Sunday, February 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India





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TRIBUNE SPECIAL
ISIís strategy on Kashmir backfires
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 1
Pakistanís Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) embarked on a multi-pronged strategy on operational, political and diplomatic levels late last year to give a fillip to militancy in Jammu and Kashmir with a higher level of deniability.

However, the strategy has failed to take off.

Authoritative sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs here told The Tribune today that the ISI had issued directives late last year to the All-party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) to reorganise itself, replace the ageing leadership with young blood and set up its offices abroad (with ISI help) so that the Pakistani diplomats need not issue statements on Kashmir and this task is performed by the APHC.

The ISI directives with regard to the APHC are summarised below:

* Remove Mr Abdul Ghani Bhatt as Hurriyat Chairman and replace him with Mirwaiz Omar Farooq.

* Induct into the APHC Executive Council fringe groups like Democratic Peopleís Movement, formerly known as Islamic Studentsí League, Anzuman-e-Sher-e-Shian, Muslim League and the Saidullah Tantrey-led J&K Freedom Movement to widen the political base and representation of the APHC.

* Remove Yasin Malik from the top position of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which favours independence of Kashmir and opposes Kashmirís merger in India or Pakistan, and appoint a ďmore amiableĒ person as JKLF Chairman.

* Re-admit into the APHC Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP) leader Shabbir Shah.

* Set up APHC offices abroad to give high profile to the APHC and internationalise the Kashmir issue in a more effective manner. The ISI even identified the prospective foreign offices of APHC and offered its financial and logistic support for the purpose. It suggested Ghulam Nabi Faiís office of Kashmir American Council in the USA and Ayub Thakurís office of his NGO Mercy International in UK as some of the foreign addresses.

None of the ISI diktats mentioned above could materialise as the APHC declined to do the ISI bidding for one reason or the other. For example, the APHC turned down the suggestion and promised support for setting up branches abroad saying that such a move would dilute its own importance.

On the operational level, the ISI ordered that al killings henceforth should be attributed to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) so that it can be projected to the world that terrorism in Kashmir is purely indigenous.

To take care of deep chasm between the Pakistan-chapter of HuM led by Salahuddin and the Indian-chapter led by Abdul Majid Dar, the ISI segregated them into four newly-made camps in PoK in November last year. These camps were set up in Taxila, Boi, Garhi Habibullah and Tarbala Ghazi. But this move also backfired as a series of bloody clashes took place between the two factions nonetheless and the ISI was forced to abandon these camps in December. After this, the HuM terrorists were accomodated in two new camps in Mirpur and Muzaffarabad. Following these clashes the status of Majid Dar was enhanced.

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