Originally Published 2004-07-30 05:55:49 Published on Jul 30, 2004
Ever since the start of the insurgency in Kashmir, the Pakistani intelligence agencies have constantly raised, mutated, emasculated and even extirpated the so-called jihadi groups active in Kashmir. The dependence of the Jihadis active in Kashmir on Pakistan for training, logistics, arms and ammunition and most of all sanctuaries, has been exploited to the hilt by the Pakistani establishment.
Splitting Jihad to Control it or End it?
Ever since the start of the insurgency in Kashmir, the Pakistani intelligence agencies have constantly raised, mutated, emasculated and even extirpated the so-called jihadi groups active in Kashmir. The dependence of the Jihadis active in Kashmir on Pakistan for training, logistics, arms and ammunition and most of all sanctuaries, has been exploited to the hilt by the Pakistani establishment. Not only do the Pakistani agencies decide which organization will play what role in fuelling the insurgency in Kashmir, they also raise new outfits at regular intervals to ensure that none of the organizations ever get so big or powerful that they can ever pose a threat to the state. The moment a group gets too powerful or autonomous or becomes a political liability or if it strays from the line given to it by the Pakistan establishment, it is either replaced by another group or is rendered completely ineffective by withdrawing patronage. In other words, 'Jihad' as an instrument of state policy has always been subservient to the requirements of the state and is not allowed to be an end in itself. <br /> <br /> In the initial years the Pakistanis supported JKLF despite the fact that they were not comfortable with the JKLF's pro-independence ideology. But as soon as the Pakistanis managed to build up the pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahedin, support was withdrawn from the JKLF. Once Hizbul Mujahedin grew too big, the Pakistanis needed to cut it down to size and engineered splits within that organisation. The fact that the Hizbul Mujahedin was initially composed of Kashmiri's made the Pakistani establishment look for a more Pakistani alternative. This was achieved by diverting the jihadis who had fought in Afghanistan to Kashmir. There were essentially two Deobandi jihadi organisations which were ushered into waging war in Kashmir - Harkatul Jihad Islami and Harkatul Mujahedin. Because of the problems in coordinating their operations, in 1993 a merger was effected between these two Deobandi jihadis groups to form the Harkatul Ansar. But by 1995 the HuA had become untenable because of three reasons: one, its involvement in Islamic terrorism in other parts of the world, notably the Balkans and Far East; two, the Al Faran incident in which 5 Western tourists were kidnapped and later killed in Kashmir, an act that forced the US to declare HuA a terrorist organisation; and three, the involvement of one of its leaders in the botched coup attempt against the government the Benazir Bhutto. So, HuA was again split into its constituents. The larger constituent, Harkatul Mujahedin was later split to form the Jaishe Mohammed. When the Jaishe Mohammed became a liability it was split into Tehrikul Furqan and later into Khuddamul Islam. <br /> <br /> The one jihadi group that never split nor never was allowed to split until now was the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Latest reports from Pakistan however suggest that Jamaatud Dawa (the parent body of Lashkar-e-Taiba) has split into two factions- one faction is led by the head of the Jamaatud Dawa, Prof Hafiz Saeed, while the other faction comprising primarily of LeT cadres and now called Khairun Naas (KN) is led by Prof Zafar Iqbal. Is this then the latest in the series of Pakistan establishments divide and rule policy towards Jihadi groups? And if it is, then what will be its impact on the operations of the LeT in Kashmir? Does the split in the JuD signal a major reversal in Pakistan's jihad policy in Kashmir? Or does it mean that the JuD was growing too big for the Pakistani establishments comfort and it needed to be cut down to size, both to calibrate its jihadi activities as well as to limit its growing influence within Pakistan. Is the split indicative of the split within the Pakistani establishment between those who want to continue along the path of jihad and those who want to change course to 'enlightened moderation'?&nbsp; <br /> The LeT is among the most active terrorist organisations operating in Kashmir and has long been a favourite of the Pakistani establishment. So much so that in November 2003 even as a ban was re-imposed on jihadi organisations like Jaishe Mohammed and Harkatul Mujahedin which had continued to do their deadly business by merely changing their names, Pakistan's military regime merely put the JuD on the terror watch list. What is more, while other jihadi leaders like Maulana Masood Azhar, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, Bakht Zameen were hardly seen in public, the JuD head Prof Hafiz Saeed was making whistle-stop tours of the country and addressing public meetings in which he openly incited jihad against India, Israel and the US and criticised Gen. Pervez Musharraf for siding with the forces of Kufr. And yet no action was ever taken against him. The standard excuse was that Pakistan is a democracy and people enjoy the right to free speech. An even more disingenuous excuse was that Hafiz Saeed's rhetoric is no different than that of Indian leaders like Bal Thackeray or Pravin Togadia.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> On the face of it, the split in the JuD is the result of a personality clash between Prof Hafiz Saeed and Prof Zafar Iqbal. But it is also a fight over the way the organisation has been functioning over the last few years. According to Pakistani news reports the dissidents led by Prof Zafar Iqbal have accused Hafiz Saeed of nepotism, diverting the party from its original objectives and unfair distribution of funds. Interestingly, there is also a caste (called biradari in Pakistan) factor in the split, with Prof Zafar Iqbal (an Arain) accusing Prof Hafiz Saeed (a Gujjar) of promoting the Gujjars within the organisation. This is ironic because the last thing one expected from a Salafi organisation was to succumb to the virus of the Hindu caste system. Be that as it may, a struggle is underway between the two factions for control of the considerable assets that belong to the organisation. And it is feared that this struggle may soon take violent form. On paper, the Khairun Naas appears to be the stronger faction since most of the LeT cadre supports it. Moreover, other than close relatives of Hafiz Saeed, all other major figures in the organisation have switched loyalties to Khairun Naas. But the fact that Hafiz Saeed was the public face of the organisation and has over the years consolidated his position as the most important jihadi leader in Pakistan, is not something that can be ignored.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> What is important from India's point of view is the impact of the split in JuD on terrorist activities within India. That the split has been engineered by the Pakistani establishment is something that cannot be in doubt. The Daily Times has quoted a JuD leader as saying that breakaway faction, Khairun Naas, was established to weaken the JuD because Hafiz Saeed had not succumbed to the pressure of the 'agencies' to stop preaching Jihad. But the question is whether the split was engineered to give a push to Jihad or to end it. While Hafiz Saeed was all fire and brimstone on jihad in public, it was an open secret that he used to faithfully follow the orders of his handlers from the 'agencies'. But the sheer one-sided nature of the split, with the entire militant cadre along with the frontline jihadi leadership and party assets going to the rival Khairun Naas faction, belies claims that the split was engineered to end the jihad. After all, unless the LeT fighters and commanders have had a sudden change of heart and started believing in Musharraf's 'enlightened moderation', they are unlikely to go slow on waging jihad against India. Therefore, if anything, it appears as though the split in JuD is designed to give a fillip to jihad.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> But then the question arises, why replace Hafiz Saeed, since he too would have been more than willing to raise the jihadi temperature in Kashmir. There can be only two possible explanations for replacing Hafiz Saeed. One, Gen. Musharraf was losing patience with Hafiz Saeed's rhetoric and wanted to replace him with someone who too would follow his orders but without using vituperative language against him in public, like Hafiz Saeed used to do. Two, Gen. Musharraf is losing control over his jihadi auxiliaries and thereby his agencies. The implication of the second explanation is that the split within the Pakistani establishment is deepening, with Musharraf's rival faction playing spoiler on the peace process with India by propping up the more extremist and uncontrollable faction of jihadis. One indication of who or what has been behind the JuD split will be the manner in which the division of assets is handled. If the state leans in favour of Hafiz Saeed, then it means that there is a divide within the Pakistani establishment. However, if the Khairun Naas faction takes away all the major assets facing minimal resistance then it means that Musharraf was behind the split. In the former case, India can expect a resurgence in terrorist violence in Kashmir. At the same time, India will need to watch closely the tussle for power within Pakistan. In the latter case, terrorist violence will be carefully calibrated in tune with the peace process. In other words, business as usual in Kashmir. <br /> <br /> <em>* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.</em>
The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.