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23rd February '2013
Are Taliban coming?

Before one speculates about the next mission of Taliban, it would be useful to recapitulate who the now globally famous Taliban are? The Taliban (Students) is an Islamic Political Movement which spread into Afghanistan from the Madrassas set up in Pakistan for the Afghan refugee youth displaced by the Russian invasion of the country. The Taliban spread all over Afghanistan and formed a government known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with Kandahar as their capital. The majority of the leaders of this movement are supposed to follow the Deobandi School and many also strictly follow the social and cultural form called the Pashtunwali. They are supposed to observe the Islamic Sharia Law in their governance but there has been criticism about their interpretation of these laws. They have also been criticised for their brutal treatment of women. However, there are many contradictions even among the western media about the actual behaviour of Taliban regarding women and the Sharia Laws in general. Americans have been spreading a lot of propaganda lies to defame the Taliban.

Incidentally, it is the Americans who helped in the creation and nursing of Taliban with the aim of defeating Russians. General Zia-ul-Haq is the virtual grandfather of this movement. Mullah Omar started the movement in his home town of Kandahar with fewer than 50 armed madrassah students. The Inter-Services Intelligence and Pakistan Army are alleged to have provided support to Taliban from 1996 to 2001. Americans created Al Qaeda headed by Osama bin Laden to fight Russians. He imported regiments of fighters from Arab countries and Central Asia to support Taliban. Ultimately, he proved to be an American nightmare! Saudi Arabia provided massive financial support. Pakistan is supposed to have dropped all support after 9/11. However, it is alleged that the Pakistan through ISI continues to support Taliban in order to get a pro-Pakistan set up in Afghanistan after the Americans leave in 2014. Pakistan Army feels that by having a friendly government in Afghanistan, they would be able to have strategic depth of their country against India which continues to be treated as their enemy number one by the die-hards.

After the New York Trade Centre episode, the Americans invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban government. However, they regrouped as an insurgency force to fight the Americans and the NATO led International Forces supporting Karzai’s administration in Kabul. Americans failed to subdue the Taliban insurgency and they are now operating in most of the areas outside Kabul. 2014 will see the exit of all NATO Forces and Americans from Afghanistan without having subdued the Taliban. Like the earlier exit of Russians, the country is once again poised to fall into a civil war between the warlords of different tribes. However, the Taliban expect to take over the government in Kabul. Once that happens there will be a large number of fighters left without any specific job. As the video recently declares, the next task is the liberation of Kashmir and establishment of Sharia in India! After the exit of Russians, a similar thing had happened and an insurgency had started in Kashmir. But the Taliban were not actively involved in it. Some volunteers did come to Kashmir to help the local militants but they soon left. At that time it was said that these people were not able to adjust with the Kashmiris’ mystic and Sufi outlook. There was no Sharia in Kashmir. Even some jokes were circulating those days that the Afghan Mujahedeen on reaching Kashmir were shocked to see all the buildings standing, children going to school normally and so on. They remarked what type of the liberation war were Kashmiris fighting with everything standing in its place? Usual possession of a Taliban fighter is a good gun and a chador over his shoulders. In Kashmir they found everybody totally involved in material possessions which was a set back to their way of Jihad!

Keeping in view the post 2014 situation in Afghanistan, the Taliban may not be inclined to take up Jihadi campaigns outside their country. However, there is another Taliban organisation, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (the TTP) also known as Pakistani Taliban which may be of concern to Kashmiris. It is an umbrella organisation of militant groups in the Federally Administered Areas of Pakistan along the Afghan border. In December 2007 about 13 groups united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud to form the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.Their declared aims are to fight the Pakistani State and to enforce their interpretation of Sharia. They also fight against the NATO forces in Afghanistan. In contrast, the Afghan Taliban does not fight against the Pakistani State. They too are followers of the Deobandi School and are mostly Pashtuns. After the American exit, these people may be inclined to take up campaigns beyond the borders of Pakistan and Kashmir liberation may be one of their goals as has been stated in a recent video. However, because of the fact that they are also fighting the Pakistani State, they may not get an easy passage through the Line of Control unless the Pakistani Army is interested in a diversion for their acts of violence within the country. The political set up in Pakistan is not favourable to any ventures by the Pakistani Taliban and is in fact trying to take them head on to avert the disintegration of their country. In view of this, we may not see any organised major violent activities by the Taliban in Kashmir after the American exit in 2014. However, there may be individual attempts at infiltration by volunteers as has been happening in the past.

This too could be stopped if Indo-Pak bonhomie goes ahead with genuine and sincere fervour to further normalise relations by removing the mistrust. There is another essential requirement and that is alleviating the sufferings of the Kashmiris caught in the whirlpool of mistrust between the two countries. They need to address the basic grievances of the people and not use them as ideological guinea pigs in their diplomatic and political conflict. In addition, both the countries need to desist from using Kashmir for their individual interests such as elections. However, unfortunately, this is precisely what both the countries are trying to do and India is taking a lead in this regard. The instant case is the hanging of Afzal Guru. Next comes the issue of Hyderabad blasts which are being pinned on IM (Indian Mujahidin), UJC (United Jihad Council), and LET (Lashkar-e-Tyaiba) even before completing the investigation. Intentionally or unintentionally, Indians by fanning Hindu-Muslim divide are creating a ripe situation for Taliban whether Afghan or Pakistani to intervene in Kashmir or otherwise. Thus even if there was no chance for Taliban coming to Kashmir, we may ourselves be responsible for bringing them in!

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