Afghan, international jihadists can relocate to Kashmir, warns US expert

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Srinagar: Battle-hardened Afghan and international jihadists can relocate to Kashmir, a fellow at the US Army think-tank has warned and suggested that Washington should push for Kashmir peace negotiations.

“The security of Afghanistan and Kashmir are interlinked,”  Yelena Biberman, a fellow at Modern War Insitute (MWI) – a research center at the United States Military Academy dedicated to the study of war and warfare.

“The combination of instability in Afghanistan and popular discontent, verging on uprising, in Kashmir creates ripe conditions for spillover,” she warned.

Biberman said that stabilizing Afghanistan, from where the US has decided to withdraw after two decades of fighting with the Taliban, “but not resolving the Kashmir crisis could once again trigger Afghan and international militant relocation to Kashmir” and exacerbate the conflict.

She further said that India was “capable of effectively engaging in a Kashmir peace process”.

Biberman, who is a political sciences professor at Skidmore College, said preventing the battle-hardened Afghan and international jihadists from relocating to Kashmir and also preventing Kashmiri militants from running training camps inside Afghanistan would require “not just a military approach but also a diplomatic one”.

“It requires India taking seriously and addressing through negotiations local Kashmiri grievances,” she said.

She said the peace process in Kashmir would also serve an “opportunity” for the US to clear its stand on democracy and human rights amid the global rise of authoritarianism.

“The likelihood of a spillover of jihadist elements to other regions, such as Kashmir, provides an immediate motivation for the United States to intervene in the long-running Kashmir conflict,” she said.

She said that facilitating a Kashmir peace deal is an “opportunity for the United States to flex its diplomatic muscles”.

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