Kashmir : Factors Responsible for Turmoil – IV

E. Religious Factors :

1. Degeneration of Moral Values : 

The nouveau riche culture that has developed in Kashmir valley during the last six decades has resulted in concentration of wealth in a few hands and emphasis on demonstrative consumerism. D N Kaul, who retired as IGP in J&K State,  in his article in the Seminar (vol 392) draws a parallel with Iran and says, “Against this ethical and mental background the class conflict in Iran accentuated by the emergence of nouveau riche on the scene assumed a religious character. The life style of the rich was characterized as un-Islamic. Every manner of hedonism is patently anti-religious. So the economic class hatred of the rich became the religious crusade against not only the vulgar and the irreligious rich but takes in its sweep these institutions including the rural establishment which brings about the cleavage and created the artificial anti-people class.” He further adds that ” a general vulgarity of approach and brashness began characterizing the mean of this section of the society. This unmistakably led to the accentuation of the class conflict.”

2. Revival of  Fundamentalism :

As per Selig S Harrison¹,” the muslim majority of Kashmir valley is mountain bound with a strong spirit of separate identity rooted in a local culture of which religion is only a part . Islāmic fundamentalism is only a recent implant claiming dedicated but limited support.  Pakistan has left no stone unturned to strengthen religious fundamentalism in the valley through Jamate Islami. Iranian Islāmic revolution has further added to the fire of growing religious fundamentalism in the valley.”

3. Religious Indoctrination and Publicity:

In order to change the mindset of Kashmiris and make them more belligerent,  Jamate Islami, helped by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, has been actively involved in preaching the puritan form of Islam in the J&K State so much so it came to clash with the National Conference workers at the time of hanging of Z A Bhutto. They organized an International Seerat Conference in Srinagar in 1980 riding high on the crest of the wave of the world Islāmic fundamentalism that had started spreading its poisonous fumes in Kashmir by then.

Publicity and disinformation is undertaken by the militants within Kashmir and by Pakistan and ISI outside the valley. A tape recording of the speech of Dr. Farooq Abdullah in 1973, when he was also in secessionist camp, had been repeatedly played by POK Radio (Azad Kashmir Radio) to provoke the masses as per a report which appeared in the Times of India of 28 Jan 1990. The militant organizations further harassed and gagged the local press in order to make them toe their line. Number of news papers virtually worked as their mouthpiece. Unwittingly the most unfortunate spokesman of militants became ‘The Kashmir Times’, a newspaper published from Jammu which in order to make the newspaper popular in the valley spread no antics to indulge in yellow journalism till such time the Governor Jagmohan issued a code of conduct for reporting of events from the valley.

F. International Factors :

Involvement of Pakistan  in abetting subversion in Kashmir is now openly acknowledged. In an interview on 27 November to Selig S Harrison, Lt Gen Aslam Beg who had retired as Army Chief of Staff of Pakistan, said,” Thousands of Kashmiris recruited and trained in Islamabad by Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate , fought in the Afghan war and now form the core of the insurgency movement.” As per Harrison, “India’s sensitivity to the Kashmiri desire for autonomy initially provoked the insurgency. New Delhi’s heavy-handed repression is making the problem progressively more intractable. But it is systematic Pakistani military, financial and organizational support that has given the insurgency its potency and staying power.”¹

A G Noorani in his article ‘Kashmir’s Aggression thrives on Discontent’ (The Sunday Mail, 29 April 1990) writes, “The Kashmiri militants have also confirmed that insurgency was planned, coördinated and executed across the border. Zia’s ‘Operation Topac’ has by now become well known which outlined the methodology of subversion in Kashmir.  Even Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan of POK has confirmed involvement of Azad Kashmir in subversion.” General Ziaul Haq, the then President of Pakistan, was the chief architect for fomenting trouble in Kashmir. Though initially Benazir Bhutto refused to fall into the trap of Pakistan Army, closed some of the training camps in POK and Western Punjab and even removed Chief of the Field Intelligence Unit who was a link between militants operating in Kashmir and Pakistan Army, ultimately succumbed to the Army pressure and followed the road map chalked out earlier by Ziaul Haq. These developments were also confirmed by Abbas Nazir in the monthly Herald, Karachi.

The Pakistani leaders had been talking ad nauseam about ‘ Kashmir banega Pakistan’ (Kashmir will become Pakistan) and ‘ Thousand year War with India’. Funds were raised by Pakistan and POK  Governments to the tune of crores of rupees to help Kashmiri brethren in the valley but all these funds have been diverted to the arsenal markets and training of subversives.

As per Pravin Sawhney in his article ” The Valley of Discontent’ which appeared in ‘The Business and Political Observer’ of 01 July 1991, ” A high level cell has been established in Pakistan on Kashmir and Afghanistan comprising President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Prime Minister, ISI Chief, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff committee, three Service Chiefs and POK President. The training of militants has been taken over by the Army from ISI. Two additional divisions of Pakistan have been created while 12 heavy mountain Divisions have been inducted into J&K Area. Pakistan military provides covering artillery fire to facilitate militants to cross over to Kashmir.

1.The Lure of Azad Kashmir :

Kashmiris have always been made to believe that the other side of the grass, beyond the LOC, is greener. They refuse to give credence to reports that Pakistan’s economy is sustained by American aid, Saudi Dollars and black money generated by drug trafficking.

Emma Duncan in her book ‘Breaking the Curfew’ writes,”It is very well known that the economic and industrial base of Pakistan is nowhere comparable to India, still the influx of gulf money, military and economic aid of West in the wake of Afghanistan crisis and the money generated by narcotic trade has brought in apparent prosperity in Pakistan and POK”

The ‘demonstration effect’ of this prosperity, howsoever mischievous and fake it may be, has attracted the attention of the valley.

2. Break up of  Soviet Union :

The break up of USSR was the biggest set back as regards developments in Kashmir. Afghan Mujahideen helped by Pakistan and USA were able to inflict a crushing defeat on USSR which also resulted in the break up of USSR. USSR was regarded as main ally and supporter of India and therefore its defeat emboldened Pakistan to promote subversion in Kashmir valley assuming that in any direct confrontation between India and Pakistan, Russia would not be able to come to India’s rescue as hitherto before.

3. Taliban Support :

The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan on 24 December 1979, the resistance of Afghan Mujahideen and all out support by Pakistan was one of the major factors which gave impetus to Kashmir violence. The Taliban especially Hikmatyar faction directly and indirectly helped Kashmiri terrorists. Militants from Kashmir, mostly from POK, were provided training by the Taliban and some of them also fought alongside the Taliban while fighting USSR troops. Resources made available by USA for Afghanistan struggle were partly diverted by Pakistan to support low intensity war in Kashmir.

4.Creation of Bangladesh:

East Pakistan was an ‘Achille’s heel” for Pakistan. Creation of Bangladesh was the biggest mistake committed by India. To avenge the defeat in Bangladesh, Pakistan Army resolved to engage India on western front firstly in Punjab and later in Kashmir and they had every reason to do so. India had presumed that creation of Bangladesh would help ease the tension in North-East as she believed that militancy in North-East  was supported by erstwhile East Pakistan. While doing so, we failed to understand its repercussions and have been paying for this miscalculation ever since. It has to be realized that East Pakistan was a bigger land mass with more population than West Pakistan yet it was Western wing that was ruling Pakistan as a whole and Bengalis had no say whatsoever in the state affairs. The Army and Police of Pakistan were mostly recruited from West Pakistan as there was a trust deficit between the two wings. The two wings were more than 1500 miles away from each other. The army, navy and air force, besides para military forces to maintain law and order, had to be deployed from western wing to keep control of the eastern wing. In addition, it involved logistics and support system which was bleeding Pakistan especially in the wake of uprising in Eastern wing. The Eastern Pakistan had developed into a malignant tumor for Pakistan. By hind sight it seems that the Bangladesh War of 1971 was like a surgery conducted to remove this malignancy from ailing Pakistan which restored her to health. Pakistan has now a limited frontier to protect and does not have a colony bigger than itself at a distance of 1500 miles to protect and control which consumed two-thirds of its administrative and military resources. Now she has deployed all these troops and resources on Western frontier especially Kashmir.

5.Other International Events :

Many other international events too have worked as catalysts for the rise of militancy in the valley.

i) Support, both material and financial, given by Saudi Arabia, Iran and other OIC countries in the name of Islam.

ii) The Islamic upsurge in West Asia triggered by the Late Ayotullah Khomeini had a sort of pied piper effect on the Kashmiri Muslims.

iii) Engagement of Indian forces in Sri Lanka diverted Indian attention to outside her own borders while the menace was breeding in her midst in Kashmir, Punjab and Assam.

iv) India’s incorporation of Sikkim as a state of the Union and its intervention in Maldives and Sri Lanka have attracted adverse comments from the international community. Even Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai was critical about India’s action in respect of Sikkim.

v) Indian leadership of the Non-Aligned group was based more upon moral and ethical values than its might. India however lost its leadership in 1970’s. Justification of her actions is questioned more frequently now than before.

vi) Kashmiris drew inspiration from the ‘Intefada” of Palestine and often referred to the  movement as Kashmiri Intefada as per Hafeez R Khan  (The Kashmir Intefada, Pakistan Horizon, vol32, No 2, April 1990)

vii) The unification of East and West Germany is being quoted by pro-independence Kashmiri organizations as an example to be emulated for unification of Kashmir under ‘the third option.’


¹.Selig S Harrison, ‘ Let’s Get off the road to Nuclear War in south Asia, International Herald Tribune.

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