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  Opinion   Oped  08 Aug 2018  How Modi has managed to cut the snake’s head

How Modi has managed to cut the snake’s head

The writer is Editor-in-Chief, Financial Chronicle; Visiting Fellow ORF and eminent author. He loves the space where politics and economics converge.
Published : Aug 8, 2018, 12:26 am IST
Updated : Aug 8, 2018, 12:26 am IST

Draining the blood to the fount remains at the core of the Indian offensive and defensive strategy on Kashmir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  (Photo: PTI via AP)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI via AP)

India’s Deep State led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assiduously cultivated Pakistan’s principal Sunni political Islam persuasion allies and economic benefactors — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — to try and drain Toxicistan’s fountainhead of blood money being funnelled by hawala conduits into the Kashmir Valley.

The Hurriyat Conference website actively seeks donations from the citizenry, its renegade and anti-national chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s appeal reads like this: Help the families of martyrs and prisoners. It is the duty of the people to enquire about the well-being of these families. To overlook it may invite Allah’s wrath on us. The Tehreek-e-Hurriyat is doing whatever possible to make legal aid available to these prisoners, including those sentenced to life imprisonment. People should come forward and help TeH monetarily in this endeavour. Tehreek-e-Hurriyat is one of the best organisations to give Ushr, Zakat and other sadaqaat. People should come forward for donations in the month of Ramzan as the number of people affected by this movement is large.

Incredibly, he gives his personal J&K Bank account, complete with IFSC code, on the website for the same donations. It is not that he is blagging for help, he is doing it brazenly under the eyes of the torpor-induced

Government of India for the freedom of Kashmir. Ostensibly, his appeal for donations is to help the families of martyrs and prisoners, but one doesn’t really know if a part of the proceeds fuel the purported azadi struggle in the Valley. While the Ajit Doval doctrine, using a mix of discrediting the Hurriyat and the use of jackboots on the ground, has failed in Kashmir, the Prime Minister’s strategy of cutting off the snake’s head so that the body dies has partially been successful in terms of long-term diplomacy. The key is to drain the flow of blood, in this case cash to fund the insurgency that has taken root in the Sunni-dominated Valley.

Displaying his diplomatic heft by systematically engaging with three principals of Salafi Wahabism — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE — equally financial sponsors and Sunni religious doctrine benefactors of Pakistan, Mr Modi has managed to deplete the flow of blood money to the terror factory and Jihad Central. Sadly, this facet of his diplomacy has got lost in the tower of babble over his numerous foreign visits.

In order to neutralise Pakistan’s clout in the Sunni-dominated nations and to circumvent the cash lines for the alleged Kashmir freedom struggle, not enough credit has gone to the PM.  The fact that this engagement is bilateral, with Mr Modi visiting these countries and their heads of state/government coming here, means that the volume has been ratcheted up and India is weaning away the fountainhead from Toxicistan, the practitioner of a dreaded ideology and theology.

The wedge driven in the relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both long-time votaries, major allies and economic benefactors of Pakistan, has only helped India. The terror taint has now now stuck to Pakistan indelibly. The Pakistan government backed the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — against Qatar. But this was primarily driven by the Pakistan Muslim League (Newaz) and the Sharif brothers’ business interests in Qatar, where larger issues were ignored over personal business interests. In 2015, the Pakistanis refused to join the Saudi alliance against Yemen, prompting a swift and angry retaliation from the UAE authorities. Saudi Arabia, one of Pakistan’s biggest benefactors in the past, virtually asked Pakistan to  choose between Riyadh and Doha earlier this year, when the Gulf states hit out at Qatar for its alleged support to terrorists.

Pakistan, for a while, considered pulling out Gen. Raheel Sharif, its former Army chief, as commander of the Saudi-led anti-terror alliance after then PM Nawaz Sharif felt ignored and shunned in Riyadh during a visit by US President Donald Trump. Mr Sharif was not allowed to deliver his prepared speech, nor was he able to  meet Mr Trump. Making thin-gs worse, Mr Trump named only India as a victim of terror, even as Pakistan has wailed and railed that it has paid the largest cost in human terms.

The religiously-driven proxy war funded by Salafi Wahabi backers has seen an all-pervasive cult of death practised for close to 30 years in Kashmir. To cut the feedstock to this bloody war for the misplaced notion of azadi was imperative, and Mr Modi and his security mavens have realised this. Mr Modi has gone beyond the pale and engaged with Jordan, Oman and Iran as well in this push for the Middle East and the Levant. At its very kernel remains the isolation of Pakistan, and wins like the joint statement with the UAE are worth their weight in gold. A statement issued by Mr Modi and UAE’s Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan managed to redefine the contours of a relationship that had long been bereft of political reality. Both sides denounced terrorism in “all forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, calling on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they exist, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice”. The PM is keen to see that Pakistan’s close allies apply pressure on Pakistan as a rogue state sponsor of terrorism.

To understand the dynamics at play, Adam Weinstein, a policy associate at National Iranian American Council and an Afghan war veteran, wrote in Huffpost that Wahhabism is an ideology of compromise between the ambitions of the zealot and the needs of the ruler. Wahhabism can be thought of as a religio-political sub-category of the Salafi approach to Islam. Salafis get their name from the al-salaf al-salih or “pious companions” of Mohammed, whose practises they claim to imitate. What distinguishes Wahhabism from Salafism is that the former is dependent on the House of Saud for its power, whereas the latter is a phenomenon that exists globally. The 18th century partnership of tribal leader Ibn Saud and cleric Abd al-Wahhab wedded two parallel sources of legitimacy in Arabia — religion and tribal kinship. The clerics known as ulema received their authority from God and then conferred it upon the Saud clan themselves. In exchange, theulema are protected from the risks that come with governance. Wahhabis must be distinguished from jihadi Salafis because Wahhabism is inextricably linked to the Saudi state and therefore not revolutionary in nature. The royal family walks a tightrope between the liberalisation necessary for economic development and strong political ties with the West, and the more conservative demands of the Wahhabi movement. One such demand is to turn a blind eye to the sponsorship and export of terrorism and jihad in South Asia, the Middle East and even the West.

The close relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan began as early as the administration of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. According to a recently-released CIA report, in 1975 Bhutto had “obtained assurances of generous aid from Saudi Arabia” during a state visit. In exchange for such support, Pakistan “furnished military technicians and advisers to the armed forces of Saudi Arabia”. Other CIA documents reveal that during Gen. Zia-ul Haq’s military dictatorship, Pakistan viewed the Soviet presence in Afghanistan starting 1979 as an existential threat. So Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was more than enthusiastic about training Pashtun mujahideen to fight against the Soviets with Saudi and US assistance. Saudi officials naturally garnered greater respect from the Pakistani officers than their American counterparts due to the revered status of the Kingdom as caretaker of the two holiest sites in Islam. The US also underestimated the extent to which Pakistani officers would develop sympathies for the militants they spent years training.

Draining the blood to the fount remains at the core of the Indian offensive and defensive strategy on Kashmir. Unfortunately, the appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as Kashmir interlocutor has hindered and slowed down the NIA probe and taking the same to its logical culmination. The February NIA chargesheet hasn’t seen much action thereafter, but with Governor’s Rule now in place, renewed aggression may manifest itself. As many as 12 people were chargesheeted, including linchpins of the terror factory and aides of several prominent separatists including the troika Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik. It also included Syed Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah, alias Fantoosh, and Farooq Ahmad Dar, alias Bitta Karate.

Tags: prime minister narendra modi, kashmir valley, syed ali shah geelani, donald trump, anti-terror quartet