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For India, It’s Now Clear the Taliban Means Real Trouble

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NEW DELHI – Since the fall of Kabul, fear is rising in Indian-administered Kashmir and in New Delhi that the Taliban victory in Afghanistan points to a possible return to its most bloody ever decade of anti-India militancy in the region – a 1990s redux.

The territory is bounded on the west by Pakistan; the Afghan border lies several hundred kilometers further west. But it has been the site of a roiling dispute between India and Pakistan since both states’ independence in 1947, including two wars, and a simmering conflict between India and China since 1962, whose latest lethal skirmishes occurred less than a year ago.

And within Indian-administered Kashmir itself, there has been an intensified tension between New Delhi, which two years ago stripped the country's only Muslim majority state of its limited autonomy, arguing it was feeding anti-India militancy and hampering development, and a spectrum of separatist groups including militants, some of whom are widely acknowledged to be backed by Pakistan.

Kashmir has long been captive to events in Afghanistan. Back in 1989, the Soviet superpower negotiated its exit from Afghanistan after the Mujahideen dealt it a humiliating defeat. Five months later an anti-India insurgency erupted, triggered by rigged elections in which New Delhi ensured the victory of a coalition of Indian nationalist parties over an Islamist coalition many predicted would win.

Those ‘results’ were followed by thousands of local youth crossing over into Pakistan for weapons training and, joined by armed militants from Pakistan and Afghanistan, they entered Indian administered Kashmir touting AK-47 assault rifles to confront the Indian state, unmoved by the cost that would be borne by the civilian population.

Thus Kashmir became an incubator and testing ground for Islamist Afghan Mujahideen who, along with thousands of local militants, ruled the streets of Kashmir for nearly half a decade. 26,103 people were killed in Kashmir from 1990 to 2000.

Now, India is anxious the same script – the infiltration of a new generation of Afghan Islamist militants – is about to play itself out.

Nearly 50 foreign fighters from banned militant outfits, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jash-e-Mohammad (JeM), which have strong links with the Haqqani network, fought against the U.S. in Afghanistan and ow are now participants in the Taliban government, have entered Kashmir in the past few weeks, according to official data shared by Indian........

© Haaretz

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