NIGHTWATCH: Afghanistan to Kashmir

04 Inter-State Conflict

Afghanistan: Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, published his annual Id al-Fitr address, which commemorates the end of Ramadan. The address contained several familiar themes. Most important for NATO forces is that Omar urged the Taliban to continue to attack foreign forces in the name of all Afghans. He said he would support only a fully Islamic government and denounced the current government in Kabul as a bunch of “hirelings” and urged Afghans not to work with them.

“I reiterate once again that we do not think of monopolizing power,” he said in the statement. “Those who truly love Islam and the country and have commitment to both, whoever they may be or whichever ethnicity or geographical location they hail from, this homeland is theirs.” He also denounced democracy as a waste of time.

Western media coverage of the address cherry-picked the headlines. Some interpreted the quote above as an assertion that the Taliban no longer intend to take power after NATO forces depart. That is wishful thinking that takes the comment about monopolizing power out of the context of establishing a fully Islamic state.

India-Pakistan: Indian military officials said Kashmiri militants from Pakistan ambushed an Indian patrol in Kashmir.

Indian media reported that the militants killed five Indian troops.  “The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms,” Defense Minister A.K. Antony told parliament

Pakistan denied that there had been an exchange of fire. The Foreign Ministry said “it was committed to restart
talks.

Indian officials fear that as NATO reduces combat operations in Afghanistan, Islamic militants will shift focus against Indian Kashmir. Some politicians said that this incident might be the start of that trend.

The concerns of the Indian authorities are well grounded. During the US-backed fight against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence reportedly siphoned off military aid for the Afghan mujahedin to the Kashmiri militants. Prior to the US intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 the Taliban government in Kabul trained Kashmiri militants.

The connection appears to have been dormant in the past ten years, but not ended. Pakistani intelligence entities had a role in establishing and facilitating the connection in that they supported the Afghan Taliban government and the Kashmiri militants.

It is not yet clear that a new surge in infiltration and attacks is beginning. Two things that are clear are that combat operations in Afghanistan are down and that entities in Pakistan remain dedicated to preventing successful talks between India and Pakistan.