Monday, September 27, 2010

Pan Islamic Movements and Self Determination, South Asia

Would you characterize a pan Islamic, Taliban-like militant group such as the Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM)Movement of Holy Warriors in Kashmir. as a movement towards 'self determination' and 'independence' ? Kashmir, northwest of India, has been partitioned between India and Pakistan since 1948. It is 70% Muslim. Chadda (2000) says Kashmir is divided about its allegiance, or even if it wants to govern as an integral territory: “THE KASHMIRIS THEMSELVES ARE DIVIDED ABOUT THE STATUS OF KASHMIR AND THE KIN OF RULE THEY WOULD PREFER” (Chadda, 2000, p 204) yet fundamentalist groups want to take over Kashmir entirely, and place Pakistan and Afghanistan under Sharia law.
In my INTL 5665 Fall 2010 class, I asked student Carolyn to comment. She wrote that “I concur with your contention that it would be both inappropriate and erroneous to characterize HUM as a movement towards 'self-determination' and 'independence'." She then discusses what might be characterized as a political group promoting independence. "The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JFLK) of the greater Kashmir polity proceeds from a predominantly secular stance purporting to embrace all religions in its quest for self-determination. In contrast, HUM religious ideology strives to disseminate ... political Islam across the Line of Control not only Kashmir's secession from India and accession to Pakistan."

She compared HUM to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam LTTE which "(like the JFLK) represent a legitimate drive for self-determination in response to the pogroms carried out by the Sinhalese government. Karen Parker noted that the Tamils demonstrated all five elements essential for self-determination… [Karen Parker is an international human rights lawyer who represents the LTTE at the UN. The LTTE, defeated in 2009, is often cited as the first modern group to use suicide bombing tactics, PW].

Carolyn wrote that "HUM’s drive is towards Kashmiri unification with Pakistan and the global jihad, rather than the establishment of an autonomous state.

HUM appears to an uncanny ability to strike at the Achilles heel of the Kashmir separatist movement, gaining a foothold from which to propagate its militant Islamic agenda. Pakistan has shown a marked incongruity in its purported efforts against terrorists. Pakistan’s ambidextrous policies are typified by its “clampdown on extremist groups and freezing of terrorist assets” (global on one hand, and the training of jihadists (by the ISI arm of its military).

I believe there is a growing international consensus that there is indeed a strong element of state sponsorship."

In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "chastised Pakistan for not making enough effort to seize senior al-Qaeda leaders who she said were hiding in the lawless tribal region bordering Afghanistan" (Hussein, 2009). The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has accused the Pakistani government of exporting terror (Watt, 2009).

Another student pinpoints the aspirations of the Kashmiri pan- Islamists: “ In a 2000 article for the World Affairs journal, Kashmiri academic Riyaz Punjabi summarized the view of the Indian government with regard to the insurgency. He concluded that ‘Kashmir’s cultural identity is threatened by pan-Islamists seeking to create a modern-day caliphate stretching from Kashmir to Central Asia….Punjabi says the character of Kashmiri militancy has changed over the years from homegrown non-sectarian nationalism to foreign pan-Islamism…’”

It is noted that Kashmiris have a long-standing affiliation with Sufi mysticism, a more esoteric and peaceful branch of Islam.

REFERENCES: • Chadda, Maya, Building Democracy in South Asia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Boulder, Co: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc, 2000.

Hussein, Zaid, "Hillary Clinton says Pakistan does not really want to stop al-Qaeda" Sunday Times (UK), October 31, 2009,

Watt, Nicolas. "Pakistan Must Not Be Allowed to Promote Export of Terror, Says David Cameron | World News |" Latest News, Comment and Reviews from the Guardian |, 28 July 2010. Web. 24 Sept. 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment