September 2004 News

Pakistan Opens Kashmir 'jihadi Tap' Halfway -India

3 September 2004

Srinagar: Pakistan is continuing to send militants into Indian-held Kashmir to support an insurgency there, but at lower levels than in the past, Indian intelligence sources and military officials said on Friday. Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh plans to discuss cross-border violence when he meets his counterpart Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri for talks in New Delhi on Sunday aimed at reinvigorating the fragile peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbours. India complains that Pakistan has not kept its promise to end support for militants and close down training camps, undermining that peace process. The United States has also asked Islamabad to do more to end support for Kashmiri militant groups, but Pakistan says India's allegations are 'baseless'. An intelligence source told Reuters in New Delhi that Pakistan had clamped down heavily on infiltration by 'jihadis' (holy warriors) into Indian Kashmir in the first five months of this year. But intense pressure from militant groups desperate to replenish their numbers forced Islamabad to turn the 'jihadi tap' back on in June and July, he said. Infiltration has again fallen in August in the face of Indian and international criticism and in the run-up to this weekend's talks, he said. In Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, military officials said more than 270 militants crossed into the Kashmir Valley from Pakistan in the first seven months of the year, compared to 560 in the same period last year. 'People are still crossing over,' K. Srinivasan, deputy inspector general of India's Border Security Force told Reuters. 'But it is lower than last year.' 'Training (in Pakistani Kashmir) is going on, training camps are active,' Srinivasan said. 'I have the human intelligence, I have the electronic intelligence to substantiate that those people are... supported by the authorities.' Officials said the militants appeared to have been well trained and instructed in using wire cutters and rubber tubes to cross a 10 feet (three metre) high fence which India has built along most of the Line of Control. The fence was not impregnable but more militants were caught crossing over than in the past, the intelligence source said. Pakistan fears that India would not enter into serious negotiations over Kashmir if Islamabad abandoned the militants and lost its biggest bargaining chip, analysts say. PRESSURE ON MILITANTS India has had some success this year in killing or capturing senior commanders from various militant groups fighting its rule. Militant sources in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan- held Kashmir, have also complained of 'tremendous pressure' from Pakistani authorities not to cross the Line of Control. 'The situation is going from bad to worse for us,' the leader of one militant group told Reuters. 'They (Pakistanis) tell us that the idea of jihad is no longer acceptable in the world.' Nevertheless militants said they had not abandoned their campaign in Indian Kashmir. 'We do send mujahideen ... sometimes our attempts succeed but sometimes do not,' said a militant commander. 'We have no other option but to fight because we don't see any sincerity on the part of India to resolve this issue. It is a moment of trial for us but we will go forward.'


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