Ban ‘a kind of political favour to India’
SRINAGAR: Asserting that the United States designating the Hizbul Mujahideen a global terrorist outfit – and its supremo Syed Salahudin, a global terrorist – would have no impact on the ground since the Pakistan army was in a strong position to dictate Hizb policies, experts have stated that US bans were more of an appeasement to India to cater to India’s domestic constituency.
Pravin Sawhney, editor of the well-known defence magazine, Force, told Kashmir Reader that the Pakistan army controls the agenda of Kashmir and Afghanistan, and it was actually America which needed Pakistan more than the other way around.
“For America, there is no other way than to work with the Pakistan army. But the problem is that Pakistan is not working as the US wants it to,” said Swami, who has also co-authored the book, Dragon on our Doorsteps.
“The general headquarters of the Pakistan army has never been as strong as it is now. The situation is such that it is now US officials who come to meet officials in Islamabad more than Pakistanis going to the US. The Pakistani chief is running the policy with the full backing of China, and the country’s history and geography make it more difficult for others to solve Kashmir and Afghanistan without the involvement of Pakistan.”
As such, Swami said, the ban on the militant outfit and its commander would have no impact in curbing the Hizb’s militant activities since Pakistan can easily dictate on the ground.
“The ban on the militant outfit is a sort of political favour to India. By doing this, the US just wants to show India that ‘we are with you’. They are doing it so that India caters to its domestic constituency. The ban on Hizb and its leader by the US is just a show to tell India the country stands with it,” Swami said.
However, he said, on the ground, things do not work like that.
“The Pakistani army is in a strong position right now to implement its policies in the region,” Sawhney added.
He said another reason for the US appeasement was that the US defence industry had an important role to play in India.
“For the US government, India is an available defence market. They have termed India as a major defence partner,” the defence expert said.
The Hizb is the largest militant outfit in Kashmir to have waged armed insurgency against Indian rule in the region. The outfit has several times made clear that its activities are focused on Kashmir and that it has no global ambitions.
On August 16, the US State Department designated the Hizb as a foreign terrorist organisation.
“The designations seek to deny HM (the Hizb) the resources it needs to carry out attacks. Among other consequences, all of HM’s property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the group,” US state department press release adds.
The ban has come in the aftermath of the US June 27 decision to designate Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin a “global terrorist”. After the ban, US citizens are now prohibited from engaging in any transaction with Salahuddin, and all of the 71-year-old’s property and assets subject to US jurisdiction will be blocked.
Professor Sheikh Showkat Hussein, who teaches International Law at the Central University of Kashmir, said the ban would have no impact since the organisation has no branches or accounts in the US which can be frozen.
“The Hizb has no presence in the US at all,” Hussein said. “This ban pertains to the freezing of assets and accounts of organisations declared by the US as outlawed. Hizb has neither assets not accounts nor branches in the US advocating the Kashmir cause. As such, I do not think a ban on the activities of the militant organisation and its leader will have any significant impact on its activities.”
Apart from the US, Hussein said the Hizb does not even have any presence in countries which are American allies.
“This is basically a symbolic posturing aimed at appeasing India. The superpower has its own interests in the region which it wants India to fulfil.
“However, this ban will bolster the enemies of the US. They will now have a positive view towards the militant outfit,” he added.
Hussein said the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) had several offices across the globe, and many countries had granted it the right to self-determination.
“So if the Hizb would have been like PLO, it would have faced problems if its assets and property were frozen,” Hussein said.
“In 1986, the US vetoed a resolution which was aimed at ending apartheid in support of the racist regime in South Africa. After five years, blacks won the liberation struggle. If you see in another way, the US is more supportive of imperialists and has never supported liberation movements. This has not made nations stop freedom movements,” he said.