Hardliners, their mentors gathering in Lahore: Report

The hardliners and their mentors are living in Pashtun-populated localities.

Last Updated: Aug 16, 2010, 14:06 PM IST

Islamabad: Over 300 hardliners and their mentors from across Pakistan have gathered in Lahore and are living in Afghan and Pashtun-populated localities, according to a media report on Monday.

The hardliners, including more than 100 members of six terrorist groups, entered Lahore and hired residences in the past few months, intelligence agencies had informed police.

The Daily Times newspaper quoted its sources as saying several high-profile hardliners are hiding in posh localities across the city.

Following the unprecedented floods across Pakistan, a large number of hardliners had migrated to Lahore from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and southern Punjab, the sources said.

They said intelligence agencies had forwarded reports which said several "terrorist hideouts" were located along the outer boundary of Lahore.

The intelligence reports stated that "several businesses across the city are being run by these hardliners, and the authorities concerned are not taking any proper action despite having knowledge of all such activities".

The reports said there are numerous Afghan nationals living across Lahore who are posing as "Pakistani Pashtuns" and "surprisingly" most of them had computerised National Identity Cards.

"These Afghan nationals facilitate terrorists through their contacts and widespread business, and allow no one except Afghans to enter their inner circle," the intelligence reports said.

The reports detailed the undercover work done by some of these Afghans while carrying on with their daily jobs. Many, including children, work as garbage collectors and sweepers.

At the same time, they reportedly transport drugs and weapons, work as messengers and carry out surveillance on the orders of terrorist groups.

The intelligence reports said the scrap market in Misri Shah area is the "safest hub" for hardliners. The market was once called the "grave of Russian weapons", including tanks, used in the Russian-Afghanistan war.

The reports said a majority of workers and dealers in the market are Afghans or people from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa who have close links with people who fought in Afghanistan and are now fighting Pakistani law enforcement agencies.

These Afghans have National Identity Cards, flourishing businesses and permanent residences across Lahore. Intelligence reports said the business of transporting clothes across Pakistan from the country`s biggest Azam Cloth Market is controlled by Afghans.

"Hundreds of Afghan nationals and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa people are working in this market who have links with hardened militants," the reports said.

Similarly, most of the business in the Landa Bazar or flea market is controlled by Afghan nationals and there are several small hotels and inns to facilitate Afghan traders, the reports said.

Evidence points to the possibility of people from Landa Bazar providing "law enforcement agency uniforms" to terrorists for attacks in Islamabad and Lahore, the reports said.

The intelligence reports said Afghan colonies across Lahore are one of the main threats to law and order. The reports also said that some Afghan colonies within the city`s posh localities and on the outskirts are considered "tribal areas" where anyone can purchase weapons and drugs.