TITLE=PAKISTAN / KASHMIR SEPARATISTS
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.
// 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
// 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
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)
15-Feb-2000 06:59 AM EDT (15-Feb-2000 1159 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list