Sabzar Ahmad: The Enemy of my Enemy

Sabzar Ahmad BhatThe situation in Kashmir is one of history’s greatest human rights tragedies, only made worse because it is virtually ignored by the world. What has since long been a case of occupiers ignoring the wishes of the people to decide their own fate has turned into the world’s first mass blinding. Now things have escalated even further as Indian officials are defending using innocent Kashmiris as human shield, and Indian Army Chief is terming it a ‘dirty war‘ and begging to kill more Kashmiris. Finally, Pakistan’s historical position of extending moral and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir is vindicated. However, it appears that once again our correct moral position is being used to extend support to another strategic blunder.

While the official line is that we are only providing moral and diplomatic support, the worst kept secret in the world is that powerful quarters also provide technical and logistic support to Kashmiri freedom fighters. This has been the official-unofficial policy since lashkar were first launched in 1947 in our failed attempt to secure Kashmir during partition. Groups like LeT hand Hizbul Mujahideen have always been considered as friends because of their ‘pro-Pakistan’ ideologies. The plan has always been that these groups would wrest Kashmir from Hindu India and hand it over to Islamic Pakistan. With India’s increased abuses, the time seems ripe for our strategy to finally succeed. As usual, though, things are never so simple, and now it appears that ‘the enemy of my enemy’ may not be as friendly as we expected.

Deep seated problems began to appear on the surface recently when Hizbul commander Zakir Musa openly called on mujahideen to drop the pretense of joining Pakistan and to fight to establish Khalifat in Kashmir. This caused a split in Hizbul, who distanced themselves from Zakir’s statement particularly his criticism of Hurriyat leadership. This rift was followed by the killing of Hizbul commander Sabzar Ahmad and there is some chatter that Sabzar was sold out by Zakir to advance his cause, there is also growing evidence that the mujahideen have moved past pro-Pakistan ideology.

Editorial in The News about Sabzar Ahmad’s killing even mentions the problem:

It is certainly true that Bhat was more rigid than Wani and that his uncompromising nature led him to threaten Hurriyat leaders. His style of leadership led top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa quit the group two weeks ago over what he called “ideological differences”.

While we are supporting Kashmir mujahideen, we are expecting them to support us also because ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’. This is a common party of our security strategy that has always come back to hurt us. Whether it was USA or Afghan Taliban, we have expected that if we support someone they will always support us also. Different groups have their own plans, though, and very often those who we are using are actually using us also.

We have our own plans that Kashmir will quit India and join Pakistan. Did we ever think that mujahideen have their own plans also?

mujahideenKashmir mujahideen are united against India, but this is the short term goal only. What if the longer term goal does not include democracy at all. Today, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But tomorrow?

Trouble in paradise? Kashmir militants turning on each other could signal start of a new war

Hizbul Mujahideen has expelled jihadi leader Abdul Qayoom Najar over disagreements.

“The report submitted by the inquiry commission has proved that Qayoom Najar, in an utter disregard of the Hizb leadership, violated the constitution of the outfit and carried out condemnable acts. Our constitution does not allow or permit such actions,” Salahuddin said in a statement.

Analysts say the emergence of a breakaway faction could mean that a new generation of Kashmiri militants is trying to force aside the ageing separatist leadership.

The condemnable acts were unauthorised attacks against telecommunications companies that Najar’s group Lashkar-e-Islam believes are helping Indian authorities monitor militant activities. The split is worth noting, but not surprising. Actually, it could be inevitable, and just the first of many to come.

Despite presence of multiple groups including Kashmiri freedom fighters and foreign jihadis, Kashmir jihad has so far been fairly unified. This can be understood largely from the hyper-regional nature of the conflict in which there is only one primary enemy, India, and not a broader global clash as is present in other areas such as Afghanistan and Syria. However, even in Afghanistan, jihadi groups were unified for years before real splits began to appear as a result of new, younger jihadis taking issue with the strategies and ideological purity of their predecessors. Is there any reason why the same scenario should not unfold in Kashmir? Actually, Kashmir may even be also ripe for trouble.

Daesh JUD flags at Jamia Masjid SrinigarAt recent protests at Jamia Masjid Srinigar, black flag of Daesh began appearing alongside Jamaat-ud-Dawa flags. This is an important development. JuD has long been establishment’s preferred proxy due to its reliance for funding and resources, but there have always been problems controlling other groups that had alternate resources available. A similar problem has already erupted in Afghanistan where Mullah Omar’s Taliban is facing existential challenge from Daesh who sees it as compromised and not true to its vision of Islamic rule. We have already seen a key proxy in Afghanistan turn to Daesh, is there any reason to believe that assets in Kashmir are immune from the same?

This is why using jihadi proxy groups as strategic assets is a self-defeating plan. We may think we have control over them, but that control is an illusion as has been proven time and time again. Jihadis have been able to keep pressure on India in Kashmir, and we have convinced ourselves that they are going to help Kashmir become part of Pakistan. It is not clear that the jihadis are convinced of that, though. As any influence with thought we had over jihadis in Afghanistan slips through our fingers, we are seeing that same influence slipping in Kashmir. The outcome that must be feared is that we become encircled not by India, but by jihadi militants who see Pakistan as the ultimate jewel in their imagined Khalifat. And it will be a threat of our own making.