What are the implications of September 11 on Kashmir? Has the US War on Terrorism reduced militancy in the Valley? Has Kashmir become a part of the “international agenda”? How has the War on Terrorism left an impact on India’s war on terrorism in Kashmir?
War on Terrorism and Militancy in Kashmir
In terms of statistics, there is no evidence that the global War on Terrorism has reduced militant attacks in Kashmir. In 2001, according to Indian Army reports, the militants have killed 786 civilians, on an average of 65 persons per month. Upto 15 August this year, 488 civilians have been killed, on an average of 61 persons each month. Hence, in terms of civilian casualties, there has been no reduction.
In terms of major attacks by the militants, there is no proof either that it has reduced. Since September 11, 2001, there have been four major attacks. The first was in October 2001, in which the militants attacked the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. The second attack was bolder, in which the militants attacked the Union Parliament in December 2001. After a gap, the militants attacked the Army camp at Kaluchak in May 2002 and later, in August, there was an attack near Pahalgam on pilgrims visiting the Amarnath temple.
Thus, since September 11, there has not been any decline in militant activities against the Indian state nor in their attacks upon civilians in Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir, September 11 and the International Agenda
The Indian government and many outside it expected that there would be an increased focus by the international community (read the US) against militancy in Kashmir. It was expected that they would force Pakistan to give up its active support for militants and stop crossborder terrorism by dismantling terrorist camps on its soil. However, this did not happen.
There was pressure on Musharraf to stop assistance to the militants and an attempt was made by the military regime on this account. Some leaders, including the heads of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad were arrested; some jihadi organizations were banned, and their funds frozen. Both Pakistan and the US focused more on the Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists and their supporters inside Pakistan. Though Musharraf made statements that he would stop cross-border terrorism, he made no concrete efforts. Even if he is sincere, it is doubtful, whether he would succeed, given the close relations between jihadi organizations and the military in Pakistan.
The US was never serious about extending the War on Terrorism against Pakistan’s activities in Kashmir. Whatever importance Kashmir has gained in the post-September 11 period, was due to the Indian military buildup along the border, and the fear of nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan. Even in future, Kashmir will only become a part of the international agenda, as a “nuclear flash point” and not due to any militant activities.
Kashmir and India’s War on Terrorism
In the post September 11 period, especially after the attack on the Indian Parliament, India has launched a diplomatic and military offensive against terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. The main objective was to identify Pakistan as the epicenter of terrorism, and pressure the international community to coerce Pakistan against sponsoring cross-border terrorism. Had the September 11 attack not taken place, the Government of India may not have undertaken such an offensive.
Kashmir and War on Terrorism
Many inside the Valley feel that, in the post-September 11 period, Kashmir has become part of the international agenda. There is an expectation that both India and Pakistan would be forced by the international community to negotiate and find a permanent solution for Kashmir. The Hurriyat believes that it would also be a part of such a trilateral dialogue; the National Conference believes that the international community should act against the militants and the Hurriyat, who are puppets in the hands of people from across the border. Moderate political groups in the Valley also believe that September 11 has placed Kashmir on the international radar scope, hence they expect the Union government to pursue a coherent and serious policy towards the state. The common people, however, are not sanguine about September 11 and the future of Kashmir; all they want is electricity, water and employment, and get rid of the corrupt NC.