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Delhi scents old poison in new terror bottle

New Delhi, Aug. 30: Banned by Pakistan following international pressure, militant outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad now operate under pseudo names and are actively involved in violence in different parts of Kashmir.

According to Indian government sources, the Lashkar’s Urdu weekly Ghazwa Times and its English monthly Voice of Islam, as well as mouthpieces of other terrorist groups, like Shadat, are sold in news stalls in Pakistan.

There are substantial reports to establish that these outfits are actively mobilising resources, much of it through extortion, sources said, adding that Pakistan continues to fund terrorists through hawala transaction and other means.

The Indian government believes that though the communication centres of terrorist organisations have been relocated, Pakistan still conveys instructions, giving strategic and tactical guidance to these groups. Now, in a bid to ensure secure and non-interceptible means of communication, much of the interaction between the terrorists inside Kashmir and their handlers in Pakistan are being carried out through satellite phones, say sources.

As part of the tactical change in Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir, terrorists have been shifted from near the Line of Control to interior areas and dispersed into smaller groups to avoid detection.

Delhi believes that the Pakistan-based United Jehad Council has changed its focus of infiltration from the Srinagar Valley to the Jammu and Poonch sectors. There is also a move to merge all terrorist outfits functioning from Pakistan with those based inside the Valley.

Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, one of the three terrorists released by India in exchange for the passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines airbus 814, has been asked to head the proposed conglomerate. This is being done to give the movement an indigenous face and downplay the role of terrorists from Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

India believes that a nervous Pakistan, apprehending that “free and fair” elections in Jammu and Kashmir would marginalise its position in the Valley, is desperate to disrupt the poll process and ensure through violence that few political figures participate in it.

The commitment given to the international community by President Pervez Musharraf to completely end infiltration across the LoC has so far not been translated on ground. The Indian establishment is of the view that the pressure on Pakistan, from the West in general and the US in particular, has only brought about a “tactical shift” in its Kashmir policy. The signals emanating from Islamabad suggest that there is no change in its policy of “compulsive hostility” towards India.

General Musharraf, besides key functionaries of the Inter-State Intelligence (ISI), has assured terrorists based in Pakistan and those operating from PoK that Islamabad has only brought tactical changes in its Kashmir policy. Those fighting the “illegal occupation of the Indian government” have been assured all required support from the Pakistan government.

A pattern can be seen in the level of infiltration every time Musharraf appears to have spoken to his western interlocutors on the subject, be it in private or in press interviews.

After US deputy secretary Richard Armitage’s visit to Islamabad in June, there was a 30 per cent decrease in infiltration. But it continued and there was nothing to suggest that infiltration had ended completely.

The Pakistani President’s interview with the Newsweek magazine in July, in which he claimed that he had not made any commitment to end infiltration across the LoC completely, also saw an upward trend in the number of terrorists killed and infiltration attempts foiled by the Indian security forces. According to Indian officials, while 12 and 13 terrorists were killed in the month of June and July respectively, in the month of August the figure shot up to 38. In the second half of July, six infiltration attempts were foiled, while in August there were 10 such incidents.

The Indian government has shared its views with the US officials, who reportedly agreed with Delhi’s assessment. But in the absence of the required push by Washington, telling Islamabad in no unambiguous terms that it means business, the Indian leadership can see the message from across the border to the terrorists operating in Kashmir getting more strident as the elections in the state draws closer.

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