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Unrest in Kashmir: Why is India in no mood to resolve the explosive issue?

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] I [/yt_dropcap]ndia suffers from an illogical superiority complex and situation has become very serious under the Hindutva nationalist BJP rule. India government, irrespective of which party or coalition rules the country, does not change its policy for Jammu Kashmir which it sees through its policy for Pakistan.

India possibly thinks if it ends criminal operations in Kashmir and let Kashmiris win freedom and sovereignty from New Delhi that would be misunderstood by the world as India’s weakness.

Having been robbed off their sovereignty, Kashmiris are placed in a precarious position under a powerful military of India and they do not have support of veto powers to make any difference to Indian military yoke in Kashmir and they do not have high precision weapons that Israel has in order to defend themselves from military attacks on them; India very cleverly exploits the weaknesses of Kashmiris. State government being elected by Kashmiris does not think they have a duty to protect the life and property of Kashmiris in Kashmir.

The Kashmiri parties like National Conference (NC) and PDP use the Hindutva parties like BJP and Congress to threaten the Muslims in Kashmir with action if they continue to demand freedom and sovereignty from Indi, the big power of South Asia. While they and their intelligence-media target Muslims in Kashmir aided by military, India and BJP in JK government do all possible things to make Hindus very happy.

Knowing the weak predicament of Kashmiris, Indian federal government is in no mood for talks with Kashmir “separatists” despite JK state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti pushing for discussion with all stakeholders, especially the freedom fighting groups or the so-called separatists. Even the British government eventfully had understood the need to talk to Indian freedom fighters, especially with Mahatma Gandhi to find credible ways to end the struggle. But India continues to evade that proper, legal route and hit the Muslims in Kashmir with terror goods, including imported Zionist arms.

Already over 100,000 Kashmir shave laid their valuable lives to see a soverign Jammu Kashmir.

Now New Delhi, armed with huge arsenals of nuclear and conventional terror goods, does not think the time is ripe go for a talk with Syed Geelani and other Hurriyet leaders who are spearheading the freedom struggle. As India keeps killing the Kashmiri Muslims, their leaders look to Pakistan for help mainly because they can’t approach the UNSC directly for safety and sovereignty.

India has money and arms in plenty and it keeps bribing foreign lobbyists and buying terror goods from big powers with an understating that they won’t interfere with Indian colonialist operation in Kashmir which according to New delhi is apart of modern democracy.

In order to divert the global attention on the state crimes in occupied Kashmir, Indian terror specialists say the Kashmiri freedom fighters are separatists, terrorists and they should be dealt with sternly and Indian government should be supported in its regular massacre operations in Kashmir, leading to creation of secret graveyards in the valley.

While the federal government in New Delhi is unwilling to find solutions to the problems being faced by Kashmiris, Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi with a message that the government should restart talks with Hurriyat separatists for normalcy to return in the Valley. However, India appears to be in no mood for discussion with Hurriyat leaders whom Indian government calls the Pakistani agents, worse than Indian agents in Kashmir and Pakistan. Sources said the government is not in favour of talks with “pro-Pakistan lobby” in the Valley despite such demands from various quarters, including from foreign powers.

Heavily nuclearized India says entire Kashmir belongs to it and Pakistan should not dream of getting more Kashmir lands. India is ready for any number of terror wars with Pakistan.

India threatens the Kashmir freedom fighting groups to be silent about sovereignty and Indian government believes that talks with separatists even on its terms would yield no result as all such attempts have failed in the past. Pointing to the need to hold talks with all stakeholders, Mehbooba Mufti said that talks with the separatist Hurriyat (Conference) had taken place during the tenure of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. She said talks were the only way forward.

As situation in the Valley remains tense and incidents of stone pelting continues unabated, the government has decided to go ahead after the top aggressive leaders of Kashmir. Indian agencies have been directed to break the backbone of “terror infrastructure” in Jammu Kashmir.

In recent times Kashmiri agitations have embarrassed New Delhi who claims everything is calm and cool in Kashmir. The continued agitations of Kashmiris, authorities of JK government have also been asked by New Delhi to continue the crack down on social media inciting violence in the region. Nearly 300 WhatsApp groups were being used to mobilize stone-pelters in Kashmir to disrupt security forces’ operations at encounter sites. Most of these groups – at least 90 per cent of them – have been successfully shut down in the last three weeks.

PDP chief and Jammu Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti has reminded New Delhi once again of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee doctrine on Kashmir when she said only dialogue similar to the ones held during the former prime minister’s era more than a decade ago could save the Valley. “There was dialogue when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and LK Advani his deputy. They even held dialogue with the Hurriyat and others,” Mufti told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence in New Delhi. Vajpayee ruled between 1998 and 2004. His approach towards addressing the Kashmir issue came to be called Vajpayee Doctrine. It also included improving relations with neighbouring Pakistan.

The Vajpayee doctrine on Kashmir called for peace, progress and prosperity in the Valley by imbibing the spirit of Insaniyat (Humanity), Jamhuriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Identity of the people of Kashmir). The doctrine was universally acclaimed by all segments across of political spectrum in the state, including the extremist elements in the Valley. Vajpayee’s mantra included resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including that of Jammu and Kashmir issue in a peaceful manner through bilateral dialogue without any third party intervention. He carried his message of peace to Pakistan during a bus journey to Lahore on February 19, 1999. Vajpayee made it a point to visit to Minar-e-Pakistan where he re-affirmed India’s commitment to the existence of Pakistan. He reached out to the people of Pakistan in a passionate speech at the governor’s house in Lahore telecast live both in Pakistan & India.

Vajpayee signed a Lahore Declaration with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on February 21, 1999 in the form of roadmap for peace. As part of the declaration, Pakistan agreed to resolve all bilateral issues between the two countries, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in a peaceful manner and through dialogue and to promote people to people contact. The Delhi-Lahore Bus Service Sada-e-Sarhad (Call of the Frontier) was launched as a symbol of the efforts of the Vajpayee government to promote peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan on the basis of reciprocity.

Seeking to let diplomacy win, Vajpayee did allow the bus service to be terminated even when Pakistan army chief President Parvez Musharraf launched an attack in Kargil between May and July, 1999, which the Indian armed forces successfully repulsed forcing the Pakistani army to vacate the occupied hills in the region.

However, the bus service had to be suspended during the heightened tension between the two neighbours in the aftermath of what New Delhi specialists say “the Pakistan-ISI sponsored terrorist attack” on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. Later, it came out that the parliament attack was planned by Indian sources to terrorize Indian Muslims and to launch scathing rhetoric against Pakistan. But service was restored on July 16, 2003 when Pakistan assured the Indian government that Islamabad would not allow its territory to be used for terrorists’ activities. But later it allowed US led NATO terrorist militaries to use Pakistan to launch terror attack on neighboring Afghanistan and leading to attack Pakistani themselves.

Though it sought strategic partnership with USA refused USA and NATO its territories to be sued by them to attack Afghanistan.

Vajpayee on whom the BJP government bestowed nation’s highest civilian honor for his contribution to social work and politics, extended a hand of friendship on the basis of reciprocity and mutual trust and called for collective fight against poverty in the Indian subcontinent devoid of terrorism and drug-trafficking. His emotional speech made Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to say: “Vajpayee Saheb, ab to aap Pakistan mein bhi election jeet sakte haein (Vajpayee now you can win elections even in Pakistan).”

All the setbacks to his dialogue initiatives, including Kargil conflict, hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandhar and terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, notwithstanding, Vajpayee did not allow the peace process to derail despite serious provocations by the Pakistan army and the ISI.

Perhaps, Mehbooba Mufti wants PM Modi to follow the Vajpayee doctrine to normalize the situation in the Kashmir Valley and lower the tension with Pakistan.

“We must start from where Vajpayee ji left… Modi ji has repeatedly said that he would follow the footsteps of Vajpayee ji, whose policy was of reconciliation, not confrontation,” Mufti said. “There is no option but to talk,” she asserted.

Mufti’s meeting with Modi came in the backdrop of the worsening security situation in the state that has also rattled the ruling PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. The government headed by Mehbooba Mufti is under mounting attack in the face of fresh spurt in violence in the state.

The security situation in Jammu and Kashmir regions has been fragile in the last few months, and the worst Army-civilian relationship has been in the news for all reasons unsavory. Further, the rise in stone-pelting incidents to thwart counter-insurgency operations in the state has been a cause of worry for the security forces.

New Delhi systematically denying fundamental rights of Kashmiri youth global connectivity and refuses them to use mobile and internet so that world does not know what is happening in Kashmir. Nearly 300 WhatsApp groups were being used to mobilize stone-pelters in Kashmir to disrupt security forces’ operations at encounter sites.

Nearly 300 WhatsApp groups were being used to mobilize stone-pelters in Kashmir to disrupt security forces’ operations at encounter sites. However, most of these groups–at least 90 per cent of them–have been successfully shut down in the last three weeks. “We identified the groups and the group administrators, who were called in by police for counseling.

Indian atrocities include the following:

  1. Each of these 300 WhatsApp groups had around 250 members; the police official explained how determined attempts were being made to disrupt the operations of the occupation forces by mobilising stone-pelting mobs at the encounter sites.
  2. The government’s policy of suspending internet services appeared to be showing positive results in curbing stone-pelting during encounters and cited the case of the encounter in Budgam district on Saturday. Just a few youth gathered to hurl stones after two militants were gunned down in the encounter.
  3. This was in sharp contrast to an encounter in Durbugh village in the same area on March 28, when a large number of stone-pelters had assembled and three of them were killed in firing by security forces. “With no internet services, the mobilization of mobs has almost become impossible. Earlier, we would see youth from as far as 10 kilometres from the encounter sites joining the protesters to pelt stones at security forces to disrupt the anti-militancy operations,” the official said. “That did not happen on Saturday during or after the encounter in the absence of internet on mobiles”.
  4. Some of the youth listed personal issues like alleged harassment by security forces as reasons for taking to stone-pelting. “Most of them get carried away momentarily,” authorities are also looking at further sensitizing the personnel on the need to adopt a humane approach while dealing with the youth.
  5. Stone-pelting on security forces near the encounter sites has been causing major operational problems for the law enforcing agencies over the past one year. More than half a dozen youth have been killed in such incidents in the first quarter of this year. “With the internet facility withdrawn, the activity on these social networking groups and other sites like Facebook has come down drastically”.
  6. However, people especially those from the business community say they are facing hardships, because of the inability to stay connected online. “Today, the business depends on internet for communication. I am into stock markets and I have had no business since the mobile internet services were withdrawn last week,” Mudasir Bhat said. He said most of the people had done away with landlines and broadband internet services as mobile internet facility gave them more freedom and were also cheaper.
  7. Ishfaq Ahmad, a contractor by profession, said life, without internet, had come to a standstill. “I had to submit a tender document two days after the internet facility was withdrawn. As the document was to be submitted online, we had to request the concerned department to extend the date till we make arrangements for e-filing,” Ahmad said. He said he has applied for landline connection but the service provider, BSNL, has informed him that it will take time. “BSNL is the only landline services provider here in Kashmir. I hope the government takes steps to ensure that businesses do not suffer because of this internet ban,” he added.

The government in JK is defunct but the BJP, the ruling partner of PDP, said there were no differences between coalition partners in Jammu and Kashmir and the state government was “working well”. The PDP-BJP government is working well. Everyone is performing his or her task,” state BJP unit Chief Sat Sharma told reporters.

The PDP had earlier accused the BJP of betraying it in the council elections, in which an associate member of the PDP voted in favour of the BJP candidate on assurance of a post.

BJP pursues the RSS Hindutva agenda in Kashmir valley with help from Congress, PDP, NC, etc. BJP knows it is rather easy to fool the Kashmiri politicians with some money and NOC for foreign trips.

Observation

Jammu Kashmir is reeling under tension also because the PDP lost the seat to National Conference in the April 9 bypoll, in about 3 years after the 2014 General elections. The election to the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency was marred by violence and witnessed the lowest voter turnout. Mufti is, hence, expected to review working of PDP-BJP coalition government in the state and discuss with Modi the roadmap to restore peace in the Valley.

JK CM Mehbooba Mufti wants PM Modi to follow the Vajpayee doctrine to normalize the situation in the Kashmir Valley and lower the tension with Pakistan.

The deteriorating security situation in JK state and reports of strains in the PDP-BJP coalition indicate negative functioning of the BJP – PDP government. Mufti, who attended the Niti Aayog meeting in Delhi, discussed the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir with Modi and seeks a solution from the Centre to address the issues of the people of the Valley; especially after the increase in the incidents of stone-pelting. The rise in these incidents also led to a friction between the PDP and the BJP, which are running the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.

India wants to continue with its terror programs by using terror goods manufactured in India and abroad to terrorize Kashmiris who still think Pakistan would make them free from colonialist occupational crimes of India and help them make a home for themselves. However, going by the rhetoric and action of Pakistan, it is clear that Pakistanis fight for Kashmir to be added to Azad Kashmir which then be made an integral part of a destabilized Pakistan – and they are indeed not fighting with India for the sake of unfortunate Kashmiris.

Both India and Pakistan are fighting for Kashmir. Naturally, India is in no mood to resolve the explosive Kashmir issue as it has the upper hand. And world powers like UNSC and NATO have not putting any pressure on India to vacate Jammu Kashmir.

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Changing complexion of “militancy” in the occupied Kashmir

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Women walking past Indian security forces in Srinagar, summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Nimisha Jaiswal/IRIN

Two teachers, Supinder Kaur and Deepak Chand, were shot dead in Srinagar on October7, 2021.The Resistance front owned the killing. The name implies that this organisation like the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation front does not have religious moorings. The front explained that “they were killed because they harassed and warned the parents with dire consequences if the students did not attend the school function on August 15 (India’s Independence Day).

In a tweet, the Inspector general of Kashmir police disclosed that 28 civilians had been killed din the valley during 2021”. Five persons belonged to local Hindu and Sikh communities. . Two persons were non-Hindu labourers (pic.twitter.com/j5R2MVWrT3).

Each killing follows massive crackdowns, cordons and searches, and rounding up of innocent people as suspects mostly members of Jammat-e-Islami now banned, and Hurriyat members.

Who the Resistance Front is?

Very little is known about the Front. The Resistance Front publicly emerged in the aftermath of August 5, 2019, when the Central government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of autonomy under Article 370 and split the state into two Union Territories.  The Article 15-A also was abrogated. This article guaranteed special protections to Kashmiri people defined as “permanent residents” of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Front came into limelight when it owned a grenade attack in October 2019. Eight civilians on Srinagar’s busy Hari Singh High Street were injured in the attack. The Front is shy of social posts. But, it did announce its debut on the chat platform, Telegram.

India attributes the April intense gunfight between with security forces in the Keran sector (Kupwara district) to this Front.  It left five personnel of the army’s elite Special Forces dead.

Another encounter has continued for five days until October 19 in Mendhar sector.  India admits having lost several soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer, in the fight The Indian forces dared not enter into the forest. They were content to use heavy guns from the outside. The Indian forces’ initial impression was that the front uses only pistols and improvised explosives. That has been proved wrong.

 To disguise their ignorance about the Front, the forces say, ‘These acts are committed by newly recruited terrorists or those who are about to join terrorist ranks’.  

IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar says, ‘A total of 28 civilians have been killed by terrorists in 2021. Out of 28, five persons belong to local Hindu and Sikh communities and two persons are non-local Hindu labourers.’

India shaken

The non local Kashmiri migrants have no faith in police protection. They are returning to their home towns. The remaining persons are being shifted to army camps.

India’s home minister has planned a visit to Srinagar to familiarize himself with the situation. Indian prime minister Modi is being blamed at home and abroad for emergence of the Resistance Front. The critics point out that Kashmiriat had been the crucible of several civilizations. But India’s reign of terror compelled the native Kashmiri to become xenophobic.  

Modi ventilated his ire at rights criticism in his speech before the National Human rights Commission.

He stressed that welfare measures like providing electric connection, alleviating poverty were more important than human rights.

The NHRC is a statutory body that was constituted on October 12, 1993, under the Protection of Human Rights Act. It takes cognisance of human rights violations, conducts enquiries and recommends compensation to victims from public authorities besides other remedial and legal measures against the erring public servants. However its present chairman is believed to be BJP stooge.

Kashmir, a Guantanamo Bay

Even Mehbooba Mufti, a former BJP ally, has been compelled to call Kashmir a Guantanamo Bay prison. She called for lifting ban on Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Jama’at-e-Islami, withdrawal of `sedition’ or `terrorism’ cases against Kashmiri leaders or ordinary folk. Her voice proved to be a voice in the wilderness.  What else could Mehbooba call Kashmir _ `Kashmiris feel that they are literally imprisoned in a cage from which almost all exit routes are barred save one, to India, which is also not without peril. Kashmiris are distrusted and treated poorly in many parts of India, whether as students or as traders’ (A.G. Noorani, Kashmir, a prison, Dawn January 12, 2019). Trade across the Line of Control has been stopped and `terrorism’ charges slapped on some traders. Even the tyrannical Dogras and their British overlords facilitated Kashmir trade with Central Asian and other states. Kashmiri markets used to be flooded with foreign traders and their merchandise _books, shawls, gold tillas, Russian textiles, Kokandi silk, Bukharan rumals (handkerchiefs) and coral.  Trade from British India would flow through Kulu via the Chang Chenmo route to Yarkand, bypassing the maharaja’s customs officials in Leh. In 1870, Maharaja Ranbir Singh signed a special treaty in Sialkot with Viceroy Lord Mayo to accept this route as a ‘free highway’, later known as Treaty Route.  Central Asians intending to perform hajj used to travel through this route to Karachi or Bombay sea-ports to board ships.  To facilitate pilgrims, highway provided rest houses, and supply depots jointly supervised by British and Kashmir officials. Now, even the Kashmir Highway stands closed to civilian traffic during military-convoy movement.. A minor, violating road closure, was brutally crushed by an Indian army vehicle.”

Mehbooba revealed her government was dismissed for expressing ennui at central-government atrocities, not returning dead bodies of `encounter’ victims and burning them, not allowing funeral prayers, demanding talks with Pakistan, registering an FIR against an army officer, resisting change in Kashmir’s special status, and so on (Indian Express dated April 18. 2019). A cursory look at Kashmir press is horrifying _ Sedition cases were slapped on three Aligarh- university Kashmiri students for trying to hold prayers for Hizb militant Wani, Kashmiri students and traders at Wagah border are forced to chant anti-Pakistan slogans and post them to face book. Kashmir students and traders were attacked or looted throughout India. About 700 students, including girls, fled to Valley. Even holders of PM Modi’s merit-based competitive scholarships had to rush back to Valley for safety. Kashmiri journalists in Indian states were roughed up, mercilessly beaten, and told to go back Meghalaya governor officially directed to boycott everything Kashmiri. Some Kashmiris petitioned Supreme Court to intervene. In its order, the Supreme Court directed 10 states and various institutions to take remedial steps, but in vain.

Fake encounters

People have lost trust In India’s claims of success in “encounters”, mostly fake. In July last year, security forces in Kashmir claimed to have killed three “unidentified hardcore terrorists” in a gunfight in Amshipora village of Kashmir’s Shopian district. They had last made phone calls to their families on July 17, 2020, a day before the purported gunfight had taken place.

An army inquiry and a police probe into the encounter established that the three suspected militants killed in Amshipora were shot dead in a fake encounter.

Indian army stages such encounters to earn reward of Rs. 20 lac per encounter. A year has gone by but the captain accused of masterminding and executing the fake Amshipora encounter is still unpunished.  He abducted three labourers from their homes and shot them dead as “terrorists”. Those killed in Shopian in July 2020 were Mohammed Ibrar of Tarkasi village, Imtiyaz Ahmad of Dharsakri village, and Ibrar Ahmad.

Concluding remark

It is obvious that it is not all hunky dory in Kashmir as India claims. The changed dimension of “militancy” is an incurable headache for the Modi’s government.

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A Peep into Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Tricky Relations with Afghan Taliban

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To understand the interesting relationship between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as Pakistani Taliban, and the Afghan Taliban, one must look into the history to know how the linkages were developed between the two entities and why the Afghan Taliban are not responding in equal measures to take the decisive action against the TTP.

The TTP has waxed and waned over the years. Under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud (1972-2009), 13 militant outfits, some estimations guess 50, assembled in December 2007 to exact the revenge of the Lal Mosque operation. The Mehsud tribe of South Waziristan is the largest group in the TTP. There were many precursors group of the TTP, such as Sufi Muhammad (1933-2019) who established the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi and led thousands of militants against the occupational forces in Afghanistan. Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir also joined the Baitullah-led TTP faction in 2008, both having links with Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has launched several operations against them, namely Operation Rahe-e-Rast (2009), Rah-e-Najat (2009), Zarb-e-Azab (2014) and Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad (2017). In the past, Pakistan claimed a complete victory against the TTP.

The TTP orchestrated a campaign of suicide bombings against Pakistan from 2006 to 2009. On 16 December 2014, TTP gunmen stormed the Army Public School in the northern city of Peshawar and killed more than 150 people, while 132 of them were children. After the capture of Kabul by the Afghan Taliban, the TTP is active again and claiming it carried out 32 attacks in August 2021 against Pakistan. Islamabad and Beijing held the TTP responsible for the July 14 suicide attack that killed nine Chinese engineers working on a hydroelectric project in Kohistan district. Pakistan accuses the Indian secret agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) of funding and supporting the TTP. Reports confirm that the TTP has sanctuaries in Kunar and Nanghar provinces of Afghanistan.

It is very difficult to measure the relationship between the TTP and the Afghan Taliban. Michael Kugelman, Asian deputy director at Washington Wilson Centre says, “The two groups have been separated from the same ideological cloth.” For the Afghan Taliban, the TTP has boosted their membership. For the TTP, the Afghan Taliban enhanced their resources and legitimacy. The factor of having links with the TTP reduces the Afghan Taliban’s chances to rely on Pakistan.

The TTP is eager to show its relations with the Afghan Taliban. TTP’s media showed the pictures of Hakim Mullah Mehsud and Maulvi Nazir with Mullah Sangeen Zardan, a key commander of the Haqqani network. Like the Afghan Taliban, the TTP has established its links with Al Qaeda; however, its main branch still adheres to the Afghan Taliban.

The TTP members were trained and educated at the same religious seminaries that produced the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan’s long ties with the Taliban might have generated hopes that the Islamist group would help rein in the TTP’s cross-border violent activities from their Afghan hideouts. But they say those expectations could be shattered, citing the ideological affinity between the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban.

The Afghan Taliban also released 800 TTP militants, including its deputy chief Maulvi Faqir Muhammad. According to a recent report prepared for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan Taliban have carried on “relations mainly as before”. The TTP supported the Afghan Taliban militarily against the Afghan government forces in the recent takeover. TTP’s new rhetoric is consistent with the Afghan Taliban’s position of not recognizing the Durand Line as a legal border and opposing its fencing by Pakistan because it has divided the Pashtun tribes.

Amir Rana, Director at Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), says, “The Afghan Taliban triumph has emboldened Islamic militants, including those in the TTP and boosted their morale. The wooing back of the disgruntled group and release of prisoners have increased TTP’s capability and military strength, hindering Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate terrorism within its borders.”

Zabihullah Mujahid, Spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban, said in an interview, “The relationship between the TTP and the Afghan Taliban will continue to be dictated by religious-ideological convergence, ethnic-fraternal linkages and close camaraderie.” But he denied there was any collaboration between them. The Afghan Taliban and the TTP known to share the ideal of governing by ‘sharia’ or Islamic law. However, the Afghan Taliban have not spoken openly against the TTP.

Michael Kugelman commented, “For Pakistan, getting the Taliban to curb the TTP amounts to a daunting task. The TTP has long been allied with the Afghan Taliban, and it has partnered operationally with them. The Taliban are not known for denying space to its militant allies, and I do not see the TTP being an exception to the rule.”

The TTP has rejected Islamabad’s amnesty overtures. In an exclusive interview with Japan’s oldest newspaper Mainchi Shimbun, TTP leader Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud welcomed the Taliban return to power in Afghanistan after 20 years of absence. “We are hopeful for a strong relationship between two of us. The TTP views the Doha Accord 2020 as a major win for all the Jihadists and their ideology.”

The TTP also differs from the Afghan Taliban in its goals and attitude toward the Pakistan government. In 2009, the Afghan Taliban denied having ties with the TTP attack on civilians. Some Afghan Taliban have sympathies with the TTP. But it is clear that the Afghan Taliban do not want to develop their official ties with the TTP, and nor do they want to be involved in the tussle between the TTP and Pakistan government. Its permissive treatment of the TTP could be a matter of internal politics. Cracking down on foreign fighters might create rifts in the rank and file of the Afghan Taliban who view these fighters as brothers in arms.

Columnist Kamran Yousuf writes in Express Tribune, “Pakistan has handed over to the Taliban ‘a list of most wanted’ terrorists affiliated with the banned TTP. Islamabad seeks a decisive action against them. Hibatullah Akhundzada, supreme commander of the Afghan Taliban, has established a three-member commission to investigate the Pakistan claims. Afghan Taliban leaders Mullah Umar and Sirajuddin Haqqani had repeatedly attempted to convince the TTP to focus on the Afghan Jihad. But these efforts had always been fruitless because waging of the Jihad against Pakistan forms the basis for TTP’s separate identity.

Noor Wali Mehsud said, “We will free our land region from the occupation of Pakistan forces and will never surrender to their atrocious rule. We want to live on our land according to the Islamic law and tribal traditions. We are the Muslims and the Pashtuns. The independence of Pakhtunkhwa and Pashtun tribal areas is national and religious duty of all Pashtuns.” (DAWN, 23 March)

Another possible and perhaps more likely outcome is that the Afghan Taliban avoid interference in the TTP-Pakistan conflict, preferring to stay neutral and maintain their historical ties with the TTP as well as Pakistan.

Zabihullah Mujahid noted, “The issue of the TTP is one that Pakistan will have to deal with, not Afghanistan. It is up to Pakistan, and Pakistani ulema and religious figures, not the Taliban, to decide on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of their war and to formulate a strategy in response.” (Geo TV, Aug 28)

Noor Wali Mehsud said, in a recent interview with CNN, that his group will continue its war against Pakistan security forces and its goal is to take control and free the border region. Mehsud also admitted that his group has a good relation with the Afghan Taliban, hoping to benefit from their victories across the border.

Despite an ideological convergence, there appears many differences between the TTP and the Afghan Taliban. The Afghan Taliban condemned the killing of children in APS Peshawar. Condemning the attack, Zabihullah Mujahid said, “The killing of innocent people, children and women are against the basic teachings of Islam and this criterion should be considered by every Islamic party and government.”

The Afghan Taliban emerged in 1990, while the TTP in 2007. The TTP has a separate chain of command. Although the two groups’ aims overlap, they do not match. The TTP, unlike the Afghan Taliban, has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US. The two has different sponsors. The TTP is closer to the global jihadist agenda of targeting the far enemy. The Time Square bombing in 2010 and killing of Chinese nationals are the examples in this regard.

Both work with Al Qaeda. In the case of the TTP, this relation is stronger. Al Qaeda has played an instrumental role in the foundation, rise and expansion of the TTP. Although both are the Pashtuns, but the Taliban belong to Afghan tribes and the TTP is from the Mehsud tribe. The Afghan Taliban are more unified than the TTP.

Asfandyar Mir, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University for International Security and Cooperation, said, “Both Jalal and Siraj Haqqani mediated ‘jirgas’ to resolve the organizational issues and factionalism in the TTP.”

The TTP has also tried to diversify its recruitment and banned groups like the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) as well as Balochistan insurgency. The TTP makes it clear that ‘it does not entirely agree with the ideology of those movements but has sympathies with those being targeted by Pakistan establishment’. (Faran Jeffery)

The Diplomat reported that the Haqqani-sponsored talks between Pakistan and TTP had failed in 2020. The Taliban have generally been hesitant to push the TTP too hard. Rahimullah Yousufzai, a security analyst, said, “The Afghan Taliban, or for that matter, the Haqqani’s, could have done more to restraint the TTP from attacking Pakistan but that has not happened.” Asfandyar Mir said, “The Afghan Taliban have never meaningfully condemned or restrained the TTP from carrying out violence in Pakistan.” (TRT)

After the withdrawal of US-led coalition forces from Afghanistan, the evolving security situation of the region requires that Pakistan should play a more proactive role in manipulating this delicate balance between TTP and the Afghan Taliban. Otherwise, the chances of peace for the region are not sure.

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The Taliban-Afghanistan Dilemmas

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Source: Twitter

The Blitzkrieg winning back of Afghanistan by the Taliban with the concomitant US pullout established Taliban 2.0 in Kabul. But this has created a number of dilemmas for the stakeholding states. The latter include Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours, viz. Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, China in the northeast and Pakistan to the east. Russia is also affected since it considers former Central Asian Soviet republics like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as its backyard and since Moscow has its own share of extremist-secessionist problems in Chechnya. It is also worried about Islamic fundamentalism spreading to its Muslim population concentrated around its major cities and the Caucasus.

The dilemmas are as follows:

I. If the US-led withholding of economic aid and international recognition continues in essence, then conditions– as it is they are bad enough in Afghanistan—will further deteriorate. This will lead to greater hunger, unemployment and all-round economic deprivation of the masses. Such dystopia will generate more refugees in droves as well as terrorists who will spill out to seek greener pastures beyond the country’s borders.

Such condition will in turn mean a life-threatening headache for not only Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours like Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China and Pakistan but also for more distant lands. The liberal democracies of Europe. Germany, France, Italy, the UK and others have already had their share of refugees—and terrorists—when waves from an unsettled Syria hit them way back in 2015. Chancellor Angela Merkel even decided to act magnanimously and opened Germany’s doors to a million fleeing the civil war in Syria. Such acceptance of refugees from Asia and Africa in Europe, however, boosted right-wing parties like the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and other movements throughout that continent. As a result the easy cross-border movements within the European Union came to be partly restricted in order to keep unwanted refugees out. Calls went out for hardening the external borders of the EU against more refugee invasion. The EU also made arrangements with Turkey to absorb and manage the refugee onrush in exchange for fat amounts of the Euro.

The prospects of a second such wave of refugees desperate not only to escape the clutches of the medieval Taliban but to find a promising future and remarkably better living conditions in the advanced lands of Europe are giving nightmares to the governments of the latter countries.

There seems to be a growing consensus among many in the international community that not only purely humanitarian but also larger economic aid to the Taliban-run Afghanistan should be extended—and without delay, if only to keep a lid on refugees—and terrorists—spilling across the borders. Islamabad apparently scored a remarkable ‘victory’ over New Delhi when its protégé Taliban replaced the pro-Indian Ghani government. Nevertheless, it is worried about the spillover into its territory across the Durand Line to its west. Pakistan, hence, leads this school of thought most vociferously[i]. It fenced its border with Afghanistan to a significant extent in anticipation of more refugees pouring in.  It has been joined in the chorus by Russia, the EU, China, and others. China, for instance, has emphasized the need for releasing funds to Afghanistan at its talks with the G-20 on 23 September.[ii] However, no such stipulation is seen in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) declaration released at the Tajik capital Dushanbe on 17 September, though the document mentions explicitly the need for an “inclusive” government that includes the left-out minorities. India’s presence at the meet may have prevented the inclusion of a funds-release clause.

II. But even if the US unfreezes the $9.25 billion Afghan assets under its control, and allows the IMF and the World Bank to make available other funds and assets to the funds-starved Taliban’s Kabul, a major problem will still linger. This is the question of ‘inclusive’ government, which the Taliban had promised among other things in its February 2020 agreement with the USA at Doha. The composition of the current Taliban government shows the mighty influence of the hardliners within the Taliban, elements like the Haqqani network and the secretive hardcore Kandahar Shura—as opposed to the seemingly more moderate Pakistan-based Quetta Shura. The Prime Minister of Taliban 2.0, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, is on a UN-designated blacklist; its Interior Minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is on the top of the FBI’s most-wanted list with a multi-million dollars reward hanging over his head.  

Although the Taliban did not officially take a formal position, a member of the new government in Kabul has also defied calls from Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and from other quarters for forming a more ‘inclusive’ government. That would mean more Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and women holding important positions in the government, a phenomenon markedly absent in the current governmental setup dominated by male Pashtuns. The Taliban member shot back that the current government was as much ‘inclusive’ as it was possible to make and that the Taliban did not care for others to dictate to it what kind of government would suit Afghanistan.

If Taliban 2.0 remains essentially as it is today, with the minorities ignored, this would still create unrest and insurgency in the country. A civil war in the not too distant a future cannot be ruled out. This is the reason that even Pakistan, which certainly would not like to see its protégé Taliban’s power diluted, keeps harping on the ‘inclusive’ clause along with Russia and others.

A civil war will not be confined within the boundaries of Afghanistan but will attract intervention by neighbouring states and other more distant stakeholders like the USA.  Tajikistan will continue to back the Tajiks living astride its southern border with Afghanistan. Uzbekistan will do the same with the Afghan Uzbeks. Shia Iran will  stand up for the Shia Hazaras while the Western world will, in general, wish to see ‘human rights’ and especially ‘women’s rights’ given full leeway. The Chinese seemed to have cut a deal. They would extend economic aid to Kabul in exchange for assurances that no terrorism or separatism would go out of Afghan territory.

But Taliban 2.0, despite its smooth assurances at Doha and elsewhere, shows no signs of stretching significantly from its understanding of the Sharia law, which it said it wished to uphold as a framework within which all these rights would be respected. There are reports that the US is in talks with Russia seeking a base on Russian territory or again in Tajikistan for its future ‘over-the-horizon’ operations in Afghanistan, starting with monitoring purposes.

In sum, while option I, outlined above, promises an immediate disaster for South Asia and even beyond, option II holds out  only marginally better prospects. It still has the Damocles’ sword of the probability of a civil war hanging over the head. The ideal solution would be to widen the Taliban 2.0 government to include the deprived minorities with an eye on keeping an effective lid on social instability. But the prospects for such a solution seem far-fetched, given the apparent domination of the hardliners in Taliban 2.0 and the long-standing animosity between the northern non-Pashtun Afghans and the Pashtun Taliban.. Also, the attacks by other extremist groups like the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), al Qaeda, and the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and so on will unlikely cease, even if option II is fully implemented. These extra-Taliban extremist groups will only encourage the radical elements within the Taliban to opt for more aggressive actions, both within and outside Afghanistan’s borders.

The future in and around Afghanistan looks grim indeed.


[i] Incidentally, the Pashtuns living on both sides of the British-drawn Durand Line of 1893  do not recognise it, and that includes the Taliban)

[ii] Reid Standish report, gandhara.org of rfe/rl.org, 27 September 2021, accessed 14 October 2021, 09.07 Indian Standard Time (IST)… All times henceforth are in IST.

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