November 2003 News

ISI's 'Indigenous Boys' And 'Self-determination'

10 November 2003
The Daily Excelsior

Jammu: When President-General Pervez Musharraf told corps commanders at the Pano Aqil cantonment that he intends to maintain a minimum deterrence both in the nuclear as well as the conventional military strength he was not referring to the worst kept Pakistani secret - the use of jehadi terrorists who are part of the ISI's own forward echelon. Dr Ayesha Siddiqa in an article in FRIDAY TIMES reveals that the Islamic fundamentalist seminaries from which the terrorists are drawn are front organizations of the ISI created to take the initiative away from the so-called 'indigenous' Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, and put in the context of what Musharraf said, conduct a proxy war against India from behind the nuclear shield. She wrote: 'A number of military officers, with whom the whole militancy-freedom movement issue was discussed, were of the view that Islamabad did manipulate an indigenous movement that was started in December 1989 by the J&K Liberation Front. In fact the time the Pakistan Army had continued to provide some logistic support to the JKLF until it was decided to plant GHQ's own boys by throwing in religious organizations'. Dr Ayesha Siddiqa added: 'As a Pakistani one had felt quite noble about tagging the cause of Kashmir, until a recent meeting with some Kashmiris. Listening to their perspective I had a rare opportunity to understand the subtleties of the situation from people that have spent a major part of their lives in the battleground of Kashmir. 'Pakistan's moves, on the other hand, have been no different. The military's obsession with Kashmir forced it to adopt un-viable policies such as creating and planting militants and militant organisations in Kashmir. 'In the early 1990s, it was possible to re-deploy jehadis from Pakistan and all over the Muslim world. These men were motivated by, what was considered, a higher religious ideological zeal. Considering that the JKLF stood for an independent state of Kashmir rather than accession to Pakistan, supporting this outfit at best was a stopgap arrangement for Islamabad rather than a permanent solution. This, in the eyes of most Kashmiris was the unkindest thing Pakistan could have done - turning a secular Kashmir cause into something else - a religious movement. 'The Kashmiris I heard pouring out the pain, anguish and frustration were concerned that the jehadis had actually contributed towards hijacking the movement and, giving it a colour that it did not have originally. 'The killings of all those innocent people, especially youngsters, who are sacrificed for some vague religious ideals or sacrificed by the militants because they chose to opt out, add to the bloodshed caused by the Indian Army. The problem is that a number of Kashmiris finds it hard to distinguish between the two. However, the Kashmiri leadership is equally to be blamed for allowing the movement to be hijacked.' FRIDAY TIMES article posits the rationale for the proxy war thus: 'Of course, Pakistan's policy of planting its 'own boys' is justified from the standpoint of pragmatic policy-making and realpolitik. How could Pakistan allow in the 1990s for someone to hijack the fundamental objective of its Army? How could the Army, in turn, betray its raison d'etre? How could the Army in 1989, or later, explain to the public and its own men that it had changed its mind on the accession of a. territory without which, as it was explained for years, Pakistan would be highly insecure and militarily vulnerable? 'The militants motivated by religious ideology were the only ones that had an equally strong commitment to the idea of accession of Kashmir to Pakistan. They believed that the ultimate accession of the disputed territory to Pakistan would allow its armed forces to consolidate its strength and also create the space that would then be used to launch a religious revolution globally. Supporting the Army's war in Kashmir was, hence, a quid pro quo between the state forces and the non-­state actors. 'While the policy reaped limited tactical dividends for Pakistan, it had negative implications for the Kashmir movement that was originally aimed at redressing the problem of the oppressive rule of India's Central government. The movement certainly became dubious after the developments of September 11, 2001. While some would like to argue that the events of 9-11 were a sudden development, the fact is that the Pakistan Army and the militants' support for religious wars had caught international attention even before 9-11 took place. The mere fact that a number of those, who were fighting in Kashmir, were also waging war in Chechnya, Indonesia and other places, did not reflect well on the entire struggle.' Dr Ayesha Siddiqa concludes: 'The Kashmir movement should have been allowed to grow as a strong political movement with no links to Pakistan or organisations with links with the GHQ. In fact, adhering to the principle of 'better late then never' the Kashmiris should be allowed to take the ownership of their struggle. Any force, be it state or non-state actors, that continues to manipulate the movement appears to be driven by its own interests rather than the betterment of the Kashmiris. NEWS article by Dr Moonis Ahmar : 'The country (Pakistan) which was formed on the basis of religion (Two-Nation Theory) could not provide basic social justice to its people resulting into the break-up of Pakistan and the emergence of Bangladesh. West Pakistan, which became a successor state of Pakistan also, could not cope with ethnic and sectarian cleavages while the common people remained a victim of the politics of expediency pursued by either by military, bureaucracy or the other segments of the ruling establishment, particularly feudal. Stressing that 'Kashmir is much too vital for Pakistan's strength and even surviva1 to be sidelined or its settlement put on hold', Inayatullah, in an article in DAWN cautions: 'Other desirable objectives too of course, should be pursued vigorously as it makes sense to become peaceful-neighbours and jointly seek love and shanti in this strife-ridden part of the world.' DAWN article by Inayatullah : 'Now the very nice Mr Jethmalani says after , entering Pakistan that he very much appreciates the initiatives taken by the Musharraf government. Musharraf according to him 'should not be blamed for whatever infiltration is taking place at the moment as he does not have control over a number of militants operating in our part of Kashmir'. So who then is to blame if not the Pakistan government? 'And if the Pakistan government is thus cleared of the charge by him then who indeed is to be accused? The people of Pakistan? If Musharraf's and his government's conduct is alright why then hesitate to talk to the government of Pakistan? Viewed in this context what indeed is the meaning and value of Jethmalani's or even Vajpayee's wonderfully heart-warming messages to the people of Pakistan?'


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