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November 16, 2001
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Fleeing Taleban fighters may land in Kashmir

Binoo Joshi in Srinagar

The fall of the Taleban regime is causing concern among Indian security officials who fear that fighters fleeing Afghanistan might find their way to Jammu and Kashmir.

The officials fear that Pakistan, which is supporting the global coalition against terrorism, would not want the radical Taleban militia to take refuge in its territory and might divert them to Kashmir.

The officials said the Taliban has only one place to go: Pakistan.

But looking at the ground situation in Pakistan and the precarious position of President Pervez Musharraf, the possibilities are that the Afghans would be pushed to Pakistan occupied Kashmir and then to Jammu and Kashmir.

"This is very much a strong possibility and we are not discounting it," a high-ranking Indian army officer said.

Such a scenario would entail two sets of problems for the security forces: that of large-scale intrusion into the state, and the possibility of internal upheaval in this only Muslim majority state in India.

Jammu and Kashmir has more than six million Muslims in its 10 million population.

"We will have to prevent such an eventuality on the borders itself," another commander of the army said.

"There are already instructions from the army headquarters to show zero tolerance to infiltration," he added.

So far the level of infiltration has been confined to groups of five or six people and on occasions to groups of more than 20. The largest batch of intruder came in 1991 when 80 of them were shot in Dudhi in Kupwara district.

It is feared that if the Taleban were to come, they would be in large numbers and armed with deadly weaponry, posing serious challenges to the Indian army.

"We have to guard against that. There is no other option. We have also to keep a close watch on the way situation is unfolding in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our strategy on borders would depend on all what happens there," the officer commented.

But a greater cause of worry to the Indian officials is the movement of Pakistani troops.

The Pakistani Army has not only consolidated their offensive position in Jhelum-Chenab belt and moved its strike battalions close to the India-Pakistan border but its troops are showing an easy readiness to fire at Indian positions to facilitate intrusions into Kashmir.

The Indian Army apprehends that a flare-up on borders would signify the beginning of Pakistan's bid to push the Taleban soldiers into Jammu and Kashmir.

Indo-Asian News Service

America's War on Terror: The Complete Coverage
The Attack on US Cities: The Complete Coverage

The Terrorism Weblog: Latest Stories from Around the World

External Link:
For further coverage, please visit www.saja.org/roundupsept11.html

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