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With Taliban's rise, India sees renewed threat in Kashmir

FOOLS_NIGHTMARE

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India’s leaders are anxiously watching the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, fearing that it will benefit their bitter rival Pakistan and feed a long-simmering insurgency in the disputed region of Kashmir, where militants already have a foothold
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India's leaders are anxiously watching the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan fearing that it will benefit their bitter rival Pakistan and feed a long-simmering insurgency in the disputed region of Kashmir, where militants already have a foothold.

Lt. Gen. Deependra Singh Hooda, former military commander for northern India between 2014-2016, said militant groups based across the border in Pakistan would “certainly try and push men” into Kashmir, following the Taliban victory in Afghanistan.

Neighbors India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir and both countries rule parts of the Himalayan region, but claim it in full.

Indian officials worry that Afghanistan under the Taliban could be a base for organizing Islamist militants in Kashmir, many of whom are allied with Pakistan in their struggle against New Delhi.

New Delhi has called the Taliban Pakistan's “proxy terrorist” group and supported Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government before it was overthrown in August.


Syed Salahuddin, the leader of an alliance of Kashmiri rebel groups, called the Taliban’s victory “extraordinary and historical” in a voice message shared across social media days after the fall of Kabul Salahuddin, who is based in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, said he expected the Afghan group to aid Kashmir's rebels.


“Same way, in the near future, India too will be defeated by Kashmir's holy warriors,” he added.

In the last few years, anger in Kashmir has deepened after the Indian government — led by a right-wing Hindu nationalist party — stripped the Muslim-majority region of its semiautonomous status.

Indian officials with direct knowledge of strategic planning for the region say that the Taliban’s rise could draw more recruits and weapons for Kashmiri fighters coming from the Pakistani side. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity keeping with government regulations.


“Pakistan’s geopolitical stature has risen with the coming of Taliban and this will result in hardening of its position on Kashmir,” explained Pravin Sawhney, a military expert and editor of FORCE, a monthly magazine focused on India’s national security.

Pakistan’s powerful spy chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed traveled in early September to Kabul amid speculation that he was there to help in the formation of the new Taliban government.


Around the same time, India’s foreign secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, dashed to Washington where he said the United States and his country were “closely watching Pakistan’s actions in Afghanistan.”

Ahead of the final U.S. withdrawal, India was one of the first countries to evacuate its diplomats after Taliban fighters entered Kabul on Aug. 15, fearing for the safety for its staff.

Indian officials maintain that Pakistan-based militant groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, both believed to have helped the Taliban campaign against the U.S., could use Afghanistan as an operating base and training ground.

In 2019, Jaish-e-Mohammad took credit for the deadliest bombing in Kashmir’s insurgency — a blast that killed 40 Indian soldiers and brought the two nuclear-armed neighbors to the brink of war.

“We do have concerns about the free ingress that these two terrorist groups have had in Afghanistan,” India’s top diplomat Shringla said when in Washington.

“The role of Pakistan has to be seen in that context,” he added.

Pakistan also accuses India of fomenting violence within its own borders. Islamabad has said Indian intelligence agents were operating out of Afghanistan and using anti-Pakistan groups like the Baluchistan Liberation Army to carry out attacks.

India was the region’s largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government, investing around $3 billion. Even though it had no military boots on the ground, India trained Afghan army and police and supplied military equipment — while Pakistan maintained links with the Taliban.

With no diplomatic presence left in Kabul, India held its first official meeting with a Taliban representative in Qatar on Aug. 31.

New Delhi said it raised its “concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner.”

Indian policymakers and experts say they see no guarantees that Afghanistan won't become a haven for militants.

“Afghanistan may be poised to become a bottomless hole for all shades of radical, extremist and jihadi outfits somewhat similar to Iraq and Syria, only closer to India,” said Gautam Mukhopadhaya, who was India’s ambassador in Kabul between 2010 to 2013.

He added that the Taliban victory could have an “inspirational effect” not only for Kashmir's rebels but wherever religiously-driven groups operate in the broader region.

In 1989, partly inspired by the defeat of Soviet troops at the hands of Afghan guerrillas, Kashmir erupted into a full-blown armed rebellion against Indian control. Many Kashmiri rebels were trained in Afghanistan in the years before.

Most Muslim Kashmiris continue to support rebel goals for a united Kashmir that would either be independent or ruled by Pakistan. In recent years, tens of thousands of Kashmiris have defied police restrictions and participated in street protests, as well as the funerals of rebel leaders, including Pakistan-based militants.

After Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi changed Kashmir's special status in 2019, the crackdown on dissent and civil liberties in the territory intensified. Hundreds of resistance activists remain in Indian jails.

Experts say such a stifling environment partly feeds insurgency, opening up the space for foreign militant groups.

The Taliban has indicated it wants India to continue with its developmental projects in Afghanistan, but the group has also made statements challenging New Delhi.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman recently told the BBC that the group had a right to “raise our voice for Muslims in Kashmir, India or any other country.”

Those who have fought against India in Kashmir see renewed hope.

Ahmed, a former Kashmiri rebel who guided a few Afghan militants across the mountains into Kashmir in the 1990s, recalled them as “good fighters” who “motivated and trained” young men to join the armed struggle.

Two decades on, Ahmed, who gave only his middle name for fear of retribution from Indian authorities, said he anticipated local militants, facing a shortage of weapons, would receive the “latest arms” from Afghanistan.

“Their victory has instilled a tremendous hope. It’s a shot in the arm, at a time when we are not even allowed to speak openly,” he said.

 

SecularNationalist

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Anyone else notice the combat boots of the Indian soldiers in the pic?? Billions on French jets, pennies on boots....
Exactly was going to say the same thing lol.
They are by no means a typical tough combat boots soldiers wear with thought material and thicks souls.
Those boots looks like the ones our mummy daddies wear with baggy jeans.
 

Kuru

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Indians think that Pakistan Army will take help of Taliban when it comes to Kashmir because Pakistan Army is not capable to take on India alone. It wasnt a good experience the last time a Niazi was in charge, so it is very much possible that Pakistan will ask for help from the Taliban. We dont underestimate anyone so yeah.. this threat is real.
 

Wood

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Indians think that Pakistan Army will take help of Taliban when it comes to Kashmir because Pakistan Army is not capable to take on India alone. It wasnt a good experience the last time a Niazi was in charge, so it is very much possible that Pakistan will ask for help from the Taliban. We dont underestimate anyone so yeah.. this threat is real.
That is real. But the impact will be manageable :-)
 

FOOLS_NIGHTMARE

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Will Afghanistan situation cast a shadow on Kashmir?
Jammu and Kashmir is again top of the mind among security experts. This time the cause for concern is nothing ‘internal’, but rather the fast-paced geo-political developments taking place hundreds of miles away, in Afghanistan.

India has always stressed, on global platforms, that a stable Afghanistan is crucial for regional peace. Now, with the radical Taliban in the driving seat, supported unabashedly by Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, India’s security concerns have risen manifold.

The big question is: Will the Taliban resurrection in Afghanistan cast its shadow on the hard earned peace and development in Jammu and Kashmir?

Following the military pullout of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Taliban surprised everyone with its swift and brutal takeover of Afghan territories and the seat of power, Kabul.

Top diplomats and defence experts have since raised concerns that this could impact the security situation in J&K, owing to the Taliban’s close ties with ISI and regional terror outfits.

In a clear indicator of its mindset, soon after wresting control of Afghanistan, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told BBC on September 2: “As Muslims, we also have a right to raise our voice for Muslims in Kashmir, India or any other country.”

Prior to Taliban’s remarks, Al Qaeda had congratulated the group for its Kabul victory. Virtually in the same breath, the terror group called for the “liberation” of Kashmir, Somalia, Yemen, and other “Islamic lands”.

It’s important to note that the first thing the Taliban did after taking over was to release all terrorists from prisons including those from the ‘Islamic State’ (IS), Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi stated clearly last week that India's immediate focus in Afghanistan is to ensure that Afghan soil is not used for terrorist activities against it.

“We were concerned about how terrorist activity from Afghanistan could overflow into India,” Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said at an event in Delhi, adding that contingency plans were already in place.

Pakistan’s close ties with all radical, terror groups

Pakistan’s friendship with the Taliban, perhaps an open secret earlier, became official when PM Imran Khan endorsed the Taliban takeover, saying the Afghans had "broken the shackles of slavery".

A leader of Pakistan’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, Neelam Irshad Sheikh, was quoted as saying the Taliban would help the country in ‘liberating’ Kashmir from India.

In a voice message, Syed Salahuddin, head of another Pak-backed terror group Hizb-ul Mujahiddin, called the Taliban victory "extraordinary and historical", and added that he expected them to aid Kashmir's “holy warriors” in “defeating” India. Salahuddin is based in Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir.

For a financially crippled Pakistan, a conventional war with India is too costly an option. India’s military might is also far superior. Hence, given Pakistan’s way of thinking, its only recourse against India is a proxy war through an array of terror groups. The manner in which both the US and China have been using Pakistan for their separate strategic interests in the region, has given a sense of power to the otherwise failed state. And by bleeding India through ‘a thousand cuts’, Pakistan hopes to establish itself as a ‘powerful’ entity in the region.

Will Afghanistan be the new terror hub?

The Taliban, Al Qaeda, Haqqani network and terror groups such as Jaish, Lashkar and IS-Khorasan Province share a complicated, dynamic relationship. And the land of Afghanistan appears set to turn into their new hub.

In the words of Ali Mohammad Ali, a former Afghan security official, “Afghanistan has now become the Las Vegas of terrorists, of the radicals and of the extremists. People all over the world, radicals and extremists, are chanting, celebrating the Taliban victory. This is paving the way for other extremists to come to Afghanistan.”

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the new acting interior minister of Afghanistan, runs the Haqqani network that was responsible for a large number of attacks on Indian assets, including our embassy in Kabul.

The Taliban and the Haqqani network, a terror group based in Pakistan, are essentially one and the same, reports New York Times quoting terrorism experts. Sirajuddin Haqqani has been the deputy emir of the Taliban since 2015. In turn, the Haqqanis are close, operationally and ideologically, to Al Qaeda, the NYT report says.

“The Taliban, Haqqani network, and Al Qaeda function as a triumvirate,” NYT quotes Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst based in New York. These three entities are inextricably linked, Clarke said, and in fact, have grown closer over the past decade.

Recent reports suggest that Pakistan-based terror outfits Jaish and Lashkar have relocated their bases to Afghanistan to work with the ‘friendly’ Taliban regime.

"Pakistan's ISI may ask the Taliban to divert some of its terrorists to Jammu & Kashmir to revive terror operations," former Jammu & Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) SP Vaid said in an interview to India Today recently.

"Pakistan will now shift terror training camps of Jaish and Lashkar from Azad Kashmir to Afghanistan to avoid international scrutiny. Anti-India terror groups would get safe havens in Afghanistan," the former police chief said. Another 9/11 attack could be planned from the war-torn country, he warned.

"We need to be very cautious. We may have to deal with the alliance of China, Pakistan and the Taliban," Vaid said in the interview.

Pak stamp on Taliban ‘government formation’

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of Taliban's first leader and founder Mullah Omar who masterminded the IC-814 hijacking of 1999, is now Afghanistan's defence minister under the Taliban rule.

The 1999 hijacking was plotted to pressurize India to release arrested terrorists – Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar, leader of defunct terror group Al Umar Mujahideen, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, and British-born Al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. The hijacking operation was backed by ISI.

The appointment of Yaqoob and others such as Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mullah Hassan Akhund, listed as terrorists by the US and United Nations respectively, shows the influence and stamp of the Haqqani network. The Haqqani network is known for its brutal attacks plus technical skills such as putting together improvised explosive devices and rocket construction. If it continues to enjoy power in the Taliban regime, Pakistan may use it to its advantage against India.

Pakistan reopens airfields near Kashmir valley, southern Afghanistan

According to an India Today report, Pakistan has activated its airfield in Balochistan near Afghanistan. There has been a significant uptick in aerial activity around the Pakistan-Afghanistan border as Pakistani agencies are directly involved in deploying men and material there, the report indicates.

A number of other air bases in Rawalkot and Kotli (Pakistan occupied areas of J&K) have also been activated by Pakistani agencies, who are deploying air defence assets there.

Indian agencies are continuously monitoring Pakistani activities via radars and other systems round the clock.

Indian intelligence agencies are also keeping track of Pakistan Air Force activities on its eastern front, where the Shamsi Airfield in Afghanistan has reportedly been reactivated to support Taliban operations.

The China factor

China’s clandestine role in the Taliban resurrection also needs to be studied. Its obvious geo-political game is to wield an overarching influence over the Hindu Kush region, engulfing Afghanistan, through its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Beijing has officially termed the establishment of the new interim government as a "necessary step to restore order" in Afghanistan, and has pledged 200 million yuan ($31m, £22m) worth of aid to the nation, including food supplies and coronavirus vaccines.

While announcing the aid measures in a meeting on Wednesday, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi urged several of Afghanistan's neighbours – Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan – to cooperate in helping Afghanistan.

On the other hand, Taliban officials have described China as Afghanistan's most important partner and pinned hopes on Chinese investment and support to rebuild the war-torn country.

Gen Rawat, while referring to the changing world global geopolitical scenario at an event on Wednesday said: “We are seeing some kind of a jointmanship between the Sinic and Islamic civilisations. You can see China now making friends with Iran, they are moving towards Turkey… And they will step into Afghanistan in the years to come…. Is that going to lead to a clash of civilizations with the Western civilization?” The world is in “turmoil”, he said.

Pakistan is a “proxy" of China and will continue its “proxy war" against India in Jammu and Kashmir, Gen. Rawat pointed out, adding that it is now attempting to create trouble in Punjab and some other parts of the country as well.

Terror footprints in Kashmir

Reports suggest Kashmir is again witnessing a surge in foreign terrorists.

There are 40-50 foreign and 11 local terrorists active in north Kashmir bordering Pakistan occupied areas, according to a report in The Hindu. This would be the first time in a decade that foreign terrorists outnumber local ones. It is also noteworthy that terror activities seem to have shifted from south to north Kashmir.

News agency IANS has reported intel inputs that ISI has been pushing members of the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) into Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK) with an aim to carry out a big strike in J&K. These ISKP terrorists were recently released from Afghan jails.

ISKP was created six years ago by disaffected Pakistani Taliban.

ISKP terrorists are reportedly already positioned at various terror launch pads along the Line of Control. Intel inputs indicate the presence of Pashtun-speaking terrorists in PoJK camps – another pointer to the presence of ISKP men in the terror launch pads in areas bordering Jammu and Kashmir.

While ISKP is seen as a bitter rival of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, Pakistan is the common thread supporting all these radical groups.

World community concerned

India has shared its concerns over Pakistan's links with the Taliban and terror groups operating in Afghanistan with the international leadership, including CIA chief William Burns, head of the UK's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) Richard Moore and Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Patrushev during their separate visits here over the last few days.

Notably, Indian officials and the NSAs of the three countries were on the same page on issues such as the need for the Taliban to adhere to promises, the presence of international terror groups in Afghanistan and threats from terrorism to Central Asia and India. It was agreed that Islamic radicalisation and extremism, the flow of weapons to terrorist groups and smuggling across Afghan borders and chances of the war-torn country becoming a hub of opium production and trafficking was a major concern.

Russian ambassador Nikolay Kudashev, who spoke to reporters on the margins of an event at the Russian embassy, said Russia is closely cooperating with India to counter the danger of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. Any flare-up of the civilian conflict would result in terrorism spilling over across the region, he said.

Most recently, US Congressman Michael Waltz said a resurgent Taliban means an escalation of terror-related violence in the Union Territory of J&K. In an interview with India Today TV, Michael Waltz said with the Taliban in power in Afghanistan, “there will be Al Qaeda 3.0. The Taliban-Lashkar-e-Taiba links will create serious terror issues in Kashmir.”

“Pakistan supports these terror groups -- the Haqqanis, LeT and the Taliban. Pakistan should be held accountable,” he said.

The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has just begun to look forward to long-lasting peace and to reap the benefit of developmental initiatives. It is crucial at this juncture to keep it safe from any kind of disruptions.

Reiterating India’s position at a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in Afghanistan, Indian ambassador to the UN in Geneva Indra Mani Pandey said: "We hope that the situation in Afghanistan does not pose a challenge to its neighbours and its territory is not used by terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, to threaten any other country."

He said India's "millennia-old" friendship with Afghanistan rests on the strong pillars of people to people relationships and that it has always stood for a peaceful, prosperous and progressive Afghanistan.

 

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