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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Chechnya: Booming guns in the Caucasus

In a recent statement, Pakistan foreign ministry expressed Islamabad’s "deep concern over a situation of humanitarian catastrophe in Chechnya."  In response, Moscow recalled the dismal record of human rights of Mohajirs, Shias, Ahmadis, and other groups of Muslims in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan where, for the fourth time in fifty years, namesake democracy has ended up in military rule.

Pakistan, the wishful patriarch of Muslim umma, nurtures Islamic radicals at home with the notion of re-playing early caliphs - Uthman and Omar - and carrying the banner of faith to the lands of infidelity. Her militarized religious organizations have created a worldwide network of volunteers for the implementation of their theocratic agenda. Running almost a parallel government, they identify countries and regions where their armed crusaders are to carry the sword of the faith, operate against local governments and destabilize their institutions.

The contours of this Islamic agenda manifested themselves in the deliberations of a three-day convention of Al Dawa wal Ershad -- the fundamentalists’ umbrella organization -- held at Muridke near Lahore in the first week of November last. Its chief told reporters that Islamization of the entire world was their ultimate objective. Heads of more than a dozen extremist Islamic religious organizations world over, besides half a million delegates from Pakistan, participated in the convention.

Afghan war was the formative period for these organizations when American money and arms flowed in enormous quantities to back up the warring Islamic hordes. Pakistan, the main conduit, managed pilfering of nearly one half of the stuff to the pleasure and patronage of Uncle Sam.

With Soviet Union dismembered, with Islamic fundamentalist crescendo on the rise, and with Pakistani Don Quixote scouting the junkyard of the ummah, the Saudis seized a golden opportunity and floated the Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam as against the Khumeinite brand of Shia Islam. Saudi monarchy opened its coffers on ar-Rabita, her second line international support structure after the munificent Americans. Pakistan fished in the war of sects. She brokered for lynch pin status in OIC: She undertook the global mission of carrying the banner of Islam aloft, and to boot, her ruling cliques responded to the tempting petrodollar booty waiting to be plundered in Riyadh in the name of faith. Thus the Shias of Pakistan became as oppressed a victim of her Islamism as the Kashmiri Pandits of Indian secularism.

But let us revert to Islamabad’s "concern about Chechnyan humanitarian catastrophe."

The guerrillas invading the villages of Dagestan have been identified as Wahhabi international force with Chechnyan elements led by the Chechyn Islamic warlord of 1994-96 war, Shamil Basayev.  By August 12, 1999, more than 6,000 Dagestani inhabitants were forced to flee their villages as a result of invasion by nearly 1,200 Wahhabi Chechnyan warriors.

The Wahhabi militias funded by Saudis and deployed tactically by Pakistani  ISI operatives, have two operational bases. One is in Ferghana Valley in the the Central Asian State of Uzbekistan. The other is in the Kunar province in Afghanistan where, during the Afghan war, the CIA and the Saudis had jointly set up training camps for the mujahideen.

In October last, about a thousand Pakistani Wahhabi theo-fascists entered into Kyrgyzstan via Tajikistan and took four Japanese their hostage. They had planned to enter Uzbekistan and foment Wahhabi uprising among the people. Tashkent recently accused the Wahhabi groups of trying to kill President Islam Karimov in the bombing of the secretariat because he refused to succumb to Wahhabi ideology.

During the Chechnyan war of 1994 - 96, fighters from Lahore - based Wahhabi seminary, generally recruited for Kashmir jehad, penetrated into Central Asia and headed towards North Caucasus. A Chechnyan minority has traditionally lived in Jordan, and a small Chechnyn population is studying in Pakistani Wahhabi and Deobandi seminaries. Incidentally, Basayev’s lieutenant in Dagestan is said to be a Jordanian warrior.

In economic terms, Dagestan holds strategic position for Russia. Being a Caspian littoral republic, an old oil pipeline allows it to refine oil and produce petrochemicals. But its real strategic importance is that it is a highway junction linking Moscow with North Caucasian independent republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Chechnyan warrior Basayev’s assault on Dagestan is a move to gain an outlet to sea for landlocked Chechnya. The Chechnyan Wahhabis seek  merger of Dagestan with Chechnya to form an independent Islamic Chechnya-Dagestan republic. With most of the 1500 oil wells of Chechnya dried up, Basayev is desperately looking for alternate economic resources.

Chechnya’s assault on Dagestan is also motivated by sectarian considerations. North Caucasians are mostly Sunnis of Naqshbandi order and revere the shrines of local Sufis as an alternative to distant Mecca. The Wahhabi Sunni warriors, on the other hand, are intensely opposed to shrine worship. The murder in Dagestan of her highest Sunni Naqshbandi cleric, Abu Bakrov, in 1998 indicated the dangerous intentions of the Chechnyan radicals against Dagestan.

Dagestan, one of the 21 autonomous republics of the Russian federation and one of the five of them located in North Caucasius, has an area of 20,000 square miles and a population of two million. There are no fewer than forty nationalities speaking 29 languages and 40 dialects. The Avars comprise only 30 per cent of population. The Volga Cossack concentration is pro-Russia and the non-Muslim nationalities also prefer to be with Russia. Dagestan has a complex mix of nationalities and a very small proportion can support the Wahhabi thrust. Some Chechnyan warriors had actually taken refuge in Dagestan’s mountain villages during the 1994-96 war.

Landlocked Chechnya, with an area of 5,790 square miles and a population of less than a million, fought a secessionist war against Russia ending up in a truce pending final settlement by the year 2004. Interestingly, the OIC has not favoured Chechnya’s secession from Russian federation but has recommended a broad measure of autonomy for the republic.

Obviously, religious militias originating in Pakistani seminaries are avowedly against peaceful coexistence among different nationalities in regions and lands where they had floated or shall be floating their theo-fascist ideology.

In this background in which Russia’s vital interests and territorial integrity are threatened, and a peaceful people in the adjoining republic are made to submit to theocratic diktat at gun point, there is no choice but to let the might of the state come into play. How unfortunate that while the US uses all means, from missiles to economic sanctions, to bring the culprit of African bomb blasts to book, she doles out lessons of morality and human rights for Moscow to adhere to in rebellious Chechnya. Pakistan has expressed her “ concern for humanitarian catastrophe” in Chechnya. She may recollect that twice in five years did she send army into Sindh province for “clean up operation” though there were no rebels in Sindh with as comprehensive a war machine as the Chechnyas have. Only innocent and defenceless citizens were hounded and hunted. What then should be her immediate concern?



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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference, 1993
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