This Blog provides an insight on the Kashmir-issue, India and Pakistan. The articles on this Blog can be best described as thought-provoking. The articles thrive to trigger debate about the miseries enslaved Kashmiris are facing and discuss also possible solutions to this long standing conflict. It also aims to convince readers why Independent Kashmir is the best solution for all parties involved.


Afghan Jehad a moment of introspection for Kashmiris

The story of misfortune of Afghanistan began in 1979 when Babrak Karmal, under an agreement with the leadership of Soviet Union, called the Russian troops into Afghanistan. Following this, the independence - loving people of Afghanistan revolted against the incursionists and the ruler who had come to power through a coup. The Afghans took up arms to defend their national freedom. Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic country and these nationalities rose against Russian military presence in their land. However, Khalq and Parcham parties calling the revolt against President Daud Khan as a revolution, supported the Russian troops in Afghanistan. In this way, the matters headed towards a fratricidal war in which Afghans shed the blood of Afghans. The war continued and the US, its allies and other Muslim countries started taking interest in what was brewing in Afghanistan. The motivating factor for these countries was taking the revenge of Vietnam debacle and thus CIA installed a strong network in collaboration with ISI. Aid worth billions of dollars in the shape of arms and ammunition was given to Afghan mujahideen through ISI to resist the Soviet forces. The US described this resistance as jehad saying that it was a war between the Muslims and the Kafirs or infidels.  

          Muslims were utilized against the Russians through crude interference, differences between Russia and China were also exploited to the detriment of Russia. Arms and ammunition from China flowed to the Afghan mujahideen through Pakistan. The internal story of jehad in Afghanistan has been recorded in detail by the ISI chief of Afghan Cell, Brig. Muhammad Yusuf in his book entitled The Bear trap. Writing under the title ' Role of CIA', he said," Up to 1984, 90 per cent arms were purchased from China and in 1985 from Egypt. Thereafter, consignments of arms and ammunition were purchased from Israel but this was kept a secret by the US."  Brig. Muhammad Yusuf wrote that keeping the matter of purchase of ammunition from Israel a secret was only to ensure that the feelings of the Muslims were not hurt otherwise for ammunition experts it should not be difficult to identify the manufacturer. The Bear trap was jointly written by Brig. Yusuf and Major Marc Edcan and was translated by Jung publishers into Urdu under the title Shikast-e-Roos. It provides valuable information on what happened in Afghanistan.  

          During the Afghan war, hundreds of thousands of Afghans became refugees and thousands of them were working in Russia. This war was given the name of Jehad by the leaders and warlords who were killing Muslims, civilians , soldiers and commanders in the name of Islam. In the chapter under the title 'Mutual civil war', Brig.Yusuf writes, " in 1989, Islamic court of Jamaat-e-Islami  (Rabbani) hanged mujahideen of Hikmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami activists in public. These hangings were the result of a civil war among Afghan commanders.  In 1989, thirty-six men, including seven prominent commanders of Ahmad Shah Masood were killed by Hizb-e-Islami (Hikmatyar). The religious leaders patched up their differences and took an oath upon the holy Qur'an. But this agreement did not last long."  A hind sight of Afghan happenings shows that the people involved in jehad were actually killing one another.  In 1987, Hekmatyar's armed bands cut off the hands and feet of Ahmad Shah Masood's men and then slaughtered them in cold blood.  

            In 1989, the mujahideen attacked Jalalabad where nearly 15,000 persons were killed. According to a conservative estimate nearly a million people were killed during the jehad. Add to it the vast destruction of Afghan cities and towns and her infrastructure. It is incalculable. To state that the Russians were defeated and that they suffered a heavy loss in Afghanistan, is far from being the truth. The Russian commanders were highly professional and they withdrew from Afghanistan in a planned manner in which they suffered the minimum loss. To think that the Russians left Afghanistan because of mujahideen, is not the truth.  After the exit of the Russians, the mujahideen could not dislodge Najibullah regime for two and a half years. Russians decided to leave Afghanistan because they found that a civil war, a fratricidal war was developing in that country. Various organizations were at logger heads. These organizations and groups had come into existence when General Dostum, a commander under Dr. Najibullah decided to rise in revolt against the President. In collaboration with General Ahmad Shah Masood, he removed Dr. Najibullah from the seat of power and forced him to seek shelter in the headquarters of the United Nations in Kabul.     

          The exiled government comprising seven factions captured power and Gen. Dostum was instrumental in that. Ahmad Shah Masood became the Defence Minister while Prof. Burhanud - Din Rabbani was declared the new President. Hekmatyar was made Prime Minister. This was the new arrangement but Hekmatyar, the Prime Minister, could not enter to Kabul because of renewed fighting among the soldiers of the three commanders. Hekmatyar's condition was that he would accept the cease-fire only when General Dostum's forces had withdrawn from Kabul because he (Dostum) had fought against the mujahideen and supported the Russians, But then in December 1995, Hekmatyar aligned with the same Dostum and fought against Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Masood. Is this Islam and should this be called jehad where commanders take an oath upon the holy book and then break it in order to carry out their selfish agenda?  

          Dostum was absolved of his supporting the Soviets and fighting against the mujahideen. It is because of so-called champions of Islam like him and others who have turned Afghanistan into ruins. What is happening in Kabul and in Afghanistan today is well known to every body except my compatriots in Kashmir. There are a few emotional persons in Kashmir who are lionizing the Afghans from having thrown out the Soviets. They are dreaming that like these mujahideen they will also hoist the flag of victory in Kashmir. Before I proceed to recount what the International League for Human Rights has said on the bloodshed in Afghanistan after the removal of Dr. Najibullah, let me remind my readers that in April 1993, Nawaz Sharif government and the Saudi Prince had got an agreement signed by the leaders of all parties of Afghanistan. It stipulated a cease-fire, unity and reconciliation. The agreement was signed immediately after these leaders had performed 'umrah' in the Mecca. Hardly had the ink dried on the agreement sheet when the 'Islamic leaders' of Afghanistan returned to war path. They forgot umrah as they had forgotten taking oath upon the holy book earlier. Yet we call their action a jehad, Jehad against whom? A Muslim fighting a Muslim and a Muslim killing a Muslim. Afghanistan has turned into an Islamic country where the President, the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister are bombarding their own cities and towns, killing their own people, destroying their own property and all this in the name of Islam. The world media is highlighting these activities day in and day out. 

         According to the reports of International Relief Workers and Journalists, " during the first eight months, after the ouster of Najibullah Khan, 75,000 civilians were wounded while 12,000 were killed because of infighting among mujahideen. Southern and South-Western parts of Kabul were badly affected. Residential areas were targeted and hospitals, schools, public places, bazaars and mosques were also destroyed. International League for Human Rights in its report of March 1994 said," throughout much of the 1979 - 89, Red Army occupation, Kabul was spared the wrath and devastation of war. But since the arrival of the mujahideen, however, Kabul has suffered far more damage and casualties than during the entire Soviet - Afghan war. By mid summer 1993, entire street sections had been completely destroyed and once boisterous residential areas turned into shattered and looted ghost towns."  This report further states that since 1994, Kabul has once again taken the full brunt of war Afghan political groups change their loyalties and alliances time and again. One day they are involved in fighting and on the next day they make alliances with their enemy and then fight with their ally of yesterday. When renewed fighting sparked off in Kabul on January 1, 1994, new alliances emerged. Hekmatyar made alliance with the Uzbek militia chief Gen. Rashid Dostum and is fighting against President Burhanud - Din Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Masood while in the past Gen Dostum was the strongest supporter of the government of Rabbani. Dostum is not only unpopular but his forces are responsible for the most of the bloodshed, kidnaping and molestation. Hekmatyar had differences with President Rabbani because of Gen. Dostum's past history. How come that there was now reversal of everything?  

          According to the report of the International Red Cross, in the first six weeks of 1994, over 900 people were killed while 10,500 were wounded. This number can be higher and the people only allege that all fighting commanders (jangi sardars) are fighting for power and material gains at the cost of the life and proper of their own people. The report quotes Ahmad Shah Masood saying," It is impossible for the government to control the armed gangs. These people are responsible for thefts, burglaries and molestation. And in my opinion, Soviet Union had quit Afghanistan two years earlier when mujahideen were incapable of  discharging the responsibilities of governance. International Red Cross and also the people of Afghanistan are of the opinion that restoration of peace in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan is impossible until total destruction of any one of the main groups or complete and total exhaustion of stockpiles of arms and ammunition. The report blames Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia for escalation of war by encouraging commanders of their respective choice. The report quotes a common man and a common woman in Kabul saying respectively, " We fought the war for freedom from the Russians but our so-called leaders are fighting for power and material gains. I was injured only because I was asked to assist the murderers who were killing our own people on roads, and I do not want to live in Kabul where beasts have become the kings."  

          According to International Red Cross, the number of refugees from the war-torn areas during the on-going civil war has reached 1.5 million.  In February 1994, these fighting commanders did not shown any respect to the requests of the International Red Cross and the UN to bring food supplies to the starving 50,000 people of the town and the refugees who were fleeing for safety. These fugitives were stopped in the way, looted of their money and their women molested.  In 1993, a container filled with dead bodies of women was found in the Pushtoon area of Kabul. These women were first raped and then brutally murdered. Prof. Felix of the UN writes in his report" that in Afghanistan, men have automatic rifles and the children have rocket launchers.  But the women have not been provided with arms and only the men are fighting for power while the women are struggling for living their normal life". Referring to a fetwa (religious decree) issued jointly by the ulema, the report says" that girls cannot go to school because they will misuse the education received in there. If the girls know reading and writing, they will write letters to those people with whom they want to make friendship." 

          It should not be difficult to understand that the US used Afghans against Russia and in the process Afghanistan came to its ruination. When the Soviets left Afghanistan, the US also turned its head away from Afghanistan. According to one Afghan the Americans first destroyed Afghanistan by excessive aid and now by stopping all aid. Today in Afghanistan houses, streets, gardens, schools, hospitals, mosques, museums and everything have met with destruction; this being far greater than what was suffered during the war with the Soviets. And all this destruction is being done in the name of Islam. Where does Islam permit to take up arms against aged men, women, children or wounded persons? 

          The so-called Islamic war fought in Afghanistan is now being thrust upon Kashmir by the religious extremists on the same pattern as in Afghanistan.  After razing  Afghanistan to the ground, the Afghan, Sudanese and other 'mujahids' are now despatched to Kashmir where the situation is heading towards a civil war. Hizbul Mujahideen and Jamaat-e-Islami are leading this civil war because they fight against Al - Burq, Al - Jehad and Al - Mujahid despite the fact that the ideology of all these groups is the same and that is accession to Pakistan or Islamic system. Hizbul Mujahideen brutally killed the youth who subscribed to the organizations with the ideology of independent Kashmir. Malik Maqbool was kidnapped and tortured for five days. His eyes were gouged out, his beard burnt and his dead body was thrown on the roadside. In the same way, Mr.Idres was also killed. Generally Kashmiris are of the opinion that Dr. Guru, Maulana Masu'di and Maulavi Farooq were also martyred by the fundamentalists. It is a different matter that the people have maintained silence knowing to the fear of the gun. But despite that , local newspapers in Kashmir receive innumerable appeals and letters day in day out addressed to the heads of militant groups saying that near and dear ones have been kidnapped by their activists. Even the instances of rape of kidnapped women are also brought to the notice of the press. A militant named Jamshid set ablaze an educational institution named Islamia College and some smaller bridges over the river or the nullahs across the valley.  

          Apart from this, the war of so-called Islamic system launched by the militant groups in the name of national freedom has deprived Kashmiri people of international support to their cause. It will be reminded that during the Afghan war, the ISI created Afghan press agency      and made propaganda of killing one hundred Russians against one Afghan in the course of the war. In the same manner propaganda is made that 30 Indian soldiers are being killed against one Kashmiri though the truth is that 20 to 30 Kashmiris are being killed against one Indian soldier. If this rate of killing continues, Kashmir will be depleted of its youth population in next five years. Those who describe the war of independence of Kashmir as an Islamic war like the Afghan war, forget that the war in Afghanistan was fought by the USA, western countries, France, Germany, UK and the Muslim countries against Russia. All kinds of arms, ammunition and other material aid was provided to Afghans. In addition,the western media lent tremendous moral support to the mujahideen in order to demoralize the Soviet forces on the field in Afghanistan. Apart from the actual battlefield, the war was fought at all international fora including the UN. The requirements of 40 lakh Afghan refugees were met by the western powers and their Asian allies. But notwithstanding all this material, moral and logistic support, the outcome of Afghan war was nothing but destruction of that country at the hands of its own people. Should the Afghan war be anything for Kashmiris to emulate?       

           The militant organizations in Kashmir call their struggle a religious war whereas it should have been a national freedom movement of the five units of original J&K State. They want to bring destruction in the subcontinent for which no country in the world is willing to lend them its support. Even the Muslim countries do not consider it a war between Islam and kufr (infidelity). Neither the UN nor any other international body is involved in this issue. Despite massive human rights violations by the Indian security forces, the resolution tabled by Pakistan against India at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva could not get more than three votes with the result that Pakistan had to eat the humble pie. Religious groups and the militant leadership in Kashmir thought that the Kashmir struggle be given Afghan colour and called a jehad.  But they easily forgot that the war in Afghanistan was in fact being fought between the US and the Soviet Union whereas in Kashmir, the issue had been presented before the international community as a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. Even if we accept for a while that Pakistan succeeded in internationalizing Kashmir issue, then the truth is that international opinion has not gone in favour of Pakistan in any case. Instead of repeating the experiment of Afghanistan in J&K, it would be better if all the organizations adopted a unified stand and launched the struggle for peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue through tripartite dialogue. Kashmiri people should raise their voice against false fetwas (religious decrees) issued by murderers, kidnappers and extortionists with vested interest.

          The fighting groups in Kashmir including the security forces should remember that the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949 categorically states," Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces, who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detentions or due to any other cause, shall in all circumstances, be treated humanely without adverse distinction for nation or race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and at any place whatsoever with respect to the above mentioned persons: (a) violence to life and persons, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture (b) taking of hostages © outrage upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment and (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable for civilized people." 

         Indian security forces, unfortunately, have not been either trained in a manner as to realize their responsibility of upholding the human rights of the people even in a state of turmoil or that they intentionally ignore it. Aged persons and children have been arrested or kidnapped and tortured. What justification can be there for Bejbehara carnage? All these incidents contravene the Geneva Convention to which India is a signatory. 

          For last five years, I have been highlighting various dimensions of armed struggle in Kashmir particularly the religious and communal colour which is being given to it as in Afghanistan. It has to be understood that with the armed men from Afghanistan, Sudan and other Islamic countries being despatched to Kashmir to fight the Indian security forces there has only supported the case of India at international platforms. India is making a common cause with Egypt, Algeria and other Islamic countries faced with the rising crescendo of Islamic fundamentalism. The explosion caused at the World Trade Centre in New York has also been attributed to Islamic fundamentalist - terrorist machinations. According to western diplomats, it is said that during the talks between the Indian authorities and the US Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Talbott, it was emphasized that when the US considered war against religious fundamentalism in Egypt, Algeria, Israel, Iran and Sudan as genuine, and even extended support to it, why then was not the same importance given to Indian security forces fighting religious extremism in Kashmir? It is reported that a plethora of proofs of religious parties in Kashmir supporting annexation by Pakistan were placed before Mr.Talbott. This forced both Mr.Talbott and Robin Raphel to change their views on Kashmir.   

          It is of utmost importance that the truth is not made a casualty while addressing the Kashmir problem.  Pakistan, for example, has already learnt a lesson for not speaking the truth. The lesson is the breaking of Pakistan in 1971 and creation of Bangladesh. At that time, the President of Pakistan had, in his address to the nation, said that Pakistan would fight the war for a thousand years. Three hours later Pakistan army surrendered in East Pakistan. India went on listening to the lies of opportunists, selfish politicians and sycophants from Kashmir and suppressed the aspirations of Kashmiris only to serve some short term interests. On their part, Kashmiris have also seen the result of false promises and propaganda of their so-called well wishers of getting Kashmir liberated within six months.

The time has come when Kashmiris should stop believing in false propaganda. The time has come when the people speaking out the truth can no more be persecuted, threatened and intimidated. In Afghanistan, Hekmatyar could not tolerate when courageous people spoke out the truth. Dozens of nationalist Afghans were killed by his hired persons in the streets of Peshawar and their cases are still pending before the Commissioner for Afghanistan in Peshawar. Kashmiris have been secular minded people showing respect to all religions. They have had great respect for their saints and sufis who taught humanism
           The Afghan brand of Islam in which armed groups kill their own people and destroy their own tradition and cultural symbols will not be acceptable to Kashmiris. A Kashmiri mother whose son was martyred in Afghanistan in the name of jehad, poignantly said," If Hizbe-e-Islami of Hekmatyar and Burhanud - Din Rabbani considered shedding of blood as justified in the name of Islam, then why and for what was my son martyred? "  On January 10, 1994 Hekmatyar's and Dostum's bombers pounded the old and historical Blue Mosque of Kabul. Pul-e-Kheshti  mosque was also destroyed in the course of bombardment and 400 persons were killed in this attack " (Dawn of Karachi, January 11, 1994). Kashmiris should learn a lesson from these happenings in Afghanistan and not go on lionizing the mujahideen and their warlords as their deliverers. After Pakistan's debacle in Geneva on the question of a resolution against India, Kashmiris should think of resolving the tangle through a dialogue only. I conclude this write up with two sayings attributed to Hazrat Omar ibn Khattab:

(a) one who dominates through militancy is not a dominator but a dominated one, (b) one who succeeds through unfair means is not successful but a failure. The standard of anyone being reliable can be assessed by the fairness of his dealings with others and not by the number of prayers (namaz) offered by him.                                         

( 07.05.1994 )

          This article was written in 1994 when Burhanud - Din Rabbani headed the government in Kabul. But the government changed after some time and a new factor emerged on Afghan political scene namely the Taliban. However, as destiny would have it, this did not change the madness for a fratricide and a genocide in that country. The process of subjugating the people, suppressing the women and making them the target of male dictatorship or turning Afghanistan into a vast ruin has not been reversed. Of course what is changing are  the loyalties; today Dostum is with Hekmatyar and tomorrow he is with Ahmad Shah Masu'd: his joining Taliban on a fine morning may not be ruled out. All this changing scenario should increase the utility of my article for Kashmiris. The killings and destruction brought to the people and the land during last two years by these warlords have been brought exclusively in the name of Islam - the religion of peace, tolerance and amity. When we happen to meet an Afghan anywhere, he has no hesitation in saying that  the period of Najibullah and of the Russians was the best period for Afghanistan. 

          Now Taliban have established their control on Kabul and a large part of Afghanistan. Unfortunately it has presented Islam as a retrograde and tribal system with all the characteristics of a backward society. Naturally this is a big challenge for the renowned and serious scholars of Islamic studies worldwide. They dragged out Dr. Najibullah and his brother from the UN premises in Kabul where they had sought refuge, hanged them in a public place and let their dead bodies remain there for four days. We ask what kind of Islam is this? In Algeria, innocent children are murdered in the name of Islam. Women and young people are dragged out of their homes and then murdered in cold blood in the name of Islam. In Afghanistan women have been debarred from working at places outside their homes and the doors of education and training have been closed on them. All this is done in the name of Islam. Does not this put a big question mark on Islam and the entire Muslim world?. 

          Religious groups in Kashmir and those fighting in the name of religion also want us to be introduced to the fundamentalist Islam of Algerian, Afghan and Jamaat-e-Islami orientation. This Islam prompts its adherents to one another's murder, burning of school  and college buildings and bridges, taking innocent foreign tourists as hostages or beheading them and kill one's own kith and kiln in a barbaric manner in case of a difference of opinion as shown by the examples of Qazi Nisar and Malik Maqbool. Is this the Islam brought by  the prophet in Arabia? It cannot be in any case. The Islam brought by him is of protection of humanism. He even pardoned Hindah, the wife of Abu Sufyan who had ripped open the  chest of Hazrat Hamza (Prophet's uncle) and torn away his heart. Hazrat Ali felled his adversary and jumped on his body to kill him. His victim then spat at him which prompted Hazrat Ali to change his mind and let him go. When asked about this strange behaviour, Hazrat Ali said that his adversary's behaviour had aroused the sentiment of personal  enmity and anger in him. Had he killed him under that impulse, he would be a criminal before God. This was the level of training Hazrat Ali had received in the school of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).  

          Let has have a look at the deeds of those who claim to be the Islamic missionaries:  let us look at those who claim that through armed struggle they were going to change the course of history. The harsh reality is that they have given nothing to the society except killing, loot and destruction. To Islam they have rendered only disservice. This write up, therefore, invites those who have unleashed murder and arson in the name of Islam and those who have initiated what they call a religious war (jehad) in Kashmir and in particular the common people in Kashmir to make some introspection. It invites them to adequate reaction to the questions that have been raised. The time has come when the people of Kashmir should divert their energies towards the amelioration of the lot of millions of people and the humanity at large so that the hurdles and difficulties in the path of our future generations are removed and a prosperous, free and vibrant social order is provided.  

          The Taliban have attempted to show up the face of Islam to the common people in Afghanistan through the use of brute force. Even ordinary people who have faith in Islam would like to lament on the thinking and approach of Taliban. News emanating from Kabul say that the Taliban have imposed a ban on women going to schools and colleges and universities. A baker was imposed eight day's imprisonment and a sound thrashing for selling bread to a woman.  People were dragged on the road for not keeping beard. A tailor was punished for taking the measurement of a woman. As we stand on the threshold of 21st century, is this the picture of Islam we are going to present to the people in Kashmir dispassionately ?.  
                                                              Diemen, July 20, 1997