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70 years of Kashmir under Indian occupation

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When India celebrated its 70th anniversary of independence, unfortunately, it also indirectly celebrated the occupation of Jammu Kashmir. One of the achievements of recent history of India in the negative sense is the genocides of Kashmiris- India murdered over 1000,000 Muslims Kashmir while using and protecting Hindus there.

Real protests

Kashmir today, even on Eid day, remains a nation in protest against Indian occupational crimes. Protests erupted on Saturday in Kupwara district of north Kashmir when a youth went missing while another was severely beaten and has been hospitalised in a critical condition with the locals alleging that were taken into custody by Indian Army. Police has registered two separate FIRs against army, one for attempt to murder and another for kidnapping and abducting in order to murder. Villagers of Kakarpati village of Devar Lolab told news agency GNS that Army picked up two local shepherds from forest area of Trimukh upper reaches of Lolab which is connected to Bandipora district.

The Indian/JK government, controlled by New Delhi, considers their prerogative to kill and deal with Kashmiris for seeking sovereignty back from a powerful military power called India. Two ailing Kashmiri women leaders rearrested despite release orders by Court

As Kashmiris are on agitational mold to regain sovereignty from Indian military yoke, India feels highly embarrassed before world powers while PM Modi feels the pinch in front of world leaders.

Interestingly, one of the Indian islets in Lakshadweep on Arabia Sea disappeared owing to climatic change nearly 20 years ago but Indian government has not yet recognized that it lost a small islet without any population. Indian official gazettes have made any change and as India still reasserts that every islet of India is intact. That is problem of India which refuses to accept the fact it has lost a small part of its territory in the natural process as it simply cannot accept or even imagine that Kashmir that decorates India as its multi-jewel crown on its head

India worried

Presumably, Indian strategists in New Delhi and abroad are with latest India maps looking at Kashmir and they cannot visualize India without that crown known as Kashmir on Indian head.

In fact, more than the land, India is concerned about the image of India on Indian map without Kashmir. Indian map without Kashmir looks like a wild animal – not exactly a cow – whose head has been severed. This of course Indian strategists and military experts cannot digest.

Indian strategy for China is one of appeasing that neighbor maybe because Beijing has withdrawn it stop badminton players (women) from the courts, thereby making Indian fight for tittles easier. India may have begun a dialogue with China over parts of Kashmir it occupies. Although China has not invaded Kashmir but got a part of Kashmir as a (paid) gift from Pakistan is not helping Beijing to convince New Delhi which seeks to take back that part of Kashmir from China as well.

That Kashmiris who fight for sovereignty, do not ask both Pakistan and China also surrender their lands makes Indian case difficult but makes India come closer to China easily. India would ask China not to worry about Kashmir as once occupied Jammu Kashmir is now lost for Kashmiris forever. However, the secret talks among India, Pakistan and China – the joint occupiers of Jammu Kashmir- are not revealed to public.

India continues to deal with the besieged Kashmiris the way the military feels best, or rather worst.

Brutality is the key expression that could be used to describe what the Indian solders do in occupied Kashmir day in and day out and at night. India has provided a perpetual blanket approval of every murder and all acts of genocides through fake encounters and all atrocities of making Kashmiris disappear from Kashmir valley once for all.

Obviously, India must have learnt all these murder techniques from its former masters in UK who continue to guide New Delhi in secret state terror operations. Now Israel seems to have accepted Indian appeal to offer terror tips on payment basis to deal with Kashmiris and others who seek sovereignty.

While their occupation masters in New Delhi celebrate 70 years of independence from Great Britain, Kashmiris who lost their sovereignty to then freed India have no choices but to cry loud over their loss of sovereignty under joint UK-India conspiracy with blessings from super power USA and other imperialist capitalist powers.

In fact, no power invades and occupies a weak alien nation to leave the occupation on its own. Invaders quit “subject” nations only under pressure or by force. Great Britain invaded many countries, including USA but had to leave most of them, if not all of them. Interestingly, not only Americans got independence from UK but also have become closest ally of USA today.

India’s easy invasion and quick occupation of Jammu Kashmir was possible because all big powers led by USA and UK supported the illegality behind the “deal” without the endorsement of the people of Jammu Kashmir and none, including China, opposed Indian military action. Neither USA nor UK can approve of invasion without popular consent as that goes against genuine democracy.

India bought problems

While its ruthless occupational crimes in Kashmir as it key policy, India may have good things to claim credit like its music which has made its mark on the world stage. Indian food is cultural given. Indian fashion now competes at the level of haute couture even as Indian fabrics are in demand in both the East and the West as much as the ever increasing Indian demands for western cloths and electronics and fashions. Indian professionalism in media to highlight Indian needs above others, engineering and information technology has formed a swathe and Indian business’ know-how is cutting edge. Bollywood is interested in making big films to match the Hollywood productions.  Last November, demonetization was welcomed by NRIs but there is still a lingering suspicion that the truly rich got away.

There are many issues Indians face. Among them, the killings over beef eating make us look savage and primitive. The refusal by the Parliament to revoke Article 377, a vicious law imposed on India by the same foreign yoke which ironically has no such law in its own country. Indian men still decide what women can do with their bodies. But fanatics Hindus only talk about Islam and Muslim religious rights. The Big Brother manifested itself by way of linking Aadhaar cards with PAN cards and no one quite knows why. For NRIs, it’s another hill to climb. Just as there was confusion about demonetisation — rumours of another one are on the way — the public is unclear how GST will play out even as retailers pull back on several items till there is clarity.

With 29 states and seven union territories what are a few more if a sense of identity is assuaged. The seven sisters in the North East were hit by floods and we took far too long to react, an acid commentary on our levels of awareness of an integral part of India.

A dangerous ignorance that China will exploit as it has spent the past two months trying to hector India on the borders of Bhutan and Sikkim. There are fears that a strong conflict is possible.

However, there’s little to celebrate. Since India was ruled for 200 years by a foreign power, Britain, it takes revenge on Kashmiris by occupying their nation since Indian independence.

The tension in Jammu Kashmir does not seem to be lessening as Indian occupation forces keep targeting Kashmir youth.

Indian terror strategists argue that India should never budge and surrender Kashmir to Kashmiris. And, therefore, unless a “hardcore” decision to void Article 370 is made to bring that nation on par with Indians states of the country, the issue will never be resolved. All we will do is confront civilians with guns and widen the chasm. The incessant appeasement as a policy only breeds contempt. The call for Gorkhaland in the east needs to be resolved swiftly.

India believes military action can solve all problems of Kashmiris once for all. In 2016, India imposed terror at IOC by to surgical terror attacks in Uri. Yes, keeping Indian troops’ morale high should be of utmost importance.

Abrogation of Article 35A: Widespread agitation against BJP’s ‘Israel model?

Abrogation of Article 35A: Kashmiris prepare for widespread agitation against BJP’s ‘Israel model’.

From hawkers to grocers, manufacturers and dealers, everyone stands united in their view that abolishment of Article 35A will bring turmoil in the Valley

Article 35A of the Constitution empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define its “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges. It was added to the Constitution in 1954 through a presidential order.

In Srinagar’s trade heartland, Lal Chowk, the local cab drivers sound like doomsayers. They are talking about the possible political fallouts in Kashmir, in case the Supreme Court of India, under pressure from the Modi government, abolishes Article 35A of the Constitution of India that restricts any outsider other than state subjects of Jammu Kashmir from acquiring immovable properties or having voting rights.

The others could only offer sighs than to comment or intervene over his ‘no fun’ remark. Such ‘distressed’ talks have overtaken the Valley since long. It is reminding people of those ‘talks of revolt’ that took place in the Kashmir Valley before Burhan Wani’s killing last summer in an encounter with forces.

These discussions are taking place inside offices, shops, streets, buses and inside homes. The idea of losing their permanent residency, employment, property, and scholarship, to outsiders, in case the Article 35A is removed or altered, is keeping Kashmiris on the edge. Kashmiris have lost their sovereignty to India due to a deep rooted conspiracy.

Kashmiris are quite aware of the ‘onslaught on Kashmir’s special status’. “Kashmiris won’t allow tinkering with our state subject law. We still repent the day when our leader Sheikh Abdullah committed a blunder by trusting the Delhi (government),” says an old employee. But now, he says, as a train of tourists comes out of the TRC after registration, “The government of India must know that it isn’t the same Kashmir as before. Any attempts to alter our constitutional status will be opposed tooth and nail.” This defiant mood has to do with the petition filed by an NGO ‘We the Citizens’ in the Supreme Court in 2014, seeking to scrap Article 35A. After serving notices to both, the state as well as Centre, the apex court only received counter-petition filed by the state government.

BJP and PDP rule the JK state, promoting the Hindu, Hindutva and Indian interests in return for money from New Delhi. The BJP-ruled Centre refused to file an affidavit, but instead sought a “larger debate”. The Centre’s posturing has unsettled the mood in the Valley with political commentators asserting that the Narendra Modi-led government is actually clearing all decks to scrap the article to settle outsiders in the Valley.

In fact, a larger sense prevails in the Valley that the BJP government wants to resolve the Kashmir issue through demographic changes.

While the Opposition and separatist camps in Kashmir have threatened an uprising over the judicial tinkering of the Article 35A, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has warned the central government that any such attempts won’t leave any “tricolour upholder” in the Valley.

The commoners in the Valley are getting mentally prepared for putting up a “bigger battle” to safeguard their constitutional positioning. Commenting on the controversy, he says, “On the one hand, the government of India calls for peace in Kashmir, while on the other hand, it threatens the very idea of it by resorting to the courts to achieve its political motives… Now, tell me, who is playing the role of a ‘terrorist’ in Kashmir?”

In restive Maisuma, the stronghold of pro-freedom leader Yasin Malik, the buzz is getting shrill. Many residents who often take the security forces head-on through street protests here see a ‘Hindutva pattern’ in the latest controversy.

Ever since the PDP formed a coalition government with the BJP, every person in Kashmir knew that there would be tension. This is essentially an RSS government led by the PDP madam. “But we will make sure we do not accede to their wishes and demands.”

In uptown Srinagar, many pose a question as to why the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is still in alliance with the BJP. In this ‘new’ Srinagar neighborhood known to house the government officialdom, the mood might not be militant, but the locals are flaying the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government. “Every Kashmiri is politically sound as we are living in a political disturbed and conflict zone. How come RSS thinks that they can fool people of Kashmir by resorting to such tactics?” says a trader in Hyderpora.

In Srinagar’s MA Road, which is lately witnessing a string of protests by students of a women’s college, against the security crackdown on Kashmiris, a college-goer blames PM Modi and his government for triggering fresh tensions in the Valley for political changes. “They wish for Kashmir to get disturbed, like in 2016, and that our people should again get killed or injured with pellets, slapped with cases under the Public Safety Act and be taken to the jails and police stations.

In Kashmir’s restriction zone aka Downtown Srinagar, the discussions revolve around Delhi’s (central government’s) “decadal deceit” with the people of Kashmir. “India simply wants Kashmir, not Kashmiris,” says a retired engineer, of Rajouri Kadal, the bastion of Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. “Otherwise, they would have never said that Indians will come and settle here to help change the azadis course. But they are mistaken. Such attempts hardly undo the legitimate demands.”

In the narrow lanes of Habba Kadal, a non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit, who only gives his first name to protect his identity, calls the ‘article 35A controversy’ as New Delhi’s foolishness. “So far, the government of India has not been successful in getting the Kashmiri Pandits back to Kashmir, and now this blatant attempt to create a mini-India out of Kashmir is simply nonsensical,” says Suresh. “They only know how to trigger tensions in Kashmir. They should come and live here for a week as a commoner, and then give these nonsensical statements.”

Now no migrant Pandit wants to return to the Valley, which is affected because of the everyday killings, strikes, and lack of jobs. From hawker to grocers, and from manufacturers to dealers, everyone stands united in their view. “Every Kashmiri wants to fight. I know my business will also suffer, but I can manage with sookhi dal roti (dry rotis) than allowing any federal sinister designs to alter the demography of my Valley,” says an hotelier in Srinagar.

When people are faced with atrocities, it is a natural tendency to fight against it. India should take note that it is a politically disturbed state and if they (the Centre) falter with our law, not only in Kashmir, but more than 80 percent of the state will be affected and there will be violence all around.

Al-Qaeda or USA?

Apparently, Al Qaeda has arrived in Kashmir and the ramification of the development is yet to be ascertained.

Musa is the youngest but first militant from Kashmir who has been linked with a global outfit. He has not pledged his support to the Al-Qaeda yet. But if such a thing happens then it will be bad for both Kashmir as well India.

The statement from Al-Qaeda naming Zakir Musa, the former militant commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, as the head of its wing in Kashmir has generated mixed reactions within and outside the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Al-Qaeda announcement has divided the militant ranks in the Valley with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba rejecting any role for the international terror organisation in the Valley. Many in the Valley are taken aback, worrying about its impact on the ongoing

Many believe that, India will intensify its policy towards Kashmiris after the Al-Qaeda announcement. “Musa’s exit from Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and subsequent developments in the Valley’s political scenario have created ambiguity here. Musa is being hailed both as an Indian agent and an Islamist, but I think the Kashmir issue is now becoming more complex, moving beyond the Hurriyat paradigm,” a political scientist said.

Freedom fighting militant groups too are reflecting on the new development, assessing its repercussions on Kashmir’s struggle. “There is no space for any international organisation like Daesh (Islamic State) and Al-Qaeda in the state,” said Salahuddin who also cautioned the people to remain vigilant of the conspiracies of India and keep their relations intact with (the) organisation fighting against the Indian Army. They should not become a part of any global agenda,” he said. However, many in the Valley believe that the situation is going to change if Musa, indeed, happens to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Over the years Al-Qaeda has changed a lot. Many of its affiliates have detached themselves from the main wing and become completely indigenous. Kashmir will be no exception. The newly nominated group is likely to work indigenously. It will increase the popularity of Musa and more youths will likely join his group than the others in the near future.”

Al-Qaeda’s announcement also indicates that after years of talking about the travails of Palestine, Kashmir and Myanmar, it has finally mustered courage to come forward for Kashmir’s struggle. But, the separatist leaders in the Valley have already denied any involvement of international groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Kashmir. However, there are others who also disagree on Musa’s involvement.

Some police officers emphasized that if the Al-Qaeda gets involved, it will strengthen the hands of the militants. This kind of development would definitely lead to confusion as well as ideological clashes

The reactions from Kashmir are mixed, but what everyone agrees upon is that Al-Qaeda’s announcement is an interesting development and opens a new chapter in Kashmir’s post-1989 armed local insurgency.

NIA targets Kashmiri

The latest unrest and perpetual demonstrations have dominated the Kashmir streets and affected Kashmiri life. But the new development has upset all calculations of New Delhi the worst way possible.

As a natural response to the emerging sovereignty demand, India has used its National Investigation Agency (NIA) to create problems for the freedom Hurriyet leaders. And NIA is working over night to cripple the freedom movement. India has learned all these tactics from its former Masters in London. It targets mosques and Islamic educational institutions.

The National Investigation Agency on Jul, 18 2017 has sent notice to Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid and an education trust run by separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to find out whether or not funds collected at the mosque are used to fuel the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir. The state witnessed over seven-month-long unrest after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Muzafar Wani, in July last year.

The NIA has also issued notice seeking appearance of Mohammad Ibrahim Shah, secretary, Anjuman-e-Nusrat-ul-Islam, an education trust, which is headed by Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. The trust runs Islamic educational institutes in the areas of Rajouri Kadal, Safa Kadal and Bota Kadal in Kashmir. Both the Anjumani Auqaf and Nusrat ul Islam have been asked to furnish their accounts of the last five years.

Besides looking into the role of Hurriyat Conference leaders, the NIA has also written letters to some newspapers asking them to furnish details about stone-pelters whom they had mentioned in their stories. “It is learnt that your newspaper has published some articles/news items mentioning the names and addresses of those involved in cases of stone pelting, burning of schools and damage to government property in the past one year starting from 1 July, 2016. It is requested to direct the concerned to provide the above mentioned documents/photographs/articles for investigation in the instant case,” read the letter issued by the NIA. The NIA is also investigating the role of former militants as well as the political leaders associated with Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman, Hurriyat Conference (Geelani), in funding the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

The NIA is also looking at the role of close associates of Geelani in fanning the unrest, and has recently summoned National Front chairman, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, in the case. Khan, who was recently in Delhi in connection with the investigation that is being carried out, has termed the investigations “witch-hunt”.

The investigation agency also questioned two retired bureaucrats and relatives of Farooq — Moulvi Shafat and Moulvi Manzoor — in the case. Both Shafat and Manzoor were in New Delhi for over a week and were questioned by the NIA in the case.

Earlier, the state police arrested some local youth for burning schools during the unrest while many others were slapped with the Public Safety Act (PSA) to keep them in judicial custody.

Observation

While earlier, India did not take the agitation of Kashmiris seriously, now it has taken unrest by Kashmiris and especially the youth leadership very very seriously. India is for the first time in occupation history is scared. Hence New Delhi is scheming to fix the Kashmiris Muslims in as many ways as time permits.

Kashmiris want total independence first from India, whether Pakistan supports or not. Kashmiris seek to regain all territories lost since 1947, whether China like that or not.

India should read the messages written on the wall and make sincere efforts to surrender sovereignty to Kashmirs and help h them make a home for peaceful existence with property.

It is high time the UNSC wakes up to the occupational reality and realizes the truth about Indian brutal intentions in Occupied Jammu Kashmir and ask India to behave. Kashmiris do not posses weapons, except few pieces of stones being gathered from time to time to defend themselves from Indian military brutality.

Can ordinary stones end Indian military attacks on innocent Kashmiris?

Already India has consumed over 1000,000 Kashmiris and many more have disappeared. Enough of Indian state crimes in Kashmir. India should not be allowed to kill more Kashmiris.

Let the UNSC convene a special UN assembly meeting to grant sovereignty to Kashmiris.

South Asia

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. Thomas Johnson, a professor at Naval Postgraduate School, says, “At one time, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban are related groups. The TTP emerged from the Afghan Taliban around 7-10 years ago. Initially, it supported the Afghan Taliban against the USA and the NATO.” 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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South Asia

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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South Asia

How India utilised the AFSPA to suppress freedom movements?

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The freedom movements in the volatile north-eastern state of India predate the Partition. The Englishman realised importance of the North East as it could provide a corridor to the Japanese in World War II. India applied the Armed forces Special Powers Act first to the north eastern states of Assam and Manipur, a cauldron of unrest. The act was amended in 1972 to extend to all the seven states in the north eastern region of India. The states affected by the draconian law included Assam. Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland, also known as the seven sisters. The forces brutally applied the AFSPA to the states. It ignored outcry by people against has mounting incidents of arbitrary detention, torture, rape and looting. Indian government continued to extend the initial period for imposition of the law ad infinitum sometimes with ex post facto notifications. Its pleas were without AFSPA all the north eastern states will secede from India.  

Gunpoint diplomacy

A large part of the original region that constitutes the seven states of the republic of India had strong political, economic and socio-cultural links with South East Asia. The great Hindu and Muslim empires that reigned over the Indian subcontinent never extended east of the Brahmaputra River. The British colonists were the first to repress freedom movements. . In the early nineteenth century they moved in to check Burmese expansion into today’s Manipur and Assam. The British, with the help of the then Manipur king, Gambhir Singh, crushed the Burmese imperialist dream and the treaty of Yandabo was signed in 1828. Under this treaty Assam became a part of British India and the British continued to influence the political affairs of the region.

The resentment against the Englishman led to the bloody Anglo-Manipuri Conflict of 1891. The British were subdued by the fighting spirit of the local people. So, they preferred not to administer directly but only through the King.

During the Second World War, the Japanese tried to enter the Indian sub continent through this narrow corridor. But back home when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were A-bombed they retreated from the Imphal and Kohima fronts.

A buffer zone

Before leaving India, the British pondered over many proposals for post-Partition of India. The local people were however never consulted. Finally the British divided the region such that some parts went to Pakistan but the lion’s share to India.

Over the years local democratic movements erupted as the people aspired to a new social and political order. One important example is a strong popular democratic movement against feudalism and colonialism in Manipur, led by Hijam Irabot Singh.

The treacherous annexation of Manipur

The post-Partition India reconstituted the kingdom of Manipur as a constitutional monarchy by passing the Manipur Constitution Act 1947. Elections were held under the new constitution. A legislative assembly was formed. In 1949 V.P Menon, a seminar representative of Government of India, invited the king to a meeting on the pretext of discussing the deteriorating law and order situation in the state in Shillong. Upon his arrival, the king was forced to sign under duress. The agreement was never ratified in the Manipur legislative Assembly. Rather, the Assembly was dissolved and Manipur was kept under the charge of a Chief Commissioner. There were strong protests but using violent and brutal repression the Government of India suppressed the democratic movement in Manipur and has continued applying the same methods ever since.

Colonisation of Nagaland

The inhabitants of the Naga Hills, sprawling across Indo-Burmese border, formed Naga National Council (NNC) aspiring for a common homeland and self governance. During 1929, the NNC petitioned the Simon Commission for independence. The Commission was examining the feasibility of future of self governance of India.

The Naga leaders forcefully articulated the demand of self governance once the British pulled out of India. Gandhi publicly announced that Nagas had every right to be independent. Under the Hydari Agreement signed between NNC and British administration, Nagaland was granted protected status for ten years, after which the Nagas would decide whether they should stay in the Indian union or not. However, shortly after the British withdrew, the new Indian rulers colonized Nagaland and claimed it to be Indian Territory.

The Naga National Council proclaimed Nagaland’s independence in retaliation, and the Indian authorities arrested the Naga leaders. The AFSPA was used to violently suppress the democratic aspirations of the people of North East. In 1975, some Naga leaders held talks with the Government of India which resulted in the Shillong Agreement. Democratic forces of Nagaland smelt a rat in this deceptive agreement and rallied the people for national liberation of Nagas. One of the organizations which articulated the democratic demand of Naga people is National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).

Mizoram

Mizo National front was a phenomenal product of a famine. In the Lushai Hills of Assam in the early sixties a famine broke out. A relief team requested for help from the Government of India. But there was little help. The relief team organised themselves into the Mizo National front (MNF) to liberate themselves from the neo-colonial occupation of India. Against the democratic aspirations of the people Indian army moved in. The rebellion was so strong, that the Indian air force had to bomb the villagers. The armed forces compelled people to leave their homes. This devastated the structure of Mizo society. In 1986, the Mizo Accord was signed between MNF and Government of India. This accord was as deceptive as the Shillong Accord made with the Nagas earlier. To promote dominance by high caste Hindus, India clubbed poor non-feudal ethnic groups with Adivasis, cheating them in the name of scheduled tribes and in the process forcing them to be marginalized and stigmatized by the upper caste ruling elites of India.

Gradually it became the neocolonial hinterland for exploitation by the Indian state, where local industries were made worthless and now the people are entirely dependent on goods and businesses owned predominantly by those from the Indo-Gangetic plains. The new Indian unscrupulous businesses pull the economic strings of this region.

Tripura

In Tripura the indigenous population has been reduced to a mere 25% of the total population of the state because of large scale immigration from the North east and Bangladesh.

A series of repressive laws were passed by the Government of India in order to deal with this rising National liberation aspiration of the people of North east. In 1953 the Assam maintenance of Public Order (Autonomous District) Regulation Act was passed. It was applicable to the then Naga Hills and Tuensang districts. It empowered the Governor to impose collective fines, prohibit public meetings, and detain anybody without a warrant. Indian atrocities from 1980 onwards include: the massacres of civilians at Heirangoi thong (Manipur) in 1984, at RIMS Manipur in 1995, at Malom (Manipur) in 2000; the horror of army torture and violence on civilians during operation Blue bird (Manipur) in 1987 and operation Rhino (Assam) in 1991. Indiscriminate firing on civilians by armed forces personnel when their own vehicle burst in the town of Kohina (Nagaland) in March 1995, the shelling and destruction of the town of Makokchung (Nagaland) in 1994, the enforced disappearances of Loken and Lokendro (Manipur) in 1996, and the rape of Miss N Sanjita (who subsequently committed suicide) (Manipur) in 2003.

Concluding remark

After the Partition, India emerged as the new-colonial power. The North East still yeans for freedom.

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