May 4, 2007


The longest jihad: a review of India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad by Praveen Swami (Sreeram Chaulia, 5/05/07, Asia Times)

Non-specialist writings on modern jihad as a form of organized political violence usually commence with the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan in the 1980s. However, decades before those two events, a secret jihad in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) had been kick-started by Pakistan that rages on to this day. For sheer longevity, it is second to none in the contemporary annals of Islamism.

In India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad, a revisionist history based on classified Indian intelligence data, Praveen Swami, senior journalist of Frontline magazine, highlights the ignored narrative thread of covert warfare in J&K. The author's counterintuitive proposition is that the sub-conventional war in J&K after 1989 was not the first but the fifth phase of a jihad of attrition that began as soon as Pakistan was created in 1947. [...]

As the set pattern would predict, by 2005, another ebb tide set in for the jihad, which lost its bite because of centrifugal tendencies. Violence in Kashmir reached its lowest levels since the late 1980s and infiltration across the Line of Control fell. Swami speculates that US pressure on President General Pervez Musharraf's regime and realization in Islamabad that the proxy war was bleeding Pakistan's economy may explain the lull. What is certain, though, is that jihadis' capabilities are untrammeled even if their intentions have been somewhat "worked on by Pakistan's covert services" (p 216).

The unmistakable lesson from Swami's account is that peace in Kashmir is chimerical unless the jihad is permanently interred. Too often in the past, it would lie low for a few years and then resurrect with greater firepower and viciousness. The late Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's promise of waging a "thousand-year war on India", if unbroken, forecasts Phases 6, 7, 8 and so on of this longest jihad, well into the future.

If India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. got to self-determine, why won't J&K?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 4, 2007 12:00 AM

"If India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. got to self-determine"

Well . . . "self-determine." Remember the Nizamate of Hyderabad? As best I can tell, it went as follows:

The Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, tells the native princes (who are still technically sovereign over their territories) that they get to chose whether they want to accede to India or Pakistan or remain independent. The Nizam, being Muslim, prefers either Pakistan or independence. So India, with British approval, invades and annexes the Nizamate, dividing it between a number of neighbouring provinces so Hyderabad can never reconstitute itself as an independent state. The same thing happens to a number of other princely states too, although none of them was remotely as vast and wealthy as Hyderabad.

So it was really self-determination, but only so long as they decided the way the powers-that-be thought they ought to decide. Jammu and Kashmir is really just more of the same "self-determination."

Posted by: Taeyoung at May 4, 2007 11:51 AM

Not never. Soon.

Posted by: oj at May 4, 2007 2:35 PM