By K.N. Pandita
The European Union delegation, while on a visit to Kashmir Valley, cancelled a scheduled meeting with the Hurriyat (G) leader Sayyid Ali Shah Geelani and the Bar Association. They gave no reason for the last minute change of mind. Obviously, what weighed with them was Geelani’s call to Kashmiris for offering prayer in absentia for Osama. In doing so, Geelani identified himself, his organization and those who responded to his call, with world’s top most terrorist and his terrorist organization. This is the gravest wound inflicted by Geelani on the “freedom movement” in Kashmir. He left the western world in no doubt that this was not a “freedom” but a terrorist movement, which, despite taking a heavy toll of life in Kashmir, had not as yet quenched the thirst for more innocent lives of his compatriots. Only weeks ago, Geelani had visited the camps of the minority community of Pandits in the valley and assured them of guarantee to safety of life. How should one interpret this dichotomy of the separatist leader?
Osama was responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent lives as it was his organization whose activists carried out attacks in different parts of the world beginning with 9/11 that left thousands dead. He lionized himself for owning the responsibility. Does Islam allow shedding of innocent blood? Does not the holy book enjoin upon Muslims that everybody has his religion? What then is the status of Osma in the eyes of true Muslims? Those who responded to Geelani’s call for the namaze gaibana of Osma should answer these questions.
Describing the holding of Osama’s funeral prayer at Srinagar as un-Islamic, Chairman Anjuman Minhaje Rasool Maulana Sayyid Athar Dehlavi said that Laden was never identified with Islam. “Terror has no religion and caste and so was Osama bin Laden, who was never identified with Islam People in Kashmir now want peace and to live in harmony. Separatists should accept that their ideologies are no longer being acknowledged and followed,” the cleric said. Notwithstanding this, if Geelani had to offer condolence on the death of Osama, he should have primarily held Pakistan responsible for it. It was a deal between Pakistan and the Americans that led to the elimination of Osama. Over the years since Pakistan joined the US in the “war on terror” the US has conducted numerous covert operations – apart from unleashing the missiles of unmanned Predator drones on militant targets – deep inside Pakistan. For instance, the Los Angeles Times reported on July 27, 2008, “On occasions, US Special Forces teams have been sent into Pakistan. In 2006, one of the nation’s most elite units, Seal Team 6, raided a suspected al-Qaeda compound at Damadola in the Bajaur Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Under this arrangement, the US would conduct raids against high-value targets and Pakistan would provide the necessary support, but Pakistan, for political reasons so that nobody would question that its sovereignty had been compromised, would claim responsibility for the raids. The US sent four warning letters to the Pakistan army through diplomatic channels in which it expressed its reservations on Pakistan’s cooperation in finding high-value sanctuaries. Pakistan responded by asking for better economic deals and a greater role in the Afghan end game.
The demands on both sides were such that international players were called in to mediate. These included top Saudi authorities and Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shi’ite Ismaili community. They played a pivotal role in fostering a new strategic agreement of which the Abbottabad operation was a part. That is, Pakistan was on board but was kept in the dark over the target on the explicit understanding that it would take ownership.
The Saudis included ex-ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who had been sidelined for some years through illness and palace intrigue. He had helped resolve the Davis case and set the parameters for joint surgical strikes inside Pakistan against defiant al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders to pave the way for an end game in Afghanistan.
In the first week of April, the White House released a terror report charging Pakistan with being hand-in-glove with militants. Soon after, the ISI chief Lt. Gen. Pasha went to the US for a very short visit. Security sources confirmed that the new security arrangement was high on the agenda. Pasha, instead of returning directly to Pakistan, stopped over in Paris where he met the Aga Khan, and then proceeded to Turkey for talks with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who was in the country on an official visit, to apprise him of the new agreement. In the last week of April, the US’s top man in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, met with Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani and informed him of the US Navy Seals operation to catch a high-value target. The deal was done.
In the light of this background, of which Geelani may not be in know, it is clear that Pakistan had come to the conclusion that the time had come for her to abandon Osama and thus get rid of the terrorist menace which he and his organization were working at. Pakistan is an Islamic Republic and is rightly proud of her Islamic culture. If it found safety and security of the Islamic Republic in contriving the liquidation of the source of terror entrenched in its soil, then it has served the larger interests of the Muslims of the world. How come that Geelani considers himself and his organization not part of world Muslim community? It is time that his followers give up blind following and take resort to logic and history in assessing the role of the terrorists in destabilizing Pakistan and destroying peace in the sub-continent. Geelani should also understand the subtle point that Kashmiris, by and large, did not become emotional on the killing of Osama. The real reason for that is that Osama, among others, was engaged in waging a proxy war against the Saudi monarchy, something for which the Sunni Wahhabi Muslim world and much less the Kashmiri Muslims are not prepared to be comfortable with. the End.