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SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 2, No. 8, September 8, 2003

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal



ASSESSMENT

INDIA

J&K: The Hurriyat Splits
Kanchan Lakshman
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management; Assistant Editor, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict & Resolution

Internal fissures within All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), the main overground secessionist syndicate in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), culminated in a formal split on September 7, 2003, with at least 12 of its 25 constituents 'removing' Chairman Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari and 'replacing' him with Massarat Alam as its interim chief. The dissenters reportedly met at the residence of hardliner and pro-Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and decided to depose Ansari and 'suspend' the seven-member executive committee, the highest decision-making forum of the APHC. A five-member committee has been formed to review the Hurriyat's constitution and suggest amendments to reverse what the dissenters perceive as 'autocratic' decisions taken by the executive committee.

The schism is a culmination of the war of attrition between the 'moderate' faction led by Ansari and the hard line group led by Geelani, with the latter seen as implacably committed to a pro-Pakistan position. Geelani, in recent times, has campaigned for the expulsion of the pro-dialogue Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference (JKPC) from the Hurriyat. JKPC leader Abdul Gani Lone had been assassinated by two unidentified terrorists at the Eidgah grounds in Srinagar on May 21, 2002. Some JKPC leaders later participated in the State Legislative Assembly elections held in September-October 2002 although Lone's son, Sajjad Lone, has consistently maintained that those who contested the elections were doing so 'in their own capacity' and not with the party's accredition. The issue also led to the JeI's removal of Geelani as its representative in the APHC executive council in May 2003, when he was replaced with Sheikh Ali Mohammad. During his campaign, Geelani had denounced the Hurriyat leadership for failing to provide a direction to the 'freedom struggle' in J&K.

An alliance of 25 socio-political and religious organisations, the APHC was formed in March 1993 as a political front to further the cause of Kashmiri separatism. The umbrella group has been consistently promoted by Pakistan in its quest to secure legitimacy for its territorial claims on J&K. Hurriyat's origins are traced back to the 1993 phase of the Kashmir insurgency, when the initial euphoria of the armed struggle against Indian security forces had subsided in the face of counter-terrorist operations. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), with its pro-independence ideology, had been marginalised and was being replaced by a network of Islamist terrorist groups sponsored and controlled by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) at this stage. In a parallel development, Pakistan facilitated the creation of the Hurriyat as an umbrella body for all over-ground secessionist organisations. Since the international community frowned upon the resort to violence by non-state actors, the Hurriyat was projected as a 'legitimate' platform to promote the Kashmiri secessionist cause.

The Hurriyat has long been plagued with dissension from within. For one, there are clearly defined 'hawk' and 'dove' factions, with leaders like Geelani overtly supporting terrorist violence, particularly of those outfits which espouse an orthodox Islamist future for the State. In contrast, constituents such as the JKLF have renounced violence as part of their agenda. The issue of a possible future for the State outside Indian sovereignty has also generated an internal divide, with Geelani and others openly espousing J&K's accession to Pakistan, while the JKLF demands an independent state. The issue of foreign mercenaries and Pakistan-based groups that operate without any indigenous membership or leadership has created controversies within the organization. While dissension within the Hurriyat has been fought out in public under the fašade of ideological disputes, individual ego clashes are invariably visible in the conflicting statements of warring leaders. The election for the Chairman in year 2000 heightened these personality clashes, and these have continued to simmer till date, with Geelani and the People's Conference emerging as the main protagonists. On issues, the two have clashed over the role of foreign mercenaries and over character of the conflict in the State, with the latter terming it as a political issue and Geelani calling it a 'religious issue'. The Hurriyat's claim to be the 'sole representative' of the Kashmiris has, so far, been explicitly endorsed only by Pakistan.

While the scuffle between the two factions as to who constitutes the real Hurriyat can be expected to continue, the Geelani faction will almost certainly secure the support, both of Pakistan, and of various Pakistan-based terrorist groups. Geelani has long enjoyed the unequivocal support of the Pakistan-backed terrorist groups, including the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) and Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JuM), and this is crucial. On May 27, 2003, the Pakistani paper, The News, quoted Hizb spokesperson Salim Hashmi: "The Hizb is filled with dismay over the removal of Geelani from the APHCů Attempts to sideline Geelani from the Hurriyat will not only badly affect the goodwill of the alliance but also help India accomplish its plans to de-track (sic) the liberation movement." Hashmi said that during a 'command council' meeting held at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), to discuss Geelani's replacement within the Hurriyat, Hizb 'commanders' had said that his "fearless and enthusiastic leadership enjoyed complete trust" of both Kashmiris and militants "engaged in the battlefield to overthrow Indian occupation." The JuM claimed that Geelani had been sidelined by the Hurriyat and the Jamaat-e-Islami "to win the goodwill of Indian and American leadership". Further, the Lashkar while praising Geelani's "principled stand", appealed to the Kashmiris to support him. The United Jehad Council (UJC), a conglomerate of 13 Pakistan-based terrorist outfits, in a press release from Muzaffarabad on May 26, 2003, had described Geelani as 'a staunch leader' who could neither be cowed down nor purchased by any agency. It asked the Hurriyat to address Geelani's complaints against the People's Conference, endorse his "principled and constitutional stand" and take him back in its fold. Similarly, the Muzaffarabad-based 'supreme commander' of the Hizbul Momineen, Syed Aijaz Rizvi, said that Jamaat-e-Islami had actually "committed treason with the blood of martyrs" and adopted a "hypocritical approach" in retreating from Jehad.

The schism within the Hurriyat, howsoever important it may be in the current political dynamic in J&K, is, however, not the crucial issue. The real question will be about the occupation of the secessionist space in the State, which was hitherto dominated by the Hurriyat - factional squabbles notwithstanding. Geelani was at the centerstage of this political platform, and had long argued the position that terrorist violence had given much-needed leverage to the 'freedom struggle' of the Kashmiris. He also consistently held that J&K was an integral part of Pakistan, and that India had forcibly occupied the territory. Ironically, Geelani earns a pension for his tenure as a Member of the State Legislative Assembly, which he entered after swearing allegiance to the Indian Constitution. On the other hand, the 'moderates' led by Maulana Abbas Ansari more accurately reflect the mood and inclinations of a majority of the people of Kashmir today, with a growing popular resentment against Pakistan-backed terrorists and mercenaries in the State. Nevertheless, with the Pakistan-based groups throwing their weight - and the coercive force of terrorist violence - behind Geelani, there are fears that the moderates will be systematically marginalized or, eventually, eliminated, from the secessionist political space they currently occupy.

 

ASSESSMENT

AFGHANISTAN
PAKISTAN

No Endgame in Sight
Ajai Sahni
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management

Two years after the horror and the tragedy, the events of 9/11 appear distant, and the intensity and urgency of the 'war against terror' has been diluted by a complex of compromises, of selective or misdirected responses, and by a failure to consolidate the gains that have been secured at extraordinary cost in resources, courage and sacrifice. There have, over these two years, been many victories over terrorists; yet terrorism seems no closer to defeat.

The growing disorders of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the inability of the world's democracies to arrive at a consensus on appropriate cooperative action in these theatres, are the most visible indices of the loss of direction that the world's counter-terrorism responses have suffered. Indeed, the persistent neglect of Afghanistan, and the sphere of ambivalence into which terrorism and the powers that support it in South Asia have been allowed to slide, have ceded enormous space and power to the ideologies of hate and the supporters of terrorism.

To understand how and why this has been possible in so short a space of time since the catastrophic attacks of 9/11 put the world on notice, it is useful to look back to a peculiar attitude that characterized the approach of European colonialists who overran much of Asia in the 18th and 19th Centuries. There was a common aphorism among early British colonizers: "There are no sins south of the equator." Indeed, not only in the region 'south of the equator', but through all of Asia, the colonialists applied a morality that would be considered despicable and abhorrent in their own countries, on the argument that the values of the West could not apply to the 'inferior' cultures of the East.

Ironically, the liberal democracies of the West - led by the United States of America - are guilty, in the current 'war against terror', of putting into practice a variant, precisely, of this contemptible 'moral relativism', and it is this broad orientation that underlies much of the failure to defeat the forces of terror. It is this perverse ethic that allowed the international coalition in Afghanistan to work out deals with warlords, virtually handing over large swathes of the country and much of its population, to lawless gangs, many of whom, today, repudiate the Karzai regime's authority in their areas of influence, and at least some of whom have now linked up with pro-Taliban forces, and with Islamist renegades such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami (HeI). Perhaps the most indefensible part of these deals was the Coalition's willingness to wink at drug cultivation in the country, and to permit an unprecedented poppy crop (an estimated 3,400 tonnes) in Afghanistan within the first year after the Taliban's expulsion from Kabul. Not only will a bulk of these drugs eventually retail in the streets of Western markets, it is now the Taliban and its allies who substantially control the trade and movement of the contraband crop in Afghanistan. Opium now funds anti-Karzai and extremist activity across much of Southern Afghanistan. These factors need, moreover, to be assessed against the backdrop of near-comprehensive neglect of the imperatives of the restoration of order and the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan is not that country's war alone; its outcome is crucial to the future of the entire free world. Yet, the world's commitment to this war remains abysmal. A recent CARE study compared reconstruction aid in Bosnia-Herzegovina with outlays in Afghanistan, and found that postwar international aid spent in Bosnia-Herzegovina was $326 per capita as against $42 promised for Afghans up to year 2006. Again, where there was one peacekeeping soldier for every 48 Bosnians, there was just one for every 5,380 Afghans. Bosnia constituted no appreciable international terrorist threat, but the areas of disorder in and around Afghanistan are the most significant safe-haven and breeding and training ground for the Islamist terrorists linked to, or inspired by, Osama bin Laden's malignant vision. A bulk of the 10,000 US military personnel in Afghanistan, moreover, is focused almost exclusively on the pursuit and neutralization of the Al Qaeda leadership and cadres, and has limited concern for the growing disorder that has created the spaces for the revival of the Taliban, the HeI, and the broad coalition of Islamist extremist forces in the country.

It was, again, this ethic that secured US endorsement for a rigged referendum and national election in Pakistan (European Union observers, though, openly denounced the national elections as 'deeply flawed'); and that allow continued American support to an unprincipled military dictatorship, now widely acknowledged to have directly supported and sponsored international Islamist terrorism. It is this ethic that leads America to pressure India to engage in negotiations with terrorists and their sponsors in Pakistan, even while the US continues to espouse - in its own case - a strategy of no negotiations with terrorists, and of overwhelming retaliation against both perpetrators and suspected sponsors or supporters of terrorist acts directed against the US and its citizens. The facts that over 35,000 lives have been lost in Jammu & Kashmir alone as a result of Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorism; that, on the average, over 200 lives continue to be lost each month in the State; and that the sweep of this campaign extends, and continues to intensify, across the rest of India as well, are yet to sufficiently influence or alter American perspectives and policies in the region.

It is this selective blindness on Pakistan that created the conditions for the survival and revival of the Taliban and the anti-US coalition in Afghanistan. In July this year, US troop commander General Frank 'Buster' Hagenbeck, based at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, had clearly conceded that the Taliban and its allies had regrouped in Pakistan and were recruiting fighters from religious schools in Quetta in a campaign funded by drug trafficking, and that these forces had been joined by Al-Qaeda commanders who were establishing new cells. These allegations were reiterated by Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Envoy to Afghanistan, who declared, "We know the Taliban are planning in Quetta." President Karzai himself confirmed: "Definitely there are Taliban coming from across the border (to) conduct operations in Afghanistan." Sources also disclose that US field commanders in Afghanistan have been reporting that arrested Taliban fighters had confessed that they had received training to poison wells and carry out various acts of terrorism from Pakistani trainers in Pakistan.

Virtually the entire swathe of country along Afghanistan's southern borders with Pakistan has now been lost to the Taliban-HeI combine, and this remains true despite the current operations in the Zabul province, which have inflicted limited casualties on the Taliban forces. Indeed, the growing hold of this combine in the region is confirmed by reports that Osama bin Laden may well be hiding out in the mountains of the Kunar province. These reports, crucially, coincide with reports of increased Pakistani military presence along and activity in the province, as with the consolidation of the HeI network there. Sources indicate that the Pakistan Army has established a large number of new posts along the Afghan border in the Kunar province - and that these posts are, in fact, seen, not as a threat to HeI cadres active in the area, but by the Karzai regime as a threat to Afghanistan's territorial integrity. Significantly, the head of the Provincial Administration in Kunar is said to be a leader of the HeI, is in direct contact with Pakistani authorities, and is believed to receive support and funds from them. All Afghan commanders in the border areas in this province are also linked to Pakistan, and do not support the Karzai regime. Interestingly, the Kunar province neighbors the Pakistan controlled Chitral province in the Northern Areas, where Indian intelligence had long believed bin Laden to have been provided sanctuary by the Pakistanis. Combined with the mountainous regions of the North West Frontier Province, this entire area constitutes a vast and uninterrupted expanse of extraordinarily hostile and lightly populated terrain into which entire armies can simply disappear without detection.

What is emerging out of the chaos and neglect of this region is potentially the world's largest and most secure safe-haven for the Islamist extremist terrorists - and its consolidation is, unambiguously, the result of the ambiguous morality the world has applied to those who violate all norms of humanity and civilized international conduct in this troubled region. Unless the world invests the will and the resources to recover this entire region for democracy, these forces will grow in strength, and will, eventually, secure the delivery systems to attack, once again, the bastions of what they regard as their abiding enemies. If another catastrophe is to be averted in the US and in Europe, the world's defenses against terrorism will have to be built in Asia.

 

NEWS BRIEFS


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
September 1-7, 2003

 
Civilian
Security Force Personnel
Terrorist
Total

BANGLADESH

4
0
0
4

INDIA

     Jammu &
     Kashmir

30
11
39
80

     Left-wing
     Extremism

5
0
2
7

     Manipur

1
0
3
4

     Nagaland

0
0
3
3

     Tripura

1
0
1
2

Total (INDIA)

37
11
48
96

NEPAL

6
16
93
115

PAKISTAN

9
0
0
9
*   Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.



BANGLADESH

Police probing extremist links of alleged illegal Pakistani visitors: The Special Branch (SB) of Police is reportedly investigating if the 98 persons who reached the country allegedly on Pakistani passports and using other forged documents, including visas, and subsequently left had any links with Islamist extremist groups. The immigration officials had detected their presence in June 2003. Daily Star, September 8, 2003.

1,500 tribals rendered homeless in clashes with Bengali settlers in CHT: At least 1,500 tribals have been rendered homeless following clashes with the Bengali settlers at Mahalchhari in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region. The clashes started on August 26 and the tribals have alleged that the settlers torched and looted approximately 350 dwellings in the villages under Mahalchhari Police Station jurisdiction and killed two persons, including an eight-month-old child, and also raped at least 10 tribal women. The attackers also allegedly set ablaze certain Buddhist places of worship. Daily Star, September 4, 2003


INDIA


All Parties Hurriyat Conference splits in Kashmir: The secessionist All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) split on September 7, 2003, with at least 12 of its 25 constituents 'removing' its chairman Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari and 'replacing' him with Massarat Alam as its interim chief. The constituents reportedly met at the residence of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and decided to replace Ansari and suspend the seven-member executive committee, the highest decision-making forum of the APHC. A five-member committee was formed to review the Hurriyat constitution and suggest necessary amendments to end the 'autocratic' decisions taken by the executive committee. Commenting on the split, Ansari said that those who chose to part ways were "free to do so." "We will expel them all for breaking the discipline of the amalgam," he added. An emergency meeting of the Hurriyat Executive Committee was convened on September 8 to discuss the latest developments. Daily Excelsior, September 8, 2003.

Seven civilians killed and 32 injured in car bomb explosion in Srinagar: Seven civilians were killed and 32 others injured in a car bomb explosion at the main entrance of a fruit market in Parimpora, on the outskirts of the capital city of Srinagar, on September 6, 2003. According to eyewitness accounts, terrorists blew up a car laden with a large quantity of explosives when a small Army convoy passed by the spot. The targeted Army vehicle is reported to have suffered some damage and six persons, including a Brigadier, were injured. According to official sources, the Principal of the Army's High Altitude Warfare School in Gulmarg, Brigadier S.K. Chopra, was on his way to Srinagar from Gulmarg when the explosion occurred. According to local news agencies in Srinagar, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) has claimed responsibility for the blast. Daily Excelsior, September 7, 2003

Four persons arrested in Mumbai in connection with twin blasts case: On September 1, 2003, the Mumbai Police arrested four persons, including two women, in connection with the twin bomb blasts of August 25, in which 52 persons were killed and 148 others were injured. The police also seized 205 gelatine sticks, 20 detonators, 12 alarm clocks with timers, electric wires, soldering machines, clipper machines, polyester yarn, white metal clipper machines and some crackers, from their possession. The arrested persons, identified as Arshad Shafique Ansari, Sayyed Mohammed Abdul Rahim, the latter's wife Fahimida Sayyed, and their daughter Farheen Sayeed, were later charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Deccan Herald, September 2, 2003.


NEPAL

32 Maoist insurgents killed in Rolpa and Accham: Security forces reportedly killed 20 Maoist insurgents following an hour-long clash at Ghartigaon in the Rolpa district on September 7, 2003. Another clash occurred on the same day in Accham district and 12 insurgents were killed. Two security force personnel were also killed and an unspecified number injured in the latter incident. Nepal News, September 8, 2003.


PAKISTAN

Opposition parties demand probe against President Musharraf and other Generals for assisting Taliban: While criticising the military leadership for carrying out investigations against army officers for being sympathetic to 'Afghan resistance forces', opposition parties on September 1, 2003, demanded a probe against General Pervez Musharraf and other Generals in the same context. "If the investigations are being held against those who supported militancy or resistance in Afghanistan, then from General Zia-ul-Haq to General Pervez Musharraf, every one should be probed into (sic)," opposition leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmad was quoted as saying. He claimed that since the start of the Afghan war, many Generals of the Pakistan Army have been engaged in the exercise. "Can anyone deny that General Pervez did not help (sic) the resisting forces (Taliban) before the incidents of 9/11," added Hafiz Hussain. Jang, September 2, 2003.

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

SAIR is a project of the Institute for Conflict Management and the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

 

South Asia Intelligence Review [SAIR]

Publisher
K. P. S. Gill

Editor
Dr. Ajai Sahni



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