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Pak cracks whip to ease US pressure

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | November 18, 2003 14:26 IST

Pakistan's recent crackdown on some terrorist groups is a ruse by General Pervez Musharraf's military regime to deflect a new round of US pressure on it, according to Indian officials involved in the peace process and who are closely watching developments in Jammu and Kashmir.

On Saturday night Pakistan banned the Khudam-ul-Islam, a proxy of Jaish-e-Mohammad, and some other militant groups, sealed their offices and carried out nationwide police raids to nab its leaders. Several militants have already been rounded up.

The raids, Indian officials pointed out, came after American Ambassador Nancy J Powell remarked last week that militant groups have regrouped and are active in Pakistan. The public statement is being seen in New Delhi as part of the new round of pressure that US is applying on Pakistan to curtail terrorist operations in its soil.

Officials believe the present crackdown will peak with the arrest of Jaish founder Maulana Masood Azhar and other senior terrorist leaders. "That would take a lot of pressure off Pakistan. But our inputs clearly show that training of hundreds of militants across the border continues," an official said.

Officials claim the situation in Jammu and Kashmir continues to be grim with infiltration continuing even as the first snowfall was recorded this week. Of late, some of the routes taken by terrorists to enter Jammu and Kashmir have been really tough, at over 14,000 feet or so, and almost impossible for security forces to monitor.

Adding to their concerns is the continuing trend of youngsters, mostly from Kupwara and Anantnag districts, being sent to Pakistan for militant training.

One factor helping the militants is the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government's failure to generate employment opportunities for the youth, the officials said.

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