Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari made a significant statement when he said Kashmiri freedom fighters are terrorists. India has, rightly, welcomed it. But there have been widespread demonstrations in Kashmir Valley against this statement. That is because truth is, sometimes, such a bitter medicinal pill that it is difficult to gulp it down the human throat.
Kashmiri freedom fighters are nothing but terrorists because they are doing what is prohibited in Islam. They believe they are part of jehad. The fight in Kashmir cannot be termed as jehad because according to Muslim conventions jehad is permissible in only the circumstances where Islamic laws are not allowed to be practised. These types of circumstances are absent in Kashmir. Neither the Constitution of India, nor that of Jammu & Kashmir, violates Muslim laws. So, what the Kashmiri terrorists are doing is not the jehad they proclaim but what is described as fasaad in Arabic, implying that they are saboteurs of peace.
Abdul Khaleque Madrasi, Vice-Rector, Dar-ul-UIoom, says jehad is allowed in the specific circumstances like those in which the Prophet was hounded by the enemies. Even his right to pray was being taken away. Another Darul scholar Mahmood Madni remarks that the Holy Quran prohibits taking on non-combatants. The only justification in Islamic law for jihad is when a nation becomes a dar-ul~harb (house of war). If a Muslim is permitted to live by his own law, the area is dar-ul-Islam (house of Islam). India, through constitutional statues and practice, permits Muslims full rights for the exercise of their faith. India, including Kashmir, is not a dar-ul~harb. So the militants, there, have no right of carrying on jehad.
A subject, being discussed in the political circles of South Asia is: Why did Shri Zardari describe Islamic militants, operating in Kashmir, as terrorists, when they were, earlier, being portrayed as freedom fighters.. Reasons, for this, are the developments taking place in Pakistan and in the global arena. Over the years western Pakistan has become a centre of international terrorism. The United States and Western nations have come to the conclusion that Pakistan has failed to give terrorism, within its territory, its due fight. So, if this country, dubbed as a failed state, continues to be found wanting in this task, it may become an Iraq or Afghanistan in the future. The process seems to have started. US President George W. Bush has allowed bombing by US troops in Afghanistan on terrorist hideouts inside Pakistan. This is being resisted by Pakistan; but international law is said to be on the side of the Americans, as hot pursuit against one'senemy inside the enemy territory is permissible. During his recent visit to the United States Shri Zardari has had discussions with different think tanks. These are reported to have conveyed to him that Pakistan needs to change its policy of being soft towards terrorists as, otherwise, its current policy can harm that nation.
As things stand today in the western parts of Pakistan the Government'swrit does not run. At some places terrorists? hideouts are being bombed. At others talks are held with the terrorist leaders and cease-fires are arrived at. Shri Zardari finds the Pak territory a house divided against itself. After the ruling Pakistan People'sParty, the second biggest party, there, is that of Pakistan Muslim League (N). That party is unhappy with the ruling one for delaying restoration of ousted judges within the stipulated 100 days of the formation of the government. The PML(N) alleges that the ruling party is more pro-West than it should be.
Pakistan is currently finding itself, in an inconvenient position. Economy is down; inflation is up. As a result of this high rate of inflation the value of Pak currency has plummeted. While a US dollar can be purchased for 48 Indian rupees, it requires 78.65 Pak rupees to buy the same. This is a historic low for the Pak currency. Kashmiri militants are adding to the Pak Government'stroubles. And these militants have to be treated nothing but terrorists. Shri Zardari has just called a spade a spade.
(The writer has been working as a journalist in Pakistan, New Delhi, Srinagar, Jammu, Ladakh and Washington.)