Will Taliban trickle over to Kashmir?

In 1998 the head of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, stated that although his organisation supports Jihad in Kashmir but the Afghan men fighting in Kashmir have gone on their own. (Ahmad Rashid, ‘Taliban: The story of the afghan Warlords’).

The most important worry that concerns India is that post the withdrawal of NATO Forces from Afghanistan the hardened multinational fighters may trickle over to the Indian part of Kashmir.

But the important question that one needs to ask: Why would Afghans try to meddle in Indian affairs when the latter is ostensibly doing developmental works? Very recently India refused to get militarily involved in Afghanistan for which they received appreciation from Taliban (Policy Research Group: “Taliban praises India for rejecting US request to send army to Afghanistan” 19 June, 2012).

For sure Afghanistan will not see the resurgence of civil war as happened after the end of Soviet occupation. Having ruled Afghanistan and brought it under its order, Taliban is not going to repeat the mistakes that the warlords committed in the early 90s. It is certain that with the end of occupation Taliban is going to sweep the remaining occupational remnants within a couple of years. They have shown it in the past and they are capable of it because of their strength.

India thinks that Taliban ascension in Afghanistan is against its interest. It is one of the reasons that while hundreds of Indian children are dying, thousands unable to study, penniless farmers taking loans then ending their life while their families remain in debt forever, the India State has put up an assistance of 2 billion dollars to Karzai led government. It seems India is consistently getting trapped in risky illusions. India, ignoring its humongous poor people, is consistently giving funds to collaborators.

The reason for it is India’s fatal obsession to strangulate Pakistan’s ‘mirage mis-named strategic depth’. (Eqbal Ahmed: ‘A mirage mis-named strategic depth’ Al-Ahram Weekly On-line 27 Aug. – 2 Sep. 1998) “Unfortunately,” wrote Eqbal Ahmed, “in any meaningful way, it does not. In military thought it is a non-concept unless one is referring to a hard-to-reach place where a defeated army might safely cocoon.” Even if Pakistan is left to live in its illusion of strategic depth India has least harm from it.

For sure the Taliban government in Afghanistan is not going to be a proxy of Pakistan. Afghans are proud race who like most of the people in world don’t want to be ruled by foreigners. Unlike others Afghans are ready to fight and muscle the foreigners out from their land. In power Taliban will have to consolidate first. It will not try to get muddled into the affairs of other States. Once the Statecraft bitches Taliban it will behave like the rest of the States in the world—its interest paramount—rest subject to benefit.

The immediate task of Taliban will be to Talbanise Pakistan’s tribal community. For Pakistan containing Taliban is a huge worry. There is every chance, as is quite visible in Pakistan, that former will have a cascading effect on the internal politics of the latter. India can utilise that time to leapfrog ahead and emerge not only as an economic power but military one as well. But for that India has to solve the Kashmir quagmire.

India has successfully co-opted the emerging elite of the Kashmir in her stride. India has also been effective in building up an intellectual section that is furthering its case in Kashmir. However, India needs to show its seriousness not only to those two sections but to its pro Indian parties in Kashmir as well. The State has to give in to their certain demands. Otherwise there are enough people who will mythicize Taliban as the rescuer. Up to 2014 India has enough time not to decide but to take a firm decision.

May be on some occasion Taliban might come under the influence of Pakistani supporters. But for that Pakistan has to pay a price toward the Taliban. And the latter will weigh the options before it agrees to smuggle its men into Kashmir. Even if Talibs started pouring in Kashmir it is difficult to foresee they getting any help from the local population as the hardliner Hurriyat Chairman, Mr Syed Ali Geelani and Jihad Council Chief, Mr Salahuddin have repeatedly condemned their actions.

Moreover, Kashmiris are made of a different mettle. Unlike Afghans, Kashmiris are not going to bear the hardships like the former. Unlike Afghans, Kashmiris don’t believe that for creating a new order you need to destroy the older one. Kashmiris have demonstrated it repeatedly that although they would like to change the system but without endorsing the hardships. The Indian worries that Taliban would trickle over to Kashmir are based on insomniac illusions.

(Inam ul Rehman says he is a ‘failed journalist’)