- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2002

Indian intelligence sources yesterday accused Pakistani security forces of encouraging armed Islamic extremists fleeing the U.S.-led offensive in Afghanistan to relocate to new camps in and around the disputed province of Kashmir.
Pakistan immediately denied the charges, but Indian sources insisted that the cadres are being relocated to fuel Pakistani-backed separatist movements in Kashmir and to divert "the anger and bitterness" of the fighters away from the government in Islamabad.
"You can take this information as coming from very reliable sources," said one Indian government official, who refused to speak on the record about the charges.
The Pakistan government yesterday angrily rejected the accusations, the latest in a series of escalating charges and countercharges as the South Asian nuclear powers face off in the wake of a Dec. 13 attack on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi that killed 14 persons, including the five attackers. India has blamed Pakistani-supported extremist groups for the attack.
"Totally baseless, totally false," said Asad Hayauddin, press spokesman for the Pakistan Embassy here.
The charges "fit the profile of India's actions since September 11," Mr. Hayauddin said, "which is to malign and denigrate Pakistan's strong efforts in the war on terrorism."
According to the Indian intelligence sources, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, which had extensive ties to Afghanistan's ousted fundamentalist Taliban regime, has been actively aiding Islamic fighters fleeing into Pakistan, particularly soldiers linked to Pakistan- and Kashmir-based Islamic fundamentalist groups.
Camps have been set up in Muzaffarabad, the capital of the section of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan, and in Abbotabad, a Pakistani summer-resort town near the Kashmiri border, to house fighters from the Jamaat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam and Jamaat-e-Islami, two Kashmiri resistance groups, the sources said.
In addition, according to the Indians, some 300 fighters from other guerrilla groups have been relocated from Kabul and Jalalabad in Afghanistan to established forward bases in Muzaffarabad and Kotli, another town in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The guerrillas are disarmed as they cross the Afghan border into Pakistan, only to be rearmed when they arrive at the camps, the Indians say.
U.S. military officials said they have no confirmation of the latest Indian accusations.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has won praise from the Bush administration in recent days for cracking down on two leading Islamic extremist groups, although New Delhi contends that Pakistan has not done enough.
Pakistan contends that the groups fighting in Kashmir are indigenous independence movements and blames India for ignoring the popular will in the Muslim-majority province.
Islamabad has lodged its own complaints about Indian intelligence forces fomenting terrorism inside Pakistan.
Police in Quetta yesterday said they had seized a large cache of arms, ammunition and explosives that they said were being used by terrorists backed by the Indian intelligence agency known as the Research and Analysis Wing.
U.S. counterterrorist officials have long been concerned about links between Kashmir and Afghanistan militants.
Several of the victims of 1998 U.S. cruise-missile strike against an al Qaeda training post in Khowst, Afghanistan, were members of Kashmiri militant groups supported by Pakistani intelligence agents.
Private analysts have noted extensive links in the past between the Islamic armed groups in Kashmir and the ousted Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Jane's, the authoritative British military intelligence reference, reported recently that a cluster of Kashmiri independence movements have routinely rotated their fighters through "operational tours" in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Pakistan itself.
Al Badr, one of the nearly two dozen Kashmiri armed groups, was founded in 1999 expressly to accommodate foreign volunteers fighting in Kashmir.
"We know the U.S. military is very concerned about a lot of these links," one Central Asian diplomat confirmed.
The New York Times this week reported that Gen. Musharraf has ordered the ISI to cut off its support for Islamic militant groups fighting in Kashmir and to close down its office that deals exclusively with such groups.
Leaders of a dozen Muslim groups called yesterday in an Islamabad press conference for Gen. Musharraf to transfer Pakistani troops from the western border with Afghanistan to the 1,800-mile border with India.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan told reporters Pakistan had no intention of easing its surveillance along the Afghan border.


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