T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Inaugural Edition

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

May 2002

 

I N S I D E

Spotlight    Chalmers Johnson

Editorial

Special Report Sundeep Waslekar Ilmas Futehally

Fundamentals Jagan Kaul

Book Review Romeet Watt

InsideTrack          Dr Subash Kapila

Himalayan Blunder              Romeet Watt

In Black & White An Assessment

Statecraft             S a p r a   says

Bottomline           Dr Subash Kapila


A b o u t  U s

F e e d b a c k

D i s c l a i m er

C o p y r i g h t s

 

 S T A T E C R A F T

 

Two Approaches to Terrorism

A 'friend' of the US and an Indian enemy

S a p r a  says .....


It is finally clear that the United States Administration, no matter what its officials might publicly avow, is not interested in taking on terrorism everywhere in the world. The Administration will take on terrorists only if they directly threaten US interests. This in itself is only to be expected but what is scary is the growing belief within the US establishment that even the worst of terrorists can be bought over - that its just a matter of striking the right deal. Only if money and other enticements do not prove enough will the US physically act against terrorists. A combination of money, dubious deals and threats proved more effective in Afghanistan than Tomahawk missiles and daisy cutters. The security planners in Washington DC seem to think that an all out ideological war against terrorism is a bit too much. Therefore, even a person like Pakistan's military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, is acceptable as a "friend" of the United States. He has acted like a friend because he has reined in his terrorist Islamist cowboys in Afghanistan and sold the Taliban down the river after creating, arming and sustaining them for 7 years. It does not matter that the dictator also heads one of the most dangerous Islamist machineries in the world, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). This organisation has been systematically Islamicised since the late 1970s when the country was ruled by another military dictator, General Zia ul Haq, who believed that the only way Pakistan could survive was by re-affirming its Islamic identity. During the Soviet Afghan war, the ISI systematically channelled arms and money to Islamist groups fighting in Afghanistan and starved moderates and secularists.

 

Within Pakistan, the ISI promoted domestic Islamists who ended up doing excellent work for the country by creating the Taliban in 1994. Domestic Islamist parties have become so much a part of the Pakistani polity that most people in that country find their presence and preaching perfectly acceptable. Using the Islamists has become an acceptable instrument of foreign policy by the Pakistani leadership. In Afghanistan, the Pakistani "hand" had been obvious for many years now. Pakistani regular army soldiers and officers had been fighting along sides the Taliban to achieve key military victories after the Taliban proved incapable of fighting in a disciplined and effective manner. Pakistani military and intelligence officers have been "guiding" the Taliban ever since its inception in late 1994. In many ways, Pakistan had become the de facto ruler of Afghanistan and this rule was enforced by a coalition of terrorists - the Taliban, Al Qaida and the ISI. The US only partially took on this terrorist grouping. The specific US target was the non-Afghan (principally Arab) terrorists operating in Afghanistan. Hundreds of them were systematically killed in Qilla Jhangvi along with many Pakistanis who were caught in their midst. The bulk of ISI and Pakistani military personnel were, however, allowed to escape to Pakistan. At one time, the US even allowed Pakistan to conduct an airlift from Kunduz where Pakistani army regulars fighting alongside the Taliban were trapped. Most Afghan chieftains were either bribed or bullied into submission. The Taliban, without support from its mentor Pakistan, collapsed without a fight and its top leaders disappeared into the woodwork.

 

General Musharraf was publicly congratulated for all this. He was also told that he could continue with his terrorist activities elsewhere. After all, the terrorists taken out of Afghanistan needed to be employed elsewhere and, more importantly, Musharraf needed to survive. If the US wanted their friend to continue ruling Pakistan and cracking down on "bad" terrorists, he needed to use "good" terrorists elsewhere. The other part of the world where Pakistan's ISI has been working actively with Islamist terrorists is the state of Jammu & kashmir in India. General Musharraf, in a key address on terrorism on 12 January 2002, claimed that Kashmir was in the blood of Pakistanis and would never be abandoned. In other words, the General made it clear that his country's terrorism in Kashmir, and against India, would continue. How did the US react to all this? They looked a little uncomfortable and them hummed something about the need for India and Pakistan to talk like gentlemen and sort out things. The Indian reaction was one of mounting disbelief. Then, General Musharraf visited the United States and returned sounding cockier still. He even claimed that the attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001 was not a terrorist attack. "Where is the proof, I haven't been given any evidence", the General declared. He also refused to extradite the 20 terrorists wanted by the Indian government who have been given shelter in Pakistan. These high profile terrorists are being protected by the ISI. Their names have been changed and most have Pakistani passports. One such terrorist is Dawood Ibrahim, the mastermind of the 1993 bomb blasts that killed hundreds in the Indian city of Mumbai. The Pakistani media has written extensively on Ibrahim's current avatar as a guest of the Pakistan government. Ibrahim lives in Karachi and travels often to the Middle East to keep his mafia and terror empire functioning. The other terrorists wanted by India are openly engaged in various Islamist activities like raising funds for the Jihad or organising hate rallies against India. US officials know all this and what Pakistan is doing in Kashmir but do not care. This is not "their terrorism", that is Pakistan's and India's concern. Clearly there are two approaches to terrorism.

 

A qualified approach to terrorism will not work, not now and not in the long run. Terrorism does not discriminate and what is "their" terrorism today could well become "our" terrorism tomorrow. The tragic case of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is a direct consequence of the anti-India terrorism nurtured by the ISI. At first, General Musharraf claimed that Pearl's abduction was the handiwork of India's intelligence agencies. Subsequently, the Pakistani police picked up a well known Islamist terrorist Omar Sheikh for Pearl's abduction. Sheikh, a former student of the London School of Economics and a British citizen by birth, admitted to the abduction. Omar Sheikh is well known in India's intelligence circles. He had come to fight the Jihad in Kashmir and thereafter was put to work in the Islamist cells that targeted foreigners in India. He carried out an extremely successful abduction in India but was ultimately caught. In his confessions he admitted to a hatred for white skinned foreigners. He would have spent the rest of his life in Indian jails had it not been for the ISI that planned, through its Kathmandu office, a brilliant plan to hijack an Indian Airlines plane. ISI trained terrorists were brought to Kathmandu and put on the Kathmandu flight. The flight ended up in the Taliban headquarters of Kandahar in Afghanistan. One passenger was knifed to death and the Indian government eventually freed three top terrorists who drove into the sunset cheered on by the Taliban. All three terrorists drove straight to Pakistan where they ostensibly disappeared. At least one of them, Masood Azhar, the chief of the Jaish e Mohammad, openly toured Pakistan, recounting his miraculous escape and how he had taught the Indian infidels a lesson. Azhar continued to be protected by the ISI. The other released terrorist continued to do what they were best at. Omar Sheikh got itchy fingers and abducted Pearl. Sheikh is in police custody but there are thousands of other Islamist terrorists in Pakistan and India silently waging a terrorist war against India. Terrorists kill an average of two Indians every day. Their latest outrage was in the state of Jammu & Kashmir [17 February 2002] where terrorist shot dead 8 men, women and children. The youngest of those killed was a one and a half year old child. They were killed because they were Hindus. All this is indeed India's problem and not that of the United States'. But if the US genuinely seeks a peaceful world it better choose better friends.


S a p r a is an acronym for Security & Political Risk Analysis, an eminent Indian think-tank.

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