T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Third Edition

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

July 2002

I N S I D E


Spotlight    Romeet Watt

Top of Page        B Raman

Special Report Hamid Bashani

Fundamentals Subash Kapila

Economy            B N Kaul

InsideTrack          R Upadhyay

Himalayan Blunder              Romeet Watt

In Black & White B Raman

Statecraft             Romeet Watt

Bottomline           R Upadhyay

 

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 S T A T E C R A F T

 

Lashkar & Jaish: Killing Machines

Romeet Watt


The extended arms of the dreaded Al-Qaida in Pakistan and south of Pakistan (PoK and J&K) are the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Both these ultra fundamentalist groups are known to have close ties with the former Taliban regime and their downfall is a tremendous setback for both the outfits. A senior Indian analyst says, “the Al-Qaeda is increasingly likely to strengthen the terrorist cadres in Pakistan and PoK by coalescing with parts of existing sub-groups and individuals. From now on it would be Al-Qaeda that we will be fighting against, regardless of the name bestowed on the outfits.” 

Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM): Background 

Reports suggest that in Punjab (Pakistan) alone the number of Madrassas exceeds 2,500 and an equal number in the rest of the country.  Writes a senior columnist, “of these, about 200 are controlled by the Ahl-e-Hadith sect and about 100 by the Shias.  The remaining are equally divided between the Barelvi and Deobandi sects.” 

Analysts point out that the grand Deobandi alliance is probably the biggest force in Pakistan after the state’s armed forces. Based in Karachi, the Banuri Complex houses leaders that sit in the Shuras of the Deobandi Jehadi Militias. JeM and HuM (earlier HuA) are its militant wings. 

It is reported that in 1979-80, selected 100 of the then existing madrasas, almost all Deobandi were selected for the Afghan war, and introduced military training by serving and retired officers of the Pakistan Army attached to them. Says a noted columinist, “the most important and the most active of these madrasas chosen by them were the Jamiya Uloom-e-Islami in the Binori mosque, Karachi.” Amongst the active initial members of this Army of Islam was the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (a reported three quarters of Harakat ul-Mujahedin (HUM) members defected to the new organization, JeM)

Most of the JEM's cadre and material resources have been drawn from the militant groups Harakat ul-Jihad al-Islami (HUJI) and the Harakat ul-Mujahedin (HUM). The JEM has close ties to Afghan Arabs and the Taliban. Osama Bin Ladin is suspected of giving funding to the JEM.

Militias’ belonging to the Deobandi School of though have become powerful because the ISI was running the Taliban policy.

Maulana Masood Azhar, a former ultra fundamentalist Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA) leader now heads this organization after his differences with his mentor Maulana Fazlur-Rehman Khalil.  

Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT): Background 

The LeT is the armed wing of the Pakistan-based religious organization, Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI)--a Sunni missionary organization formed in 1989. One of the three largest and best-trained groups fighting in Kashmir against India, it is not connected to a political party.  

Dawatul Irshad is a rich organization because of its hold on the civil society in small districts where it can actually dictate to the local administration. Its leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed of the Gujjar community is a retired Islamiyat teacher of Unversity of Engineering and Technology in Lahore. His headquarters, a city within a city, in Muridke was built from the Arab money. He has resigned under pressure in the post December 13 scenario and has been replaced by a foot soldier from Poonch, Abdul Wahid Kashmiri. 

The power of the Laskar also derives from its Salafi origin. Its contact with the Wahhabi camps in Kunur in Afghanistan has never been disowned although Muridke mutes its connection with the Arab warriors in Afghanistan. Its links with Osama Bin Laden have also been craftily hidden although news appearing in the national press has linked the two. 

LeT & JeM: The Operations 

Independent Analysts now confirm what India has been saying, that over 70 percent of the terrorists in J&K are foreign mercenaries, mostly managed by the JeM and the LeT. 

Both the organization have been active in the Valley, Poonch, Rajauri and Doda districts. LeT in coordination with Hizbul Mujahadeed has been instrumental in the large-scale killings of the minorities in south Kashmir (Wandhama and later Chattisingpora) and in the Doda region. Most of their cadre’s are veterans of the Afghan war and are used to treacherous terrains. They are known to seek shelter in the higher ridges of the Pir Panchal range. The LeT has been active in the Jammu region for most of its cadre is Punjabi, which makes it easier for them to mix with the local population, who are linguistically allied to Punjabi.  

These groups have also been responsible for inflicting heavy causalities on the Indian security forces. The fidayeen missions carried our by these groups have sent down shivers down the spine of the local administration. 

JeM (then Harkat) was instrumental in hijacking the Indian plane from Katmandu to Kandhar to free its ideologue from the Indian Prison. Its other spectacular attacks include the October 1 attack on the J&K state legislative assembly and the December 13 attack on the Indian parliament in coordination with the JeM. 

Gazi baba, the Chief commander of the operations of JeM in Kashmir is said to be from Bhawalpur in Pakistan and has been operating in the valley since the past eight years. He is the brain behind the attack on the J&K legislative assembly and the Indian parliament. 

The Post December 13 Scenario: 

The events that have unfolded in the post December 13 scenario has put considerable amount of pressure not only on these groups for instigating violence in India but also on their mentors, the ISI. 

Doubts still persist on the nature of action the administration in Pakistan has taken. Islamabad insists that the action against the LeT & JeM is for fomenting trouble within Pakistan. A reporter in his story of January 1 says; “a spokesman for the State bank of Pakistan said that he wasn’t sure if any Jaish accounts were actually frozen. But the Jaish says that it never had any bank accounts in its own name. Sources say that the contributions were made in the name of Mufti Rafeeq Ahmad, the group’s office administrator”.  

New Delhi has been all along insisting that token arrests are mere cosmetic gestures aimed at placating the world community. Remarks a leading Indian columnist; “those applauding the cosmetic changes in the LeT and attributing this to the pressure exerted by the Pakistani authorities are missing the wood for the trees. These are at the best ‘brownie points’ being gained by the Pakistan as indicative of their determination to crack down on terrorism”. 

The actual center of gravity of Pakistani terrorist situation and command control rests with the ISI-army combine. So shift in the policy of Islamabad to crack down these Jehadi outfits doesnot seem to be forth coming. There are reports that Pakistan is restructuring the Jehad Machine: relabeling some parts to placate the fussy Americans; others are being re-assembled in PoK. The whole process is aimed at enhancing the ‘plausibility of denial’ needed for the next terrorist strike says political editor of a leading Indian daily. 

Writes Rehan Ansari, “the Lashkars may be the only Pakistani element that is unaffected by the Indian attitudes and policies. Javed Nasir; ex-chief of the ISI, is on record for saying that Lashkars may be coordinated by the ISI but they have a mind of their own”.  

Pakistan based mercenary militant groups like the Harkat, JeM & LeT have declared that they would target terrorist violence beyond J&K to different parts of India. 

K Subrahmanyam has nicely articulated the complicated situation prevalent in Pakistan with regard to the turbulent nature of the State. He says, “there is no way Pakistan can be dejehadised unless it accepts not to use the two-nation theory in its international relations. The two-nation theory is same as the clash of the civilizations thesis and is an analogue of the nazi Herrenvolk thesis. The Pakistani claim to Kashmir is similar Hitler’s claim to all German Territories, Austria, Sudetanlant and Danzing.” 

In his remarks on the financial aspects of terrorism, President Bush on December 21 said, “LeT is an extremist group based in Kashmir. LeT is a stateless sponsor of terrorism, and it hopes to destroy relations between Pakistan & India and to undermine Pakistan’s President Parvez Musharraf. To achieve its purpose, LeT has committed acts of terrorism inside both Indian and Pakistan.” 

In India there were objections to Bush’s remarks on LeT being a terrorist organization “based in Kashmir” – which was dropped subsequently. 

President Bush’s statement on December 21 was laudable for branding the Lashkar a global (as opposed to a mere regional) terrorist threat, something to the liking of New Delhi. 

Past few days have seen a visible tilt in the attitude of West towards India and they seem to coming in terms with the Indian interpretation of terrorism. “In spite of the differences in the assessment between the West and India, there is bound to be common ground between the two sides that the first step Pakistan has to take is its recognition of its deep malady and expression of a determination to secure itself”, writes a leading Indian analyst. 

In the given scenario it is imperative for New Delhi to fortify its position on J&K, an advantage that the State must en-cash upon to bring the fight against terrorism aided and abetted by Pakistan to a logical conclusion. “What we must seek from Pakistani leadership is an acceptance to “back-off – give up the dream of annexing Kashmir and agree to live in peace with us” says a leading political scientist on Kashmir affairs. 

New Delhi has handed over a list of twenty terrorists and criminal who are believed to be in Pakistan but as is expected the response from Islamabad despite Western pressure is not very forthcoming. Leading experts say that the first reality-check would be whether we can secure the backing of the International Community to ensure strict conformity by Pakistan with U N resolution 1373 passed on 28 September 2001, and get that country to hand over Masood Azhar (and others) for their role in the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane IC-814 from Kathmandu to Kandhar in December 1999”.

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