English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Why Kashmiris cannot forget the tyranny of Afghans

In Kashmir’s political history, the Afghan period is rated as the most barbaric and extortionist

One of the reasons that the common Kashmiris are not enthusiastic about the Taliban taking over Afghanistan after 20 years is the tyranny of the Afghan governors still ingrained in their subconscious mind. Myth or reality, Kakar Khan, who is said to have eaten the ear of a dead body to spread a wave of terror in the valley’s Afghan or Durrani period (1752-1819), is still a dreaded name. ‘Azad Khanun dabdaba’ (Azad Khan’s tyranny) has multiple historical references.

Even in Taliban 1.0, the Kashmiris were lukewarm to the establishment of an Islamic emirate by Mullah Omar. Unlike in the case of Palestinians, there was no murmur of protest over the NATO forces’ bombardment and killing of thousands of Muslims—militants and civilians—across Afghanistan for 20 years.

Alongside Central Asia, Kashmir has had historical trade and political connections with Afghanistan in the last over three centuries. Fifteen years after the Partition in 1947 and a war in Kashmir between the Indian army and the Pakistan-backed raiders, Mohammad Najibullah of Gardez, Afghanistan, was a student at St Joseph’s School at Baramulla.

Najibullah rose to become General Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party which ruled Afghanistan from 1986 to 1992. In 1987 he took over as the President of Afghanistan and was finally executed by the Mujahideen in 1992. In the same year, an Afghan terrorist by the name of Akbar Bhai emerged as a household name in Kashmir, particularly in the hub of militancy in Sopore where he was killed in an encounter with security forces in 1993.

Also Read: Why 3 decades later Kashmir is cool to Taliban

From the day ISI launched Lashkar-e-Tayyiba in Kunar Province of Afghanistan in 1988 to the release of the three top terrorists by the Indian government in exchange for the IC-814 hostages at Kandahar in December 1999, hundreds of well-trained militants are believed to have been launched into Kashmir from Afghanistan. Harkatul Mujahideen founder Masood Azhar, who named his organisation as ‘Jaish-e-Mohammad’ after his release, operated from Afghanistan for a long time.

Senior officers in the Jammu and Kashmir Police and security forces put the number of the Afghan militants killed in Kashmir at around 100.

“Nationality of many foreign mercenaries could not be ascertained. They had a striking similarity with the Pakistani terrorists like Mast Gul who were actually from FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. We believe some 100 of them were really from Afghanistan. But many of them went back after putting in a term of fighting in Kashmir”, said an officer.

“Even when they ran a government for five years in Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, Taliban did not enter Kashmir. One prominent Hurriyat leader, who was years later shot dead by the terrorists themselves, once invited the Taliban publicly for fighting so-called Jihad in Kashmir. But they didn’t oblige him”, the officer added.

According to this officer, who insists on anonymity, the Taliban of 2021 was “completely different from the Taliban of 1996-2001 when it was fully in ISI’s control”. “We are fully prepared to deal with any kind of situation but pretty sure that this Taliban, which wants to form an all-inclusive government and is committed to good relations with all countries, would not be taken for a ride by the ISI”.

Unlike ISIS and Al-Qaeda, who want to set up caliphate all over the world, Taliban belong to the geo-political entity of Afghanistan. Until now, they are concerned only about their country of Afghanistan. “We don’t believe they will fall in a trap and buy gratuitous enmity with a country like India”, said the officer while explaining the difference between fighting a guerrilla war in own country and a regular war in an alien country.

Also Read: Ruling party leader insists Islamabad will take Taliban's help in Kashmir

In recent times, the slain Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen ideologue Abdul Gani Dar alias Abdullah Gazali’s son, grandson and son’s son-in-law were believed to have set up Islamic State of Jammu & Kashmir (ISJK) in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. As almost all of them were killed in the American drone attacks, their family members were reportedly in a jail in Nangarhar until last year.

The guerrillas of Afghanistan—Mujahideen or Taliban—did never carry an appeal for the Kashmiris. Many of them have nightmarish memories of the kangaroo courts and executions of the 1996-2001 apocalypses. The Afghan rulers’ brutalities on the Kashmiris, merciless killings and extortionist tax exactions are still fresh in their psyche.

In between the Mughal empire (1586-1752) and the Sikh rule (1820-1846), Kashmir remained under the rule of 5 Afghan kings for 66 years—Ahmad Shah Abdali (1753-1772), Timur Shah (1772-1793), Zaman Shah (1793-1800), and Shah Shuja and Mahmud Shah (1801-1819). Like the Mughal rulers they also sent their governors to Kashmir to rule for them. In all 28 Afghan governors and deputy governors ruled over Kashmir.

Historian RK Parimoo has recorded that some of the Afghan governors oppressed both the Muslims and Hindus and “squeezed them like the horse leech.”  Others were examples of wretched bigotry, and caused Shia-Sunni riots on several occasions, and on a couple of occasions, Kashmiri Pandits, who happened to be the only Hindus in the country, were savagely treated and tyrannized.

Sir Walter Lawrence notes that the 66-year Afghan rule is “characterized by an exemplary official brutality, coercion, economic exploitation, wastage of state resources, decline in agricultural production, drain of wealth by imposing heavy taxation, misgovernance, corruption and political chaos, instability and elite luxuries aristocratic taste.”

According to Parimoo, tyranny began with the first Afghan governor Abdullah Khan Ishaq Aqasi who ruled Kashmir for just 6 months. He subjected the Kashmiris to ruthless exploitation, killing many for extracting money from them. In one case he collected the huge money of one lakh rupees by torture. He carried away huge booty to Kabul. He disrupted the economy of the country whose financial position became extremely tight. He deprived Kashmir of its rich cultural heritage and vandalized the famous Mughal gardens.

In Kashmir’s political history, the Afghan period is rated as the most barbaric and extortionist.