Contours of militancy

Print edition : September 30, 2000
Armed militancy raised its head in a major way in Kashmir over a decade ago. Senior lawyer and political analyst A.G. NOORANI makes an assessment of the roots, motivation and nature of militant groups active in the Valley.

OVER a decade after armed militancy erupted in Kashmir, people seem to be no wiser about its roots, the recent impetus, its varied nature, motivation, and its objectives. There is simply no desire to reckon with the grim truth realistically. It is so dis turbing. Parrot cries of "proxy war", "mercenaries" and the like are, as in the case of any other form of self-deception, very reassuring. Consequently, there is not the slightest trace of a considered, coherent policy on Kashmir, whether towards its peo ple or the interlocutor of old, Pakistan.

The very people whom Jawaharlal Nehru on August 25, 1952, derisively called "soft and addicted to easy living" have become assertive to a degree none imagined they ever would. They have all the intense resentment of a people who feel they have been wrong ed. The armed militancy is central to the problem. Popular alienation and militancy have fed on each other. Pakistan has not been slow to exploit the situation and, indeed, to sponsor and set up several militant groups. An informed, realistic assessment of the contours of militancy would have deterred people from the wild conjectures they aired when the Hizbul Mujahideen proclaimed a ceasefire on July 24 and wilder ones on its revocation on August 8. Without such an assessment India shall be groping in the dark mindlessly as it has been all this last decade; crying "proxy war" and "mercenaries" with increasing shrillness in the hope that the United States would bail it out. The U.S. has its own agenda.

Realistic assessments of the militancy will also make for a better understanding of the parlous state of Pakistan's polity and of the tensions between it and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan of which those in India have only hazy and simplistic notions.

One thoroughbred professional has never hesitated to speak his mind, heedless of the ignorant Establishment - civil and military. The Director-General of the Border Security Force (BSF), E.N. Rammohan, said on television on August 9 that the Hizb is 95 p er cent Kashmiri. As for the rest - the Harkat, Lashkar and others - Pakistan has "not much control" over them. The mere fact that infiltrators receive payments does not make them "mercenaries". They are "motivated". He should know. He served in Kashmir and "interrogated many of them" as he told Swati Chaturvedi of The Indian Express (August 13, 1999). "They are indoctrinated to face martyrdom in Kashmir. They actually come prepared to die." In his "many encounters" they preferred death to surren der. Except for the Hizb, "the local insurgent groups had been wiped out... So the ISI perforce had to rely on Pakistanis, besides some Afghans."

He minimises the importance of neither the role of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) nor the motivation of the men it sends across. This duality is what we are up against. Foreigners cannot survive without local support. Only a professional wi ll appraise the nuances correctly as he does. Did the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) become India's "instrument" for all the help it received?

The stark reality, which hardly anyone cares honestly to face, is that: (a) armed militancy had reared its head in Kashmir at least 20 years before Zia-ul-Haq launched his covert operation there and (b) even in the best of times the people were op posed to accession to India, as Indira Gandhi wrote to her father on May 14, 1948 and Vice-President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan informed President Rajendra Prasad who, in turn, alerted Nehru on July 14, 1953. The then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Sheik h Muhammad Abdullah, could contain the situation because he was a popular leader manifestly independent of New Delhi. Alienation from India did not imply preference for accession to Pakistan then; it does not now either.

Sheikh Abdullah threw dissenters into prison or across the ceasefire line. An article in a respected daily, Kashmir Times, founded by the veteran socialist Ved Bhasin, written by Abu Ali Talib described in great detail (September 12, 1993) his tec hniques as also the early stages of revolt that nobody cares to recall now: "Against the politics of Hadri Chadri (Hoodlum Politics) there were scores of voices like Chowdhary Ghulam Abbas, Ghulam Nabi Gilkar... Prem Nath Bazaz, Jagan Nath Sathoo, Mir Ab dul Aziz, Pitambar Nath Fani... and other hundreds of young men. All of them were either sent across the Cease Fire Line or put behind bars." The Enemy Agents Ordinance came in handy. After 1953, it was used by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed against the Sheikh's men.

Two events triggered agitations, led in each case by student leaders who are now prominent in the State's politics. One was Pakistan's war of aggression in August-September 1965. The other was the Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah Accord in February 1975.

With the Sheikh and his close associate, Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg, interned in Kodaikanal, and others like Maulana Mohammed Saed Masoodi in prison, student leaders like Fazl-ul-Haq Qureshi, Nazir Ahmed Wani and Mohammed Altaf Khan (alias Azam Inquilabi) took to the streets holding demonstrations. The Jammu and Kashmir Student and Youth League was established in 1963-64 under Beg's patronage. Shabbir Shah began his career as a League activist. A Young Men's League was also set up under Beg's patronage.

Zafar Meraj recorded these early signs in Kashmir Times (September 24, 1989). In the first instance of its kind, some youths were arrested in 1967 for allegedly attempting to murder a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan in the Nawakadal area in Srinagar. Their trial in the Nawakadal Conspiracy Case, though held in camera, evoked keen public interest. Next came, in 1968, an attempt to steal rifles from the rooms of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in the Islamia College. Beg, a brillian t lawyer, led the defence team which included Sheikh Nazir Ahmed, who is now general secretary of the National Conference.

Meanwhile, in 1967 some college teachers were arrested for being the "core group" of Mohammed Maqbool Butt's Kashmir National Liberation Front. He had been arrested and sentenced to death in 1966 for the murder of an intelligence officer. Butt was commit ted to guerilla warfare and to the State's independence; not accession to Pakistan. He escaped from prison in 1968, only to be rearrested in 1976, and retired in 1981. The Kashmir Liberation Army, of which ex-Major Amanullah Khan was a member, was his cr eation. Amanullah Khan set up the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in the United Kingdom in 1978, with Dr. Farooq Haider holding the fort in Rawalpindi.

Events in the State, meanwhile, were taking their own course. On January 13, 1971, the authorities claimed to have unearthed the Al-Fateh group. Its members were alleged to have been plotting to storm the Hazratbal branch of the Jammu & Kashmir Bank as p art of its plans to "liberate Kashmir by resorting to armed struggle". Ghulam Rasool Zahgeer headed this underground outfit which had been set up in 1967-68. Prominent among its members were Fazl-ul-Haq Qureshi, Nazir Ahmed Wani and Azam Inquilabi.

Beg defended the accused at their trial, but he was, before long, in the thick of parleys with G. Parthasarathi which led to the 1975 accord. That split the group. Zahgeer supported Beg's Plebiscite Front. Wani and others opposed its new policy.

Tension in Srinagar was palpable in 1974 as reports of the parleys came in. The rift led to the birth of the Jammu and Kashmir People's League on October 13, 1974, with Qureshi as its chairman. Sati Sahni's version in his book Kashmir Underground (Har-Anand, pp. 520; Rs.595) that Farooq Rehmani founded the League (page 364) is one of the many inaccuracies in a book cramped with a lot of useful information. It contains a brief bio-data of personalities and organisations; useful as a secondary sour ce, unreliable as a principal guide. Its omission to cite sources impairs its worth and credibility.

The People's League marked a watershed. Its founders shot into prominence later - Sheikh Abdul Aziz, Musaddiq Adil, Bashir Ahmed Tota, Azam Inquilabi, Abdul Hamid Wani (alias S. Hamid) who was president of the Young Men's League, and Shabbir Shah, its ge neral secretary. The two had been arrested on October 3, 1974. The League was stoutly opposed to the 1975 accord. The Sheikh, and New Delhi also, had acquired an opposition force they could not suppress in the new clime of the 1970s as they had done in t he 1950s. But the League was star-crossed, rather like the Socialist Party in India with its multiple splits and mergers. Azam Inquilabi left it soon after to set up his Islamic Students and Youth Organisation, later re-named the Islamic Jamiatul Tulaba, under the leadership of Tajammul Islam, a student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

A former close associate of the Sheikh, Sufi Muhammad Akbar, parted company with him over the Accord and attracted some support. Sheikh Abdullah held sway. None had his commanding personality, resources or muscle. Upon his death in 1982, Farooq Abdullah succeeded him with ease. When Indira Gandhi ousted him from the office of Chief Minister in July 1984, Farooq Abdullah became immensely popular. There was no less than 72 days' curfew in Srinagar during the first three months alone. But he was not cut ou t for the role. Farooq Abdullah made his peace with Rajiv Gandhi and returned to power under an accord with him in November 1996. By common consent the Opposition Muslim United Front (MUF) would have won not less than 20 seats in the Assembly elections i n March 1987. Their rigging proved fateful for two reasons. First, the candidates and their polling and counting agents were not only cheated but imprisoned and beaten up. Secondly, having backed the MUF enthusiastically, Kashmiri youth lost faith not on ly in the electoral process but the political system itself. They took to arms. All those who later spearheaded the insurgency had participated in the electoral process in some capacity or another. Four prominent members of the Islamic Students Le ague, formed in 1986 - Abdul Hamid Shaikh, Ashfaq Majid Wani, Javed Ahmed Mir and Mohammed Yasin Malik, called the HAJY group - campaigned actively for the MUF. Mohammed Yusuf Shah, now the Hizb's supremo under the nom de guerre Syed Salahuddin, was an M UF candidate from Amirakadal constituency in Srinagar against Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah, now senior Minister.

Seeds of revolt, sown in a fertile field for years, were ready to sprout. Events elsewhere provided the opportunity for an organised expression of resentment. Amanullah Khan found himself in a spot when on February 3, 1984, a group calling itself the Kas hmir Liberation Army kidnapped India's Deputy High Commissioner in Birmingham, Ravindra Mhatre, demanded a ransom and killed him two days later. On February 11, Maqbool Butt - whose writings are banned in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) - was hanged in t he Tihar jail. The mistake was compounded by demanding Khan's deportation from the U.K. Deported to Pakistan on December 15, 1986, he was embraced warmly by the ISI.

Elated over the success of his "low cost, little risk, high return" investment in Punjab, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq turned his attention to Kashmir. Mark Amanullah Khan's admissions: "For one and a half years we were planning our strategy." Asked whether guerilla training was part of the preparations, he replied, "Yes, there was training" (Zahid Hussain; Newsline, February 1990).

He said: "Our armed struggle started on July 31, 1988, by blasting three buildings belonging to the Government of India in Srinagar" (Sunday, March 18, 1990). One of Pakistan's leading journalists, M.A. Niazi, reported in The Nation (May 21 , 1990) from Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK, that its ruling party "credits Zia with laying the foundations for the present uprising" in Kashmir. He revealed on May 31: "The operations mounted during the late President Zia-ul-Haq's time caused fierce d ebate in policy-making circles with opponents warning that such activities would cause war."

With Zia's death in August 1988, Amanullah lost a patron and Pakistan the only man who knew how to combine the use of force with diplomacy. The eruption of the insurgency in December 1989 and the enormous and unexpected popular support it evoked alarmed Pakistan as much as India. If a Muslim majority State of Jammu and Kashmir could seek independence, what message would it send to restive Sindh, Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP)? In 1990 a million people came out on the roads betwe en Srinagar and Chrar-e-Sharif. Azadi seemed to be just round the corner.

No propaganda by "fundamentalists" in Kashmir or from across the Line of Control (LoC) could have produced that. Only the fatal mix of repression, corruption, electoral fraud and denial of basic rights could have accomplished that. With the modern state' s monopoly of instruments of terror, external aid alone can foster and sustain armed insurgency. India produced the alienation, Pakistan provided the gun. The alienation has deepened over the decade. Guns flow and men cross the LoC even more brazenly fro m Pakistan, mired now in a gun culture which threatens its own polity.

A conscious policy decision appears to have been taken very quickly in Islamabad, in fact, to curb the independence sentiment that clearly lay at the foundation of the movement. A generally very well informed Kashmiri observer residing in Pakistan put it this way to the author: "While the People's Party was yet in power, Pakistani leaders became aware of the need to assert more Pakistani control of the uprising... In early February 1990, a meeting was held in Islamabad, with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutt o in the chair, and with the Chief of the Army Staff, General Aslam Beg, and the President and Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir in attendance. They decided they had to curb the Azadi forces, meaning they would not equip them and not send them into the Vall ey." (Robert G. Wirsing; Pakistan in 1992; Charles Kennedy (ed.); Westview, 1993, pages 150).

Pakistan did more than bridle the JKLF. It floated a rival, the Hizbul Mujahideen, which set about spreading communal hate through sheer terror and rejected the secular Kashmiriyat of the JKLF. Amanullah Khan bitterly complained to Yusuf Jameel that Paki stan "does not help us" because the JKLF stood for independence. It was destroying "the third option" on the ground. On April 16, 1990, the State government banned several tanzeems (organisations), the JKLF included. The Hizb was not among them. I t surfaced in 1990, as Mir Abdul Aziz noted (Insaf; September 7, 1993).

In Newsline of May 1990, Maleeha Lodhi noted the "transformation" in the movement with its "symbolism changing from the secularism of Amanullah Khan's JKLF to the Islamic slogan of the newer, younger militants". Mushahid Husain wrote in Frontie r Post of May 18, 1991, about "the Islamic component" as against the JKLF which "traditionally espoused a secular line seeking an independent Kashmir". Its student wing, the J.K. Students' Liberation Front, became Ikhwan-ul Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherh ood), as Hilal Ahmed Beg announced on April 28, 1991. It parted from the JKLF.

Those who boast, confess unwittingly. Mushahid Husain added: "Twice in the last 18 months India has sought and received Pakistan assistance in getting daughters of two prominent pro-Indian Kashmiri Muslims (Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Saifuddin Soz) releas ed from the captivity of the freedom fighters."

The HAJY Group of the JKLF had gone over to Pakistan, and returned to take up arms. None has questioned its idealism or integrity; only, its judgment. It took help but stuck to its own commitments. The others, especially the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen and the H izb, injected criminality.

So did other groups which mushroomed. Chattan (an Urdu weekly from Srinagar) recorded in an able survey (January 4, 1999) how "all of a sudden" many tanzeems, estimated at 150, had sprouted. Pakistan feared that a single body might settle w ith India, as the Sheikh did. The murders of Mir Mustafa, MLA, Maulana Masoodi, Mir Waiz Maulvi Mohammed Farooq, H.L. Khera, the veteran Communist and poet Abdul Sattar Ranjoor, Prof. Mushir-ul-Haq, Vice-Chancellor of Kashmir University, and his secretar y Abdul Ghani, the trade unionist H.N. Wanchoo, who documented human rights violations, and the surgeon Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru, revealed the ugly face of militants' terrorism.

Two documents reveal what was afoot. One is a press release issued by the JKLF from Rawalpindi on April 26, 1990. It is referred to in footnote 166 on page 131 of the Asia Watch Report Kashmir Under Siege in Chapter V, which documents militants' e xcesses.

Entitled "The kidnapping and execution of Mashir-ul-Haq (sic.), and Abdul Ghani: An Explanation," it was issued in response to protests over the execution of Mushir-ul-Haq. "The JKLF wants to clarify its position... it might occasionally become necessary to organise operations like kidnapping and execution of hostages, hijacking, etc..." The targets should be government officials and collaborators, not "sons and daughters of the soil. That was why though he ordered the kidnapping of the daughter of Muft i (Mohammed) Sayeed to obtain the release of some freedom fighters, Mr. Amanullah Khan took care to see that no harm came to her. We were also opposed to the kidnapping and execution of Mir Mustafa... but unfortunately, our advice was not heeded by Hizb- e-Mujahideen, which carried out this operation on the instructions of the ISI and Brig. Imtiaz."

Plans for a similar operation were "discussed at a meeting convened by Imtiaz at the office of the Liberation Cell in Muzaffarabad. Dr. Farooq Haider represented the JKLF at this meeting. It was Imtiaz who suggested the kidnapping of Mushir-ul- Haq, Abdul Ghani and Khera, in order to obtain the release of three freedom fighters. The idea was strongly supported by Prof. Ashraf Saraf, G.M. Shafi and Ghulam Hassan Lone. Dr. Haider and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar were initially hesitant to support the operation... Imtiaz, Prof. Ashraf Saraf and G.M. Shafi, however, insisted that the operations should be launched, and appealed for unity of action between the JKLF and Hizb-e-Mujahideen... Imtiaz threatened that if the JKLF did not support the operation , the ISI and Cell No. 202 would stop all assistance to it and would in future only assist the Hizb-e-Mujahideen. He also threatened to have Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar arrested. We then agreed to support and participate in the operation on condition that no ha rm would be caused to the hostages...

"We were shocked to learn that Imtiaz had, on his own, used the name of Mr. Amanullah Khan and conveyed instructions to the freedom fighters through Prof. Ashraf Saraf and Shafi for the execution of the hostages... We strongly condemn this duplicity and perfidious role of Imtiaz. We call upon the freedom-fighters to be aware of the mischievous role being played by the leaders of the Hizb-e-Mujahideen on the instructions of the ISI and Cell No. 202" (emphasis added, throughout).

The other document is an Agreement signed in Islamabad on April 2, 1993 by representatives of the Hizb - Abdul Majid Dar (adviser general), Shamsul Haq (member, supreme command council) and Prof. Ashraf Saraf (representative of the Jamaat-e-Islami for Te hreek-e-Hurriyat Kashmir) - and those of the JKLF: namely, Raja Mohammed Muzaffar (senior vice chairman), Dr. Haider Hijazi (central press and publicity secretary) and Dr. Farooq Haider (senior leader). They recognised each other's right "to preach and p roject its ideology" (Para 1); the right of the people to choose either independence or accession to Pakistan (Para 2); and pledged mutual cooperation (for the text, vide Mushtaq ur Rehman; Divided Kashmir, Bahri Sons, New Delhi, 1996, pages 196). Clashes between the two were very common. The Hizb did its job. It decimated the JKLF.

Amanullah Khan and Farooq Haider fell out, as did the Khan and Yasin Malik. The JKLF split in both parts of the State. On March 30, 1996, the State Police raided the headquarters of one faction at the Hazratbal shrine and wiped out the entire top leaders hip of the JKLF (Siddiqui) including its president, Shabir Siddiqui. Of the HAJY group, Ashfaq Majid Wani died in a mishap on March 30, 1990 and Sheikh Abdul Hamid was killed by the security forces on November 19, 1992. Shortly after his release from pri son, on May 17, 1994, Yasin Malik declared a unilateral ceasefire.

Splittism affected the Hizb, no less, fairly early in the day (vide Masood Hussain's able survey in Kashmir Times, August 10, 2000). In August 1990 Master Ahsan Dar, its first chief commander (operations), called it the "armed wing" of the Jamaat- e-Islami and earned the ire of Nasir-ul-Islam, chief of the non-Jamaat faction (The Indian Express, October 7, 1990). He suspended Dar from membership and also dissolved the Majlis-e-Shoora (general assembly) headed by Syed Salahuddin, who retaliated by expelling the offender. Shortly thereafter, the Tehreek-e-Jehade Islami, led by Abdul Majid Dar and Muzaffar Ahamd Shah, merged with the Hizb. Nasir-ul-Islam set up the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen on July 26, 1991. Salahuddin became supreme comman der on November 11, 1991 with Ahsan Dar, the chief commander (operations). In December 1993 he sacked Ahsan Dar, who set up shop under the name of Muslim Mujahideen. It is no small achievement that Syed Salahuddin has continued to rule the roost for near ly a decade.

Salahuddin has twice dissociated the Hizb from the Jamaat (September 5, 1992 and November 26, 1997). The Hizb has suffered grave losses in life and through defections. Without popular support it could not have survived as the only authentically indigenou s militant tanzeem which matters. Others depend on it for its knowledge of the people and the terrain; the invaluable logistical support. The ISI found its assertiveness offensive; the Hizb chafed at its patronage and its dependence.

THREE main Pakistani outfits were active in Kargil - Al Badar Mujahideen, Harkatul Mujahideen (HUM), and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) besides the small, obscure Tehrik-e-Jehad. Only the first of the three had an agenda confined to Kashmir. The rest aspire to change Pakistan. "With 1,000 members Al-Badar is the third largest militant group," Zaffar Abbas wrote (The Herald, August 2000). It had killed very many Bengali nationalists in East Pakistan in 1970 and fought in Afghanistan a decade later as a f action of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizbe Islami. It trained the first batch of 15 Kashmiris who crossed the LoC in 1989. Its chief, Bakht Zameen (45), a law graduate, recalled: "The rank and file of Hizb mostly belonged to Kashmir. Our Mujahideen also went with them... Thus people thought that we were part of the Hizbul Mujahideen which hindered us..." The Hizb comprised two regiments, Al Badar and Pir Panjal. Al Badar opted out in September 1998, accusing the Jamaat-e-Islami of interfering with the Hizb. Syed Salahuddin reorganised the Hizb, renaming the Pir Panjal regiment as "Hizbul Mujahideen, J&K" and setting up another "Hizb, Pakistan" (Zaigham Khan; ibid). Over the years the reportage of Zahid Hussain (Newsline), Zaffar Abbas and Zaigham Kha n (The Herald), Arif Jamal (News) and Khaled Ahmad (Friday Times) on these bodies has been invaluable.

The Al Badar's cadres are "highly educated" and "economically better off.... a number of them have private jobs and many others run small businesses" (Arif Jamal, News, August 29, 1999). Educated youth, uncomfortable with madrassa recruits, "are a t ease in the company of engineers, doctors, computer scientists and social scientists" of the Al Badar. Recruits have to undergo rigorous religious as well as commando training. Its four training camps in Afghanistan were abandoned when Hekmatyar's foes , the Taliban, took over in 1996 and gave them to the HUM instead. Its sole training facility is the Ma'askar Al Badar in the jungles of Manshera in the NWFP.

The HUM and the LeT are more autonomous and ambitious with roots in religious parties. They coordinate, yet contest against each other. "The Pakistani armed forces number nearly 500,000 while there are nearly 300,000 armed mujahideen in the country" (Ari f Jamal, News, July 9, 2000). What this spells for the future of Pakistan is not hard to imagine.

A WORD about the sectarian divide. The Jamaat-e-Islami was founded in Pathankot by Maulana Abu'l Ala Maududi. Brilliant, extremist, and opposed to Partition, he demanded an Islamic state in Pakistan. The Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, founded in 1919, supported the Congress and became a political spokesman for the seminary Daru'l Uloom at Deoband (Uttar Pradesh). The Jamiatul Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), Pakistan became its ideological successor. Its leader, Mufti Mahmud, led the opposition in 1977. His son Maulana Fa zlur Rehman, and Maulana Samiul Haq, split the JUI. Both became mentors to the HUM and to the Taliban; Haq particularly. The JUI opposed the Jamaat, which was Zia's favourite. Fazlur Rehman joined Benazir Bhutto's coalition in 1993 and acquired access to power and links with the ISI. Samiul Haq's madrassa became a training ground for the Taliban. Both the JUIs and the Taliban are staunch Deobandis, a reformist movement which started in the 19th century in India to revive Islamic values and to reconcile the law with modern realities. The movement is restrictive in regard to women's rights and the Shias. The HUM, a JUI product, is also Deobandi.

The LeT was set up by the Ahle-Hadis, doctrinally close to the Saudi Wahabis. They hate ritual and reject Sufism. With them, the texts yield only one meaning. They insist on substantial individual responsibility in interpreting the law, rejecting recogni sed Sunni schools, unlike the Deobandis.

Opposed to them is the other 19th century movement of Ahle-Sunnat Wa Jama'at, popularly called the Barelwis: devotees of saints, visitors to shrines and followers of Sufis, to the resentment of the rest. This group was organised by Ahmed Riza Khan Barelw i (1870-1920) who denounced doctrinal rivals as infidels. The Deobandis hold sway in the NWFP and the Barelwis in Punjab; while the Jamaat became an ally of Hekmatyar's Hizbe Islami in Afghanistan and supported the Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir, the JUI w as close to the clergy-led Afghan parties of Maulvi Khalis and Maulvi Mohammed Nabi Mohammadi and backed the HUM in Kashmir. It is close to the Taliban as fellow Deobandis.

Doubtless, the ISI finds them useful in Kashmir and assists them. They are not its creatures, however, and are not amenable to its control, as Rammohan recognised; all the greater is their menace.

The HUM is one of the JUI's splinters. It was formed in 1990 under Fazlur Rehman Khalil to whom the Taliban handed over in 1996 the camp vacated by the Al Badar. First known as the Harkatul' Jehad-e-Islami, the group was founded in the early 1980s by Mau lana Irshad from Punjab. It split into two factions. One, led by Qari Saifullah Akhtar, continued under the old name; the other became Harkatul Ansar (HUA) under Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil from the NWFP. They reunited as the HUM, only to part in 1996. On the U.S. State Department listing the HUA as a terrorist outfit in 1997, the HUA restyled itself as the HUM.

Khalil (38) is soft-spoken but radical. He denies any links with the JUI or its Maulana Fazlur Rehman. "I am not a member of the Taliban but we belong to the same school of thought," he told Imtiaz Gul (Friday Times; February 4, 2000). Maulana Mas ood Azhar had resigned from the HUM in mid-1997, he said. The hijacking was "not good for Pakistan and the Jehadi groups". Khalil claimed that the Harkat was "the most effective group involved" in Kashmir. "We never utter a single word which can ignite s ectarian strife". The Harkat's present chief is Farooq Kashmiri. Khalil is secretary-general. The HUM is linked to both factions of the JUI, the denial notwithstanding.

Shortly after Azhar's release from prison in India, following the Kandahar deal on December 31, 1999, Khalil disowned him ("no links"). Azhar retaliated on January 27 by declaring that he would float a new body. On February 4 he announced that he would h ead a group called Jaish-e-Mohammed Mujahideen-e-Tanzeem to unite all the jehadi groups. Before long, the Jaish was enlisting the Harkat's cadres. Associated with him was Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, head of the seminary Jamiat-ul-Uloom-Islamia at Bi nori mosque, Karachi, a Pakhtun Deobandi and Pakistan's most powerful cleric. Reportedly, his disciple Mullah Omar, the Taliban chief, met Osama Bin Laden in 1989 in that mosque under his auspices.

The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba ("the army of the pure") is a different kettle of fish. It is the military wing of the Markaz Dawat wal Irshad (the centre for preaching and education). The Markaz was set up in 1986 by three university teachers - Professor Hafiz Mo hammad Saeed, Zafar Iqbal of the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, and Abdul Azam of the International Islamic University, Islamabad - to preach Islam and promote jehad. When the Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan, the Markaz decided to stay there, but turned its attention to Kashmir from 1991 onwards.

The Markaz headquarters is housed in Muridke, about 50 km north of Lahore, over 80 hectares of land. It is Pakistan's largest and best organised jehadi tanzeem. Recruits are given intensive military training besides religious and secular education . By 1997 it was running 30 schools with 5,000 students.

"It costs millions to make a tank but only a few rupees to defend against it," a Lashkar advertisement in Pakistan's leading newspapers proclaimed early this year. "The Talibans are a group of misguided elements. We have higher ideals," Vice-Chancellor Z afar Iqbal said last May. The Taliban are Deobandis. The Markaz is Ahle Hadis. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed candidly told Azmat Abbas of News (March 5, 2000) that "they (mujahideen) were in the frontline in Kargil although the role played by the ar med forces cannot be denied" - which exposes Pakistan's false denial.

In 1993 these Pakistan-based bodies entered Kashmir as "guest fighters" and came to dominate all others by 1995 - except the Hizb. On January 17, 2000, Mir Waiz Maulvi Umar Farooq warned that "the foreign elements" would increase "and we cannot resist it as frustration among youth is on the rise. Militancy is taking new shape which will be beyond any control now" - the Hurriyat's, India's or Pakistan's.

A. H. Nayyar wrote (News; March 5, 2000) that "an estimated 300,000 mujahideen have acquired military training... it is estimated that not more than 5,000 mujahideen are fighting" in Kashmir. The LeT is utterly intolerant. It first converts Muslims from other sects into the Ahle Hadis sect and, next, indoctrinates them to fight in Kashmir. Three of its training camps are in PoK, where it has trained over 10,000 men. It has over 2,000 offices and 200 schools all over the country. There are few places in Pakistan where its workers are not present.

The smaller Pakistani groups are no less menacing. The Harkat-ul-Jehade-e-Islami (HUJI) was revived in late 1996. It had merged with the HUM to form H-U-Ansar in 1993 but parted three years later. Ali Akbar is its leader in Jammu and Kashmir. It consider s the JUI its political wing. It has been operating since 1998 in Poonch, Rajouri and Doda.

The Barelwis have not been inactive. Politically, their Jamiat-ul-Ulema Pakistan (JUP), famous in the 1960s, under Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani, is a spent force now. Marginalised by the Deobandis in the JUI, the Harkat and the Jaish, and by the Ahle Hadis -led LeT, the Barelwis declared at a mammoth conference of the Jamaat Ahle Sunnat in Multan last April: "Pick up the gun or risk losing the position". Significantly, several speakers called for curbs on "the terrorist organisations which have been organi sed in the name of jehad in Kashmir".

Jamal reported (April 4): "Several jehadi groups which recruit mujahideen had set up their camps at the conference. These included the Tanzeemul Arifeen, Tehrik Jehad (Pir Panjal Regiment) Jammu and Kashmir, Sunni Jehad Council, Harakat Inquilab I slami, Lashkar Islam, Lashkar Mustafa and Lashkar Ababeel. All these nascent jehadi groups energetically solicited young men for military training. Two other Sunni jehadi outfits, the Sunni Mujahideen and the Lashmar Ahle Sunnat, were also present and carried out their efforts to recruit young Sunni men for military training." The Barelwis were then already in the process of setting up their armed wing, the Lashkar Ahle Sunnat.

So sharp is the sectarian divide among the Deobandis, Ahle Hadis and the Barelwis that they run separate mosques and do not pray under an imam of another sect. All are anti-Shia.

To his credit Maulvi Abbas Ansari of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) in Kashmir has all his life sought to bridge the divide. He is not responsible for the Shia Kashmiri outfit which operates from PoK, the Hizbul Momimeen, J&K, which was set u p in 1991. Its cadres are educated; dress well and eat well, too (Kashmiri Wazuan). This Hizb's base is confined to Srinagar, Baramulla and Badgam. Shuja Abbas (30), a graduate from Srinagar and the Amir (chief), has enrolled himself in a Pakistani insti tution for further education. Compared to the others this body functions democratically through consultation. Abbas is accountable to a six-member Shura Khadmee (consultative council). Jamal noted (March 5) that besides the Hizbul Mujahideen, the Shia Hi zbul Momineen is the only Kashmir-based tanzeem "which is not dying" despite its smaller numbers.

A QUICK survey of the small fry. The Tehrikul Mujahideen has only one training camp, in Manshera, and is headed by Maulana Abdullah Ghazali. But it is the Amir of the base camp, Sheikh Jamilur Rehman, who is in charge. Its credo is Ahle Hadis. The Jamiat -ul-Mujahideen, which joined the LeT in a suicide squad attack on an army camp in Badgam on September 12, was formed by Nasir-ul-Islam from the Hizbul Mujahideen's youth wing. It advocates the strictest enforcement of Islamic law and is intolerant to the core.

We are concerned with the players of today. Many of the outfits set up in 1990 faded away. No one hears about the Allah Tigers, the Operation Balakote, the Hizbullah, or the Al Barg. Tracing their lineage would require the industry of the editors of Burk e's Peerage. Amidst all this, the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, a women's organisation headed by the fiery Asiya Andrabi, has stood its ground. Others left a trail which comes to life suddenly and vanishes; for instance, the Al Umar Mujahideen of Mushtaq Ah mad Zargar, who was released at Kandahar.

The People's League would have become a powerful body had it remained united. Historians of the decade-old militancy will perforce rely on the Urdu weekly Chattan, edited by Taher Mohiuddin; especially, the survey by Hamid Salik since January 4, 1 999. He recorded how by 1993 one militant leader of stature after another realised the futility of the gun. Some, like Azan Inquilabi, also denounced dictation by the ISI. He noted (March 16, 1998) that the People's League was split into five fact ions - under Farooq Rehmani, Naeem Khan, S. Hameed, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, released from jail on September 5, after seven years. He was chief of the Al-Jehad, the People's League's armed wing. Shabbir Shah had distanced himself but not separated from the Peo ple's League. He has his own party, the Democratic Freedom Party. Fazlul Haq Qureshi set up his People's Political Front in 1993. The Hurriyat seems congenitally divided. But it has not split. Its leaders cannot afford to, for fear of incurring odium. Ka shmir's leaders have shown a deplorable lack of maturity and discipline. Everyone wants to be the leader with his own small outfit - derh eemth ki masjid, as the Urdu phrase goes (a mosque of a brick and a half). Sheikh Abdul Aziz has made a point ed reference to the need for mutual consultation and united collective leadership (Yusuf Jameel, The Asian Age; September 14). Like all others, he sees the irrelevance of the gun.

One must distinguish between tanzeems Kashmiri and Pakistani; the ones with roots in Kashmir, though aided by the ISI, and those the ISI set up; the ones whose agenda is confined to Kashmir and others who seek to fashion Pakistan in their own imag e. Without the Pakistani gun, armed insurgency would have been almost impossible.

Hamid Salik attacked Pakistan (Chattan, February 1; 1999) for the "poisonous mushrooming" of militant bodies, for its deep distrust of Kashmiri Nationalism which was reflected in its efforts to keep militants as well as politicians divided. He also censured Kashmiri politicians for their blind acceptance of Pakistan's credentials as a reaction to India's repression. Militancy rages in Kashmir; but "the remote control" lies outside it. He added that Kas hmiris had surrendered to policy directives by people across the LoC and acquiesced in their "dictates". They did not care to acquire control of the militancy at all. "Now the entire 'game' is being played by Pakistan." It negotiates with India at will. Its support to the "Kashmiri movement" is not disinterested. "If Kashmir had produced a courageous leader who could have transformed militancy into a political movement, the situation would have been entirely different... but we accepted rank strangers a s our messiahs." They and their accomplices in Kashmir saw to it that Kashmiris remain divided so that the "reins" remain in Pakistan's hands.

This brilliant critique shows the reality and depth of Kashmiri Nationalism as well as the consequences of India's repression which drove Kashmiris into Pakistan's treacherous arms. Today the Kashmir issue cannot be settled without the consent of both - the Kashmiris as well as Pakistan.

Even if militancy is crushed, the deep popular alienation which provides haven to insurgency would remain. Most in New Delhi would not mind that. The people would acquiesce with the passage of time, they calculate. Popular feeling is irrelevant, a s it has ever been in New Delhi's calculations.

The people have suffered grievously at the hands of the militants. Their partiality towards them is similar to that of the Sri Lankan Tamils towards the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Mavai Senadhirajah, a Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) MP, said , "The Tamils feel that the LTTE has to display its military prowess to get anything substantive from the government on the ethnic question" (The Hindustan Times, April 28, 2000). Nirupama Subramanian's excellent reportage consistently makes this point: "Most believe that if the LTTE were to be defeated militarily, the Sinhala political establishment would close the chapter on the 'Tamil problem' and bury their political aspirations forever" (The Hindu, May 15, 2000).

This is precisely how Kashmiris feel about militancy and the feeling exists even in the ranks of the National Conference, as the Assembly debates last June revealed. If India can be so negative even on autonomy within the Union, despite the militancy, what hopes can they have of a fair deal when militancy is crushed? And yet there is a universal yearning for peace.

But crushing it is New Delhi's sole objective and there are no degree to which it will not stoop in doing so. In 1995 it replicated in Kashmir state-sponsored terrorism it had practised in Punjab. Sanjoy Hazarika, who first exposed that in The New Yor k Times, wrote on "The Gambit" in The Illustrated Weekly of India; July 10, 1988 (vide "The Underground Army", India Today, September 15, 1998 and December 15, 1995). There is an entire Report of Human Rights Watch/Asia (May 1996) on "India's Secret Army in Kashmir". Pankaj Mishra's superb report (The Hindu, August 27, September 3 and 10) records how the surrendered militants whom the Army enrolled as "friendlies" but are popularly known as "renegades" had "recently helped open the BJP office in Anantnag". They are used to killing former colleagues as well as "journalists and human rights activists who were seen as too eager to report on the excesses committed by the Army. In return, the Army and the civil administration looked the other way when the renegades kidnapped and killed for money". One of them is an MLA "but there were still 1,500 young men with guns on the government's payroll". These renegades are "the most dreaded people in the Valley, more than the jehadi guerillas, mo re than the Army and police officials..." Pankaj Mishra makes an important point: "The problems and people of the State have remained unknown to most Indians."

When Firdous Syed Baba opted out of militancy, he told Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda: "I am not going to be a counter-insurgent and killing my own people." On February 8, 1996, he along with Bilal Lodhi, former chief of the Al Barq, the militant wing of Abdul Ghani Lone's People's Conference, Ghulam Mohiuddin and Imran Rahi, former deputy chiefs, respectively, of the Muslim Mujahideen and the Hizbul Mujahideen, declared their opposition to the Hurriyat and set up the Forum for the Permanent Resolution of J&K. The Forum withered away; the Hurriyat has survived. Popular support to the latter, which only the blind deny, made the difference. So did massive human rights violations. On July 29, 1998 Spain's Supreme Court sentenced a former Interior Minister to 10 years' imprisonment for his role in Spain's Dirty War - the killing of Basque militant separatists during 1983-87. This is the technique used by Latin American dictators. And, that should be practised by India.

However, if India's policy is a fiasco in political and moral terms, more so is Pakistan's. It had sought to reopen what India regarded as a closed chapter. Reopened it has been now, to the discomfiture of both. But that is only through the self-assertio n and sacrifices of the people of Kashmir. Pakistan has done incalculable damage to Kashmir and to itself. India cannot be made to "leave" Kashmir. Pakistan failed even to promote a meaningful dialogue. In January 1994 it offered India the surrender terms - a plebiscite. Its operation was not linked to diplomacy but ran autonomously and mindlessly. As Hans J . Morgenthau wrote in his classic Politics Among Nations: "The means at the disposal of diplomacy are three: persuasion, compromise, and threat of force. No diplomacy relying only upon the threat of force can claim to be both intelligent and peace ful. No diplomacy that would stake everything on persuasion and compromise deserves to be called intelligent." A diplomat must simultaneously "use persuasion, hold out the advantages of a compromise, and impress the other side with the military strength of his country. The art of diplomacy consists of putting the right emphasis at any particular moment on each of these three means at his disposal."

A covert armed operation makes sense only as an aid to diplomacy. If, as practitioners of realpolitik hold, diplomacy devoid of the sanction of force is sterile, use of force unrelated to the ends of diplomacy can be ruinous. After Zia, Pakistan's government and the ISI became autonomous entities, with the latter calling the tune. The diplomats were hamstrung. Two important rules were flouted - there was no fall-back position, no exit strategy for Pakistan; and it offered India no line of retreat . Even at the height of the militancy, Pakistan never offered India terms it could accept without loss of face and loss of domestic support. It harped on a plebiscite. India was ready to sit out.

But it cannot do so for long. Even the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. V.P. Malik, recognised on September 11 that "ultimately there has to be a political solution to the problem". Political initiatives were necessary "to counter the alienation of the l ocal population". A Kashmir University professor said realistically: "As long as alienation from India continues and Pakistan keeps supporting insurgency, militancy will return again and again." Having expended all that it has for over a decade, Paki stan will not simply wind up the show - except as part of a deal. That will not be easy with the HUM, the LeT and the rest. There is no other way, however.

India's endeavour should be to seek consistently with its national interest and Kashmir's non-negotiable membership of the Union, alternatives which both Pakistan and the people of Kashmir can accept; that is, a congruence of interests. It will have t o be a compromise and compromises are evolved only through unconditional dialogues, conducted sincerely.

The distinguished French journalist and diplomat, Eric Rouleau, revealed in an interview, on April 24-25, 1993, that when De Gaulle's advisers suggested that he negotiate with an Algerian moderate, (Beni Oui Oui, a yesman) who had not taken up arms, and not with the FLN, his reply was - "if you want to forge a lasting peace, you have to negotiate with those who are firing on your soldiers; you don't negotiate with those with no blood on their hands because they are irrelevant." In Kashmir, all the sides involved have nothing but blood on their hands.

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