how the world sees america

Kashmiri Insurgent Puts Hope in America

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Srinagar, Kashmir - Yasin Malik introduced the Kalashnikov to Kashmir. That’s what villagers in Pampur say. He’s a folk hero here among the thousands who share his dream of independence. Malik tells me that America is essential to realizing that dream. From the schoolyard to the interrogation room, he has always thought so.

India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir ever since its king acceded his predominantly Muslim state to India in 1947. Over the decades, the India-administered portion has demanded independence, growing increasingly violent as the Indian army swelled to suppress militants.

Yasin Malik was born in 1966. His father was a government servant in Ladakh. He had three sisters, no brothers. His childhood was relatively normal. “When I was ten,” he tells me, “even that young, I had great hope for America.” Classmates and Malik giddily exchanged rumors that “Americans would send troops for the Kashmiris” to help them achieve independence. America distrusted the non-aligned India during the Cold War and cooperated with Pakistan to oppose the Soviet presence in neighboring Afghanistan, so the rumors grew easily that America would also side with Pakistan and Kashmir's Muslims over India's territorial claims. “We had great faith in America.”

Faith was not enough. When he was 18, in 1984, Malik joined the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), a movement founded in Britain calling for Kashmiri independence. But Malik's initial nonviolence was met by force from the Indian army. Malik was detained dozens of times and faced harsh interrogations by the Indian army. His heart valve was damaged after a severe chest impact. His faith in nonviolence was shattered. “There was no democratic space for the nonviolent movement…[and] so we became an armed struggle,” he says simply.

When Malik picked up the gun in 1989, JKLF followed him, becoming the foremost militant outfit in Kashmir. That year Malik orchestrated the kidnapping of the daughter of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, then India’s home minister, eventually exchanging her for fellow fighters. He went on as commander in chief of the JKLF to mastermind the killing of hundreds of pro-India forces in the India-administered part of Kashmir.

In this role, Malik wrote a letter to the President of the United States, George Bush senior, hoping to make childhood dreams become adult reality. With violence spreading across Kashmir’s streets in 1990, Malik asked for U.S. intervention. He got no response. And in August of that year, Malik was arrested by India.

kashmir_valley
Kashmir Valley
This time he spent four years behind bars and turned to books for the first time. “I read more than a thousand books in jail," he tells me. "I read Khalil Gibran and Iqbal…and biographies of so many leaders across the globe” like Mandela, Arafat, Jinnah and Gandhi. Meanwhile, Pakistan co-opted many of the new militant outfits in Kashmir, providing bullets to those ready to accede to their patron like Hizbul Mujahideen. As a secular nationalist movement, the JKLF was left out and found itself strong on will but short on bullets.

Still the charismatic leader, though in jail, Malik was approached by Indian leaders like Gandhi’s grandson Rajmohan, and American diplomats who urged him to renounce violence in exchange for more power at the bargaining table. These diplomats worried about the Islamic character of new militant groups, and wanted to create a stronger nationalist voice willing to talk not fight. These visitors, along with his reading of world leaders' biographies, convinced Malik that nonviolence could work. So for personal, political and practical reasons, Malik renounced force. He got out of jail in 1994 and ever since has embraced dialog as the means of achieving an independent Kashmir.

His stature has grown since. On September 9, 2001 Malik visited America for medical treatment. Doctors in Washington, DC fixed his heart and his eardrum, also bruised by torture. But just after he arrived, the Pentagon was struck and the two towers fell. He left the hospital to find American streets awash with new interest in Islamic militancy. Malik received invitations to speak at the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for Peace, Columbia, Yale, Harvard and many more.

“After 9-11 I found a tremendous interest of very key people in the United States,” he said soon after his return. He saw Americans becoming increasingly aware that “long-term success depends not only on military battles but on combating the roots of terrorism…the factors that create an atmosphere of severe poverty and prolonged injustice.” For the first time in decades, America might pay real attention to Kashmir as a primary concern, he thought, not a secondary consideration in order to avoid war between India and Pakistan.

But Malik soon realized this attention was double-edged. While the newfound urgency to resolve the Kashmir issue was a welcome change, he now worries that Americans are too ready to link “the Kashmiri struggle…to [the] Taliban or terrorism.” A minority have been fighting a religiously inspired war for years, he says, but they do not represent the great majority of Kashmiris. A number of the militant groups are secular nationalists seeking independence at best, but would probably settle for a say in the Indo-Pakistan dialog.

Just because “there are Muslims fighting does not mean [they are] Al Qaeda or terrorists,” he tells me. “Kashmir’s struggle is not religious; it is political. It has always been.” He hopes America will appreciate the importance of Kashmir's struggle while differentiating it from the struggles of other militant Islamic movements, and ultimately help him achieve a peaceful resolution.

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Comments (106)

Christian Belfonte:

Two of my well researched posts have been removed from this site.....I understand it must be the handiwork of the people who don't want the world to see what kind of atrocious Nazi type policies the government of India is adopting towards the people of Kashmir just because they are fighting for a just cause...a cause supported by the various United Nations resolutions.

Well...go ahead remove the voice of justice and truth...the fact is that ground realities are exactly as I mentioned in those posts.

You may take out my posts, but you cant change the situation on the ground.

Fact is that by supporting the Government of India, you will never be able to return to your homeland.....trust me.....your utmost priority should be to stand together with your Muslim brethren in Kashmir and not uphold the unjust,atrocious,cruel and terrorist activities of the Indian army and the establishment that supports it.

Kashmiri:

Amar:

Make no mistake about it. Yahsin Malik is a terrorist. He has killed many innocents. While I have enjoyed reading your jottings, I have to say your lack of research before opining about such complex issues is disconcerting.

If your journey is about "How the World Sees America" I would urge you to keep your posts to that theme and try to stay away from issues were you obviously are out of depth.

Good luck with your travels.

Anonymous:

It would not have been a bad idea if cancer (read Islam) was restricted to some small part of body (read Mid East/Pakistan/Kashmir etc). But the problem is that it rots and spreads. So you can ignore it at your own peril!

Indian:

Ambivalence with regards to Islamic terrorists and Islam as a religion will prove very lethal. There has to be a clear consensus (or near consensus) with respect to dangers of Islam and its followers as is about Nazism and its supporters. I just hope this time it happens before millions are slaughtered and world wakes up to the true horrors of these :freedom fighters" and "victimized/occupied" people.

Indian:

Ambivalence with regards to Islamic terrorists and Islam as a religion will prove very lethal. There has to be a clear consensus (or near consensus) with respect to dangers of Islam and its followers as is about Nazism and its supporters. I just hope this time it happens before millions are slaughtered and world wakes up to the true horrors of these :freedom fighters" and "victimized/occupied" people.

Kashmiri Hindu:

I am one of those special brand of people that is of Kashmiri origin, Hindu and whose grandfather escaped from Pakistan in 1947 with his shirt on his back, his wife, his parents, his children and came to Mumbai.

Based on 1951 Census of displaced persons, 72,26,000 Muslims went to Pakistan from India while 72,49,000 Hindus and Sikhs moved to India from Pakistan immediately after Partition. It was the biggest migration ever of the world to which these people bear a raw witness. After the Muslims went to Pakistan, another 30 million were left in India and Muslims were 9-10% of te population in India.

The population of Pakistan right after Partition was 27 million. Thus Hindus and Sikhs were 25% of the population. In Punjab and Sindh they were over 40%.

Today Pakistan has less than 2% Hindus and almost all Sikhs have been ethnically cleansed by the Muslims.

In India, Muslims are 13%, perhaps more.

That ought to tell you something. Paksitan was to be homeland for Muslims but the Muslims remaining in India by Pakistani laws may not go there even though it is they who fought hardest to break India up.

Had Hindus and Sikhs not been cleansed from Pakistan today there would be a 40 million of them in Pakistan. Would Pakistan still be able to call itself a Muslim country?

Jammu and Kshmir acceded to India in accoradnce with rules that were in place: that the ruler of contiguous staes could decide who he wished to join. J & K was Muslim majority but non-Muslims were a large minority as in Punjab, about 40%.

The UN Resolution accepted the accession to India but asked that it be ratified by a referendum. But the UN asked that the invading Pakistani forces vacate Kashmir first. Pakistan has yet to do so.

Since then, the J & K legislature has ratified the accession, Hindus have been ethnically cleansed from the Valley of Kashmir, Pakistan has sent in non-Kashmiris into the areas occupied by it. A referendum does not make sense because the people who were living in 1947 are a minority in Kashmir.

It is time Muslims accepted that J & K is an integral part of India. Those Muslims who do not wish to be part of India should go to Pakistan just as Muslims from the rest of India did.

It is time that the areas occupied by Pakistan be vacated by pakistan and returned to India.

Muslims got more land per capita than non-Muslims in the four provinces of Pakistan. They should be happy with what they got, forget about Kashmir, reduce its army to about 100,000 and use the money saved to develop their country. the Pakistani people have suffered enuf. They should be allowed to get on with their lives.

Rahul:

Can turning into a “non-violent leaf” absolve Yasin of the blood he has on his hands of the innocent Kashmiri Pandits? If the struggle is "political" why was ethnic cleansing of minorities carried out with such disdain? His “political outfit” was the fountain head of slogans like “We will make Pakistan, without the hindu men but with hindu women” … glittering slogans of a “political” campaign for "independence"!!!!

Nivedita:

I just have one gripe regarding the widely reported Kashmir issue which was addressed by Shalini in some of her posts. Why do most journalists assiduously avoid mentioning the Kashmiri pandits who were subject to ethnic cleansing at the time the terrorism began in J&K?

You all might want to check out this recent article that I read on a poll that was conducted regarding the Kashmir issue.

http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=90785

Aamir Ali:

May Kashmiris one day be free from the biggest killer in Kashmir: The Indian Army.

Ameen.

Amar:

Shalini,

I just read your note and very much appreciate it. You strike at the core difficulty of this project, and reading through these comments (and hearing from my grandmother who was a Hindu in Kashmir shortly after partition) has been very helpful. I hope to post more on this from different vantage points in the coming day. A BBC journalist pushed Malik hard on his past, and to renounce violence. It didn't at your core concern either, which pertains to his use of violence and JKLF. In the camps, interestingly, the men there talked at length about the suffering they endured in camp, but would say "We have not been violent for a dozen years" whenever I asked them about their violent histories. The lacuna was very clear to me, and must be pushed further. Here is the BBC interview and I will keep posting and remaining in touch. Thank you for the feedback on this and Hate Amar, Hate America? and for following along.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/cta/progs/01/hardtalk/malik17jul.ram

m.h.altaf:

mr.bakshi congrats for writing abeautifull artical on yasin malik and his struggle.i have seen the comments that are full of hatred and venom.all these peolpe know that yasin and jklf are the only hope for kashmir.yasin never killed any one ..yes he took gun but fought the mighty indian army.there is a lot of noise being made on pandit refugees.yes of course i donot approve their leaving kashmir but what about thousends of kashmiri muslims who have taken refuge in azad kashmir.why do people forget maharaja and rss killing lacs in jammu in 1947.the peolpe who in their posts have shown venom for yasin must reply that what they think of muslim migrants and lacs of muslims who where killed by hindus in jammu in 1947.forget about the past and look for a new future .why are you people so irked by the success of yasin malik. by the way one of the prominent kashmiri pandit leader sampat prakash is with yasin malik from last 80 days praching azadi during safer e azadi. mr.bakshi may have listened to his speeches in budgam.
i again congratulate mr.amar bakshi for his unbaised and wondefull reporting.

m.h.altaf:

mr.bakshi congrats for writing abeautifull artical on yasin malik and his struggle.i have seen the comments that are full of hatred and venom.all these peolpe know that yasin and jklf are the only hope for kashmir.yasin never killed any one ..yes he took gun but fought the mighty indian army.there is a lot of noise being made on pandit refugees.yes of course i donot approve their leaving kashmir but what about thousends of kashmiri muslims who have taken refuge in azad kashmir.why do people forget maharaja and rss killing lacs in jammu in 1947.the peolpe who in their posts have shown venom for yasin must reply that what they think of muslim migrants and lacs of muslims who where killed by hindus in jammu in 1947.forget about the past and look for a new future .why are you people so irked by the success of yasin malik. by the way one of the prominent kashmiri pandit leader sampat prakash is with yasin malik from last 80 days praching azadi during safer e azadi. mr.bakshi may have listened to his speeches in budgam.
i again congratulate mr.amar bakshi for his unbaised and wondefull reporting.

Shalini Razdan:

Amar: As to the debate on naively taking Malik's words at face value, a large part of this project is trying to present America as individuals around the world see it. It's important not to become an add platform for them (I write about this in Hate America; Hate Amar?) and to inspect their personal claims to the extent possible in a day, and let commentors and further reflection as the trip unfolds put it in better perspective.

Amar, I appreciate your efforts to seek and present a diversity of voices. Reading your blog has been very educational. It is also reassuring to know that you're aware of the potential of being used as a mouthpiece by those you intereview and that you try to guard against that.

That said, I do think this particular piece could have done with more fact checking and due diligence. I wish you had probed Yasin more on his role and activities while in the JKLF. I think the failure to delve deeper into the violent tactics employed by Malik leaves out a cruical aspect of this man's story.

Shalini Razdan:

Syed Iqbal :
1.Have a look on all above comments and see how deeply Kashmiri Pandits are all agaisnt Yasin Malik.But why the author of this story is with him who happenes to be from the same community.
Think why so this favor.


Given what KPs have suffered under the hands of Yasin Malik and other Kashmiri terrorists, their revulsion for him is certainly understandable. After all, one doesn’t expect the victim to applaud her tormentor. I also don’t think it’s appropriate for you to impute motives to the writer, Amar Bakshi. He makes no personal judgments about Malik in this piece but just reports the man’s view of himself. That's the way it should be.

Kamal Hak:

Yaseen Mallik's philosophy is based upon some constructed idealism, which is blind to certain inconvenient facts. That the Islamic religion and Muslim faith occupy just a small fraction of Kashmir's 5000 year old history is conveniently forgotten, distorted or shamelessly refuted by Yaseen Mallik and his ilk, while trying to justify the forced exodus of half a miillion original inhabitants of Kashmir. Their only fault being that they didn't subscribe to the faith, which Yaseen Mallik and others use to spread misery and torture on innocent masses world over.
Yaseen Mallik has also duped into believing that he subscribes to Ghandian philosophy. Amar Bakshi would have done better by digging into Mallik's past to know that this facade of Ghandhism is only a tactful ploy to mislead the people in the aftermath of 9/11. Please ask Yaseen Mallik to cite a single instance of his preaching Ghandian philosophy in his native constituency Kashmir?

Kashmiri:

Syed Abdul Haq is parroting distortions without comprehending context. It was Pakistan that led to India not being able to undertake refreundum in the valley. Since then kin folks of Mr. Haq through barbarism and deceit have changed demographics of J&K state such that no refrendum would ever be possible.This has been recognized by the UN as well. Even Pakistan seems to have realized it of late.
As far Mr. Haq statement of 'innocent Kashmiris' killed, remember most of them died because they were used as cannon fodder by their brothers from across the border.
Now for Mr. Haq's hopes for Nuking India, long before a missle would have even a chance to lift from Pakistan, Pakistan would have evaporated in 11 seconds exact.
Mr. Haq don't attack 'Battas' and if you must attack those who are making a fool of you - your brothers from across the border.
Why don't you recede to some corner and wait for your 72 virgins in afterlife.

Rashneek Kher:

Dear Amar,

I am not least surprised by what you have written.Infact most of the journalists of your ilk are either ill-informed,or not informed at all,or write with pre-conceived outcomes.
This is surely one..with pre-conceived outcomes.
Strange you are potraying him as a Gandhian...Gandhiji beleived in repentance...This man has killed soldiers(which in armed struggle may be termed OK)but that he killed innocent unarmed men and women...just because they happened to be hold a different point of view...Gandhiji would himself come down to Garland both him amd you(you for truthfulness) and him obviously for killing and then doing a U-turn.Look Amar if his cause was strong enough why did he need to pick up a gun,did Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi need jehadis who would kill in the name of religion.
Dont turn killers into Robin Hoods lest they kill you one day.Many in the past including their supporters have been killed by terrorists...so better wake up.I dont know if you have heard of Dr.Guru and Mirwaiz Farooq who were killed by militants..even though they supported them.
And what a joke..JKLF is a secular outfit.Please atleast do some homework before you write such laughable and incorrect romantic idealisms...dont wallow...read,understand and then write objectively..dont get swayed by emotions...thats not what journalism is about.
Let me educate you.The first slogan of independence was "AZADI KA MATLAB KYA..LA ILLAH ILLAH LA"..which means azadi means la-illah illahah..now do you think this is Secular
one slogan was "We want Kashmir without Pandit men but with their women"thats secular for you...
If this has appeared in Newsweek which Fareed Zakaria runs all I have to say is Fareed,I am ashamed..because I expect better stuff out of you.
engage with me on rashneek@gmail.com,if you dare counter truth...also read this
http://kashmiris-in-exile.blogspot.com
Rashneek
(A Kashmiri in Exile)

Reddy:

Iqbal

Dream on...thats all you are left with...before you wake up you are nothing but a pile of ash. End of the game is near for all you Muslims...sad thing is you wouldn't even know who nuked you. The only reason Israel hasn't nuked you so far is you are closer to India. When the technology that can take you out without harm to India is available that would be the last day in your life. That is if someone else hasn't nuked you to stone age by then. Until then you can dream about your heaven and 72 virgins.

Reddy:

Iqbal

Dream on...thats all you are left with...before you wake up you are nothing but a pile of ash. End of the game is near for all you Muslims...sad thing is you wouldn't even know who nuked you. The only reason Israel hasn't nuked you so far is you are closer to India. When the technology that can take you out without harm to India is available that would be the last day in your life. Until then you can dream about your heaven and 72 virgins.

SYED ABDUL HAQ:

One cannot expect honesty, integrity and truth from those rabid Indians who want to continue the Indian occupation in Kashmir. Some of the above posts testify to that. When Kashmir question, which incidently is the longest standing item on the UN Security Council was being discussed, Nehru on Nov 2,1947 said: We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people of Kashmir. That pledge we have given and the Maharaja has supported it ,not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it'. Gopalaswamy Ayanger, the India's ambassador to UN repeated his government's pledge on January 15,1948.Since then
about one hundred thousand Kashmiri Muslim civilians have been murdered in cold blood by the Indian army cowards in order to continue this illegal occupation. Thousands have been tortured, and thousands are missing. Gang Rape has been used as an instrument of suppression by the occupation forces of the "Democratic and Secular India' .
In my opinion Kashmir can win independence only when Pakistan unleashes nuclear weapons on Delhi, Bombay and other Indian cosmopolitan cities,reducing these to rubble where from some of the above mad Indian bloggers rant. I will be one among other 10 million Kashmiris who will relish and rejoice that day. One day Kashmir will become free and Kasmiri minorities can come back to Kashmir to live peacefully and without any further mischief mongering as has been their wont so far.So far they acted as the fifth column for India. It is time the Kasmiri Battas show their loyalty to Kashmiri Muslims who protected them in 1948.
There is a saying : If there is a Heaven on Earth ,it is Kashmir, it is Kashmir , it is Kashmir. I can add one more thing. If there has to be a target for nuclear weapons, it is India, it is India, it is India. Complete destruction of India is a prerequisite for world peace.

Vijay D.:

Firstly Yasin Mailik is a butcher and should be put in jail until he dies (that's more mercy than the Hindu's he slaughtered were shown).

Time and it's paid journalists worship the ARAB money.

Time magazine & the world is afraid of calling out Islamist's and Muslim Fundamentalists for fear. The Islamists & Muslim's continue to blame the world but continue to Slaughter Minorities throughout the world - courtesy of their paymasters: "Saudi Wahabi's"

Look around the world and name me a single country where Muslims have allowed Non-Muslims to worship freely and in public. While they cry for their rights, the muslims continue to suppress and slaughter others.

There is not a single Muslim country that's democratic (please don't count Turkey as Military has all the power), yet they slaughter people of other faiths. Not a single Muslim Country spoke out when the Taliban (financed by Saudi's & Pakistanis) destroyed the Largest Budha Statues in Afganistan. Which was the latest example of intolerance of Islam.

Only an alliance of freedom loving people can counter the Islamists - Not the appeasement and silence of Time Magazine.

Syed Iqbal :

1.Have a look on all above comments and see how deeply Kashmiri Pandits are all agaisnt Yasin Malik.But why the author of this story is with him who happenes to be from the same community.
Think why so this favor.

2. His journey of freedom is just a drama. India knows this as he is considered a "good guy" for promoting politics rather than armed resistance. Kashmiris are already on freedom on journey who are sacrifing their blood for the last 2 decades. A common worker of another political party is languishing in the prison because India knows he is really on "journey of freedom". Sheikh Aziz, Masrat Alam and others are practically on " journey of freedom". Malik cannot get the freedom by touching the bangles of village womenfolk.

Anish Bhat:

It is a Irony and bad luck of a country like India that we have to bear people like Yaseen Malik who have been treated like VVIP people from outer space by subsequent Indian Governments and State Governments alike. everybody here has been reading some stories and thinking of Malik as a Kashmiri Hero....has anybody gone down the lanes of History of Kashmir and seen what Malik has been responsible for..if he ever stood for Azadi why was it that Muslims wanted Azadi and Kashmiri Pandits never wanted it, didn't Pandits live in same place as Muslims...If Pandits were to be a part of Azadi why did People like Malik had to kill Prominents Kashmiri Pandits who were selective targets to send across a message to community....either Say Pakistan Zindabad or leave..if it was for Azadi where did Pakistan come into picture....Although Kashmiri Muslims were also killed but it was never a ethnic cleansing like of pandits...Why were pandits hounded out of their homes forced to leave their homeland...forced to live in sub human conditions....if malik has been fighting for cause of Kashmir...how does murder and killing become part of that process...how does one attain Azadi by killing innocent people.... fed up with killings and knowing very well that Azadi is a dream for people like him he gave up arms and he if he indeed was now a non-voilent person, why has he not bothered to come up and speak something for people who have been far awar from their homes, who have lost someone from family....because a killer like Yaseen Mailk knows in his heart how many people he has killed and someone from crowd might be the one related to victim...He is just a murderer and nothing else...It is interesting that even after commiting so many murders he is scott free and Kashmir Pandits have been paying a price for being true patriots in a country like ours....Western media and people from other parts aof world have always been misfed on information about Kashmir and whoever had all the facts has choosen to turn a blind eye.....Don't worry God Pays back in full without making a sound....

Aalam Sen:

Check the reality of the terrorist Yasin Malik and the likes @ http:/www.kashmiris-in-exile.blogspot.com

He has killed innocent civilians along with his terrorist friends of JKLF. He even killed 4 Indian Air Force Jawans.

This change to Gandhism is a game that he is playing to impress certain lobby.

He earns crores of money and has a large shopping commercial complex in his name in Kashmir.

Don't forget. He is the one who brought gun culture in the valley and is responsible for the exodus of half a milling Kashmiri Hindus.

He should be hanged till Death

Sangarmaal:

How can Mr Malik forget that he brought gun-culture into peaceful kashmiri society? He needs to wake up and remember that thousands of Kashmiri youth have died, for what? For Mr Malik to realise that he can be Gandhi???? What a shame that he is talking about Azadi? Azadi from what - he should seek Azadi from Jahalat! Will history ever forgive Mr Malik for transforming a peaceful society into a violent society. MR Malik needs to know that he cannot have it both ways - enjoy the hospitality of Indian government and go on safar-e-Azadi.
If Mr Malik really cares for Kashmiri people - he must give up the Indian security personal guarding him (from what?) and he must go on safar-e-azadi in Azad Kashmir also. He cannot cherry pick as Kashmiri kaum is wise enough to see through his game plan.

Romesh Khardori:

Those who believe in 'Ghandian temperance' of Mr. Malik need to watch him om video with Tim Sebastian on BBC talk show. Mr. Malik took pride in killing innocent hindus. He is misleading guilable Kashmiris and covertly and overtly supporting terrorists in Kashmir. He is lucky to be in India, Elsewhere he would be behind bars (wher he belongs) and facing full force of law

Pawan:

Kashmirs struggle is NOT AT ALL political. It is relegious , with even Pakistans parliament scretary calling for "Jihad".

Click Here to check the facts http://thekashmir.wordpress.com/2007/08/09/pak-parliamentary-secy-calls-for-jihad/

JS :

Amar, thanks for the reply and clarification. I guess Kashmir is a sensitive topic on both sides of the border.

Amar:

As to the debate on naively taking Malik's words at face value, a large part of this project is trying to present America as individuals around the world see it. It's important not to become an add platform for them (I write about this in Hate America; Hate Amar?) and to inspect their personal claims to the extent possible in a day, and let commentors and further reflection as the trip unfolds put it in better perspective.

Also, as I move quickly, I spend a lot of time with local journalists as well. Muzamil Jaleel, a very bright Kashmiri journalist, in this case was a tremendous help in parsing out the personal story.

I think a critical place that comes up here is in Malik's reasons for renouncing violence; he only mentioned to me Gandhi and his readings in jail, but the political history at the time was crucial: the co-option of violent groups by Pakistan and pro-Pakistan forces, and the declining support for less tightly allied insurgencies.

Appreciate the back and forth going on here and I'll jump in whenever I can be of use in clarifying my process. Also, you can email me at amar[dot]bakshi[at]washingtonpost.com if you like.

Amar:

Hi JS,
Traveling to Pakistan took a bit of time, as did getting set up here, so I didn't have as much time to read through everything as usual. I'll do so today. In response to the freedom fighters to insurgents. No one twisted my arm to do so. The original title of the piece was Malik: "Freedom Fighter" or "Terrorist"? Then I re-wrote it to focus on his personal story, and do feel that terrorist is currently too strong a word to use, freedom fighter is too light, so insurgent or separatist is appropriate. Your comment in this blog is actually what made me decide to do it. So far, no one has ever pushed me to change the words of my blog, and no one did this time either. I just thought you were right. Thanks!

Davie R:

Reddy,

Pragmatist and Adrienne:


The mexican scenario you described, must be seriously considered, at least in some of the elements by US politicians, policy makers, indeed by all thoughtful citizens. It is especially incumbent on other immigarnt communities to understand and participate in this mexican/latin illegal immigration issues, because they seem to set themselves apart from other, law-abiding, assimilating immigrants. From mexican view point, they have right to come here any which way they please because a portion of southwestern US belonged to them, and all they are doing is participating in "Re_Conquista" This community of immigrants(legal and illegal) and their ideas are fundamentally different from other immigrant communities at various other times in history (Irish in 1860-1900, italians in eari 1900's, then east europeans and jews in 1930-1950, etc) because mexican (or "latin") immigrants are very aggressive- either do not nderstand "assimilation, and adapt to the US culture" or do not care to try because they seem to think because of sheer numbers they think they can owerwhelm the political process and can get away/get their way. The federal govt.'s and society's tolerance has gone far beyond what is reasonable, and unless checked, will be strategically very harmful to US - what is themeaning of US and its very identity will be at stake. Just compare with the attitudes of immigrants from other countries - Sometimes its more like mexican invasion than mexican immigration.

And its NOT racist to ask to enforce existing laws, and to do some thoughtful analysis on something that will have far reaching and potentially very harmful consequences. Does any patriotic, proud US Citizen, of whatever skin color in his or her right mind would or should condone this brazen behavior, the worst type of "better demand forgiveness than ask permission" attitude, which may bring US down in 30 or 40 years to the level of a mediocre 3rd World country, from its proud perch atop the nations? President Bush is not exactly helping the US cause, but that is another story.

PS: By the way, my mother is a white US Citizen and my father is a brown-skinned immigrant, so I have a lot of sympathy/empathy/tolerance for non-european immigrants and their cultures - but we all need to understand there is clear line, however thin, between the sublime and the ridiculous.

reddy:

Pragmatist & Adrienne


I like to know how you would respond to the following situation.

Mexicans become majority in the southern states and start a separatist movement to join mexico or form a new country.

Since you dont want to HATE anybody so you have given them what they wanted. Now USA only has 35 states. At the time of separation you have a 30% whites left in the newly formed state.

In 10-15 years that number goes to 2% since whites are killed, raped and not allowed any freedoms.

Americans with their big heart let all the mexicans in other places like newyork, Illinois to be in USA and practice their own way of life.

After 20 years mexicans become a sizable number say 20-25% in the remaining USA and they start bombing people and support the country formed 20 years back.

On top of all this lets say france helped the mexicans throught out to form the new country and encourages and aids the remaining separatists.

Now tell me how would you respond...

In the above story replace mexicans with Muslims and new formed state to Pakistan and France to USA and you will understand what we are going through.

By the way dont rule out the above story completely it might happen as it is.

reddy:

Pragmatist & Adrienne


I like to know how you would respond to the following situation.

Mexicans become majority in the southern states and start a separatist movement to join mexico or form a new country.

Since you dont want to HATE anybody so you have given them what they wanted. Now USA only has 35 states. At the time of separation you have a 30% whites left in the newly formed state.

In 10-15 years that number goes to 2% since whites are killed, raped and not allowed any freedoms.

Americans with their big heart let all the mexicans in other places like newyork, Illinois to be in USA and practice their own way of life.

After 20 years mexicans become a sizable number say 20-25% in the remaining USA and they start bombing people and support the country formed 20 years back.

On top of all this lets say france helped the mexicans throught out to form the new country and encourages and aids the remaining separatists.

Now tell me how would you respond...

In the above story replace mexicans with Muslims and new formed state to Pakistan and France to USA and you will understand what we are going through.

By the way dont rule out the above story completely.

Rudy2:

Amar Bakshi sat down and tried to whitewash history. Yasin Malik and his ilk have blood on their hands. These people are the ones with the most successful ethnic cleansing program since Pakistan and Bangladesh. How can he talk about peace when he was the most instrumental in destroying it?
A minority of people in Kashmir want "independence", the majority do not and never have; unfortunately, the majority are intimidated by the violence of the minority.

Rudy2:

Amar Bakshi sat down and tried to whitewash history. Yasin Malik and his ilk have blood on their hands. These people are the ones with the most successful ethnic cleansing program since Pakistan and Bangladesh. How can he talk about peace when he was the most instrumental in destroying it?
A minority of people in Kashmir want "independence", the majority do not and never have; unfortunaltely, the majority are intimidated by the violence of the minority.

Rudy2:

Amar Bakshi sat down and tried to whitewash history. Yasin Malik and his ilk have blood on their hands. These people are the ones with the most successful ethnic cleansing program since Pakistan and Bangladesh. How can he talk about peace when he was the most instrumental in destroying it?
A minority of people in Kashmir want "independence", the majority do not and never have; unfortunaltely, the majority are intimidated by the violence of the minority.

Rudy2:

Amar Bakshi sat down and tried to whitewash history. Yasin Malik and his ilk have blood on their hands. These people are the ones with the most successful ethnic cleansing program since Pakistan and Bangladesh. How can he talk about peace when he was the most instrumental in destroying it?
A minority of people in Kashmir want "independence", the majority do not and never have; unfortunaltely, the majority are intimidated by the violence of the minority.

JS:

Amar, the nature of a blog is that you reply and engage with others. There are 68 comments here, but you haven't participated, but you started a new entry (your arrival in Pakistan).

On the other hand I randomly checked a few previous blog items, and notice you do participate and comment on your blog.

So ... given that you made a controversial posting, and multiple people have called you on it, it's contrary to blog ethics to hit and run.

And I'm still waiting for an explanation of how freedom fighters changed into insurgents. The latter being of course the current politically correct word for terrorist, I'm led to conclude that you agree (or were arm-twisted to agree) that Yasin is indeed a terrorist.

Koshur:

For George KS:


Yes, Kashmir(actually Jammu & Kashmir) is legally a state of India like all the other Indian states.

As a state of India, Kashmir has the same political and democratic rights as the rest of India. In the 90s, with the onset of a terrorist campaign in the Kashmir Valley, elections were stopped in Kashmir and it was put under emergency Governor's rule. In the last several years, the Governor's rule has terminated and Kashmir has reverted to holding local and state elections. The current Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir is a duly elected Kashmiri Muslim(all the past CMs and most local reps. were also Muslim).

It is true that Kashmiris have constitutionally guaranteed extra rights and privileges not afforded to other Indians. The prime among them being that non-Kashmiris cannot own property or vote (in state and local elections) in Kashmir. Quotas have also been set aside in academic(seats in college, professorships, etc.) and government institutions for Kashmiri Muslims. Kashmir(not Jammu or Ladakh but just Kashmir) also gets more monetary aid from the central government than any other part of India. This money of course comes from Indian taxpayers - the same ones who cannot vote or own property in Kashmir.

Kashmir is a border state so there has always been some army stationed there, but military presence in Kashmir became significant in the 90s in response to the massive terrorism campaign in the valley. As a border state, instability in Kashmir poses an extraordinary and imminent threat to the national security of India.

Kashmiri Muslims want "freedom" from India because they are the majority religion in Kashmir and believe it belongs to them only.

There is no religious persecution of Muslims in Kashmir. Kashmir, however, does have a history(copiously documented) of institutionalized persecution against non-Muslims, specifically the native Kashmiri Hindu population. The first act of the "freedom fight" in Kashmir was to ethnically cleanse the valley of it's native Kashmiri Hindu population.

Indian Muslims do not identify with nor support Kashmiri Muslims in their bid to secede from India.


Adrienne Najjar:

Screw Kashmir. What in the hell would we want to get mixed up with them for? Spare me the democracy and freedom BS - you see how far that has gotten us in iraq and elsewhere. We should just mind our own business. WE have enough to deal with on our own soil.

Pragmatist:

Hmmm, after reading all this I cannot imagine the level of HATE piled in these postings. No one seems to talk down the HATE perpetuated in these postings.

Humans, please look around and see those kids you have, is this what we will teach them? Please ponder.

After 60 years, its time for Pakistan & India to talk. Too much misery has engulfed South Asia. People, lets all work together.

A Kshmiri Hindu:

Kashmir joined India according to the rules set at Partition. Contiguous states would follow the decision taken by the ruler. Kashmir was contiguous to India and Paistan and joined India. At that time Hindus and Buddhists were a significant minority and they formed at least 40% of the population. Just as the Sindh and Punjab assemblies ratified joining Pakistan the kashmiri legislature ratified the accesion to India.

Before the king decided to join India, Muslim bandits from Pakistan aided by the Pakistani army invaded Kashmir. They were stopped by the Indian Army. Then the UN passed a resolution that Pakistan must first vacate its army from Kashmir and then a referendum would take place. The UN recognized that the king had joined India and wanted to people to ratify his decision.

Pakistan has yet to vacate Kashmir. Muslims drove out all the Hindus from the Valley of Kashmir. Most people who were alive in 1948 have died. the UN decision is no longer binding.


India is not occupying Kashmir. Kashmir is an independent and free part of a free India.

The idea of Partition was that there would be a Pakistan for Muslims and an India for non-Muslims.

Those Muslims who did not wish to be a part of India were to go to Pakistan. In fact Jinnnah, Pakistan's founder, wanted all Muslims to go Pakistan.

Today the same choice must be given to Muslims in Kashmir and in the rest of India.

If they do not wish to be Indian they must be given the right to go to pakistan. Any Kashmiri Muslim who does not consider himself or herself Indian must go to Pakistan. Pakistan has stopped the entry of the very Muslims who fought hardest for Pakistan. It must reverese that decision.

Let us not forget that Hindus and Sikhs formed over 25% of Pakistan before Partition. In the province of Sindh they were 40% and in Punjab they were almost 50% and equal n number to the Muslims. Yet they were ethnically cleansed from Pakistan and today they are less than 2% of the population.

In India Muslims were 9% of the population during Partition and now they are over 12%.

It is time Partition was completed and Muslims kept their word.

Note that that the Muslim separatists killed just as many Hindus as the Indian army killed those plotting against India and had taken up arms. The Indian army was fighting those who were involved in violence. The Muslim separatists were targetting and are still targetting Hindus.

XYZ:

corr: "America then backed the nastiest Salafist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar during the Afghan Jihad in the 80s, because that is what its ally the Pakistani Army wanted."

XYZ:

In 1947 there were refugee camps in Delhi for the Hindus and Sikhs who were driven out of West Pakistan by violence. In 1971 there were refugee camps in West Bengal for 10 million Bengalis including Bengali Hindus who were driven out of East Pakistan by violence. In 1990s we had refugee camps for Hindus driven out of Kashmir by violence. Who does the accounting for all that? Not America.

America made Pakistan an ally in the 1950s. Adlai Stevenson met Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah in the early 50s after which Sheikh Abdullah, who had since independence asserted allegiance to the Indian state, began to talk of independence.

America has never ever said anything about the genocide of 1 million Bengalis (or many hundred thousand) in 1971 by its ally the Pakistan Army. In fact, the US govt of that time hounded its own diplomat in East Pakistan for protesting US policy at the time.

America then backed the nastiest Salafist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar during the Afghan Jihad in the 90s, because that is what its ally the Pakistani Army wanted.

To keep its ally the Pakistani Army happy, for many years America did not designate as terrorist, Pakistani jihadi groups allied to Bin Laden operating in Kashmir, who massacred Hindu, Muslim and Sikh civilians alike until these jihadi organisations targeted Americans.

So Yasin Malik, who is an absolute innocent compared to the rapacious Pakistani Army, knows exactly what he is doing by appealing to America.

George KS:

Mr. Bakshi,

My apologies - I misspelled your name as Bagchi in my post earlier.

George KS:

I am intrigued by this column and the comments. Like most Americans, I confess, international issues are secondary to me, except I work at a large state univresity, and came to know many moslem, indian, jewish, mexican and chinese international students well - and I learned a great deal from them on these very complicated issues. (palestine, immigration, china vs. taiwan, and of course kashmiri)

For some reason, I never understood what is really going on in Kashmir; A graduate student who was a native Kashmiri moslem (who is now a US citizen and married to an American) once confessed to me that she did not understand what the "freedom issue" is either, and was disgusted with the whole thing, and all things being equal much preferred to stay as part of India, i.e. status quo.

I have more questions than answers - can someone please clarify.

Is Kashmir legally a state in Indian Republic - like 25 or so other states?

Politically, can the state of Kashmir enjoy democracy - have elections and elect local government- Governor, Chief minisser, representatives, senators, (or equivalents), etc.

As some one noted earlier, Is it or not true that residents of Kashmir have been constitutionally guaranteed additional rights and privileges that are not enjoyed by the residents of the other 25 states? And these extras granted, in perpetuity, as an assurance or protection (some say as appeasement or political bribery on grand scale), mainly because majority of Kashmirs are moslem?
Is it really true that some citizens in India, say those from Punajb cannot live in Kashmir? I am from Seattle area but live and work, and have house and ranch in Arizona, and I take it granted I can live anywhere in US I choose to. Is this good or bad for native Kashmirs?

Obviously there is a large presence of the military in Kashmir. When did the presence of military become significant in Kashmir? Is it because it is a border state with a hostile country, or is it being used to deprive constitutional rights of kashmiri residents, because they are moslem, i.e. religious persecution?

Do those want "freedom" or "independence" for Kashmir, want it because do they feel moslems can't get justice and political rights in Kashmir in the Indian Republic, i.e., religious presecution, or do they feel kashmir should be independent because majority of them ar moslem, i.e. majoruty wishes should rule.

If it is the religious persecution, it very important and needs to be seriously addressed - they are supposed to be over 100 Million moslems in other parts of Indian republic - what do they have to say about the plight of moslem brethren in Kashmir?

If it is the "majority wishes rule", then it is a dangerous issue and has no merit - imagine in the US, Utah wanting to secede because of majority mormons, Miami voting to secede and wanting to be part of post-Castro Cuba, or majority Mexicans in southern california wanting SoCal to secede from US and join Mexico. Sedition or incitement to sedition is an extremely serious crime in US - by law NO state in the Union can secede, no matter if 100% of the people of a state want to secede. We all heard of the "tyranny of the minority", but equally bad are the capriciousness and vagaries of the majority - unhealthy for he stability and prosperity of a people, a community or a country (that's why changing US constitution is so difficult-changes need overwhelming support from all parts of the country- to protect the minority and the country from whims of a small majority)

It appears to me that the best way to stop the violence, claims and counter-claims etc. is via a political process by finding the opinion of moslems (except those in Kashmir - they are tainted) in Indian Republic via a special referendum - do they like to see Kashmir secede from India or not and/or, propose a national contitutional amendment across India, to let kashmir go, and see if it passes muster for constitutional amendment. I admit it is a bit unusual, but hey, it is a whole lot more peaceful process, and for once, I like to see this mess come to an end because I have been eager to visit Kashmir ever since my friend described how beautiful kashmir valley is (or was!)

Mr. Bagchi did a good job of providing a platform to Mr. Malik's views as he was supposed to as as a journalist- but from the questions I have(and I am at least semi-informed on this topic), either Mr. Bagchi or one of the commenters, or may be Mr. Malik himself, should provide a brief background of contentious issues and facts. Without that, 3rd parties like me are left to wonder like the kashmiri grad student- What exactly activists like Mr. Malik want - freedom from What?

Josh:

R: You did not answer why there are no minorities in Islamic nations? And why does a nation need to declare itself a religious country if it respects all religions?

jay:

The funny part is Kashmir has always been ruled by a Muslim chief Minister almost all the time, they have special status, you cant buy land there if you are a non-native, they gets gazillion amount of money to fund their programs and services yet people are so poor with all the bounty God provided them (rivers, weather, forests, tourism) etc. Its a classic example of how not to kill your own prosperity.

Corruption by the bureaucrats (Muslims and Hindus alike) has really hampered the growth of that State and has alienated the populace there. Even though it has 60% Muslim majority, does not mean other religions/communities donot count?

One of the chief problems is Pakistan (even though its such an insignificant country in the world) they have not produced or done anything for the mankind. They always try to compare and compete themselves with India, like an ant trying to compare itself to an elephant.
USA has got their priorities wrong. Instead of invading Pakistan, they went to Afghanistan. The world teething political problems and unrest start with and end with Pakistan. Once you take them out of the map, almost all major issues will be dead overnight.

Yasin killed so many innocents, he is a murderer of the first kind, should have been executed long time ago, have no idea why India allowed him free.

Incredulous:

Mr.Bakshi:
Since you and Malik seem to be high on the same substance, a few questions to bring you down:

What about Pakistan Occupied Kashmir?

What about the Balochi people and their right to self determination?

What about Al Qaeda in Kashmir? Are they also 'freedom fighters'?

What about Osama? Is he not in Pakistan, which is supporting these terrorists.

Next time around, check your facts..

MOA:

Instead of just reporting what these bozos say thus acting as their mouthpiece, I wish there was the journalistic equivalent of the truth serum you can employ when you talk to the Yasins, the Osamas, the Pervezs and the Mr. MoMads. So we can decide if these are pig-headed fools who can be laughed off or sinister swines that should be lobotomized.

You don't have to emulate the media around Bush and Cheney that are afraid of asking the hard questions, do you?

Oscar:

The trouble with Malik is that he represents fundamental Islam. Malik is also a criminal, which for a practical and reasonably intelligent man would not be an impediment. For the right man, the United States can rehabilate the image; unfortunately it cannot rehabilitate his intelligence. Malik is a fanatic and stupid enough to turn on his sponsors and therefore too dangerous to be let loose in an already unstable region.

If he quietly renounced Islam (the public need never know), there may be hope for satisfying his leadership ambitions. However, the last thing the United States needs is another fundamentalist regime ringing the arc of radicalism that currently stretches from Gaza to Pakistan.

Reddy:

FREEDOM,

You are welcome to say anything on any religion as long as its true. How many is some for you, show me one place on earth where there are few thousands Muslims without trouble.

If you want to suck up to them its up to you. If you want to prove us wrong you are more than welcome otherwise shut all your cavities at once.

I am born Hindu but I don't consider myself religious but for your sake I will defend my birth religion... bring it on buddy.

Desi:

“Kashmir’s struggle is not religious; it is political. It has always been.” Yeah ... this is so true .. just run it by a Kashmiri Pandit living at a refuge camp in the outskirts of Delhi!

JS :

If I remember right, when I read this blog this afternoon, it said Kashimri freedom fighter. Now it says insurgent. Hmmm. So, Amar, I guess you can argue how one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, yada yada, but I guess someone laid down the law to you and made you change it, huh ?

Dr S Banerji:

I suggest that the manner in which India has provided refuge to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and is followers, is a template for the US to consider for Kashmiris who want independence. Taking land away from a billion people is out of the question.

r:

josh: i m shiite myself and we are definatly humans... U r saying muslims are killing muslims.. well only the muslim extremists are killing other muslims and i guess they are not educated and only following what they have been told... People Like bin laden teach young kids the wrong meaning of Islam and Quran and those kids most of the time are poor and have no other choice than to join in.... and when i said you guys are insulting muslims i was not wrong.. if you like read all the comments and u will know.. Let me give you an example which was writen by REDDY: "All the Muslims should be bundled and thrown into the Arabian desert where they belong" I guess you think thats a compliment not an Insult... There are more if you can read. Thank You

Majority:

He tells you that the struggle is secular and you believe him. The Hindu minority in Kashmir has been wantonly targeted. Entire families have been killed in cold blood and the rest kicked out of kashmir to live in squalid camps in Jammu and in New Delhi. The truth is ootherwise - that the majority of the movement is Islamic terror and only a minority secular and tolerant. The Indian army's massive presence is a response to terror in Kashmir which has historically and culturally been a part of greater India for thousands of years. Kashmiris Muslims are in fact some of the newest Muslims in the world with most still retaining their Hindu Kashmiri Pundit last names. India is a very multicultural country where just about any other province can employ their distinctness as a reason to secede. Why haven't the rest done so? Is it Islam? One Islamic majority state in India and it wishes to separate. A repeat of Jinnah's call for Pakistan in 1947.

Josh:

R: You are saying that people are insulting Islamic religion. You are saying poster's religion does not teach respect towards others.

That is the same question I have about Islam. Does it teach respect towards non- Muslims? If so, then why there are no minorities in 52 Islamic nations? Why are Muslims killing others and even each other every day? Are Shiites not humans?

Jeete:

Niall: There is a difference in intentionally targeting civilians, as we see Islamic suicide bombers do every day and dropping bombs targeting specific militant targets. You seem to be saying that Americans and NATO forces are intentionally dropping bombs on civilians.
If this were true, the civilian populations would be wiped out very soon.

I think Mr. Asim makes a very good point for Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. He says minority populations were forcibly settled into Kashmir (and thus implying their massacres are justified by Islamists). Not true. Hindus have lived in Kashmir for generations. In fact if you go back 700 years, before the Islamic invasion, there were no Muslims in India or Kashmir.

Ajit:

No Asim. The problem is Pakistani-funded terrorists engaging in genocide in Kashmir with the intention of ensuring that the balance of power shifts to muslims. Minorities were never imported into the region; they were driven out by these terrorists often aided by a Central Government soft on the muslim vote bank.

Malik is fighting for freedom but his means are wrong. He is entitled to his view and being in India he can safely express his views without fear. However only a barbarian would accept that the way to settling a difference of opinion is by the fist.

Of course not all Muslims are bad. However the ones causing trouble in Kashmir are indeed Muslims. Only a naive person would believe that the problem is political and not religious. Muslims in India have all the political freedom enjoyed by other religions. The fact that, in India, political freedom is not defined by religion at all is the truest attestment.

Secession is not an option. The only way ahead for Kashmiris to enjoy the fruits of being part of the largest democracy in the world is to accept that - that they are part of India.

R:

Without knowing anything about Muslims or Islam, you guys are insulting the religion. Looks like your religion doesn't teach you respect for other religions or other mankind. Islam does not teach killing and Jihad does not mean 'holy war.' Instead, jihad is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes the struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense or fighting against tyranny or oppression. Islam has thought me a lot and Respect is one of the teachings. Just because some muslims are fighting doesn't mean we all are terrorists. By the way when you read news they also talk about foreign fighters and they could be from your religion. So keep that in mind and next time when you write comments PLEASE think about other peoples feelings. THANK YOU

MM:

I was born in Kashmir. I am 1/2 sikh and 1/2 muslim. My parents were killed by stupid muslim militants when I was very young (8 years old). Fortunately, I was adopted by well educated muslim until I completed 10th class. I was re-adopted by well educated iranian couples who live in USA. I completed Bachelor degree.
After college, I started to do research on my ancestor. I dont realise about the fact that kashmir militants are evilly funded by pakistan government and ISI (I call ISI -- IDIOT SPY AGENCY who love to kill innoncent non muslim people) with US's help. I am shocked about US HELP. I need to know what US agency. I am continuing to do research. If yu have information, please post your answer.
I FAIL to understand specific issue -- WHY Pakistan and India always fight over Kashmir. Pakstan and India Government need to help poor people get clean water. I was very depressed after I visited Kashmir and Karachi (where Iranian couples used to stay for temporary). Many people in Karachi and Kashmir do not get clean water.
WHY MALIK wants Independence from India. Why Malik asks USA for help while Malik is not well respected person in Kashmir. Malik has not told and shared any problem with Kashmiri people. He just scared Kashmiri people by showing his silly weapon GUN.......
NEED NICE DIALOGUE !!!
Thank you.

MM:

I was born in Kashmir. I am 1/2 sikh and 1/2 muslim. My parents were killed by stupid muslim militants when I was very young (8 years old). Fortunately, I was adopted by well educated muslim until I completed 10th class. I was re-adopted by well educated iranian couples who live in USA. I completed Bachelor degree.
After college, I started to do research on my ancestor. I dont realise about the fact that kashmir militants are evilly funded by pakistan government and ISI (I call ISI -- IDIOT SPY AGENCY who love to kill innoncent non muslim people) with US's help. I am shocked about US HELP. I need to know what US agency. I am continuing to do research. If yu have information, please post your answer.
I FAIL to understand specific issue -- WHY Pakistan and India always fight over Kashmir. Pakstan and India Government need to help poor people get clean water. I was very depressed after I visited Kashmir and Karachi (where Iranian couples used to stay for temporary). Many people in Karachi and Kashmir do not get clean water.
WHY MALIK wants Independence from India. Why Malik asks USA for help while Malik is not well respected person in Kashmir. Malik has not told and shared any problem with Kashmiri people. He just scared Kashmiri people by showing his silly weapon GUN.......
NEED NICE DIALOGUE !!!
Thank you.

Venkat:

This is a psuedo-secular struggle. Kashmiri muslims will join muslim Pakistan in a hearbeat only because of the muslim commonality. Just the chance of expanding Dar-ul-Islam and taking away a region from India (Dar-ul-Harb) must be a salivating proposition to the muslims.Let me remind these people that there are so many different religions (sikhs, hindus, jains, buddhists and christians) coexisting in India. It is only the muslims who every one else has problems with.

Kashmiri minority:

I fail to understand what the Kashmiri "freedom fighters" want?
1) The Indian Govt. gives them special status under article 310 of the constitution.
2) Non-kashmiri's CANNOT buy land or OWN property in Kashmir.
3) Govt gives them billions of rupee aid every year.
4) Every govt falls head over heals to please them.
5) They have all the religious freedom they want.

WHAT MORE DO THEY WANT? THEY HAVE DRIVEN OUT ALL THE MINORITIES from the state already!

FREEDOM:

Well to all those jack **s's... Stop being negative about musilim's.. just because some are causing trouble doesn't mean all are same. Before i start talking about your religion "SHUT UP"... you have the freedom of speech that does not mean you guys can just insult muslims.. HAVE A NICE DAY

Reddy:

SANE OPINION

Amen to that...your 3 points should be regarded as 3 commandments and hung all over the world so that they can wakeup the ignorant fools all over the world who deceive themselves at their own peril by trying to be politically correct.

All the Muslims should be bundled and thrown into the Arabian desert where they belong. No one should be let in or out, what they do among themselves is their business. There is no place for Muslims in a sane world. Ignore these at your own peril.

Reddy:

SANE OPINION

Amen to that...your 3 points should be regarded as 3 commandments and hung all over the world so that they can wakeup the ignorant fools all over the world who deceive themselves at their own peril by trying to be politically correct.

All the Muslims should be bundled and thrown into the Arabian desert they belong to. No one should be let in or out, what they do among themselves is their business.


sane opinion:

Facts about musilms:
1) Muslims do not have a nationality. Their only allegiance is to their religion.
2) They only understand force. Reason/logic doesn't apply.
3) Give them an inch, they'll try to grab a mile.

The sooner the world realizes this, it is better off.

Asim:

Rishi,
Kashmir is a political and not a religious issue:Indian occupation and the denial of self determination are the Problem; by the same token,why are these minorities who were imported from other parts of India to upset the demographic balance against the Muslim majority-why are they collborating with he occupiers? Such minorities in Kashmir are part of and are aiding the Indian occupation of Kashmir.

Malik is a freedom fighter like any other who is resisting foreign occupation. Freedom fighters are always described by their enemies as terrorists-the British called Ghandi-the prince of peace-a terrorist.

The Celsus:

Reading the comments on this posting, I have also been puzzled by references to accolades "heaped" by the author (Bakshi) on Malik (postings by BEEN LADEN, VAIDYA etc) because I never saw any when I read it the first time. A second reading didn't reveal any personal praise for Malik by Bakshi either -- however what I got from the article was the reportage of some accolades: given by the villagers at Pampur. The Brookings Institute, Harvard etc after 9/11 chose to listen to Malik.

The point of Bakshi's vblog is be a platform for the projection of voices that reveal how the "world sees america" -- and so, far from being a sign of naivite, this article is yet another example of how informative this vblog is -- Great job Bakshi!

Regardless of whether one disgree with Malik, great journalism seeks out some of these voices that are rarely heard and presents them for the world to hear. If there is any way that the US could actually win the "war on terror" -- it is through understanding. Listening to voices such as Malik's is a great start. Of course one could choose to disagree with, disbelieve or even question the motivations of someone like Malik, but its always better to have an informed opinion rather the blissful ignorance that comes with blocking out all that one disagrees with.

About terrorism and freedom fighting -- while i confess that my knowlegde of Kashmir, like that of many on this forum, is limited -- I think it may be instructive to remember that Nelson Mandela, one of the most revered figures of our time, spent 27 years in prison on terrorism charges (blowing up trains, kidnappings etc...)

Anonymous:

Reading the comments on this posting, I have been puzzled by references to accolades "heaped" by the author (Bakshi) on Malik (postings by BEEN LADEN, VAIDYA etc) because I never saw any when I read it the first time. A second reading didn't reveal any personal praise for Malik by Bakshi either -- however what I got from the article was the reportage of some accolades: given by the villagers at Pampur. The Brookings Institute, Harvard etc after 9/11 chose to listen to Malik.

The point of Bakshi's vblog is be a platform for the projection of voices that reveal how the "world sees america" -- and so, far from being a sign of naivite, this article is yet another example of how informative this vblog is -- Great job Bakshi!

Regardless of whether one disgree with Malik, great journalism seeks out some of these voices that are rarely heard and presents them for the world to hear. If there is any way the US could actually win the "war on terror" -- it is through understanding. Listening to voices such as Malik's is a great start. Of course one could choose to disagree with, disbelieve or even question the motivations of someone like Malik, but its always better to have an informed opinion rather the blissful ignorance that comes with blocking out all that one disagree with.

About terrorism and freedom fighting -- while i confess that my knowlegde, like that of many on this forum, is limited -- I think it may be instructive to remember that Nelson Mandela, one of the most revered figures of our time, spent 27 years in prison on terrorism charges (blowing up trains, kidnappings etc...)

Niall:

Gregor, to be fair, the author of the above piece doesn't actually comment on whether or not he believes Malik. The piece presents Malk's story as he (Malik) sees it. It doesn't fully endorse it.

It is most likely that Malik is a far from perfect individual. He has carried out many acts that I would regard as wrong. However, look at somebody like Churchill, a racist, imperialist, anti-semitic alcoholic who ordered the bombing of German cities, opposed the universal suffrage (especially for women), who used chemical weapons in Kurdistan and who bombed Dresden. But Churchill did some good, and it does no harm to read about the man in his own words.

"People who throw grenades into family compounds of soldiers deserve to be sentenced as severely as the law allows"

Surely then, the same could be said of those who drop bombs into civilian areas?

BV:

The issue here is not Yasin Malik. Once an arm bearer should be treated as one for life. His idea of renouncing of armed struggle is worth some respect as well. The Kashmir issue is mired in religion and India-Pakistan relations, whether Kashmiris like it or not. There is a section of people in India who is ready to support the plight of Kashmiris, if they are meaning to gain some economic independence and increase the quality of life for the people of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the extreme loud mounths want Sharia. India is a country, where religious and political freedom is entertained to an extent. That said, the human rights aspect and the suppression of people by the Indian army in the past need to be condemned. But once the armed struggle started, no one can really control it sanely. So you can put the blame the army, only to an extent. But the central point is that the politics should be separated from religion. Separation of Religion and State is hard to achieve in many parts of India, as both are intertwined. But there are a large number of people in India, who believes that is achievable, but the number is so low. Even the Communists are dragged into religious politics in India. Sorry Kashmiri Pundits, you are not going back to Kashmir either. The Pundits should focus on the reparations from India and Pakistan! So Kashmir is beyond any better hope at this point.

The moral focus for US and the world community should be on Tibet. There is a population and a great leader who is making the struggle against a far superior power. The struggle is a model for the humanity, where there is no violence and a lot of tolerance. Although, religion is an issue there, they are fighting for religious freedom. They are not fighting for a religious extremism. What are we doing for them? Who else will use their model for gaining independence? No one (I hope otherwise), because the world is not doing anything for them. So we are going to see lot of armed struggle. Gandhi became role model for South Africans and Tibetans. I am glad that South Africans attained their freedom. It took so long for us in US to realize their aspirations, but for sure we did. I hope, the Tibetans will get their freedom too. What in the world a big nation like China want in Tibet? China's attraction to Tibet dates back to earlier centuries with religion as the central point! The communists in China are also mired in a religious issue! Shame on us!.

gregor:

I agree with the posters above that the author seems to be too naive, taking the words of a terrorist at their face value.

Just because a terrorists says that he is for ballots not bullets does not mean that he has denounced violence. After all, Saddam used to have elections too.

This man Malik should be condemned for what he is: a terrorist who has killed a lot of people and would do so in an instant if he thought it was necessary for his interest.

He wants to be the Musharraf of Kasmir, living on American largesse, and forever promising to end the terrorism but never really taking any action to do so as taht would lead to the sudden stoppage in the flow of American dollars.

Vaidya Maneesh:

As long as Americans like Amar are praising people like Malik there is no hope US can win War on Terrorists.

You can't fight terrorism while supporting Kashmir terrorists who are trained in Pakistan who is ally.

Been Laden:

What if Bin Laden set aside his arms and embraced a political approach? Would he then be worthy of all the accolades this Malik chap is getting?

Victor :

If this man had adopted Gandhi's stance of non-violence in his struggle, I'd listen. People who throw grenades into family compounds of soldiers deserve to be sentenced as severely as the law allows. I think it is funny how tensions tend to flare up in Kashmir every time there is a military coup in Pakistan. This is not a case where India annexed Kashmir by force and there will never be another partition; millions dead or displaced was quite enough the first time.

Victor :

If this man had adopted Gandhi's stance of non-violence in his struggle, I'd listen. People who throw grenades into family compounds of soldiers deserve to be sentenced as severely as the law allows. I think it is funny how tensions tend to flare up in Kashmir every time there is a military coup in Pakistan. This is not a case where India annexed Kashmir by force and there will never be another partition.

Victor :

If this man had adopted Gandhi's stance of non-violence in his struggle, I'd listen. People who throw grenades into family compounds of soldiers deserve to be sentenced as severely as the law allows. I think it is funny how tensions tend to flare up in Kashmir every time there is a military coup in Pakistan.

Victor :

If this man had adopted Gandhi's stance of non-violence in his struggle, I'd listen. People who throw grenades into family compounds of soldiers deserve to be sentenced as severely as the law allows. I think it is funny how tensions tend to flare up in Kashmir every time there is a military coup in Pakistan.

Dua:

Not religiously motivated??
What if 99% of Kashmiris were not Muslims, would they still be fighting the Indian Govt for last 30 years in a campaign that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives?
Would Hindus still have been killed and driven out?

I do not think any non-Muslim populated state, right next to Pakistan, would want to break away from India and be on its own, so that they can live in peace with next door "peace-loving" country called Pakistan!!!

JS:

There is no such thing as a "Kashmiri freedom fighter". There is such a thing as a Kashmiri separatist, though, which is what Yasin is.

You're asking us to suspend disbelief and agree that this separatism is not religiously motivated. Fine, what next ? The GOI is equally harsh about non-religious separatist movements also. GOI was equally harsh in dealing with Sikh separatism, and Sikhs and Hindus are much more close.

It is factually true that Kashmiris have a distinct culture, language, and probably racial strain. But that's true for many regions in India as well. If that was to be a reason to allow various regions to separate, especially along the periphery, there will be chaos.

Plus, in that troubled neighborhood, "independence" is a fiction, and Kashmir is too small to be viable anyway.

Rev. E. Fletcher Longstaffe:

Lotsa luck.

XYZ:

I am waiting eagerly for Pakistan to recognise the right of self-determination of Afghanistan.

Kishor Trivedi:

You could interview Osama Bin Laden and present him also this way. Ask these guys about Kashmiri Pandits and what has happened to them. Why dont these guys look at Pakistan and see what will happen to them if they are either to join Pakistan or become independent. They are much better off in a democratic India. Wake up and smell the coffee!

dr.s.divakaran:

A time has come for both Pakistan and India to gradually reduce their troop strengths on either side of the LOC and bring it to zero by december 2008.Let there be free elections under U.N auspices where only officers from czhec republic or Finland should officiate. No americans, no British No japanese no INdonesians no Malaysians please. After this there could be a round table conference of INdia pakistan and the Kshmri elected repressentatives. As an Indian I would be called a traitor. Sixty years is too long a time for people towait anywhere in the world. Beware.

Reddy:

One more thing..its the Hindu's that were terrorized, killed and driven out of their own motherland all for being nonvoilent.

All Hindu's should be ashamed (for lack of a worse printable word) for being mere spectators for this ordeal. We can not protect our own in our own country as a papulation of 800 million. It wont be long before the bombs they are now detonating in our cities will be replaced by some nukes if we keep ourselves busy only in making billion more babies.

Reddy:

Amar,

I cant help but wonder how naive you are. If you meet Osama bin laden you would be even more charmed.

There is absolutely no difference between him and Bin laden except this guy doesnt have the means of Laden and too afraid to blow him up.

Folks like these can not be trusted. Its their strategy to lay low when needed so they can fight another day. The socalled freedom struggle is nothing but Islamization of the world.

This is how it works..they come to your place and enjoy all the freedoms of your society as opposedd to their own barbaric cultures and produce millions of offspring and wait till they get to a sizable number of the population and then starts the JIHAD on your culture that they exploited so far for a good life.

Sounds familiar..thats right AMERICANS...it started in your back yard already (In jails to be precise).

Finally these Ladens and Maliks are none other than your bastards (Regan,s to be precise). Hopefully you learn a lesson this time.

Rishi:

“Kashmir’s struggle is not religious; it is political. It has always been.”
Well the statement itself is false as these muslim terrorists including Malik first kick out the minorities from Kashmir and then say it is a political struggle not religious. To make sure he does what he says ask him if he would give back all the land,property and other assetts seized or looted from the minorities of kashmir.Would the minorities be allowed a peaceful return and stay in kashmir from today onwards. He just reflects Pakistan and other anti Indian forces. It is sad a voice of a terrorist is being given more space than a victim of his actions.

Rishi:

“Kashmir’s struggle is not religious; it is political. It has always been.”
Well the statement itself is false as these muslim terrorists including Malik first kick out the minorities from Kashmir and then say it is a political struggle not religious. To make sure he does what he says ask him if he would give back all the land,property and other assetts seized or looted from the minorities of kashmir.Would the minorities be allowed a peaceful return and stay in kashmir from today onwards. He just reflects Pakistan and other anti Indian forces.

Jack:

Oh wait! Someone has commented that this kind of reporting never appears in India! Gee - I guess the Pakistani press must suck big time, so much so that they have no choice but to read the Indian press.

Quiz time:
1) Which country trains the Taliban, and which country's infamous intelligence agency, ISI, provides safe passage to militants, as they cross over into Afghanistan and India?
2) Which nation plays host to the world's most dangerous terrorists, including OBL, even today as we speak?
3) Which nation receives hundreds of billions of dollars from the US? I guess those dollars buy a lot of JW Black Label Scotch for Gen. Musharraf, who likes a peg or two every night, by his own admission. Isn't alcohol banned in Islam? Kinda, sorta?
4) Which nation is the world biggest nuclear proliferator, having aided Iran and North Korea in their weapons programs?

Answer to Q1-Q4: Pakistan, the shining city on the hill. Kashmir could well become "free," but let's talk about how Pakistan treats its own Muhajirs, immigrants from India from the time of partition. And there is history of this - Bengali Muslims were treated like dirt in East Pakistan, and West Pakistani army promptly got thrown out of there by a popular rebellion. What do history books in Pakistan call this 1971 episode? A "Hindu-Zionist conspiracy," I guess?. Care to give the Muhajirs a free country too?

Sam:

If Mr Malik's fight is "not religious, but political", how come he is not fighting Pakistan for the rights to Pakistan-administered Kashmir too?

Asim:

Good article.Yasin is a great leader striving for the sanctioned right to self-determination of his homeland to evict the Indian brutal occupation of of Muslim majority Kashmir.Like Palestine,Kashmir is a political issue:brutal Israeli occupaition of the former and Indian of the later.
Yasin and all Kashmiris should understand that American help is not on the way-never, epecially now with the Israeli-Indian axis that juxpose Kashmir/Palestine as one threat along with the "Islamic Bomb in Pakistan":an aliance against Muslim "terrorists"so as to justify occupation and denial of self-determination to both Palestinians and Kashmiris.

Muslims are denied self-determination evrey where:Bosinians and Chehnyans were massacered and oppressed when they asked for self-determination,so were and are Muslims in Kashmir,Palestine,Ogaden in imperialist Ethiopia-YET East Timor was ripped of mother Indonesia and granted independence in no time at all because it is Christian-what hypocricy.

Sooner or later,Kashmir and Palestine will get their independence,so will Chechnya and Ogaden.

Anti-Muslim:

This man is a muslim terrorist and rather than help him the US should aid India to exterminate this filth and their Pakistani masters once and for all.

Koshur:

"Just because “there are Muslims fighting does not mean [they are] Al Qaeda or terrorists,” he tells me. “Kashmir’s struggle is not religious; it is political. It has always been.” He hopes America will appreciate the importance of Kashmir's struggle while differentiating it from the struggles of other militant Islamic movements, and ultimately help him achieve a peaceful resolution."

The first and general part of the above statement is true: muslims fighting does not equal terrorists. However, in the context of Kashmir it is absolutely false. The violence in Kashmir is largely, if not wholly, about religion; specifically about establishing the supremacy of Islam in the valley. If that is not the case then "secularists" like Yasin Malik need to explain why they began their "freedom fight" by killing the civilian Kashmiri Hindu population (read up on the Anatnag Massacre of 1987).

I am a Kashmiri and I have no desire for "independence." Yasin Malik and his ilk, neither speak nor fight for me and I will NEVER forgive them for destroying my homeland.

Akhter Lone:

Yasin Malik may have impressed you but he is a traitor, he does not speak of independent Kashmir any more all he is interested in self glory. Mr Bakhshi, I wonder if you are related to Mr Jatinder Bakhshi and how out of all you chose to pick him up and ignore all those who have much more than Yasin Malik.He is a paid agent and double agent too.You are doing disrespect to journalism by giving him space.

Vijay:

"..political not religious...". Then why Hindus have been massacred and driven out in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign? Kashmir would be the 53rd Islamic nation of the world. My question is where are the minorities? Talk about unfair treatment!

And if you need America's help, do not attack it by hijacking planes and running them into office buildings

On the plantation:

In the video clip, Malik states "it is a unipolar world" and America "cannot escape its responsibilities."

How curious an attitude; but let's take his premise for the purpose of discussion. Now, exactly what tax revenues need to be collected from the Kashmir and paid to the USA to fund those presumptive responsibilities? None, you might say, otherwise it would be colonization. It's most likely a gift that is being requested, and one that favors a partisan and religiously-centered political side with a propensity to violence.

It was amazing to read how hot-headed the native Indian posters were in the previous string from this moderator. Sorry, the USA does not buy into the passions to dominate or subjugate, and we don't want to have them imported into, or funded by this country, either. Cool headed culture is our forte, not the Kalashnikov.

siddhartha:

Hmmm....does the audience here know that Yasin Malik is the sort of person who has been responsible for many killings..or that he and his ilk are more similar to Bin Laden and his type....that they talk about a Islamic state ? or the fact that one afghanistan is enough for now and one more safe heaven is not required to plan another 9/11....also those who are favourable to this guys thoughts on this blog are muslims..same guys who cslebereated the fall of twin towers...think!

does it matter:

Regurgitating whatever cool-aid you drank with the militants and their Pakistani bosses? Was that a trade off for getting a visa to Pakistan?
Read your history…. “Freedom Fighters “ eh?

Pragmatist:

Good article but disappointing that the problem of Kashmir has been highjacked by neo cons in the U.s. and India. For them any struggle for independence is terrorism. Since 9/11, all the independence movements have been termed "terrorism". When people are forcefully occupied, what options do they have to resist.

Algerians, Americans and Indonesians would have not achieved independence if they did not resort to armed struggle (which in today's terms was terrorism). Chechan movement has also been conveniently stiffled as terrorism. Under the geneva Convention Palestinians have every right to armed struggle, as the Europeans did during Nazi occupation.

It is understood that ballot is the best way. But how do the occupiers are convinced to implement.

Its time, that Kashmiris are given the chance to use ballots to decide. However, it must not be organized by the occupying countries.

Replace bullets with ballots. Americans can help if they wish or we in America have other interests? As the sole super power we need to come out clean and assert freedom of choice where we can.

Syed Iqbal :

In 1988 he raised the slogan" Struggle through Bullet and not the Ballot" and Now his slogan is clear " Struggle through Ballot and not the Bullet". A big change indeed.

Mubasshir:

Brilliant piece, Amar! This kind of moderate piece rarely appears in the Indian media. I have respected Yasin Malik ever since he became an acdemic. Unfortunately, people like Yasin Malik are being ignored from both the sides.

ajb:

An excellent take on a complex problem. Malik is certainly a colourful character. It is interesting how he was able to transform himself from a "terrorist" to a "freedom fighter".

Anonymous:

Wonderful article on a controversial man: "One man's freedom fighter is another's man's terrorist."

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