In February 1989, as last Soviet troops were leaving Afghanistan, three groups of Kashmiri youth were already in Pakistan receiving arms training to launch jihad in Kashmir. And while the mujahideen in Afghanistan moved to dislodge Soviet-backed Najibullah government in Kabul, Kashmir metamorphosed into a full-blown parallel battleground between Kashmiri militants and New Delhi with secessionist armed campaign in the neighbouring Punjab already at its peak.
Now with US preparing to exit Afghanistan following more than a decade of war that echoes Soviet engagement, there is a sense of deja vu in Kashmir. The Valley apprehends the repeat of the situation that followed the withdrawal of USSR and its subsequent break-up, this time compounded by a resurgent China.
This is at least what the Hurriyat delegation who visited Pakistan in December last has been told in no uncertain terms by the militant leaders including Mumbai attack accused Hafiz Saeed, his deputy Abdur Rehman Makki and the United Jihad Council chief Syed Salahuddin. “We think the only way to liberate Kashmir is through military means. Dialogue with New Delhi will get us nowhere,” these leaders told Hurriyat leaders who met them. “Come 2014 and we will again be in a position of command. We will restart jihad in Kashmir”.