more than 180 militant groups, which meant 180 Commanders in Chiefs. It was at that time, many thinking Kashmiris realised that Pakistan was not sincere with their cause; and that they wanted to divide people and control every aspect of Kashmiri life. Result of this was a decline in militancy; and some groups started fighting each other for various reasons.
Masterminds sitting in Islamabad hurriedly set up two organisations, namely Jihad Council and All Parties Hurriyet Conference to control the situation in Kashmir. One was to control political matters and the other to control militancy in accordance with the agenda of Islamabad.
Pakistani government and the secret agencies have, to a large extent, achieved their objectives, explained above. People of Jammu and Kashmir are deeply divided on religious and ethnic lines. Kashmiri Pundits were forcibly expelled from their homes. Muslims and non- Muslims of Jammu province and Ladakh are not part of this militant and Islamic struggle, if anything, they oppose it. Within the Valley of Kashmir there are certain ethnic and religious groups who are not part of this militancy.
The Indian policy makers and the men in uniform also had their role in dividing people of Jammu and Kashmir. Their out of proportion harsh response, oppression, killings, torture, custodial deaths and imprisonment also strengthened anti India sentiments. In other words, directly or indirectly, India is also responsible advancing the Pakistani agenda and alienating the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Some experts feel that a low-level militancy suits both New Delhi and Islamabad.
My colleagues and I separated from Amanullah Khan led JKLF in 1993; and started working independently. We soon realised that we were all led in the wrong direction by secret agencies and their foot soldiers. By 1993-4, we came to this conclusion that there was no military solution to the Kashmir dispute. We said the struggle must be peaceful and all stakeholders should resolve the dispute by a process of negotiations. At that time, people claimed that around thirty thousand people had died; and we said it is up to us to sit down now to talk or wait until the death toll reaches 50,000. We were accused as anti-Movement and anti-Pakistan, anti-Islam and pro India. Sadly, now the figure of deaths is more than 80,000 and more and more people are labelled as anti-Movement and pro India.
Islamabad had no shortage of Jihadi warriors, who needed no salary and were willing to embrace martyrdom, hence the introduction of ‘Guest Militants’ in Kashmir. Although this policy was working for Islamabad, but it had its disadvantages. The presence of guest jihadis gave India a propaganda stick that it was not a local struggle; and that Pakistan sent militants from across the Line of Control.
It is because of this policy of Pakistan to control and lead the Kashmiri struggle since 1947, the world community regard it as India and Pakistan problems, which has to be resolved by Islamabad and New Delhi. Despite all the sufferings, rapes, custodial deaths, imprisonment, killings we people of Jammu and Kashmir State are not even perceived as a party to the dispute.
The planners of militancy and ‘God Fathers’ of this Kashmiri struggle wanted to give a new dimension to it. They wanted to try something new, which can help them to make it a local struggle, but still controlled by them. Use of internet and social media and recruitment of educated Kashmiri youth helped them to present a new face of militancy. In this regard, Indian policy of managing the conflict rather than resolving it should also be given some credit. People realised that India is not interested in any kind of resolution; and in frustration people adopted new strategies, hence new phase of instability and chaos.
Emergence of Burhan Wani on militant and social and political scene; and his subsequent tragic death should be seen in that perspective. His sudden arise overshadowed role of some people in the ‘struggle’. He could have been arrested and presented live on TV. It appears some people wanted his dead body. Alive Burhan Wani did not fit in their scheme of things. After his death, why people were not allowed to take part in his funeral? Why the authorities had to use weapons and heavy handedness to stop people paying their last respect to the deceased?
I do not support Burhan Wani’s strategy or his political ideology, but that does not mean he deserved to be killed. He also had a right to life. Those who want to support Burhan Wani need to understand that they are supporting a gun culture, which has resulted in chaos and death and destruction of tens of thousands of innocent people. If we support gun and militancy, it means we support more deaths, more bloodshed, more orphans and more widows.
It must also be noted that supporting Burhan Wani means, supporting Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. It can also mean a division of Jammu and Kashmir on religious line. Whereas, I pray for all those who have suffered in this militant struggle, I urge people to abandon extremism, violence and militancy as it will kill more people, and divide communities. I urge people to continue their peaceful struggle for unification and independence of Jammu and Kashmir State. I urge people to strive for a democratic society with a slogan: State belongs to all of us, and religion is an individual matter.
Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Chairman South Asia Watch and Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:email@example.com