India’s partition and 70 years of proxy jihad

In a recent interview with DW, Pakistani politician Imran Khan argued that the US intervention in Afghanistan is the main reason behind the rise of jihadi phenomenon in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Khan is only partly correct. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistani military’s spy group, the ISI, collaborated closely in Afghanistan to defeat Soviet forces in the 1980s. Washington and Islamabad invested heavily in Afghan mujahideen (Afghan “holy warriors”) and provided them militaristic and logistic support to fight the Moscow-backed government in Kabul. From the point of view of the US and Pakistan, it was a successful campaign. The mujahideen forced Soviet troops to retreat and were able to take control of the Afghan capital, Kabul. But what Khan and many others, who associate Afghan jihad with the Cold War’s US-Soviet rivalry, gloss over is the fact that Pakistan’s support for jihadis began as early as the country’s independence in 1947. Analysts say it spiked in the 1950s and peaked in late 1970s and the early 1980s.

Read: Opinion: The anniversary of hatred

Pakistan’s use of jihadi proxies has always been India-centric. Now when the West admonishes Islamabad for not relinquishing support to some factions of the Taliban, or the Haqqani Network, they overlook Pakistan’s concerns about Indian influence in Afghanistan. Also, and equally, significant is India’s control over a large part of the Kashmir region, which Islamabad considers a threat to its interests.

Unsurprisingly, soon after India and Pakistan gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947, the two nations got embroiled in a conflict over Kashmir, which continues to date.

The first jihad

“It is factually and historically incorrect that Pakistan started using jihad as an instrument of its defense policy in the 1980s. In reality, it happened as early as September, 1947, when Pakistani authorities armed and sent tribal militias to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Arif Jamal, a US-based journalist and author of several books, including “Shadow War – The Untold Story of Jihad in Kashmir” and “Call For Transnational Jihad: Lashkar-e-Taiba, 1985-2014,” told DW.

“These jihadis were dispatched to Kashmir under a well thought out plan conceived by Colonel Akbar Khan. The first prime minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, and some members of his cabinet, participated in the planning. It is not confirmed whether Pakistan’s founder and Governor General, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was taken into confidence over this mission,” Jamal added.

“Jinnah had signed a stand-still agreement with the Maharaja (ruler) of Jammu and Kashmir, and jihad by tribesmen violated that agreement. The Maharaja then invited Indian troops to defend the state, which led to the first war between India and Pakistan and the division of Kashmir by the end of 1948,” said the expert.

Talat Bhat, a Sweden-based documentary filmmaker and director of the Kashmir Record and Research Council, told DW the jihadis’ involvement in the Kashmir dispute has had a negative impact on the secular and independent nature of the Kashmiri movement.

Read more  at:dw

Note: The views expressed in this article are by author Shamil Shams (dw  channel)