What India's Counter-terrorism Strategy Can Learn from Country's Coronavirus Fight

At the moment our people seem committed to set a great example of trust and unity in their fight against the pandemic by making it a common national goal to defeat this menace. Unless the whole country stands up in a similar way to address the nuisance of Pakistan-sponsored jihadist terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the war on terror in India cannot be won.

The martyrdom of five jawans of the Indian Army in an encounter with Pakistan-based terrorists in Kupwara in north Kashmir on April 5 should not go unnoticed during our fight against the coronavirus pandemic. As a nation, we the people have to grapple with more than one challenge simultaneously.

On April 5, five of our jawans located and eliminated the threat of an attack on our forces stationed in the Valley of Kashmir. But in the process of neutralising the enemy, our jawans lost their lives. The uncompromising resilience with which our jawans chased and hunted down the Pakistani infiltrators is a symbol of patriotism, commitment, chivalry and sacrifice that must be celebrated all over the country.

At the moment our people seem committed to set a great example of trust and unity in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic by making it a common national goal to defeat this public health menace. Unless the whole country stands up in a similar way to address the nuisance of Pakistan-sponsored jihadist terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the war on terror in India cannot be won.

The question is how can we achieve a similar level of nationwide trust and unity against terrorism in the Himalayan Union Territory? In order to achieve this lofty goal, one must look at the obstacles one comes across. The first and foremost obstacle we face in achieving perpetual peace in the Valley is the so-called Muslim leadership in the Valley.

For decades, successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir have failed to chalk out a comprehensive counter-terrorist insurgency strategy. Hence they have lost all credibility in the eyes of the Kashmiri and Jamwal population. This incompetence of the governance has also created a psychological state of helplessness among the Kashmiri population.

Second, the so-called liberal intelligentsia that fails to see the role of Pakistan-China involvement in the terrorist insurgency in Kashmir is another obstacle in the endeavour to create a national consensus for uprooting and pushing terrorism back into its 'janmabhoomi', i.e. Pakistan.

Third, the network of mosques, a majority of which spew out hate speeches during Friday prayers across the country creates an obstacle I call religious counter-narrative. A weekly call for jihad against ‘infidels’ and calls to participate in global jihad keep our Muslim community in confusion and suspicion. While they have become confused between a Muslim identity that drives from the concept of 'Umma' and that of being a nationalist, the country remains seriously divided. 

Fourth, the so-called democratic political parties, including the Congress and the CPIM, continue to play the vote card and in the name of supporting an imaginary movement for Kashmiri self-determination continue to play in the hands of anti-Pakistani propaganda.

Finally, the Pakistani-sponsored international new analysts and media outlets, which act as informal diplomats and whose primary job is to give Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir legitimacy by addressing it as a movement of national liberation against Indian ‘occupation’.

Let us now examine the above facts in reverse order. The BBC has been at the forefront of a malicious campaign against Indian attempts to defeat Pakistani-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir. News footage of Kashmiri jihadists waving guns and Pakistani flags during protests in Srinagar have been broadcast without exploratory news analysis of the involvement of Pakistan army and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). India is portrayed as the aggressor. The fact is that it was Pakistan who had attacked the sovereign state of Jammu and Kashmir on October 22, 1947. It was the Pakistan army and the tribal people who inflicted destruction on the lives and properties of innocent law-abiding subjects of Maharaja Hari Singh. And it was the United Nations that called Pakistan an aggressor and asked her to pull out all of its troops and non-state subjects from Pakistani occupied territories. 

Did Pakistan comply? No. But more dangerous are those international media personalities who wear the mask of humanity to disguise their prejudice against India. 

Christina Lamb, an Oxford graduate and a close friend of the late Benazir Bhutto, fits comfortably into this category. In her tweet on April 6, after our jawans had laid down their lives for the country, Ms Lamb talks about the lockdown in Kashmir that was, for a very brief period of time, imposed on Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370. Thus, she acts on behalf of the sponsors of terrorism by reinforcing a false cultural narrative propagated by Islamist groups which support terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. Ms Lamb never talks about the subjugation of the people by Pakistan who in PoJK live under the total control of Pakistan military and the mullahs who preach hate against their Hindu neighbours. She completely ignores the denial of civil rights in Gilgit-Baltistan and the people who have been gunned down by ‘unknown assailants’ in so-called Azad Kashmir. 

Ironically, the international anti-India media and its team of freelance protégé are on very good terms with the Congress and parties whose political narratives promote a negative image of India. When Congress's Rahul Gandhi arrived at Srinagar airport in August last year to ‘inspect' the situation on ground, Indian authorities rightly denied him entry since it was no more than a photo and publicity stunt. Where was the Congress on January 19, 1990, when every mosque in Kashmir shouted death to Kashmiri pundits? Where was the CPIM when close to 6,00,000 Kashmiri pundits were uprooted and made internally displaced people? Political parties who bear the clout of Congress and CPIM are a shameful obstruction in the establishment of a nationally patriotic cultural narrative that can unite India as one body.

A network of mosques in India is busy propagating the idea of pan-Islamic religious cultural hegemony by converting non-Muslim to Islam or by calling for jihad against non-believers. Their immediate concern is not India's national or economic security. The most recent example to come to surface is during the coronavirus fight, their stubborn

refusal to maintain social distancing during religious congregations in mosques on Friday. These mosques as well as Islamic religious seminaries have become vocalists for Pakistani proxies in Kashmir. 

Dr Zakir Naik is just such one example. Hence, a major portion among the Muslims, under the influence of their crooked religious indoctrination, and who constitute an integral part of our national population, is by default unpatriotic.

This small but hyperactive portion among our Muslim community acts like a fifth columnist. The democratic and Indian nationalist Muslim population must form a united front with the Hindu patriotic nationalist to counter this false and self-defeating cultural narrative which is a reminiscent of Arab imperialist expansionism.

India faces a challenge from the so-called liberal left as well who have always promoted antagonism and sowed mistrust between the state and the wider masses, leading to distrust not only between the two but also among different ethnic and religious minority groups. Arundhati Roy is one such name that springs to mind in the above context. Writing in the New York Times on August 15 last year, this is how she concludes her analysis of the post-August 5 scenario:

“If Kashmir is occupied by security forces,

India is occupied by the mob.”

Roy skips the role of the Pakistan military in sponsoring jihadist terrorism in the Valley and while mourning about the ragged conditions of the refugee camps in Jammu, she conveniently forgets to mention the role of Srinagar mosques and Pakistan-sponsored jihadis who massacred innocent Kashmiri pundits in front of their loved ones. Hence in the final analysis, they betray history by selective treatment of actuality. Indian intelligentsia comfortably ignores the role of China who is the main economic ally and strategic partner in its One Road One Belt imperialist expansionism that cuts right across the heart of Gilgit-Baltistan, which is Indian territory occupied by Pakistan.

And finally, the role of the Muslim political leadership in Jammu and Kashmir needs to be exposed. Right from Sheikh Abdullah to Mehbooba Mufti, there has not been a single chief minister who tried to mobilise the population against the militancy. They have all been demanding withdrawal of Indian army from the Valley without launching a campaign against Pakistani occupation of PoK or Pakistan’s continuous violation of the LoC, which after the abrogation of Article 370 is now the official Ceasefire Line. They have been supportive of the so-called Joint Resistance Leadership and Jihad Council. Despite the anti-Indian rhetoric and pro-Pakistan slogan-mongering, the people of India have been tolerating their unpatriotic political and divisive social role in Kashmiri society.

(The writer hails from Mirpur in PoJK. He is the leader of Tehreek e Itefaq e Rai and can be reached at Shaboroze@gmail.com. Views expressed are personal)


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