US withdrawal from Afghanistan: Is Jammu and Kashmir going to become an arena again?

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Haris Qadir,
Chief Editor of POK Newspaper Writes For KZINE

Within days of the withdrawal of US and coalition troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban succeeded in capturing Kabul and forming an interim government. In the past, at the time when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, a large number of armed groups were fighting in Afghanistan at the behest of the United States and its allies. They turned to Jammu and Kashmir. A proxy war was on in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. These armed groups massacred the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and engaged in battle with the Indian state.

In 1991, hundreds of Hezb-e-Islami fighters led by Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar took part in armed militancy in the Kashmir Valley. A large number of fighters from other proxy groups who were involved in the Afghan war also focused their attention here. The armed militancy, which began in late 1988, has killed at least 40,000 people, according to figures compiled by some human rights activists. As soon as the Taliban came to power, they made it clear that Afghan soil would not be allowed to be used against any other country.  At the same time, the Taliban clarified that the ongoing militancy in Jammu and Kashmir would not be supported.  The Taliban made it clear that Kashmiris would definitely speak out in favour of Muslims.

Fear That Pakistan-Based Mercenaries May Come To India

Some world powers including the Indian state fear that militants from various Pakistani cities and Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir, who were fighting with the Taliban in the war in Afghanistan may now try to infiltrate Jammu and Kashmir. Apart from Indian analysts and state officials, the Indian media is also looking confused after the Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan.

According to a recent UN report, two major militant groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, have historical ties to the Taliban. According to the report, about 6,500 Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad fighters were active in the Afghan war.  Speaking to The Guardian, Douglas London, the CIA’s counter-terrorism chief in South and Southwest Asia, had said that he was committed to the Taliban’s promises and declarations to stop militant Kashmiri groups from operating on Afghan soil. Very few believed the militant groups on this count.  Indian rulers and analysts believe that the Taliban who came to power in Afghanistan are completely under the control of the Pakistani state, and their coming to power is very detrimental to Indian interests.Given the various events and historical facts, it is clear that neither the Taliban have been under the full control of the Pakistani state, nor India has completely severed ties with the Taliban. In the past, the Indian state had back-channel relations with the Taliban from 1996 to 2005. Even before the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, the Indian state had re-established these secret relations with the Taliban.  According to some sources, the Indian state has maintained secret relations with some factions of the Taliban in the intervening years. On the other hand, during the previous rule of the Taliban, Pakistan’s relations with them were considered to be the most ideal. But despite these ideal relations, the Taliban did not recognize the Durand Line as the official border.

Backlash against Pakistan in Afghanistan

Today, the Taliban have numerous reservations about the Pakistani state. Anti-Pakistan rhetoric in protests in Afghan cities also shows that the Afghan people have more suspicions about the Pakistani state than ever before. There is also a backlash against Pakistan within the Taliban. Many Taliban cabinet leaders have spent years in Pakistani jails. Several Taliban leaders have been arrested by Pakistani forces and handed over to the United States.

India has spent more than 3 3 billion in Afghanistan over the past two decades on various projects in Afghanistan, including the construction of schools, colleges, hospitals, power plants, dams and the parliament building. The Taliban have made it clear that they want India’s plans continue.  Given all these facts, it is safe to assume that the bonds in these relationships of interest are weak.  It is more likely that the Taliban, instead of being completely under the control of the Pakistani state and institutions, will seek to establish as free relations as possible and to take into account their own interests as well as those of other regional powers in decisions.

(Hares Qadir is Chief Editor, Daily Mujadila, Rawalakot, Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir)

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