The Increasing Threats of Separatist Movements:
Spain, Kashmir, Sri Lanka
Following the granting of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947, war
broke out over the future of the Muslim-dominated Kashmir region. India and
Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir. In 1972, following another conflict,
a Line of Control was established giving India control over 45 percent of the
region, Pakistan control over 33 percent, and China rules the rest. Since 1989,
Islamic militants allegedly supported by Pakistan have been waging a violent
separatist rebellion to bring Indian-ruled Kashmir under Pakistani sovereignty.
More than 30,000 people have died in the violence.
There are several Islamic guerrilla groups fighting in Kashmir for an end to
Indian rule. Their targets include the Indian government, Indian troops in
Kashmir and civilians in Kashmir and in other parts of India. India claims that
these Muslim separatist groups have training bases in Pakistan and receive
material from the Pakistani government while Pakistan claims it provides only
moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri separatists.
The leading pro-Pakistan Kashmiri separatist group is Hizbul Mujahideen (HM),
one of the older militant groups, comprised mostly of Kashmiris. It has been
active since the early days of the Muslim separatist rebellion.
Hopes for an end to the conflict rose briefly in the summer of 2000 when
Hizbul Mujahideen agreed to a cease-fire and negotiations with the Indian
government. The two-week truce ended when talks broke down after HM demanded
that Pakistan be part of the talks. Even during the cease-fire however, Islamic
militants opposed to the truce carried out seven attacks in a 24-hour period in
early August 2000 that killed at least 85 people in Kashmir.
Another Islamic separatist group fighting to end Indian control of Kashmir is
the Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group which is
believed to be comprised mainly of Afghans, Pakistanis and Arabs. HUM has been
designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Its
primary target has been Indian troops in Kashmir although it has also engaged in
bombings of civilians.
According to the State Department, HUM's leader, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, has
been linked to Osama bin Laden and signed his February 1998 fatwa calling for
attacks on U.S. and Western interests. HUM is believed to be linked to the
Kashmiri militant group al-Faran that kidnapped and later killed five Western
tourists in Kashmir in 1995. HUM is also believed responsible for the December
1999 hijacking of an Indian airliner in which the hijackers demanded the release
of HUM leader Masood Azhar. One passenger was killed during the hijacking.