September 2001 News

J&K rebels returning to Pak for war against US

20 September 2001
The Asian Age
Binoo Joshi

Srinagar: Mercenary rebels operating in Jammu and Kashmir have begun returning to Pakistan to prepare for a jihad if the US strikes at Afghanistan, official sources said. The security forces have begun receiving reports that foreign mercenaries — mainly Afghans, Pakistans and a smattering of Arab — of almost all the major outfits operating in the state- Al -Badar, Laskhar -e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are heading for Pakistan. “This is primarily on two counts,” a senior Army officer said speaking on conditions of anonymity. “These groups feel that Afghanistan is in danger and needs to be protected against the onslaught of America and other western countries that have come together in their fight against international terrorism.” The officer was not sure of the exact number of foreign militants who have returned but said that “some have left and many more are preparing to leave.” Rough estimates with the police and the Army indicate that more than 2,000 foreign guerrillas are active in the state, which has been witness to increasing numbers of Afghan and Pakistani militants in the past seven years. The officer said that Afghans and Pakistanis had begun infiltrating into Kashmir since late 1994 on the instructions of the Inter- Services Intelligence Agency “after it was discovered that Kashmiri militants had lost the stamina to fight and had started surrendering to Indian security forces” More than 3,000 Kashmiri militants have surrendered till date, figures with the state government show. After last week’s terror strikes in the US., these foreign militants has been asked to return “as their presence could prove harmful to the interests of Pakistan,” the officer said. “Any major encounter that leaves Afghans and Pakistanis dead would fly in the face of Pakistan, that has been insisting that militancy in Kashmir was the outcome of an indigenous insurgency,”the officer said. “Pakistan at this stage doesn’t want t take any chances,”he said, pointing to President Pervez Musharaf’s televised address on Wednesday night during which he spoke of “Indian designs to get Pakistan declared a terrorist state.” Even so, the officer cautioned, “the ISI is still playing it’s game” because Kashmiri militants have began returning in large numbers. “The people who used to serve as guides and informers for foreign militants are coming to the security agencies and giving vital details about the movements of the Kashmiri militants,” the officer said. “There is a plot behind it,” he contended, arguing that “gun battles in which Kashmiri militants were killed would serve to prove Pakistan’s point that what was happening in the Valley is an indigenous movement.“


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