December 17, 2001
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We will fight against India,
NA: Harkat commander

Dhananjay Mahapatra in Doaba Jail
(Panjsher Valley, Afghanistan)

Militants belonging to the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen jailed by the Northern Alliance in this remote prison along with over 300 Taliban fighters, are hoping that one day they will be able to fight once again against India in Kashmir and the new regime in Afghanistan.

"We hope to get out of the prison soon...we have heard that President Hamid Karzai would offer general amnesty to all (prisoners). We cannot make any compromises on our goal - to wrest Kashmir from India and reinstate the Taliban in Afghanistan," Harkat commander Ubeidullah Assad said.

Director of Doaba jail Commander Soami, who refused to give his real name, said of the 330 prisoners in his jail, ten were Pakistanis, four Arabs, three Burmese, two Chinese and the rest Talibans.

The Arabs, he said, were fighting under the command of one Abdulla, a close confidante of Osama bin Laden and a key figure in Al Qaeda network.

"There is a possibility that when Mr Karzai takes over, these prisoners will be released," Commander Soami said.

When Assad was asked why he and his men support the Taliban, he said: "Because our ideology is common. Like us, they also wanted to establish an Islamic jamuriat (democracy). NA was their enemy, hence our enemy too."

Who asked them to fight in Afghanistan?

"Mufti Rashid of a Karachi madrasa advised us to go to Kabul and fight for the Taliban," said Abdul Zabbar, who received military training at the Rishkhor camp.

And what is their future plan?

"We hope to get out of the prison. Once we get out, we will seek the advice of our high command as to whether we should continue to fight here or go to Kashmir," Assad said.

"India has wrested Kashmir forcefully. Kashmir being pre-dominantly Muslim should have been with Pakistan. We would not rest in peace till we recapture it," Assad added.

Is the Pakistani government backing them?

"We are fighting on our own for the cause of Islam. Pakistan government is working shoulder to shoulder with us. But we decide our agenda and don't let the government interfere in it," Assad said.

Does the Pakistani government provide them funds?

"There are around 300 HuM offices in Pakistan which collect funds through religious organisations and individuals. We also get donations from Islamic countries," said Assad, who was captured by NA at Salong near Jabul Siraj.

In Kabul, residents of Sahr-e-Nao and Wazir Akbar Khan areas showed this correspondent houses from which Harkat militants used to operate.

Rishkhor, 15 km southwest of Kabul, was the training base for Pakistani volunteers. The special training centre trained 1,000 to 1,500 fighters at one point of time.

When this correspondent visited Rishkhor, he was told that Pakistani volunteers were now garrisoned at the former National Guard headquarters at Badam Bagh and the 8th Division headquarters at Qargah.


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