Pak army, Kashmir ultras natural allies
15 January 2002
Karachi: Pakistan''s ban on two terrorist groups will not affect the activities of separatists in India''s Jammu and Kashmir state, Online quotes a former spy master as saying. Hamid Gul, former chief of Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI), said the groups were ''natural allies'' of the Pakistan Army and in any conventional war with India would join hands with the armed forces, the news agency says. He said there would be no effect on what he termed the ''freedom movement'' in Jammu and Kashmir following the ban on the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e- Mohammad groups as they had a strong and indigenous network in the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf banned the two groups following intense pressure from the US to crack down on terrorist groups active in Pakistan. Both groups have been blamed for the attack on the Indian Parliament that killed nine people besides all five attackers. Gul admitted the ban was due to ''immense'' US pressure on Musharraf. ''There is no justification for banning the jehadi groups.The decision has been taken only to entertain the demand of the Bush administration. ''Now the ball is in America''s court. If it wants to stem the growing jehadi culture among Muslim youths, it has to put pressure on India for a solution of the Kashmir dispute,'' Gul said. ''If India does not desist from its current policies towards Pakistan, General Musharraf will have no other option but to declare jehad, which according him, only a state can declare,'' Gul contended. ''It is high time the U.S. and other Western powers seriously worked to resolve the lingering issue of Kashmir, besides putting pressure on India to withdraw its forces from the (Pakistan) borders,'' Gul said. He added: ''I don''t think Musharraf would go beyond the arrests of jehadi activists and sealing of their offices. In fact, he may step back but would not go forward. The arrested jehadi activists cannot be tried in any court as they have not violated any laws of the country.'' Pakistan denies Indian allegations that it arms and trains separatist groups fighting to end Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989 and insists it only gives them political, moral and diplomatic support. India and Pakistan dispute the ownership of Kashmir and control parts of the picturesque Himalayan state. The two countries have fought two of their three major wars in the past five decades over Kashmir. The alleged Pakistan support to terrorist groups in India is reportedly coordinated by the ISI. Gul, who is widely seen as bitterly anti- American, is a known supporter of militant groups active in India.