Militants regrouping in PoK to cross over to India

Last Updated: Saturday, May 15, 2010 - 15:30

Islamabad: Militants have regrouped in large numbers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and are crossing the Line of Control to sneak into the Indian side of the Himalayan region, local residents and political leaders have said.

The militants have regrouped and launched jehadi activities in the Neelum valley on the Pakistani side of the LoC, local politician Arif Shahid said. Local residents and Shahid said the militants were not from PoK.

"Jihadi activities have been restarted during the last few weeks," said Shahid, the secretary general of the All Parties National Alliance.

"Most of the activities are concentrated in the Neelum
valley along the LoC," Shahid told the BBC.

Shahid, who had visited the region with other APNA
leaders, said the militants were based there in large numbers
and had set up camps in the area.

"The men are not locals they have long hair and
beards. Most do not spesak the local language," he said.

Residents of Neelum valley backed Shahid`s assertions.

"We are scared... The armed men are moving around the area and
are trying to cross the border," a local resident said.

"We can make out from their appearances and languages
they are not from any part of Kashmir," the resident said.

Shahid said he believed that militants are planning to
sabotage ongoing peace negotiations between India and
Pakistan.

"They have set up camps in the region and many are
crossing the border... This is the start of another proxy
war," he said.

Following a meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh
last month, the Foreign Ministers of the two countries
recently agreed to meet in Islamabad on July 15 to nudge the
peace process forward.

Shahid`s comments were supported by Jammu and Kashmir
National Liberation Front leader Shaukat Maqbool Bhat. "The
fighters are there and they are regularly crossing into
India," Bhat said.

"The local people are very scared. They believe the
(militant) crossings are going to restart artillery exchanges
between the Pakistani and Indian armies," Bhat said.

Indian and Pakistani troops regularly fought artillery
duels and exchanged small arms fire till a ceasefire was put
in place along the LoC in November 2003.

From 1988, militants aided by Pakistan`s security
forces and intelligence agencies waged a guerrilla campaign in
Jammu and Kashmir. Their activities were curtailed during the
rule of former President Pervez Musharraf, who quit in August
2008.

The BBC quoted unnamed officials as saying that jehadi
activities had recommenced across the LoC in recent weeks. It
also quoted its correspondents as saying that the renewed
militant activity is bound to be of concern to India,
especially when Delhi and Islamabad almost came to war when
militants accused by India of being Pakistani-based attacked the Indian Parliament in December 2001.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, May 15, 2010 - 15:30

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