[Editorial Analysis] JK and the AfPak hyphen

Mains Paper 3: Security

Prelims level: JeM

Mains level: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism

Context

• In 2008, candidate Barack Obama angered India by suggesting that the road to peace in Afghanistan ran through Kashmir.

• In a pre-recorded video released by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the group that claimed responsibility for the attack.

• The Kashmiri youth inspired by the “success” of the Taliban over US forces
in Afghanistan. The links between the JeM and the Taliban are well-known.

Birth of JeM

• On October 2001, when the JeM was listed under UNSC1267, the reasons given were that it was “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities by, with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of, supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to or otherwise supporting acts or activities of al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden and the Taliban”.

• According to the UNSC, al Qaeda, Taliban and other extremist organisations provided finances to Maulana Masood Azhar to set up the JeM.

• As a member of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Azhar had also fought in the first Afghan war, and the JeM is believed to have participated in Taliban operations against US forces.

• After it came into existence in 2000 massive suicide attack with a car bomb, similar to Thursday’s strike, at the Jammu & Kashmir assembly.

• But the JeM lost favour with the Pakistan army, which was under US pressure after 9/11, twice even attempting to assassinate then military ruler General Pervez Musharaff.

• Its comeback to the Valley in 2015 with an indigenous militancy in J and K, which had its origins in the 2008 Amarnath land row and 2010 anti-Machil protests, and the 2012 hanging of Afzal Guru, terrorist strike at Pathankot Air Force base and attack on the Uri Brigade headquarters.

• The unrest in the Valley since the 2016 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Burhan Wani, gave the JeM the foothold it had been looking for since 2001.

• At this moment, any military adventurism could have unforeseen, unintended consequences.

Post surgical strike development

• The post-Uri surgical strike exposed the military limitations of that particular instrument.

• Instead, the LoC remained hot, and Indian civilians and soldiers continued to die.

• A day before the attack in Awantipora, there was an almost identical attack in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

• The Jaish al-Adl, a successor to the anti-Iran Jundullah, claimed responsibility for the attack.

• Both the JuA and JeM are Sunni extremist groups. Both are based in Pakistan.

• Both have flourished in the same enabling ecosystem provided by the Pakistan army.

• While Iran blamed the US and its allies for the attack, it also asked Pakistan to stop sheltering the JuA.

• Iranian foreign ministry said the group “receives military, financial and intellectual support from certain regional states”, hinting both at Saudi and Pakistan backing for the group.

• Whether or not the government succeeds in isolating” Pakistan internationally, what India needs to do more urgently is to acknowledge that it has failed in Kashmir, that the situation in Kashmir is much worse than it was in 2014-15.

• Not just because of terrorists, with or without help from Pakistan. “A three-and a-half district militancy”, they called it.

Afpak influences

• Clearly, something else is required if Kashmir is not to get hyphenated with Afpak.

• Adil Ahmad Dar, the 20-year-old school dropout who led the suicide attack at Pulwama in south Kashmir on February 14, was a Jaish-e-Muhammad “fedayee” warrior, trained for the job in the Valley.

• He was inspired by Burhan Muzaffar Wani, commander of a Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, earlier killed by the Indian army; and he was also inspired by the “defeat” of America at the hands of the Taliban.

• Jaish-e-Muhammad is banned in Pakistan but its leader, Masood Azhar, is allowed to live in peace in his hometown, in his madrasa Usman-o-Ali, Bahawalpur. His terrorist group was earlier called Harkatul Mujahideen, associated closely with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda. It became Jaish after an internal division.

• “Maulana” Masood Azhar had the ability to raise funds all over the world. While in disguise in India and up to no good in Kashmir Azhar was captured in 1994.

• In 1999, an Indian civilian aircraft was hijacked after take-off from Nepal by a group of terrorists led by Azhar’s brother, Ibrahim.

• The plane was taken to Afghanistan where the Taliban government, recognized by Pakistan, arranged for a swap of Indian passengers with the two al Qaeda terrorists, Umar Sheikh and Masood Azhar.

• After their release, both came to Pakistan and began operating freely.

• Sheikh, now in a jail in Hyderabad Sindh, came to Lahore, and Azhar went to the most powerful seminary in Pakistan, Jamia Binoria in Karachi, from where he issued threatening statements against President Pervez Musharraf.

• Azhar attacked the Indian Parliament and caused a military stand-off between Pakistan and India that lasted almost a year.

• He was put under house arrest in his hometown, from where he had a way of vanishing from time to time.

• Jaish-e-Muhammad had acquired a 4.5-acre compound outside Bahawalpur in addition to the madrasa Usman-o-Ali inside the city.

• In February 2014, out of ISI-protected madrasa to speak to a public gathering of thousands in Muzaffarabad.

• His job was to castigate India for unfairly killing Afzal Guru, a “freedom-fighter” hanged in India for allegedly helping Jaish mount an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Which among the following are steps taken by the Government of India to promote financial inclusion?

1. Promoting Basic savings bank deposit accounts (BSBDAs)

2. Business Correspondent-Information and Communication Technology (BCICT) transactions

3. Atal pension yojana

4. Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana

Select the correct answer from the codes given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 1, 2 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Answer: D

Mains Questions:

Q.1) US-Taliban engagement in Afghanistan has emboldened groups like Jaish and Lashkar-e-Taiba. The jihadist project has also been helped by the political vacuum in the Valley. Critically examine.

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