February 2000 News

Pakistan amasses mercenaries along LoC

10 February 2000

New Delhi: According to defence sources, Pakistan is stepping up its troops level along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and also backing heavily armed mercenaries lined up at the LOC.

Hundreds of mercenaries from four major groups -- Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), Lashker-e-Toiba , Al-badar and Hizbul Mujahideen have moved to front lines in Tangdhar, Kupwara and Uri in North Kashmir and Nanga Tekri and Jarikhas facing Poonch and Rajouri sectors in Jammu region in tandem with movement of a fresh Pakistani Army brigade to these areas, sources said.

The Pakistan Army-mercenaries concentration across the LoC is on the pattern Kargil and could have serious security implication for India. Intelligence agencies have indicated that this concentration could be for unleashing major attacks on Indian Army formations along the LOC as well as in border districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

According to Pakistani media reports, the ISI was putting pressure on mercenary groups to form a unified command. The self-styled commander-in-chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, was quoted as saying he was setting up a combined Kashmir Liberation Army (CKLA).

According to a report in Pakistani newspaper "The Nation", Salahuddin has announced "the year 2000 is going to be quite tough for India in Kashmir".

The released Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar last week announced launching of "Jaish-e-Mohammed Mujahideen-e-Tanzeem" (unified commmand) indicating ISI had failed to control fissures among the ultras.

The Pakistanis has moved four infantary battalions from its Lahore-based 10 Corps and Gujranwala-based 30 Corps to in and around Muzzafarabad region in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).

Along with inducting fresh forces, Pakistan Army has also moved medium range 80-mm and 120-mm mortars to the front line. Earlier reports had hinted that Pakistani Army might pass on some of these heavy mortars to the mercenaries, sources said.

Mercenary commanders are quoted by the Pakistani media as saying that they are planning to set up so-called "liberated zones" within the Kashmir Valley to disrupt the lines of communications of the Indian forces.

"To intensify militant operations in the Valley, efforts are underway to establish a mercenary unified command," Salahuddin said in an interview to Voice of Germany.

The Hizbul Mujahideen commander sees the US demand asking Pakistan to ban all mercenary organisations as a result of pressure built by Western political and economic interests.

Though the Indian Army did not expect any major "misadventure" this month due to border mountain tops being snow-logged, they had expressed serious concern over the developments, sources said.

The Army chief General V P Malik undertook a two-day long visit to Jammu and Kashmir to review the situation with top army commanders. He also visited border areas in Tanghdar, Uri in north Kashmir and Akhnoor in Jammu, sources said.


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