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Islamism in Valley

Islamism in Valley

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: July 16, 2008

Protest prelude to greater jihad?

While the Congress itself has downplayed it, the statement by the former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, whose actions while in office have set him apart from his self-seeking and Islam-pandering predecessors, that the violent agitation against the transfer of land -- for temporary shelters and facilities to be used by Hindu pilgrims visiting the Amaranth shrine -- was funded by Pakistani and Saudi Arabian sources, is actually fairly noteworthy. It amounts to the first serious admission, by a politician who has been in Government in Srinagar, that the so-called 'Kashmir cause' is actually camouflage for a global Islamist network that transcends borders and barriers. That the Saudis have got into the game is particularly disturbing as it would indicate a return to the early-1990s when petro-dollars funded the surge in radical Islam in this part of the world. The parallels are eerie. In 1990, after the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and after American retreat from the region, the internationalist jihadi armies turned their attention to new battlegrounds. The Kashmir Valley was one such. Jammu & Kashmir saw extensive blood-letting at the hands of not just Kashmiri and Pakistani terrorists, but Afghans and Yemenis, too. Indeed, in that turbulent period, Osama bin Laden and the nascent Al Qaeda trained terrorists at camps in Afghanistan for deployment in Jammu & Kashmir. The logistical patrons were Pakistani Generals at the Inter-Services Intelligence and rogue elements in the teeming establishment in Riyadh. Today, history may be repeating itself. The American-led forces are facing a resurgent, Pakistan-backed Taliban offensive. The jihadis smell success, perhaps even triumph. The fact that a new, untested American President will be in charge in 2009, gives them even more hope. India cannot escape the spill-over. Perhaps, as the recent Amarnath episode suggests, the pan-Islamic coalition is already training its guns in this direction. That the All-Party Hurriyat Conference and the PDP have been at the forefront of the chilling protests against the allotment of land for Hindu pilgrims only adds to suspicions. These groups have been closely linked to radical Islamist organisations, tacitly or otherwise. The Hurriyat is openly Islamist, comparing the recent Amarnath episode to the Israeli attempt to settle Jews on territories Palestinians claim as their own.

Sometimes a simple sentence anticipates a larger truth. Mr Azad's attack on his political opponents the other day may have been just such an example. If the Pakistani meddling in Jammu & Kashmir is being re-intensified in an election year -- admittedly, it had never gone away in the first place -- and if the Saudis are entering the fray, India can brace for a long-drawn terrorist war. With vast tracts of Pakistani territory under the control of radical forces and the private armies of mullahs, India can no longer pretend that the notional regime in Islamabad offers it a buffer. The hard reality is that the frontline has shifted in these past seven years -- since 9/11 -- and India, not Pakistan, is now the frontline state; Pakistan, not Afghanistan, is the war zone. The resurgence of radical Islamist groups, after three or four quiet years, in the Valley indicates a greater design. In a nutshell, that is what Mr Azad is trying to warn New Delhi about.

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