Jihadis may up infiltration in J&K
9 Nov 2007, 0227 hrs IST
NEW DELHI: Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf’s increasing engagement with containing dissent against his proclamation of emergency and diversion of intelligence and police forces towards quelling the protests may see India facing a heightened danger of infiltration into Kashmir.
The movement of troops away from India’s borders and the demands of shoring up his regime may leave Musharraf without enough time, will and ground forces to tackle jihadi groups who are engaged in anti-India operations. His bid to “stabilise” Pakistan is creating new, and possibly uncontrollable, instabilities.
Musharraf’s preoccupations may not only have a direct fallout on Kashmir but may see loosening of controls over jihadi cells that are active in major Indian cities and are primed to carry out terror strikes. This security scenario, presented by experts and officials in the immediate aftermath of the emergency declaration, may well come to happen.
The added dimension being that irrespective of whether Musharraf wants to allow jihadis to “let off steam”, he may actually have little say in the matter.
“With depleted strength of Pakistani troops on the borders, expect more infiltration of such elements into India,” said Gary Saxena, former governor of J&K and an expert on Pakistan affairs. Saxena, however, said these terror outfits at present could focus their attention in the North-West Frontier Province and the tribal belts of Waziristan where Al Qaida is trying to set its base.
Three towns in Swat, a district in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, has fallen to Maulana Fazlullah, a local jihadi warlord who has a little over 4,000 fighters. In South Waziristan, tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud has wrested complete control of the area and has imposed his own taxation system which is used to fund his 30,000-strong private army and Taliban forces supporting him.
An editorial appearing in the Daily Times of Pakistan summed up the deteriorating internal security situation in the country which is slowly slipping into the hands of fundamentalist elements. “The war in the tribal areas could actually be the battle for Pakistan itself. It could be a battle against the creation of an Al Qaida state within Pakistan,” the paper commented on Thursday.
The changed scenario in Pakistan where Musharraf has deployed a majority of the counter-terrorism force and its intelligence men in implementing martial law and containing the influence of tribal warlords has left out-of-favour jehadis on a free run.
Terrorist outfits such as the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, which had been closely associated with the Al Qaida and had been training its recruits in the Waziristan region in Taliban-run camps, will now have a free run and openly propagate their anti-India agenda in Pakistan.
With the exception of LeT and a few other outfits, Musharraf had contained operations of many jihadi outfits. “Now, they will be free to propagate their agenda,” said Wilson John, senior fellow with the Observer Research Foundation.