Wednesday, March 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

ISI links worry India
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 6
As Pakistan-backed militant groups are stepping up terrorist activities in the Kashmir valley in utter disregard to the unilateral ceasefire announced by the government, the possible links with the ISI of some Pakistani nationals staying illegally in the country is a cause of major concern.

Over 3,000 Pakistani nationals were reported to be “untraced” as on October 31, 2000, despite the Centre asking the state governments and union territories’ administration to launch special drives to detect the Pakistani nationals staying illegally in the country for their immediate deportation.

According to information available from the Union Home Ministry, as on October 31, 2000, 12,505 Pakistani nationals were staying illegally in the country. Of these, 9,302 were overstaying and 3,203 were reported to be untraced.

While Maharashtra accounted for 1,879 untraced Pakistani nationals, 383 have been reported missing in Uttar Pradesh, 364 in West Bengal, 226 in Madhya Pradesh, 106 in Kerala, 85 in Delhi, 75 in Rajasthan, 37 in Bihar, 19 in Tamil Nadu, nine in Gujarat, eight each in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and four in Jammu and Kashmir.

In Haryana and Punjab, Pakistani nationals numbering 410 and 178, respectively, have been reported to be overstaying.

“The possibility of some of these (overstaying and missing Pakistani nationals) having links with the ISI cannot be ruled out as during the past three years 105 Pakistani nationals, having ISI links, were arrested in the country,” a senior Home Ministry official said.

While 38 Pakistani nationals having links with the ISI were arrested in 1998, 40 were nabbed in 1999 and 27 last year.

The powers under Section 3(2)(c) of the Foreigners Act, 1946, to detect and deport foreign nationals staying in India unauthorisedly have been entrusted to the state governments and union territory administrations.

Besides, administrative instructions are issued to them from time to time to launch special drives to detect Pakistani nationals staying illegally in the country for their immediate deportation.

According to Home Ministry officials, the Centre has been sensitising the state governments about the threat perception and the movement of ISI agents/activities.

Periodic coordination meetings are also held with the state governments for sharing the inputs from various quarters as well as for devising strategies to counter such activities.


5 lakh jehadis in Pak: PoK leader
Trevor Barnard

London, March 6
In an extraordinary revelation, a leader of occupied Kashmir (PoK), who resides here, has said that on a “very conservative estimate” there are “half a million trained men” belonging to various Islamic sects in Pakistan.

In an interview with ANI Television, Shjabir Choudhry disclosed that in Pakistan, there were armed groups “recruited, organised and trained by different religious groups”.

As you know in Islam, there are different sects. Each sect has its army of trained men, and one very conservative estimate puts the figure at half a million of these trained men”.

Mr Choudhry was asked if he shared former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s concern over the growth of what she called the “parallel army in Pakistan”. This concern was voiced by Benazir in a television interview here last month.

Mr Choudhry made it clear that he had opposed Benazir’s Pakistan People’s Party, but conceded that on this issue of parallel army, “I have to agree with her”.

Speaking on the activities of militant religious groups, the PoK leader said “these jehadi groups have a different agenda.... religion and jehad are used by these organisations and people are emotional about these issues”.

Mr Choudhry said “even speaking about them and a little bit of criticism, you are inviting trouble. You are asking for trouble because they do not want interpretation of jehad and Islam. And they are so powerful that even the military government is having problems in coping with them”.

In another disclosure, Mr Choudhry referred to the recent arrest of many political workers and demonstrators in Islamabad over their protests against the arrest of journalists and extension of the Mangla Dam and said the military regime in Pakistan did not want to see that the people of Gilgit and “azad” Kashmir did not align with each other.

While some of the political activists belonging to 14 different groups were released next day, the Islamabad police detained others with some discrimination. “Pakistani authorities want to ensure that people of Gilgit and “azad” Kashmir do not align with each other”.

Q: There have been reports of increased sectarian violence between the Sunnis and the Shias in “azad Kashmir” and the western areas. Some believe that this violence is being deliberately provoked by Pakistan. What is your comment on that?

Ans: The authorities are always trying to divide and rule. Sectarianism is always used as a trump card to ensure that people of the area are divided and they cannot unite on any issue. This sectarianism is more so Gilgit Baltistan. You mention the Sunnis and the Shias. We do not have that problem in “azad Kashmir”. We have different kinds of problems in “azad Kashmir” and different tactics used fort “azad Kashmir” and different tactics used for Gilgit Baltistan.

Of course, the authorities would not like people of Gilgit Baltistan and azad Kashmir to get together. Because if they do, that means they would be asking for their rights, not only democratic rights but also asking for the unification and independence of the state. The Pakistani authorities would very much like the attention to be on the Indian side of Kashmir.

When they talk about deliberation, or independence of Kashmir, or human rights violations in Kashmir, they always want to talk about areas that are on that side of the LoC.

But what we say is that we are fighting for a united and independent Kashmir, which, of course, includes areas of Gilgit Baltistan and azad Kashmir.

Q: Why is it that militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba are setting up camps in Gilgit Baltistan? Is this region becoming a centre for jehad?

Ans: Well, these jehadi groups have a different agenda. Let me explain this. Jehad is a very noble concept in Islam. Unfortunately, the concept has been misused; people are using that to project their own agenda and they are using it for their own purposes as well.

We want an independent united Kashmir. Our purpose is that Kashmir is united and it becomes independent and if Kashmiri people are given a choice to determine their own future, we are not interested in destroying the Delhi Government. We are neither interested in destroying the Islamabad government nor any government for that matter. But all these jehadi groups are saying we want to destroy the Delhi Government. We want to have their own flag on the Red Fort and then they’ll go further. They say we want to have the flag on the White House!

Mr Choudhry said “we can all co-exist provided the Kashmir issue is resolved. Their (jehadi) issue is that they don’t want to resolve the issue on their agenda. They don’t want to resolve the issue, but to destroy the Indian Government. We don’t want to be part of that ongoing struggle. Our struggle is for the unification and independence of the state and once that is achieved we can all co-exist in south Asia and work for the stability and prosperity of the area.

Q: How would you describe the stance of the political leaders in “azad Kashmir” and the northern areas on the prospects of talks between India and Pakistan about Kashmir? I mean, what do they think about it?

Ans: Well, there are two sides to this. People of Gilgit Baltistan and “azad Kashmir”. The leaders, they are in favour of peaceful resolution of Kashmir. I would say that some of them would like Kashmir to become part of Pakistan. Others would like a united and independent Kashmir. But increasingly now, Kashmiri people, people from “azad Kashmir” and Gilgit Baltistan are saying that they should be part of the negotiation process.

Previously, people were saying that Gilgit Baltistan, I mean some people were saying that Gilgit Baltistan should be left out of the process. And now increasingly there is a demand that people of Gilgit Baltistan and “azad Kashmir” should be taken into confidence.

Q: well, let’s take a specific point: if the talks between India and Pakistan happen and if it leads to an agreement then the Line of Control becomes what’s being called a soft border between the two countries. If that were to come about, would the people of “azad Kashmir” and the northern area accept it?

Ans: See all these sacrifices and all these fights and struggles were not for some kind of a soft border. The struggle was for the unification and independence of the state. Even those people who were not in favour of an independent Kashmir wanted a united Kashmir. So any solution which leads to the division of the state will not be accepted and I’m sure this will have an adverse effect. How can India and Pakistan on their own take a decision which affects thousands and thousands of lives. In fact, more than 13 million Kashmiris are going to be affected.

Q: There have been reports of settlers from outside moving into the northern areas of Kashmir. Is this being encouraged by Pakistan to change the demography of the state?

Ans: Well, I have heard that some people have moved in not only into Gilgit Baltistan, but also into parts of “azad Kashmir”. This trend is not supported by us and we think it can have adverse effects on Kashmir.

Q: At the time of the Kargil episode, one of the units that apparently played a big part was the Northern Light Infantry, which is from Gilgit Baltistan. What is the situation with the NLI now?

Ans: Well, I don’t have a specific information on the strength of this, but one thing is for sure that at the time of Kargil, when bodies were coming to that area, the local people were really up against it and they were saying so and, in fact, on a number of occasions and a number of places the army intervened. ANI

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