Pakistan and Al-Qaeda Sponsored Islamist Terrorism in Kasmir: Hindu Victims and Refugees

The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been an epicenter of violence since 1989. In that year, an insurgency composed primarily of disaffected local Kashmiri Muslims was effectively co-opted by Islamist militants afforded entry into India by Pakistan to wage a jihad, or holy war, against secular India. While the ramifications of this conflict on India-Pakistan relations in the context of bilateral nuclear stockpiles have been amply documented, the tragic plight of the Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir has inexplicably been reduced to a footnote in contemporary history.

That the Hindus, the original inhabitants of the Kashmir valley and guarantors of one of the most significant strains of Hinduism, Kashmiri Shaivism, have been massacred continuously and forced to flee their homes as refugees is a testament to the atrocities perpetrated since the insurgencies began. The United States Committee for Refugees estimates that 350,000 Hindus have been forced from their homes since 1989, (i) and the number of Hindu casualties due to Islamist terrorism continues to mount despite rapprochement between India and Pakistan. Over 10,000 civilians and 4,000 security personnel have been killed in terrorist strikes since 1990, (ii) and, despite recently increased diplomatic engagement with factions in the state of Kashmir and with Pakistan, eight Hindu women and children were massacred as recently as February 17, 2004 by Islamist militants. While a fraction of Hindu exiles have resettled with family members throughout India, over 250,000 Hindus and Sikhs remain stranded in refugee camps. Islamist terrorism does not spare even Muslims not subscribing to its ultra-violent and exclusivist ideology and, indeed, the innumerable casualties since fighting began include a proportionate number of Indian Kashmiri Muslims as well.

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan no longer denies that his government morally, fiscally and logistically pursued the proxy war in Kashmir for the last fifteen years. And though Al-Qaeda and Taleban associated outfits such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba have been officially banned, their flagrant visibility and ongoing operations against India from Pakistani soil belie such claims. (iii)

Hindus throughout the world are dismayed that President Musharraf and his sinister machinations and alliances with Al-Qaeda have escaped global opprobrium due to his ostensible support to the United States in the “War Against Terror” after September 11, 2001. It is a tragic reality that even the most recent rapprochement between India and Pakistan, and Washington’s proposed designation of Pakistan as a non-NATO ally, is inconsequential to the plight of suffering Hindus as massacres by Pakistan supported Islamist militants continue unabated. The Hindu American Foundation urges the following:

1) That the United States of America publicly and unambiguously acknowledge and decry the religious cleansing of 350,000 Hindus from the valley of Kashmir and massacre of thousands of Hindus by Islamist terrorists sponsored by the Pakistan-Al-Qaeda nexus;.

2) That the United States of America, with its unequivocal commitment to eradicating terrorism throughout the world, voice official support for the efforts of the Government of India to create circumstances in Kashmir conducive to the return of the displaced Hindus;

3) That the United States of America condition monetary assistance ($3 billion proposed for 2004-2009), debt relief and granting of non-NATO ally status to Pakistan on cessation of state-sponsored terrorism within the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and throughout all of sovereign India.