Connect with us

South Asia

Kashmir’s journey from ceasefire to current political crisis

Published

on

Kashmir is a vexed issue of the Asian sub-continent that assumes dynamic dimensions and increases its momentum with the currents of time with a sort of deep permeated growing alienation of the masses and simultaneous floating wave of armed rebellion against the system. It is the problem of multitude and a vendetta which refuses to cow down with the periodic motions of time.

The problem has manifested into a state of multitude, viz,killings, arrests, hartals, mass media stirrings, political manuovers, internet blockades, etc. and unfortunately,the current political crisis is the major concern of the times in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that has delved deeply onto the political scene.

The government of India halted all the anti-militancy operations starting from 17th of May in the state of Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramadan of the Muslim calendar at the request of Chief Minister of the state Mehbooba Mufti. This was positively responded by the government of India after thorough consultations with all the stakeholders including the Home Affairs department.

Thereafter, Indian army chief ,General Bipan Rawat  reiterated that peace and talks must be given a chance.The positive aspect of unilateral ceasefire ensued a state of peace in the state for some period of time briefly until June 15,2018,with a fresh killing at the hands of the security personnel at Pulwama.

Subsequently, on the eve of Eid,the u-turn of events subsumed the peace horizon with a volley of anti-establishment protests and clashes between common masses and security forces  at various place of the valley, like Srinagar,Anantnag, Pulwama, Sopore,etc.which resulted in the bloody state in Anantnag district of J&K with the killing and bloodbath  of a youth and injury to various protesting people. All the national channels subsequently called into question the ceasefire move of the government and called it the day for the truce in the valley. Not only this, the killing of an army man Aurangzeb of Poonch area in Pulwama district of J&K deteriorated the situation thereof with the collective vent of anger at the situational flux and reluctance to offer the Eid prayers at Poonch area of the state.

In a crucial meeting conveyed by the Union government on 14th of June at New Delhi, it was reiterated to have the say whether to continue the truce or not after Eid ul fitr. However, on 17th of June, the Ministry of Home Affairs, government of India post-Eid ul fitr announced the end of temporary ceasefire after fresh tweets poured in over the twitter handle of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh calling it the day for the truce and refuted the extension further after surge in a series of attacks on the security forces.

The government of India cited the continuance of operation all out to combat the militancy.Also, there was a major say on the recent killings of veteran journalist, Shujaat Bukhari and army soldier, Aurangzeb, besides the annual Hindu pilgrimage of Amarnath yatra so far as security is concerned. Although, The short term temporary measure of truce yielded some positive results of peace keeping on the ground and improved the situation to a large extent but the larger question was the concretization of peace, which a common Kashmiri envisions day-in-day-out.

Ceasefire in Kashmir was a major experiment of the government on the ground level to acid test the real situation on ground.There should have been a prior consensus of all the parties prior to the announcement of its withdrawal from Kashmir.The government of India has already experimented the truce process in the state previously in 2003 with Pakistan part to it.Will the government carry on the truce or cessation of anti-militancy operations in future is a situational question of vital importance. Kashmir is driving towards abnormality and to prescribe the antidote for the ailment lies with the the government of India.According to a recent security report ,the truce in Ramadhan proved to be a great success in J&K.

On the eve of Eid Ul Fitr, Hurriyat leader and executive Mukhtar Ahmad Waza in the grand mosque of Seer Hamdan, Anantnag was vocal that the government of India must initiate an unconditional dialogue with Pakistan, in order to resolve the crisis and walk the talk for the sake of meaningful solution of the Kashmir problem and not merely for the sake of photo-ops and show-offs to the external world, devaiting from the main and core reality.

He  brought to light the former eighteen resolutions passed in the United Nations General assembly(UNGA) regarding the problem of Jammu and Kashmir and also expressed the plight of the prisoners in various jails of India, like Kathua, Hiranagar,Tihar jail(New Delhi),Rajasthan,etc. and pleaded for their unconditional release so that peace process can take off from the smooth and foundational ground and crisis will annhilate as soon as possible.He also brought to light the killing and martyrdom of  versatile veteran  journalist and Editor-in-Chief of the daily local newspaper Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari at press colony, Srinagar who was killed along with his two security guards by unknown gunmen on 14th of June,2018 in the very heart of the  Srinagar city.

The PDP-BJP(People’s Democratic Party-Bhartiya Janta Party) coalition government in J&K was formed few years back based on an agenda of alliance and common minimum programme ,brushing aside the political differences. Later,joining the baton,it was a Hobson’s choice for the coalition partners to come together.

The demise of the unholy alliance surfaced on 19th of June by the revelations of Ram Madhav ,BJP’s J&K incharge ,subsequently leading to demise of the coalition government and fallout in the form of Governor’s rule.BJP has time and again called for the abrogation of article 370 which gives special status to J&K state, whereas,PDP has always been its defender down the passing phases of time. Bhartiya Janta Party, national president Amit Shah accused PDP of misgovernance and developmental inequity in J&K, which latter out rightly refuted.

Meanwhile,ex-Chief Minister has recently warned New Delhi of serious repercussions, if it tries to create divisions and cracks in the People’s Democratic Party(PDP),since , according to media reports,few rebel MLA’s were in connivance with BJP to form the government again..The pull-out off the coalition government of PDP-BJP by the alliance partner BJP is seen as a political stunt by the analysts of the politics to woo the voters in the Lok Sabha elections,2019 in mainland of India as a polarising measure. Governor, N.N. Vohra called an all-party meeting on 22nd of june,2018,the same day when four militants, one civilian and one cop were killed in an encounter at Nowshehra, Khiram, Anantnag,J&K.

Moreover, The burning issue of Kashmir has time and again soured relations of India and Pakistan and given new lows to their bilateral relationship over the period of time. Even ceasefire violation at the border claimed life of a security person on the eve of Eid ul fitr.Not only this, for the first time, no pleasantries and sweets were exchanged by the armies of the two neighbours at the borders(LOC). In a recent interview to a local daily newspaper, the former Chief Minister and ex-minister in the Indian Union cabinet for New and Renewable energy Farooq Abdullah said that Kashmir will one day spell disaster and said that ceasefire will not work unless Pakistan is part of it.

Militancy is a major challenge for the government of India in the state of J&K, with rebels joining the same cadres on the day-to-day basis with very well-off family backgrounds and higher qualifications. However, according to security agencies, there were no intelligence inputs about any new recruitment into militancy during the truce operation.

Militancy has undergone a radical shift in J&K since the killing of Hizb Commander Burhan Wani in 2016.His departure was a major factor for the alienation of the people,with growing tendency among few youth to join the forces of rebellion.Down these two years,a huge number of youth joined the militancy and the process is on till date.Even, Ex-Chief Minister Omar Abdullah recently said that Burhan’s ability to recruit into militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media.

The recent arrest of two girl students from Anantnag district of J&K who are lodged in central jail Srinagar, J&K has created ire among the separatist chambers regarding the disregard for the opposite gender. Recently, after the termination and rejection of their bail, the father of these girls was making an affidavit in court complex Anantnag, when i enquired from him about their whereabouts. His face was sunken with paleness and disparity all over.

The next day these girls were transferred from sadder court, Anantnag to Srinagar central Jail. One of the girls is pursuing Masters in Economics and another is also well qualified in religious studies.Even,on the auspicious occasion of Eid ul fitr, the father-mother duo without any son spent their time amid sobs and wails, with the daughters confined behind the barracks of jail. Being the only daughters and spine of their father, the Government of j&K should review the gravity of the matter and release them subsequently who are still lodged in Srinagar central jail as soon as possible to prevent alienation, ruining and shattering of a next family and act in sync with the dictum of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan Beti Bachao (Save the girl).

The recent remarks of the United Nations General Assembly regarding the Kashmir problem and situation as of now reflects the interest of the world nations to solve the problem in Kashmir which has subsequently created ripples in the intellectual circles in India regarding the discourse over Kashmir imbroglio.

The former water resources minister and congress leader, Saifuddin Soz has recently hit the political plank and remarked that Parvez Musharaf’s formula is still relevant regarding Azadi,but that feat is not possible. Another congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in a recent interview to a national channel has said that more civilians are killed in anti-militancy operations by the security agencies than militants.

Meanwhile few media houses at the national level have tagged few intellectual Indians,like Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy,etc. who support the Kashmir cause as urban naxals and linked them with separatists, calling them as tukde tukde(Parts-parts) lobby to disintegrate India into parts in order to earn the TRP’s and appease the political bosses of the mainland India.

Being part to the problem, India and Pakistan must shun their rigidity, egoistic clashes and face-offs for the greater good of the people of the respective countries, particularly for the suffering people of J&K.The Kashmir issue has already consumed thousands of precious lives of the common men over the years of political turmoil. LOC trade has suffered to a remarkable and vast extent.

The growing state of animosity between India and Pakistan is not good gesture at all. India and Pakistan need to annihilate the looming crisis through the medium of a viable-cum-meaningful dialogue and reconciliatory approach with each other, keeping in view the state of chaos and disorder in j&K.There will be no descendancy of something divine to mediate thereupon so far as Kashmir issue is concerned , rather, it is the parties to the problem that have to negotiate for the redressal of the issue looming large over the Asian sub-continent. Meanwhile China  has said recently that Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) could serve as a great vehicle to build better bilateral relations and ties between India and Pakistan.

On 4th of June,Asif Ghafoor, Director General of ISPR,Pakistan accused India of 1,077 ceasefire violations since  the start of 2018 till date and said that there is no space for war with India.This is a vital indicator that only peace is the guarantee of a peaceful relationship between India and Pakistan,which will be subsequent platform for the discussion on Kashmir.

Today,the state is caught in the quagmire of a political crisis,where killings have become the order of the day.The major challenge for the governor’s office is to bring back the state towards the state of normalcy and pedestal of peace.

Today,when nobody is ready to take the baton of heading the political scene,the vital task is to dissolve the assembly for the fresh elections,till normalcy returns in the state of j&K,rather than keeping it in a state of suspended animation. The forego of BJP in the coalition government seems to be a divious plan of political motivations to create a ripple effect between one and the other to woo the nationalists. Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are three limbs of the same body,tied up altoghether,which cannot be separated by the political divisions of polarising policies of a single party which augurs ill to the interests of the state itself.

The valley of Kashmir is today submerged in a sort of political waywardness. The question is not about the troika of roads,electricity and water or a law and order problem,rather,it is a political problem and requires a political solution.This is the time to move beyond the rhetoric of dialogue and show action for a permanent solution from the political bosses ,lest anarchy would spin thready network of uncertainty in future .

It is the common Kashmiri man who is being killed in the enmeshed imbroglio process and victimized due to the lingering issue at stake, be it militant, army man (Lt. Colonel Fayaz, Aurangzeb, etc), or a common man.The lingering imbroglio has consumed thousands of lives since the eruption of insurgency in nineties in the state of J&K.Still, Peace eludes the state of Jammu and Kashmir.Thus,along the pedestal of wheel from ceasefire to the current state of political crisis, all is not well in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.If the same situation persists,Kashmir will move towards a state of complete anarchy.

The security agencies must be given directives by the higher-ups to have an ultimate human regard for the common masses and particularly their precious lives during the state of protests. This will repose faith in the dictum of law among the masses, who have already suffered at the cost of the issue at stake.

Today, the situational turn of events have washed away the stay of peace among the masses. No one is aloof of the unwithering pain.It is rather a collective pain for which political prescriptions have failed to contain it.The political engineering of politicians seems to be a farce exercise.The ultimate question is for how long the problem of multitude will persist without any solution. People are in no hurry for the quick fix solutions, rather yearn for a permanent solution,once for all.

The recent triumph of PTI chief as elect Prime Minister of Pakistan has brought hope to the scene to talk with India and resolve the looming imbroglio, once for all.

The author has done M.Sc.(Biochemistry),B.Ed from Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi,M.A.(History) and also qualified CTET from CBSE. Previously,he was also working as a project trainee at JNU,New Delhi.He writes for a number of platforms on socio-politico-economic issues and currently works in J&K, government education department. He can be reached at abidjmi121[at]gmail.com

Continue Reading
Comments

South Asia

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

South Asia

The Taliban-Afghanistan Dilemmas

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

South Asia

How India utilised the AFSPA to suppress freedom movements?

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

lithuania nato lithuania nato
Defense4 mins ago

The Road Leading Nowhere

A few days ago, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, announced the expulsion of several diplomats from the Permanent Mission of the...

Putin erdogan sochi Putin erdogan sochi
Russia2 hours ago

Russia, Turkey and the new geopolitical reality

The recent Russia – Turkey summit in Sochi, even though yielding no tangible outcomes (as became clear well before it,...

Defense4 hours ago

Iran in the SCO: a Forced “Look East” Strategy and an Alternative World Order

On September 17, a package of several dozen documents was signed in Dushanbe at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation...

Africa6 hours ago

Shaping the Future Relations between Russia and Guinea-Bissau

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Guinea- Bissau Suzi Carla Barbosa have signed a memorandum on political consultations. This aims...

Tech News8 hours ago

Online game showcases plight of our planet’s disappearing coral reefs

One of the world’s leading producers of online word games joined a global effort to help protect the planet’s coral...

South Asia10 hours ago

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

To understand the interesting relationship between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as Pakistani Taliban, and the Afghan Taliban, one...

Environment15 hours ago

Act Urgently to Preserve Biodiversity for Sustainable Future — ADB President

The world must act urgently to preserve ecosystems and biodiversity for the sake of a sustainable future and prosperity, Asian...

Trending