ILYAS Kashmiri's Killing in US Drone Attack a Major Gain For INDIA
Author : C.Uday Bhaskar
The reported death of terrorist leader
Ilyas Kashmiri in a US drone attack near the Pak-Afghan border has now
been confirmed as "98% sure" by Pak Interior Minister Rehman Malik. The
reason for these caveats about Kashmiri's death stems from the fact that
there were similar reports in September 2009, which later proved to be
untrue. However this time around, the Huji, which he headed, has put out
a statement confirming the death of their 'emir' and has threatened to
take revenge against the US.
Coming almost a month after the dramatic Abbottabad raid that
neutralized Osama bin Laden , the killing of Kashmir is a significant
step. Given his audacity and involvement in a series of high profile
attacks that included Mumbai in November 2008, the US consulate in
Karachi in March 2006 and most recently the PNS Mehran in Karachi, this
terrorist had the dubious distinction of being 'most wanted' for all
Kashmiri, born in PoK has been long associated with the 'jihadi' terror
that began with the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and is reported to
have lost an eye in that period. Emerging as the leader of the Huji and
its murderous 313 Brigade, Kashmiri either personally carried out, or
planned a series of deadly attacks against India from the early 1990s.
Reported to have had close links with all the major terror groups
operating in Pak, including the al-Qaeda, the Pakistan Taliban and other
groups such as the JeM, the most gruesome act associated with Kashmiri
is the beheading of an Indian soldier in February 2000 - and presenting
this 'trophy' to General Pervez Musharraf, the then Pak Army Chief.
This is illustrative of the deep links that have been established
between the terror groups and their handlers in the Pak establishment.
Much the same pattern has been revealed in the Headley testimony in the
Chicago court trials, where it has been stated that Kashmiri was the
principal handler for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Kashmiri had acquired a
larger than life profile and was tipped to be a potential successor to
bin Laden after the latter was killed.
The US had listed him in its top five terrorist leaders and it is
understood that after the Abbotabad operation, the Pentagon had
identified July as the period by which it expected Pakistan to 'assist'
in capture/killing of terrorists leaders. The other four names include:
al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar, ISI
friendly warlord Sirajuddin Haqqani and Libyan al Qaeda operative Atiya
The removal of bin Laden and now Kashmiri will testify to the success of
the steady application of US military pressure on the different
terrorist groups that have been operating with relative impunity in Pak
till now. With the reported reduction in US and Nato/ISAF military
presence later this year, the Pak military would be keen to blur the
distinction between the different shades of terror groups, local
warlords and Taliban commanders. The noose will be tightened around the
Haqqani faction as the US seeks to begin the last lap of the
reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
The out-going US Defence Secretary Robert Gates made reference to the
possibility of a US-Taliban rapprochement later this year at the
Singapore ShangriLa Dialogue (June 2-3) and it was reiterated in Kabul
where the US Defence chief is paying his last official visit. At a press
meet (June 4), Gates and President Karzai said the Taliban would have
to sever ties with al-Qaeda, agree to abide by the Afghan constitution
and lay down arms if they wanted a political role.
This objective is in keeping with the Indian position on reconciliation
in Afghanistan. However the US penchant to strike short-term bargains
with the Pak military for immediate electoral cum tactical compulsions
has a historical tenacity that cannot be discounted. India would be
well-advised to pay appropriate high-level political attention to these
developments in the region. But Delhi is mired in its own mendacity as
it lurches from one corruption crisis to another.