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July 16, 1999
'We are waiting for a signal from Pakistan': mujahideen commander
Confirming Pakistan's control over the Islamic militants, a so-called mujahideen commander has claimed that whenever Pakistan gives the green signal, the terrorists can cut off Jammu from Srinagar and India from Jammu.
Speaking to the Jamaat-i-Islami's Urdu daily Jasarat in Kargil last week, Shamsher Khan, a Pakistani national, said the militants' next target after Kargil is the Banihal tunnel which links Jammu with Srinagar.
"I organised Hizbul Mujahideen in Banihal during 1997-98... (and now) our most experienced, expert and committed force is in Banihal; similarly in Jammu there is only one highway which we can cut off at will... But we are waiting for a signal from Pakistan," he said.
Hizbul Mujahideen is the Jamaat-i-Islami's armed wing which is engaged in subversive activities in Kashmir. It is very critical of the Nawaz Sharief government for its call for talks with India, but is "proud" of the Pakistani Army's performance in Kargil.
Khan admits the militants fought the 'jihad' in Kashmir for 10 to 11 years with the help and support of the Pakistani people. "Thousands of Pakistani youth participated in this jihad and hundreds of them were killed," he claimed.
This interview was done four days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief's joint statement with United States President Bill Clinton.
The statement bound Pakistan to withdraw the militants from the Indian side of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. But it was very clear that 'commander' Shamsher Khan was unaware of it. When asked how long the militants could hold on to these peaks, he said, "As long as we are sure of the [Pakistani] support."
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