February 2008 News

Pakistan Uncertainty Has Kashmir Terrorists On The Run'

20 February 2008

New Delhi: Prolonged uncertainty over the situation in Pakistan, the drying up of logistical support from across the border and proactive operations by the security forces have seen them gain the upper hand over militants in Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said Wednesday. 'There is total confusion among the terrorist groups operating in Kashmir. There is a feeling of 'What will now happen to us'?' the sources said. This confusion stems from two factors. One is that Kashmir's separatists have welcomed the election result in Pakistan that has seen the complete rout of the former ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid that President Pervez Musharraf had totally backed. 'This has led to consternation within the militants' ranks as they are not too sure where they stand. There is anxiety over how the new Pakistan government will behave towards them,' the sources told IANS, quoting from intercepts by the intelligence agencies. 'There is also a feeling among (Kashmir's) militant groups that the Pakistani Army is losing its credibility. They (the militants) are angry with the army over its operations (against the Taliban and Al Qaeda) in the NWFP (North West Frontier Province) and for its lack of support to them,' the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The other factor is the almost total drying out of logistics support from across the border. Previously, the sources explained, arms, ammunition and money were 'stacked up' at the border and brought into Kashmir before the passes closed due to heavy winter snowfall. 'This time, the stacking did not happen,' the sources said. This has led to at least one instance of militant organisation attempting to purchase pistols from underground arms dealers in Kashmir. 'Never before have militants attempted to buy arms from the locals. Today, the militants are not only willing to pay but are also negotiating for a low price,' the sources pointed out. 'Perhaps the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence that India blames for supporting Kashmir's militants) had other priorities in the run-up to the (Feb 18 Pakistan) elections. Now, with a civilian government set to take power, the ISI is unlikely to resume its activities in a hurry,' the sources said. Proactive operations by the security forces had also forced the militant organisations on the backfoot. Giving figures, the sources pointed out that of the 126 incidents that occurred in January, the security forces had initiated 115 and the militants a mere 11. Till Feb 17, the security forces had initiated 45 of the 47 incidents that occurred against two by militant organisations. In terms of ratios, the Indian Army had initiated 3.3 incidents against every one of the militants. The ratio for January was 8:1 for the army. 'Everything else, there will be considerable western pressure on the new Pakistani government to cease its support for militancy in Kashmir, and also crackdown with more seriousness in NWFP,' the sources pointed out.

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