February 2002 News

Pak. stand on terrorism embarrasses Hizb

16 February 2002
The Hindu

Chennai: As a spin-off from the international anti-terror campaign spearheaded by the U.S., Pakistan-supported jehadi groups and radical pro- Pakistan militant organisations such as the Hizb-ul- Mujahideen in Jammu and Kashmir, are today finding themselves in a state of confusion. Security analysts feel that Pakistan Government''s stand against all forms of terrorism and crackdown on some of the organisations have only added to the embarrassment of the jehadi groups and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, founded in 1989 as the militant wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a social-religious organisation. The Hizb was set up to counter the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), a secular terrorist outfit with an indigenous cadre base. After the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, banned the Lashkar-e- Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad on January 12, the jehadi organisations may soon face the paucity of funds and weapons. Though the Government officials who are involved with the hands-on security related jobs in Jammu and Kashmir say any reduction in the level of infiltration from across the border as well in the scale of violence could only be gauged during summer. Till then, terrorist groups could well feel the heat of their financial helpline drying up, sources say. Analysts said Syed Salahuddin, Hizb chief based in Pakistan, had recently held meetings of the outfit''s cadre in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and other places in Pakistan but the cadre appeared confused over what to do next in Jammu and Kashmir where inclination of several outfits seems to be finding a ''Kashmiri solution'' to usher in peace in the State. As the Hizb has always stood for the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan, it finds the situation peculiar, particularly when Gen. Musharraf has declared that while Pakistan would continue its moral and political support to the Kashmir movement, no individual or organisation would be allowed to indulge in acts of terrorism in the name of Kashmir. As the Hizb continued its promotion of Pakistani agenda in Jammu and Kashmir, it also killed several moderate Kashmiris in its bid to control and dominate the insurgency in the State. Earlier, the nature of its terror campaign indicated that the group received support, training and arms from Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) but intelligence sources suspect that ISI took a strategic shift in its stand to support and promote the Jaish-e-Mohammad. Sources say it could be because the Hizb has of late shown a tendency to tilt towards political approach. The outfit''s ceasefire move in July- August 2000 had brought a hope of a breakthrough in Kashmir problem when it had expressed its willingness to participate in talks with the Centre but the rejection by other terrorist outfits and the Muttahid Jihad Council (MJC) - an umbrella body of 17 Pakistan-based terrorist outfits - changed all that and over the past two years a new phenomenon of ''fidayeen'' (suicide attacks) has marked yet another phase in terrorism. It was the penetration of the Hizb in Jammu and Kashmir and its cadre base drawn from indigenous and foreign sources that had made it an effective terrorist group in striking all over the State at regular intervals. It remains the only group since 1994 after the JKLF of Yaseen Malik to have declared a ceasefire. At a time when the Lashkar and the Jaish have declared, for the benefit of the international community, that their operations would be confined to Jammu and Kashmir only and not elsewhere in the country, analysts say that ground signals would need to be watched carefully in Kashmir in the days to come, particularly so when the State is slated to go to the polls later this year.


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