Last August I noted several under-reported news stories that pointed to a dangerous possibility for Nawaz Sharif’s government. These news stories quoted jihadi militants talking about their plans for ‘a tremendous surge in mujahedeen’s activities in Indian Kashmir‘, giving a worrying feeling of deja vu to those of us who remember the disaster that was Kargil. A new report provides further proof that jihadi groups are increasing their activities in Kashmir, and even more reason why the Prime Minister should fear that he is being set up for disaster in Kashmir.
When McClatchy visited the Rawalakot area of Pakistan-administered Kashmir in August, it found the Jaish-i-Mohammed and Harakat-ul-Mujahideen militant groups were openly whipping up paranoia of a supposedly impending Indian invasion. It was the first time those groups had been active since 2002, when they were constrained by the junta of Gen. Pervez Musharraf under U.S. pressure.
Veteran commanders of the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen group based in Kashmir said they were in the process of re-recruiting fighters who had led peaceful civilian lives since the Musharraf regime disbanded them.
Commanders of the same group based in the southern city of Karachi, visited there in late September by McClatchy, said they had recalled militants who were fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and were redeploying them to Kashmir.
Islamabad-based political activists of a Pakistan-backed trans-Kashmir alliance of political parties, the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference, also confirmed ex-militants were being contacted by the militant groups and browbeaten into rejoining.
Despite these activities taking place under open daylight, the people are being kept in the dark. In fact, what little reporting on the jihadi activities has taken place appears to suggest a cover up by interested parties. For example, this program takes the standard line that all claims about jihadi activities along the LoC are ‘Indian lies’ based on evidence provided by hyper-nationalist ‘think tanks’ with powerful connections.
I wrote in August that I take the PM at his word that he wants peace with India, but if he doesn’t get control of the ISI’s Kashmiri jihad project, he may lose control completely. HIzbul Mujahideen commander Syed Salahuddin warned the Prime Minister last year that ‘we will expect them to follow Pakistan’s traditional policy on Kashmir‘. That policy has meant disaster for Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan in the past. It remains to be seen if the Prime Minister will fall victim to the same hair brained scheme again, or if he will decide his own fate…before it’s decided for him.