July 2002 News

Ours are mobile camps, says Hizb

31 July 2002
The Hindu
B Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD: A day after the United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has said that the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has given a commitment to deal with the issue of ''camps (militant camps?) in due course'', the chief of the United Jehad Council (UJC) and leader of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Syed Sallahuddin, has been quoted as saying that all the offices of the jehadi parties in Pak. occupied Kashmir (PoK) have been closed. The Pakistan based news agency, NNI, in a report has quoted the Hizb chief as saying that the jehadi (militant) organisations of the UJC have been directed to shift their offices to the Indian side of Kashmir.''Yes, the UJC has closed its all the offices, earlier also operating in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and there is no more office of any such organisation existing in the Pakistani side of Kashmir,'' the news agency said, quoting Sallahuddin. However, when contacted by The Hindu for comments, the spokesman of the Hizb, Salim Hashmi, said: ''There is no training camp in Pakistan or Azad Kashmir of our jehadi organisations. The question of their closure does not arise. Ours are mobile camps''. The militant outfits operating in Kashmir had in the past openly advertised about their offices in the PoK. The case of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba best illustrates the point. When it decided to wind up its operations from Pakistan and concentrate only in Kashmir, leaders of the outfit argued that they made no distinction between PoK and Kashmir as it was a disputed territory. In the last few months, ever since the focus of the international community had shifted to the activities of militant outfits in Pakistan, the Hizb chief made it a point to give press statements only from Muzaffarabad. Similarly all the statements of the UJC, a conglomerate of militant outfits, were from the PoK capital. The statement attributed to Sallahuddin and the clarification given by the Hizb spokesman assumes significance in the wake of the detailed briefing given by Mr. Powell to journalists, accompanying him on board his special aircraft, en-route to Bangkok after his visit to Pakistan. ''We talked about the camps and the best way to put the response is that they will be dealt with in due course. That will be reflected as the cross-border infiltration ends, the camps take on a different purpose. The important point though is that he reaffirmed the end of cross-border activity and reaffirmed it as a permanent decision that they have made, and not a tactical decision,'' Mr. Powell told reporters about his discussions with Gen. Musharraf. ''Not only did he give the assurance publicly when Andrea asked him, but in private, he was even more positive with respect to his commitment to ending all infiltration. ''. Ex-LeT chief not under detention: Pak. In an intriguing twist to the case involving the former chief of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafeez Mohammed Saeed, Pakistan today informed a Lahore court that he was not under detention. The Government gave the clarification in response to a direction by the court last week to explain the grounds on which he was being held under detention. The court directive came after the wife of Hafiz Mohammed Saeed demanded that her husband be released or produced in court. Saeed''s lawyer, Nazir Ahmad Ghazi, accused the Government on Wednesday of concealing facts in the case. ''The family of Saeed is extremely worried about his well-being,'' Mr. Ghazi told the court. He requested the judge to order the Government to produce him in court. The case has been posted to August 2 for the next hearing. Prof. Saeed was taken into custody following the December 13 Parliament attack and held for three months. He was released in April and reportedly arrested again in May. The Government had not contradicted reports in the media about the re-arrest of Prof. Saeed. In April, he was released on court orders. The Musharraf Government arrested Prof. Saeed, days after the December 13 attack on Parliament, under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO), on the charges of making inflammatory speeches. The Pakistan Government insisted that the arrest of Prof. Saeed along with others like the chief of the proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammad, Masood Azar, had nothing to do with India''s charges of involvement in the December 13 attack. Notwithstanding the stated position of the Pakistan Government, the detention of both Prof. Saeed and Maulana Masood Mazar (one of the three militants released by India in December 1999 in exchange for the freedom of the passengers on board a hijacked plane), was seen as a response to pressure from the U.S. and India. A court ordered the release of Prof. Saeed, as the Pakistan Government did not book him under any specific charge.


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