Saturday, 27 June 2009

When drones will visit Pakistani controlled Kashmir

When drones will visit Pakistani controlled Kashmir
Dr Shabir Choudhry 27 June 2009

Jihad and jihadi groups and their infrastructure have always been present in Pakistani controlled Kashmir, in fact, these areas came under control of Pakistan through use of tribesmen in name of Jihad; however a suicide attack in Muzaffarabad, capital of this area is totally new phenomenon.

According to unconfirmed reports four people, including army men died and around twenty were injured; but ISPR statement claimed: `Two soldiers embraced shahadat while three others were injured when early this morning a suicide bomber exploded himself against an Army vehicle closed to Shaukat lines, Muzaffarabad'.

In situations like this, normal practise is to blame India and its agencies, as they blame Pakistani agencies for incidents of terrorism in India and in Jammu and Kashmir; but before it could happen Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. Baitullah Mehsud’s deputy, Hakimullah Mehsud, while claiming responsibility for the attack said, ‘the attack was launched to show TTP's power’.

As soon as I heard this tragic news I phoned a Kashmiri friend who is well connected and has always been very critical of this ‘jihad’ and the jihadi forces who have no discipline, accountability and sense of responsibility. “So jihad has reached Muzaffarabad”, he retorted.

I was not expecting this from him so I asked him what he meant by that. He said: “This jihad, its teaching, its recruitment, its training and its launching to other areas in the region has proved to be very rewarding. Jihadi forces enjoyed special privileges and were perceived as above the law. They dominated the society, harassed innocent people, and dictated their terms because the government of Pakistan, its agencies and their puppets in Azad Kashmir provided all kinds of support to them. I was sure that one day this jihad will visit areas where it nourished and flourished; and probably teach new lessons to teachers and promoters of jihad”.

I was stunned by all this. How could you say that? Do you know people have been killed and militancy could destabilise this peaceful area, I said. He angrily interrupted me and said: “Why didn’t you think of this when you people set up militant camps in this area and launched terrorism in Kashmir Valley and elsewhere? Didn’t that destroy peace of those regions? Why did you remain quiet at that time?”

He was correct. Most of us one way or the other supported militancy in name of jihad or freedom struggle. I tried to wriggle out of this by saying that situation at that time was different; and that now demands of the struggle have changed. I added that we must change our tactics according to situation.

“Don’t play with words”, he interrupted me again. “Situation in human societies never stays same, and people like you take advantage of the changing situation. When it suited you people, it was jihad. When bombs were killing innocent people and destroying and destabilising other areas it was jihad. But when what was done in holy name of jihad got out of control and, bombs started to drop in various parts of Pakistan it became terrorism and shar pasandi.”
He paused for a second and ignored my request to talk. “Millions of dollars were spent to propagate jihad and militancy and its rewards. I don’t know those who have lost their lives in name of this jihad will get heaven or not but they have turned this region in to hell. Nearly three decades of open support and nourishment of terrorism in name of jihad and struggle has helped to assert its influence in every corner of Pakistan; and it could not be rooted out in days, weeks or months. Even if the authorities in Pakistan are serious and sincere in this fight; and their strategies are also correct, it will still take them many years to root it out. And who knows geo political interests and situation will change again, demanding different approach”.

I thought it is best not to tread on this path and not to provoke him. So I expressed my agreement with him that mistakes were made in the past, and that we must ensure that rule of law and basic human rights are not trampled.

He did not bite this. “No Dr Sahib, you are wrong again. It was not a mistake; and those responsible for all this do not show any remorse or even regard it a mistake. It was their deliberate and considered policy; and take it from me that policy has not changed, only their strategy has changed because of so many pressures and changes in situation.”

“Those who devised this policy of jihad and exported it to other areas”, he said, “Still openly support it. They take pride in the fact that they defeated a superpower with that jihad. They still think jihad is the only solution to the problems of Kashmir and Afghanistan; and that they have every right to continue jihad on the Indian side of Kashmir”.

However, despite all the evils the Pakistani society has, this group of people don’t want anyone to wage a ‘jihad’ against Pakistan, even when someone wants to have an Islamic laws, as that will be construed as challenge to the writ of government and brutally crushed. This group doesn’t give same right to other governments to crush those who challenge writ of the government in their countries.

He said call them Talibans, terrorists or militants, by and large they are still safe. No doubt they have suffered losses, and their structure is disrupted, but they have managed to disperse and move out to other areas. Majority of those who have been killed or uprooted from their homes are innocent people. Thousands of militants have moved to adjacent areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and other areas of Pakistan from where they will strike back.

He said around 26 people were arrested by Pakistani special forces fighting terrorism from Mirpur and Khaliqabad - areas of Azad Kashmir about two weeks ago. A large quantity of arms was also confiscated from three locations in Mirpur district, including a place called Jatalan. It is claimed that the target was Mangla Dam and Jatalan head works.

I was shaken for a moment with the prospect of blowing up of the Mangla Dam and its huge impact on people of the area and people of Pakistan. This would have given a licence to the Pakistani secret agencies to oppress Kashmiri nationalists in the area and crush the movement for independence.

Fearing the worst for my area, which is near Jatalan and Mirpur, I asked him what would be the outcome of all this. This is not to suggest that I had no concern for other areas. This news that thousands of militants have illegally entered areas of Gilgit and Baltistan worried me. My local contacts also confirmed presence of these militants, and that the local people were intimidated and they feared the worst. They feared that the Pakistani secret agencies will use this as a pretext and root out nationalists who oppose the Pakistani rule in this area.

In reply to my question he said, “Muzaffarabad suicide attack is the first one but it won’t be the last one”. He said situation in these areas is going to get worse. Presence of militants and their infrastructure in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan is a known fact. Battleground could shift and this infrastructure will be taken out. America has ‘God - given right’ to attack with drones any area where they think high value targets are hiding. What if they think some of these high value targets are hiding in Gilgit and Baltistan, which could be true, and then there is every chance that drones will strike in these areas?

This was frightening. He had a valid point. If thousands of militants have entered areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, whether drones come or not it is enough for the secret agencies of Pakistan to round up all those who are on their list as ‘trouble makers’ or ‘undesirables’. The government of Pakistan knows that people of Gilgit and Baltistan are against their rule and suppression of fundamental human rights. They also know that people have finally decided to oppose their policy of exploitation and oppose construction of dams in areas of Gilgit and Baltistan.

The presence of terrorists and Taliban in Gilgit and Baltistan, true or not, will provide an excuse to the authorities in Islamabad and to those who want to establish their unquestionable writ, and have their way in these areas will be tempted to strike at roots of nationalism of people of these areas, hence more trouble and misery. May Allah Almighty help us?
Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.

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Anonymous said...

What options does the nationalist have?
Nationalist have only one option in their agenda -- Independence,
And they dont have second option at all and they will die for this one option.

I guess if pakistani forceses do the targeted killing of nationalist on in AJK and NA.
Soon we will see IDP from AJK and NA all over pakistan ...
The goal of pakistan seems to be easier and closer to make their grip stronger on J&K.

God is helping pakistan resolve kashmir dispute, i mean their water dispute in grab of war on terror and taliban.

But the question again is:
What option does the nationalist have?

Anonymous said...

Its dream that In lifetime of Displaced Kashmiri Pandits, if they see the devastation of the perpetrators, then they will feel that justice is served.

One generation is already destroyed and one more generation is on the way to destruction. ..

Soon POK will have Azadi from peaceful life. .. when the hell will wreak on them.

i pray to god that justice be served and what they have done kashmiri pandits should be returned to them in kind and full.