| Kashmiris mourn the death of a former militant outside his home in Srinagar on Friday. Relatives allege that he was killed in police custody while police say he was gunned down by separatists. (AFP)
New Delhi, June 17: Yasin Malik could claim he had been misquoted, but Amanullah Khan has got it down in writing.
Khan, chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control, has written in the second volume of his autobiography that Pakistani spy agency ISI provided arms training to Kashmiri militants.
“We had a gentleman’s agreement, an oral sort of agreement,” Khan said in a later interview. “I was given the idea that the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) was all for the independence of Kashmir (which Khan’s group wants).
“The agreement was that we will bring boys from across (the LoC) and indoctrinate (them in) our ideology by ourselves. (Then) ISI trains them and they are sent back.”
The revelation will embarrass Islamabad, which has all along denied training or arming Kashmiri terrorists and acknowledged only political and diplomatic support to the militants’ “freedom struggle” against Indian rule.
A few days ago during his Pakistan visit, Malik, chief of the Front on the Indian side, had embarrassed his hosts by revealing how Pakistan information minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad ran camps for 3,500 militants in the late 1980s.
A red-faced Islamabad pressured Malik into saying he had been misquoted but India, vindicated in its allegations of Islamabad’s collusion with terrorists, demanded that Pakistan dismantle the terror apparatus on its soil immediately.
“It is particularly serious that people directly involved in such activities continue to occupy high positions in Pakistan,” Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna had said.
Malik’s statement has hung a cloud of uncertainty over Sheikh Rashid Ahmad’s scheduled visit to Jammu and Kashmir on June 30 on the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus.
Now Khan’s remarks in the interview ' backed up by what he has written in Jehad-e-Musalsal (Continuous Struggle) ' will strengthen New Delhi’s stand.
Khan says in his book he was given the impression that General Zia-ul-Haq, the Pakistani military ruler of the day, supported the notion of independence for Kashmir. He said the Front began bringing across young men from the Indian side in 1988 for training by the ISI.
Khan’s Front, with its demand for independence from both India and Pakistan, was in the vanguard of the Kashmiri movement till the early 1990s. Later, its relations with the Pakistani authorities soured when it began objecting to Islamabad’s interference in the outfit’s affairs.
As the Front’s stocks with the Pakistan government fell, the latter began giving more importance to Islamist militant groups that favoured Kashmir merging into Pakistan.
As for Malik’s remarks, a Pakistani journalist, Hamid Mir, has seconded them. “The camp was run between 1988 and 1990 at the Fateh Jung farmhouse which was also called Freedom House,” Mir said.
Malik happened to be a militant himself before becoming a politician. He had travelled to Pakistan on June 2 with eight other separatist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir.