14 March 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Only the native will be surprise by Pakistan’s move to arrest Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) chief Syed Salahuddin (real name Moulvi Yususf Shah) during a demonstration in Muzaffarabad. Taken into custody along with him are seven other Kashmiri militant leaders including Mushtaq Zargar alias Latram. The latter was one of three terrorists whose release was secured by Pakistan-aided militants by hijacking an Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu to Kandhar in 1999. The others are not as widely branded though they are linked to easily recognizable groups such as Lathkar-e-Toiba (Let), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Jamait-ul-Mujahideen and Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen. All of them were protesting against Pakistan President Prevez Musharraf’s “Kashmir policy”. It is only too well known that the Salahuddin-headed United Jihad Council (UJC) is consistent in its criticism of Pakistan’s current disenchantment with the United nations resolutions and zeal for fostering friendship with India. The UJC is an umbrella organistaion of 13 militant bodies operating from Muzaffarabad, the Capital city of “Azad” Kashmir (as the Pakistan-occupied territory is locally described). It is attached closely with Srinagar-based secessionist veteran Syed Ali Shah Geelani. It makes a clear distinction between the people and the Musharraf-led ruling elite of Pakistan. This is the perception of Mr Gellani and Syed Salahuddin that the ordinary citizens of the neighboring country don’t approve of what their government is doing vis-à-vis the State. For their part they remain pro-Pakistan which seems to be ironic in the existing circumstances. They give preference to their religion as well as religious proximity with others. Whether they like it or not the striking similarity of views in this behalf has pushed them into the lap of more radical outfits. This stark reality is also evident from the background of all those nabbed along with the HM supreme.
What can’t be ignored, however, is that the Pakistan Government has acted against the HM boss and Kashmiri militants but not against those at the helm of Let and JeM who are actually sons of its soil andl have matching opinion. Why is it so ? The detention of Mr Salahuddin in itself is not astonishing. Pakistan was expected to send him a stern message sooner than later. It was increasingly unavoidable. There was no let-up in taunts and threats hurled by him and his ilk against the State leaders responding to its peace vibes. Pakistan had thus found its position compromised by the elements working under its direct patronage. One must mention that the HM leadership has not been amenable to reason. We have repeatedly called upon it in these columns to settle for peace and test its visible “ local” faces. Why should they be setting their own land on fire?
One suspects that the HM thought that it had become indispensable for Pakistan. It has failed to see that in the emerging global realities Pakistan is hard put to prove its credentials as a peace-loving nation. Whatever its past Pakistan has only one option at the moment. It has to hit hard against all those using the country for propagating hatred and violence. It can’t stop at the HM. Tomorrow it will have to be seen striking against JeM and Let. Only then it will be able to establish that what it has done now is not eyewash.