ISI doubles cash for terror in J&K
27 December 2002
The Asian Age
New Delhi: Perturbed by Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s healing touch policy, which has generated hope in the state, Pakistan has framed a new strategy according to which it has virtually doubled the money the ISI was paying to different militant organisations. More significantly, the ISI has decided to provide relief money to the families of those militants who are killed by Indian security forces. While this decision was first taken in 1998 and families of some of the slain terrorists were paid Rs 18,000 per annum, the sum has now been raised to Rs 50,000. The interrogation reports of militants arrested in the last two months reveal that Kashmiri militants are the centrepiece of the Pakistani strategy. Under tremendous international pressure to stop cross-border terrorism, the ISI is once again motivating the over 4,000 Kashmiri militants who are lodged in various camps in Pakistan. Local militants help give the militancy an indigenous flavour and therefore take away some of the international pressure. In the last one year since the attack on the Indian Parliament, the Pakistan ISI had in a clever move just shifted the camps housing Kashmiris out of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to areas within the country, including Punjab and the North Western Frontier Province. The interrogation reports reveal that the lodging camps of as many as 4,000 Kashmiri militants were moved after the Kaluchak attack on May 14 this year when suicide bombers stormed the residential area housing families of Army personnel. Fearing the possibility of a strike by India, which had already positioned its troops on high alert after the attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001, the ISI moved in quickly to relocate the lodging camps. The idea, as a senior state police official involved in the interrogation told The Asian Age, was to keep the militants away from the prying eyes of the media and the diplomatic community; especially the Americans who are out there gathering intelligence on their own. The priority was to move the Kashmiris, and not the Pakistanis, for, as the officer disclosed, if Pakistanis were killed in any strike, the government could pass them off as locals but the killing of Kashmiris would have created an embarrassment for Gen. Pervez Musharraf and the ISI, who would then have to explain what these Kashmiris were doing on Pakistani soil. According to the arrested militants, 400 to 500 militants belonging to groups like Al Barq, Jamiat-ul Mujahideen, Tehrik-ul Mujahideen, Al Umar and the Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami were shifted from PoK to a factory located on the Haripur-Taxila Road in Punjab, Pakistan. Similarly, at least 2,000 militants belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen have also been shifted to camps in Taxila and in the North West Frontier Province. Most of the camps were shifted after May 27 when General Musharraf made his second televised speech under American pressure after Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Kaluchak and made threatening war noises. The first speech, on January 12, followed the attack on the Indian Parliament. But now that the troops are being withdrawn and are no longer eyeball to eyeball, the ISI is once again turning its attention to them. Foreign militants, mostly from Pakistan and Afghanistan, too, continue to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir but, unlike the Kashmiris, they are being instructed to not claim credit for acts of violence.