Pak Keeping Jehadis As Backup For Peace Talks
27 May 2003
Islamabad: Pakistan is preparing to flood Kashmir with jehadis if the current peace initiative with India fails, according to a US-based news Website. The South Asia Tribune (www.satribune.com), run by Shaheen Shebai, former editor of The News daily, noted that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf continued to believe that India called the Agra summit in July 2001 because of jehadi violence in Kashmir. Quoting unnamed observers in Islamabad, the report said Musharraf believed a surge in insurgency would force New Delhi back to the negotiating table if the current peace efforts failed. Quoting senior Pakistani officials, it said the bulk of the militants to be sent across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir would be drawn from the Lashker-e-Taiba. Pakistani officials said they were preparing the ground for waves of suicide bombers and fidayeen attacks in the Kashmir Valley. 'Lashker will be the frontline jehadi group,' the report said, adding that Islamabad was depending on the outfit for a number of reasons. 'Pakistan is avoiding using the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) because it is tainted with links to Al-Qaeda and is being closely watched by Washington. Islamabad also sees JeM leader Masood Azhar as too independent and as becoming too powerful. 'The authorities are moving to sideline him. Azhar's attempts to go to PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) are reportedly being instigated by groups within the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) who fear Jaish is losing out to Lashker,' the Website said. It pointed out that the Kashmir-based Hizbul Mujahideen had almost ceased to be a fighting force following the murder of its former military commander Abdul Majid Dar.'Syed Salahuddin's faction in the Hizb is now little more than a logistics agency for Lashker. Its role in any summer flare-up will be providing guides and porters,' the report added. It stated that Lashker, which has been nurtured by ISI, is more amenable to Islamabad's control than Jaish. After it changed its name, Lashker moved its camps and offices from Punjab to Sindh. Islamabad has also begun working with lower level Lashker leaders, rather than those known to the US. 'Jehadi watchers say Hafeez Saeed will be the pointman if Kashmir burns this summer. He is close to the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA - the coalition of six Islamic fundamentalist groups in Parliament), ISI and in the good books of Islamabad.' Saeed is the current military commander of the Hizb in Jammu and Kashmir. It noted Saeed's rejection of the peace initiative in a rally in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan administered Kashmir, on Wednesday. 'The solution lies in jehad, not in dialogue,' he said. Another rising force is Hamid Gul, who is serving as Saeed's advisor. His influence is being seen in Lashker's increasingly virulent attacks against the US. 'Gul was never out of favour with Islamabad. He just kept a low profile because of US pressure,' the report said.