Those impressive jihadis…

Or what Pakistan left its Kashmiris with

As Robi Sen points out, Musharraf finally admitted that contrary to the perception he had been giving to the world at large, he had not quite banned the motherships of Pakistan’s terrorist community. Outfits like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, of which the Lashkar-e-Taiba is a component, were just under a ‘watchlist’.

So the jihadi outfits showed remarkable competence in providing relief to the quake hit communities of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, leaving genteel commentators like Dawn’s Ayaz Amir impressed.

The Jamaat-ut-Dawaah’s camp to the north of the city, on a piece of sloping ground by the River Neelum, is a picture of precision and organization. Tents for the injured, about 40 tents for displaced persons, a mobile surgical unit in which when I arrived a team of Indonesian doctors was performing surgery, a mountain of relief goods, and again a very methodical system of relief distribution…

Dawaah volunteers were going to inaccessible areas and there assessing relief needs. Again on the basis of the chits they issued, the recipients could collect relief from the base camp. When I was out on the road to Ath Maqam and asked my vehicle to turn around because I found the precipice falling sharply to the Neelum River a bit too scary, I saw a band of young men in the distance marching briskly in our direction. With good walking boots on and carrying sleeping bags, they looked very tough and kept almost racing up the slope even as I asked them which organization they were from. “Jamaat-ut-Dawaah,” came the muffled answer. So they hadn’t been bluffing when they told me their boys went up into the mountains. I don’t much care for Hafiz Saeed’s theology, much too stark and cut-and-dried for my taste. But by God his boys are impressive.

Next to the Al Khidmat camp, again by the banks of the swift-flowing Neelum, I chanced upon another discovery, a very well-laid-out relief camp, guarded by boys from the Hizbul Mujahideen (the largest of the Kashmiri resistance outfits led by long-beard Maulvi Salahuddin), obviously rich with relief supplies, and doling out relief in a very organized manner. It turned out this was the base camp of the Sialkot-based Mutayab-ul-Islam Foundation. Again assistance was being given on the basis of chits handed out by Foundation volunteers trekking to cut-off villages. Each relief package contained flour, rice, ghee, etc, a new blanket, new (not second hand) winter jackets, (proper jackets that you wouldn’t be ashamed of wearing) and, better believe this, shoes according to size. I actually heard them asking what size of foot before providing the required size. [Dawn]

Other than a grand name for their territory, these jihadi organisations are the greatest thing Pakistan has done for the people of the part of Kashmir it controls. Since Pakistan grabbed its part of Jammu & Kashmir, the residents of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Gilgit (where residents currently are in open rebellion against the Pakistan Army’s Rangers who were sent there to quell the previous one) and Baltistan have been in a constitutional limbo — controlled directly by the Pakistani military establishment. In the absence of local institutions or genuine elected representatives, it is small wonder that the only the army and its offspring — the jihadi outfits — remain standing after the quake.

Ayaz Amir does not pause to question how in the first place did those jihadis come to be so well-stocked. Barring humanitarian organisations — which the Jamaat-ud-Dawa scarcely is — the only people who are so well prepared are, well, troops readying for, or already in battle.

Tailpiece: Amir’s op-ed is impressive for another reason — even as he lists organisations and countries that stepped in to assist Pakistan, that he left India out cannot be due to an accident.

11 thoughts on “Those impressive jihadis…”

  1. Nitin, you didn’t quote Ayaz Amir calling it the “Hamas phenomenon.” Which is to say that if the government doesn’t do enough, other organizations (Islamist ones like Hamas) step in. I’m as repulsed by the jihadi orgs as you, but what can be done? State authority is barely functioning, expending all it can on relief efforts, and is hardly in a position to be arresting relief volunteers for their illegitimate associations. Besides, if all the banned organizations are handing out is food and medicine, and not hateful ideology, I think I can live with it for the duration of the crisis. Is this state of affairs wonderful, or even acceptable? Of course not. But the victims need the supplies the jihadis are handing out. Let’s just hope the jihadis don’t gain legitimacy in people’s eyes in the long run. Is this wishful thinking? I think not. The MQM and other parties are doing much the same, but it’s not like the victims are rushing to switch political affiliations. When you’re hungry, hurt, desperate, you’ll accept aid from anyone.

    [sorry for the longish, mostly pointless rant.]

  2. Raven,

    My point is that thanks to the Pakistani military establishment’s policies in Kashmir, that the field lies wide open for the jihadis to step in as heroes. It’s something like the last parliamentary elections in Pakistan, where thanks to Musharraf’s engineering, the Islamists gained more political power than ever before. Only in this case, it is many times more serious.

    And if you ask me to extrapolate, I’d even say that a likely result of Musharraf’s ‘enlightened moderate’ rule will be the strengthening of the not so enlightened and not so moderates.

  3. Raven

    Ofcourse you are correct in saying that earth-quake victims must be provided relief, but, isn’t state correct agency for this ?
    If there was democracy in Pakistan, a change of guard could be suggested (which happens on a regular basis in India), but considering there is a military regime, I am not sure how to punish the rulers for their incompetency.
    Moreover the immediate danger of this will be that jihadis will use the goodwill generated for further recruitment and funding, which will just add to the ongoing Indian(and may I add Pakistani to some extent) tragedy in form of increased terrorism.

  4. Raven,
    It would be incredibly naive of Jihadis to be just handing out food and medicine. To do that, they would have to be brain washed again with another set of idealogy and I don’t think they got enough time to do that here.
    And to see people like Ayaz Amin garlanding them with flowers as if they were the God’s answers to their problems, frankly, he must’ve been either really overwhelmed by the total lack of response by Pakistan army which he witnessed or be returning some favour to the Jihadis, as someone pointed to in a comment. Both are equally troublesome, and on top, to be writing columns for a national daily reflects the lack of opportunities that Pakistanis give to the more saner people there.
    He needs someone to give him the reality pill or be investigated.

    Apologies for being in another tone here.

  5. So does the Dawaah deserve no credit if they’re saving people’s lives? While their ideology is disturbing to say the least, they’re the most organized and dedicated of the relief agencies. So who will fill in the gap? The Army is already streched out, foreign aid has only covered about 20% of what is required – please start naming alternatives.

    And please don’t talk about democracy in Pakistan – you all have no idea about it. I’m sitting in Pakistan and I can’t see a viable, credible leader who has the political base to win an election. If you think having elections in Pakistan is democracy, you are very ill-informed.

    Why are you Indians so anti-Musharraf (barring Kargil)? This man is your only hope that Pakistan doesn’t go further into fundamentalism. My father met him years ago when he was a Corps Commander, and over a few drinks he basically said his long-term goal would be actually reduce the size of the army once a settlement of Kashmir is somehow reached.

    The only thing is thanks to the CIA in the 80’s, fundamentalism and social services of organizations such as the Dawaah have become entrenched in local society, that removing their influence is a huge task. You can’t just go out and arrest every single member of the organizations such as the Dawaah – there would be a gap in public services and huge backlash. The only way is to do it is a gradual process.

    If you have alternative ideas about how to do this please share – otherwise just sitting in your sterile city-state stating that Pakis are terrorist lovers isn’t going to accomplish anything.

  6. Alybaba,

    We are Anti-Musharraf because

    1) Despite all the public posturing to contrary, He is fomenting terrorism.
    2) He has no desire for peace, he is buying time.As soon as US shifts its focus
    (which it will) Musharraf will revert to his old ways (Ofcus he is up to no good even now).
    3) He is holding a gun to our head (by fomenting terrorism) as way of getting his way.

    Any organization which beheads innocent civilians,deserve no credit, notwithstanding the amount of rescue effort it does.

    More than that, We dont really care what goes on in Pakistan.

    Pakistanis wanted a theocratic state and they have it.


    PS. Hope Pakistan enjoys its impending status as a vassal state in future caliphate

    PPS. Politicians in India are no better, however it is still better than a dictatorship.

  7. Alybaba,

    Dawaah (and the like) deserves as much credit as the doctor who tends to the prisoner who would be hanged shortly. It can be agreed that they may be the most organised in a lot of places there at this point, but then, to have a terror organisation to be (almost) better organised than the Pakistani army is quite telling indeed. And all this under General Musharraf.

    I cannot agree with you that there are no credible political leaders in Pakistan at this point. Don’t you think that may be General Musharraf doesn’t lets them survive.

    I’m fine with Pakistan doing things to gain strategic edge, every nation is entitled to do that. But doing extremely irresponsible things to gain that edge is another thing altogether.

    Its only the people’s will that can ultimately lead a country to be democratic and master of their own destiny. Whatever is going on, including the articles of gratitude being printed in the Pakistani national dailies to the terror organisations almost daily, will only lead Pakistanis to an even more darker place. Some people have to realise it fast, and if its not the people in Press, its hardly going to be anyone else. That’s why its so shocking to have someone like Ayaz Amin’s stature writing what he writes.

    You speak of alternatives. How about giving the international community a real chance? If Pakistan can have NATO come in (and I’m sure you remember the 1980s experience with CIA all too well) why isn’t general Musharraf giving the Indians a real chance when they are the only ones to have a real impact due to geography and shared affinities? India and Pakistan will always have to be neighbours, anyone likes it or not. Don’t you think Indians will be more prudent (whatever mischief they might do when there, as many Pakistanis fear) just because of the fact that they will have to deal with it themselves by being neighbours and shared affinities.

  8. Why would a terror organization be “obviously rich in relief supplies”? Why aren’t the boys in boots and walking briskly not Pakistan Army jawans? What if the General deliberately let the terror groups have their way by holding off more than half a million troops away from POK even weeks after the disaster? Does the General not want control over this land? Or may be just the land? Something more fundamental is going in POK beyond the incompetence of Pakistan Army or apparent omnipotence of terror groups.

    Indian Army will find out soon when they open LOC to POK residents to provide aid and comfort. Opening up of LOC will have lasting impact either positively (highly unlikely because General seem to want little control over POK) or negatively with new induction of terrorists into J&K to foment death and destruction for years to come.

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