Hyphenate Palestine-Kashmir




“We are both suffering from the same scourge. I really don’t see any difference between the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Hamas… A terrorist is a terrorist,” said Mark Sofer, the deputy director general of Israel’s foreign ministry, ahead of the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month.


Considering India’s standing as the world’s biggest weapon importer this decade, Israel’s role as one of its biggest suppliers, the surge in right-wing religionism in the two governments, and a similar question being asked in occupied territories of Palestine and Kashmir, it was only a matter of time before the Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu led governments formally embraced each other in a giant bear hug.


Finding common ground in countering jihadist militancy that has evolved from denial of basic human rights for decades is but a natural alliance for two states already intertwining on the security front.


The Israeli foreign ministry’s statement on LeT comes a week after the US State Department sanctioned the United Jihad Council and Hizbul Mujahideen commander Syed Salahuddin as a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’ – that announcement too came in the lead-up to Modi’s trip to the United States.


Since no one has bought Pakistan’s narrative on Kashmir for over half a century, and that global leaders – with the loud inclusion of Donald Trump – are now echoing the Indian stance on the disputed territory.

If we remove our ideological blinkers, and think along realist lines for a chance, the takeover of jihadism has reduced a legitimate fight for self-determination in Kashmir to being synonymous with terrorism.


Considering that the same brand of radical Islam, that has swept over the Kashmiri freedom movement, is now regularly targeting the West as well, any stance that backs jihadism in Kashmir – coming from Pakistan or the local leaders – will never find any backing around the world.


But the greatest damage caused by the Islamist takeover of Kashmir is that even those states exporting this radical brand of militant Islam around the world, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, have long abandoned Kashmir – except for the occasional meaningless statement issues by the equally pointless Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.


Case in point: India has defence pacts with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two states that are the first to jump to the leadership of the imaginary Muslim Ummah that monolithically exists merely in fables fabricated to justify their imperialistic fetishes.


Just like Hamas buoys the Israeli forces’ brutal action and ISIS helps the Assad regime take indiscriminate action against citizens, everyone under the UJC umbrella provides ammunition to Indian security agencies in Kashmir. That fodder, however, has now evolved to a point where the Kashmiri struggle itself is being delegitimised by global powers.


Here Pakistan needs to make up its mind on whether it wants to pursue what’s in Kashmiris’ best interest, or whether it would persist with discriminating between jihadist militancy – a policy that in addition to damaging the Kashmir cause has also made Pakistan itself fertile for Islamist terror.


Intriguingly, an outlet for Pakistan might have come from the unlikeliest of sources: the Israeli and Indian governments. By equating the Kashmiri militancy with that in Palestine, the Israeli foreign ministry has given Islamabad the opportunity to do the same: hyphenate Palestine and Kashmir.


Despite the jihadist takeover of the Palestinian fight – most notably in the shape of Hamas in Gaza – the Palestinian crisis is still the one issue that has most of the world talking. This is reflected in the sheer volume of resolutions at the UN against Israel, as compared to many other states often guiltier of human rights abuses.


This is because for the Islamists, ‘Jews’ are a bigger enemy than ‘Hindus’ – for the left, Israel is more of a colonial state than India – anti-Semitism is more widespread in the world than anti-Hindu bigotry – and for the Arab states especially, fellow Arab Muslims are worthier than those in South Asia.


The veracity of these factors might be as debatable as they’re irrelevant for Pakistan, for Islamabad should solely be concerned with the disparity in global reaction to the two disputes, and not their roots.



If Islamabad does indeed follow up the Indo-Israeli foreign ministries’ statements and say that indeed the likes of Hizb and Hamas are freedom fighters and not terrorists it could give a new lease of life for Pakistan’s long-held stance on Kashmir and the ensuing militancy.


If Palestine and Kashmir and mentioned alongside, the frequency of the debate over the latter would skyrocket, further exposing the rising human rights abuses by the Indian forces to global discussions.

If Pakistan can back up this conflation with slowly removing support for the jihadist groups in Kashmir, the movement would further bolster, and we might crawl closer to something bordering on a resolution.


For, the mere Palestine-Kashmir hyphenation would still reinforce a widespread jihadist network ranging from South Asia to the Middle East. And as long as that’s the case, any and every legitimate freedom fight that falls in between that umbrella would be lumped as terrorism.