Kashmir Militancy May Erupt Post U.S. Withdrawal

12 June 2014
Kashmir Observer

Srinagar: A handful of journalists, lawyers and peace activists from both Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir have feared resurgence of 'international militancy' in Kashmir if American troops leave Afghanistan without a politico-military settlement in the war-ravaged country. The eight-page report, written under the aegis of 'Kashmir Initiative Group' is duly signed by several Kashmiri journalists and thinkers including Asma Khan Lone who happens to be daughter of the nationalist Kashmiri leader Amanullah Khan. Drawing up a disturbing scenario in Kashmir, the report suggests compared to 2012 Kashmir witnessed eighty percent increase in militancy related incidents in 2013. 'These incidents triggered the deepening of diplomatic stalemate between India and Pakistan,' the report states adding that there were 103 casualties during the first nine months of 2013 compared to 57 in the same period in 2012. The report recalls the military confrontation along the Line of Control that had clouded the otherwise expected meeting between former Indian premier Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in September last. 'Although the incident was subsequently downplayed in the national Indian media it was demonstrative of the complex interests in continued violence in Kashmir.' The report cautions, 'The withdrawal of the bulk of ISAF forces from Afghanistan could be seen as an ideological victory for political and religious militancy in the region. It could also lead to a diminishing ideological premise for conflict within Afghanistan, especially for foreign fighters, even if the internal power struggle rages on. Foreign fighters may then seek new ideological frontlines and causes elsewhere, spurred on by a sense of triumph over unwanted 'colonizing' forces. Kashmir is often evoked as one alternative option for fighters currently in Afghanistan - the other being the larger conflict-theatres in the Middle East.' Quoting from a variety of sources, the report suggest Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP) might bait for military missions inside Indian Kashmir and the region's largest indigenous militant group Hizbul Mujahideen may facilitate entry of militants from foreign lands including Afghanistan. Hafiz Saeed, head of Jammat-ud-Dawaah - the political wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) - publicly declared that 'just as foreign forces had to withdraw from Afghanistan, India will have to withdraw from Kashmir.' The report while interpreting bulk of reportage on Kashmir, says the inter-linkages between various Afghan and Pakistani militant organizations are already well established. Cooperation, the report quotes Indian analysts as said, has taken place for many years, with Kashmir-centric organizations such as the LeT targeting Indian assets in cooperation with various Afghanistan-centric outfits. The bombing of the Indian consulate in Jalalabad in August 2013, the Indian Embassy in Kabul in 2008, and the targeting of various other Indian assets are cited as evidence of this collaboration. 'The growing presence of LeT in the eastern Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan is also highlighted as further indication of cooperation. Renewed violence in Kashmir will provide militants added ideological impetus and credibility within Kashmir, heightened by the political stalemate of 2003-2013 (also termed the 'Lost Decade'), when despite numerous windows of opportunities there was no substantive forward movement towards the resolution of the Kashmir issue.' The receding ISAF forces, the KIG report insists, might provide an opportunity for militant organizations such as LeT and its affiliates to resume activity in Kashmir. These autonomous organizations, resourceful both in terms of men and material, primarily derive their legitimacy and credibility from the 'Kashmir cause- the secession of Kashmir from India. Quoting Al Jazeera, the report recalls a Hizbul Mujahideen commander's Sep 2013 interview in which he had said, 'Many Kashmiris have been martyred in Afghanistan. So it is a debt that the Afghan Mujahideen owe us.'