March 2002 News

Jihadis announce return to past practice

27 March 2002
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak

New Delhi: In a dramatic turn of events the jihadi outfits and elements based in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) have triggered by far the most significant development with the announcement to return to past practices in Jammu and Kashmir. And yet another announcement Jihadis will not hesitate to revolt against the present regime in Pakistan led by Gen Parvez Musarraf if it continued to implement Washington''s policy against them. The announcement has come at a time when there are dissonant voices within Pakistan military establishment which say that the permanence of the policy shift towards jihadis is not assured. If the stories, carried by Pakistan''s influential publication, The News, over the past one week were to be believed, breakaway elements of five banned fundamentalist and terrorist outfits are planning a viollent drive to destablize the Musharraf regime. The publication, which significantly quoted unnamed senior Government officials in Islamabad, divulged that indications of such a drive became available after the questioning of dozens of suspected religious individuals who were arrested after the ban. In mid-January this year, Islamabad had proscribed the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Tehrik-e-Jafferiah and Tehrik Nifaz- e-Shariat-e-Mohammedi Gen Musharraf bad earlier banned the Harket-ul- Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. According to The News, those questioned had disclosed that underground factions of their groups were working together and separately to destabilize the ''pro-American Government'' in Pakistan. A document furnished to India''s Foreign Office from Washington has made a pointed reference to the dilemma Gen. Musharraf funds himself in following his ''US-dictated formula'' against fundamentalists. The document says that when assessing Gen. Musharraf''s predicament, many Pakistanis and foreign diplomats ''solembly mention'' Mr Anwar Sadar, the Egyptian leader, who was cut down by opponents of his policy of making peace with Israel. In an obvious reference to Pakistan''s Islamic militants, the document points out: ''There are people out in Pakistan who will like to see Gen Musharraf dead.'' The document has forecast that there will be ''more terrorist acts in Pakistan, if Omar Sheikh, the main suspect in the killing of the American journalist Daniel Pearl, is transferred to US custody.'' If Gen Musharraf does not surrender Omar Sheikh, it will create the impression that the Pak military ruler is giving in to threats of terrorism. The document has quoted a retired three-star General of Pak military, Kamal Matinuddin, as saying. ''There are religious elements who are not happy with Gen Musharraf and his support to the Americans and they will like to create a wedge between the Pak Government and the United States.'' Pakistanis Ministry of Interior has been reported to have confirmed that more than 5,000 religiously motivated Islamic rebels, trained in guerrilla warfare, are already registered with the five crore Sunni militant organisations in Pakistan. That Gen Musharraf wants to gradually change his rigid attitude towards Muslim rebels has become evident with his unexpected decision culminating in the release of Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader, Maulana Fazlur Rehman. These leaders of the two largest religio-political parties were arrested in October last after they had led anti-Government agitation against Islamabad''s ''pro-American policies.'' A section of the print media in Pakistan has been found to be of the view that the March 17 attack on a church in Islamabad is seen as a move by banned militant groups to strike back at the Musharraf Govenrment for the crackdown against Islamic rebels. Forthright is the assessment made by The News: ''While waving a white flag to the religio-political groups, it seemed that the Government has also extended an alive branch to the jihadi organisations.'' This kind of tactic has become an open secret following the circulation of reports in media and political circles across Pakistan and PoK that as no criminal charges have been levelled against several top jihadis, including the Jaish-e-Mohammed supremo, Maulana Masood Azhar, and the Lashkar-e-Toiba''s espirt de corps, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, they are going to be freed from places of their confinement.


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