By B. Raman
Quoting local political sources in Jammu & Kashmir, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported in its web site on May 14,2010, that terrorists ( it calls them as always militants) have regrouped in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK).
It quoted Mr.Arif Shahid, Secretary-General of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA), as saying as follows: ” Jihadi activities have been restarted during the last few weeks.Most of the activities are concentrated in the Neelum Valley along the Line of Control.Militants were based there in large numbers and have set up camps in the area. The men are not locals – they have long hair and beards. Most do not speak the local language.”
The BBC added that local citizens in the Neelum Valley told it much the same thing. It quoted a local resident as saying: “We are scared.The armed men are moving around the area and are trying to cross the border. We can make out from their appearances and languages they are not from any part of Kashmir.”
Mr Shahid said that he believed that the militants were planning to sabotage the ongoing Pakistan-India peace negotiations. He added: “They have set up camps in the region and many are crossing the border.This is the start of another proxy war.”
According to the BBC, Mr.Shahid’s comments were corroborated by Shaukat Maqbool Bhat, head of the anti-Indian Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF).Bhat told the BBC: “The fighters are there and they are regularly crossing into India.The local people are very scared – they believe the [militant] crossings are going to restart artillery exchanges between the Pakistani and Indian armies.”
An ominous part of the BBC report is the claim that the people who are re-grouping in the POK do not seem to be locals and speak a different language. Generally, Pakistani terrorists trained and infiltrated into J&K from the POK speak either one of the Kashmiri dialects or Punjabi. The local residents can identify both. The fact that the BBC’s sources have not been able to identify the language spoken by the people re-grouping in the POK would indicate that these persons could be Pashtuns recruited either by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or one of the Punjabi Taliban organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri, which used to be a wing of the HUJI, the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) or the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM).
Pakistan’s political and military leadership, its intelligence agencies, its judiciary and civil society do not admit that there is terrorism in J&K. They always project what is happening in J&K as a freedom struggle. They justify the activities of these organisations in J&K on the ground that J&K is Pakistani territory where they have a right to act in solidarity with the Kashmiris.The Government of Pervez Musharraf as well as the present Government headed by Prime Minister Yousefv Raza Gilani make a clear distinction between the so-called freedom struggle in J&K and acts of terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K.
They regard whatever assurances they had given since January 2004 regarding not supporting terrorism as applicable only to Indian territory outside J&K. They also feel that while the US and other Western countries would be against any Pakistani-sponsored terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K, they would not react strongly against renewed acts of violence in J&K, which they regard as a disputed territory.
The TTP and the Punjabi Taliban organisations criticise the Pakistani Government on two grounds—– firstly, its implied support to the US Drone (pilotless planes) strikes in South and North Waziristan and, secondly, its alleged restrictions on the activities of the Pakistani terrorist organisations not only in Indian territory outside J&K, but also even in J&K.
The Pakistan Government is not in a position to stop the Drone strikes. Moreover, the Pakistan Army looks upon the Drone strikes as necessary for the success of its own ground operations against the TTP. However, to soften the TTP it would not hesitate to give it and its Punjabi associates a free hand in J&K. An increase in acts of terrorism in J&K, with the participation of not only Pakistani Punjabis, but also the Pashtuns of the Taliban, is a risk to be guarded against in the months and weeks to come.