The cold-blooded murder of Manzoor Ahmad Bangroo in Pattan area of South Kashmir on Friday is the latest incident of ongoing targeted killings by terrorists in Kashmir. The deceased was a sarpanch [an elected village-level functionary who acts as an interphase between the government and village community], and his killing serves as a grim reminder of how in the garb of waging ‘armed struggle’, Pakistan backed terrorists are hellbent on converting what is otherwise considered paradise on earth, into a living hell.
Both the terrorists and separatists alike, contend that the so called ongoing ‘armed struggle’ is necessary and unavoidable for the wellbeing and brighter future of Kashmiris. However, those who support terrorism have never cared to explain as to how exactly will senseless killing of innocent Kashmiris by Kashmiris achieve this objective? So, it’s time the common Kashmir who is bearing the brunt of this destructive menace started asking the pro-Pakistan lobby in Kashmir some hard questions. However, as no reply will be forthcoming, let’s try to do so ourselves.
Can killers of innocents be called ‘mujahideen’?
The Holy Quran mentions that “Whosoever killed a person … it shall be as if he had killed all mankind [5:32].” Unfortunately, those who indulge in such killings have the impertinence to proudly proclaim themselves ‘mujahideens’ [holy warriors]. I’m not a Muslim, but while speaking on this issue with some of my learned friends who follow Islam, and all of them opined that that a killer of innocents can never be considered a ‘mujahideen’ by any stretch of imagination.
Are vested interests using targeted killings to further their own agendas?
Yes. That’s why rather than univocally condemning the unpardonable act of taking innocent human lives, terrorist commanders and separatist leaders either maintain a stoic silence on such murders, or even worse, indirectly ‘legitimise’ such misdeeds by glorifying even those slain terrorists complicit in the killing of innocent people. Sponsors of terrorism and their proxies use targeted killings as propaganda props to project the erroneous impression that people of Kashmir are up in arms against the establishment and killing of elected members like sarpanches is a manifestation of public ire.
Similarly, the response of Kashmir’s political class is most pathetic as they view such tragic incidents solely as golden opportunities for shamefully furthering their own self-serving interests. For example, after offering condolences on Bangroo’s murder in the most perfunctorily manner, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti used this tragic incident to take a swipe at the center by adding, “There seems to be no end in sight to the bloodbath in Kashmir. Yet nothing seems to move GOI [Government of India] enough to change its approach towards J&K.”
What are terrorists achieving by targeted killings?
This is the question that every Kashmiri should be asking because killing sarpanches, members of Kashmir’s minority communities and migrants is in no way furthering either the self-determination campaign or the so called ‘armed struggle’. On the contrary, perpetrating such indefensible acts of violence create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty due to which tourism suffers and outsiders are wary of setting up industry or investing in Kashmir. So, separatists and the pro Pakistan lobby should tell the people of Kashmir as to why are terrorists are creating a hostile environment and thus dissuading outsiders from undertaking employment generating projects in J&K?
However, those who support or sympathise with terrorists won’t give a reply as they know that an honest answer would expose Pakistan’s duplicitous Kashmir policy and their own brazen perfidy. The bitter truth behind the ongoing cycle of targeted killings and orchestrated unrest in Kashmir is as clear as day, provided one has the courage to face reality.
Everyone knows that Kashmir has tremendous scope for commercial activities and in January this year, J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha led a team that visited the Dubai Expo to attract foreign investment. J&K’s Principal Secretary of Industries and Commerce, Ranjan Prakash Thakur, who was part of this team disclosed that though many companies were keen to invest in J&K, but “Most of them had doubt that the situation there [in Kashmir] is not very good, that it is a conflict zone.”
The apprehension in the minds of foreign investors regarding widespread killings and unrest in Kashmir is exactly what those sponsoring terrorism here want!
Doesn’t discouraging foreign investment by targeted killings harm the interests of Kashmiris?
It most certainly does. In fact, J&K’s Principal Secretary of Industries and Commerce admits that in order to dispel security related apprehensions expressed during the Dubai Expo by prospective investors, “We invited them so that they see for themselves and understand the situation.” It was only after being convinced that several major UAE business houses like LuLu Group, Al Maya Group, MATU Investments LLC, GL Employment Brokerage as well as LLC & Noon Group signed major investment deals with J&K’s Lieutenant Governor.
Currently, besides members from the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] countries – Sharjah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, investors from Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia have also visited J&K to explore investment opportunities. Foreign investors have shown keen interest in real estate, development of the hospitality sector, infrastructure development, food processing and agriculture, which will provide immense employment opportunities. The capital pledged by investors is mind boggling, with Dubai-based financial consultancy firm Century Financial alone planning to invest $100m. Foreign iinvestments in J&K which stood at Rs 15,000 crore last year, is expected to rise to a whopping Rs 70,000 crore this year.
So, if terrorists succeed in frightening away foreign investors through barbaric acts of violence, the employment and marketing opportunities which projects worth Rs 70,000 crore would have created for the people of J&K will no longer be available to them. Thus, in case foreign investors decide to pull out of J&K due to violence perpetrated by terrorists, the only losers would be the people of Kashmir!
So, why are terrorists and pro-Pakistan lobby against foreign investment in Kashmir?
Investment creates employment which in turn brings prosperity, improves the quality-of-life and enables people to achieve their aspirations. Hence, logically speaking, there shouldn’t be any opposition to investment and infrastructural development as it’s a win-win situation for all. However, there’s a perverse flip side to it- once prosperity comes and people start reaping the rich dividends of peace, it would be very difficult to indoctrinate youth to pick up guns and this is what the pro-Pakistan lobby in Kashmir fears the most.
The fact of the matter is that the grand show of filial affection exhibited by the separatist camp for Pakistan isn’t guided by either ideology or religion, because, had this been the case, then APHC leaders and terrorist commanders would have definitely persuaded their own sons to become ‘mujahideens’. However, barring an odd case or two, the children of almost all separatist leaders and terrorist commanders are leading comfortable lives, far removed from the ongoing terrorism in Kashmir.
What do separatists and terrorist leaders gain by orchestrating unrest in Kashmir Valley?
For the pro-Pakistan camp, terrorism is an industry that provides them easy money from its sponsors living across the Line of Control [LoC] and this isn’t just an unsubstantiated inference. All that one who thinks otherwise has to do is follow the fortunes of this group and note how their modest homes have since turned into mansions and of how children of pro-Pakistan lobbyists with meagre income are moving around in high end cars, living it up in metros and even studying abroad.
As mentioned earlier, the pro-Pakistan lobby can only flourish as long as Kashmir is burning, because that’s what those sponsoring terrorism here are paying for. After its dismal failure to garner support of UNSC and the international community for its puerile anti-Article 370 theatrics, Islamabad is well aware that its Kashmir dream is over and so, it’s taking perverse vicarious delight to see India being bled here.
Islamabad is unlikely to end its proxy war in Kashmir because it’s the most cost-effective way of bleeding India ‘through a thousand cuts’. Since it’s using Kashmiri youth to attack Indian security forces and target innocent civilians, both sides keep killing each other and hence Rawalpindi is achieving its aim without exposing the Pakistan army to any danger.
However, while Pakistan is undoubtedly guilty of ushering terrorism into Kashmir the main culprit responsible for the sorry state of affairs here is the Pro-Pakistan lobby, which for pecuniary gains is ever ready to facilitate and defend violent acts of terrorism cause death and inflict pain on their own brethren.