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An independent resource on Kashmir for researchers, journalists, academics, and the curious.

November 2003: jammukashmir.net is back on-line and will be updated.  Apologies for the lapse over the summer.


Key Personalities of Kashmir


Here are a number of profiles of leading figures associated with the Kashmir conflict.  Please suggest other names for profiles, or updates of existing ones.


Mufti Mohd Sayeed

Mufti Mohd Sayeed is the chief minister of Indian Kashmir, following the strong election performance of the People's Democratic Party in 2002 state assembly elections.  A former congress politician and union home minister, he is keen to assert good governance in the state.  However, he is in a weak coalition with the Congress Party, which raises long-term questions about his government.

Official Jammu & Kashmir State Government Biography


Farooq Abdullah

The pro-Indian, but pro-autonomy for Kashmir, former chief minister of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir.

A one-time doctor in England, Farooq is married to Molly, an English nurse. Farooq Abdullah has been a leading figure in Kashmiri politics since the early 1980s. He is son and heir to Sheikh Abdullah, the nationalist Kashmiri leader who did so much to end feudalist Dogra rule in Kashmir during the 1930s and 40s. Farooq Abdullah has a different reputation to his father. There have been allegations of corruption, and during the 1980s and 90s he had something of a playboy image. He was chief minister between 1982 and 1984, when he was controversially dismissed by Governor Jagmohan, only to return in 1986 as part of an intricate deal that saw an alliance between Congress (I) and his National Conference party.

Farooq won state assembly elections in 1987, but the results were contested by the Muslim United Front, a separatist alliance that claimed it had been cheated of many seats through rigging. The Valley soon slid into violence from 1988, and in January 1990 Farooq Abdullah resigned when New Delhi appointed Jagmohan as Governor once again. He spent much of the intervening time back in London. In September 1996 Farooq returned to power when new state assembly elections were held, and he has led the Indian state government ever since. Today he is widely reckoned to be seeking a role in national Indian politics, perhaps as Vice-President.

The Jammu & Kashmir police answer to him – but not the Army. He is a superb orator.

Read more about Abdullah:

Recommended – Aditya Sinha, Farooq Abdullah – A Biography (New Delhi, UBSPD) This biography of Farooq paints him in a sympathetic light, but still covers many of the criticisms that have been levelled at him.

Interview – Raising Cain (September 1999)

Profile - The Good Doctor (Outlook, October 2000)

Lecture by Farooq Abdullah – Stimson Centre (April 1999)

Short Biography from the Stimson Centre

Profile – The Survivor, Jang (August 2000)

Question Marks over Kashmir - Business Line (June 2000)

Brief profile from India Infoline



Giresh Saxena

Governor of (Indian) Jammu & Kashmir - and a former chief of the Indian external intelligence service, the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) from 1983-1986. Saxena is very bright - and an old political hand. Nowadays his role is more ceremonial (he was Governor before from May 26, 1990 to March 12, 1993 (then wielding executive power). He was reappointed governor of the state on May 2, 1998. He remains a powerful figure in Kashmir, a link between Kashmir and Delhi, and a visible symbol of Delhi's ability to suspend democratic rule if it so chooses.  He retires at the end of April 2003.



Mohd Shafi Uri

Uri is one of the most colourful characters in contemporary Kashmiri politics.   An avuncular and personable politican, he literally fills a room.  Unusually, for a National Conference politician, he is well-regarded across a wider political spectrum.  In part this is down to his blunt, matter of fact manner - which has not always endeared him to Delhi.  But it is also because he has a firm powerbase as a popular local politican from Uri, a town that nestles on the Jhelum river in the western Kashmir Valley.  Even so, he lost his seat in the 2002 State Assembly elections.



Umar Abdullah

Like father, like son.  Umar Abdullah is the son of Farooq Abdullah, grandson of Sheikh Abdullah.  As with all South Asian dynasties, power cascades down the generations.   Since the National Conference defeat in 2002, he has taken over the reins of the party in Kashmir.

Adbullah is a a moderniser, keen to reform Kashmir's moribund economy.  But he is also a key target of militants, who have tried to kill him a number of times.  He is slowly building a political base in Kashmir, but meanwhile is the most visible sign of the National Conference role in the BJP-led Indian government.

In a shock result, he loses his election fight for a state assembly seat in October 2002.  While he is likely to remain a leading figure in Kashmir politics, he will - for now at least - have to rebuild the shattered National Conference.




Mebooba Mufti

A leading figure in the relatively new People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mufti is unusual figure in Kashmir – a female politician. While she has (previously) met with little political success, perhaps due to her father's (Mufti Mohd Sayeed) unfortunate legacy as Indian Home Minister in 1989, she has just made a strong showing in the 2002 Kashmir state assembly elections - and the PDP has become the main party in the Kashmir Valley.

Her campaign in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections was an interesting one.  Her party used the same symbols as the Muslim United Front did in their 1987 election campaign for self-determination, but arguing that the symbols used to bring the gun into Kashmir should be used to get the gun out.  She has campaigned for unconditional talks with militants and an end to human rights abuses, giving her some credibility with Kashmiris.  At the same time, by participating in (Indian) elections, she has shown herself and the PDP to be part of the Indian political fabric.


Separatist politicians in Kashmir remain in a loose alliance, the APHC.   However, they have not managed to make headway with India - even though moderates do get a hearing in Washington.



Umar Farooq

In his late twenties, the young Mirwaiz (hereditary priest) of Kashmir has a wide following, especially in his native Srinagar. A thoughtful young man, he was pushed in the limelight following the murder of his father in 1990. Seen as one of the more liberal Kashmiri opposition leaders, Farooq is one of the few who has consistently raised questions about Kashmiri minority communities as well as the majority Muslims. Farooq is a member, and former Chairman, of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), the separatist political alliance.

Read more about Farooq:

Asiaweek interview (December 24, 1999)

Umar attacked for Hurriyat-Centre 'talks' (Indian Express, November 26, 1999)



Yasin Malik

The 30-something leader of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Force (JKLF) in the Kashmir Valley is another charismatic Kashmiri opposition figure. Pro-independence, he was a military commander of the JKLF before becoming a politician with the JKLF cease-fire in 1994, which he largely brokered. He spent much of the early 1990s in Indian jails, and has been frequently detained since. He is not well, allegedly having been badly mistreated in prison, and there are continuing concerns about his health. He enjoys great support in the part of Srinagar he comes from, but it is unclear how much support he enjoys across the Valley as a whole. Malik is popular with pro-independence diaspora Kashmiri activists, and is a more important pro-independence figure today than Amanullah Khan (see below).   Malik was arrested under Indian POTO legislation at the end of March, 2002.

Interview: Kashmir is not an animal to be carved up, Time Magazine (May 2000)

India Today profile of Yasin Malik

Yasin Malik on talks, Indian Express (June 2000)



Syed Ali Shah Geelani

Geelani emerged in the 1970s as a leading figure in the Jamaat-i-Islami, and has been the dominant leader in the JI during the 1980s and 1990s. Only today do some claim that his star is fading. He seeks union with Pakistan.  Despite such claims, Geelani remains an important figure.  In 2003, he has bid to become the leading political figure representing militant groups in Kashmir.

Read more about Geelani:

Rediff Interview, April 8, 2000

Interview with Geelani, Praveen Swami (Frontline, August 27 - September 5, 1997)

Interview in The Week (August 8, 1999)

Jamaat-i-Islami, Jama'at-e-Islami Jammu & Kashmir at a Glance (Srinagar, JI, c. 1993)

Jamaat-i-Islami, The most Misunderstood and ill-oppressed organisation (Srinagar, Political Bureau, JI, c.1995)

A critical view from jammu-kashmir.com Alleges corruption in APHC ranks.                                             



Shabir Shah

Shabir Shah is one of the highest profile campaigners for Kashmiri independence.    As a a leader of the Jammu Kashmir People's League, he campaigner for self-determination in Kashmir from the late 1960s.  Having spent much of his life in Indian jails, and - in the 1990s - gained international coverage as an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience, Shah remains an important figures in Kashmiri politics.  But he is also controversial.  Despite 20 years in Indian prisons, and a raptorous popular welcome in Kashmir when he was released in October 1994, his political activities since have antagonised both India and fellow Kashmiri opposition leaders.  He declined to join the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) because it would not adopt his more liberal agenda, and chose instead to start a new political party called the Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP).

Unusual among Kashmiri opposition leaders, Shah has been outspoken about minorities in Kashmir and has reached out to them.  But critics claim he is more popular overseas, in particular in the USA, than he is in Kashmir.

Read more about Shabir Shah:

JKDFP Web-site

jammukashmir.com Interview with Shabir Shah (April 18, 1999)

Rediff Interview (July 23, 1998)

The people of Kashmir cannot be wished away (Shabir Shah)

Shabir Shah floats new party (Rediff, May 25, 1998)

Shabir fleeced Rs 500m, claims aide (Rediff, April 1998)

Shabir Shah, Voice of Conscience (Shabir Shah's Fan Club, Rawalpindi c.1998)

Altaf Hussain, Shabir Shah: A Living Legend in Kashmir History (Srinagar: Noble Publishing House, c.1998)  This is a somewhat doting hagiography of Shah.



General Officer Commanding 15 Corps, Lt Gen V G Patankar (Kashmir Valley)

Lt Gen V.G. Patankar assumed office as the General-Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 15 Corps of Army, based in the Kashmir Valley, on December 31, 2001. The GOC of 15 Corps of the Army, with the entire Kashmir valley as its area of operation, is also the Security Adviser to the Jammu and Kashmir Government. He has previously commanded a Mountain Brigade engaged in counter insurgency operations in the north-east and later an Infantry Division along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.

Lt Gen Patankar, who was commissioned into the regiment of artillery in June 1965, is a qualified paratrooper and helicopter pilot who participated in the 1971 war as an Air Observation Post Pilot. He undertook training at many military institutions in India and abroad including Joint Services Staff College at Canberra, Australia, higher command course at College of Combat, Mhow and United States Army War College course in Pennsylvania, USA.

He has been in post just a few months – during a period of intense military activity.



Border Security Force Inspector General, G.S.Gill

G.S.Gill is a police officer transferred into the paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF), where he commands BSF forces in Kashmir. These armed units are responsible for internal security and counter-militancy operations. Gill is a quiet-spoken Sikh officer who previously served in the Punjab, and who reports to the Unified Military Command in Kashmir. He has been in Kashmir for several years, but had previously served in the state in the mid-1990s.




Director General of Police, Mr A K Suri

Mr A K Suri is head of Kashmir’s police service, which since 1996 has taken the lead against militancy. He has just taken over.


Militants in Kashmir continue their campaign against India, and they hope to alter Indian policy on Kashmir, or at least make Indian control of the Kashmir Valley overly expensive.



Syed Salahuddin

Hizbul Mujahadeen founder and chief, Salahuddin is based in Pakistan.

" Until 1987 he was a little known pro-Pakistan ideologue-political activist who swore by the Indian Constitution, not once but thrice. He unsuccessfully contested Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections as a Jammat-e-Islami candidate. Then he was known as Yousaf Shah. Today, this failed Kashmiri politician holds all the guns and aces for peace in Kashmir as Syed Salahuddin, Supreme Commander of Hizb-ul Mujahideen, a dreaded militant outfit that evokes both fear and sympathy among the violence-weary people of Kashmir. Enigmatic but forthright, 55-year-old Salahuddin is now a father figure, reverentially called Peer Sahib (a religious title), among the militants fighting a decade-long
tenacious and bloody secessionist insurgency in the Valley." (taken from Vinayak profile below)


Read more about Salahuddin:

Interview with Ramesh Vinayak (News Today, September 7, 2000)

Will there still be a way with Hizbul Chief?  (Free Press Journal, August 23, 2000)    Good analysis of where Salahuddin stands with India, Pakistan - and Majid Dar.

It is India's turn now to offer ceasefire, Indian Express (September 10, 2000)







Syed_salahuddin.jpg (8167 bytes)





Syed Salahuddin



Saif-ul-Islam (killed 2003)

Saif-ul-Islam, who was killed aged 49 in 2003 by Indian security forces, was the Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen (HM) chief commander for field operations in the Kashmir Valley, replacing Abdul Majeed Dar (also killed 2003). Saif-ul-Islam was appointed on October 26, 2001. Apparently Dar's term had run its course, but some will point to the fact that Dar was compromised by a summer 2000 cease-fire. The HM command council took the decision. He joined militancy in 1990, has been a member of the HM command council, and has served as a senior military advisor of the Hizb. Educated, he has a BA and speaks Persian and Arabic.

He was loyal to Syed Salahuddin and, as a Kashmiri militant, probably prefers Kashmiris rather than non-Kashmiris to be fighting India.  He closely linked himself (in February 2002) to the fresh APHC position.



Majid Dar (killed 2003)

Formerly Hizbul Mujahadeen (HM) operational commander in Jammu & Kashmir (until October 2001), Dar gained a name for himself with the cease-fire announcement by HM in August 2000. While the cease-fire soon fell through, Dar was seen as an important militant leader by both the Indians and Pakistanis. He comes from the Islamist town of Sopore, in the north of the Kashmir Valley, and ran a dry cleaning store before joining the militancy. As a Valley commander, born and bred, Dar is perhaps more in touch with what the militant cadre and civilian population think about the changing situation on the ground. Dar did want Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan.   Dar was viewed as an intelligent moderate with a strong base in the south of the Kashmir Valley.

HM has about 1,000 to 1,800 militants. Many are Kashmiri from the Kashmir Valley. HM enjoys a wider support network in the Kashmir Valley than many other militant groups because of its traditional links with Jamaat-i-Islami, the Islamist party. Jamaat supporters form a natural support base for HM, and it is changing thinking in Jamaat along with the changing nature of militancy that is encouraging Dar to consider different forms of resistance to India. It is difficult to estimate how much support Dar enjoys from HM commanders, but sources in the Valley argue it has declined steeply as he appears to be living under Indian protection.  In May 2002 Dar was expelled from the HM by Salahuddin.  However, there have been rumblings from HM commanders in the Kashmir Valley, some of whom continue to support his position.  He was killed by unidentified gunmen in 2003.

Read more about Dar:

Abdul Majid Dar: more a politician than a militant

Dar – "human face" of the Mujahideen



Salim Hashmi, spokesman, HM (Pakistan)

Salim Hashmi is based in Pakistan and issues statements and talks to journalists on behalf of the Hizbul Mujahadeen. Little is know about him; he is believed to be a young Valley Kashmiri.



Jaish-e-Muhammad, Commander in Chief Masood Azhar (detained in Pakistan)

 Presently under arrest by Pakistani authorities, the leader of the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) was born in the Pakistani Punjab in 1968. He was educated at a religious school, and went on to write several Islamic books. He then joined the Harkat-ul-Mujahadeen and fought Indian forces in Kashmir, being captured in 1993. He was detained in several Indian prisons.

In December 1999 terrorists hijacked an Indian airlines plane from Kathmandu to Delhi. They murdered one of the passengers, and flew the plane to Kandahar in Afghanistan, where India eventually traded three prisoners – including Azhar – for the passengers’ lives. In January 2001, Masood Azhar founded the extremist Jaish-e-Muhammad, which was later reponsible for a series of suicide attacks in Kashmir (for example, a car-bomb attack on the Army headquarters in April 2001). He was arrested by the Pakistani authorities in December 2001 following the suicide attack on the Indian parliament.

Azhar is deeply anti-Western, and JeM has supported wider militancy against the West.



Jaish-e-Muhammad Commander Abu Hijrat (Kashmir Valley)

This Kashmiri commander of JeM was appointed following the detention of Masood Azhar in late 2001. Next to nothing is known about him; the Indian government has blamed the JeM for the suicide attack on the Indian parliament (December 13, 2001).



Jaish-e-Muhammad press spokesman Shamsud-din-Haider (Kashmir Valley?)

Shamsud-din-Haider is the new spokesman for the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), and in a statement on February 4, 2002, JeM claimed that he is a Valley Kashmiri. Nothing is known about him – not even his present location, although it is presumed that he is based in the Kashmir Valley. The JeM also announced that it will:

"- henceforth limit its activities within the confines of Jammu and Kashmir and recall its activists spread across India. "From now on, Jaish will only fight the freedom struggle inside Kashmir. All mujahideen active across India have been ordered to report back to commander-in-chief Abu Hijrat in Kashmir"
- native Kashmiris will constitute two-thirds of its ranks as against the non-Kashmiris;
- claims a massive weapons and ammunition dump in the valley which will suffice for a five-year long militant campaign against India"

However, there are suspicions that the JeM may have been involved in the kidnap and murder of Daniel Pearl in January/February 2002, as the main suspect, Ahmed Sheikh, had close links to the group. The JeM were formally banned by President Musharraf and many activists arrested in Pakistan on January 12, 2002.



India is the leading player on Kashmir: whether Kashmiris like it, or not.  As the status quo power in the Kashmir Valley, Indian policy on Kashmir is a critical determinant of what will happen in future.


Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee

 Born in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh in 1926, India’s first Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister continues to be an unknown quantity. While cautious and pragmatic, his political roots lie with the extremist Hindu RSS, and BJP fortunes depend on RSS canvassing at elections. Foreign Minister in the 1970s, Prime Minister (briefly) in 1996, and then Prime Minister at the head of a BJP-led coalition from 1998, Vajpayee is committed to making India a great state. To this end, he ordered nuclear tests in 1998. But he has also made strides for peace – travelling on the first bus to the Pakistani city of Lahore in 1999. In office, he has watered down previous BJP commitments to build a temple at Ayodha, end Kashmiri autonomy and scrap the separate civil code for Indian Muslims. At the same time, he escalated the Indo-Pak crisis in December 2001 and his government has been accused of not doing enough to prevent the communal riots in Gujarat that killed hundreds in late February 2002. Vajpayee is a published poet – and his poetry even sells well in Kashmir. He is also a bachelor who enjoys cooking. However, at 77 – and plagued by alleged health problems – the question of succession looms large.



Foreign Minister Yaswant Sinha

Born in 1937, Yaswant Sinha was a member of Indiaís elite Indian Administrative Service before entering politics in the 1980s.   He was elected to the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of Indian Parliament in 1988, representing the Janata party. Subsequently, he became the Finance Minister of India from November, 1990 to June, 1991. He was elected to the Lower House (Lok Sabha) of Indian Parliament in 1998.  He was Finance Minister again in March, 1998 and again after the elections of 1999.  On July 1, 2002, he became Foreign Minister.


Defence Minister George Fernandes

 George Fernandes is a 72-year old Christian, and former socialist, who has turned more and more hawkish in recent years. First elected to the Lok Sabha in 1947, he founded his own party, the Samata party, in 1994. When then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi imposed a state of emergency in 1975, he went underground to fight it and her. In the early 1990s, Fernandes was considered a moderate who understood issues like Kashmir well. In 1998, he was appointed defence minister in the BJP-led coalition. Sacked in March 2001 following a corruption scandal, he was soon reappointed on October 15, 2001.

He is known for his erratic statements, including on-record comments like ‘China is our public enemy number one.’ During the December 2001 crisis he also implied that India was setting deadlines on Pakistan – according to his critics, potentially destabilising a difficult situation. He remains popular, however, particularly with the Army.



Home Minister L.K.Advani 

L.K.Advani is reputed to be the hard man of India’s ruling BJP – although whether his views differ substantially from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee remains hotly disputed by commentators. He was born in 1929 in Karachi (now in Pakistan), and educated at Bombay University. At the time of partition he was the militant Hindu RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) organiser in Karachi. Following partition, he moved to the state of Rajasthan, where he continued to organise for the RSS. He then became active in the first Hindu Nationalist party in India, the Jan Sangh. A member of India’s upper house in the 1970s and 80s, he was briefly information and broadcasting minister in the Janata government in 1977. In the late 1980s he was elected to India’s lower house, the Lok Sabha, and became a leading figure in BJP national politics. In 1992, he was a leading figure in the agitation that led to the destruction of a 15th century mosque at Ayodha, arguing that it should be replaced by a new Hindu temple. Over 2,000 people were killed in the communal riots that swept India as a result – and Advani earned his hardline reputation.

He was appointed Home Minister in 1998.



RAW Chief Vikram Sood

Appointed on December 13, 2000, Vikram Sood is chief of India’s powerful foreign intelligence service, the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW). He has direct access to the Indian Prime Minister, and a global network of stations. RAW station chiefs also provide political analysis, thereby contributing to foreign policy formation. RAW is answerable to the Indian Prime Minister, and does not engage in independent actions. Sood is a career intelligence officer, joining RAW in 1966. There was criticism of RAW following the 1999 Kargil Crisis, which was portrayed by many as an intelligence failure. It is assumed that RAW coverage of Pakistan is patchy, with little real-time strategic intelligence at Corps Commander level.



Army Chief General S. Padmanabhan

 General Padmanabhan was born in December 1940 in the Southern Indian state of Kerala. He is an artillery officer, and spent much of his career teaching at the Indian Military Academy and the School of Artillery. His career took off in the 1990s – Major-General in 1991, Lt. General in 1993, and appointment as Corps Commander of 15 Corps in the insurgency-wracked Kashmir Valley. His command in Kashmir coincided with major challenges to Indian rule, like the siege of Hazratbal Mosque in 1993, but it also marked the beginning of Indian successes in the war against militancy. He worked closed with Brigadier Arjun Ray, who advised him to take a proactive public affairs policy in Kashmir. This switch to ‘hearts and minds’ by the Army delivered some results. In 1994 he was appointed director-general of military intelligence, and then as commander of the Udhampur-based Northern Command – in overall charge of the Indian Army in the North-West of India. Considered to be politically sophisticated, but committed to India’s defence, he was appointed Chief of Army Staff on October 1, 2000.


Pakistan has aims in and on Kashmir: however, it has found international opinion barren on the Kashmir issue, and it has not managed to alter Indian policy.





President Pervez Musharraf

Born in Delhi in 1943, General Pervez Musharraf was part of the Urdu-speaking Muslim population of Pakistan that moved from India during partition. He joined the Army as an artillery officer in 1964, and saw action in the 1965 Indo-Pak war. A commando in the Special Services Group (SSG) for seven years, he also saw action in the 1971 war. He made Major General in 1991, Lt. General in 1995 (with a strike corps to command). He spent a year training at the Royal College of Defence Studies, in London, and is considered a secular, Western-minded General.

In 1998 he took over as Chief of Army Staff following the resignation of General Jehangir Karamat. He was widely considered responsible for the military incursion in Kargil in the early Summer of 1999, which precipitated a major Indo-Pak crisis. Following an attempt by the Pakistani Prime Minister to sack him, he seized power in Pakistan on October 12, 1999.

In July 2001, he travelled to India to meet Prime Minister Vajpayee at the Agra Summit. And following the September 11 attacks, he immediately pledged support for the United States. His power-base in Pakistan appears strong, with a major rival – General Mohd Aziz – sidelined – and backing from the Army for his announcement of sweeping changes to Pakistan in January 2002. However, his regime is a collegiate military dictatorship – with consensus decisions from the corps commanders ruling the sway.

Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali

Zafarullah Jamali is the 54 year-old prime minister of Pakistan, elected in late 2002.  He used to be a supporter of Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister overthrown in 1999, but turned away from Sharif to form a dissident faction of the Pakistan Muslim League.  In October 2002 this faction won most seats in Pakistanís general elections.  Jamali was formerly acting chief minister of Balochistan in 1996, and he became a senator in 1997. Jamali comes from a landowning family which has played an active role in Pakistani politics for over 50 years. He is from the Punjab, and educated at Punjab University.  He is considered to be a weak prime minister, as most real power in Pakistan still resides with President Musharraf.



Lt. General Mohd Aziz Khan

Lt.General Aziz Khan is presently chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff committee in the Pakistani armed forces. This role, while it has him alongside senior Generals, lacks teeth, as he does not directly command a key corps. He is notionally number three in the military heirarchy, after Musharraf and Vice Chief of Army General Muhammad Yousuf.

He played a critical role in the 1999 coup that brought Musharraf to power – then as Chief of the General Staff. As a leading hawk, he firmly backed Kashmiri militant groups in their fight against India, often visiting Pakistani Kashmir to lend visible support to the cause. On September 1, 2000, he was posted to the critical post of Lahore Corps Commander. On October 7, 2001, Aziz Khan was effectively neutralised as a coup risk by being appointed to his new job.

General Aziz Khan is a burly officer, much loved by Kashmiri militant groups. He is said to say little in the leadership meetings.


ISI Chief Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq

General Ehsan ul-Haq is a trusted friend of Musharraf – and the man Musharraf has chosen to bring the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) into line with Pakistan’s new policy position on militant groups. He was appointed shortly after the September 11 attacks. The ISI is a powerful organisation (perhaps 10,000 strong), staffed by military officers at the higher levels, which provides both domestic and foreign intelligence for Pakistan. The ISI has stations worldwide, and a separate reporting structure back to Pakistan. Regionally, the ISI played a leading role in developing both the 1980s Afghan resistance and the 1990s Taliban. It also supported Kashmiri militant groups with a covert stream of funding, weapons and communications equipment. Today Ehsan ul-Haq is pledged to reform it further – and has already supposedly closed its Kashmir directorate in January 2002.


Pakistan doesn't have it all its own way: the pro-independence Kashmiri Jammu Kashmir Liberation Force (JKLF) campaigns against Pakistani control of Kashmir as well.



Amanullah Khan

Khan was an important JKLF leader in the 1970s and 1980s, and has spent much of his life in exile. A strong advocate of independence, he has advocated violent insurrection against Indian rule for many years, and continues to agitate against Pakistani rule over Azad Kashmir as well. He comes from the Northern areas of Kashmir, so does not have the same connections to the Valley as many Kashmiris do. In 1994 the JKLF split for the third time, when Yasin Malik called a JKLF cease-fire. Khan disowned his Valley commander, accusing him of treachery, and since has been reduced to leading a rump JKLF faction largely based in Pakistan. Khan is based in Rawalpindi.

Read more about Amanullah Khan:

India Today interview (October 3, 2000)

Amanullah Khan, The United States and Kashmir (c.1994)

JKLF (AK) web-site


The United Nations plays a lesser part in the Kashmir conflict, despite hopes from Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists that it will reactivate UN involvement in the Kashmir dispute.



UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

Born in 1938 in Ghana, and educated at MIT, Kofi Annan was appointed UN Secretary General in January 1997. He had worked with the UN since 1962, and while the first black African Secretary General, he was also considered an inside candidate – with US approval. He was elected for a second term in 2001. The same year he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (with the UN). A former head of UN peacekeeping, Annan is self-confident and candid – but has no illusions about the Kashmir dispute, one of the world conflicts that the UN has failed to make any headway on. Annan is on frosty terms with the head of UNMOGIP, the UN mission in Kashmir, following a diplomatic incident in October 2001. Annan has also played a minimal role in the Winter 2001 Indo-Pak crisis. It is difficult for him to intervene given India’s determination to keep the UN out of Kashmir.



UNMOGIP Commander General Hermann Loidolt

General Hermann Loidolt (an Austrian Army officer seconded to the UN) got into serious trouble over comments he made in October 2001, calling for US intervention in the Kashmir dispute. The Indian government complained to the UN about this – a serious excess of his role. On November 1 he was reprimanded ("reminded of the limits of his responsibilities") and journalists were told by UN HQ that his views "did not reflect the views of the Secretary-General."

With 45 military observers and an annual budget of around $8m, the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) is one of the oldest standing UN operations. It was established in 1951 under Resolution 51, to observe and report on the cease-fire between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. UNMOPGIP’s functions are to observe and report, investigate complaints of cease-fire violations and submit its findings to each party and to the Secretary-General. However, in 1971 the Government of India argued that the Kashmir dispute was now confirmed (thanks to the Simla agreement between India and Pakistan) as a bilateral dispute, and withdrew effective support for UNOGIP. While UNMOGIP maintains observers on both sides, only on the Pakistani side are reports made of actual or alleged breaches of the cease-fire. UN observers have access to the sensitive line of control (on the Pakistani side), their own secure communications and aircraft, and could potentially report back to New York. However, their role is strictly contained. In 1990 a demonstration by around 200,000 Kashmiris assembled next to the UN mission building in Srinagar, in the Kashmir Valley. Its calls for UN intervention in the Kashmir dispute fell on closed ears; insofar as the UN mission has no bearing on the wider Kashmir dispute – it is simply a functional cease-fire military observer mission.


The Americans matter on Kashmir - but they, too, have an agenda in the region.  In 2002 they were actively trying to reduce tension between India and Pakistan.



President George W. Bush

After serving in the Texas National Guard George W. Bush worked in the oil and gas industries until 1986, when he got involved in his father's successful 1988 presidential campaign. He returned to Texas and was elected governor there in 1994 and again in 1998. Bush won the Republican nomination for president in August of 2000, and won the presidential race later that year (after a small dispute over ballots in Florida). He knows relatively little about foreign affairs, but appears to be learning fast. In December 2001 he intervened by telephone to encourage India and Pakistan to settle their differences; in January 2002 he welcomed Pakistan’s commitment to ban certain militant groups.

His presidency has so far been defined by the events of September 11 and thereafter, and he enjoys high approval ratings.



Secretary of State Colin L. Powell

After a poor upbringing in the American South, Colin Powell joined the army. He completed two tours in Vietnam, winning two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, a Soldier’s Medal, and the Legion of Merit. He became the first black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993, and made his name as America’s military commander during the Gulf War. In 2001, President Bush appointed him Secretary of State – where he appears to tread, as a bipartisan figure, a more moderate path than some.



Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld is a hawk who previously served as Secretary of State for Defence in the mid-1970s. Before that, he was a congressman in Illinois for eight years. He was a Cold War warrior, and is a firm supporter of National Missile Defence. He is responsible for the military campaign against terrorism. President Bush appointed him Defence Secretary in 2001.



National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice

Provost of Stanford University (1993-1999), previously senior fellow with the Hoover Foundation. She has moved in and out of think-tanks and government work. She was a College Professor at the age of 26, and is considered hawkish and very bright. Rice is a Council of Foreign Relations member, a National Endowment for the Humanities trustee, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



CIA Chief George Tenet

Appointed CIA chief in 1997, Tenet was formerly deputy chief (1995-1997). Prior to that, he worked on a number of staff posts in and around the House and Senate. He was educated at Georgetown.

The US has good intelligence coverage of South Asia from satellite imagery and electronic intercepts. While criticised for not predicting the 1998 nuclear tests, the CIA can play a useful role in defusing regional tension by providing information to the President and Department of State.



Assistant Secretary of State (South Asia) Christina Rocca

Christina Rocca was a career CIA officer from 1982-1987, working on counter-terrorism issues. She worked on Afghanistan in the early 1990s. From 1997-1999, she worked as an aide to Senator Brownback, a republican. She read history at King’s College London.  Her views on Kashmir (whatever they are) will make a difference.


Britain helped to create the Kashmir problem, but Tony Blair doesn't have a magic solution.  In 2002 British politicians and diplomats have been supporting American moves to reduce tension between India and Pakistan.



Prime Minister Tony Blair

Tony Blair was born in 1953 in Scotland, and after qualifying as a lawyer became MP for Sedgefield in 1983. In 1994, he became the youngest ever leader of the Labour Party – and won a decisive victory in the 1997 general election (a feat he repeated in 2001). A leading player on the world stage, he has been at the forefront of the diplomatic campaign to bolster support for the US-led war on terrorism post September 11. In January 2002, he travelled to India and Pakistan in an attempt to reduce tension (though cynics gently noted that he was also trying to held BAE sell Hawk Trainer jets to India).



Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

Jack Straw became Britain’s Foreign Secretary on 8 June 2001, following the surprise removal of Robin Cook. Born in 1946, he became a barrister before entering politics. He is a Blair loyalist. At the Foreign Office he is seen as a relatively weak Foreign Secretary, as the Prime Minister has taken the lead on many foreign policy issues (including visiting India and Pakistan in January 2002, and again in late May 2002). However, Straw has a role to play – and will be keen to bolster UK-Indian trade, placate the UK South Asian diaspora, while keeping Pakistan on side. In late 2001 a key foreign policy shift took place when Britain said it would support India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.


And finally ....



Ghulam Nabi Fai

Fai is President of the Kashmiri American Council (KAC), a leading diaspora lobby group campaigning for Kashmiri self-determination. A Kashmiri from the Valley, Fai lobbies US politicians and officials on Kashmir based from an office in Washington DC. It has been alleged that Fai receives Pakistani funds – which he denies. He is also an important figure in continuing informal moves between India, Pakistan and the United States on Kashmir.

Kashmir Times profile of Fai (Aug 15, 2000)  by Masood Hussain

Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, the executive director of the Washington based Kashmir American Council (KAC) is said to be the single most important person who has been behind all the major pro-Kashmir gains of Pakistan or APHC. According to diplomatic circles "(Mr) Fai can claim credit for doing in a decade what Islamabad could not do for five decades".

Hailing from Wadwan village in the central Kashmir Budgam, Fai has been a dedicated full time Jamat-e-Islami (JI) worker. Very close to JI founder President (late) Moulana Said-ud-Din Tarbali, the young village boy did his masters in Philosophy from AMU. With the help of patron Moulana, he got admission and the scholarship in the Um-ul-Qura University in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) where he studied for couple of years. He holds PhD in mass communications from Temple University, Pennsylvania.

Then in 1983, he returned to Kashmir for a brief time and left for Saudi Arabia where he had a brief halt, probably as a teacher. He went again to USA where he joined the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) as a full-time worker. Quite a few people remember his brief essays in the columns of mass circulated Daily Aftab under a pseudonym "Fay Badgami". It was this Fay that became Fai and interestingly nobody knows what Fai actually means.

In 1990, when the Kalashnikovs started rattling in Kashmir, Kashmiri Americans founded KAC of which Dr Fai became the Executive Director. Over 350 Kashmiri families are living in USA. In this capacity, Dr Fai has had the best opportunity to expand his influence. People who knew him assert that Dr Fai is treated as one of the star lobbyists who has an "excellent convincing power". He has the best contacts among the Congressmen and is even helping various parties in elections and the fund-raising. Some go to the extent of saying that Ms Robin Raphel, a former state department officer was her friend. Obviously he is the most influential in the entire Muslim community from the Indian subcontinent. He has had a couple of interactions with various US Presidents including with Bill Clinton before his March visit to India.

During last ten years he has travelled to over 40 countries lecturing on Kashmir. His engagements include speaking to the UN Commission on Human Rights, being invited by the European Parliament to brief on Kashmir and to five successive OIC meetings of the heads of the states and the Congressional Caucus in USA. Dr Fai has two children from his Chinese (second) wife. His first wife continues to live in Wadwan.



Ayub Thakur

From Kashmir, Thakur is one of the diaspora Kashmiri activists on behalf of Kashmiri opposition. Based in London, he is President of the World Kashmir Freedom Movement (WKFM) which campaigns for Kashmiri self-determination. Some Kashmir watchers feel that Thakur, while a crucial figure in the early 1990s, is more detached from the Kashmir issue now so much activity takes place from Washington DC.

Kashmir Times profile of Thakur (August 15, 2000) by Masood Hussain

Dr Ayub Thakur is a class intellectual. Hailing from a poor peasant family in remote Pudsoo village of Shopian, Dr Thakur is PhD in nuclear physics. After a brief stint at the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (Zakoora, Srinagar), Thakur was appointed ad-hoc lecturer in the University of Kashmir.

Well before he could complete his post-doctorate, he joined Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, one of the powerful organisations of the right-wing students floated and later disowned by JI, and eventually became its secretary general. He had brief visits to Dhaka and Malaysia as a delegate of the International Islamic Federation of Students Organisations (IIFSO), of which his group was a member.In August 1980, the Jamiat-e-Talaba planned a grand "international conference" which was expecting a gathering of over quarter-million youth from the state. Some leaders of international reputation were also expected. Ruling NC became apprehensive of an emerging power centre. It banned the Jamiat. So many of its leaders were arrested under Public Safety Act (PSA) including Dr Thakur.

When he was freed after five months, he was elected as the Chief of the organisation. Tired of playing a cat-and-mouse game with the police, he opted to accept the offer of a lecturer in the King Abdul Aziz University Jeddah where he served upto 1984. He married his Baramulla classmate in 1981 in absentia. Probably the first marriage where groom's consent was taken on phone and the bride flew to Jeddah. Since 1984, he was in London as a JI worker. In 1990, he founded World Kashmir Freedom Movement of which he is the Chairman. Though he is stated to be highly mobile, he is thorough intellectual.

He is stated to be driving force behind Alistair Lamb's two highly acclaimed controversial books on Kashmir - Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy and Kashmir- The Birth of a Tragedy. The books challenge the authenticity of the Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharaja Hari Singh in late 1947 when the tribals raided Kashmir. His criticism of the APHC leadership often makes broad headlines in Srinagar press.




General profiles

India Today has a good profile list for major Kashmiri politicians, linked here.


This site is not funded by any party to the Kashmir conflict, nor does it solicit such funds.

All comments and contributions welcome.  Editor: Jeffrey Kile.  Last updated: November 16, 2003