Friday, September 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Lashkar fears elimination
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
In a development of far-reaching importance to Islamabad’s ongoing proxy war against India, militants belonging to two of the hyperactive and most ruthless outfits — Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) — have gone into hiding fearing they may be eliminated at the behest of Pakistan.

Well-placed sources here told ‘The Tribune’ this evening that against the backdrop of rapidly changing strategic scenario in the neighbourhood in the wake of September 11 terrorist attacks on the USA, LeT and JeM outfits had fallen out with their hitherto masters — Pakistan Army and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

LeT and JeM have taken a rabidly pro-Taliban stand and have categorically told Pakistani authorities that they would not tolerate Pakistan leaving the Taliban regime in the lurch in their hour of crisis. These outfits have warned Pakistan that they would be forced to turn their guns on Pakistan itself if it were to give any assistance to the USA in its reprisal attacks on Afghanistan.

These outfits fear that their cadres may be eliminated in much the same way by the ISI as the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) cadres were by the Hizbul Mujahideen a decade back. The JKLF died as a militant outfit because of these ISI-engineered attacks.

The fear of these outfits is that the ISI could leak intelligence about their movements to rival militant outfits like Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and get them eliminated in a systematic manner. Outfits like LeT and JeM primarily comprise foreign militants while Hizbul Mujahideen is dominated  by local Kashmiris. Because of these fears, cadres of LeT and JeM have gone into hiding and are believed to be scattered in places like Rajouri, Poonch, Doda and the Pir Panjal ranges.

At present an estimated 3500 hardcore militants are present in Jammu and Kashmir. Hizb-ul-Mujahidden militants number about 1500, while LeT has some 800 and JeM between 400 and 500. Rest of the militants are drawn from ‘tanzeems’ like Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Al Badr and others.

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