Pak Begins To Disarm Hizbul Mujahideen Camps In PoK
13 May 2003
The Indian Express
New Delhi: : In a move that signals its effort to address New Delhi's concern over terrorism, Islamabad has begun disarming Hizbul Mujahideen cadres at militant training camps in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. According to Home Ministry inputs, the Pakistani authorities have clamped down on Hizbul Mujahideen cadres at Tarbela and Haripur camps in Muzaffarabad and have asked the militants to deposit their weapons. This was picked up by the intelligence agencies after Richard Armitage's visit to Islamabad. According to sources, the Pakistani authorities have impressed upon the HM cadres not to carry arms in public in Muzaffarabad and deposit all their weapons. Hizbul, which has a significant percentage of indigenous Kashmiri youth, was designated as 'other terrorist group' by the US State department before Deputy Secretary of State Armitage's visit to the subcontinent. On his part, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf assured action on terrorist camps to Armitage last week. While the action against Hizbul is evident on the ground, New Delhi is monitoring a group of heavily guarded training camps of Lashkar-e- Toiba in Chelabandi near Muzaffarabad and Al Badr camps south of Chitral in the hinterland. Based on human and technical intelligence, the Home Ministry cannot confirm any clampdown on Chelabandi camps. The Home Ministry's assessment is that Pakistan is trying to make an effort to curb terrorism and is trying to distance the army or the ISI from the militants responsible for violence in the Valley. However, the Indian interpretation for the 'distancing or deniability factor' could be part of the Pakistani strategy to project a wedge between ISI and the militant operations. This, incidentally, was pointed out to Armitage during his meeting with Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and senior Intelligence officials. Pakistan Prime Minister Mir Zaffarullah Jamali, in his telephone conversation with Prime Minister Vajpayee last month, had said that Islamabad was facing terrorism in 'Azad Kashmir.' Another pointer to the Pakistani intentions is the downward trend of cross-border infiltration. The first quarterly figures, according to the Home Ministry's estimates, of the past three years show a definite decline in the numbers of militants crossing the Line of Control (LoC) into Jammu and Kashmir. While 489 militants crossed the LoC in the first quarter of 2001, the figures have gone down to 368 and 290 in 2002 and 2003 respectively. Last April, the infiltration figure stood at 141 but this April the number has gone down to 75. While New Delhi is encouraged by the positive signals from PoK, the general feeling is that Pakistan's true intentions will be revealed in its action against the LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed camps.