Sunday, 8 February 2015

Paper of Daalat Ali for JKIPA Conference on terrorism

Paper of Daalat Ali for JKIPA Conference on terrorism
I was asked by Dr Shabir Choudhry to write a paper on terrorism for this conference. I did not know where to start as I see terrorists and terror victims everywhere. He asked me to concentrate on South Asia, especially around Kashmir. I tried but as I am not as skilful or articulated writer as some of my colleagues. I felt that sitting in Manchester I can’t just ignore the bigger picture. Also In writing this paper I wanted myself to be clear of the definition of terrorism. There seem to be rafts and rafts of information on the subject but I came to a conclusion that;
A)   There is someone who terrorises be it an individual for example (Domestic violence),or Neighbourhood, a group of people, Population at large or massive demographic and geographic areas as seems to be the case at the moment.
B)   The people at receiving end, who at times might have no choice but react to this terror threat individually or in numbers for example in absence of plebiscite Kashmiris and Irish for that matter as well as Palestinians and many more have been pushed in to the later situation.
One thing is certain a terrorist (Powerful force) always blames the victim(s) and says: “Look what you made me do” and justifies his action by blaming the people on the receiving end.
Historical context
Powerful groups like Alexander the Great, Ganges Khan, Romans, Ottomans, and other European empires like the British, French; and even Communist Revolution of 1917 (which became an empire in itself) not only terrorised the world’s weak but have cleansed some races from face of the earth.
It can be argued that, all above terrorist activities had economic motives; however, some were purely cruel wars which were motivated through Monolithic religious ideologies, for example, Communists propagated that their ideology had all the solutions, so did the Ottomans and the Christian West. It became the case of us and them. Ottomans had religious belief that they were doing Allah’s deed and civilising the world. Europeans also motivated their populations on the same principle. Anyone who was not Christian or did not eat, drink, wear the same clothes or did not share same values were deemed ‘uncivilised’, therefore, in the name of Jesus Christ it was besotted on them by God to ‘civilise’ these beasts or eliminate them.
My question in this scenario would be “Who is the terrorist?” Why are these empires and conquerors glorified in all discourses?

Nation state
The notion of Nation states and nationalism is 17th 18th century phenomena. The idea of nationhood had some set rules that the nation should be based on religion, culture, ethnicity and language etc with defined geographic areas However, small groups were integrated and dominating ones took over. Many nations were designed by its occupiers and others had to struggle for independence and nation building. The leaders of the struggles were termed as guerrillas or freedom fighters. Whereas some nations fought with weapons to liberate themselves but people like Ghandi and Jinnah led a peaceful struggle for independence which nevertheless ended up killing millions and terrorising even more at the time of the partition.
One may ask, those countries which used weapons to achieve their independence, were the leaders leading those struggles against occupation of their country terrorists or freedom fighters? When a struggle for independence is deemed as a freedom struggle, and when is it terrorism? Above all, who decides who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter?
Post Second World War
The Issue of Northern Ireland is another example where leaders of IRA for some people were freedom fighters; and for others they were terrorists; and the IRA a terrorist organisation. Same is the case with the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, a Princely State which enjoyed a semi autonomous status under the British Raj; but gained its sovereignty after the end of the British on 15 August 1947. It is sad that powerful neighbours of Jammu and Kashmir used force to occupy Jammu and Kashmir; the struggle resulted in forced division of the State.
Imperial powers towards the end of their empires used their Position and influence to arbitrarily create new nations. In almost all of these artificial states or nations there are ongoing conflicts, extremism and violence.
Powerful Nations again used their muscle to create un-natural countries which never became nation states such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Israel and India the list goes on and so do struggles too but these struggles are termed as terrorist activities rather than freedom struggles. Be it former Yugoslavia, Israel, Pakistan, Pakistan Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and many other countries they came to existence because it was desire and need of the Imperial powers.
Cold war between ideologies witnessed direct and indirect interventions by the Superpowers where allies of one power were deemed as terrorists by one and freedom fighters by the other. Vietnam is a prime example where people were terrorised by Capitalist ideologists and defended and supported by adherents of the communist ideology. Nevertheless hundreds of thousands of people were killed and terrorised for what? Cuba, Palestine, Kashmir, South Africa all of them suffered and some continue to suffer terrorism by so called democratic free world.
Many human rights conventions were signed by member states of the United Nations, but the most powerful forces dehumanised (and continue to do so) people through powerful media before terrorising them, hence, they find justifications for their occupations and brutalities often in the name of democracy.
In the post-world wars, while the Communists colonialized physically, the capitalists colonialized economically. Both ideologies came face to face in Afghanistan, However, The Capitalists played clever and played religious card, perhaps it was for this day India was divided on religious bases, and without any logic or justification Pakistan was carved out on the bases of religious Two Nation disregarding all those who were not Hindus or Muslims. and are facing every day Hindu democratic terrorism (New BJP Hindvatta movement) in India and Taliban’s sharia movement In Pakistan.
Afghanistan was beginning of the new economic game for the west and Saudi Arabia (a western capitalist creation in the first place) had been working on its monolithic ideology of Islam (Wahhabism) often referred to as Sunnis by the west.
In the Afghan war democracy in Pakistan was sacrificed, its Prime Minister hanged, contrary to its constitution. Jihadi groups were created and financed heavily by Saudis and trained by Allied forces including Pakistani ISI. Dollars flowed like Indus water. Russians were not only forced out of Afghanistan but Central Asia too. A big triumph for the west.
Once Russian threat was eliminated West moved out physically and without addressing the monster of Mujahedeen that they had created. However, Pakistani Army arguably supported by Americans and Saudis moved towards Kashmir. It can be argued that all three partners had their own interests in Kashmir. Pakistanis saw this opportunity to conquer Kashmir, Saudis to consolidate their ideology and Americans wanted India to open up its market. Also  give them bases against China which had been denied by India previously.
After the Soviet withdrawal, civil war started in Afghanistan. Mullahs and terrorist infrastructure which was financed by Saudis (to advance their ideology) trained by Pakistanis, did not stop there. They started interfering in affairs of Afghanistan, India, Jammu and Kashmir, Iran, Central Asian states; and Islamatists from those states were given training and safe heavens in Tribal Areas.
Pakistan probably started dreaming about becoming a very powerful player in that region which included developing Gawadar in partnership with Chinese over taking Dubai.
India as a country is as unnatural as Pakistan for example there were certain areas directly under British rule, there were many princely states like Kashmir, Hyderabad and many more Himalayan principalities. On paper all these had options of joining one dominion or the other but in reality they were never consulted, given the opportunity and Pakistanis and Indians muscled in against the wishes of people. Therefore, Like Pakistan India has its own problems of class segregation (Untouchables), Tribal, Tamils, Punjab movement, Mizos, Nagas, Nexalites and many more indigenes movements since its inception.
Ever since its creation it has been trying to build a nation and for that it has been at war with its own people through stick and carrot. Carrot for leaders and stick as terrorising its certain sections of its population.
Evidence suggests that some governments adopt policy of catch and kill, as it is alleged to have happened in the Indian Punjab; and allegedly still taking place in Pakistani Balochistan and in Jammu and Kashmir. This is blatant violation of Geneva Convention and fundamental human rights.
Tamils in Sri Lanka were crushed by the government where tens of thousands of people lost their lives. In Jammu and Kashmir and Balochistan tens of thousands of people have lost their lives; and thousands are still unaccounted for.
One can see that India and Pakistan can claim that they are dealing with insurgency or terrorism; but is it not governments first priority to save life and property of people? What these governments are doing could be called disproportionate use of force; and even state terrorism against people who are asking for fundamental human rights.
In some discourses it is argued that India is world’s largest democracy and it should be saved from terrorism and that Pakistan is fighting a proxy war. There is some truth in it, however, one has to go back to 1987 elections in Indian administered Kashmir. Muslim United front (MUF) took part in democratic process under Indian constitution and Indians not only rigged elections blatantly but terrorised MUF leadership and supporters. This was followed by mass protests. This than gave Pakistanis an oppertunity to exploit the situation. Therefore it can be argued that: It was Indian anti-democratic action which sparked violence in the first place. Pakistanis who were waiting in the wings sent Afghan redundant Mujahedeen (Now terrorists) across the border. Both Mujahedeens and Indian security forces un leashed terror on innocent Kashmiris resulting in 100,000 dead, 10 thousand missing, Mass graves and rape used as a weapon of terror (Konan Poshpura and Shopian are such examples).
Pakistan does not treat Kashmiris under its occupation any different. Some people argue that Pakistanis has not killed like India has but People on this side have not taken up arms and yet recently military courts have been established, what does that tell you? Won’t this subjugate people and deny them of their fundamental rights? Also what people forget is what Pakistanis did in early 50s in the area of poonch and General Zia’s time, Talibans attacked Gilgit Baltistan Shia minority aided by Pakistani authorities just like modi (Now priminister) aided Muslim killings in Gujrat.
Contemporary Position
  • The contemporary position seems to be that Saudis and Israel with American help have eliminated any threat to them and both continue to terrorise masses in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Palestine respectively. They successfully have dehumanised people through monolithic ideology and media propaganda.
  • If one takes Iraq in to consideration, 1970 Iraqi health and education was in par with any Western country, and Saddam was darling of the West. At that time Iraqi female PhD ratio was the highest in the world; and now ISIS is openly selling Iraqi young girls for 10 dollars each. Yet People like Tony Blair continue to justify invading Iraq in the name of democracy and Saudis continue to pay for his lectures.
  • The Americans have got unlimited access to Indian market, they have bases in Ladakh and at the same time have successfully blocked foreseeable future flow of any energy sources from Central Asia/Iran in to India and they have eliminated any economic threat emerging from South Asia because South Asia is home to almost third of world population with expertise, know how but unless energy freely flows and trade flourishes there is no way India can realise its full economic potential as well as upwards social mobility for its majority population e.g. Dalits.
  • India can only realise its dream if there is stability in the region and at the moment not even one of its neighbour is happy with her.
South Asian Solution
Pakistan, for various reasons, set up the terrorist infrastructure; and exported terrorism to advance its foreign policy. The question is, does Pakistan have the ability to put genie of terrorism back in the bottle? Moreover, does Pakistan want to do this? It seems Pakistani army is split in to ideological sects i.e. Sunni Sufi and Saudi Wahabi- Salafi-monolithic ideologies.
Or indeed, is it possible to contain this monster of terrorism in isolation? Pakistan created this with help of Saudi Arabia and America. It is only logical that these countries should also help to eradicate extremism and terrorism.
The classic example would be, as mentioned above, Northern Ireland. No solution was found until American government came on board and British government owned up to its mistakes. An inclusive approach was adopted. The question is, are India and Pakistan big enough to admit their mistakes? Moreover, what about international interests? After all, the State of Jammu Kashmir has been part of the great game and the stakes have heightened with American, Chinese and other major powers economic and strategic interests in the region.
India can play a leading role in solving this problem because it has influence in Afghanistan, internationally and in South Asia. The starting point would be freedom of movement for Kashmiris living in all parts of the state followed by a permanent solution to Kashmir like Northern Ireland.
The question is, would this be acceptable to global economic beneficiaries of terrorism?

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