International experts examine growing extremism in South Asia and its repercussions for the West during the 37th Session of the UNHRC in Geneva.
Geneva, 13 March 2018: A very successful and well-attended Side-event was organized by the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) during the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The event was titled, 'Growing Extremism in South Asia; Repercussions for the West'. A panel of scholars and experts deliberated upon the growing phenomenon of extremism, radicalism and terrorism in South Asia, in particular in Afghanistan and Pakistan and what this means for the West. The event was moderated by Ms. Yoana Barakova (Research Analyst EFSAS) and was attended by diplomats, International human rights activists, NGO representatives and academicians.
Dr. Paul Stott, author of various books on Jihadism, lecturer at the University of Leicester and in the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS, University of London spoke on the history of Jihadism and the British and South Asian Nexus and explained the historical basis for the growth of radicalization and how both Britain and the Indian Subcontinent have been cross-fertilized by particular Islamist and Jihadist actors across various decades. He began his speech indicated that Terrorism in the modern era, despite popular belief, did not start with 9/11, but could be attributed to Mrs. Margaret Thatcher?s visit to Pakistan and her meeting with General Zia-ul-Haq in 1981, which was seen by both countries as an endorsement of Zia, while Pakistan was going through a process of ongoing Islamization and the consequences for UK became only visible with the impetus of the struggle in Afghanistan given to Sunni armed insurgent groups. He emphasized that it is not only about British nationals going out to the Indian Subcontinent and joining such groups, but about people from Pakistan, particularly clerics coming to the UK and recruiting for Jihad. In his speech, he further gave examples of the 1993 UK speaking tour of Masood Azhar of Harkat ul-Ansar, which got support from leading British Deobandis, where during over 40 talks the latter reiterated that young British Muslims should be seeking Jihad. The consequences of this Pakistan-UK Jihadist connection became visible quite quickly in 1994, Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British National became involved in kidnappings of British tourists in New Delhi, then afterwards in 1995, Hafiz Saeed held a speaking tour across UK mosques, Islamic centers and universities, inciting students to fight in Indian Administered Jammu & Kashmir and find salvation, and the Taliban regime from 1996 additionally presenting an image of ?actually existing Sharia? to young Britons, where Pakistan providing the bridge for those people to enter Afghanistan. He afterwards argued how the 9/11 era finally put events in that decade into perspective, which was the start of looking critically at Brits going out to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indian Administered Jammu & Kashmir, following the collapse of the Taliban. He further illuminated the violence that could be traced back to this cross-fertilization of Britain and South Asia in the face of numerous examples, such as the first British suicide bomber in Afghanistan, Khalid Shaheed, who was Birmingham born, the 2000 suicide attack at an Indian army base in Srinagar (Indian Adminsitered Jammu & Kashmir) by Mohammed Bilal from Birmingham, for Jaish-e-Muhammad, the 2002 kidnapping and murder in Karachi of Daniel Pearl and the Birmingham man of Kashmiri ancestry, Rashid Rauf who married into Masood Azhar?s family and joined JeM. He also gave a list of attacks and thwarted plots in the UK with connections to South Asia, namely the Operation Crevice case in 2003, the London Transport Bombings (7/7) in 2005, the Botched 21/7 bombings, the Liquid Bomb Plot in 2006, and the 2009 Manchester Arndale Centre plot. In a 2006 terrorism trial in the UK, Mohammed Ajmal Khan of Coventry was found to be a ?person of authority? in Lashkar-e-Taiba. Dr. Paul Stott?s extensive historical overview of the British-South Asian nexus laid bare the interconnectedness between growing Jihadism in the Indian subcontinent and the repercussions for Great Britain, in particular.
Mr. Serge Stroobants, the European Representative for the Institute for Economics and Peace, a serving Lt Col. of the Belgian Armed Forces, Professor at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels and a Senior Associate at the European Institute for Asian Studies in his speech on Terrorism, South Asia, NATO and the EU, spoke about NATO and EU?s role in the South Asian region, while arguing that it is very difficult to examine this approach, since the current focus of both organizations is on the periphery of Europe and the Euro-Atlantic Area and in addition, when comparing NATO and the EU, it is evident that both have a very different approach. NATO's toolbox is like a hammer considering the military intervention in Afghanistan, whereas the EU has a more softer approach and is more effective throughout the different phases of evolution of conflicts. When exploring escalations of violence, according to Lt. Col. Stroobants, NATO is a better manager of crisis whereas when it comes to prevention or stabilization, the EU is a more appropriate agent. The Global Terrorism Index data, which he discussed extensively showed a spread of the terrorism phenomenon to more countries, which have been affected by at least one terrorist attack. According to the Global Terrorism Index, overall 75% of all attacks occur in 5 countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria), which abide to the Muslim Ummah concept, and are perpetrated by 4 groups, which include Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS. 99.5% of all terrorist attacks take place in countries with armed conflicts or in situations where human right or political rights are neglected or ignored. These two causes were according to him, the key drivers for terrorism. He concluded by saying that when comparing South Asia and the West, there is a different perception about security, especially when examining the levels of vulnerability, which requires a more comprehensive approach.
Mr. Junaid Qureshi, a Kashmiri writer and Director of EFSAS discussed Pan-Islamism in Jammu & Kashmir and said that Pakistan funded and propagated radical- and militant Islam has made deep inroads into the Kashmir Valley while the unholy alliance of organized fundamental interpretations of religion and gun culture has led to structural changes at cultural levels of the society. He further stated that the violence in the Kashmir Valley is religious in character and not political anymore, while it is being dominated by group of militant leaders acting under a Pan-Islamic ideology. Mr. Qureshi also added that the earlier 'Azaadi' or Freedom slogan for autonomy and rectification of political grievances, has currently transformed into the expression of revulsion and rage against 'Hindu' India and anything that is non-Muslim. The Director of EFSAS referred to the recent video of Zakir Musa, a former Hizbul Mujahideen commander, who later on joined the terrorist outfit Al-Qaeda, in which he warned that people would be beheaded for referring to the Kashmir issue as a ?political? and not an Islamic struggle and in which he ordained the Kashmiri youth to reject concepts of democracy and nationalism and turn towards Islam while openly inciting youth to throw stones at security forces and pick up arms to wage a Jihad. Mr. Qureshi ended his speech by saying that the issue of Jammu & Kashmir requires a political solution, but first the people of Jammu & Kashmir, India and Pakistan are in urgent need of liberation from terrorism, violence, fear and uncertainty and that a political solution could only be found peace would prevail. Lastly, Mr. Qureshi made an appeal to the people of Jammu & Kashmir and urged them to comprehend that practices that have led to the destruction of social order, pluralism and inter-religious harmony in Kashmir, can never be divine.
Mr. Maarten P. Bolhuis, a Researcher and lecturer at the Criminal Law and Criminology department of the VU University in Amsterdam and fellow of the Center for International Criminal Justice held a presentation on South Asia and Europe and the nexus between asylum, immigration and Jihadism, in which he identified three risks which need to be acknowledged; First, the risk that Jihadists use asylum routes to enter Europe and also the asylum procedure, secondly, the risk that recruitment can and does take place among asylum seekers and thirdly, that people residing in asylum reception centers radicalize. However, he argued that it is difficult to assess those risks and tell how real they are, as there is very less data available on such issues. While focusing on what the European States have done in order to respond to those risks, he added that there is evidence that people who have committed terrorist attacks in Europe have indeed used routes and asylum procedures to enter Europe and got radicalized after entering Europe as asylum-seekers. One example which he gave was of a 17-year old asylum seeker from Afghanistan who on a train in Germany, attacked passengers and pledged allegiance to ISIS. Mr. Bolhuis added, that over the last years the attention for national security in the context of immigration has substantially increased, and this has resulted and translated into a much closer cooperation between immigration services, security services and law enforcement, which is visible through the establishment of various information exchange structures. He further elaborated that increasingly, frontline professionals, the people working with asylum-seekers are called upon to assist in the detection of national security threats. Yet he warned that using instructions or indicators or profiles may have side effects, such as over-reporting or stigmatization and therefore they might not necessarily be effective.
The event was followed by a vibrant Q&A Session in which the audience consisting of various nationalities and professional backgrounds actively took part. The audience was particularly interested in how South Asian countries and the West could cooperate in fighting global terrorism. There was a consensus among the speakers and the audience that opportunities to formalize intelligence sharing policies, counter-terrorism operations and training for law-enforcement personnel among the region, ought to be availed. It was further stated that the spread of extremist forces in addition to their interrelated networks and infrastructure should compel the nations in South Asia to overcome mistrust and stop using overt and covert policies which subdivide terrorists into 'good' and 'bad'. The speakers said that history has proven in the case of Afghanistan in the past, and more recently, in Pakistan, that using terrorism as a State policy with debatable aims of advancing strategic interests, will eventually backlash.
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF- condemns killing of civilians across the ceasefire Line
London, 5 February 2018: The JKLF has strongly condemned the ongoing firing and shelling across the ceasefire line between the Indian and Pakistani forces in Jammu Kashmir, and violent suppression of political dissent by Indian forces in Indian held part of the forcibly divided country. In a statement issued by the head of JKLF’s Diplomatic Bureau from London today, the JKLF has called on the United Nations to ensure safety of civilians both inside Indian held Jammu Kashmir, and along both sides of the ceasefire line as a priority, through strengthening the role of its UNMOGIP contingent in the region. The JKLF has called on the UN to institute urgent measures to demilitarise the ceasefire line and demand assurances from the opposing armies for safety of civilians in the border areas. The statement also took a strong note of the continuing deaths of innocent civilians in Shopian and elsewhere in the Valley of Kashmir at the hands of the Indian army. And termed the current situation intolerable, and unbecoming of a civilised world when civilians are deliberately targeted by a professional army, whether in Shopian, Pulwama, Kupwara, Handwara, Bandipur in Indian held Jammu Kashmir, or in Jagalpar Kuiratta, Nykyal, Poonch, Neelam valley or indeed many parts of Pakistan administered Jammu Kashmir. The only result of such military actions is death and injury to innocent civilians of all ages. The international community has a moral and legal responsibility to censure those responsible for causing misery, death and desolation to innocent lives.
Zafar Khan: Head of Diplomatic Bureau, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front JKLF- London Secretariat: 119-123 (Basement North) Cannon Street Road, London E1 2LX, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commonwealth nations must play their role, for an equitable solution of the Jammu Kashmir issue
A letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May was also handed over to officials at 10 Downing Street, London. As United Kingdom will host the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April of 2018, the letter urged to set up a Mediation Panel comprising of commonwealth nations, which would engage with the concerned parties for a solution, that is consistent with the unfettered, and inalienable right of Kashmiris, to determine their political destiny. The letter was handed over by Zafar Khan, Mahmood Hussain, Sabir Gul and Tariq Sharif.
Rt. Hon'ble Mrs Theresa May MP,
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
10 Downing Street
Date: 23 January 2018
Dear Prime Minister,
Re: Commonwealth nations must play their role, for an equitable solution of the Jammu Kashmir issue.
As United Kingdom will host the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April of 2018, we take the opportunity to seek British support, on the unresolved political status of Jammu Kashmir, usually referred to as Kashmir. We believe Her Majesty's Government is in a uniquely privileged position on the occasion, to extend its support for a meaningful engagement towards a just, and equitable solution of the longstanding Kashmir issue.
Last month, on the crucially important issue of reunification and Kashmir's political status, we wrote to the Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt. Hon Baroness Scotland, and reminded her that the Commonwealth nations, needed to take constructive steps towards a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue at the 25th CHOGM in London this year. We asked the Secretary-General to set up a Mediation Panel which would engage with the concerned parties for a solution, that is consistent with the unfettered, and inalienable right of Kashmiris, to determine their political destiny. While Rt.Hon. Mr Boris Johnson MP, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs was sent a copy of the letter, on the important question of Kashmir's future political status however, we felt it particularly germane, to engage directly with you .
Prime Minister as you are aware, for seventy years now, India and Pakistan have utterly failed to address the all-important question of Kashmir's future status. Both have fought full scale wars, and continue to confront each other across the ceasefire line, that forcibly divides Kashmiris under their de-facto rule. The ceasefire line in Kashmir also represents de-facto rather than de-jure border. Separation of Kashmiri people in general, and hundreds of thousands of families in particular across the ceasefire line, is enforced by armies of both India and Pakistan. At least a dozen substantial resolutions of the UNSC were passed on the issue, which were supported, and in some cases sponsored by Her Majesty's past governments. Bilateral agreements, like the Tashkent and Shimla Accords, were signed and agreed upon by India and Pakistan. Thus far however, not even an iota of progress has been made towards a solution, while entrenched positions of both countries, add enormously to the suffering, misery, indignity of separation, and occupation for the Kashmiris.
Prime Minister India for her part has demonstrated an extreme intransigence over the years, and is fervently insistent that Kashmir is an internal affair of India. Despite staking claim to be given a permanent seat on the UNSC, India however, has completely reneged on all the commitments and solemn pledges, which she made at the United Nations. Today India's de-jure position in Kashmir therefore, is that of an occupier. With a growing economic position however, India invests an enormous amount of energy in aggressive diplomacy, to make Kashmir a non-issue at the international level. India's militarised violence over the years has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths of Kashmiris. India's military in Kashmir, acts with impunity under laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act-AFSPA. Thus a culture of impunity prevails in Kashmir, which makes India's huge military deployment in the territory, virtually unaccountable for its violations of human rights.
Since 2014 in particular, Indian government has shown an unprecedented military and political aggression in its policies against the Kashmiris, and their pro freedom leadership. Indian government has declared war on the people, especially the young of Kashmir. Hundreds have been blinded in an unbridled, and indiscriminate use of force with weapons such as the pellets guns. More than150 people have been killed, and more than fifteen thousand injured since July of 2016. Indian military even stoops, to the reprehensible level, of using innocent Kashmiris, as human shields. India imposed longest ever curfew in the history of Kashmir for two months, to tire Kashmiris into submission, and discredit their political leaders.
The Joint Resistance Leadership-JRL- comprising of Sayed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz-umar Farooq, and Mr Muhammad Yasin Malik, has been put under constant house arrests and incarcerated, as in Mr Malik's case, through a revolving door process of being incarcerated in police stations or in Srinagar Central Jail. The fundamental democratic rights of the leaders to free speech, free movement and engagement with the people, is denied to them. The harassment of leaders and activists, as part of an aggressive culture of impunity, and political victimisation, is rife. Many activists, and leaders like Shabir Shah for example, languish in Indian jails on politically motivated charges.
Furthermore the Indian government, quite insidiously prevents the JRL to interact, and engage with religious minorities. This is a deliberate attempt to engineer, not only a religious and communal cleavage within Kashmiri society, but to malign the political resistance, and its leaders as 'sponsored'. This is one of the reasons, why India confines political leaders either in their homes or in custody. The Indian government with its aggressively sharp political rhetoric, encourages communal extremism of its ideological bed fellows, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-RSS- in Kashmir. Equally as the progenitor of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the RSS exerts an incontrovertibly enormous grip, on the policies of the ruling BJP in India.
Even the mortal remains of leaders, whose executions can only be described as judicial murders, are not handed over to their families, despite repeated demands for their return by them. Mortal remains of both Muhammad Maqbool Butt, who was hanged in 1984, and Afzal Guru who was hanged in 2013, remain buried in the grounds of Indi's Tihar Jail. India shows immense pride in being the largest democracy in the world. In Kashmir however, India's democracy represents nothing other than intolerance, and betrayal of peoples' rights and aspirations.
Prime Minister India and Pakistan's presence, and their confrontation across the divide in Kashmir, is a constant threat to peace in the region. As nuclear powers, each of them has the capacity to destroy the entire sub-continent, and beyond. Their armies pose a mortal danger to Kashmiris, and a much greater one, to their own combined populations of one and a half billion people. Indo-Pakistan rivalry is also a fundamental reason for lack of social, economic, and infrastructure development on both sides of the divide in Kashmir. In the dispute over the status of their country, Indo- Pakistan confrontation, has quite painfully rendered Kashmiris invisible. Kashmiris' cries of anguish and betrayal are not heard, as a consequence of the deafening reality of status-quo, enforced by India and Pakistan in their divided country.
Of course Kashmiris recognise the importance of peace, stability, and economic development in their society. Forced geographic separation, and social dislocation during the past seventy years however, has deprived them of a unified country. Their democratic rights on both sides of the ceasefire line, have been ignored and subverted. They have endured violent oppression in the Indian held part of their country. And furthermore blatantly, and in a brazenly defiant manner, India has deprived them of the right to decide, a right which is inalienable, and God given.
Prime Minister, in 1982 an illustrious, and esteemed predecessor of yours, had to despatch thousands of young British soldiers to the South Atlantic, with the noble objective, to enforce, and assert, the fundamental human right of the Falkland Islanders to decide. Equally, as a genuine reflection of being the oldest democracy in the world, and without malice and recriminations, Her Majesty's Government in 2014 of which, you were a prominent member, acceded to the demand by the Scottish nationalists, for the democratic right to decide, on Scotland's union with the United Kingdom. It is quite ironic and sad therefore, that a country which boasts of being the biggest 'democracy' has allowed its military in Kashmir to kill, by all accounts around, a hundred thousand people, for making the same legitimate demand to decide. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, India also demands the privilege of being made a permanent member of the UN Security Council, despite openly defying and disregarding its numerous resolutions on Kashmir.
Prime Minister, Kashmiris wish both India and Pakistan well. Both countries have huge potential, despite facing the perennial challenges of social and economic inequalities. Both India and Pakistan have combined population of over a billion and a half, and growing fast. While this presents enormous challenges, it also provides them with an immense energy for innovation and economic and technological development in their societies. It is in this context that Kashmiris across the ceasefire line have welcomed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor-CPEC-.
As the mega CPEC project begins its journey to Pakistan's port city of Gwadar, it first enters into Pakistan controlled, Kashmir region of Gilgit Baltistan. Kashmiris therefore, expect CPEC to, primarily benefit Gilgit Baltistan region, as well as others parts of Pakistan administered Kashmir. However, due to lack of democracy, and unrepresentative political structures in Gilgit Baltistan, and the territory of Azad Jammu Kashmir, the extent of real benefits to these regions, of Pakistan controlled Kashmir from CPEC, are a cause for serious concern. As a consequence, this concern has accentuated the demand for tangible democratisation and merger of both regions, including setting up of a democratically elected Joint Council for the regions, free of control from Islamabad. Thus far however, Pakistan government is not responding to these people centric demands.
Prime Minister, seventy years of forced division has not dimmed the burning desire of Kashmiris, to reunite and live as a free people. However, as long as India and Pakistan are embroiled in, and control Kashmir, the desire remains but a distant dream. We therefore, urge you to use your deeply warm relations with both countries, and the Commonwealth, to extend British support for setting up of a Commonwealt's panel of mediators at the 25th CHOGM in London, that would engage with concerned parties, for a peaceful resolution of the conflict over Kashmir's political status.
In conclusion we urge you to engage with Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers directly, and persuade them to take the first step along with the Kashmiris, for a peaceful and lasting resolution. As Kashmiris, we desire a peaceful solution, but do not have partners in our quest for peace. Kashmiris wish to make their country a bridge of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan. Kashmiris wish for a peaceful and prosperous South Asia, and seek to see India and Pakistan develop neighbourly relationship similar to that, which exists, between the United States and Canada. But above all, Prime Minister, Kashmiris as a nation, must be allowed to decide. And for the sake of justice and democracy in Kashmir, India and Pakistan must be persuaded, to facilitate an unfettered decision by the Kashmiris- as this is the only way forward.
Zafar Khan,Head of Diplomatic Bureau, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF, London Secretariat, 119-123 Cannon Street Road, (Basement North), London, E1 2LX
Statement by Diplomatic Bureau of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF
London-14 January 2018: Meeting of the JKLF?s Diplomatic Bureau took place at its international secretariat in London, in which various aspects, and dimensions of the Kashmir issue were discussed, and decisions were made and appropriate actions were decided upon. A brief statement of some of the decisions taken, was issued here today, in which the participants strongly affirmed, and reiterated that the JKLF leadership, will not compromise on the unfettered, and inalienable right to self-determination of 20 million people, across both sides of the ceasefire line. The Bureau also affirmed its strong resolve to extend full diplomatic voice, to the ongoing political struggle of the resistance leadership in Jammu Kashmir. The statement declared, that the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, presents an existential threat to South Asia, as both countries are nuclear powers. The statement called on the international community, to engage with the concerned parties for a peaceful resolution, of the 70 year long conflict. The statement in particular, condemned India?s intransigence on the Kashmir issue, and its unprecedented aggression, and militarised violence against peaceful dissent. And called on the United Nations Human Rights Council-UNHRC-, and other humanitarian organisations, to demand an unhindered access to Jammu Kashmir, for an impartial investigation of violations, and excesses against civilians. In relation to death and destruction caused by exchanges of fire, across the ceasefire line between the Indian and Pakistani forces, the statement called on the UN, to strengthen the role of UNMOGIP across both sides of the ceasefire line, to protect civilian population. It was decided that the Bureau would apprise various organisations, and world leaders, including the UN Secretary General, on the gravity of the prevailing situation, both inside Indian held Kashmir, and across the ceasefire line. It was decided that in April of this year, the JKLF will organise public demonstration during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting-CHOGM- in London, and lobby for a meaningful role on the Kashmir issue, by the CHOGM. A conference and other diplomatic activities were proposed, and approved, to take place in Brussels, in The Hague and Geneva during the year, while similar, diplomatic and political activities, including a seminar, were proposed and approved, to take place in London during 2018. Zafar Khan, Head of Diplomatic Bureau, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF-119-123 Cannon St. Rd London E1 2LX