What Does Designating Salahuddin a ‘Global Terrorist’ Mean for Kashmir Movement

  • GOWHAR GEELANI
  • Publish Date: Jul 7 2017 10:04PM
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  • Updated Date: Jul 7 2017 10:04PM
What Does Designating Salahuddin a ‘Global Terrorist’ Mean for Kashmir Movement

Ironically, Hizb chief has never talked about any global agenda of the Kashmiri struggle against Indian rule

 

Exactly twelve years ago, Mr. Narendra Modi was barred from entering the United States for “failing to stop anti-Muslim riots in the Indian state of Gujarat”.

The anti-Muslim Gujarat pogrom occurred under the watch of the then Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr. Modi. In 2005, this Hindu nationalist leader was denied a U.S. visa based on a law on religious freedom.

Twelve years hence, in 2017, Mr. Modi visits the United States as India’s Prime Minister. He is welcomed by the same United States which had earlier denied him a visa.

Mr. Modi hugs the American President Mr. Donald Trump and gets something symbolic in return to sell this as ‘victory’ to his domestic constituency back home. The Indian Prime Minister gets the 71-year old Mohammed Yusuf Shah aka Syed Salahuddin, a well-known Kashmiri rebel commander based in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) for the last 28 years, designated a “global terrorist” by America.

According to a notification, the U.S. State Department said Salahuddin, who hails from central Kashmir’s Budgam district and currently heads the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit, “has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.”  

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, roughly meaning “a group of holy warriors”, is already designated a “terrorist organisation” by the European Union and the United States. Pro-Pakistan outfit Hizb was founded by Master Ahsan Dar in September 1989 as an armed rebel outfit to fight Indian rule.

Importantly, Salahuddin both as supreme commander of the United Jihad Council (UJC) and Hizb chief has never talked about any global agenda of the Kashmiri struggle against Indian rule. He has publicly issued strong statements against those calling for Caliphate in Kashmir and denounced groups like the al-Qaeda or Daesh.

Besides, the Hizb chief has often invoked international law to address the Kashmir dispute while passionately appealing the United Nations and world community to take concrete steps to pressurise India to resolve the Kashmir issue. And he also refers to the United Nations (Security Council) resolutions while talking about the genesis of the dispute.

Designating him a “global terrorist” makes little sense given the fact that Salahuddin poses no direct or indirect threat to global peace or the national security of the United States.

Moreover, it is a given that India has by and large contained the Kashmir story with her sheer military and economic might. The armed rebellion in the Kashmir Valley remains at its lowest ebb. The new-age militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir are far less in number than they were in the early 1990s. Most of them are not even battle-hardened. Therefore, the present day armed rebellion in Kashmir is more of a romantic rebellion than a genuine threat to India’s military might or military control over the disputed Himalayan territory.

Besides, many policymakers and former diplomats involved in Track-II dialogue on Kashmir reckon that “following 9/11, militancy, even in the context of freedom struggle is no longer tenable”.

Keeping the above context in mind, what does designating Salahuddin a “global terrorist” mean for Jammu and Kashmir’s political and armed landscape? Will this decision change anything on the ground? Is Kashmir fast becoming victim of the Great Game?

On the ground, this decision will have no significant impact except symbolism. Yes, it will have symbolic impact only.

 

Some possibilities are as follows:

Blurring of lines between those with global agendas and those operating in a regional framework will perhaps wipe away the middle ground, which, in turn, could trigger an ideological shift on Kashmir’s sticky wicket. Sidelining of Salahuddin could perhaps make a handful of rebels calling for establishing Caliphate in Kashmir a little more relevant than before.

Two, it offers an excellent opportunity to Kashmir’s United Resistance Alliance, especially the two factions of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), to become a more potent force to take the Kashmir struggle forward through peaceful political means.

Three, it might force the Pakistani state and its military to do a rethink on their current Kashmir policy.

Four, the U.S. decision also puts Kashmir in the global framework which can have both positive and negative impacts on the disputed region.

Globally, Pakistan might get closer to its all-weather friend, China. With India’s more proximity to the United States, China too will want to throw its weight behind Pakistan for regional domination. On the other hand, America appears to be appeasing India with symbolism with an apparent aim to halt China’s expansion and influence in the south Asian region. It is clear that America is unhappy with China’s multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Project (CPEC).

Lastly, the U.S decision to designate Salahuddin a “global terrorist” might stir an informed debate in the Kashmir society whether creative forms of resistance and new language of resistance are inevitable given the lack of acceptability of the gun globally in the post 9/11 world.

 

P.S: Mr. Modi not getting a visa 12 years ago and now being welcomed by the United States once again highlights the fact that international relations have nothing to do with morality. International relations are less about rights and wrongs and more about economic interests. Wasn’t the great Nelson Mandela once designated a “terrorist”?