Pakistan, Kashmir & The
by Yossef Bodansky
Kashmir is unique
among all the crisis points along the Indo-Pakistani border in that a marked
escalation of the fighting -- both insurgency and regular -- is virtually
inevitable before any effort for a peaceful solution can succeed. The primary
reasons is the extent of the ideological commitment and self-interests
of several of the key players involved.
For Islamabad, the liberation of Kashmir is a
sacred mission, the only task unfulfilled since Muhammad Ali Jinnah's days.
Moreover, a crisis in Kashmir constitutes an excellent outlet for the frustration
at home, an instrument for the mobilization of the masses, as well as gaining
the support of the Islamist parties and primarily their loyalists in the
military and the ISI.
The ISI has a major interest to continue the crisls.
Back in the 1970s, Pakistan started to train Sikhs and other Indian separatist
movements as part of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's strategy for forward strategic
depth. Pakistan adopted the sponsorship of terrorism and subversion as
an instrument to substitute for the lack of strategic depth and early warning
capabilities. The Pakistani sponsored terrorists and the Pakistani intelligence
operatives in their ranks would be able to warn Pakistan of any impending
Indian invasion, and then Launch a guerrilla warfare against ths Indian
Army even before it reached the border with Pakistan. Therefore, sponsoning
separatist subversion has become a crucial component of Islamabad's national
During the 1980s, the ISI completed a vast training
and support infrastructure for the Afghan resistance that was also used
for the training and support of other regional groups. There was a corresponding
ideological development in Indian Kashmir. Since 1984, virtually suddenly,
the prevailing popular sentiments in Indian Kashmir was that "Islam is
in Danger," and that sentiment, rather that nationalism, began mobilizing
The timing of the change was not spontaneous.
Hashim Qureshi, the founder of the nationalist JKLF [Jammu Kashmir Liberation
Front] recently recalled how in 1984 ISI Generals and Brigadiers approached
me with the offer: 'get us young people for training from the Valley so
that they could fight India on return.' When he refused, Qureshi explained,
his struggle was taken over by the ISI who installed Amanullah Khan. "It
is tragic that so-called nationalist Amanullah Khan and some of his supporters
started the present struggle in Kashmir in league with the ISI. A man with
common intelligence can understand that any movement started in a Muslim
majority area with the help of Pakistani military intelligence will eventually
mean religious struggle." Qureshi stressed that by 1983 "Amanullah proved
that he was an agent of the ISI" having sacrificed the nationalist liberation
struggle in Kashmir on the alter of Islamist politics. Qureshi himself
had to flee Pakistan and seek political asylum in Westem Europe.
Meanwhile, by the late-1980s, with the war in
Afghanistan slowing down, the vast network of training camps for Afghan
Mujahideen was transformed by the ISI into a center of Islamist terrorism
throughout south Asia, as well as the melting pot of the world wide Islamist
Jihad. This transformation concurred with an active ISI program "to initiate
full- fledged subversion in Kashmir Valley' that is still escalating. At
first, the ISI's assistance to the Kashmiri Islamists was funnelled through
Gulbaddin Hekmatiyar's Hisb-i-Islami, thus providing Islamabad with deniability.
Similarly, the Armed Islamic Movement, as well
as several Saudis, Gulf Arabs, and other supporters of Islamist causes,
put Kashmir high on their list of jihads to be fought. Indeed, Kashmir
is mentioned of lists of sacred goals recovered in Israel (HAMAS), Algeria
(FIS), Sudan, Egypt, to name but a few examples. Kashmir is a high priority
objective because of the firm belief in the possibility of success. It
is an easy campaign to wage for logistical considerations because of the
presence of numerous cadres and large weapon stockpiles in Afghanistan
and Pakistan. AIM's operations are closely coordinated in Teheran and Khartoum.
Presently, Pakistani officials repeatedly vow
to "liberate" Kashmir, or enforce the recognition of 'Muslims' rights in
the Valley, even at a risk of a major crisis. This rising militancy of
Pakistani officials is far from being empty rhetoric. Islamabad uses the
escalation in Kashmir as a cover for the overall expansion of the terrorist
training and support system for operations in Central Asia and elsewhere
in the world.
In early 1992, with world attention paid to their
presence in Peshawar area, some of these 'Afghans' were transferred to
Azad Kashmir where new camps were being built for them by the Pakistani
Army. By early 1993, there were over 1,000 'Afghan' Mujahideen in the Markaz-Dawar
alone. Following the completion of advance training, they are being sent
to Kashmir, Algeria and Egypt.
In early 1995, the Harakat ul-Ansar was maintaining
offices in most Pakistani cities, as well as training facilities in Afghanistan
and Pakistan. It expanded its global reach in support for Islamist causes.
"Ours is a truly international network of genuine Muslim holy warriors,"
explained Khalid Awan, a Pakistani member. 'We believe frontiers could
never divide Muslims. They are one nation and they will remain a single
entity." Haraka ul-Ansar are known to be fighting in Kashmir, the Philippines,
Bosnia, Tajikistan, and the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the ISI continues to provide the terrorists
with new weapons. In the summer of 1993, the Kashmiri Mujahideen were provided
with long range and powerful missiles -- Sarq missiles of Afghan War vintage.
At that time, the Kashmiri and ISI crews were being trained in the use
of these missiles in Pakistani Kashmir.
As of the fall of 1993, the Kashmiri terrorists
also began using sophisticated communication systems including small radios
(including systems with frecuency hopping, selective broadcast, digital
burst communications, etc.) and collapsible solar-panels for reload systems,
as well as frequency scanning devise for detecting and homing on military-
type broadcasting. All the communication systems are of NATO/US origin,
with some components made in Japan.
The summer of 1994 was a fundamental turning point
in the conduct of the Pakistan-sponsored Jihad in Kashmir. The change did
not take place on the battlefield. In order to ensure its tight dominance
over all aspects of the escalating Islamist Jihad in Kashmir; Islamabad
organized the 13 leading Islamist organizations Into the Unlted Jihad Council
[Muttahida Jihad Council - MJC] under the leadership of Commander Manzur
Shah, the leader of Jamiat-ul-MuJahideen, and under the tight control of
the ISI. Among the member organizations: Harakat ul-Ansar, Hizb-ul-Mujahldeen,
Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, Al-Jihad, Al-Barq, Ikhwan-ul-Mussalmin, Tariq-ul-
Mujahideen, and all other Islamist militant organizations. The declared
objective of the escalating Jihad is to join Pakistan.
In early June 1994, Commander Manzur Shah declared
that the sole objective of the escalating Jihad in Kashmir is to incorporate
it into Pakistan. The declarations of all Kashmiri militant organizations
have announced [that] Pakistan is their ideal and goal.... The freedom
fighters will surrender [Kashmir] to the Pakistani military and govemment."
Commander Manzur Shah stressed that "the Jihad has been getting stronger..
.The Mujahideen are getting organized now and are attacking the Indian
military strategically." He admitted that Indian Kashmiri Muslim leaders
were assassinated or attacked in order to prevent them from reaching an
agreement with the Indian government. 'Wali Mohammed would not have been
assassinated and the caravans of Farooq [Abdullah] and Rajesh Pilot would
not have been attacked if the climate was conducive to political action."
Meanwhile, a campaign of assassinations was launched
in order to eliminate the Kashmiri civic leadership that opposed the escalation
of the Jihad. On 20 June 1994, Islamist terrorists assassinated the Kashmiri
scholar Qazi Nissar Ahmat. He was kidnapped a night before and pressured
to endorse the anti-lndia Jihad. He refused and was killed. A key member
of the assassination squad was Fayaz Ahmad Mir a.k.a. Abu-Bakr of Hkb-
ul-MuJahideen. Ahmad was the 17th Kashmiri Muslim scholar snd civic leader
to be assassinated by Islamists for refusing to join the anti-India struggle.
This marked escalation in the ISl's support for
the Islamist insurgency and terrorism in Kashmir is a direct by-product
of Pakistan's national security policy and grand strategy. Ms. Bhutto has
repeatedly emphasized the centrality of the annexation of the entire Kashmir
for the long-term development of Pakistan. The new rail-line that will
connect Karachi and Central Asia must pass through Indian-held Kashmir
to be engineeringly and economically effective. Ms. Bhutto's Islamabad
considers the opening of the road to Central Asia by using Pakistan as
the region's gateway to the Indian Ocean as the key to the growth of Pakistan's
commercial activities. Kashmir Is also Pakistan's true gateway to the PRC
and into Central Asia -- the path of the new Silk Road. And there lies
the future and strategic salvation of Pakistan.
Pakistan knows that the active pursuit of the
current Kashmir strategy may lead to an escalation of the face off with
India. Islamabad is ready to deal with this eventuality while increasing
its all out support for the Kashmiris. Indeed, Pakistani officials are
raising the ante of Islamabad's Indian strategy. In mid February 1995,
a Foreign Ministry spokesman warned that "if India carries out another
aggression and war breaks out between Pakistan and India, it would not
be a war of a thousand years or even a thousand hours but only a few minutes
and India, it would not be a war of a thousand years or even a thousand
hours but only a few minutes and India should not be oblivious to the potential
devastation." (The 'thousand year war" is a reference to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's
statement of the extent of Pakistan's commitment to a struggle with India.)
Other Pakistani officials were quick to clarify the statement. They stressed
that the statement "warned India not by implication but in clear terms
that the next war will only last a few seconds and will bring inconceivable
destruction and devastation. This clearly indicates that the "Pakistani
Government has bravely displayed its nuclear capability." The officials
added that "Pakistan is really in a position to strike a heavy blow against
India through its nuclear capability."
What is most significant in both the spokesman's
statement and the subsequent clarifications is their context. The strategic
logic of using the nuclear factor to offset any deficiencies in conventional
military power has been the cornerstone of Pakistan's nuclear strategy.
Recently, a more assertive element was first introduced to the nuclear
strategy by Islamist politicians. The overall Pakistani strategic confidence
has been expressed in brinkmanship statements coming out of Islamabad since
the fall of 199 . For example, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the Jamaat-i-Islami
Chief Senator, urged the Bhutto govemment "to declare Jihad on India to
save Kashmiri Muslims from total annihilation." There is no other way to
resolve the crisis, he declared. "Let us wage Jihad for Kashmir. A nuclear-armed
Pakistan would deter India from a wider conflict," he stressed. Thus, the
statement of mid February 1995 confirms that the Bhutto Government has
indeed adopted the strategy and policy outlined by the Islamists.