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?

Kashmir Jihad Going The Way Of Afghanistan

Former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah has warned India that ‘you are losing Kashmir‘. India is unlikely to take his advise and abandon their military approach to putting down the anger that is spreading like wild fire due to the abuses that has caused an ‘epidemic of dead eyes‘. This is because Indian authorities suffer from an ideological blindness that does not allow them to see how their actions are actually counter to their own cause. Unfortunately, we also suffer from an ideological blindness about our policies and strategies in Kashmir.

There have been worrying signs for a while now. Members of Jamaatud Dawah, which has close ties with state agencies, have begun joining Daesh. Black flags of Daesh have been raised along side Pakistan flags in Kashmir. This practise has become so common that even Syed Ali Shah Geelani was forced to publicly comment on it. And now it appears that it is the Pakistani flags that may be disappearing as Kashmir militants are calling for jihad in Pakistan also:

We do love Pakistan because that country was created in the name of Islam. But there is no Islam at present. So, we are unhappy with it. We have to do Jihad with Pakistan as well.

Just as our support for Taliban in Afghanistan spun off the TTP to carry out deadly jihad in Pakistan, now it looks like our support for jihad in Kashmir is having the same effect.

Turn down the heat in Kashmir

armyCross border firing in Kashmir has once again taken a toll. Three Pakistan Army soldiers embraced shahadat, and 7 Indian soldiers were killed on the other side during the latest border flare up.

untitled-1-1479901655Civilians too are loosing their lives.

On Monday, four civilians were killed and 10 others were injured in different sectors along the de facto border while six Indian soldiers were also confirmed dead in retaliatory fire.

India has clearly failed to understand the gravity of the situation, and cannot be expected to take the high road. Pakistan Army has demonstrated both the willingness and ability to give a befitting reply to all Indian aggression, but in order to protect the lives of innocents, we need to take a new approach.

The solution will not be easy, and it will take strength and courage to succeed. In order to save innocent lives, we must find a way to reduce the tension in Kashmir and return some normality to the lives of the Kashmiri people.

How our leaders let their own ambition undo our case on Kashmir

Kashmir or IslamabadIt’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago there was political unity as all parties, both civil and military, had come together to bring the world’s attention to the Kashmiri cause. Today, unity has reverted back to fighting, and the world’s attention is focused not on the chaos in Kashmir, but the chaos in Islamabad. If our political leaders failed to get any media attention during the diplomatic missions earlier this month, they have succeeded in getting the world’s attention now.

Nawaz Sharif has taken a page from Modi’s book by heavily cracking down on opposition protestors. The images on TV are similar with crowds of unarmed people fleeing clouds of tear gas and facing walls of armed security forces. The result has been the same, too. Next time our diplomats mention statements against Indian oppression in Kashmir from international human rights groups like Kashmir, how will they answer when India’s diplomats note that the same human rights groups are condemning our own reactions to protestors?

Nawaz Sharif is not the only one to blame for this disaster, though. Equal blame is shared by Imran Khan for inciting the entire situation. This is not an excuse for corruption or defence of Panama Papers accusations. If Nawaz had broken the law, let him be held accountable. Imran Khan had many choices for how to handle this issue and he chose the one that he knew would provoke the government to overreact. It was a strategic choice made by PTI’s top leadership to cause chaos. The government was stupid for falling for this trick, but there is no doubt that it has not worked out exactly as Imran Khan hoped.

ISPR has reported that cross border firing from India continues along the LoC, but our ability to make this case in the international forums is quickly becoming moot. The world is finally paying attention, but it’s the insecurity in Islamabad that is making headlines, not Kashmir.

Pragmatic Moderation: An alternative to failed hyper-nationalism?

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should be commended for attempting to use diplomacy to highlight the plight of Kashmiri people. However, it is time to face the fact that the hypernationalist narrative that our officials have been promoting has completely failed. This does not mean that the Kashmiri cause is failed, it just means that the way we have been trying to help has actually being hurting. If we truly want to help the Kashmiri people, we need to try something different.

First let us discuss why our current efforts have failed. It is easy to blame the Indian lobby for all of our failures, but we should be honest enough to look in the mirror. Here is one that Jibran Nasir has held up for us.

During the recent diplomatic mission to Washington, Senator Mushahid Hussain found himself facing the usual questions about how Pakistan can be taken seriously on Kashmir when our diplomats are singing the praises of Hizbul Mujahideen commanders at the United Nations. Senator Hussain gave the correct answer, which is that ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’. As much as that may make sense to us, though, we need to think about what the rest of the world is hearing which is that ‘your terrorists are our freedom fighters’. We are not convincing anyone that Hizbul Mujahideen are not terrorists. All we are doing is confirming India’s claim that Pakistan is the ‘mothership of terrorism‘.

We can blame whoever we want, but it cannot be denied that our efforts have achieved nothing till date but maintaining the status quo. We can compare Kashmir to Palestine, but in the words of one Pakistani scholar, “In case of Jammu & Kashmir there is not even that level of international support and interest that exists in the Palestinian question.” That scholar is none other than Husain Haqqani, and hate him however much you want, but you cannot deny that he is correct on this point.

That quote was taken from an interview Haqqani gave a few months ago in which he makes several very good points about the Kashmir crisis and how the war between right wing ideologies in both India and Pakistan make this crisis and all other regional crises worse.

Haqqani says that he considers himself a ‘pragmatic moderate’ and notes that ‘solving disputes first and then becoming friends is always more difficult than becoming friends first and then solving disputes’. However we continue to demand that relations can only improve once all disputes are solved. We are putting the cart before the horse.

Despite the failure of our strategy till date, we still have so-called ‘experts’ saying that the way forward is just doing more of the same. As we debate and discuss about enemy narratives and diplomatic offensives, something Haqqani said about his own pragmatic moderation: ‘This is not about winning the argument, this is about winning the peace’. We should ask ourselves whether we are more interested in winning the argument.