PoK Ban On 63 Militant Groups Eyewash, Say Security Analysts

3 April 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: With the government in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) calling the ban on over 60 militant organisations as a 'big development', security analysts in Kashmir describe it as mere symbolism, saying it will not have an impact on the restive state. The security analysts say the PoK government has left out militants groups operating in Kashmir and has banned only those groups which they accuse of sectarian violence in Pakistan. The PoK government has issued a notification banning 63 organisations, including the Al-Qaida and its affiliates Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. The Laskhar-e-Toiba, which has been operating in Kashmir for more than a decade, has also been banned. The PoK government has put the activities of the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) - the parent organisation of the Lashkar - under observation. The decision to keep the activities of the JuD, headed by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, under observation, comes almost three months after the Pakistan government banned the group. The ban, the PoK notification said, would come into effect from May 1 under the national action plan. The security establishment in Kashmir, however, claims that the ban had more to do with internal security concerns in PoK after the deadly attack on Peshawar's Army Public School. 'Had the PoK authorities acted against the United Jihad Council - a conglomerate of Kashmiri militant outfits headed by the Hizbul Mujahideen - it would have given an indication about their sincerity. They have not done so and it shows that they have not changed their policy toward Kashmir militancy,' said a senior police officer. 'The banning of 63 outfits will not make any difference in Kashmir,' he said. Security officers say that militant groups operating in Kashmir have their launching pads and training camps in PoK and the militants consider it a base camp for carrying operations here. They also believe that the PoK authorities have little role in militancy and that it is being run directly by Pakistan, its army and the ISI. The Lashkar remains the largest group, operating in Kashmir for the last eight years. The group strength of the outfit in Kashmir, sources said, was about 50 and most of them were foreign nationals. The outfit is known for introducing the fidayeen attack in Kashmir. A senior Army officer said the ban does not hint at a shift in policy by the PoK government towards militancy. 'Pakistan had earlier banned the JuD. But their men are roaming free and it shows that the latest ban will not have any impact on Kashmir,' he said. In January this year, the Army's top-most officer in Kashmir had termed the banning of the JuD by Pakistan as 'significant'.