The Government’s declaration of a ceasefire is historic. The onus for any act(s) of violence now is on Pakistani troops and militants, writes Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
Every year, Kashmir wishes to celebrate Ramzan with serenity and devotion. The beautiful recital of azaans and duas creates a divine atmosphere in the Valley and one gets the vibes of the age-old Rishi-Sufism back to his mind even today, especially during this holy month. Never ever has Kashmir been allowed to take a breather from tensions and unrest. However, the recent unilateral ceasefire announced by the Union Government against militants during Ramzan is a prudent move to break the spiral of violence in the region.
A conditional ceasefire in Kashmir has come as a glad tiding for the Muslim-majority. The Centre has asked the security forces to not launch operations during the next 30 days so that Muslims can observe their religious obligations — fasts and constant prayers — without inconvenience. This offers a sigh of relief for the beleaguered Kashmiri people from the fright caused by both militant attacks and anti-terror operations. It actually echoes a compassionate and empathetic view towards the concerns of Kashmiri people that prevails in the larger part of the country. Hence, not only political leaders but ordinary people in Kashmir have hailed this decision as a welcome peace initiative. Now, it will be utterly ironic if the same is not reciprocated in kind by militants in Kashmir or the military in Pakistan. While a large number of Kashmiris have supported the Centre’s move, what remains to be seen is whether the Hizbul Mujahideen — the most active militant group in the local population — will show reciprocity to New Delhi’s offer.
But worryingly, jihadist militants in Kashmir choose to wreak havoc particularly on the 17th Ramzan, the eve of Ghazwatul Badr — an Islamic battle popularly known as Jang-e-Badr in Urdu. With a willful misinterpretation of this defensive battle, the 17th day of Ramzan is treated by terror groups, particularly in south Kashmir, as a call to arms and not mercy and reconciliation. Inevitably, soon after the ceasefire was announced, it was rejected by the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT). In an emailed statement, LeT chief Mehmood Shah Mahmood said: “We deem it as sin and disgrace to the sacrifices offered by people in the struggle. We are the heirs of the martyrs. Opting for such choice is treachery to the blood of martyrs”.
It is brainless Pakistani jihadism which is conducive to this predicament, supplemented by the ignorance of religious Kashmiri leaders of the older generation who have put such a poisonous seed in the minds of the youth that even the rich cultural and religious tradition of the Valley is not being venerated. It’s time the civil society awakes to this reality. Kashmiri Muslims are largely unaware of what they are loosing in all this ridiculously uncomprehensive game of hate.
Militant claimants of false Islamic martyrdom should also realise that the rejection of ceasefire would be counter-productive for the so-called mujahidin (militants). It would also be against the true Islamic principles of reconciliation (musalahat). It is established not only through several peace treaties during the wars in the Islamic history but also in the state of peace. Did Prophet Muhammad (SAW) retaliate against the woman in Makkah who used to throw garbage on him whenever he passed by? No, he rather went to inquire about her health once she fell ill. The Prophet (SAW) earned her goodwill this way and won the heart of other people. It is our action upon the mercy of his uswah (Prophetic ideal) that makes us true ‘Muslim’ and not retaliation!
This is the authentic view of Islamic scholars supported by the Quran and several Hadith traditions. But the problem is: The militants’ message finds resonance among angry and frustrated Muslims who fall prey to twisted interpretations of Islamic doctrines. For instance, jihadist militants aspire to become martyrs by launching suicide attacks and unleashing violence. Thus, they expect Allah to welcome them into heaven. Worse, they find support from a few fringes of the half-educated clerics. But well-established ulema and both classical and modern Islamic scholars counter and discredit this false paradigm for martyrdom. Eminent Islamic scholar, well-versed in classical Islamic theology, Ebrahim Moosa, strongly counters this view. He says: “The whole idea of a martyr or Shahid is that you fight until death and you give your life for Allah and community. But you don’t go into battle saying ‘I will die,'” he said. As proof, he recounts one of the hadiths (Prophet Muhammad’s sayings) about a martyr, who is rejected by Allah when he arrived in heaven. Allah tells him: “You gave your life so people could remember you as a cause. You didn’t do it to satisfy me”.
Many established Islamic intellectuals like Moosa point out that Islam condoned only fight for “justice” that was ultimately aimed at restoring peace. But it set down strict rules on when and how to fight and also when to stop. In the Prophet’s era, Muslims waged war only after all else had failed and they were fighting against injustice, oppression and on behalf of those expelled from their homes. The Quran says: “Fight those who fight you, but don’t transgress. Do not let the injustice of others lead you to injustice”, says Dr Khaled Abou al Fadl, a world-renowned scholar of Islamic law. “But if the enemy says, ‘Let’s make peace,’ then you must make peace with them. You don’t start killing them,” a prominent professor of Islamic studies Aminah McCloud says.
Reportedly, in a bid to infiltrate and violate the ceasefire, a BSF jawan was killed as Pakistani troops fired at forward posts to push infiltrators across the IB in Kashmir’s Samba sector. Now the onus for act(s) of violence will be on the Pakistani troops and militants. Public consensus is that any attempt to provoke violence and sabotage this historic peace measure will be seen as ‘real animosity’ towards the people of Kashmir. Omar Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir rightly stated that if terrorists fail to respond to the ceasefire offer they will stand exposed as the “enemies of the people”.