Close these camps and end terrorism, says POK people
1 November 2000
New Delhi: The local population in several towns of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), earlier this week, came out on the streets demanding the immediate closure of militant training camps there. They also raised slogans like ''stop the atrocities, close these camps and end terrorism.'' This popular uprising against the militant training camps and internecine war amongst the so-called ''jehadi'' groups forced the junta to rush the elite Special Service Group(SSG) commandos to the POK. They were ordered to check the internecine war and brow beat the local population from protesting, analysts monitoring the militant groups said here on Wednesday. Protests were triggered off after two rival militant groups clashed in Kotli. A loyalist of Masood Sarfaraz group and an innocent bystander were killed in the gunfight. This saw the shopkeepers voluntarily downing their shutters and march to the local hospital where the postmortem of the two killed was underway. The protesters criticised the Jamaat-e-Islami leaders for creating terrorism in the POK, sources said. Various student bodies in another town Khuiretta also took out a procession demanding an end to the terrorist activities of the ISI. The students also condemned the junta for fomenting terrorism and insurgency in Kashmir by launching the so-called movement from the POK. The protesters openly said the Mujahideen, fighting to liberate Kashmir, were acting as terrorists in POK at the behest of the ISI, sources said. The agitators came out strongly against the machinations of the military regime and vowed to continue with their protests till such time terrorism unleashed by the ISI was ended in POK. The Jamaat-e-Islami, in a bid to control insurgency in Kashmir, recently announced the merger of all the factions of the Hizbul Mujahideen. The Jamaat also changed the top operational commanders of the various militant groups. This saw the commanders fighting gun wars amongst themselves to gain power, finances and weapons. In one instance the Amir of Jamaat Abdul Rashid Turabi forcibly installed Shamsher Khan as the head of the Pir Panjal Regiment of the Hizb replacing Masood Sarfaraz. He was reportedly removed from the command for financial irregularities, sources said. Sarfaraz''s men clashed with Shamsher Khan''s loyalist resulting in two casualties. The Pir Panjal Regiment comprises mostly foreign mercenaries and Afghan war veterans. These battle-hardened insurgents have stepped up militancy in the Poonch-Rajouri sector of India in the past few weeks. This sector provides a huge area for the militants to create mayhem. Moreover, the militants find it easier to sneak into India as the mountain passes in Poonch are not snow-bound even during the winter months, sources said. The honeymoon between the Jamaat and the Musharraf government, meanwhile, seemed to have ended. The Jamaat had now begun to openly criticise the junta, while at the same time attempting to consolidate its hold over various ''tanzeems.'' The Jammat went to the extent of saying people were not happy with the performance of the junta. The army should return to the barracks with dignity before the people forced it do so, the Jamaat leaders warned. General Musharraf was also rapped on the knuckles by the US based Human Rights Watch(HRW) report recently. The 20-page report released on October 9 accused the junta of widespread human rights abuses in the name of political reforms. The report urged General Musharraf to restore civilian rule immediately, sources said. The HRW also lambasted the Chief Executive of Pakistan for systematically destroying civil liberties in Pakistan. The HRW called on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Pakistan and urged to press for implementation of legal and administrative reforms, analysts said.