J&K militants root for Laden despite ISI
24 September 2001
The Times of India
SRINAGAR: Kashmiri militants have come out in full support of Osama bin-Laden for his anti-America and anti-Israel attitude despite Pakistan''s ostensible siding with the United States. The militants even rejected Pakistan''s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency''s whip for calling off Kashmir bandh on September 21, according to highly-placed sources. Even as the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairman, Abdul Gani Bhat, said that bin Laden was not even remotely related to the Kashmir struggle and the Kashmiri leadership could not put the entire Muslim population in trouble for one individual, around half-a- dozen Kashmir-based militant groups have come out in favor of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. This is because of the Taliban''s outlook of complete Islamisation in the region including Pakistan, according to Nayeem Khan, a senior separatist leader and former militant. Speaking to Times News Network on condition of anonymity, a senior Hurriyat leader also agreed that the local militants had sympathy for Afghanistan as they had lived there and acquired arms training in that country. Although the number of such Kashmiri militants was less, yet the groups they lead work under the influence of bin Laden''s preachings about a totally Islamic society, the Hurriyat leader added. The recent defiance by militants of the Hurriyat''s veto against the Kashmir bandh on September 21, was the manifestation of their mindset shaped in Afghanistan during their days of arms training, he said. About five local militant groups, other than Masood Azhar''s Jaish-e- Muhammad, had given a call for bandh to express, what they called, solidarity with Afghanistan and to convey anti-America feelings brewing here ever since the deputation of Afghan militants to fight in Kashmir. The APHC had rejected the militants'' call and advised people not to observe hartal on Friday last. Taking serious note of the Hurriyat stand against the bandh, militants forcibly imposed hartal in the entire Valley. Even though Pakistan had been supporting militancy in Kashmir but Kashmiri militants could not be compelled to behave according to the whims of the Pakistan rulers when it came to taking a stand against their Afghan brothers, who had been fighting with them here against the country for last one decade, said a Hizbul Mujahideen militant. The militant further said that the APHC, which was playing in the hands of Pakistan rulers, could not down play their feelings for Afghanistan and more particularly for the Taliban government. The Taliban government had been providing manpower besides importing large quantity of arms and ammunitions to them, the militant added. Annoyed with the Hurriyat''s stand, a militant group namely Jammu and Kashmir Islamic League threatened the Hurriyat chairman with assassination. According to sources, the Hurriyat leaders had received a call from the ISI a day before directing it to reject the bandh call given by handful of militants against the possible attack on Afghanistan by the US in the aftermath of terrorist attacks.