The Writing on the Wall!

It has been very magnanimous of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen supremo and United Jihad Council chief Syed Sallahudin to have asked New Delhi to read the writing on the wall “as the recent (December 5) attacks on forces has proved that militants love their mission more than their lives.” Unfortunately, while New Delhi may have found an unexpected ‘advisor’ in Sallahudin, the Hizb supremo seems to have none- or so it appears. For had there been someone to sincerely advise him, then he would have undoubtedly realised that the core issue with New Delhi is not concerning whether “(Kashmiri) militants love their mission more than their lives,” but resolution of the Kashmir issue. And his counselors would have certainly drawn Sallahudin’s attention to the fact that even after more than two decades, the  ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir  has achieved precious little and done more harm than any good to the ongoing movement for the ‘right to self determination’ in Kashmir! 

If New Delhi has been able to continue with enforcement of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in J&K, then it because of militant violence, which his gives it the required ‘justification’ to defend imposition of this draconian act. Just last month, there was a huge public outcry when two innocent youth were killed in Budgam after troopers fired at the car in which they were travelling, reinvigorating the demand for repealing AFSPA in Kashmir. This call received such unprecedented public support from all across India that for once the government looked hopelessly cornered. However, thanks to the December 5 militant attacks in which not only army and police personnel but civilians too were killed and injured, New Delhi has once again got the opportunity it so desperately required to defend imposition of AFSPA in J&K.  Using the excuse of these attacks, it has been able to silence the critics of AFSPA and those clamouring for its removal by saying that its continuation is an ‘inescapable’ necessity for protecting innocent civilians from terror attacks!  

While Sallahudin may regard security personnel as well as those locals who support them as ‘legitimate targets’ of his ‘armed struggle’ and defend civilian casualties during militant attacks as unavoidable ‘collateral damage’, the international community doesn’t seem to think so at all. Within hours of the December 5 attacks, a senior US State Department official said "The United States strongly condemns today's terrorist attacks in Kashmir, which claimed the lives of innocent civilians, military, and police personnel." This official US statement has some very important ingredients that probably seem to have escaped Sallahudin’s attention, because had he grasped them, then in all probability he would not have gone about proudly owning up responsibility for the December 5 attacks. 

So, let us briefly review the US State Department statement.  While the Hizb supremo may defend the December 5 attacks as justified acts of ‘armed resistance’ against ‘occupational forces’, for the US, these were nothing but “terrorist attacks in Kashmir.” Moreover, while the UJC chief may consider army and police personnel to be ‘legitimate targets’, the US State Department  does not share his view as it has univocally condemned this attack since it “claimed the lives of innocent civilians, military, and police personnel.” So, thanks to this incident, instead of coming forward to help resolve the Kashmir imbroglio and admonish India for its high- handedness and obduracy on this issue, America has instead given New Delhi a much needed shot in the arm by declaring that "The United States remains firmly committed to working in close partnership with India to defeat terrorism in all its forms." 

The problem with those who believe that the gun can achieve anything and everything is threefold – firstly, they grossly overestimate the power of the gun which gradually makes them lose touch with reality and renders them impervious to logical reasoning. Secondly, since proponents of violence are usually believed to possess a vile temper and vindictive disposition, no one dares to highlight the futility of violence as a means for achieving any ideological objective- out of the sheer fear of antagonising them and thereby incurring their wrath! Thirdly, with no one daring to question or criticize their actions, those who believe in violence begin misconstruing silence of the people due to fear as overwhelming endorsement of their philosophy and start feeling that they can do no wrong. And once all this happens, things do go wrong!

The tragedy in Kashmir is that despite numerous sacrifices made by ‘freedom fighters’, militancy has never really been accepted as ‘armed resistance’ against an oppressive regime. On the conrary, it has alienated the international community, which today views the “armed struggle” in Kashmir as Pakistan’s ‘proxy war’. It is not that Sallahudin is not aware of this as he has been candid enough to admit that “we are fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir.” And none other than Pervez Musharraf, who has been both Pakistan’s army chief and President has confirmed Sallahudin’s admission by proudly declaring in a TV interview that “We have (a) source (militants in Kashmir) besides the (Pakistan) army…People in Kashmir are fighting against (India). We just need to incite them.” 

So, though the writing on the wall is loud and clear, someone has to pick up the courage to remind the UJC chief of the matter-of-fact observation made by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in 2007, that “efforts through military means (militancy) have not achieved any results except creating more graveyards.” And the Mirwaiz is not the only separatist who has spoken against militancy in Kashmir. In an interview given to an online portal ‘Kashmir Dispatch’ in 2013, the Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani too has expressed his reservations on the effectiveness of the “armed struggle’ in Kashmir by stating that “it needs support of a country, which could provide supply of weapons, resources and training camps, which we don’t have…“See, Pakistan says we won’t allow anybody to use our soil against India. It also needs ideologically perfect youth. It needs strategy. The militancy in Kashmir lacks these things.” 

Geelani sahib had even gone a step further and admitted that the ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir had caused damage to the movement for the ‘right to self determination’. On this, the Hurriyat (G) chairman had lamented that due to lack of coordination amongst militants “… common and un-armed people also became targets... The killing of innocent and un-armed civilians doesn’t serve or benefit our cause. Similarly, in the name of Kashmir movement, many attacks were carried out in India like of in 2001 on Parliament and (later) in Mumbai, which also don’t serve Kashmir cause. We condemn them. They are futile and benefit our struggle in no way.” However, the UJC chief has apparently not considered these seminal views seriously.

However, it is not only Sallahudin who needs to introspect. Though the Hurriyat has made it clear that its movement is purely peaceful in nature with the Hurriyat (G) chairman SAS Geelani declaring that “ we, (the) Hurriyat Conference, favour peaceful struggle and we will continue to fight peacefully, “ he has simultaneously admitted that “we never denied or ignored the role of (the) gun in our struggle.” Thus, Geelani sahib has himself  admitted to a direct link between the ‘armed struggle’ and the peaceful movement for the ‘right to self determination’ and this has sent confusing signals to the international community. So, in case the Hurriyat sincerely wishes that its movement for the ‘right to self determination’ receives international acceptance, then it too needs to come out clear as regards its stance on violence, as those leading mass movements cannot afford the luxury of having the cake and eating it too! 

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