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India fears Taliban fallout in Kashmir

News Desk || shiningbd

Published: 17:14, 17 October 2021  
India fears Taliban fallout in Kashmir

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi set out his Taliban worries to world leaders this week, Indian forces staged raids and battled Kashmir militants who he fears could be emboldened by the Islamists' victory in Afghanistan.

Kashmir rebel shootings of civilians and police, raids by the security forces on militant hideouts, and insurgent infiltrations across the India-Pakistan ceasefire line have all increased in the Muslim-majority region since the Taliban overran Kabul on August 15.

About 40 people have been killed in shootings and clashes in the two months since then in the Himalayan region, which has been divided since India and Pakistan became independent in 1947. Militants have targeted minority Hindu and Sikh civilians, while gun battles near the ceasefire line have also left soldiers and rebels dead.

India has not openly blamed the Taliban takeover for the uptick in violence, but it has intensified patrols near Pakistani Kashmir and fortified some army camps, according to residents and security officials who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.

Modi told a G20 summit in Rome earlier this week that international efforts were needed to make sure Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for "radicalization and terrorism". He has also raised India's concerns with US President Joe Biden.

In September, he told the UN General Assembly that no country must be allowed to use Afghanistan "as a tool for its own selfish interests" -- a comment widely seen as a reference to neighboring Pakistan, the chief backer of the Taliban's 1996-2001 regime. This time, Islamabad has stopped short of recognizing the new Taliban government.

Still, New Delhi accuses its arch-rival in Islamabad of fuelling Pakistan-based militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, which are blamed for many attacks in Kashmir. Pakistan denies the claim. India was a backer of the Soviet-puppet government in Kabul that was overthrown by mujahideen forces in 1992.

In 2001 it helped the US-led forces that toppled the Taliban. And it was a major donor to the government that the hardline Islamists crushed in August. Afghan militants fought alongside Kashmir fighters in the 1980s and 1990s. About 20 Afghan "guest mujahideen" were killed and 10 were captured, according to a former Kashmiri fighter.

India worries that weapons and fighters could again reach the region, over which it has fought two wars against Pakistan. Protests are virtually impossible in Kashmir. But some in Kashmir have quietly welcomed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan as a victory against the odds that they too can aspire to one day.
The Daily Star

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