Posts Tagged ‘World’

India kneels: Ready to discuss Kashmir

September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

India kneels: Ready to discuss Kashmir

After taking the stand that “Kashmir was in internal matter”, the Bharati Foreign Minister has made about about face. The 180 degree turn in the Bharati position changes its long standing stand that “Kashmir was Bharat’s attot tung” and therefore there was nothing to discuss with Pakistan.

PM Singh used to say “that there can be no change in borders”. However the current statement by Mr. Krishna changes Bharat’s basic condition.

However the current fire in Indian Occupied Kashmir has apparently forced Delhi to begin talking to Pakistan.

Despite increasingly fiery statements from Pakistan on Kashmir, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has said that he was open to talking about Kashmir. “We are willing to talk on Kashmir also with Pakistan,” he said in an interview to HT.

Asked what the contours of discussions on Kashmir could be, he said, “It’s going to be a free-wheeling discussion. There are not going to be any parameters.”

He said if Pakistan was attempting to impose conditions in advance, it would result in “injecting an element of distrust” within the process of talks.

Pro-Pakistani Kashmiri leader Geelani said in a statement that Krishna’s demand for withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Azad Kashmir reflected the “imperialistic mindset and rigid stand of government of India on Kashmir issue”.


The criminal silence on the bloodbath taking place in the Kashmir valley

September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The criminal silence on the bloodbath taking place in the Kashmir valley

“A Burning Paradise”, “Kashmir on the Edge” — these single liners with images of hundreds of thousands of children and youth holding placards reading, “We want freedom”, “Go back…” children and teenagers engaged in ding-dong battles with troops, blood-soaked bodies on biers with thousands of wailers chanting pro-freedom slogans carrying them to the martyrs’ graveyards for burial have been beaming television screens for the past few months.

These images are more than enough to tell the real Kashmir story to people in India in particular and world in general. At this point of time it will be difficult for me to say if the Indian intelligentsia would raise banners of revolt against New Delhi as the French intellectuals did in Paris forcing the government to sign the Evian Accords that ended the Algerian war. With religion and caste continuing to dominate Indian political discourse and major political parties surviving on religious bigotry it may take many more years for the people of India to know the truth about Kashmir and look at the problem dispassionately. But what torments me is the indifference of the global community, particularity the Muslim world, toward the human tragedy in Kashmir.

The ministerial meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir as well as the annual coordination committee meeting of the OIC foreign ministers took place during the 65th annual session of UN General Assembly held in New York from Sept. 22 to 24. The Contact Group on Kashmir includes Pakistan, Iran, Niger, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The meeting was held at a time when, in the words of a columnist in The Times of India, Kashmir was once again staring New Delhi in the face. It was held at a time when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators were filling the streets of Kashmir’s cities in the words of Indian author Pankaj Mishra.

The demonstrators are overwhelmingly young, many in their teens, and armed with nothing more lethal than stones. Yet the Indian state seems determined to strangle their voices as it did of the old one. Or as very rightly put by top Indian journalist Vinod Mehta, “One would need a heart of stone not to be moved by the plight of the stone-pelters of Srinagar taking on the might of the Indian security forces — a David vs. Goliath fight.” So far 103 youths, most of them children and teenagers, have been killed.

Since the birth of the dispute, Jammu and Kashmir has seen many turmoil, deaths and destruction but it is difficult to find anything like the situation obtaining since June 11, 2010. There is no precedent of the entire Kashmir Valley being converted into “a cage”, as reported by The Washington Post, for such a long period. “The youth uprising” in Kashmir has been getting unparalleled coverage in the Western media. Rarely in the past has the Kashmiri movement received such a sustained media attention. According to the New York Times (Aug. 13), the Kashmiri protests for a third consecutive year “signal the failure of Indian efforts to win the assent of Kashmiris using just about any tool available: Money, elections and overwhelming force.” It is for the first time in the history of Kashmir that even a state chief minister has gone on record to say publicly that the youth fighting on the streets were not demanding employment or economic package but a political settlement that reflects the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

Despite the public opinion in the West (even in India the public opinion for the first time seems to be concerned about Kashmir to an extent) why the world at large and Muslim countries in particular is maintaining criminal silence on the bloodbath taking place in the valley? Excepting one or two ritualistic statements by the secretary-general, the OIC has been witnessing the gory happenings in Kashmir as a mute spectator.

The birth of the OIC was seen by many Muslim scholars as a manifestation of the Islamic renaissance as dreamt by people like Jamaluddin Afghani and Muhammad Abdu in Arabia. The organization undoubtedly provides the leaders of the Muslim nations around the world a common platform for “intergovernmental dialogue and action.” With all its inherent difficulties it does project a Muslim worldview. The organization has been articulating its views on Kashmir and these views are those of the Muslim world. The OIC for the past 20 years has been meeting on Kashmir. Like the United Nations this organization of 56 Muslim countries does not “recognize the finality of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India.” It also believes that “India’s noncooperation and the passage of time do not erode UN obligations.

Time and again, the OIC has been reiterating that “the Kashmiri right of self-determination is an inalienable right which has been acknowledged by UN Security Council resolutions. As such, it constitutes an obligation for all members of the United Nations, and in particular, the designated parties to the dispute, India and Pakistan.

The OIC has not only constituted a Contact Group on Kashmir but also accorded an observer status to the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. It has also appointed a special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir. The perusal of the proceedings of this organization for the past two decades, more particularly after the APHC was accorded an observers status, are full of statements and resolutions in support of the right to self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2008, Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on the sidelines of the 11th OIC Summit held in Dakar, Senegal on March 14 described Kashmir as one of the oldest unresolved issues on the agenda of the UN and OIC. He also called upon the member states, especially those who have good relations with India, to effectively use their influence to improve the human rights conditions in Kashmir.

India never permitted the OIC special envoy to visit Kashmir. The envoy has been only visiting the Azad Kashmir and submitting its report to the organization. It obviously cannot be a complete report. The OIC Contact Group as well as the general body has been passing resolutions in support of resolving the Kashmir problem but New Delhi has been dismissing these resolutions as of no consequence even diplomatically.

The OIC Contact Group on Kashmir is not a diplomatic lightweight as it includes major and influential Muslim countries. India has very strong economic and political relations with these countries. The question then arises why New Delhi is not attaching any importance to the OIC resolutions on Kashmir.

The situation in Kashmir makes it imperative for the OIC to moot over this point and work out a strategy that will make New Delhi come out of its denial mood and restart composite dialogue with Pakistan for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and other allied issues. By Z.G. MUHAMMAD | ARAB NEWS, So much bloodshed in Kashmir

— Zahid G. Muhammad is a columnist and writer based in Srinagar. He can be contacted at:

Opposing an Independent Jammu and Kashmir: Syed Ali Shah Geelani

September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Opposing an Independent Jammu and Kashmir: Syed Ali Shah Geelani

Opposing an Independent Jammu and Kashmir

What, then, of the third option—of an independent Jammu and Kashmir? It is clear that a significant majority of the Muslim population of the state would indeed support this project, although, of course, the non-Muslims of the state, being almost wholly with India, would oppose it, fearing Kashmiri/Muslim domination. [1] That relatively few Muslims of the state, particularly from the Kashmir Valley, would choose to remain with India is undeniable. The continuing and mounting human rights violations, including widespread killings and torture, in Kashmir by agencies of the Indian state (which Geelani describes in chilling detail) has, admittedly, only hardened the resolve of many Kashmiri Muslims to seek azadi , freedom from India. But, this does not mean that anti-Indianism in Kashmir translates automatically into pro-Pakistani sentiment. Indeed, it can be safely said, as mentioned before, that the desire for a separate state of their own, independent of both India and Pakistan, among a substantial number of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir has been further reinforced in recent years with the ongoing developments in Pakistan, where chronic political instability, economic crisis, sectarian violence, terrorism in the name of Islam, continued sabotage of democracy, and Pakistan’s subservience to America—to name just a few factors—have convinced many Kashmiri Muslims that joining Pakistan, instead of being independent, is definitely not a worthwhile proposition.

Yet, even in the face of the desire for an independent state of their own on the part of probably the majority of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, Geelani has consistently continued to press for the state’s merger with Pakistan and to vehemently oppose the demand for an independent Jammu and Kashmir. Stressing his opposition to the ‘third option’, Geelani castigates it as a ‘play’ ( khel ) of Kashmiri Muslim ethno-nationalists, whom he refers to contemptuously as mere ‘elements’ ( anasir ). [2] In order to counter this popular demand, he claims that talk of the ‘third option’—an independent for Jammu and Kashmir, based on the state’s August 1947 boundaries—is an ‘Indian conspiracy’ to strengthen India’s claim on the disputed territory. In an interview in 1993 with a Pakistani journalist, he insisted that Jammu and Kashmir must become a part of Pakistan, rather than an independent country, arguing, ‘If we win the right to self-determination, we want to restrict the choice to just two options [India or Pakistan], and we will appeal to the people to vote for Pakistan’. To ‘bring up the issue of the third option’, he went on, was ‘destructive ( nuqsandeh )’, adding that ‘we want to save the entire Muslim community from this tragedy’. [3] He contended that if the ‘third option’ were allowed, anti-India votes would be divided between supporters of an independent Jammu and Kashmir and those who wanted the state’s accession to Pakistan, and that in such a situation those in favour of the state’s accession to India might easily win. Thus, in a press conference that he addressed in 1992 on being released from a long spell in jail, Geelani declaimed:

‘The ongoing struggle in Kashmir has brought the issue on the world stage, and so the rulers of India have devised a dangerous political trap by talking of the third option. Through this they want to divide the people. India knows that some people will want to join Pakistan and that some will raise the slogan for independence, and then these will fight each other and their votes will be divided. This will benefit India. In my view this [talk of the third option] is a crafty weapon that India is wielding in order to divert us from the basic position on the issue of Kashmir [the choice between India and Pakistan through a plebiscite as envisaged by the UN Security Council Resolutions].’ [4]

At the same time, it appears that Geelani is indeed aware that the majority of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir may not be enthusiastic about his plea for their state’s merger with Pakistan and may actively support the ‘third option’ that he so vehemently denounces. This is why he appears to reluctantly admit that if it is no longer possible (for reasons he does not elaborate) for the UN Security Council Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir to be implemented, then the three parties to the conflict—India, Pakistan and what he terms as the ‘authentic representatives’ ( haqiqi numainde ) of the people of Jammu and Kashmir—should organize a tripartite conference under UN supervision, and that if in this conference they unanimously agree on an independent Jammu and Kashmir conforming to the state’s boundaries as in August 1947 he would agree to this proposal. [5] It is clear that this is not the ideal solution for Geelani, however, who indicates that he would accept such a deal ‘only as a last measure’ [6] and ‘under duress’. [7]

Claiming the Authoritative Voice

A key issue involved in the tripartite conference on Jammu and Kashmir that Geelani calls for is: How are the ‘authentic representatives’ of the people of Jammu and Kashmir who would participate in this conference to be decided? This is a particularly complex question given the extreme heterogeneity of the people of the state, in terms of religion, sect, caste, ethnicity, and language, not to speak of gender and class.

Geelani insists that the Kashmir conflict is not a bipartite dispute between India and Pakistan. Rather, there are three parties to the dispute: India, Pakistan and the ‘people’ ( awam ) of Jammu and Kashmir. Hence, he argues, the dispute cannot be solved between just the Governments of India and Pakistan. The conflict is not a territorial one between India and Pakistan, he points out, but, rather, one that relates to the life of the over twelve million inhabitants of the state. [8] Hence, no solution to the conflict is acceptable, he says, if it goes against the wishes of ‘the people of the state’, who must have a central say in such a solution, because the conflict and its solution concerns their very existence and future. [9]

Scattered throughout Geelani’s book are repeated references to the need for the ‘authentic representatives’ of the awam or ‘people’ of Jammu and Kashmir to be represented in any tripartite conference on Kashmir to decide the state’s future. But as to who these representative individuals and groups are Geelani remains, perhaps deliberately, fuzzy. It would appear that, to him, these ‘representatives’ are essentially Kashmiri Sunni Muslims who seek independence from India, given that whenever Geelani speaks of ‘the people of Jammu and Kashmir’ or ‘the Kashmiri people’ it is in such a manner as to seem to equate the terms with the anti-Indian Muslim constituency state, in particular the Sunni Muslims of the Kashmir Valley. This is clearly indicated throughout the book, as, for instance, when Geelani argues that ‘the people of Jammu and Kashmir’ are vociferously opposed to India, and that ‘every person’ in the state ‘hates India’ [10] , ignoring the undeniable fact that the non-Muslims of the state, as well as significant sections of Muslims outside the Kashmir Valley (and not an insignificant number of Muslims in the Valley as well) do not share this perception at all. When Geelani announces that, ‘There is not a single person in Jammu and Kashmir who is agreeable to dialogue and compromise with India or living under its control’ [11] , it is clear that the vast numbers of people of the state—the non-Muslims of the state as well as many Muslims—who believe otherwise simply do not exist in his imagination, and that, as far as he is concerned, their aspirations have no value at all in determining the political future of the state. It is as if these inhabitants of the state, non-Muslim and Muslim alike, who do not share Geelani’s project, of a Maududist-style ‘Islamic state’ and merger with Pakistan, are completely dispensable and are not part of what Geelani refers to as the ‘people of Jammu and Kashmir’, on whose behalf he claims to speak.

In this way, in Geelani’s writings anti-Indian Kashmiri Sunni Muslims come to be seen as standing in for all the people of the state, while the sizeable remaining population of Jammu and Kashmir (Hindus, Dalits, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, many Shia Muslims and non-Kashmiri Pahari Muslims, as well as not a negligible number of Kashmiri Muslims) who are definitely pro-India are completely ignored and silenced as if they are not part of ‘the people of Jammu and Kashmir’. But it is not every Kashmiri Muslim leader who demands freedom from India who is seen as an ‘authentic representative’ of the people of the entire state in Geelani’s scheme of things. Rather, to Geelani, the mantle of ‘authenticity’ falls on people like himself, Islamists who advocate Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. Secular and/or nationalist Kashmiri Muslims who advocate an independent Jammu and Kashmir are depicted as ‘inauthentic’ and, hence, as disqualified from claiming to represent the Kashmiris in tripartite negotiations. This, for instance, is suggested in Geelani’s response to a query from a Pakistani journalist in 1993, when he claimed that ‘there can no doubt that the Kashmiri people have been engaged in this struggle for the sake of Islam and for accession ( ilhaq ) to Pakistan’. [12] Likewise, in a letter written in 1993 to the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Geelani described Pakistan as the ‘land of the dreams’ of ‘ all Kashmiris’ because it was ‘won in the name of Islam’. [13] In this letter, he argued, ignoring completely the aspirations of the Kashmiri Muslim ethno-nationalists, that accession to Pakistan is ‘what the Kashmiri people have been demanding since 1947′. [14] Geelani thus appeared to claim that Kashmiri Muslim ethno-nationalists who are as opposed to their state joining Pakistan as they are to it being part of India have no resonance at all with the ‘people’ of Jammu and Kashmir, whom he erroneously describes as homogenously pro-Pakistan and Islamist. This would logically mean (although he does not say so in so many words) that they are in no way ‘authentic’ representatives of the people, and hence are not qualified to speak on their behalf in any tripartite conference to chalk out a solution to the Kashmir dispute.

Given this, it is not surprising, therefore, that when Geelani talks of the ‘authentic representatives’ of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, he refers to people like himself. In a pamphlet he penned in 1992, titled ‘Solution to the Kashmir Conflict’, which was published by the Jamaat-e Islami of Jammu and Kashmir and which is reproduced in Nava-e Hurriyat , he argued that the ‘third party’ in negotiations over the status of the state would be ‘the real representatives who desire freedom ( azadi pasand )’. [15] He remained, perhaps deliberately, ambiguous as to who these individuals and organizations would be. Asked by a Pakistani journalist to identify them, he cryptically answered, ‘The people who can reliably represent Kashmir are present. Searching for them will not take much time’. [16] He even went to the extent of arguing, presumably referring to himself and people of his ilk, ‘We can form this representative group ourselves’ [17] , adding that this group would consist of people from both Pakistan-administered Kashmir (‘Azad Kashmir’) and from Indian-ruled Kashmir ‘who are fighting for azadi ‘, and who would ‘truly represent the wishes of the people’. [18] Further underlining his argument that, in his view, the ‘true’ representatives of the people of the state would be those who shared his position (Maududist-style Islamist politics and merger with Pakistan), he argued that in any proposed tripartite talks the delegation of ‘the true representatives of Jammu and Kashmir’ and the Pakistani delegation ‘would certainly support each other.’ ‘They will be close to each other and will not oppose each other’, he went on. ‘I believe’, he insisted, ‘that there cannot be any difference in the thinking of the representatives of Kashmir and that of the Pakistani delegation’. [19] Quite naturally, then, the individuals and groups whom Geelani considers ‘authentic representatives’ of the people of Jammu and Kashmir who, in his view, would be qualified to participate in the tripartite talks would be ardent advocates of the merger of the state with Pakistan. This effectively excludes the voices of the non-Muslims of the state as well as pro-independence Kashmiri ethno-nationalists from his definition of ‘authentic’ representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, although, taken together, they reflect the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the population of the state.

Geelani on the Non-Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir

Various non-Muslim communities occupy more than a third of the population of the Indian-administered part of Jammu and Kashmir. Hindu-majority Jammu and Buddhist-majority Leh account for well over half of the geographical area of the state. They have consistently opposed the azadi movement, being vehemently opposed to the state’s accession to Pakistan and even to an independent Jammu and Kashmir, and are almost entirely pro-India. Despite their significant numbers, these non-Muslim inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir are, as noted before, almost wholly invisiblised in Geelani’s representation of the ‘people’ of the state.

As mentioned earlier, Geelani routinely refers to the ‘people of Jammu and Kashmir’, a term he uses interchangeably with another term, the ‘Kashmiri awam ‘, as being united in their fierce opposition to Indian rule. In this way, ignoring the immense religious and ethnic diversity in the state, he conflates the entire population of the state with the Muslims (specifically Sunni Muslims) of the Kashmir Valley. Accordingly, the desire for freedom from Indian rule of the majority of the Sunni Muslims of the Kashmir comes, in his view, to represent the will of the entire people of the state. The political aspirations of non-Muslim/non-Sunni, non-Kashmiri inhabitants of the state, which differ completely from those of most Sunni Muslims of the Kashmir Valley, are thus completely ignored, marginalized and silenced by Geelani, replicating, in a sense, the Indian state’s own silencing of the political aspirations of the Kashmiri Muslims.

Only once in Nava-e Hurriyat does Geelani refer to the need for the non-Muslim inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir to be represented in any proposed talks about the Kashmir conflict. He makes this passing reference not on his own volition but only when specifically asked (by a Pakistani journalist) if the non-Muslims of the state, too, would have any representation in the talks. His answer to this question is brief and somewhat vague. All he says is, ‘In the tripartite talks, Kashmiris from both sides of the Line of Control will be represented, as will the non-Muslims who live in Jammu etc.. We accept their rights’. [20]

Geelani appears wholly indifferent to the political aspirations of the non-Muslims of the state and to their apprehensions about the prospect of living as obviously marginalized and severely-discriminated against minorities in Pakistan if Kashmir, as he insists, merges with that country, or in the Maududist-style ‘Islamic state’ that he so passionately argues for. Thus, in a reply to a question by an Indian journalist as to what his reaction would be if the Hindus of Jammu and the Buddhists of Ladakh voted in the proposed plebiscite to join India, he said that he would ascertain their views and ‘act accordingly’, but quickly dismissed the possibility of this happening at all by denying outright that they would like to join India. [21]

How Geelani perceives the non-Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir is indicated in the different standards he adopts with regard to human rights abuses, by the Indian armed forces, on the one hand, and by Kashmiri Muslim militants, whom he terms as mujahidin , warriors engaged in what he regards as an Islamically-mandated jihad, on the other. Nava-e Hurriyat is replete with detailed narratives of atrocities committed by the Indian armed forces against unarmed Kashmiri Muslim civilians. Yet, Geelani, willfully or otherwise, ignores the numerous atrocities committed by Muslim militants on unarmed non-Muslim (as well as Muslim) civilians, including loot, rape, and massacres. Geelani seeks to create the image of the militants as uniformly pious, committed Muslims engaged in a religiously-legitimate jihad, who, by definition, are incapable of deviating from the moral rules that are supposed to guide jihad. Thus, for instance, he places the entire blame for the mass exodus of the Hindu Pandits from the Kashmir Valley on the Indian state, absolving the militants of any role at all in this affair. He argues that the Indian state, under Jagmohan, the then Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, conspired to evacuate the Pandits from the Valley so that the Indian armed forces could brutally crush the Kashmiri Muslims and project the Kashmiri Muslims’ struggle as a narrow, ‘communal’ one so as to rob it of legitimacy in the eyes of the world community. There is undeniably some truth in this charge, of course, but when Geelani insists that not a single innocent non-Muslim has been killed by militants in Jammu and Kashmir [22] , it is obvious that he willfully seeks to cover up a long list of brutal attacks by militants that numerous other Kashmiri Muslim leaders themselves have publicly condemned.

Geelani’s indifference to the political aspirations of the non-Muslims of the state are evident throughout Nava-e Hurriyat in his answers to the journalists—never on his own—who happen to mention them. To them he hastens to insist that the ongoing militant struggle is not a narrow, Kashmiri Muslim one, although critics would remark that his claim is completely disingenuous and utterly fails to convince. In reply to a question about the implications of the struggle for the substantial non-Muslim population of Jammu and Kashmir, he replied, ‘If our struggle was based on religious hatred, it would certainly have impacted on the non-Muslims on Kashmir, but the world knows that nothing of this sort has happened.’ ‘In Kashmir’, he went on, referring to allegations about non-Muslims being targeted by militants, ‘you will see no such thing.’ [23] The non-Muslims of the Kashmir Valley, Geelani insisted, obviously concealing numerous instances of violence by militants directed against them, were fully protected by their Muslim neighbours, and ‘they have not been made to be victimized in any way by a sense of insecurity.’ Throughout the book, Geelani refuses to even acknowledge, leave alone refer to, the selected killings of non-Muslims that have taken place over the years at the hands of militants in the state, the overwhelming opposition of the non-Muslims of the state to the militant movement and to the demand for the state’s freedom from India, and the climate of fear in which non-Muslims in many Muslim-dominated parts of the state continue to live. Wholly insensitive to the aspirations of the non-Muslims of the state, and contradicting his own consistent claim that the ongoing movement in Kashmir is inspired by and for Islam and for the cause of an Islamic state, Geelani argued that ‘right from 1947, our struggle for self-determination has been non-communal ( ghair firqavarana ) and still is and shall remain so in the future. It is based on moral values, and will not discriminate on the basis of religion, colour, race, caste and region. This is not just our politics but also our religion and faith’. [24] Accordingly, he dismissed Indian claims that the movement was ‘communal’ as ‘baseless propaganda’ aiming at delegitimising and defaming it.

Geelani insists that the ‘Islamic state’ that he sees the Kashmiri Muslims as struggling for will not discriminate against its non-Muslim citizens. ‘Ever since Muslims became a majority [in Kashmir]‘, he claims, ‘we have been expressing our commitment to love of humanity, religious tolerance, peace and communal harmony. We have behaved well with our Hindu, Sikh and Christian brethren, and, with God’s help, will continue to do so in future’. [25] But how this claim squares with his insistence on establishing an ‘Islamic state’ on the model devised by his mentor Maududi, wherein non-Muslims would definitely occupy a second-grade status as dhimmi s, is, not surprisingly, left wholly unaddressed. At the same time, in an implicit admission of the very obvious fact that the non-Muslims of the state would refuse to willingly live in the ‘Islamic state’ that he aspires to establish (they being well aware of the dismal conditions of non-Muslims in neighbouring Pakistan, the record of various self-styled Islamic states of mistreating their minorities, and the forced exodus of almost the entire non-Muslim population from Pakistani-administered Kashmir in 1947), Geelani acknowledged that if India, Pakistan and the ‘representatives’ of the people of Jammu and Kashmir unanimously agreed on the division of the state, giving non-Muslim-majority Ladakh and Jammu to India, he would also accept the proposal. [26]

[1] Advocates of an independent Jammu and Kashmir and those who urge the state’s accession to Pakistan have failed to take into account the vociferous opposition to their political projects among the state’s substantial non-Muslim minority, who would regard both such options as seeking to impose Kashmiri/Muslim domination on them, in the same way as many Kashmiri Muslims regard Indian rule as Indian/Hindu domination.

[2] Ibid., p.190.

[3] Ibid., p.159.

[4] Ibid., p.66.

[5] Ibid., p.178.

[6] Ibid., p.160.

[7] Ibid., p.178.

[8] Ibid., p. 55.

[9] Ibid., p.64.

[10] Ibid., p.197.

[11] Ibid., p. 242.

[12] Ibid., p.92.

[13] Ibid., p.133.

[14] Ibid., p. 142.

[15] Ibid., p. 64.

[16] Ibid., p.175.

[17] Ibid., p.178.

[18] Ibid., pp.179-80.

[19] Ibid., p.181.

[20] Ibid., p.178.

[21] Ibid., p.197.

[22] Ibid., p.253.

[23] Ibid., p.207.

[24] Ibid., p.52.

[25] Ibid., p.172.

[26] Ibid., p.182.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani And The Movement For
Political Self-Determination For Jammu and Kashmir (part III) By Yoginder Sikand, 23 September, 2010,

Syed Ali Shah Geelani And The Movement For
Political Self-Determination For Jammu And Kashmir ( Part IV)

By Yoginder Sikand

24 September, 2010

Read Part I

Read part II

Part III

Islam and Politics

Echoing his mentor Maududi, Geelani argues that Kashmir, whether as an independent country, or, ideally, for him, as part of Pakistan, must become an ‘Islamic state’. ‘Our goal is the establishment of Islamic government ( islami hukumat )’, he contends. [1] The ‘freedom’, he says the Kashmiris are struggling for, ‘is for the sake of Islam’. [2] Indeed, and quite contrary to obvious reality, he regards the ongoing struggle against Indian rule in Kashmir as motivated primarily by this concern, not by economic impulses, and not even by ethno-nationalist concerns as Kashmiri Muslim ethno-nationalists would see it. Thus, viewing the struggle through the prism of Islam he seeks to delegitimize the Kashmiri Muslim ethno-nationalist agenda at the same time as he seeks to present the struggle as a distinctly religious, as opposed to a mere political or ethno-nationalist, one.

To Geelani, Islam is ‘incomplete’ without state power. The ‘Islamic state’, he believes, is a pivotal node of Islam, for it is only through such a state, he seems to argue, that what he regards as Islamic laws, that cover every conceivable aspect of a Muslim’s personal as well as collective lives, can be imposed on its subjects. A secular, democratic state, by definition, is anathema, for that would mean, as Maududi had repeatedly claimed, the ‘rule of man’ rather than the ‘rule of God’ ( hukumat-e ilahiya ). Geelani insists, providing his own example, that every Muslim must struggle to establish an Islamic political dispensation wherever he or she lives, regarding this as an essential task in the struggle for the ‘establishment of the faith’ ( iqamat-e din ). [3]

Geelani paints a striking contrast between the ‘Islamic state’, on the one hand, and a secular, welfare state, on the other, bitterly denouncing the latter even if it is able to better serve and meet the secular needs of its Muslim citizens. Islam and secular democracy being, in his view, wholly opposed to each other, the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir are incapable, so he suggests, precisely because of being Muslim, from accepting to live in India, a state that officially defines itself as a secular democracy, especially since India, as he describes it, miserably fails to live up to its secular and democratic claims. Even if India were to meet the secular or ‘worldly’ needs of the Kashmiri Muslims better and more effectively than Muslim Pakistan, he seems to suggest, it can by no means serve as a replacement for the ‘Islamic state’ that he insists on. In a public address delivered after his resignation, along with other members of the Muslim United Front, from the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly in 1989, shortly after the outbreak of the militant movement in Kashmir, Geelani claimed that he and his colleagues had participated in the 1987 elections solely for the sake of Islam, suggesting that this was a strategy to facilitate Kashmir’s transformation into an ‘Islamic state’. Defending, in this way, his controversial decision to participate in the elections held under the Indian Constitution, he claimed, ‘We were elected not to give water, hospitals, schools, and solve small problems, and we did not ask you for votes for this. Rather, we asked, and got, votes for certain principles. Foremost of these was the service of Islam ( islam ki khidmat ) so that in the state assembly we could champion Islamic principles and oppose laws opposed to Islam.’ He went on to relate that when the then Chief Minister of the state, Farooq Abdullah, mocked him for ‘asking people to vote for him in the name of the Quran’, he ‘boldly answered, “Yes, we asked for votes for Islam”’. When Abdullah retorted that ‘the Quran cannot give the people water, roads, hospitals, employment and improve people’s economic conditions’ but that he could, Geelani countered him by saying, ‘We are proud that Islam is a complete system. Under every condition we will work for its supremacy. Islam removes people from the slavery of people, but your secularism makes the people slaves of Delhi. Islam provides a practical message of peace and wisdom, but your political bargaining has given the Kashmiris years of humiliation, poverty, moral corruption and horrendous slavery, and nothing else, and now you are proudly trying to get people even more entangled in the chains of slavery of roads, hospitals, water and jobs. Under no conditions do we want these. We cannot accept nationalism, secularism and slavery’. [4]

Interestingly, although Geelani repeatedly insists that the goal of the Kashmiri ‘movement’ is an ‘Islamic state’, he does not provide any details at all about the polity that he dreams of and which he sees as mandated in Islam. At his hands, the ‘Islamic state’ is reduced to a mere slogan, conjuring up visions in the minds of his listeners and readers a system allegedly providing perfect social justice and equality, which he repeatedly contrasts with the unrelenting oppression that he describes the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir laboring under Indian rule. That Geelani simply bandies about the ‘Islamic state’ as a slogan, a device to mobilize popular support for his opposition to Indian rule, without providing any blue-print of such a state or explaining how it would be able to deal with the complex demands of modernity is hardly surprising. In this he is simply following in the footsteps of scores of other Islamist ideologues across the world for whom the ‘Islamic state’ is little more than a tool to mobilize support against ruling regimes by evoking memories of an alleged ‘golden Islamic past’. It is also probable that their silence on the details of the ‘Islamic state’ is a well-thought of tactical move. Were these ideologues to spell the details of their political project in clear, detailed terms, it is likely that it would cost them the support of a sizeable section of otherwise potential followers whose understanding of Islam, and of the relationship between Islam and politics, differs widely from theirs.

The ‘Jihad’ in Kashmir

Much confusion exists about the role of religion, specifically Islam, in the ongoing Kashmiri Muslim struggle against Indian rule. Many Kashmiri Muslim ethno-nationalists who aspire to an independent, democratic, and secular state would publicly announce, particularly before non-Muslims, that their struggle has nothing to do with religion per se , and that it is purely ‘political’. Since they aspire to establish an independent state with borders corresponding to those of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as in August 1947, including Hindu-majority Jammu and Buddhist-majority Leh, they feel it necessary to claim before non-Muslim audiences that their movement is not inspired by religion, or, related to it, religious communalism. To admit the contrary would, they feel, taint their movement as ‘communal’, even ‘fundamentalist’, and as representing Muslim hegemony over the non-Muslims of the state, thereby robbing it of legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. Further, since for them their Muslim-ness may be simply incidental, no more than an identity inherited at birth, they may not regard Islam as the essential driving force of their struggle just as it is not of paramount concern in their own personal lives. Thus, before non-Muslims they would insist that their movement is entirely ‘secular’ and ‘non-communal’, a purely political struggle to secure the right to self-determination, although they might equally readily evoke Islam when addressing a Kashmiri Muslim audience. Yet, as the non-Muslims of the state see it, even Kashmiri Muslim ethno-nationalists are motivated by their religious and communal identity in very fundamental ways, and that their discourses and demands are very powerfully shaped by Kashmiri Muslim communitarian concerns and what they might regard as hegemonic designs. Were they not Muslims, even in a cultural sense, they rightly point out, it is unlikely they would be clamoring for independence from India.

In contrast to the Kashmiri Muslim ethno-nationalists, who tactically and deliberately fudge over the issue of the role of Islam and Muslim community identity in the azadi movement, Geelani frames the movement entirely in Islamic terms. He declares that the ongoing militant movement against Indian rule in Kashmir is not an ordinary war, but, rather, a jihad, a struggle mandated by Islam and for the sake of Islam, quite distinct from the nationalist/political struggle that Kashmiri nationalists see it as. He does not invoke references to the Quran, Hadith or the fiqh texts, the Muslim juridical tradition wherein rules of jihad are elaborately discussed, to justify this claim. Presumably, he does not need to, assuming that for his Kashmiri Muslim audience such justification is unnecessary and that his claim is self-explanatory. Not being a traditionally trained ‘ alim or Islamic scholar, despite the public image of him as one, it is also possible that his familiarity with these texts is limited. [5]

In his Introduction to Nava-e Hurriyat , Saleem Mansur Khalid, a leading ideologue of the Jamaat-e Islami of Pakistan, presents Geelani as the ‘most reliable of all jihadi leaders in Kashmir’, and his book as ‘the most reliable expression of this jihad’. Khalid alleges that ‘oppression and cruelty’ is ‘inherent’ in the Hindus. He speaks of ‘hypocrisy and cruelty’ and ‘animalism’ as being ‘integral’ to the ‘very nature of the leaders of the Hindus’, and of the various non-Hindu communities of India being ‘heavily oppressed’ by the Hindus. [6] The very ‘nature’ of the Hindus, he appears to suggest, necessitates jihad against them. In this way, he seeks to sanction the militant movement in Kashmir as an Islamically-legitimate jihad. [7]

Geelani does not make such gross essentialist arguments about the Hindus as a people, although, revealingly, he does not contradict Khalid. At the same time, he seeks to justify his argument that the ongoing militant struggle is a jihad, as distinct from a political struggle or an ethno-nationalist liberation movement, by framing Indian atrocities in Kashmir, and, indeed, India itself, in religious terms, by arguing that the underlying motive of those engaged in the militant movement is Islam, rather than Kashmiri nationalism or simply anti-Indianism, and by projecting final goal of the movement to be the setting up of an ‘Islamic state’. In framing the struggle in this way, he also seeks to delegitimize the Kashmiri Muslim ethno-nationalists who do not share his Islamist vision.

Geelani depicts India as inherently and viscerally anti-Muslim and anti-Islam, using this as his basic argument to justify his claim that the ongoing militant movement in Kashmir is a jihad. ‘India’, he claims, ‘is a bigger enemy of Islam and Muslims than even Israel’. [8] He refers to the dismal conditions of the Indian Muslims, whom he describes as ‘heavily oppressed’ [9] at the hands of what he portrays as a Hindu state and Hindu chauvinist forces, and mentions the frequent bloody anti-Muslim pogroms, often sponsored by agencies of the state, as ‘proof’ of India’s alleged anti-Muslimism and of India’s ‘Hindu’ identity. [10] He mocks India’s claims to secularism and democracy, dismissing them as a ‘complete sham’. Ever since India won its independence, he writes, ‘not a single day has passed when the blood of innocents has not been shed’. All of India’s minority communities, including the oppressed ‘low’ castes, he contends, have been victims of this ‘barbarity’, being allegedly faced uniformly with grave and continuous threats to their lives, properties, self-respect, culture, religion, places of worship, language and identity, but the worst off have been India’s Muslims. Hence, he points out, ‘it is but natural’ for the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir, to refuse to live with India and to oppose Indian rule, even by force, in the form of what he calls jihad.

That Indian Muslims are, as a whole, heavily marginalized, and often the victims of state-sponsored violence, is undeniable. So, too, is the fact that the Indian state has done little, if at all, to address their manifold concerns. However, to claim, as Geelani does, that India is viscerally anti-Islam, even more so than Israel, is, needless to say, a complete travesty of facts, a gross and wholly unwarranted exaggeration. It can even threaten to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Geelani is indifferent to that prospect, however. One is tempted to imagine that he might even relish that possibility, for it would only reinforce his claim about India’s credentials and his insistence that the Kashmiri Muslims can at no cost accept to live under Indian rule, which he characterizes as ‘an oppressive and imperialistic system’. [11]

Geelani interprets the large scale Indian army atrocities in Kashmir as an expression of what he claims is India’s inherent anti-Islamism and anti-Muslimism. This perception must be recognized as a major factor for the widespread and continued opposition to Indian rule among many Kashmiri Muslims. Under Indian rule, Geelani claims, ‘the Islamic identity’ of Kashmir, and the ‘life, property, respect, religious places, religion and faith’ of the Kashmiri Muslims are under grave threat. The Kashmiri Muslims, he writes, without adducing any proof, are faced with deadly Indian ‘cultural aggression’. [12] India, he adds, has consistently denied the Kashmiri Muslims ‘all opportunities to progress economically and educationally’. [13]

Geelani depicts Kashmir under Indian rule as a veritable hell in order to justify the waging of what he calls a jihad against Indian occupation. It is as if half a decade of Indian rule has brought no good at all to Kashmir. The considerable economic and educational progress of the Kashmiri Muslims since 1947, and the state’s impressive infrastructural development, all made possible because of the Indian presence, are conveniently denied. The fact that Indian-administered Kashmir is considerably ahead of Pakistani-administered Kashmir on major social and economic indices is completely glossed over. That the Indian state has placed no hurdles in the free practice and propagation of Islam in Kashmir is rudely denied—all this in order to reinforce anti-Indianism and justify the cause azadi , ‘freedom’ from India. [14]

Geelani considers what he calls the jihad in Kashmir to be a trans-local phenomenon, not limited just to the confines Kashmir itself. He argues that the oppression of the Kashmiri Muslims, which he attributes to account their faith, is not unique to them alone, however. It is, in fact, so he claims, something that they share with all the Muslims of the entire world. ‘Today, all the Muslims of the world are being tightly bound up in chains of oppression, coercion and slavery. The imperialist forces are creating an unending series of problems for the entire worldwide Muslim ummah , seeking to close off to them all the paths to progress’. [15] It is thus necessary, he seems to suggest, that all Muslims must take to the path of jihad to confront the ‘imperialistic forces’ that he regards as engaged in a ‘conspiracy’ against Muslims throughout the world.

The trans-local aspect of the jihad in Kashmir also necessitates, Geelani writes, that non-Kashmiri Muslims take an active role in it. Thus, in an appeal issued in 1992 to the Afghan ‘mujahidin ‘ Geelani pleaded with them on behalf of what he termed ‘the oppressed people of Jammu and Kashmir’ to ‘come forward to help liberate them from India’ and, in this way, to ‘express their bond of Islamic brotherhood and religious commitment’. [16] In a telephonic interview with a group of Pakistani journalists in 1993, Geelani insisted, ‘It is the duty of the people of Pakistan to help their oppressed Kashmiri brethren win freedom from slavery […] In the light of the Quran, it has now become incumbent on the people of Pakistan to engage in the jihad [in Kashmir]. They must now stand up and participate in the practical ( amali ) jihad to help their Kashmiri brethren.’ Participating in the ‘Kashmir jihad’, he went on, was ‘now a binding duty ( farz ), incumbent not just on the Pakistani Muslims but, rather, the entire worldwide Muslim ummah ‘. [17]

At the same time as Geelani characterizes India as viscerally ‘anti-Islam’ and ‘anti-Muslim’ and insists that the armed struggle against Indian rule in Kashmir is a legitimate jihad in which all Muslims across the world must participate, on occasion he appears to contradict himself by moderating somewhat his anti-India rhetoric when it suits his purpose. Thus, in an interview given to the London-based Islamist magazine Impact International , he explained that despite the massive oppression they had suffered at the hands of the Indian armed forces, the Kashmiris ‘have no hate in their hearts for the Indian people.’ He made a crucial distinction between the ‘Indian people’, on the one hand, and the Indian state, on the other, pointing out that it was the latter that the Kashmiris’ struggle was directed against, for its oppression of the Kashmiris. Hence, he went on, if India relinquished its control over Kashmir, the Kashmiris ‘would have no problem in having political relations with it’. [18] He left curiously unexplained how he could justify the latter scenario if he believed that India was fiercely and inherently anti-Islam.

Geelani betrayed a similar softening of his anti-India rhetoric in an interview given to a group of Pakistani journalists in 1994 arranged for by a Pakistani jihadist organisation. The salience of this is particularly striking in the light of the fact that numerous Pakistan-based jihadist groups have called for nothing less than the destruction of India and its absorption into what they ambitiously call ‘Greater Pakistan’. On this occasion Geelani advised them, ‘Emotional slogans such as “Crush India” are not realistic, and nor do they reflect the spirit of Islam.’ Islam, he explained, ‘invites people to welfare, truth, salvation in the hereafter, the end of oppression, dialogue and understanding between the children of Adam. This is the meaning of the life of the Prophet.’ He cited the example of the Prophet Muhammad who, even when faced with ‘extreme oppression’ at the hands of his polytheist opponents of the town of Taif, ‘did not act to destroy them’, but, rather, ‘prayed for their guidance’. Accordingly, Geelani stated, ‘We must certainly struggle for our rights, but not through mere slogans. Instead of negative sloganeering, we must understand, in a positive way, Islam’s missionary spirit and spread the light of Islam. Slogans calling for destruction [of others] are not our identity. Rather, Islam’s identity lies in inviting [others to Islam], welfare, peace and truth’. [19]

[1] Ibid., p.20.

[2] Ibid., p. 173.

[3] Ibid., p.65.

[4] Ibid., pp.35-36.

[5] However, it is interesting to note, not a single well-known Indian Muslim scholar has issued any statement or fatwa declaring the militant movement in Kashmir as a jihad. On the contrary, many such scholars, with far greater Islamic scholarly credentials than Geelani himself, consider it to be, at best, a nationalist movement or a political struggle that erroneously invokes Islamic legitimacy, and several have even gone to the extent of declaring it to be an Islamically-unacceptable fitna or fasad or ‘strife’, the very opposite of jihad, and, therefore, illegitimate. They also claim that the Kashmir case does not fulfill all the various requirements for declaring a jihad according to their understanding of the Islamic scriptural sources. See, for instance, Wahiduddin Khan, Peace in Kashmir ( , accessed on 14 th September, 2010). Geelani, however, does not refer to these scholars or engage with their arguments.

[6] Ibid., p.7.

[7] Needless to say, this is a view that many Indian Muslim scholars would vehemently oppose as representing a complete distortion of the teachings of their faith.

[8] Ibid., p.147.

[9] Ibid., p.189.

[10] Gilani does not concern himself with the implications of his characterization of India as ‘anti-Islam’ and of his call for jihad against India for the Indian Muslims, who vastly outnumber the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir. The future of the Indian Muslims in the face of what he characterizes as a jihad binding on all Muslims does not concern him, and nor does he refer to what role he thinks the Indian Muslims should play in the ‘jihad’. Describing the Indian Muslims as heavily oppressed by the Indian/Hindu state and Hindu chauvinist groups, presumably he feels that their position could hardly get worse if jihad is declared against the Indian state.

[11] Ibid., p.50.

[12] Ibid., p.31.

[13] Ibid., p. 253.

[14] In my several visits to Kashmir, I have been told by Kashmiri Muslim friends of Pakistani militants who were sent to Kashmir, fed on fanciful stories of how the Government of India and the Hindus allegedly refuse to allow Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir to follow their religion and even to pray in mosques. On coming to Kashmir they were confronted with a completely different reality. Gilani’s depiction of Islam being under grave threat and attack in Kashmir fits in with this pervasive anti-Indian and anti-Hindu discourse of radical jihadist groups in Pakistan and Kashmir.

[15] Ibid., p.71.

[16] Ibid., pp.82-83.

[17] Ibid., p.92.

[18] Ibid., p. 207.

[19] Ibid., p. 227.

Conflict Renders Money Useless In Indian Occupied Kashmir

September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Conflict Renders Money Useless In Indian Occupied Kashmir

The unending unrest in Kashmir has rendered the currency worthless as it couldn’t serve the very purpose of money. The currency here during these tough times couldn’t be used to procure essential commodities, medical services, transportation and many other vitals for survival as there are no takers for it at this point of time due to continuing curfew and protests. Baring few days market places in the valley remained closed for over three months now.

The currency, a tool used for means of exchange, a standard unity to measure value and a means to store wealth, officially coined or stamped metal currency; a form or denomination of coin or paper money. However, factually during conflict times like the one Kashmir at present is witnessing since past three months, it serves almost none of these purposes. All it can do here is to make lockers, purses and pockets heavier.

The imposition of stringent curfew since September 12, 2010 in the valley has not only halted every segment of life but has virtually made survival hardest. Practically, what has happened in the past three months is that there has been negligible [if at all] free flow of money which has left it standstill. Although, there have been reports that people at large withdrew bulk of currency notes, tens of millions of rupees, from banks and their ATMs across the valley, however, the same is not circulated due to the unrest.

In a situation like this what takes place is that the money is transformed nonfunctional; people here prefer barter system, in which goods are exchanged for good, over currency. There seems to have been a deadlock in money supply, the total amount of money available in an economy at a particular point in time, which has currently supplemented demonetization in Kashmir. Wroth while to mention here that the trade across the line of control between divided Kashmir takes place through barter system only.

All this has affected the monetary system —secures the proper functioning of money by regulating economic agents, transaction types, and money supply— of Kashmir. Though there is no formal system of calculation of weekly food inflation here, but it is of sure that it would be all time high. While the real estate prices have gone down to a greater extent, brokers find it difficult to trace buyer of immovable properties.

Though, there are people however, small in number in the valley who still have capacities to purchase essentials of life but alas! their money too could no more fetch them all that money could but for them. Closure of markets, cut off supply and low productions [Agriculture and horticulture] and ever increasing demand of essentials particularly food items has further devalued money here.

Scores of people who have lots of money to burn shared how money no longer buys them goods and services here in the present situation. An elite friend of mine few days back told me that he withdrew pretty good cash from his saving bank account fearing the prolonging of unrest. However, regardless of his money it could fetch him nothing but wastage of time while waiting in a long queue for taking out some bucks from a private bank. He lamented how his money couldn’t even buy a pain killer medicine leave aside other non essential products for him. “I was ready to pay any amount for a single tablet of medicine as I was unable to bear tooth ache any further,” he rued. There are many more stories alike that remained untold but essence remains same ‘money has become useless’.

In the prevailing situation in the valley the money is unable to purchase goods, so it becomes worthless. This is not something specific to Kashmir but in particular countries, wars have produced this effect, notably in the revolutionary wars in both the United States and France, when the currency became of no value.

In a lighter vein, for others [love birds] the currency no longer could get them recharge coupons for ‘telephonic romance’ because of which they are quite unhappy with the curfews, which enforces them to stay indoors without any connections to each other. Some have resorted to internet wherein they can exchange mails, messages, wall postings and chats on social networking sites like facebook, orkut and others. There are some internet service providers who have not snapped internet connections despite non payments of bills. “I am planning to divorce mobile connection and get an internet connection which seems a viable options during these troubled times,” one of know person to me mentions. All they could hope is some respite in curfews so that their money could gather some sellable and services for them to ease their ‘love connections’. Is it time to seek real value beyond money? Conflict Renders Money Useless In Kashmir By Bilal Hussain, 24 September, 2010,

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Pepe Escobar classic Fifty questions on 9/11

September 11, 2010 3 comments

It’s September 11 all over again – eight years on. The George W Bush administration is out. The “global war on terror” is still on, renamed “overseas contingency operations” by the Barack Obama administration. Obama’s “new strategy” – a war escalation – is in play in AfPak. Osama bin Laden may be dead or not. “Al-Qaeda” remains a catch-all ghost entity. September 11 – the neo-cons’ “new Pearl Harbor” – remains the darkest jigsaw puzzle of the young 21st century.

It’s useless to expect US corporate media and the ruling elites’ political operatives to call for a true, in-depth investigation into the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Whitewash has been the norm. But even establishment highlight Dr Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, a former national security advisor, has

admitted to the US Senate that the post-9/11 “war on terror” is a “mythical historical narrative”.

The following questions, some multi-part – and most totally ignored by the 9/11 Commission – are just the tip of the immense 9/11 iceberg. A hat tip goes to the indefatigable work of;; architects and engineers for 9/11 truth; the Italian documentary Zero: an investigation into 9/11; and Asia Times Online readers’ e-mails.

None of these questions has been convincingly answered – according to the official narrative. It’s up to US civil society to keep up the pressure. Eight years after the fact, one fundamental conclusion is imperative. The official narrative edifice of 9/11 is simply not acceptable.

Fifty questions

1) How come dead or not dead Osama bin Laden has not been formally indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as responsible for 9/11? Is it because the US government – as acknowledged by the FBI itself – has not produced a single conclusive piece of evidence?

2) How could all the alleged 19 razor-blade box cutter-equipped Muslim perpetrators have been identified in less than 72 hours – without even a crime scene investigation?

3) How come none of the 19′s names appeared on the passenger lists released the same day by both United Airlines and American Airlines?

4) How come eight names on the “original” FBI list happened to be found alive and living in different countries?

5) Why would pious jihadi Mohammed Atta leave a how-to-fly video manual, a uniform and his last will inside his bag knowing he was on a suicide mission?

6) Why did Mohammed Atta study flight simulation at Opa Locka, a hub of no less than six US Navy training bases?

7) How could Mohammed Atta’s passport have been magically found buried among the Word Trade Center (WTC)’s debris when not a single flight recorder was found?

8) Who is in the possession of the “disappeared” eight indestructible black boxes on those four flights?

9) Considering multiple international red alerts about a possible terrorist attack inside the US – including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s infamous August 6, 2001, memo – how come four hijacked planes deviating from their computerized flight paths and disappearing from radar are allowed to fly around US airspace for more than an hour and a half – not to mention disabling all the elaborate Pentagon’s defense systems in the process?

10) Why the secretary of the US Air Force James Roche did not try to intercept both planes hitting the WTC (only seven minutes away from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey) as well as the Pentagon (only 10 minutes away from McGuire)? Roche had no less than 75 minutes to respond to the plane hitting the Pentagon.

11) Why did George W Bush continue to recite “My Pet Goat” in his Florida school and was not instantly absconded by the secret service?

12) How could Bush have seen the first plane crashing on WTC live – as he admitted? Did he have previous knowledge – or is he psychic?

13) Bush said that he and Andrew Card initially thought the first hit on the WTC was an accident with a small plane. How is that possible when the FAA as well as NORAD already knew this was about a hijacked plane?

14) What are the odds of transponders in four different planes be turned off almost simultaneously, in the same geographical area, very close to the nation’s seat of power in Washington, and no one scrambles to contact the Pentagon or the media?

15) Could defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld explain why initial media reports said that there were no fighter jets available at Andrews Air Force Base and then change the reports that there were, but not on high alert?

16) Why was the DC Air National Guard in Washington AWOL on 9/11?

17) Why did combat jet fighters of the 305th Air Wing, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey not intercept the second hijacked plane hitting the WTC, when they could have done it within seven minutes?

18) Why did none of the combat jet fighters of the 459th Aircraft Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base intercept the plane that hit the Pentagon, only 16 kilometers away? And since we’re at it, why the Pentagon did not release the full video of the hit?

19) A number of very experienced airline pilots – including US ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a former fighter jet pilot – revealed that, well, only crack pilots could have performed such complex maneuvers on the hijacked jets, while others insisted they could only have been accomplished by remote control. Is it remotely believable that the hijackers were up to the task?

20) How come a substantial number of witnesses did swear seeing and hearing multiple explosions in both towers of the WTC?

21) How come a substantial number of reputed architects and engineers are adamant that the official narrative simply does not explain the largest structural collapse in recorded history (the Twin Towers) as well as the collapse of WTC building 7, which was not even hit by a jet?

22) According to Frank de Martini, WTC’s construction manager, “We designed the building to resist the impact of one or more jetliners.” The second plane nearly missed tower 1; most of the fuel burned in an explosion outside the tower. Yet this tower collapsed first, long before tower 2 that was “perforated” by the first hit. Jet fuel burned up fast – and by far did not reach the 2000-degree heat necessary to hurt the six tubular steel columns in the center of the tower – designed specifically to keep the towers from collapsing even if hit by a Boeing 707. A Boeing 707 used to carry more fuel than the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 that actually hit the towers.

23) Why did Mayor Rudolph Giuliani instantly authorized the shipment of WTC rubble to China and India for recycling?

24) Why was metallic debris found no less than 13 kilometers from the crash site of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania? Was the plane in fact shot down – under vice president Dick Cheney’s orders?

25) The Pipelineistan question. What did US ambassador Wendy Chamberlain talk about over the phone on October 10, 2001, with the oil minister of Pakistan? Was it to tell him that the 1990s-planned Unocal gas pipeline project, TAP (Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/ Pakistan), abandoned because of Taliban demands on transit fees, was now back in business? (Two months later, an agreement to build the pipeline was signed between the leaders of the three countries).

26) What is former Unocal lobbyist and former Bush pet Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad up to in Afghanistan?

27) How come former Pakistani foreign minister Niaz Niak said in mid-July 2001 that the US had already decided to strike against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban by October? The topic was discussed secretly at the July Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, according to Pakistani diplomats.

28) How come US ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine told FBI agent John O’Neill in July 2001 to stop investigating al-Qaeda’s financial operations – with O’Neill instantly moved to a security job at the WTC, where he died on 9/11?

29) Considering the very intimate relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the ISI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is Bin Laden alive, dead or still a valuable asset of the ISI, the CIA or both?

30) Was Bin Laden admitted at the American hospital in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on July 4, 2001, after flying from Quetta, Pakistan, and staying for treatment until July 11?

31) Did the Bin Laden group build the caves of Tora Bora in close cooperation with the CIA during the 1980s’ anti-Soviet jihad?

32) How come General Tommy Franks knew for sure that Bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora in late November 2001?

33) Why did president Bill Clinton abort a hit on Bin Laden in October 1999? Why did then-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf abort a covert ops in the same date? And why did Musharraf do the same thing again in August 2001?

34) Why did George W Bush dissolve the Bin Laden Task Force nine months before 9/11?

35) How come the (fake) Bin Laden home video – in which he “confesses” to being the perpetrator of 9/11 – released by the US on December 13, 2001, was found only two weeks after it was produced (on November 9); was it really found in Jalalabad (considering Northern Alliance and US troops had not even arrived there at the time); by whom; and how come the Pentagon was forced to release a new translation after the first (botched) one?

36) Why was ISI chief Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmad abruptly “retired” on October 8, 2001, the day the US started bombing Afghanistan?

37) What was Ahmad up to in Washington exactly on the week of 9/11 (he arrived on September 4)? On the morning of 9/11, Ahmad was having breakfast on Capitol Hill with Bob Graham and Porter Goss, both later part of the 9/11 Commission, which simply refused to investigate two of its members. Ahmad had breakfast with Richard Armitage of the State Department on September 12 and 13 (when Pakistan negotiated its “cooperation” with the “war on terror”) and met all the CIA and Pentagon top brass. On September 13, Musharraf announced he would send Ahmad to Afghanistan to demand to the Taliban the extradition of Bin Laden.

38) Who inside the ISI transferred US$100,000 to Mohammed Atta in the summer of 2001 – under orders of Ahmad himself, as Indian intelligence insists? Was it really ISI asset Omar Sheikh, Bin Laden’s information technology specialist who later organized the slaying of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi? So was the ISI directly linked to 9/11?

39) Did the FBI investigate the two shady characters who met Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi in Harry’s Bar at the Helmsley Hotel in New York City on September 8, 2001?

40) What did director of Asian affairs at the State Department Christina Rocca and the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef discuss in their meeting in Islamabad in August 2001?

41) Did Washington know in advance that an “al-Qaeda” connection would kill Afghan nationalist commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, aka “The Lion of the Panjshir”, only two days before 9/11? Massoud was fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda – helped by Russia and Iran. According to the Northern Alliance, Massoud was killed by an ISI-Taliban-al Qaeda axis. If still alive, he would never have allowed the US to rig a loya jirga (grand council) in Afghanistan and install a puppet, former CIA asset Hamid Karzai, as leader of the country.

42) Why did it take no less than four months before the name of Ramzi Binalshibh surfaced in the 9/11 context, considering the Yemeni was a roommate of Mohammed Atta in his apartment cell in Hamburg?

43) Is pathetic shoe-bomber Richard Reid an ISI asset?

44) Did then-Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence tell the CIA in 2001 that 25 terrorist pilots had been training for suicide missions?

45) When did the head of German intelligence, August Hanning, tell the CIA that terrorists were “planning to hijack commercial aircraft?”

46) When did Egyptian President Mubarak tell the CIA about an attack on the US with an “airplane stuffed with explosives?”

47) When did Israel’s Mossad director Efraim Halevy tell the CIA about a possible attack on the US by “200 terrorists?”

48) Were the Taliban aware of the warning by a Bush administration official as early as February 2001 – “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs?”

49) Has Northrop-Grumman used Global Hawk technology – which allows to remotely control unmanned planes – in the war in Afghanistan since October 2001? Did it install Global Hawk in a commercial plane? Is Global Hawk available at all for commercial planes?

50) Would Cheney stand up and volunteer the detailed timeline of what he was really up to during the whole day on 9/11? Fifty questions on 9/11  By Pepe Escobar. Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at

The bleeding vale of Kashmir

August 24, 2010 Leave a comment

The cauldron of Kashmir continues to simmer and smolder in view of India’s scorched earth policy. Appalling human rights abuses and atrocities have been committed against civilian population. According to recently published Human Rights report, between 1989 and June 30, 2010, the number of Kashmiris killed at the hands of Indian security forces stands at 93,274. Additionally, there have been 6969 custodial killing, over 107,351 children have been orphaned, 22,728 women widowed and 9920 women gang raped. 11735 persons were arrested and 105861 houses or structures in use were razed.

Ever since indigenous armed resistance commenced in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) in 1989, India has been incessantly holding Pakistan responsible for the uprising. It portrayed the freedom struggle as terrorist movement wholly aided by Pakistan. India didn’t take into account the hard realities that Kashmiris had sustained the cruelties of Indian forces for too long. They had been repeatedly duped and promise of plebiscite made by Jawahar Lal Nehru made in 1948 remained unfulfilled. They had got fed up of the puppet state regimes imposed upon them and the lackluster approach of Pakistan towards their cause.

They got inspired by the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 followed by Palestinian intifada in 1987 and grand victory of Mujahideen against a super power in Afghanistan in 1988. These events catapulted the otherwise insipid and terrorized Kashmiris who would not pick up courage to even protest against abuses of Indian security forces. This was evident from their poor response to Operation Gibraltar launched By Pakistani irregulars in August 1965 aimed at helping the Kashmiris to realize their dream of freedom from India. Kashmiri youths from 1990 onwards were a transformed lot, fully motivated and charged up. No amount of brutal force and torture applied by Indian forces would break their will to fight back.

Few thousand Kashmiri Mujahideen kept over 700,000 regular and paramilitary forces in a spin and Kashmir became a bleeding wound for India. They showed their extraordinary grit and firmness during the Kargil conflict in summer of 1999 where in conjunction with irregulars of Northern Light Infantry, they kept the might of Indian Army at bay for ten weeks. The US and G-8 countries had to intervene to force Pakistan to vacate the occupied heights. After suffering humiliation at Kargil, India had to suffer another embarrassment when its ten-month military standoff failed to intimidate Pakistan and it had to withdraw its forces in October 2002.

India sought assistance from Israel how to deal with Kashmiri militants and learnt new methods of torture but to no effect. By 2003, Indian troops employed in IHK had become fatigued and demoralized. Cases of indiscipline, soldiers firing at seniors, desertions, suicides, and mental disorders rose phenomenally. Hospitals got filled up with malingerers and psychiatric cases. Recruitment in Army dropped radically despite announcing better pay packages. Kashmir became a dreaded station and none liked to be posted there. It was under such unsavory conditions that Indo-Pak peace treaty facilitated by USA was signed in January 2004. In his exuberance to appease India so that an amicable solution to Kashmir dispute and other disputes of Siachin, Sir Creek and dams on rivers could be found, Gen Musharraf took several steps to remove Indian concerns. He gave a written pledge that he would not allow Pakistan soil for exporting terrorism. He banned six Jihadi outfits engaged in supporting freedom struggle in IHK and ceased their funds. By restoring peace in Kashmir, he allowed India to fence the Line of Control (LoC) and also took stringent measures to curb movement across the LoC. All Parties Hurryat Conference (APHC) got split between moderates and extremists, former led by Mir Waiz and latter by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Moderates agreed to hold negotiations with Indian leaders and to workout an out of box solution as proposed by Musharraf which was outside the realms of UNSC Resolutions. Musharraf’s one-sided initiatives delivered severe blows to the indigenous struggle waged by Kashmiri armed freedom fighters that had intensified in 2003-04. Indian leaders started admitting after 2005 that cross border infiltration had reduced to a trickle. Instead of appreciating efforts put in by Pakistan Indian military claimed that stringent measures adopted by them had not only blocked movement of foreign terrorists but also the insurgency in IHK.

Peace along LoC and in IHK helped India to use Afghan soil to export terrorism into Pakistan and to create situation similar to IHK. India created and supported terrorist outfits for Balochistan and FATA to destabilize Pakistan. It was also able to hold general elections in the state in 2007 which brought in pro-India National Conference and Congress in power. Since the voters’ turnout was over 50%, Indian leaders started to brag that foreign sponsored insurgency had almost been quashed and there was no need for negotiations. They once again reverted to their uncompromising stance that Kashmir was integral part of India and its further division was out of question. The only leeway they wanted to give was to treat LoC as permanent border between two Kashmirs. The Kashmiris once again felt let down by Pakistan, betrayed by India and ignored by the world as they had felt in 1989.

There was also resentment among younger generation of Kashmir against their leaders for getting hoodwinked by Indian sweet talk and damaging the movement. The movement got reignited on a dispute over land being allotted to Amarnath Shrine Board in summer of 2008 and economic blockade imposed by Hindus in Jammu. The whole Valley resounded with slogans of Azadi (freedom) and pro-Pakistan slogans. Hundreds of thousands of people defied curfews and heavy presence of security forces. Soldiers and policemen fired straight into the crowds killing scores of people but protests continued unabated. It was the first manifestation of democratic, non-violent protests as note by Arundhati Roy.

Intensity and resoluteness of unarmed protests by Kashmiris in Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley unnerved India and the state government. Protests over India’s black laws and oppressive and unjust policies continued for months but neither Pakistan nor the world took any note of their plight. Policy of picking up suspects, putting them in secret dungeons and torturing them, fake encounters and rape continued unabatedly. The second bout of unarmed protests took place in the summer of 2009, which were ruthlessly dealt with by Indian forces disregarding that the protestors had no arms.

Fresh wave of mass agitation against India’s rule in J&K spearheaded by unarmed teenagers have spread across Kashmir Valley since last June. Intensity of protests is growing with each passing day. In June 2010 alone, 33 people were killed including four children. 572 people were tortured and injured and eight women were molested. 59 Kashmiris, mostly teenagers including an eight-year boy have been killed till 14 August by CRPF and Police. Each killing is fuelling more anger and they are coming out on streets in greater numbers.

It is high time for champions of human rights to listen to the cries of Kashmiris and take stock of atrocities perpetrated by Indian forces, killing small kids and old men and raping Kashmiri women with gusto. Peace in South Asia will remain illusive without a solution to Kashmir dispute, which has also bred extremism and terrorism in the region. Indian leaders must come out of their uncompromising and stubborn mode by fulfilling the pledge of their reverend leader Nehru and hold a plebiscite in Kashmir. Farce of Aman ki Asha and other deceitful games would work no more. Resolution of longstanding Kashmir dispute will usher in peace and prosperity in South Asia, which is primed for a bigger explosion because of discontentment and burgeoning poverty. The UNSC and USA should let go their duplicitous policy and act before it is too late.

Asif H. Raja

Evidence of Trouble in India

August 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Evidence of Trouble in India

After ruthless and indiscriminate attacks on the security forces and police stations, it is would not be wrong to infer that the followers of the Mao’s movement are rapidly increasing. According to a recent study, Naxalite groups are busy extending their influence, with rough estimates about their strength suggesting a number running into tens of millions. Recent incidents such as attacks on police stations in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, and the storming on the house of a Congress leader A.S. Gautam, in Dantewada, suggests that this revolutionary struggle is now getting out of hand.

Whilst the Indian security forces have increased their efforts to crack down on the revolutionaries, little if any attention has been giving to ascertaining the causes behind the rapid rise in the popularity of the movement. While India has always tried to shift all the blame concerning terrorism on Pakistan, it has conveniently ignored the factors which are helping spawn the menace within its own boundaries. The deprived and discriminated masses, which form about 40 to 50 percent of the population, are subject to poor governance and social injustice. A close analysis of the situation on the ground renders the old argument about infiltration from the Pakistani side, an old cliché; without any rhyme or reason.

The Indian region is a unique example in the world as the region that continues to be in a perpetual state of war. The cut-throat political vendetta between warlords (both local and outsiders), clashes of egos, simmering religious and sectarian tensions are compounded by the complex linguistic and literary developments, all of which have led to the proliferation of a suicidal culture during the last three millennia.

In hindsight, it is obvious that most of the efforts launched by Delhi to bring a lasting “peace” in India have proved to be unsuccessful. Despite the claims of a miracle economic growth and the world’s largest democracy, issues such as racial apartheid, expansionism and hegemonic muscle-flexing have not been addressed properly, which has led to poor relations with the neighbouring states as well.

Since its establishment, the caste system in India has persisted as a strong social and economic divide. Even during the Raj, it was only the Brahmans who were selected to fit into the British scheme of sharing power with the locals. Interestingly, prominent leaders such as Nehru and Gandhi too emerged from the higher castes, with lower castes often having little representation. Leaders belonging to the Dalit caste, the bottom rung of the ladder, such as the Indian constitutionalist Ambedkar were often overlooked
Dalits, who constitute approximately 20 percent of India’s one billion plus population, have often struggled against the caste hierarchy, a system which has sentenced them an the eternal yoke of serfdom. The continuation of such a discriminatory outlook has led to a vicious cycle among the caste systems due to the excessive feelings of discontent amongst “lower” classes. Thus, the concept of a unified nation still seems to be elusive as far as India is concerned.

Since philosophy of Communism relieves the society from any polarisation, it is considered by a growing number of people as the only panacea to overcome class differences. Mao’s political theory has not only gained popular support amongst the lower sections of Indian society, but has also alienated the privileged and dominant groups, as they are not ready to share their perks and privileges with the ‘have-nots’. Now the former group has turned to force, as a tool to fight for their betterment. It is thus no wonder that the Indian Prime Minister has come out and stated that India is facing its most grave threat from the Maoists, and this factor must be not be overlooked if we are to tackle the terrorism issue in the region.

The Nation