August 2000 News

Lashkar Declares War On Hizbul

19 August 2000
Rahul Dutta & Deepak Sharma

New Delhi: Even as Pakistan''s Gen Pervez Musharraf on Saturday called an emergent meeting of his corps commanders to review the Kashmir strategy, the ISI backed Amir of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hafiz Saeed declared a war against the Hizb commanders in Srinagar. The developments across the border portend more blood letting in the Kashmir valley with an inter-militant battle at hand. The Lashkar call has sent a shiver down the spine of Hizbul men in the valley, especially those close to Deputy Commander Abdul Majid Dar. ''The Hizb has committed treason by resorting to negotiations'', Hafiz announced in a huge gathering near Lahore, an Indian Intelligence report said. ''Even if Hizbul men surrender in the valley, the jehad cannot be stopped now, because it has reached a point of no-return. Our men are ready to die for Kashmir'', Hafiz announced. Another top leader of the Harkat-ul-jehad-e-Islami, Mohd Ilyas Kashmiri, Commander-in-chief, brigade 313, said that Hizb leaders had backstabbed the jehadis. Endorsing the Lashkar view, Harkat Amir Maulana Mohammed Farooq also declared Hizb commanders as traitors. Apprehensive of more bloodbath in the valley, the Indian security agencies have launched a massive hunt for Lashkar-e-Toiba cadres. The army guarding the LoC and BSF deployed on the international border has been put on red alert. On the Line of Control, the Pakistani army resorted to heavy shelling to facilitate the infiltration of militants. Six Indian civilians have been injured in the shelling. Indian security agencies meanwhile launched an unprecedented crackdown on foreign mercenaries following a brainstorming meeting of the Cabinet Committee on security presided by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in New Delhi, two days back. Taking a hardline view to combat Pakistan-sponsored-terrorism, the center finally gave the go ahead for an unprecedented crackdown on foreign mercenaries in Kashmir. However efforts for peace talks with the Hizb and Hurriyat leaders will continue, the meeting decided. Highly placed sources said that the Indian Home Minister, LK Advani made a strong plea for initiating tough action against the mercenaries in the wake of recent massacres in the valley. Mr. Advani who spoke at length in the closed door meeting, was of the view that, even as efforts for talks are on, the government must give a befitting reply to mercenaries, who have unleashed violence to sabotage the peace process. Sources said that the Chief of Army Staff General VP Malik was a special invitee to the CSS meeting. General Malik reportedly briefed the members of the current situation near the LoC. Mr. Malik opined that there should be a better coordination betwen the security agencies to combat terrorism in a more compact way. It was felt that Jammu and Kashmir police, the main law enforcing agency in the state, should be activated to tackle the current situation. Sources say that Gen Musharraf had summoned his corps commanders as Islamabad is increasingly getting alarmed over peace moves in the valley. Though the agenda was Kashmir and efforts to escalate insurgency there, Pakistan officially maintained that the meeting was convened to discuss the ''increased'' presence and activities of Indian security forces in Kashmir. A fallout of this meeting was the increased shelling by the Pakistani army on the Indian positions on the LoC in the last few days. Pakistanis tried to capture an Indian army post in Jammu region two days back. The Pakistani soldiers came into Indian territory. The attack was however repulsed and six Pakistani soldiers were killed in the firefight. The retreating troops left behind one body but managed to take away the other five. General Musharraf meanwhile said that he has no intention of retiring in October next year as Chief of Army Staff. Analysts said, General Musharraf is unlikely to bring back democracy to Pakistan by 2002 as ordered by the Supreme Court. The ruling junta has also failed to implement the Supreme Court ''suggestion '' that Pakistan be known as the ''Republic of Pakistan'' instead of the ''Islamic Republic of Pakistan''. Elaborating upon this crucial fact, analysts said Pakistan minister Moinuddin Haider was castigated recently by the fundamentalists there. he said in a speech in the United States that Pakistan was a secular state. This infuriated the fundamentalists and the jehadis. Haider had to categorically deny this the moment he alighted from the aircraft after returning from the US. He said, he never said that Pakistan was a secular state, sources pointed out. Faced with a huge foreign debt of 40 billion dollars, General Musharraf was now desperately looking towards the US to bail out his country. The US had set three conditions including repealing the blasphemy law, keepimg a close watch on more than 7000 ''madrasas'' and controlling the ''jehadi'' groups. the military government was however not able to fulfil all the conditions, it was learnt. In a bid to force the US to help Pakistan, General Musharraf said on Friday that China was helping Pakistan in producing its missiles. he also said that China had helped Pakistan in producing tanks, anti-tank missiles and surface-to-air missiles. '' He hopes that a tilt towards China, a threat to the US interests will force the US decision makers to come to Pakistan''s rescue willy-nilly,'' analysts said. The corps commanders meeting was also likely to discuss the poor economic situation in the country and the stance to be adopted by General Musharraf when he visits the United States next month for the UN session, experts said.


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