'Pakistan Trained Us,' Rebel Says
16 June 2005
Muzaffarabad: A separatist leader based in Pakistani-administered Kashmir has alleged that Kashmiri militants were initially trained by Pakistan's intelligence agency - the ISI - in the late 1980s. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Amanullah Khan says the move had the blessings of Pakistan's then military ruler General Zia ul-Haq. His allegations are made in a new edition of his book Continuous Struggle, which was first published in 1992. The new allegations come amid a resurgent controversy over Pakistan's alleged role in abetting Kashmiri militants. Pakistan has for years denied Indian allegations of helping armed separatists. The new edition of the book is yet to be published but the BBC News website was able to secure extracts of the book. It contains the most hard-hitting account of Pakistan's alleged involvement in the Kashmir insurgency from a Pakistan-based Kashmiri leader so far. Deal struck The JKLF was the first group to take up arms against Indian rule in 1988, with the aim of securing independence. I remember thinking that Gen Zia had said he wanted Kashmir to be a part of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), which clearly meant an independent Kashmir Amanullah Khan Mr Khan says the ISI first made contact with the JKLF in early 1987, through the organisation's senior leader Farooq Haider. He says Mr Haider made a deal with the ISI whereby the JKLF was to bring young Kashmiris willing to fight Indian rule to Pakistan-administered Kashmir. They would then be given military training and arms by the ISI, he says. The objective was to start an insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir. Mr Khan says he was not a part of the deal at the time it was made, but went ahead with it because the JKLF was told that 'General Zia ul-Haq's ideology was similar to that of the JKLF.' The JKLF was told the move had Zia ul- Haq's blessings 'I remember thinking that Gen Zia had said he wanted Kashmir to be a part of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), which clearly meant an independent Kashmir. 'So I went ahead with the deal.' Another reason for accepting the offer was that two previous attempts by the JKLF at starting an insurgency had failed for want of 'external support', Mr Khan adds. No interference According to Mr Khan, the JKLF was told by the then chief of the ISI, General Akhtar Abdur Rehman, that the ISI would not interfere with the JKLF's ideology. 'I was told by Brigadier Farooq of the ISI that the agency would lend us unconditional support as directed by General Zia ul-Haq,' he says. The insurgency broke out in 1988 'He also said the ISI would not intervene in JKLF's organisational matters.' Mr Khan says it was also agreed that no JKLF leader 'engaged at the political and diplomatic front' would accept money in cash from the ISI. It was a verbal agreement, he says. The first batch of eight young fighters from Indian-administered Kashmir were said to have reached Pakistan-administered side in February 1988. They were given military training and weapons by the ISI and sent back with instructions not to start anything until they were given a green signal from Pakistan, Mr Khan writes. Insurgency Mr Khan then says that three separatist leaders, Mohammed Afzal, Ghulam Hasan Lone and Ghulam Nabi Bhatt were called to the Pakistan side in June 1988. 'After lengthy deliberations, we asked them to start the insurgency on 13 July, 1988. 'But for some reason, the insurgency could not begin before 31 July when the Amar Singh Club and the central post and telegraph office in Srinagar were bombed.' Mr Khan gives 'credit for the first action' to six militants - Humayun Azad, Javed Jehangir, Shabbir Ahmed Guru, Arshad Kol, Ghulam Qadir and Mohammed Rafiq. 'After that, there was an endless stream of militants coming into Azad [Pakistan-administered] Kashmir.' Mr Khan says the JKLF parted ways with the ISI in early 1990 when the ISI demanded that one of its officers be allowed to attend the JKLF meetings 'as an observer'.