Tuesday, October 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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Pak ex-soldiers ask Fernandes for pension
Turtuk (Leh), October 22
Sounds not less than a wonder, but this happened in this far-flung sector in the icy Himalayan terrain when two former Pakistani soldiers “stopped” Defence Minister George Fernandes and asked for pension from the government.

Threats to Lone, Maulvi Farooq
Jammu, October 22
Pakistani agencies encouraging terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and some hardliners have mounted pressure on some Hurriyat Conference leaders to force them to give up their moderate policies.


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Pak ex-soldiers ask Fernandes for pension

Turtuk (Leh), October 22
Sounds not less than a wonder, but this happened in this far-flung sector in the icy Himalayan terrain when two former Pakistani soldiers “stopped” Defence Minister George Fernandes and asked for pension from the government.

“Hazoor, hamara pension shru karva dijye (Sir, please start pension for us),” cried Ali Hassan and Abdul Rehman, both residents of Tykshi village in this sector.

Hassan and Rehman were enrolled in Karakuram regiment of the Pakistani army and had retired from it in 1970. However, on December 16, 1971, the area was taken back by the Indian Army leaving the two residents of the village without any source of income.

Interestingly, the Corps Commander of 14 Corps, Lieut-Gen Arjun Ray, had provided the sons of these two persons a job in the Ladakh Scouts.

Hassan had raised the matter with Union Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani, when he was on a visit here this summer.

“Advaniji had assured me that he would take up the matter with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, but nothing has happened so far,” a wrinkle-faced Hassan said.

“Ab agar woh humko pension nahi de rahe hain, to aap hi dijye (If Pakistan is not giving us the pension, then you give us),” Hassan told Mr Fernandes with folded hands and whispered in his ears “we are your countrymen.”

Acknowledging the fact that conditions in India are very good, Hassan said “they (Pakistan) did not care for us and used this village only as a piece of land. But India has developed this piece and provided employment to the youths of not only this village but several others.”

Speaking high of the Indian Army, both Hassan and Rehman said “at least they (Army men) provided some relief to us by recruiting our sons in the Ladakh Scouts and Guides.”

Habibullah Khan, son of Hassan, who was in the uniform, was specially called by Fernandes and patted on his back. “I feel very proud of serving my country and people,” said Khan.

The two sons of Rehman were at present undergoing training in Leh.

Rehman, who was even a PoW, said that he had been with the Karakuram regiment for three years but left the Pakistani army in 1971 after his native village, Turtuk, was taken back by the Indian Army.

“When I reached Kargil, I was detained and taken to Udhampur (Jammu region) for 10 months. After a decent interrogation, I was brought back to my native village and allowed to live like an Indian citizen,” Rehman said while narrating his story.

Rehman feels that state or the Union Government should provide them with some monthly relief if “not a pension.”

However, their prayer is unlikely to be granted and even the Defence Minister, after giving a patient hearing to the duo, remained non-commital. PTI
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Threats to Lone, Maulvi Farooq
M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu, October 22
Pakistani agencies encouraging terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and some hardliners have mounted pressure on some Hurriyat Conference leaders to force them to give up their moderate policies.

So far two senior Hurriyat leaders have received direct and indirect threats so that they follow only pro-Pakistan policies. Mr Abdul Gani Lone, chairman, Peoples Conference and senior Hurriyat Conference leader, has been threatened by the Al-Barq, a militant outfit, that if he (Lone) did not surrender to the outfit the assets that had come from across the border for giving teeth to the ongoing armed campaign against the Indian security forces and mainstream politicians, he would have to face dire consequences.

The threat has been circulated by Al-Barq commander-in-chief Farooq Qureshi from Pakistan despite the fact that its supremo Bilal Rahi had, last year, announced that there would be no link between Mr Lone and Al-Barq. Rahi had alleged that some arms and ammunition sent from Pakistan for equipping militants had been stored in the house of Mr Lone’s son Sajjad Lone. Mr Lone had refuted this allegation saying that he had no links with the Al-Barq and had not received any weapons.

But ISI sleuths swooped on Bilal Rahi and arrested him several months ago. Reports from across the border said large quantities of gold and currency notes worth more than Rs 4.5 crore had been recovered from him.

Reports said the fresh threat to Mr Lone had been stagemanaged by some hardliners in Pakistan because they felt Mr Lone’s moderate policy could weaken the ongoing anti-India campaign in Kashmir. These hardliners have fears that Mr Lone may participate in the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir sooner or later.

Another cause of irritation to hardliners in Pakistan is the recent article Mr Sajjad Lone, wrote in a Pakistan-based newspaper in which he supported the alliance forged between the Pakistan Government and the American administration in the US war against terrorist bases in Afghanistan. Mr Sajjad Lone went to the extent of urging people in Pakistan to support the Musharraf government and advised the Pakistan President to send those hardliners, who were opposed to the alliance, to Kandahar where they could fight against the US forces.

This statement has been taken as an affront by the hardliners and hence, Mr Lone has come under new threat from them.

Another senior Hurriyat leader and Chairman, Awami Action Committee, Maulvi Umar Farooq, has also received threats from some militant groups. That is why, the state government has not reduced the security cover provided to him.

Reports said Maulvi Farooq’s stand has become “unacceptable” to the hardliners across the border. These threats are being engineered by them to discourage some separatists who may be thinking of accepting the offer for talks from the Government of India. These hardliners do not want the Kashmiri separatists to change their pro-Pakistan stance and want them to stick to their demand of the incorporation of Kashmir into Pakistan.
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