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Terrorist outfit Al-Qaida cheers Afghanistan ‘victory’, says Kashmir NEXT

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Ever since the Taliban took over the Kabul, the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir in India are keenly following development in Afghanistan as there are apprehensions that this could escalate terror-related violence in the Union Territory.

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Celebrating the “victory” of the Taliban over America, the global terror outfit al-Qaida called upon the global Muslim community to “free” other Muslim land, putting Kashmir on the list of next targets of global jihad, but leaving out Xinjiang in China and Chechnya in Russia.

Besides Kashmir, it shortlisted the Levant, or the Mediterranean swath comprising Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon; Islamic Maghreb, or the region in northwest Africa consisting of Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia and Somalia; and Yemen as its priorities.

“With the help of Allah, this historic victory will open the way for the Muslim masses to achieve liberation from the despotic rule of tyrants who have been imposed by the West on the Islamic world,” said As-Sahab, the official media outlet of the core al-Qaida leadership in Pakistan. 

Kashmir figures prominently in the list of targets. The last time Kashmir was mentioned by al-Qaida was during the launch of its J&K outlet, Ansar Ghazwatul Hind, with the avowed objective of re-conquering India for Islam.

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The omission of Xinjiang and Chechnya, both sites of alleged atrocities on Muslims, is believed to be more political in nature. China and Russia have come out in recent months to support the Taliban.

The al-Qaida core leadership remains in Pakistan with Ayman al-Zawahiri as its head, and, as the statement makes it clear, remains sensitive to the political imperatives of their hosts— the Pakistani government.

The fact that al-Qaida has refrained from mentioning two regions where Muslims are reportedly being targeted is interesting. Chechens, at the receiving end of Russia’s tough rule, formed the large number of IS fighters in Iraq and Syria while Muslims in Xinjiang remain an oppressed lot as per numerous reports.

As the US vacated its presence in Afghanistan in the most messy way imaginable, China and Russia have banded together to not only criticise the withdrawal but also support the Taliban. That has extended to Pakistan as well, which is now in an informal grouping with China, Russia and even Turkey, as the Taliban’s benefactors.

China and Russia worked together in the UNSC on Tuesday as they jointly abstained on Resolution 2593. Both countries objected to the non-inclusion of IS and ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) of the Uighurs in the resolution. Russia objected to the evacuation of Afghans, calling it “brain drain”, while China wanted the US to continue to stay on in Afghanistan to complete its mission. Both countries called for the unfreezing of the Taliban’s assets by the US and multilateral financial institutions.

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Russia, certainly, is keen to posit the Taliban as the “enemy” of the Islamic State-Khorasan, hoping the new regime in Kabul will help deal with the latter.

Meanwhile, the security officials in the field say that there is little chance of Taliban infiltrating into Kashmir as there is robust anti-infiltration grid at Line of Control (LoC).

Notably, North and South Blocks are parts of the Raisina Hill Complex and flank the Rashtrapati Bhawan on either side. The South Block houses the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) while in the North Block, the top offices include the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

The officer following the Taliban development said, “My assessment is that it won’t impact even one per cent in the Kashmir Valley.”

Elaborating his assessment further, the officer said, “The situation is not the same as it was 20 years ago for the Taliban. But Indian Army has also honed its skills. Our personnel are well-trained and well-equipped for the situation.”

“There is border fence. It is not that we are not ruling out possibility of handful of Taliban infiltrating. They will be tackled the same way as Pakistani terrorists. But it is not that suddenly 5,000 of them will appear at the borders,” the officer said.

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“The aim is to thwart them in their tracks. Earlier, any infiltration would take the Pakistani terrorists two days. Now, it takes them as many as two weeks because bunkers have been strategically placed,” the officer said.

It is to be mention that several of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives from Pakistan infiltrated months before the Afghanistan situation. The intelligence agencies anticipate that the terror-related violence may increase in months to come, when the Union Territory prepares for its first assembly election since its newly acquired status.

However, the key assessment is that there may not be any imminent repercussion though preparations are underway to brace for the worst. The field officers feel the impact could be on a different level and local terrorists could be emboldened carrying sensational attacks on security forces.

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