April 1998 News

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Taliban training Kashmiri militants

26th April 1998
PTI

NEW DELHI: As part of Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence's (ISI) new strategy in the face of mounting international pressure, the job of imparting weaponry training to Kashmiri militants has now been handed over to Afghan warlords, including Taliban, home ministry sources said on Sunday.

The regular Pakistani army has been forced to stay away from the training camps along the line of actual control (LoC) which have been converted into transit camps from where the militants are taken to North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan, the sources said.

A recently arrested militant (code name Hyder Bilal) said training camps along the border including Gadi Habib, Nowsheri, Nowsada, Kotla and Bimber had been converted into transit camps from where the would-be militants were shifted to Auttuck and Alaque Gher in NWFP.

He said the trainers - all Afghans - make the militants familiar with basic and jungle warfare.

The militants are also taken to higher reaches in Gilgit and Baltistan areas and kept there for days together where they have are forced to feed themselves on animal meat, he said.

Bilal said some Kashmiri boys, reluctant to eat such things, were even starved to death.

After completion of training, the Kashmiri militants are sent to fight along with the Talibans in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world, he said.

These jungle warfare tactics, according to sources, were adopted following the directive of ISI to militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir to shift to virgin peaks of the neighboring Himachal Pradesh.

The ISI had to pass these strictures to militants under pressure from army and security forces in the state.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's repeated claims of not providing arms training to militants were proved false when former chief of ISI Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Gul admitted he had issued direction to militants in Kashmir to widen their bases.

Lt Gen Gul said that in the past he had been advising the militants to restrict their activities within the Valley. "But now they should expand their bases outside as well," Pakistan English daily The News quoted Lt Gen Gul as saying.

Bilal, however, admitted that Pakistan was facing acute dearth of recruits for carrying on its barbaric acts in the Valley. Faced with serious depletion in the ranks of insurgents, the ISI has adopted another strategy of recruiting unemployed Afghan youths by force to fight the jehad (religious wars) in Kashmir.

Several foreign mercenaries who were arrested recently have reportedly confessed that they had ventured into Pakistan for a job, where they fell prey to ISI agents who lured them to training camps located in the NWFP.

The arrested Afghans said the ISI was not able to play the religion card anymore with Afghan youths as some of them on return from Kashmir had praised India for its secular policies.

They said a majority of Afghan youths forcefully trained at ISI- managed training camps prefer to surrender at the border.


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