October 18, 2005

Kashmir Earthquake Relief - Funding Terrorist Organizations

Seeing the damage caused by the Kashmiri earthquake has caused us much grief. As we reach to our wallets to help out our fellow human beings in their time of need - it is perhaps prudent to consider the following facts:

1) The bulk of the damage in the earthquake has occured on the Pakistani controlled part of Kashmir. This area is home to most of the terrorist groups operating under the banner of "Kashmiri Independence". Some of these groups like Laskar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammed, Harkat-ul-Mujaheddin and Mujaheddin Al Badr are affiliates of Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaida terrorist group which was responsible for the attacks on Sept 11. These groups are responsible for numerous killings of innocent civilians in India. These groups are part of the Pakistan Army's covert war strategy in the region - and although Gen. Musharraf repeatedly tells us that these groups do not recive state support in Pakistan - everywhere our intelligence services look they find these groups in bed with the Pakistan Army.

2) Most reports coming from the region suggest that these groups suffered considerable losses as several of their training camps and facilities were destroyed by the earthquake. In some cases estimates indicate that several hundred members of these groups were killed due to the quake.

3) In India most of the damage was in Uri, Poonch and Kupwara. These three area esp Uri and Poonch are the gateways to infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir and most terrorist groups operating in Kashmir all have a huge number of safe houses, arms dumps and support cells in Uri and Poonch. These areas have taken a severe beating and the area's ability to support terrorist cells is under question. The losses have been so severe that the Hizbul Mujahedin Chairman and leader of the Mutahhida Majlis-e-Jihad (United Jihad Council) Syed Salahuddin has called for a halt to "independence struggle".

4) The Pakistan army supported terrorist groups (Laskhar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harkat-ul-Mujaheddin and Mujaheddin Al Badr) cannot operate inside Jammu and Kashmir without support from local support groups in Uri and Poonch. Traditionally this support has come followers of JKLF, Hizbul Mujaheddin (as represented in the All Party Hurriyat Conference by Syed Gilani) and other APHC affiliates.

5) The Indian Army as part of Operation Imdad Phase I has carried out most of the relief operations in Jammu and Kashmir. By providing help to the population when it needed it the most - the Indian Army has built bridges with far flung populations in Kashmir and earned their goodwill.

All taken together the earthquake has basically extinguished the prospects for terror in Jammu and Kashmir. However if terrorist groups are allowed to recieve money in the name of earthquake aid - they will be able to restart the conflict.

By contrast to the Indian Army which has provided aid to all Kashmiris -most of the so-called "Kashmiri separatists" have largely provided aid to only to people in the Kamelkote, Uri area. This is where most of the support cells were. Similarly the Laskar-e-Taiba's people are carrying out the bulk of rescue and relief operations in POK and they are targetting villages where they enjoyed considerable support. The Pakistan Army for its part has busied itself largely with minor relief operations in civilian areas while concentrating most of its attention on re-establishing its posts on the Line of Control.

Terrorist groups can restart conflict in two ways:

a) The APHC and JKLF types will revive support cells in Uri and Poonch. These cells will recover lost arms and explosives caches in the region and they will physically eliminate anyone there who does not agree with their point of view.

b) The LeT, JeM, HuM and Al Badr will use aid to purchase loyalties in POK. The LeT is specifically targetting orphans and underprivileged children - given the way these people operate these children will most likely be sucked into to a madrassa run by the LeT and from there the path to martyrdom will becon.

A considerable portion of the money will also be spent on refurbishing arms supplies for the terrorist groups. The Pakistan Army for its part will continue its marriage of convenience with the terrorist groups and it will happily outsource part of the aid operations to groups like the LeT.

The key to preventing the rise of terrorism in Kashmir today is to prevent terrorist groups from getting their hands on the money meant for welfare of earthquake victims. Though none of us can stop the Pakistan Army from funding the terrorist groups we can do a little bit to ensure that the terrorist groups do not have an easy time collecting funds.

Here are some simple guidelines to follow when donating to earthquake relief in Jammu and Kashmir.

1) As far as possible - donate only to GoI funds or to Indian charities with clearances from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

2) Alternatively donate to the UNs list of agencies.

3) ASK who the agency collecting is - ASK for a reciept (you won't believe how much those help in tracking terrorist activity) and most importantly DO NOT HESITATE to defer your donation until you have done a google search on the name of the agency you are paying out to.

Remember your money could very easily end up being used to fund terrorism against your Indian brothers and sisters - so pay attention to what you are doing - You could very easily be on the the next Indian airliner that is blown up or hijacked in name of "kashmiri freedom struggle" so give this a moment of thought.

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