J&K ultras follow ISI code
14 April 2001
New Delhi: Halfway through the three-month ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, the Army is getting mixed signals. The militancy is still continuing on a reduced scale but there are reports of a “code of conduct” suggested to the militants by the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency. Top army officials said they picked up information about this “code of conduct” from across the border. Apparently, the ISI has suggested to the militants, most of whom have been trained, equipped and financed by them not to commit terrible atrocities against civilians. “We have to see how carefully the militants adhere to this code of conduct. “Many of them are rogues or adventurers and not holy warriors as they are made out to be and they could be less agreeable to cutting down on their activities,” a senior officer said. The militants’ lack of discipline would mean attacks would continue and officials are not ruling out a civilian massacre though they acknowledge that the number of major explosions have come down to a very large extent. This is significant as these explosions often cause a large number of casualties. Army officials felt that the code of conduct may be part of a realisation that a big massacre of civilians during the ceasefire would mean bad publicity. There are pockets in the Valley where people are tiring of the militancy and aren’t warm to the foreign militants – people who have come from Pakistan occupied Kashmir or Afghanistan – and atrocities on civilians would make them even less popular. They added that a ceasefire does not mean that anti-militancy operations in the Valley are over. They are continuing, keeping in mind certain constraints. Operations would be different if the ceasefire ended, as would be the results. “We could, for instance, cordon off a village and search it thoroughly but actions like that tend to make you unpopular,” a senior officer said. Also, “collateral damage,” a euphemism for civilian casualties would increase dramatically if the ceasefire ended. More militants would be killed but more casualties among securitymen would also occur. “Even now, we are encountering the foreign militants but if there is a local Kashmiri Hizbul Mujahideen militant among them, we don’t spare him,” an official said. The Line of Control is now largely quiet with very little shelling going on but Army officials said the situation could persist till there is some political compromise. “Pakistan needs to show they have won a small victory. If the Hurriyat is allowed across, it may be a face-saving gesture for them. But it is all a political decision,” an officer said.