09/02/2021, 16.16
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Kashmir separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani dies

His funeral was held this morning. The Indian government deployed troops and blocked the Internet to stop protests. Al-Qaeda includes Kashmir among the territories to be reconquered through global jihad. For top Taliban official Anas Haqqani, the new Afghan government will not intervene in the region. Extremists play the moderate card because they need international support and funding.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Syed Ali Geelani died at the age of 92 at his home in Srinagar after a long illness. He was buried this morning.

A long-time advocate for Muslim majority Kashmir, a region divided between India and Pakistan, he had spent the past 11 years under house arrest for his opposition to the Indian government. He sought Kashmir’s secession from India in favour of merger with Pakistan.

Indian authorities, who control Srinagar, Kashmir’s main city, deployed troops during Geelani’s funeral service. Indian soldiers surrounded his home with barbed wire fences and suspended Internet services. India takes such measures whenever tensions rise in Kashmir.

Although India and Pakistan administer different parts of the territory, the two countries have claimed the whole since the 1947 partition.

In 2019Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government banned Jamaat-e-Islami, a political-religious organisation founded by Geelani. Until 2020, the latter was president of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an alliance of a dozen Kashmiri separatist parties.

Recently, al-Qaeda posted a list of territories that must be liberated through global jihad; it included Kashmir.

“With the help of Allah, this historic victory [by the Taleban in Afghanistan] will open the way for the Muslim masses to achieve liberation from the despotic rule of tyrants who have been imposed by the West on the Islamic world,” said As-Sahab, al-Qaida’s official media outlet in Pakistan and Afghanistan

The list also includes the Levant and the Islamic Maghreb, but not Xinjiang and Chechnya, most likely because Russia and China have not closed their embassies in Kabul and have shown themselves willing to back the Taliban.

Afghan jihadists now present themselves as ambassadors of peace (see their Twitter accounts), but according to several observers, their moderation is a way to obtain much needed international legitimacy and financial aid.

Talks to form a new Afghan government are over. According to Muhammad Jalal, one of the group’s top leaders, it will be announced tomorrow after Friday prayers.

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s reconquest of Afghanistan has galvanised extremist groups in the region, including in Kashmir. The best known of those affiliated with al-Qaeda is Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, but recently some smaller groups have sworn allegiance (bay'a) to the Taliban.

Two organisations supported by Pakistan’s intelligence services are also active in Kashmir, Jaish-e-Mohammad (which, like the Taliban, are inspired by the Deobandi movement), and Lashkar-e Taiba.

The current tense situation is raising concern in India. However, Anas Haqqani, the youngest son of the founder of the Haqqani Network, told CNN-News18 that he will not support Jaish-e-Mohammad nor Lashkar-e Taiba because he does not want to interfere in Kashmiri affairs.

Likewise, Haqqani said that he expects neighbouring countries (i.e., India) not to interfere in the domestic politics of the new Islamic Emirate.

A few days ago, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of the Taliban political office in Doha, said that the new Afghanistan wants to maintain close relations with India, especially in terms of the economy and trade.

Stanikzai also hinted at the possible opening of a land trade route through Pakistan because, despite political problems, India remains a major trading partner.

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