Wait and Watch

EVER since the Taliban takeover of Kabul, the security agencies, media and the experts in India are apprehending the spillover of the Afghanistan violence into Kashmir. Reams of expert opinion published in newspapers, portals and also the discussions on primetime television are either predicting that the Taliban could be on their way to Kashmir or that the religious group would not do so this time around.

The Taliban, on their part, have not only tried to put up a moderate face but also distanced themselves from Kashmir – albeit, the group has said it would raise the issue of Muslims of Kashmir like that of Muslims elsewhere. The group has also been quick to make promises about women’s rights and security. It has also announced granting amnesty to enemies and promised that the people would be allowed to leave Afghanistan safely if they wanted to. The government staff has also been asked to return to work. What is more, the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has assured that the group won’t allow Afghan soil to be used against any other country.

Would these signals be enough to reassure the security agencies in India? Unlikely, when there have also been noises to the effect among the militant groups that the waning militancy in Kashmir be revived. Al Qaeda in its statement following the Taliban victory has called for “liberation” of Kashmir. There is no telling as yet how this fast changing situation would impact Kashmir. Over the last two years, Kashmir has witnessed a relative decline not only in militancy but also in the influx of the Pakistani militants. Pakistan, under what is believed to be pressure from the FATF which has sought urgent action by Pakistan against the terror funding infrastructure and the entities involved, has cracked down on the leaders of Kashmir centric militant groups like Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Lashkar leaders like Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi have been jailed. Similarly Jaish chief Masood Azhar and Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin have largely become conspicuous by their absence from the scene, more so, the former.

Would things change now? The opinion remains split over the possibility of this happening. Significantly, however, J&K Police seems on the side of those who see some spillover of Afghanistan violence in Kashmir. Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar has said it was his job to kill “whichever terrorist comes here.”

The PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, on the other hand, has warned the centre that the Taliban victory was a lesson for it, She said that New Delhi could meet the same fate if it didn’t “mend the mistake of snatching the J&K’s identity illegally and unconstitutionally and splitting of J-K.”

However, as of now, everything is in the realm of speculation. Things will become clear only when the Taliban settle down in power. The common refrain in Kashmir among the Kashmir experts is to wait and watch.

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