BY RSN SINGH

For some years now, the Kashmir Valley has been witnessing the most sleazy and abysmal form of jihad by way of ‘stone pelting’. The youth of Kashmir have been robbed off their ability and manliness to cut or chisel rocks for building of society and India. For this they must depend on the labour from outside the Valley. It is this labour which has created the recent Chenani-Nashri Tunnel linking Jammu with the Valley.

Weaned on Wahhabi or Salafi Islam, the life of youth in the Valley is self-destructive. Every stone that is hurled at the security personnel is also a hit on Kashmiriyat and ancestors of the stone-pelters. A segment of the population which treats its geography and history as its enemies, is certainly in the brink of destruction.

If conversion to another religion manifests in hatred for inherited ancestors and ethnicity, surely then security analysts must reflect on those streams of religion which cause ‘terrorism’ and lead to the phenomenon of self-destruction and suicide bombers. The stone-pelting facet of terrorism in the Valley has been the consequence of years of religious ferment. The whole country was aware of this ferment, the Kashmiri Hindus even suffered on that account, and yet we never had the intellectual courage to confront it. It is possible that probably the non-Muslims of India did not exercise their intellect on the study of various schools of Islam like Wahhabi, Salafi and Deobandi.

Kashmiriyat was killed in the Valley the day half a million Hindus were terrorized to leave their ancestral homeland and compelled to become refugees in their own country. The Kashmiri Hindus were the last the most tenuous historical link between the Kashmiri Muslims and the Kashmiri Hindus, between the Valley and the Kashmiriyat.

The demographic purge of the Kashmiri Hindus from the Valley was in accordance with a devious and sinister jihadi strategy. The ghettoization of the Valley had been going on for very long. Wahhabi and Salafi ideologies had been consuming the state for many years through the aegis of Madrasas and Mullahs. Ironically, most of these vicious Mullahs belonged to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The Mullahs from these states were also primarily responsible for partition of India and creation of Pakistan.

Once Kashmiriyat was killed and requisite radicalization effected, it became easy for Pakistan-based jihadi organizations like LeT, JeM and HM to spread their tentacles.

There should be no doubt that all jihadi organizations active in Pakistan and India, rather the subcontinent, like the LeT, JeM, HM, IM, JMB or even Islamic State, are linked one way or the other with Al Qaeda. Since the Arab jihadis of Al Qaeda find it difficult to operate in the Indian subcontinent, it has outsourced the responsibility to organizations like LeT to conduct jihad in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Maldives. There are reports to suggest that the organization and structure of Islamic State in the Af-Pak region was established jointly by the ISI and LeT in Peshawar. Sources have also revealed that the Islamic State cadres are operating from the barracks of Frontier Corps in Balochistan.

The subcontinent connection of Islamic State with organizations like LeT, as also the Indian connection has been underscored by a Hindustan Times report dated 19-Apr-2017 in which it has been revealed that the GBU-43B Ordnance, euphemistically referred as Mother Of All Bombs (MOAB), used by the US in Achin district of the eastern province of Nangarhar, Afghanistan had taken toll of nearly 100 militants of which 13 were Indian recruits. It also included two commanders from India, i.e. Mohammad and Alla Gupta. Amongst the killed, was also an LeT commander Sheikh Waqas.

Writing on the significance of Al Qaeda for the jihadi groups, Vahid Brown and Don Rassler in the book ‘Fountainhead of Jihad’ maintains: “In the sense used by Al Qaeda, jihad has come to mean universal privatized, volunteer, militarism in asymmetrical conflict with globally distributed enemy. This phenomenon – also known as ‘global jihadism’ – arose in large part due to initiative of two famous Arab supporters of anti-Soviet mujahideen Abdullah Azam and Osama Bin Laden.” Hafiz Saeed treats Abdullah Azam as his mentor and Guru.

The affinity between Osama Bin Laden and the Pakistani military is well known. Most jihadi organizations in Pakistan and India are beholden to the Al Qaeda for finances and global reach. The Al Qaeda and its affiliate Islamic State are particularly known for their ability to produce some of the most sophisticated jihadi videos for indoctrination and recruitment. It was Osama Bin Laden, who established the Zhawara jihadi training camp in the Af-Pak region. A large number of jihadi leaders in the subcontinent are products of this camp. This camp produced the nucleus of jihadi leadership for waging ‘global jihad’.

It is therefore not surprising that Islamic State flags are displayed outside the mosques in the Valley after Friday prayers.

In overall perspective, the Pakistan military is also a part of the Al Qaeda. The Pakistani affiliates of Al Qaeda of which the military is an intrinsic part consider the US, India and Israel as their sworn enemies. We should not get distracted by the fact that in Syria the Islamic State received covert support from the US and Israel. It is quite usual for countries to provide covert support to one or more terrorist organization for strategic ends. The same applies for jihadi terrorist organizations as well. They are in a very complicated relationship like the linkages between Afghan-Taliban and TTP in the Af-Pak region. This is because of exigencies of survivability and in deference to the regional and the global jihadi agenda. The Pakistani state uses various jihadi groups because of their specific reach and influence in respective geographical areas. Nevertheless, the overall arching organization of global jihad is the ‘Al Qaeda’.

By corollary it can also be said that the separatists, the Hurriyat and mainstream leaders in the Valley are also directly or indirectly part of the ‘Al Qaeda’ network. Arguably, it is for this reason that President Trump ordered the MOAB to be dropped on that specific area of Afghanistan, wherein a warning could be issued to Pakistan for patronizing the Islamic State (Al Qaeda). The MOAB also caused damage to some buildings in the Khurram Agency in Pakistan.

The challenge before the Indian State is to salvage Kashmir Valley from the ideology and depredations of Al Qaeda. We need to create a counter ideology. If Zia-ul-Haq in the late 70s could hijack the Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent towards Arab, i.e. Wahhabi and Deobandi brand of Islam, it would be our intellectual failure to not revert the Indian and Pakistani Muslims to their Indian roots. Zia-ul-Haq while embarking on themWahhabi/Deobandi path had famously said: “If Iran imbibes Indian culture, it will still remain Iran, but if Pakistan retains Indian traditions, it will over time become India.”

The nature of Islam that should impact on India is not the monopoly of Muslims, but it is the responsibility of every Indian to determine. If a particular foreign brand of Islam declares war on India, then it becomes incumbent upon every Indian to crush it.

However in the Valley, there are also Muslims whose hearts beat for Kashmiriyat and for India. In the latest by-election in the Valley, the polling percentage was seven percent. If there was no intimidation by the Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the percentage could have been much more. This seven percent people need to be celebrated. They are the actual braves. If one vote can decide victory and loss in an election, one vote can also be decisive in deciding between democracy and jihadi animalism. By this reckoning seven percent is stupendous.

Last time, when the Valley was ravaged by floods, it was seen that many of the pro-Pakistan elements after collecting the relief material pelted stones on security forces sitting on boats. In contrast, in Shia majority areas, love, affection and gratitude were showered on them. This clearly illustrates that the problem in Kashmir is not political but of religious ideology.

It is the same ideology, which is bent upon dragging Kashmir Valley to the Arab brand of Islam with all its violent shades and manifestations. It may be recalled that when Arab Islam impacted on other superior cultures like Persian, Central Asian or Indian, these regions refused to accept the cultural hegemony of Arab Islam. It is therefore bewildering as to how the cultural richness of Kashmir has given way to Arab Islam.

If people of the Kashmir Valley, who reside in only 7.2 percent of the total area of the state and democratically lord over 93 percent of the area, if the per capita consumption of meat in the Valley is the highest in the world, then, the problem is certainly not political and economic. The main problem is Islamic radicalization by an ‘Al Qaeda State of Pakistan’. Therefore, talking to the separatists or the leaders in the Valley, or Pakistan, will yield ‘no results’ because they are all part of the Al Qaeda.

To re-establish Hindustaniyat and Kashmiriyat, Article 370 needs to be immediately revoked.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)