By Shishir Gupta
Jan 20, 2020
The withdrawal of the erstwhile Soviet Union from Afghanistan in 1989 spelt doom for the Pandits in the Kashmir Valley, with pan-Islamic jihadists switching their focus from Kabul to Kashmir at the direction of their handlers in Pakistan.
Interestingly, 30 years after the tragic exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley, the jihadists have now given way to non-state actors, yet again out to grab Kabul. This time, it is the US which is walking away from a nation that is still in crisis, Afghanistan, by striking a deal with the Taliban, whose leadership prospers across the Durand Line. In a sense, it is all back to square one as the motherlode of jihad remains largely untouched in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The rise of jihad in the Valley was also due to the weak regimes of VP Singh and Chandrashekhar with fractured politics in Delhi ensuring that the Centre became a bystander in the Valley. This time, there is a strong Centre, but it is clear that things could take a turn for the worse even now.
The main threat to India comes from pan-Islamic jihadist groups based in Pakistan with its deep state treating them as strategic assets to hurt New Delhi. It is now an established fact that Rawalpindi GHQ provides financial, logistic and tactical support to global terror groups such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Al Badr in order to target India. Despite the Asia-Pacific chapter of FATF giving a scathing report on Pakistan’s action against terrorism, it is quite evident that Islamabad will continue to be in the Grey List with its all-weather ally China at the helm of FATF.
China has tried to raise Kashmir thrice in UNSC and tried to help Pakistan designate six Indian nationals as global terrorists. Apart from ultra conservative Sunni terror groups, Pakistan houses remnants of the Indian Mujahideen, a demon child of ISI using home grown jihadists, global terrorists such as Dawood Ibrahim and virtually the entire pro-Khalistani brigade. A Khalistani Zindabad Force (KZF) module headed by Germany-based operative Gurmeet Singh Bagga is now being used to send arms across the Radcliffe Line through drones.
All these groups are being funded through narcotics from Afghanistan with recent seizures of 750 kilogram of heroin (worth ~750 crore) along the coasts of Maldives and Sri Lanka being traced back to Pakistani operatives.
The worsening security situation in Afghanistan also impacts Indian security with Al Qaeda continuing to assist Taliban in its campaign against Afghan security forces. Add to this, the Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISPK), operating around the Khyber pass area.
While Bangladesh under Sheikh Hasina has taken strong action against terror groups, IS affiliated IS-BD also known as Neo Jamaatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB) and Al Qaida affiliated Ansarullah Bangla Team have been active on India’s eastern front. These groups are radicalising young people to target minority communities in Bangladesh, just as Pakistani deep state is fishing within the Rohingya community using its sword arm Lashkar-e-Taiba . The JMB is not only active in Bangladesh but has spread roots to West Bengal and the North-east.
The April 2019 serial suicide bombings in Sri Lanka indicates the presence of highly radicalised IS followers in the Island nation. Intelligence inputs indicate that the growing radicalisation of Muslims, especially along the country’s northern and eastern provinces, may be exploited by Pakistan-based groups and foreign fighters.
In Maldives, radical groups such as Jamaiytul Salaf have spread their roots across several atolls. Nearly 200 Maldivians who travelled to the Syria-Iraq theatre are now back in the littoral state and will pose a security challenge.
While Communist Nepal has settled from the security perspective, it has become a playing ground for both Chinese and Pakistani intelligence. The Himalayan kingdom is used these days for pumping in fake currency to destabilise India at the behest of Pakistan.
It is clear that India has to be better prepared than it was 30 years ago.
Original Headline: India needs to stand guard as US leaves Afghanistan
Source: The Hindustan Times