By Tufail Ahmad, New Age Islam
16 September 2016
On September 13, the first day of Eid Al-Azha, major mosques were shut down in Kashmir. Amid the continued rioting, 78 lives were lost and a thousand people were injured over past two months. In present times, nations are invaded by ideas emerging from internal and external sources. There are two recent examples of this argument. One, Syrian refugees arriving in Europe have practically invaded local cultures, disturbing the rule of law in European countries. Two, in India television debates about pellets guns have emerged as more powerful than bullets, thereby posing a threat to peace in Kashmir. The tragedy of the Indian mind is that, in responding to the war in Kashmir created by the Pakistani-jihadi mind – it is seeking a political solution.
In this context, discussed below are some difficult ways to resolve the Kashmir issue but first look at a brief history of the conflict. At the Partition in 1947, Jammu & Kashmir was an autonomous state ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh. The newly created Pakistan invaded the princely state in October 1947. Hari Singh could not fight and sought military help from India. Lord Mountbatten who was the governor general of free India initially refused to send military aid. However, Indian troops arrived in Kashmir after Hari Singh signed an Instrument of Accession to India. At that time Pakistanis, who included jihadi fighters from the Pakistani tribal region, were seen as invaders by local Kashmiris who joined hands with Indian troops to fight against them.
Against the advice of Indian military generals, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru took the issue to the United Nations Security Council which passed, among others, the Resolution 47 of April 21, 1948. As per the resolution, the first step was for Pakistan to withdraw all its troops from Jammu & Kashmir. The second step was for India to progressively reduce its forces after it was established by the UN that Pakistani troops were withdrawn. The third step was to hold a plebiscite. Since Pakistan was seen then by Kashmiris as an invader state, it did not like the idea of a plebiscite and did not fulfil the first step of withdrawing troops. Consequently, the second and third steps did not materialise. Also, Resolution 47 is contained in Chapter VI of the UN Charter which is not binding.
And, the Kashmir conflict has a typical Islamic lineage. As per Islamic teachings, Islam protects non-Muslim minorities living in an Islamic state. However, it does so only when non-Muslim minorities accept to live as Dhimmis (second class citizens) and pay Jizya, which is a tax on non-Muslims. However, this is not merely a tax in neutral terms. This is essentially a religious tax which must be paid by non-Muslims to get their life protected by an Islamic ruler, which means that a non-Muslim must pay Jizya to buy a right to life and renew it every year. It means that Islam is not merely a religion, but also an ideology of power.
While there are cases where the majority non-Muslims have lived under Muslim rulers, generally speaking Islam's followers, when they are in a majority, do not accept non-Muslims as rulers. For example, the Pakistani Constitution expressly bars non-Muslim Pakistani citizens from becoming head of the state because Islam does not foresee any possibility in which a non-Muslim can be the head of a Muslim state. In Kashmir, the majority non-Muslims accepted Muslim rulers, notably when Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir in 1339 CE, starting the Salatin-e-Kashmir dynasty. But now non-Muslims are expelled from Kashmir.
So, now that Muslims are in the majority in Kashmir it is unacceptable to them that they can live under Hindu-Indian rule. While there is an exception to this argument given the fact that the majority Muslims lived under Hindu King Maharaja Hari Singh, the Islamic idea of non-Muslims being second-class Dhimmi sand unacceptable as rulers was indeed radicalised at the end of the 1980s when the Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which had emerged victorious in Afghanistan, introduced a copy-cat jihadi war in Kashmir. Since then, Kashmir has become a battleground of Pakistan-backed jihadi war. India must not allow the creation of a mini-Pakistan in Kashmir.
In 2010, Dukhtaran-e-Millat leader Asiya Andrabi justified the Kashmir war as a jihad saying: "My perception is that… (the protests) might intensify during Ramzan. Ramzan is the month of jihad. The first war against the infidels happened on the… (17th) day of Ramzan" – a reference to the Battle of Badr, Islam's first war led by Prophet Muhammad against infidels. In 2010, Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Hurriyat Conference described the Kashmir war as "a religious issue" and noted that "Islam teaches that Muslims must follow the guidance of Islam in every action of theirs – not just in prayers but also in matters such as war." In 2008, Geelani said: "Osama (bin Laden) has come only during the last few years. People like me have been fighting for this all our lives."
It is time for India to recognise the nature of the Pakistan-backed jihad in Kashmir and consider some options. One, the roots of Kashmir jihad are inside Pakistan. We learnt from the Cold War that internal movements of enemy countries can be successfully sponsored by external powers. As a result of such a Western policy, the nuclear super power Soviet Union broke up. India must try to break up Pakistan from within through non-nuclear means. Two, moderate leaders in Kashmir must be strengthened, argues Sanjay Kumar, who has worked in conflict situations involving Kashmiris, Maoists and Ranbir Sena as part of peace initiatives by the Art of Living Foundation. He notes that during the recent visit of the all-party delegation, moderate religious leaders of Kashmir like Ghulam Rasool Hami were not allowed to meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Three, there are constituencies of people who have a share in Kashmir's future. Sanjay Kumar says that a large number of ex-militants can be engaged in a process of dialogue through mediation by neutral spiritual leaders such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He also says that thousands of educated Kashmiri women are forced to remain unmarried because there are no suitable boys. These women can be brought in a conference as part of the political process because their life's priorities are different. Even today Kashmiri youths including children of secessionist leaders look to join the Indian civil service, Sanjay Kumar points out. Four, the elected governments in Jammu & Kashmir have not worked enough to build local democratic institutions. The last rounds of Panchayat elections did not succeed due to threats from Pakistan-sponsored Jihadis. Yet, this process must be encouraged by increasing women's seats in Panchayats to 50 percent. Because the nature of jihad is anti-women, it is essential to bring women to the front of politics in Kashmir.
Five, India must cease talking to pro-Pakistan secessionist leaders. Various factions of the Hurriyat Conference are essentially the long arm of the ISI. Their leaders should be facing sedition charges, not invited for dialogue. For the secessionists and Islamists, dialogue is a bridge they think they can walk over. However, there is a need for involving the elected members of the Jammu & Kashmir legislative assembly, who are the only authentic representatives of the Kashmiris, in a continuing series of talks with local groups as well as with the central government. Know the nature of this enemy: it is always prepared to fight, whether in Ramzan or on Eid Al-Azha.
Former BBC journalist Tufail Ahmad is executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. He is the author of "Jihadist Threat to India – The Case for Islamic Reformation by an Indian Muslim." He tweets @tufailelif
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