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October 20, 1999
Musharraf releases jailed Islamic militants
Pakistan's new military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has released more than one hundred Islamic militants whom the deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharief's government had arrested for protesting Pakistani withdrawal from Kargil in July.
According to the Urdu daily Ausaf , these mujahideen belong to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Harkatul Mujahideen and Tehrikul Mujahideen. The Sharief government had arrested them from Gujranwala, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ismail Khan, Sargodha, Karachi and other cities.
An anti-Sharief movement had gathered momentum after the prime minister ordered the withdrawal of Pakistani regulars and militants supported by it from Kargil. The prime minister was under pressure to bridle the activities of the Islamic militants.
Ausaf also reported that, with the Sharief government gone, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba will be free to hold its annual conference in Muridke near Lahore early next month. Sharief, it said, was putting obstacles in the organisation's way. The Lashkar is the military wing of Markaz-e-Da'wa-ul-Arshad which trains its students for jehad. Kashmir is its special target.
The next few weeks will reveal how the new military ruler of Pakistan intends to handle the legions of Islamic militants in the country. On this will largely depend the success or failure of his regime's efforts to win support from the West. During his address to the nation on Sunday last he has given a hint that he will not let the fundamentalists run amok any more.
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