Militant infiltration into Kashmir increased three-fold: Azad
24 September 2006
Indo-Asian News Service
Brussels : Visiting Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said that while the peace process between India and Pakistan was progressing well, militant infiltration into his border state had increased three-fold in the last few months.Azad, who was here to meet officials of the European Parliament, said cross-border terrorism had been thrust upon India and that India wanted European parliamentarians to know what was happening in his state.Noting that the situation in his state was improving fast, he said: 'But the most unfortunate thing is that infiltration from the Pakistani side has increased three-folds in the last three, four months. 'While on one side the confidence-building measures are going on, while the talks are going on between the prime minister of India and the Pakistani President General Musharraf, bus services have started, trade is going to start very near in the future, while all these things are continuing there is no need on the part of Pakistan to increase infiltration. That is worrying.'In an interview to INEP agency, he said that the purpose of his visit was to brief the European parliamentarians about the current situation in his state - how it was dealing with militancy and cross-border terrorism.Azad held meetings with European Parliament President Josep Borrell, foreign relations committee chair Elmar Brok and a number of other Eurodeputies during his two-day visit here last week.According to him, nearly 21,000 Kashmiris, including innocent women and children, had lost their lives in Kashmir since cross-border terrorism started 17 years ago.'Out of the number of militants killed 4,000 were foreigners, including 3,800 Pakistanis and from POK (Pakistan- occupied Kashmir) and among the other 200 there were some Afghanis who also came from Pakistan,' he said.On Pakistan's charge that Muslims in India were suffering and were deprived of their rights, Azad said: 'We are far happier. I am also a Muslim. I have been a member of the (Indian) parliament for 26 years.'Noting that he fought elections not from his home constituency but from Maharashtra where he defeated a Hindu candidate, Azad added: 'This can happen only in India. We have secularism in India. There is nothing like Hindus and Muslims. There are bad people in every society, every country, every region. Muslims in India are living in harmony and in close coordination with their Hindu brethren.'The chief minister said: 'It is a total illusion if somebody says that Kashmiri Muslims want Pakistan. This is complete nonsense. Nobody in Kashmir wants Pakistan. Unlike Pakistan, we have a very vibrant democracy. We have fair elections in Kashmir every six years.'Azad expressed his happiness that that the government of India has started a reconstruction programme in Jammu and Kashmir as the infrastructure had totally collapsed because terrorists had destroyed buildings, schools, hospitals and bridges. He was invited by a British MEP of Indian origin, Neena Gill, who chairs the delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia and the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in the European Parliament.