Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Violence in Kashmir will get worse

Violence in Kashmir will get worse
Dr Shabir Choudhry       31 July 2013
All the signs are that situation in Jammu and Kashmir is going to get worse, which means more violence, more political and economic instability, more hatred and more suffering for the ordinary people.

It looks that there are powerful forces which want the Kashmir pot to keep on boiling as that is in their best interest. Peace in the divided State of Jammu and Kashmir does not suit a powerful lobby that has its tentacles on both side of the divide. If peace prevails in Jammu and Kashmir it will help ordinary people, and brighten their lives; but it will make many people unemployed. Also it will have very serious impact on economic interests of very people powerful people.

In late 2013, we heard rumours (and some signals were also visible) that militancy in Kashmir will be reinvigorated in 2013 in a different style and more forcefully to make India defensive and get the message across to New Delhi that Kashmir dispute needs to be resolved. Moreover, to keep India engaged in Kashmir; and tell the world community that India does not respect human rights and continues to pursue anti Pakistan policies.

Those who wanted to start a new phase of militancy had other reasons as well. They think troubles of Pakistan related to violence and terrorism could be reduced if not totally stopped, by encouraging the Jihadi warriors to do Jihad against ‘Hindu India’ which is ‘killing Muslims’. As Jihad in Afghanistan is coming to some kind of conclusion because the NATO forces have started leaving Afghanistan; and if another Jihad front is not soon found and their energies diverted, then danger is that thousands of well - trained Jihadi warriors could create more problems for their mentors.

At one time there were tens of thousands of Pakistani trained armed militants in Jammu and Kashmir; and Indian government’s view was that they have to maintain a large number of troops to fight these militants. For the past few years militancy was really down and according to the India official sources there were only around 100 active militants in Jammu and Kashmir. Critics pointed out that despite this big change on the ground, number of the Indian troops did not change.

Critics further say the Indian policy of not resolving the Kashmir dispute has not changed either. They seem to be not interested in resolving the Kashmir dispute, as all efforts are in managing the dispute. Perhaps they are waiting for two things to happen:
1/ Pakistan to get more disorientated, weaker and dysfunctional as a nation state that it could not pose any challenge to India on Jammu and Kashmir;
 2/ and natural death of certain Kashmiri leaders, and once they disappear from the political scene it would be easier to impose some kind of solution.

There is inherent danger in this policy. It would help those forces which want a new round of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. This will help forces of extremism, intolerance and violence to create conducive situation to spread religious intolerance and start a new round of militancy, which could be bolstered by highly trained warriors of fighting Afghanistan. This means more violence, more deaths, more destruction and more suffering for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, in an interview last week said:

“Unfortunately, there is a vested interest in certain quarters to keep the conflict alive. One of the challenges we face as the level of violence goes down is figuring out how to deal with those people who have benefited from violence, whose career prospects have been determined by violence and who used to make money from violence.”1

Some people have made a career and a thriving business out of troubles in Jammu and Kashmir. Their business can only flourish if a certain level of violence is maintained. To boost their business they promote violence, extremism and religious intolerance. In this regard Chief Khan said, “There has been an industrialization of violence here. Those who have made their careers out of violence are worried now that it is gone.”

Muslims and non- Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir lived in peace and harmony for centuries; however a situation was created in 1990 in which Pandit Community no longer felt safe in a place where they lived all their lives. They had to abandon their homes and save their lives. Perhaps it is now turn of Muslim minorities, especially Shias who are also hunted down in Pakistan and Gilgit Baltistan and killed.

As people of Jammu and Kashmir were still mourning deaths of innocent people killed Gool, Jammu, they had to put up with sectarian violence which erupted in Budgam district of Kashmir, where Sunnis and Shia clashed with each other. In these sectarian clashes hundreds were injured, which included women and children; shops and houses were set ablaze. Some claim it was Tableeghi Jamat and Lashkar E Taiba who instigated the troubles; but others say the police had a major role in this as they wanted to divert attention from what happened in Gool. Syed Zafar Mehdi in his report titled, reigniting Kashmir wrote:

‘The trouble mongers who instigated people to attack each other had a sinister agenda, so naturally they had full backing of police. As the days passed, the tensions escalated and clashes erupted in other parts as well. Then, perhaps as a face wash, curfew was imposed in the affected areas. Despite the restrictions, the miscreants, with overt and covert support of police, still managed to wreak havoc in many areas of Budgam like Dahpora, Naslapora, Dadina, Koolipora, Pymus, Dandoosa, Paris Abad, Garend Kalan etc. The role of police has been particularly shameful. On Tuesday, people protested after an elderly woman, 58 year old Fatima Begum was hit on her head with the gun butt at Dadina, a Shia locality in Budgam.

The present Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif is known to be a man who wants to promote peace and generate economic activity that could benefit the entire region. For this purpose, he wants to have peace with India and Afghanistan. With India he wants to resolve all outstanding disputes; and those which could not be resolved he wants to put them on the back burner. With Afghanistan he wants to abandon decades old policy of strategic depth and let people of Afghanistan have their own government.

These policies are the correct ones, and could help Pakistan to resolve many of its problems. However, there are powerful forces that have monopoly over these policies; and it looks that they are not prepared to loosen their grip. Since Nawaz Sharif’s announcement of his policies we have witnessed growing violence and intolerance in Jammu and Kashmir and more acts of terrorism (52 acts of terrorism in 50 days) inside Pakistan. This clearly shows what is in store for Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir and the region.

My prediction is that there will be more religiously motivated acts of violence in Jammu and Kashmir to aggravate already bad situation. It is possible that some shrine could be attacked and burnt; or some religious assembly could be fired at and innocent people killed. It is possible that the culprits could be imposters or non-Muslims to ignite religious fervour and tell the world that Muslims are not save there. If this happens it will attract jihadi warriors to Jammu and Kashmir, and that will surely bring death and destruction in Jammu and Kashmir and the region.

Nasir Saeed, a Pakistani human rights activist wrote: ‘Extremism is devouring Pakistan from within and extremists are trying to take us back to the dark ages, spreading hate and leaving their own fellow Pakistanis for dead every day. The urgent priority for Pakistan is to embrace pluralism, promote equality and harmony, and do everything it can to foster a culture of religious tolerance and religious freedom. It is either that or watch Pakistan’s slow death as a failed state’.3
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email:drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com 
View: www.drshabirchoudhry.blogspot.com           www.k4kashmir.com    

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