March 2002 News

ISI not to dismantle Kashmir cell: Former chief

19 March 2002
The Times of India

ISLAMABAD: Discounting recent reports of ISI dismantling its Kashmir and Afghan detachments, its former chief Javed Ashraf Qazi has said the two controversial cells would continue to function within Pakistan''s premier intelligence agency as it needs to keep itself informed about the situation on the borders. Kashmir and Afghan cells would not be dismantled. They will remain working to keep the organisation abreast with the situation at the borders in the east and the west, Qazi, who is Federal Minister for Railways, told state-run Pakistan Television on Monday night.This is the first time Pakistan has publicly acknowledged the existance of the Kashmir cell in the ISI.A recent report in the Washington Post said the intelligence unit had begun dismantling its Afghan and Kashmir detachments as part of a reform process initiated by President Pervez Musharraf. The report was brushed off officially with mild denials but in private officials projected it as a move to gain more international acceptability as well as to prevent the ISI from emerging as a state within a state. But Qazi, who is part of the influential inner circle of Musharraf administration, squarely discounted such reports. Defending the need for ISI to maintain the two cells, the retired Lieutenant General said the Kashmir unit will remain working as its officials have to keep themselves familiar with the situation in Kashmir. ''After all, India has deployed seven lakh troops at the Kashmir border and it is the duty of the ISI to keep an eye on the movement of the Indian troops'', he said.


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