Strategic Analysis

Strategic Analysis:
A Monthly Journal of the IDSA

March 2001 (Vol. XXIV No. 12)


Pakistan's Jehadi Apparatus: Goals and Methods
By Sumita Kumar *



Pakistan has been nurturing and exporting militancy in the name of Islam in order to promote its strategic goals not only in the immediate region comprising India and Afghanistan, but also in Central Asia, Chechnya and the West. Pakistan has been home to various jehadi organisations whose goals are easily compatible with the goals of the Pakistani state. It is obvious that these militant organisations could not have achieved their present size without the active support of the Pakistan government. While the Pakistan government has been making overt noises about clamping down on these militant forces, it is obvious that it cannot afford to do so if it hopes to achieve its goals in the region. In the meantime, Pakistan is paying a heavy price for patronising the militants in terms of social and political costs. It is also obvious that a negotiated settlement to the Kashmir issue becomes highly improbable in a situation where there is such lack of acceptance for the same amongst the various militant groups.


In the last 20 years Pakistan has been nurturing militancy in the name of Islam and has used it to promote its strategic goals in the region, particularly in Afghanistan and India. Pakistan has called it 'jehad', which means 'holy war'. Pakistan used this strategy against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan from 1979 onwards. The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan provided the initial impetus for the call for jehad by Pakistan against the Soviet army. Zia used Afghan Islamist groups based in Pakistan, such as the Jamiat-I-Islami of Burhanuddin Rabbani and the Hezb-I-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to channel support to the political opponents of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) to enforce Pakistan's will over a traditional foe. Since these groups had a common interest with Pakistani religious parties in undermining the socialist Afghan regime, Pakistani religious extremists soon became actively involved in the Afghan jehad. Pakistan was assisted in its endeavours to oust the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, in terms of resources like arms and money by the US, Saudi Arabia, China and a number of Islamic countries. Pakistan in its role as a frontline state in the Afghan war assumed a supervisory role for the training of Afghan mujahideen and a large number of Muslim youth from other countries in the Middle East to participate in the jehad. Pakistani religious parties did not lag far behind in providing volunteers for the Afghan civil war.

A large number of training camps were set up along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in order to impart religious indoctrination and military training to such volunteers. What remained after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, was a huge force of highly motivated, militarily trained militant Islamists, who looked for new pastures. These and other groups of Islamic extremists who are continuously being trained in Pakistan even now, are engaged in waging jehad, not only against India, but also a number of other foreign countries.

The goals and motivations of one of the most active militant organisations, the Lashkar-e-Taiba is revealed by the comments of its Amir, Hafiz Mohammed Khan, in an interview with a Pakistani journalist, Zaigham Khan. He stated that, "There are Muslim organisations who preach and work on the missionary level inside and outside Pakistan, but they usually steer clear of jehad. However, not only has the need for jehad always existed, the present conditions demand it more than ever. Our jehad is confined strictly to non-Muslims, and particularly Hindus and Jews, the two main enemies of Muslims. The qurar too has declared these two groups to be enemies of Islam. These two powers are creating problems for Muslims and for Pakistan. To my mind, Hindus are what the Quran terms as mushriks (polytheists). This Hinduism is the worst form of shirk (polytheism) in which 30 million gods are worshipped. And from here shirk has been smuggled to other parts of the world. Hindus are creating problems for us directly. If God gives us the power, we will enlarge the scope of jehad to include Jews who are the worst danger for the Muslims." 1

The goals of such jehadi organisations are easily compatible with the goals of the Pakistan state which continuously tries to foment trouble in India with the aim of destablising it. This is keeping in mind the highly plural character of Indian society as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state, in which the peripheral areas from the geostrategic point of view become easy prey to its machinations. Hence it tries to weaken India's potential strength and does its utmost to prevent India from emerging as a strategically dominant power in the region. Eventually it hopes that it would be able to force a settlement of the Kashmir problem on terms which are acceptable to Pakistan. Also a crisis in Kashmir, can always be counted upon by Pakistan, to divert attention from problems at home. It also provides a reason to bring the masses together for a common cause, and a way of garnering the support of the Islamist parties and those affiliated to them. Jessica Stern in an article on Pakistan's jehad culture states that although the current agenda of the Pakistani militant groups is limited to "liberating" Kashmir, "their next objective is to turn Pakistan into a truly Islamic State." 2 Also, the Pakistani military is determined to pay back India in order to take revenge for the 1971 military defeat.

Pakistan's jehadi apparatus is currently involved not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but also in Afghanistan, Central Asia, Chechnya and the West. Pakistan believes that a Taliban controlled Afghanistan will be an ally and give its army strategic depth vis-à-vis India. 3 The Taliban began as reformers, following a tradition in Muslim history based on the notion of jehad-holy war against infidels. Jehad however, does not sanction the killing of fellow Muslims on the basis of ethnicity or sect. Yet the Taliban has used it for just that. 4 Ahmed Rashid, in an article in December 1999, wrote that some 80,000 Pakistani militants have trained and fought with the Taliban since their emergence in 1994, which provides for a "huge militant fundamentalist base for a Taliban-style Islamic revolution in Pakistan. The Taliban have thus established close ties not only with the military but with many sectors of Pakistani society, which now pose a threat to Pakistani stability." 5 The Khudamudeen madrassah trains students from Myanmar, Nepal, Chechnya, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Yemen, Mongolia, and Kuwait. Nearly half the student body at Darul Uloom Haqqania, is also from Afghanistan, but it also trains students from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia and Turkey. Pakistani groups and individuals are believed to help finance and train the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a terrorist organisation aiming to overthrow secular governments in Central Asia. Many of such militant groups proclaim that they want to bring jehad not only to India but also to the West, which they believe is run by the Jews. 6

Role of the ISI

There has been an amazing increase in the number of jehadi organisations based in Pakistan in the last ten years. These organisations are a legacy of General Zia's Afghan policy as well as actions taken by him towards the Islamisation of Pakistan.

Militant Islamic organisations have played a critical role in the internal politics of Pakistan as well as external politics. Given the nature of their activities, they possibly could not have grown to their current size without the help of the ISI. The Harkatul Mujahideen militants operate in Afghanistan and Kashmir, yet have strong links with the JUI and SSP in Pakistan. The Lashkar-e-Taiba is based in Pakistan and sends its recruits to Kashmir. The Hizbul Mujahideen operates in Kashmir, yet has strong links with the Jamaat-i-Islami. The ISI obviously has played a big role in strengthening these organisations. Militant organisations like the Sipahe-Sahaba-Pakistan (SSP), Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan (TJP), the Sipah-e-Mohammedi, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) have acquired an important role in Pakistani politics. According to various reports, militants belonging to the SSP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have received training from the ISI. The SSP draws its support from political parties in Pakistan, mainly the JUI. The JUI is associated with running a large number of madrassas all over Pakistan from where recruits for the Harkatul Mujahideen, SSP and Taliban are provided. The ISI plays an obvious role in maintaining such madrassas since they are the recruiting grounds for future militants.

It is common knowledge that the Jamaat-I-Islami with whom Nasirullah Babar, the Interior Minister in Benazir Bhutto's government was closely associated, had an important role to play in the emergence of the Taliban. It is also well known that the ISI was directly involved in the creation and evolution of the Taliban. Reports suggest that a sizeable number of activists from the JUI have joined the Taliban ranks since 1994, as have volunteers from the TNSM from the Malakand division. The participation of Jamaat-I-Islami workers in the Afghan jehad, especially activists of its student wing, the Islami Jamiat-e-Taleba is a well known fact. Between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan. 7

The increasing power of militant religious groups in Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that they do not feel any hesitation in entering into an armed conflict with the government if their interests are threatened. For instance, in November, 1994, armed activists of the TNSM, demanding the imposition of Shariat in Malakand clashed with the police and law enforcement agencies resulting in a large number of deaths. 8 A report that Major Mohammad Amir, a former ISI operative was the main instigator of the TNSM insurgency of 1994 gave proof of direct ISI involvement. The growing intolerance in Pakistani society is reflected in the statistics of sectarian strife in recent years. In 1997 alone, more than 300 people were killed in outbreaks of sectarian violence. The beginning of 1998 saw the Mominpura massacre in which 24 Shia worshippers were gunned down while offering prayers. 9 The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni sectarian group, attempted to assassinate then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in early 1999.

According to a Western analyst, officers from the ISI are known to be playing a key role in the training of newly arrived recruits to all the main groups involved in the Kashmir insurgency. The majority of recruits which are trained in camps which exist both inside Pakistan and in POK, where several ISI officers are believed to be based on long term assignments. The ISI also continues to support the rebel war effort by giving considerable financial aid. The leaders of all the main rebel groups are believed to be on the payroll of the ISI. Such support provides the only common thread between groups that are otherwise very independent, a characteristic which leads to an almost total lack of cooperation in the field. Despite the existence of the Jehad Council, the individual groups continue to be divided by differences of personality and in religious doctrine. 10 While ISI has a stranglehold over these groups, as a particular group or organisation begins to become too powerful, the ISI is believed to cause splits within such organisations. As the number of such splinter groups increase, the major problem that occurs is the loss of control over the functioning of these organisations, as the sheer numbers make them unmanageable.

The Madrassas Culture

A legacy of the Zia years was the proliferation of hundreds of deeni madrassas providing religious instruction for boys tending to come from economically deprived backgrounds. These schools sponsored by politico-religious parties of the purist Deobandi-Wahabi sects continued to spread in an unregulated fashion and became breeding grounds for sectarian intolerance and hatred. At the same time, there was a general militarisation of religious organisations and parties, which was inspired by the Afghan war and a spreading culture of jehad. While several Pakistani religious parties began military training programmes in conjunction with Afghan or Kashmiri organisations, other parties produced militant splinter factions for the sole aim of fighting jehad. Thus the Jamaat-I-Islami led by Qazi Hussein Ahmad trained volunteers in camps in Afghanistan run by its sister organisation in Afghanistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami. Both parties were closely linked to the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. Another mainstream Pakistani religious party was the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islami (JUI), a Deobandi party led by Fazlur Rehman with a following mainly in the Pushtun-belt of Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province (NWFP). 11

According to one report, Pakistan has some 6,000 seminaries which impart religious education to as many as 500,000 students, among them Pakistanis, Afghans, Central Asians, Arabs as well as nationals from some Far Eastern countries. It is estimated that over 1,500 of these schools are preaching jehad and send regular contingents of their students for arms training, and also reinforce the Taliban's ranks in Afghanistan. It is believed that more than 50,000 Pakistanis have fought in Afghanistan since the emergence of Taliban in 1994. Most of them return to engage in sectarian killings or impose Taliban like bans on television and video. Others cross the Oxus to join action in the Caucasian and Central Asian region. 12 Currently, there are various estimates regarding the number of madrassas in Pakistan, which range from 8,000 to 15,000. Some estimates suggest a high figure of 40,000 to 50,000 madrassas in Pakistan. 13 Balochistan is a major recruiting center for militant organisations. According to a government report in 1988, the number of madrassas in Balochistan was close to 350. They included 278 Deobandi, 34 Barelvi, three Ahle Hadith, one Shia and 31 other seminaries. It was reported in May 2000 that government officials estimated the current number of religious schools in Balochistan to be about 1,000. 14

Active Militant Organisations

The Lashkar-e-Taiba is the militant outfit of Markaz Dawa wal Irshad, an Ahle Hadith religious seminary at Muridke, about 30 miles north of Lahore. The Lashkar, which has emerged as one of the most prominent groups involved in militant activities in Kashmir, is headed by Professor Hafiz Saeed. It gained popularity for its role in the Kargil conflict and also by sending its fidayeen on suicide missions to blow up military cantonments in Kashmir. The Lashkar holds an annual congregation at Muridke every year, which draws thousands of new followers many of whom go to fight in Kashmir. 15

The Dawa wal Irshad reportedly tries to propogate a "purified" version of Islam through its schools set up across Pakistan. The Markaz was founded in 1987 by three university teachers, Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed from the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) in Lahore and Abdullah Azam of the International Islamic University. While Abdullah Azam was killed in a bomb blast in Peshawar in 1989, both Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed continue to lead the organisation. The two surviving founders of the Markaz claim that it was set up for the two primary missions of Islam, that is preaching and Jehad. While the Dawa wal Irshad is involved in various activities like religious education and social welfare, its militant wing the Lashkar-e-Taiba provides military training to its members for the waging of jehad. The Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is supposed to be Pakistan's largest 'jehadi organisation', was initially involved in Afghanistan as well, though now its activities are restricted to Kashmir. The Lashkar was formed well after the Afghan 'jehad' against the Soviet occupation was over. The Lashkar sends its recruits to battle in Kashmir. 16

It is believed that 80 per cent of the Lashkar's soldiers belong to Pakistan. The Lashkar-e-Taiba has managed to attract thousands of committed young men by using its organisational network including schools, social service groups and religious publications, to stir up anger against the so called injustices meted to Kashmiri Muslims, hence creating a passion for jehad. Two kinds of military training are given to those joining the Lashkar. The first is a twenty-one day standard course, called the Daura-e-Aama. The second is a more intensive, three month special programme, called the Daura-e-Khasa, which focuses on guerilla warfare and teaches the use of small arms, survival and ambush techniques. Since its inception in 1987, the Markaz Dawa wal Irshad has grown at an amazing rate. The Dawa which is an Ahle-Hadith organisation, expounding the austere Saudi Arabian brand of Islam, initially attracted Arab donors who were interested in 'purifying' Islam in the subcontinent, which is supposed to have been tainted by the influence of Hinduism. Today a large number of Pakistani businessmen are known to support the Markaz either in cash or kind. The men who join the organisation also help in raising funds. Such funds have enabled the organisation to run 30 schools where nearly 5,000 students were reportedly enrolled. After training, not all recruits are sent directly to fight in Kashmir. Some work for the organisation in various capacities. Reportedly, very few of the Lashkar's recruits come from a madrassah, or religious school background. Most of them have been educated at regular schools, and some have attended college and university. 17

The Hizbul Mujahideen, is basically a pro-Pakistan group and is a militant outfit of the Jamaat-I-Islami (JI) in Kashmir. Until its announcement of a unilateral ceasefire, it was fully supported by the JI in POK and Pakistan, which provided it with manpower and resources for its militant activities. This group which has been operating in Kashmir since its inception in 1989 in Srinagar, is headed by Syed Salahuddin. Most of its militants are Kashmiri, both from the POK and Kashmir. There are also a large number of Pakistanis, some Afghans and a few Arabs. Hizbul Mujahideen members were initially trained in Afghanistan, but were deprived of their Afghan bases after the Taliban took over the areas that were under the control of the pro-Jamaat Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in 1996. 18 It's recruits are drawn mainly from amongst the workers of the Jamaat's student wing, the Islami Jamiat-e-Tuleba. While most of the members of the Hizbul Mujahideen are college and university graduates, recruited from Pakistan, the group also enlists young Kashmiris. The Taliban is totally against the Hizbul Mujahideen and the JI because of their links with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. 19

The Tehrik-e-Jihad was founded in March 1997, with the merger of Ansarul Islam and a faction of Al-Barq (a Kashmiri militant organisation affiliated with the People's Conference of Kashmir). This organisation is known as the militant outfit of Professor Abdul Ghani Butt's Muslim Conference in Kashmir, and is headed by Farooq Qureshi. The group mainly consists of Kashmiris, besides some Pakistanis and Afghans. It reportedly has a sizeable number of ex-servicemen of the Pakistan Army, and was quite active during the Kargil conflict. It stands for the right of self-determination for Kashmir, with the aim to join Pakistan. 20

The Al Badr Mujahideen surfaced in its present form in September 1998 after splitting from the Hizbul Mujahideen, and Bakht Zameen is the current chief of Al Badr. An organisation by the name first emerged in 1971 when it persecuted the Bengalis of East Pakistan. With the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Al Badr operated as a faction of Hekmatyar's Hizbe Islami. The organisation began training the first Kashmiri insurgents in 1989, and in 1990 became actively involved in Kashmir as a regiment in the Hizbul Mujahideen. 21

Al-Badr, named by the deposed Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-I-Islamia and its Pakistani ally, the Jamaat-I-Islami, is a complex in the Gurbaz district of Khost province in southern Afghanistan which comprises six camps. Hundreds of Afghans, Pakistanis and Muslim militants from several other countries have received training at these camps. Two camps in the Al-Badr complex named Al-Badr I and Al-Badr II were raided and shut down by the Taliban, sometime around 1996, as they felt that these camps were being used by the Hezb-I-Islami (Hekmatyar) for anti-Taliban activities in Khost. These camps were handed over to the Harkatul Ansar, the militant group that is sending volunteers to fight in Afghanistan, Jammu and Kashmir and other trouble areas in the world. The Harkatul Ansar was renamed Harkatul Mujahideen when it was declared a terrorist outfit by the US government. In the past, the Harkatul Ansar was very close to the Jamiatul Ulema-I-Islami (JUI) Pakistan, especially the faction led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman. While there are still strong links between the two, the Harkatul Mujahideen has reportedly become more radical and has established international links in order to pursue its goals. 22 Al Badr is seen as the "foreign wing" comprising mercenaries from Afghanistan, Pakistan and further afield of the Hizbul Mujahideen which was very active in the Valley till a few years ago. It's supreme commander is the POK based Syed Salahuddin. The Valley is looked after by Abdul Majid Dar. 23

The camps in Khost drew attention when the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her Interior Minister Major General (Retd.) Naseerullah Babar publicly alleged that they were used to impart military training to Pakistanis who later indulged in terrorist activities. In 1996, Babar also provided information about the arrest of two batches of 33 and 107 Pakistanis, mostly from Punjab and Sindh, on the Pakistan-Afghan border, who had received training in the Khost camps. It was believed that most of the arrested Pakistanis, were affiliated to the Jamaat-I-Islami. Some were also believed to be MQM activists seeking military training in different guises. Al-Badr I and II were not the only military training camps in Khost. Others included the Abu Jindal, Al-Farooq, Salman Farsi and Khalid Bin Waleed camps. Abu Jindal, known as the Arab camp, was where Osama Bin Laden held a press conference in May 1998, and announced the launching of his International Islamic Front for Jehad Against America and Israel. The Harkatul Mujahideen, because of its Sunni base, became a platform for anti-Shia elements. There have been reports that Sunni extremists wanted in Pakistan took refuge in these camps and hired others to follow them. The Harkatul Muhahideen recruits young men from all the provinces of Pakistan and from both sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir. A large number of its recruits are students from madrassas. They have been referred to as the Pakistani version of the Afghan Taliban. While some are involved in the fighting in Afghanistan, others have involved themselves in the fighting in Kashmir. The Khost camps have attracted a large number of young men from the Punjab province, as well as from the NWFP, Sindh, Kashmir, as also some Arabs. 24

When the United States declared Harkatul Ansar a terrorist organisation in 1995, following the kidnapping of five Western tourists in Kashmir, the group changed its name to Harkatul Mujahideen. Harkatul Ansar itself was formed in 1993 when two Deobandi militant groups, Harkat-e-Jehad-e-Islami and the Harkatul Mujahideen merged with one another. The Harkatul Mujahideen is headed by Farooq Kashmiri, and Fazlur Rehman Khalil is the secretary general. It is associated with both the factions of Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) of Samiul Haq and Fazlur Rehman, in terms of political and material support. During the Afghan war, it fought alongside the Hizb-e-Islami of Jalaluddin Haqqani (Yunus Khalis faction). After the Afghan war the group turned towards Kashmir. The group has strong links with the Taliban and several of its militants died in the training camps during the US missile attack on Osama Bin Laden's hide-outs in Afghanistan. The group not only has Kashmiris, but also a large number of Pakistanis, Afghans and Arabs. 25

According to a report, Saifullah Akhtar, one of the main accused in the 1995 coup attempt during Benazir Bhutto's tenure, fled to Afghanistan and reactivated his group, the Harkat-I-Jihad-I-Islami. Over the years, and especially after the Kargil operation, the Harkatul Mujahideen has emerged as one of the most active militant organisations in Kashmir. The December 1999 hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight and demand by the hijackers for the release of terrorists held in Indian jails, including Harkat leader, Maulana Masood Azhar, brought the Harkatul Mujahideen into focus again. While the Harkat chief denied any role in the hijacking, Azhar reportedly continues to be in contact with Harkat members. Azhar, in the meanwhile, announced the formation of his own organisation, the Jaish-I-Muhammad. 26

The Harkatul Mujahideen is a Deobandi-Wahabi group and is believed to be strongly under the influence of Maulana Samiul Haq's Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Islam, as well as the Sipahe Sahaba Pakistan. The organisation enjoys such strong links with the Taliban that inside Afghanistan, Harkat activists are known as the Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani establishment is believed to view this group favourably, because Harkat militants have proven themselves in Kashmir. 27 The Al Faran group, which abducted Western tourists in Kashmir a few years ago, is known to have links with the Harkat. 28 It is believed that most of the camps in Khost survived the American Cruise missile attack by the US in pursuit of Osama Bin Laden, in August 1998.

Harkatul Mujahideen trainees, all of whom are Pakistani men aged between 18 and 25, make a mandatory stay at the Harkat's Kabul headquarters for initial briefings before they are assigned to various training camps in Afghanistan. The most famous of these camps is the one at Rishkor, just outside the southern suburbs of Kabul, which is reportedly supervised by Pakistani terrorists Riaz Basra and Saiful Islam Akhtar. The Harkat also runs a number of guerilla training facilities inside Pakistan, at least one of which was reported to be on a hilltop above Batrasi, a forest village near Mansehra. Northwest of Mansehra, about eight kilometers from Oghi town, is another training camp run by Al-Badr. According to one report, militant organisations such as Al-Badr, Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkatul Mujahideen, Jamiatul Mujahideen and Harkatul Jihad Islami run over a dozen training camps in Hazara, POK, the Northern Areas and Afghanistan. 29

The Harkat-e-Jihad-e-Islami revived its earlier formation following a split in the Harkatul Ansar in late 1996. It fought first in Afghanistan, alongside Maulana Nasarullah's Harkat-e-Inqlab-e-Islami, and then in Kashmir, after the end of the Afghan war. In 1993, the group merged with Harkatul Mujahideen to form Harkatul Ansar, but parted ways after three years. Its leader for the Kashmiri struggle is Ali Akbar, while the overall chief is Qari Saif Ullah, presently based in Afghanistan. The group has Kashmiris, Pakistanis and Afghans in its fold, and also claims to have volunteers from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Britain and Bangladesh. The JUI of Maulana Fazlur Rehman is its political wing. 30

The Jaish-e-Mohammad is a new rapidly growing militant group. Maulana Masood Azhar, a former member of the Harkatul Mujahideen, announced the formation of this group within days of his arrival in Pakistan, after he was released by the Indian authorities to fulfil the demands of the Indian Airlines hijackers in December 1999. This group has attracted a large number of supporters and activists from Harkatul Mujahideen, and seems to have the support of a large number of Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan.

The AI Barq Mujahideen, a Kashmiri militant organisation affiliated with the People's Conference in Kashmir, was formed in March 1990 in Srinagar and is headed by Bilal Rahi. Militants have been recruited from the rural areas of Kashmir, besides a few from Pakistan and POK. Initially a very active group, it was weakened considerably due to a split in its ranks in 1997.

The Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen is a small pro-Pakistan militant outfit, which was formed in Kashmir in 1990 with Sheikh Abdul Basit as its head. Its followers are mostly Kashmiris from the Ahle Sunnat (Deoband) school, though it has some militants from Pakistan and POK.

The Hizbul Momineen is a Shia militant group, which was formed in 1991 with an Iranian trained militant, Shujah Abbas as its leader. The group is supported by the relatively small Shia community in Kashmir, and the group has mostly confined its activities to a small area of Badgham district. It is provided with material and financial support by Pakistan based Shia organisations.

The Al Fatah Force came into existence with the merger of the Jihad Force and a faction of Al Jihad in 1994. It is a pro-Pakistan organisation headed by Ejaz ur Rehman and is affiliated to the non-militant Kashmir People's League (Farooq Rehmani group).

The Al Ummar Mujahideen was formed in 1989, and is regarded as the militant wing of the Awami Action Committee of Maulana Umar Farooq, former chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. The group which is headed by Latif ul Haque, was initially operating very effectively in Srinagar, but after the arrest of its founder, Mushataq Ahmed Zargar in 1992, it started fading out quickly.

The Hizb Ullah which is headed by Mushtaq ul Islam was formed in Srinagar in 1990. This is the militant wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim League headed by Mian Manzoor, but has no connection to the Pakistan Muslim League.

The Tehrikul Mujahideeen was formed in 1990 and is affiliated with the Ahle Hadith school of thought and takes guidance from the Jamiat Ahle Hadith Pakistan, headed by Professor Sajid Mir. The groups chief is Maulana Abdullah Ghazali and it recruits Kashmiris and Pakistanis of the Ahle Hadith persuasion.

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) is the pioneer militant organisation in Kashmir. The JKLF was formed in 1978 with Amanullah Khan as its head. It is the most prominent among the groups which calls for complete independence of Kashmir. Following serious differences between Pakistan based Amanullah Khan and the JKLF chief in Kashmir, Yasin Malik, the group split into two factions. Since then, Yasin Malik's group has reportedly given up armed activities, whereas Amanullah Khan formed the JKLF's militant group called the Kashmir Liberation Army, which seeks complete independence of Kashmir, but is not very active.

The Al Jihad is the militant wing of another faction of the Kashmir People's League and is headed by M. Aslam Wani. Formed in 1995, it is a small militant outfit with Mohammad Nazir as its chief commander. Nothing much has been heard about its activities in recent months.

The Muslim Janbaz Force came into existence in 1990 in Srinagar. At one time it was highly active with only Kashmiris from India as its members, but has slowed down now. It is the militant wing of the People's Democratic Forum (previously People's League), which is headed by the Kashmir leader Shabbir Ahmed Shah.

The Islamic Front was formed when a faction of the Students Wing of the JKLF left the organisation in 1994. It was initially called the Akhwan ul Muslimeen. Later, one of its factions headed by Koka Parey switched over to the Indian side and started to fight against the Muslim militants. As a result Akhwan ul Muslimeen, headed by Hilal Ahmed Baig, renamed itself the Islamic Front. This organisation is not very effective these days.

Another frontrunner in the Kashmir conflict, is the Tehrik-ul-Jihad. The movement was founded in late 1997 as an amalgam of several militant organisations that were too small to be significant like the Insar-ul-Islam, Hizb-ul-Jihad, the Muslim Mujahideen, as well as from the disaffected members of the then HUA. Led by Saleem Wani, a former school teacher in his late 30s from Kashmir, the movement is headquartered in Islamabad and runs a subsidiary office in Muzzafarabad, near the Line of Control. 31

The Sipahe Sahaba Pakistan is a hardline Sunni political and militant organisation, which is staunchly opposed to Iran and to the Shia community in Pakistan. The party reportedly has links with the Harkatul Mujahideen and the Taliban, as well as some Arab donors. As it is a Deobandi-Wahabi organisation, it also enjoys strong links with both factions of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam. The JUI claims differences with the SSP over methodology, but not beliefs. 32

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is considered to be the militant wing of the Sipahe Sahaba, and has become one the most dreaded anti-Shia militant sectarian organisations operating in Pakistan. While the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants basically operate within Pakistan, members of this group are believed to have links with the Hizbul Mujahideen as well as the Taliban. 33

Though the Taliban is considered to be an Afghan movement, it has a strong Pakistani component, in terms of the madrassah students from all over Pakistan. The young Pakistanis who join the Taliban belong to the Deobandi-Wahabi school of thought, as do members of the student militia. The Taliban are considered to be an offshoot of the Wahabi movement, launched in the subcontinent by Syed Ahmad Barelvi. 34 Though Pakistan denies any influence over the Taliban, Pakistani secret agencies are actively helping the Taliban stay in power. "The Talibanisation of the country may be bad, but losing strategic depth against India is worse", according to one mid level operative of the ISI. He adds that "any government in Islamabad will have to think twice before pulling the plug on the Taliban." 35

Except Pakistan, and perhaps Chechnya, militant Islamists from other countries in the region cannot use their own territory to train Islamic militants for jehad. They look to the Taliban for such facilities and one such facility is a training camp south of the Oxus River, reportedly set up by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMUI) to train militants from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and the western Chinese province of Xinjiang. Also, there is Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaida organisation which provides sanctuary, funds and training in guerilla warfare as well as the manufacture of explosive devices to Arab dissidents from Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Jordan and Iraq. According to a former jehadi commander, "The short term objective of these camps is to provide trained manpower for the separatist movement in Kashmir and the Taliban's fight against the forces of the Northern Alliance. In the long term, these camps and their financiers intend to export the Taliban model of Islamic statehood as far afield as Central Asia, the Middle East, North and East Africa, the Caucasus, the Balkans, and the Philippines." 36

Role in Kargil

It has been reported that the Kargil flare-up played a role in revitalising Islamic militant groups which had been decimated by India's crackdown against them in Kashmir. Abdullah Muntazir, a spokesman for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, stated that his organisation set up 2200 camps in various parts of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir to provide military training to the fresh recruits ready to join the fighting across the LOC. Most of the fighters involved during Kargil, belonged to POK, Punjab and the North West Frontier Province, with a significant number from Afghanistan and other Muslim countries. 37

It was reported that the militants involved in the Kargil war were mainly from the Tehrik-e-Jihad, which draws its cadres from Kashmir, the Al-Badr, whose members include both Kashmiris and Pakistanis, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, which has in its fold a few Kashmiris, but many Pakistanis' and Afghans and Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose members are largely from Pakistan. As the conflict intensified in Kargil, two more groups, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Harkat-e-Jihad, had also joined to provide reinforcements. Fourteen such organisations formed an alliance under the name of United Jehad Council with its headquarters in Muzzafarabad. Led by Syed Salahuddin of the Hizbul Mujahideen, the alliance is politically affiliated with the Jamaat-i-Islami. In the face of repeated denials by the Pakistan government about the involvement of Pakistani army regulars, a Pakistani journalist admits that, " is well understood, that these militant groups could not have launched such a major offensive without the active help and support of the Pakistan army. 38

According to an Indian estimate, a significant portion of the finance for the infiltrators was coming in from the ISI and various foreign agencies at the behest of Osama Bin Laden, especially for the Harkat and Lashkar. According to one report, the money handed out to the infiltrators for the Kargil intrusions was apparently 5 to 10 times what they were getting for a tour of duty lasting three to six months in the Valley. 39

Reactions: Post Kargil

Opposition political parties, particularly the right wing Islamic organisations, rejected Sharif's claim that the US brokered agreement on Kargil, helped to bring the Kashmir issue on the international agenda, and accused him of treason. "The nation will not forgive Sharif for selling out on Kargil, warned Munawwar Hussain, secretary general of Jamaat-I-Islami, which is closely linked with Islamic militant groups fighting in Kashmir. 40 The reaction of other Kashmiri militant groups was much stronger. "We will not put our guns down. We will continue to fight till the last drop of our blood," declared Syed Salahuddin, chief of the United Jehad Council. 41

The Harkatul Mujahideen, termed the so-called de-escalation in Kargil a tactical retreat. The Lashkar-e-Taiba declared that it had not retreated from any front. The Lashkar made full use of the atmosphere created by the Kargil conflict and the resultant campaign to glorify militant organisations launched by the official media and Urdu newspapers. During the conflict, the Lashkar held public meetings and demonstrations of the combat skills of its militants all over the country, spreading the message of jehad. Even when the Prime Minister agreed in Washington to pull Pakistani troops out of Kargil, the Lashkar did not let the withdrawal affect its propaganda offensive. The Lashkar refused to accept that there had been any retreat by the militants, and intensified its media campaign, claiming that the militants were still entrenched at strategic heights in Kargil. The Lashkar's public stature post-Kargil ensured that Hafiz Saeed receives invitations from trade and bar associations as well as generous donations. In fact an opinion has been expressed that the Kargil affair may have helped the Lashkar and its parent organisation, the Markaz Dawa wal Irshad, politically. "The Markaz could well be the first political player whose credentials are based solely on its militant activities. However, a factor which sets it apart from a body like the Jamaat-e-Islami, is that the Markaz does not believe in the political process and rejects it as an un-Islamic practice." 42

Such situations are giving rise to increasing fears about what these terrorist activities can portend for Pakistan. One analyst states that, "Giving militant jehadi forces a cause like Kargil that brings them to the center-stage, and then moves in a direction they can see as betrayal, can only be a self-defeating move towards domestic instability. While militant organisations involved in Kashmir have come together in anticipation of some major military gains in Indian Kashmir, once it is obvious that there are no military solutions in Kashmir, they can turn upon one another, which would lead to a fearful situation within Pakistan." 43

The US Attitude and Pakistani Response

Over the years the US government has increasingly become concerned with the issue of international terrorism, and is really keen on evolving some kind of safeguards against this threat emanating from the Pakistan and Afghanistan region. In April 1995, the US State Department in its report "Patterns of Global Terrorism" submitted to the Congress, associated the Harkatul Ansar with terrorist activities for the first time. The State Department's reports for 1995 and 1996 also associated the Harkat with terrorist activities and accused the group of having links with the 'Al-Faran' organisation which had captured Western tourists in Kashmir in July 1995. In October 1997, US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, submitted to the US Congress, a list of 30 international terrorist organisations which Washington had decided to bring under the purview of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, 1997. The Harkatul Ansar was one of the groups on the list. The State Department report for 1997, released in 1998, alleged Pakistan's official support for Kashmiri militant groups, including the Harkatul Mujahideen. 44

American officials visiting Pakistan in early 2000, asked Pakistani leaders to curb Islamic organisations which are involved in perpetrating terrorism. It was made obvious that Pakistan faced the imminent threat of being put on the list of nations sponsoring terrorism, unless it accepted the US demand of banning the Harkatul Mujahideen, which Washington believes was responsible for the hijacking of the Indian Airlines aircraft in December 1999. The military leaders were also urged to pressurise the Afghan Taliban administration, to expel Osama Bin Laden. Karl Inderfurth, the US Assistant Secretary of State, reportedly told Pakistani leaders that the US administration was particularly concerned about the Harkat's alleged links with the ISI. 45 The US State Department report on international sponsors of terrorism, released in Washington in April 2000, stopped just short of declaring Pakistan a terrorist state. It stated that South Asia, specifically Afghanistan and Pakistan are now the hub of international terrorist activity.

It was probably due to such pressure by the US that reports emerged about General Musharraf's government trying to clamp down on terrorist organisations. According to one report, militants were being discouraged from going to Afghanistan to seek military training. Security arrangements along the three major entry points into Afghanistan, Sadda (Kurram Agency), Miramshah (South Waziristan Agency) and Torkham (Kyber Agency) were improved as a result of which a large number of Harkatul Mujahideen members attempting to get into Afghanistan were arrested. It was also reported that the Taliban were asked to curtail the activities of Pakistani militant organisations on their soil. 46

Though Pakistan's military administration seems to share US concerns over terrorism overtly, it is evident that Pakistan cannot afford to clamp down on militant organisations, which provide the fighting force in Kashmir. For this reason, General Musharraf contends that a differentiation should be made between terrorists and those who are waging jehad. He has also rejected US allegations that the Islamic organisations fighting in Kashmir are terrorists or working under the patronage of the ISI. 47 In February 2000, General Musharraf ruled out the banning of jehadi organisations and in a television interview stated that, "Jihad is required...where Muslims are faced with revengeful actions..." He further said that," Jihadi organisations are not terrorist organisations. Individual groups are responsible for terrorism and give a bad name to jihadi organisations." 48

The military government's rhetoric and policy on religious militancy appear to be divergent. While condemning religious extremism, the military government has given more room to the militants and the crackdown on sectarian terrorists initiated by Shahbaz Sharif's government in Punjab, was stopped by Musharraf's government. Also, Maulana Masood Azhar created the Jaish-e-Mohamad within a fortnight of his release from Indian custody in the aftermath of the Indian Airlines hijacking. The ambivalence of the Musharraf regime on this issue was evident when on April 17, 2000 the interior ministry issued a handout in Islamabad, dismissing earlier reports that any action was being planned against madrassas.

Conclusion: The Two Ceasefires and Future Expectations

The peace process in Kashmir which started with the declaration of ceasefire by Abdul Majid Dar, a senior Hizb Commander, on July 24, 2000, collapsed within 15 days. It was the first time that New Delhi had entered into formal talks with a Pakistan backed Kashmiri militant group. However, the talks could not proceed as the Indian government wanted to keep them within the scope of the Indian constitution. Also, India refused the Hizb's demand to involve Pakistan in the talks. More than anything else the declaration brought out into the open differences within the Hizb's leadership in Pakistan, as it took Salahuddin almost 24 hours to endorse Dar's ceasefire calls. While Saluhuddin endorsed Dar's call for a ceasefire in order to prevent any division within the militant outfit, other jehadi organisations denounced the Hizb's unilateral move and suspended Salahuddin as supreme commander of the United Jehad Council, an umbrella organisation of 15 Kashmiri groups. A leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba stated that, "The Hizb's decision has created a lot of confusion and demoralisation in the struggle." 49

The hope of a breakthrough came to naught as just a day before the beginning of the talks, more than 100 people were killed in Kashmir which signalled that there was to be no let up in fighting. The carnage was linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Determined to give peace another chance, the Indian government for the first time offered a unilateral ceasefire to Pakistan on November 19, 2000. This was extended on December 19, 2000, upto January 26, 2001, and again on 26th January, 2001 for one month. While Jehadi organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad rejected the offer of ceasefire, Pakistan agreed to de-escalation and the observance of "maximum restraint" along the LoC. While the ceasefire seems to be holding out the second time round, and the incidents of firing along the LoC have gone down, the incidents of terrorism in India have increased as can be seen by the attack on the Red Fort and the attempt to attack Srinagar airport, in January 2001. Also, while there has been a cooling down of temperatures between the two countries, and there are reports of troop reduction being considered by India, talks between India and Pakistan cannot be expected to take place soon. India is adamant that Pakistan has to stop abetting terrorism in India, before it will agree to bilateral talks between India and Pakistan. India has completely rejected trilateral talks, an approach advocated by the militants and Pakistan.

In the meantime, Pakistan is facing a Catch 22-situation. It is paying heavy social and political costs in patronising the militants. Some of these armed groups are involved in religious and sectarian violence within Pakistan and the situation is likely to deteriorate. There is a feeling that any moves to curb radical groups could be met with resistance by hardliners in the military. Action against them would also provoke a strong reaction from the conservative political parties who have been warning the military leaders of serious consequences if they give in to American pressure. As is evident by various statements from the Lashkar, a negotiated settlement to the Kashmir problem is not at all acceptable to its members, who reject the system of constitutional democracy and are in favour of an Islamic revolution. There are fears that if organisations like the Lashkar are allowed to operate without a check and they manage to establish a state within a state, in future, Lashkar and other similar organisations may decide to topple the system they despise. At that time Pakistan would become the victim of a jehad, which it is waging against India in the name of Islam.


Note *: Research Officer Back.

Note 1: Zaigham Khan, "Allah's Army", The Herald, January 1998, p. 125. Back

Note 2: Jessica Stern, "Pakistan's Jehad Culture", Foreign Affairs, November/December 2000, vol. 79, no. 6, p. 118. Back

Note 3: Ahmed Rashid, "The Taliban: Exporting Extremism", Foreign Affairs, November/December 1999, vol. 78, no. 6, p. 28. Back

Note 4: Ahmed Rashid, "The Taliban: Exporting Terrorism", Foreign Affairs, November/December 1999, vol. 78, no. 6, p. 26. Back

Note 5: Ahmed Rashid, "Pakistan's Coup: Planting the Seeds of Democracy?", Current History, December 1999, p. 413. Back

Note 6: Jessica Stern, no. 2, pp. 123-124. Back

Note 7: Ahmed Rashid, "The Taliban: Exporting Terrorism", Foreign Affairs, November/December 1999, vol. 78, no. 6, p. 27. Back

Note 8: Zaigham Khan, "Inside the Mind of the Holy Warrior", The Herald, July 1999. Back

Note 9: Sairah Irshad Khan and Muna Khan, Newsline, February 1998, pp. 23-24. Back

Note 10: Roger Howard, "Evolving Rather Than Receding, The Killing in Kashmir Continues", Jane's Intelligence Review, January 1999, p. 42. Back

Note 11: Anthony Davis, "Pakistan: State of Unrest", Jane's Intelligence Review, January 1999. Back

Note 12: M. Ilyas Khan, "The Road to Holy Terror", The Herald, January 2000, p. 125. Back

Note 13: Jessica Stern, no. 2, p. 119. Back

Note 14: Haroon Rashid, "Fertile Ground", The Herald, May 2000, p. 51. Back

Note 15: Zafar Abbas, "A Who's Who of Kashmir Militancy", The Herald, August 2000, p. 29. Back

Note 16: Zaigham Khan, "Allah's Armies", The Herald, September, 1998, and "Allah's Army", The Herald, January 1998. Back

Note 17: Zaigham Khan, "Allah's Army", The Herald Annual, January '1998. Back

Note 18: Zafar Abbas, "A Who's Who of Kashmir Militancy', The Herald, August 2000, p. 29. Back

Note 19: Ziagham Khan, "Allah's Armies", The Herald, September 1998, p. 28. Back

Note 20: Zafar Abbas, no. 18. Back

Note 21: Ibid. Back

Note 22: Rahimullah Yusufzai: "Exporting Jehad?", Newsline, September 1998, pp. 36-37. Back

Note 23: Outlook, July 5, 1999, p. 31. Back

Note 24: Rahimullah Yusufzai, "Exporting Jehad?, Newsline, September 1998, pp. 37-39. Back

Note 25: Zafar Abbas, "A Who's Who of Kashmir Militancy", The Herald, August 2000, p. 29. Back

Note 26: Ismail Khan, "Terrorists or Crusaders?", Newsline, February 2000, pp. 24-25. Back

Note 27: Zaigham Khan, "Allah's Armies", The Herald, September, 1998, p. 28. Back

Note 28: Ishan Joshi, "The Bin Laden Factor", Outlook, July 5, 1999, p. 31. Back

Note 29: Ilyas Khan, "The Road to Holy Terror", The Herald, January 2000, p. 121. Back

Note 30: The information on militant organisations, namely, the Harket-e-Jihad-e-islami, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Barq Mujahideen, Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, Hizbul Momineen, Al Fatah Force, Al Ummar Mujahideen, Hizb Ullah, Tehrik Mujahideen, JKLF, Al Jihad, Muslim Janbaaz Force and Islamic Front is taken from Zafar Abbas, "A Who's Who of Kashmir Militancy", The Herald, August 2000. Back

Note 31: Roger Howard, "Evolving rather than Receding, the Killing in Kashmir Continues". JIR, January 1999, p. 41. Back

Note 32: Zaigham Khan, "Allah's Armies", The Herald, September 1998, p. 29. Back

Note 33: Ibid. Back

Note 34: Zaigham Khan, "Allah's Armies", The Herald, September, 1998, p. 28. Back

Note 35: M. Ilyas Khan, "Losing Control?", The Herald, September 2000, p. 45. Back

Note 36: Ilyas Khan, "The Road to Holy Terror", The Herald, January 2000, p. 122. Back

Note 37: Zahid Hussain, "The Holy Warriors Rise Again", Newsline, June 1999, p. 24. Back

Note 38: Zafar Abbas, "War?", The Herald, July 1999, p. 31. Back

Note 39: Outlook, July 5, 1999, p.31. Back

Note 40: Zahid Hussain, "Beating A Hasty Retreat", Newsline, July 1999, p. 22. Back

Note 41: Ibid. Back

Note 42: Zaigham Khan, "Unholy Dividend?" The Herald, August 1999. Back

Note 43: Zaigham Khan, "Unholy Dividend?", The Herald, August 1999, pp. 68-69. Back

Note 44: Ismail Khan, "Terrorists or Crusaders?", Newsline, February 2000, pp. 24-25. Back

Note 45: Zahid Hussain, "In the Shadow of Terrorism", Newsline, February 2000, p. 18. Back

Note 46: Ismail Khan, "Terrorist or Crusaders?", Newsline, February 2000, pp. 24-25. Back

Note 47: Zahid Hussain, "In the Shadow of Terrorism", Newsline, February 2000, p. 19. Back

Note 48: Zaigham Kham, "Militants Versus the Military", The Herald, May 2000, p. 50-52. Back

Note 49: Zahid Hussain, "Back to the Battlefield", Newsline, August 2000, p. 32. Back