DATE=2/15/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=PAKISTAN / KASHMIR SEPARATISTS NUMBER=5-45454 BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=MUZAFARABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: For the past ten years, a small city in northern Pakistan has served as the nerve center for one of the world's most protracted and violent insurgencies. Muzafarabad -- the capital of Pakistani Kashmir -- is home to militant separatist groups who have been fighting Indian security forces for nearly a decade for control of India's Jammu and Kashmir State. V-O-A'S Jim Teeple reports the militant separatists who call Muzafarabad home show no sign of ending their fight anytime soon. TEXT: // MARKET SOUNDS.ESTABLISH..AND FADE UNDER TEXT // The central market in Muzafarabad looks like any other urban market on the Indian sub-continent. Crowded and bustling, its stalls full of fresh vegetables the market looks the very picture of normalcy. But Muzafarabad is no ordinary town. Many of the shoppers at the market are heavily bearded men dressed in camouflage clothing. They are separatist militants who belong to any one of nearly a dozen groups fighting Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan claim the former princely state. Ten years ago -- after a violent separatist struggle began inside Indian Kashmir -- many Kashmiri separatist militants moved to Muzafarabad on the Pakistani side of the "line of control," which divides Kashmir. There they have stayed -- crossing the mountains, which ring Muzafarabad, back into Indian Kashmir to attack Indian security forces. The separatist militants call themselves "Mujhadeen" or holy warriors and say they are fighting a holy war against the occupation of Islamic lands by India. One of those militants is Sadiq Butt -- a 30-year old resident of the Ambor refugee camp, which is home to about one thousand Kashmiri refugees on the outskirts of Muzafarabad. Sadiq Butt says he is a fighter for Hizbul Mujhadeen, or the Party of God's Warriors. He says he and his colleagues are motivated by their Islamic faith that gives them an advantage over the Indian forces they fight. // BUTT ACTUALITY // They do not like to die, that is their main problem. When we are going to fight against them we want to die. It is our Islamic principle that we should die. They do not like to fight against us. When they get a chance they go back (retreat). When we get a chance we fight against them. // END ACTUALITY // In recent months, there has been a sharp upsurge in fighting in the Kashmir Valley with separatist militants staging so-called "suicide attacks" on heavily fortified Indian Army garrisons. Separatist militants who belong to Lakshar-e-Toiba, or the Army of the Pure, have carried out many of the attacks. Abdullah Muntazir -- a spokesman for the group -- says the attacks are not "suicidal" at all, but are modeled on the so-called "Fedayeen" attacks -- similar to those were carried out by Palestinian guerrillas against Israeli targets. // MUNTAZIR ACTUALITY // There have been 25 Mujhadeen who have participated in these "Fedayeen" actions and only 13 have been martyred (killed). Twelve have come back safely so this is not suicide -- but this is an action that is very dangerous which looks impossible but our men do it. // END ACTUALITY // Abdullah Muntazir says the attacks are part of a new strategy resulting from his group's disappointment at the withdrawal of infiltrators from the Kargil Heights on the Indian side of the "line of control" last July. The withdrawal was at the behest of the Pakistani Government. Abdullah Muntazir says Lakshar-e-Toiba and the other militant groups working out of Muzafarabad are constantly thinking of new ways of fighting the Indian forces. He warns that an even newer more deadly strategy against India will be unveiled within the next month or two. He refuses to give details of what it might be. // REST OPTIONAL // For years, India has asserted Pakistan supports and directs the activities of the Kashmiri separatists who India calls terrorists. The charges have become more heated recently, with India calling on Pakistan to be declared a "terrorist state." India says Pakistan supported Kashmiri separatists who hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in December. Pakistan strongly denies involvement in the recent hijacking and says it only gives the Kashmiri separatists moral and diplomatic support. For their part, separatist militants like Abdullah Muntazir deny being terrorists -- saying their "jihad" against what they call the Indian occupation of Kashmir follows strict Islamic rules against harming civilians. Abdullah Muntazir of Laskshar-e-Toiba says it will be a "jihad" that liberates Kashmir and not result in a negotiated settlement. He says it took a "jihad" to drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan and it will take a "jihad"" to drive Indian forces out of Kashmir. (Signed) neb/jlt/wd 15-Feb-2000 06:59 AM EDT (15-Feb-2000 1159 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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