February 2000 News

Pak mercenary groups locked in rivalry over operations in J&K

13 February 2000
Daily Excelsior

NEW DELHI: Intense rivalry has surfaced among mercenary groups in Pakistan over moves to form a joint command apparently to act in tandem with Army for upcoming major covert operations in Jammu and Kashmir, according to Pakistani media reports.

Moves have been set afoot, according to Pakistani daily The Nation, to unite major mercerizer groups like the Harkat Ul Mujhaeddin (the renamed Harkat Ul Ansar labelled as terrorist outfit by the US State Department), Lashkar-e-Toiba, Al Badr and Hizbul Mujhaeddin (HM), with Maulana Azhar Masood, the Harkat militant released in exchange for Indian Airlines Aircraft hostages, taking the lead.

Masood, a known protege of the Pakistani Army intelligence top brass, after his release went on a spree of confabulations with other groups for fresh drive to unite the mercenary groups.

The daily Jung reported that after hectic efforts, Masood last week had announced formation of what he described as unified joint group to be called Jaish-e-Mohammad Majhaeddin E-Tanzeem declaring it would act as a coordinating outfit for all mercenary and militant groups active in Jammu and Kashmir.

Within two days of Masood styling himself the chief commander of the Unified Mercenary Joint command, the self styled commander in chief of Hizbul Mujhaeddin, Syed Salahuddin, was quoted by The Nation as declaring that he had set up another Combined Kashmir Liberation Army (CKLA). To intensify militant operations in Jammu and Kashmir, we are establishing a Unified Mercenary Command, Salahuddin, who has been housed in luxury in Pakistan occupied-Kashmir (PoK) by the ISI, told the Voice of Germany in an interview.

The apparent pressure being exerted by the ISI on mercenary groups to form a Unified Command came to the fore when The Nation quoted Salahuddin as declaring we are going for a joint command as the year 2000 is going to mark a major escalation in our efforts to wean away Jammu and Kashmir from India.

HM, which is the militant wing of the Kashmir Jamaat-i-Islami, also announced setting up of sacrifice squads on the pattern of so called Fidayeen suicide squads of the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Azhar had been on a self declared mission to unite militant groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir when he was picked by the Indian security forces in 1994.

Pakistani media saw in formations of rival unified mercenary commands another failure on the part of Pakistani agencies, who it said had faced similar fissures when they had tried to unify rival Afghan Mujahideen groups.

The move to form a joint command by mercenaries comes in the wake of spate of complaints to the international human rights groups like Amnesty International and US-based Human Rights Watch Group that these groups were forcibly recruiting those who have now been termed as child soldiers.

A number of PoK-based groups in London and New York have moved these human rights bodies alleging that children in the age group of 13to 19 were being sent for armed ‘Jehad’ in Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan and other places against the wishes of their parents and guardians and in defiance of international charters.

Two such London based groups — the Kashmir International Front and Jammu and Kashmir Peace Committee — have demanded that the self styled chief commanders and other coordinators of these groups should be hauled up before the international war crimes tribunals. (PTI)


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