Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Is it struggle for independence, terrorism or a proxy war?
Is it struggle for independence, terrorism or a proxy war?
Dr Shabir Choudhry Dec 2008
One person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist, we were told. There is very thin line between a freedom fighter and a terrorist, yet we used to support Kashmiri armed struggle as we sincerely thought it was a genuine struggle for freedom of our homeland. As we got more information and established our independent sources of information about what was going on in name of Kashmiri ‘freedom struggle’ or ‘Jihad’ we started opposing it, and that was 5/6 years before the tragic events of 9/11 which changed many things including any distinction between armed struggle and freedom fight.
Kashmiri struggle in a view of ‘nationalist Kashmiris’ is a struggle to get national independence for the State of Jammu and Kashmir, but this should not be done in name of any religion as Kashmir dispute is not a religious in nature. Furthermore, in view of nationalist Kashmiris religion is a personal matter of citizens in which state has no role to play. State of Jammu and Kashmir is a multi national, multi religious and multi culture and we all must have same rights and privileges as citizens of Jammu and Kashmiris.
It must be pointed out here that when the term of ‘Kashmiri struggle’ is used it signifies the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir and struggle of all people who were part of the State on 15th August 1947. I understand recently people of other regions, especially Jammu and Gilgit and Baltistan are expressing their strong resentment against this and don’t want to be called Kashmiris; although they agree that they are part of the State, hence still part of the dispute.
Is it Jihad?
Jihad is a very noble concept of Islam and it has two possible definitions. Jihad could be defined as a fight or struggle for one’s rights, which can involve use of arms, especially if the struggle is against a foreign occupier. But this kind of jihad is of less significance, as Prophet Mohammed PBUH, while returning from a battle field declared that: "We have returned from the lesser jihad (battle) to the greater jihad (jihad of the soul)." (BBC - Religion & Ethics - Jihad: The internal Jihad". Retrieved on 2007-01-09).
This ‘greater jihad’ is an inner struggle of each man against vice, passion and ignorance, and takes a form of spiritual struggle. This Jihad is directed against satan’s inducements. Jihad is a struggle for any cause for the betterment of the humanity whether it is violent or not, religious or non religious. A Pakistani scholar and Professor Fazlur Rehman Malik defines the term to describe the struggle to establish "just, moral and social order", which could be to fight for rights of minorities or to struggle for economic development in a country.
There are four major categories of jihad: Jihad against one's own self (Jihad al-Nafs), Jihad of the tongue (Jihad al-lisan), Jihad of the hand (Jihad al-yad), and Jihad of the sword (Jihad as-sayf). Firestone, Rueven (1999). Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 019-5125800. pg. 17.
The ‘lesser jihad’ is defined as a holy war against infidels and infidel countries, aiming at spreading Islam. This kind of jihad is described in both the Qur’an and in the hadiths; and there is a clear guidance on this kind of Jihad and why it was made obligatory. This Jihad could be offensive or defensive and is a duty for every Muslim community, but not necessarily for every individual. The one who dies in the battle against the infidels or against forces of occupation, becomes a martyr, a shaheed, and is guaranteed a place in Paradise as well as certain privileges there.
Some of directions or guidance for this kind of Jihad was permitted when the Muslims were persecuted and oppressed by the rulers of Makka. Even after the migration of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH to Madina, there were still some Muslims there who were still oppressed because of their faith, and Surah 4, verse 75 is referring to this fact:
‘And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help’! (Abdullah Yusuf Ali)
Islamic jurisprudence has clearly regulated terms and conditions of this kind of jihad. According to this surah 2, verse 190 was revealed:
Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.
Such rules include not killing women, children and non-combatants, as well as not damaging cultivated or residential areas. Some scholars stress that this Jihad is essentially a defensive warfare aimed at protecting Muslims and Islam. ‘Jihad of the sword’ will always include weapons, but the aim must be to protect people whether Muslims or non Muslims from persecution and oppression.
Some people wrongly associate Jihad with violence and killings or threat to peace and security. Jihad is not a war or violence. For wars and killings holy Qur’an use the term Qital. Allah says: “Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way in ranks as if they were a firm and compact wall.”
This means that Jihad has much broader application and encompasses many aspects of human life; and ‘qital’ is the final stage in that struggle. But one has to satisfy certain pre-requisites before embarking on this phase of the struggle; and some people call this jihad offensive in nature. But this kind of Jihad must be declared by the state and no group is entitled to declare this jihad, as it is a serious matter and could result in death of many people, animals, crops, trees and destruction of property and assets. Such a serious matter could not be left to adventurism or romanticism of some ideologues or fanatics as it could lead to war, civil war and unrest.
It was because of this defintion and problems associated with individual groups declaring jihad that Maulana Abu Ala Mohdoodi, founder of Jamat e Islami and famous scholar declared jihad in Kashmir as ‘illegitimate’ and wrong. Jamat e Islami after him had changed its stance and has become more like a commerical and mercenary organisation willing to take on different tasks provided they are appropriately rewarded for them.
In view of the above definition and explaination one has to see what is going on in name of Jihad or freedom struggle on the Indian side of the Jammu and Kashmir. First of all this jihad is declared by individual groups, and some of them have transformed the Kashmiri struggle in to a commercial enterprise. That declaration of Jihad is similar to Jihad being carried out in FATA and various parts of Pakistan, which is strongly opposed and contested by the government of Pakistan and many scholars in Pakistan and elsewhere.
Islamic Jurisprudence of offensive or defensive jihad clearly state that no innocent or civilian should be killed. It is very clearly explained that not even trees and crops should be destrroyed, and what we witness in Jammu and Kashmir is clearly against the teaching of Islam. In Jammu and Kashmir we have witnessed time and again that the so called Jihadi groups and Mujahideen have delibeerately targetted civilians, women, children and old. They have killed and tortured members of minority groups in name of Jihad and Islam which is to defame Islam and change fundamental character of the Kashmiri struggle.
To us Kashmiri nationalists, it was a struggle for our right of self determination, and aim was to establish a democratic and non religious state in united and independent Jammu and Kashmir. To these Jihadi groups which converged from various parts of the world to carry out Jihad, it was an Islamic mission to establish Islam in Jammu and Kashmir; and after accomplishing this mission proceed to New Delhi and else where. In other words there is no end to their struggle or Jihad and it continues until there are no none Muslims on the planet of earth. Of course these jihadis were handsomely rewarded for their services in form of priviledges, power and money.
Is it Terrorism?
There is no agreed definition of terrorism but the term is used to describe violence or other harmful acts committed (or threatened) against civilians by groups or persons for political or ideological goals. The majority of definitions in use are written or proposed by government agencies who deal with various kinds of violence and terrorism, and that ultimately result in bias to exclude governments from such definitions. Furthermore certain actions are termed as ‘terrorism’ even though it does not not result in violence or casualties, for example, the Terrorism Act 2000 include the disruption of a computer system but no violence is intended or results.
Some definitions legitimate use of violence by civilians against an invader or forces of occupation; but other definitions call all kinds of violent resistance as terrorism. Mosst people define terrorism which involves the use or threat of violence with the aim of creating fear to the intended victims and others in the community. This application of ‘fear’ distinguishes terrorism from both conventional and guerrilla warfare. Terrorism aims to achieve political or other goals, when direct military victory is not possible. This has resulted in some social scientists referring to guerrilla warfare as the "weapon of the weak" and terrorism as the "weapon of the weakest".
The Oxford English Dictionary defines terrorism as "a policy intended to strike with terror those against whom it is adopted; the employment of methods of intimidation; the fact of terrorising or condition of being terrorised."
Webster's New International Dictionary defines terrorism as the "act of terrorizing, or state of being terrorized; specif.: a/ The system of the Reign of Terror. b/ A mode of governing, or of opposing government, by intimidation. c/ Any policy of intimidation. The definition of the term in the Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics (2nd edition) begins:
The Council of the European Union adopted a framework on combating terrorism on 13 June 2002 (2002/475/JHA), reads:
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Union,
and in particular Article 29, Article 31(e) and Article 34(2)(b)
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission (1),
Having regard to the opinion of the European Parliament (2),
(1) ‘The European Union is founded on the universal values of human dignity, liberty, equality and solidarity, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is based on the principle of democracy and the principle of the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States.
(2) Terrorism constitutes one of the most serious violations of those principles. The La Gomera Declaration adopted at the informal Council meeting on 14 October 1995 affirmed that terrorism constitutes a threat to democracy, to the free exercise of human rights and to economic and social development.’
In an interview to Bret Stephens for Wall Street Journal, Asif Zardari, President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan has given new definition to the on going militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. The previous incumbent of the President House in Pakistan despite his opposition to terrorism and his participation in war against terrorism would only went as far as calling people fighting against India as ‘militants’. Asif Zaedari has made a big leap and has called them ‘terrorists.’ Apart from that he has called APHC leaders, who were hailed as freedom fighters, beacons of the Kashmiri struggle and as ‘heroes’ by previous government officials, ‘terrorists’ as well. This is a big change.
Apart from the few, non of these leaders have actually taken part in any form of militancy, and perhaps he has called them ‘terrorists’ because they either don’t denounce militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, or one way or the other are supporting it or have supported it in the past. It is normal practise of Pakistani politicians that when they are in hot water due to something they have said they generally say they were ‘mis quoted’; and it is quite possible that Asif Zaedari might do the same.
Also he has very boldly claimed that "India has never been a threat to Pakistan". This view has been recently expressed by some Pakistani writers that it is always Pakistan who has picked up fights with India resulting in catastrophic wars and defeats for Pakistan, even its dismemberment in 1971. Asif Zardari’s statement is perceived as an indirect support for this claim.
Proxy war - a war instigated by a major power that does not itself participate. It is a war that results when two powers use third parties as substitutes for fighting each other directly.
In its fight against terrorism the USA has declared its emphasis on a policy which stands on two pillars: first, “promoting freedom, justice, and human dignity—working to end tyranny, to promote effective democracies, and to extend prosperity through free and fair trade.” The second is “confronting the challenges of our time by leading a growing community of democracies,”
The USA's Department of Defence issued a directive in 1996 and provided a new definition of terrorism in order to bring under its ambit acts directed against civilians as well as security forces:" Unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property, with the intention of coercing or intimidating governments or societies, often for political or ideological purposes."
International (or Transnational ) Terrorism. Terrorism has become a ‘ trade ’ for some and it is no longer confined to boundaries of any one country. Terrorists have complex international network and terrorism transcends national boundaries. Its planning can take in one country and its execution could be in other countries thousands of miles away. This kind of terrorism attracts wider publicity and help terrorists to promote their demands and cause.
In order to combat this kind of terrorism a sincere and concerted international effort is required. Terrorism experts define the following kinds of terrorism:
Non-State Supported Terrorism. Terrorist groups which are highly organised with their own finance and logistics; and good command and control system. They, by and large, operate autonomously without receiving any significant support from any Government.
State-Directed Terrorism. This class of terrorist groups operate as agents of a Government, act as a proxy to a government to advance interest or cause of that government or a cause which is mutually beneficial. They receive substantial intelligence, logistical, and operational support from the sponsoring Government.
State-Supported Terrorism. This class of terrorist groups have somewhat independent existence with their own resources and their own agenda; but at times they receive help, support and guidance from one or more Governments.
It is widely believed that ‘terrorist organizations do not exist in a vacuum’ - they heavily rely on states who provide them all the necessary support, and in fight against terrorism it is imperative that these states could be pressurised to stop their support for terrorists.
Fight against terrorists is not easy, because it is not possible to win or defeat those fanatics who are willing to die for their cause, whether that cause is justified or not. Phenomenon of Suicide bombers is not new, as they have been around in many cultures and religions for ages. It is believed that these fanatics burning with revenge or ideological fervour could not be influenced through reasoning or incentives.
Indian claim is that Pakistan launched the proxy war in the name of "Operation Topac". The entire scheme was formulated by former military dictator of Pakistan, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. According to well-known journalist and author, Altaf Gowhar, Pakistan's proxy war is amended version of "Operation Gibralter" and is based on the suggestions of Chou-En-Lai and has been named as "Operation Topac". The "Operation Topac" type prolonged campaign used to be carried out during the hey-day of imperialism. The Soviet Union too had adopted a similar plan.
The Indian officials claim that the Operation Topac had four main aims:
1. Giving training to Kashmiri youths in the handling of sophisticated weapons.
2. To destabilize and discourage the state administration.
3. To make the Kashmir Valley a Hinduless Muslim area.
4. To prepare Kashmiri Muslims for "Jehad".
This strategy aimed to ensure that:
· A large number of Indian forces (more than half million) are kept bogged down in Kashmir;
· It will result in fatigue, resentment, causalities among civilians and men in uniform;
· In other words ‘keep India bleeding’, economically and militarily;
· It also ensures that the Indian forces will take causalities and in frustration react to kill and torture militants, suspected militants and their supporters;
· It will surely result in human rights violations which will result in more alienation and anger against India;
· It will keep fanatics engaged in Jammu and Kashmir, and probably get them killed, hence keep them away from cities and towns of Pakistani and Pakistani Administer Kashmir;
· It will provide Pakistan and Kashmiris with a propaganda stick to beat India at national and international level.
· It will motivate other extremists both Hindu and Muslims to organise in groups and clash with each other, creating further tension and chaos.
And this tension, frustration and alienation of Muslims in India will help to create divisions inside the Indian society; hence provide justification for the Two Nations Theory and Partition of India in 1947. I am sure one can add more things to this list.
Many critics believe that with the above objectives Pakistan wanted to promote national interest; certainly this is how government India view these objectives. By and large majority of Kashmiris at the beginning believed that they were fighting to liberate their country; and many still think that they are fighting war of liberation. And they think their target should be India and not Pakistan, even though they acknowledge that Pakistan is also controlling or occupying some parts of the State. This includes pro Pakistan Kashmiris and some so called nationalists who speak of an independent Kashmir but their policies are designed to promote Pakistani national interest.
Because of the topic and the explanation it required the preface has already become too long; but I cannot end this without expressing my deep gratitude to most respected Baroness Emma Nicholson, who has honoured me by writing an introduction to this book.
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. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To view other articles see my blog: www.drshabirchoudhry.blogspot.com