A sensational story published last week in Daily Mail, UK revealed the ideological goal of Al-Qaeda as Ghazwa-e-Hind, or the final battle in India. It also quoted intelligence agencies to say that the terror network is making inroads into India, “sowing the seeds of a final war across the country”.
It further stated “not only Kashmir groups but Taliban and Al-Qaeda groups have stakes in the larger scheme of Ghazwa-e-Hind where India is regarded as next battleground in the ‘End of Times’ battle.” This ideology is likely to be used to drive Taliban and Al-Qaeda affiliates into Kashmir. What is this ideology? What does ‘Hind’ mean?
Ghazwa-e-Hind is a prophesied battle in which Muslim armies would invade the Indian subcontinent and would be victorious and establish Islamic law in the subcontinent. Flag the word Indian subcontinent. Hind does not mean only India but includes Pakistan as well. But anti-Indian Muslims in Pakistan have spin-doctored the ideology to mislead the community and create a hatred for India.
This school of thought is also promoted by the Pakistani Army because it suits its ambition of subverting the supremacy of the elected government. As per them, “the concept of Khilafat, armies of greater Khorasan led by Pakistan and invasion and capturing of India in the end times, is a mainstream Islamic concept. It would reshape the geopolitics of the present and future world.’ Note how cleverly Hind (which included Pakistan as well) has been replaced by India.
Syed Zaman, a jihadist-turned-religious scholar and mouthpiece of the Pakistani Army says: “The modern geopolitics supports this spiritual intelligence as well. India is betting itself with crusader Zionists of the West. History is a witness that it is the armies from Greater Khorasan which have always invaded and destroyed the myth of Hindu power. This will be done once again – for one final time led by the Pakistani Army.”
Some Pakistanis led by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) harbour the idea of a “Greater Pakistan”. The envisioned map of Greater Pakistan and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)’s Caliphate of Khorasan are almost mirror copies of each other.
The idea draws inspiration from the doctrine of Ghazwa-e-Hind. Major parts of India and Afghanistan are included in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or the “Greater Pakistan.” Isn’t this a fantasy? Such fantasies and ideologies were needed to motivate and rejuvenate the Pakistani Army after it suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Indian Army in 1971. By no stretch of imagination Pakistan, even in its wildest dreams, can think to push across India like this. Such visions are fanatical but far removed from ground reality.
What is the reality?
The doctrine of Ghazwa-e-Hind is being used by terrorists, extremists and fundamentalists to incite hatred against India and give it a religious colour and justification. Buoyed by the unprecedented success achieved by ISIS in the recent months the international jihadi outfits want to expand the conflict zone in order to achieve their cherished dream of World Dominion of Caliphates.
In mid- June this year Al-Qaeda released a video titled ‘War should continue, message to the Muslims of Kashmir.’ In this video Al-Qaeda called upon Muslims of Kashmir to follow the example of their brothers in Syria and Iraq and revolt against the authorities. It asked the Kashmiris to seek inspiration from the “new Afghanistan being created in Syria.”
In the video Maulana Asim Umar, Al-Qaeda’s Pakistani propagandist, exhorted Muslims living in India and Pakistan as well as the two parts of Kashmir to join the global jihadi movement seeking to re-establish an Islamic Caliphate – as envisioned in Ghazwatulhind. The video promises a “caravan” of “heroic martyrs” coming from Afghanistan via Pakistan to “liberate Kashmir”.
This was followed by the call made by the self-styled Khaliffah Ibrahim of Caliph of Islamic State at the beginning of the pious month of Ramzan. He called upon all believers to take up arms and terrify the enemies of Allah. Among the enemy countries he named both India and Pakistan. In another development, parts of northwest India and the whole of Pakistan were included in the Caliphate of Khorasan, in a map issued by the ISIS.
In yet another development Syed Salahuddin, chairman of Pakistan-based United Jihad Council and Hizbul Mujahedeen supremo, has invited Al-Qaeda and Taliban and like- minded groups to extend a helping hand to “oppressed Kashmiris”. He announced “Jihad on the lines of ISIS in Iraq is the solution to Kashmir.”
Are these actions a mere coincidence or ominous warnings to the rulers in India and Pakistan?
The dark clouds of Jihad are hovering all over. The international terrorist outfits are shifting their focus towards the Indian subcontinent. ISIS has donned the role of premier international terrorist outfit. All others, including Al-Qaeda, appear to have accepted its supremacy. Pakistan’s ISI can go to any extent to harm India. It also appears to have joined the band wagon.
Having failed to realise the dream of Greater Pakistan it is now trying to destabilise India and attack its basic core value of secularism through the so called Global Jihad. The concept of Ghazwa-e–Hind and the intent of Global Jihad is the same. Global Jihad is the campaign under which Islamist terrorist outfits are urging Muslims in India to wage war against their own country with the intention of turning it into an Islamic State. Their aim is to establish Islamist world supremacy.
However, ISI is ignoring, to its own peril, the threat posed by the Islamist terrorist outfits to Pakistan as well. A network of militant Islamist groups stretches from the Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf, and from the Hindu Kush to the Indian Ocean. For them anybody who does not subscribe to their interpretation of Islam is not a Muslim and needs to be killed. They have pronounced the regimes in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India as “oppressive.”
Al-Qaeda is the most infamous of these groups. In a video released by Al-Qaeda in March 2012, its chief Ayman al-Zawahiri called on Pakistanis to revolt against their government and military. He said: “O our brothers in Pakistan! O our people in Pakistan! This treacherous army and bribe-taking government have plundered your wealth. They have ruined your economy and destroyed your world as well as your hereafter. What then are you waiting for? Take a lead from your brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria who are standing up against oppression and oppressors with their bare chests exposed and offering sacrifices so that victory may be ordained for them.”
Despite whatever the Pakistan Army may say, the Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) is a close associate of Al-Qaeda. Jamat-e-Islami and its student wing are known to provide shelter to Al-Qaeda cadre in its urban centres. Radicalisation of rank and file in the Pakistan Army is also well known. There are hard line militant sympathisers among senior ranks in the army. The details about the arrest in June 2011 of Brig Ali Khan, a third generation soldier, are already in the public domain. He was linked to a banned terrorist organisation Hizb-ut-Tehrir (HUT) that rejects democracy and calls for the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate. Pakistan therefore can ill-afford to dismiss the threat to its existence from Islamist jihadi outfits.
The battle cry of Ghazwa-e-Hind is being used by the terrorist outfits to motivate and indoctrinate their cadres. ISIS has evolved different strategy for different nations to fulfil its cherished dream of World Dominion of Caliphates.
According to my hypothesis, which needs to be confirmed by the intelligence agencies, Al-Qaeda has been made responsible for waging jihad in the proposed Caliphate of Khorasan. The centre of gravity of this jihad is going to be Kashmir and would spread across the entire Indian subcontinent.
Al-Qaeda to prove its relevance is going to use all resources at its disposal, including Taliban and its various factions, Pakistan-based terrorist outfits, Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM) and Indian Mujahedeen (IM). The latter would be used outside Kashmir while the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish would be used to support HM as well as IM. TTP supported by Uzbeks, Chechens and Uighurs would take care of Pakistan. Taliban would challenge the Afghan National Security Forces. The likely time of launch would coincide with the US drawdown in end 2014. There are enough indicators to support my hypothesis.
It would be in the best interest of India and Pakistan to contain these terrorist outfits and prevent their free movement. If we do not fight the international terrorist outfits across the Durand line, we may have to then fight them across the Radcliffe line. A scenario both India and Pakistan would dread.
The concept of Caliphates does not recognise national boundaries. Pakistan has to realise that the Global jihad is as dangerous for her existence as it is for destabilising India. Ghazwa-e-Hind as prophesied includes the entire Indian subcontinent. Pakistan no longer can ignore the ominous signals. It is for both India and Pakistan to bury the hatchet and get ready to face the common enemy in the form of Islamist terror.
Both countries need to evolve a joint mechanism to fight the growing menace. One sincerely hopes that reality would dawn on the Pakistani authorities to change their anti-India outlook lest they are determined to implode. For the Indian authorities it would be advisable to take China on board. China is not merely a threat but provides a lot of opportunities as well, particularly when Pakistan has hurt China also by supporting the Uighur Islamist militants and separatist movement in Xinjiang. China may be more than willing to rein in Pakistan if it decides to ignore this sane advice.
(Brig Anil Gupta served in the Indian Army for 37 years. He is presently a political commentator, security and strategic analyst. He can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org)
This article appeared at South Asia Monitor.