Kashmir has a deep resonance inside Pakistan and the tense situation in the Valley acts as bait and encourages radical elements ‘to wage jihad to liberate fellow Muslims’, says former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.
He also says that there will always be a minority opinion sympathising with the activities of the jihadis due to the staunch commitment of Pakistanis to the Kashmir cause.
“If that were not the case,” he says, “there would be no willing recruits from among the masses to the jihadi cause.”
However, among influential sections of public opinion and in the corridors of power it was realised that Pakistan’s policy of support to non-state actors had actually boomeranged on it, says the senior leader of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party who has dealt with India-Pakistan relations.
On the Pakistan-India dynamics, he says, “Pakistan-India relationship does have an impact radicalising elements among Muslims in Pakistan. Kashmir has a deep resonance inside Pakistan. Furthermore, the tense situation in the Kashmir Valley also acts as bait and encourages radical elements ‘to wage jihad to liberate fellow Muslims’.”
He feels normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India will help pluralistic and liberal forces in Pakistan besides helping the conditions of minorities in both countries.
Kasuri is also of the opinion that notwithstanding the initial romance surrounding the Mujahideen activities, the West and particularly Pakistan continue to pay a heavy price for this jihad and both are still suffering from its blowback.
“Over time, the West and Pakistan have had to contend with increasing linkages between terrorist groups of different orientations. Pakistan also discovered, to its horror, that some of the groups fighting in Kashmir could just as easily attack its own civilians and security forces.
“In many cases, the intelligence and law enforcement agencies were also targeted. Public opinion in Pakistan began turning against the activities of violent groups for whatever cause,” he writes in an article in the Equator Line magazine’s latest issue, contributors to which are all Pakistanis.