TO his neighbours in the lower-middle-class neighbourhood of Solina in southern Srinagar, Tariq Ahmad Dar must have seemed a remarkable young man. Unlike most other young people in the area, 31-year-old Dar had done well. After obtaining a Master's degree in chemistry from Kashmir University, he found work as a local representative for the pharmaceutical firm Johnson and Johnson. Within a few years, this son of a mason had a three-storey house built, where he lived with his extended family. He acquired all the emblems of a successful middle-class existence: a car, a house, a wife, and enough money for a Haj pilgrimage.
In April, Dar was detained by the Jammu and Kashmir Police on charges of having acted as a courier for funds sent from Saudi Arabia to terrorist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. However, he obtained bail soon after. While some of his neighbours began to mutter darkly about Dar's sources of income, there were plenty of people willing to believe the cash the police had found was intended, as he claimed, to set up a business. Dar just did not seem like the kind of person who would play a key role in a terror bombing which would claim 71 lives, many of them of women and children.Intelligence Bureau personnel who listened in to Dar's cell phone conversations after the October 29 serial bombings of New Delhi came to discover a very different person: a key figure, they say, in one of the several Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) cells engaged in extending the jehad in Jammu and Kashmir to all of India.
Understanding the Lashkar position requires an engagement with its core position: that the jehad in Jammu and Kashmir is not a battle over territory, but a part of an irreducible conflict between Islam and unbelief. Committed to the eventual creation of a caliphate to rule over all the world's Muslims, the Lashkar asserts that the jehad must continue "until Islam, as a way of life, dominates the whole world and until Allah's law is enforced everywhere in the world". As the noted scholar of Islam Yoginder Sikand perceptively pointed out, the Lashkar's vision of Islam is one that leads it to represent the Koran itself as a manifesto for jehad. Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir is, in this construction, necessarily evil and oppressive, because "the Hindus have no compassion in their religion". "In fact," Saeed had declared some years ago, "the Hindu is a mean enemy and the proper way to deal with him is the one adopted by our forefathers, who crushed them by force."In our very post on Lashkar, we noted that Lashkar's aim is much beyond fighting for Kashmir. It is driven by a radical Islamist ideology which longs to see the imposition of Muslim rule over the whole of the Indian subcontinent. No amount of perceived injustice at the hands of Indian State/Armed Forces can justify such virulent hate.
Lashkar cadre have fought in Iraq; cells have also operated in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. Despite considerable global pressure on Pakistan to dismantle the Lashkar, its infrastructure is largely intact. After British investigators found that terrorists involved in the recent bombings of the London underground had visited Lashkar facilities, there was little doubt that its activities posed a global threat. Australia and the U.S., too, have demanded of Pakistan that it act against the Lashkar. Yet, the organisation's fund-raising activities, as well as recruitment of personnel and the military training of cadre, continue apace.Yep, as we write this, the Aussies are busy arresting Lashkar operatives plotting to attack nuclear installations among other things. After all this, the reader is wondering why has the Pakistani regime not done anything significant to crackdown this group. Mr. Swami proposes two possible explanations for it.
One explanation, favoured by many Western commentators, is that the tail wags the dog. In this analysis, Pakistan's President simply does not have enough support within his military to act against those it gave birth to during the Afghan jehad and remains tied to by links of ideology and faith. Another plausible theory, advocated among others by the scholar and academic Husain Haqqani, is that continued jehadi activity actually suits Musharraf. Maintaining a covert alliance with jehadis while publicly railing against them allows Musharraf to represent himself to the Western regimes, which finance his continued rule, as the dam that blocks an Islamist deluge.Though we are more convinced on the second theory, we are not satisfied with this. The problem with most analysts is that they see the terrorist groups such as Lashkar and the Pakistani military regime as separate entities. This is a misplaced assumption. Until recently, there have been documented proof of the Inter Service Intelligence overt role in training and arming these groups. Now, even as the ISI claims to have disassociated itself with these groups under pressure from the United States, there is no proof that this nexus has been cut-off. We would like to go one step further. As Mr. Haqqani points out, the continual operation of terror groups in Pakistani soil is a clever ploy by General Musharraf to gain legitimacy in the eyes of Western governments, without making an inch of democratic reforms. By propping up these groups covertly, the General can have all the aid dollars directed to procure shiny new toys (Eyerie military radars, P3-C Orion naval surveillance aircraft, etc. ) for his boys. Serious policy makers and counter-terror officials should put an end this farce. The Pakistani military regime and the terror groups are like parasites living off each other while also sucking the blood of its host, in this case the United States and wrecking havoc in India. Until, this relationship is cut, sadly more Indian blood is going to be spilled.