Saturday, July 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

ISI escort for Al-Qaida men
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
Despite repeated attempts by Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf to convince the world of Islamabad distancing itself from the Al-Qaida and not providing any logistical or financial support to it, strong evidence is available to the contrary.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been in constant touch with the Al-Qaida and providing its operatives with all kind of assistance to move about not only within the country but also to cross over into India. ISI officials are escorting the Al-Qaida operatives in their vehicles, helping them to move about freely in the country.

The killing earlier in the week of seven persons, including three from law enforcing agencies and four members of the Al-Qaida, in Kohat region clearly points to the ISI still providing all support to the terrorist group and the Taliban.

Reports reaching here suggest that the seven persons had been killed in an encounter with the local police. The incident had occurred at the Jarma checkpost on the Bannu road in North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. The three personnel of law enforcing agencies, who included a member of the ISI, were accompanying Al-Qaida operatives from Bannu to Peshawar.

The member of the secret service was identified as Havaldar Abdul Rauf Niazi. Incidentally, two more Al- Qaida men had managed to escape during the encounter.

The incident raises two pertinent questions, which also point to the clear involvement of the Pakistani regime in helping the Al-Qaida and the Taliban.

First, could Havaldar Niazi and the other two personnel be accompanying the Al-Qaida operatives without the knowledge of their superiors in the ISI? Secondly, could the ISI have been carrying out the operation with the knowledge of the military regime under which it worked? The answer to both the questions is ‘no’.

Intelligence reports here said thousands of Arab and Chechen militants had crossed over into Pakistan over the last five months. About 1,000 hardcore militants are said to be present in the highlands of north and south Waziristan in Pakistan.

The Taliban were now living comfortably in the border cities of Peshawar and Quetta and dozens of surviving Al -Qaida operatives had infiltrated into most of the major cities of Pakistan. There was also a fear that Al-Qaida operatives and their Pakistani sympathisers could spark off further tension between India and Pakistan.

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