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archive: Activism Boosts India's Fortunes

Logistics of Pakistan's Proxy War

Varsha Bhosle
Rediff on Net
November 22, 1999
Title: Logistics of Pakistan's Proxy War

Author: Varsha Bhosle
Publication: Rediff on Net
Date: November 22, 1999

Last week, a report in The Times of India stated that, following the Lashkar-e-Toiba attack on Badami Bagh Cantonment, the army banned all civilian vehicular traffic in the area: Residents, "particularly children returning from their schools," "patients bound for the maternity hospitals in the zone," "the common people," senior bureaucrats, the CM, all were denied entry...

Never mind the melodrama; what are the facts? One, restrictions have been placed on the movement of only trucks and buses, and only between 5 pm and 8 am. Two, even army heavy vehicles are not permitted on that stretch of road during this time. Three, there's no inconvenience to "the common man" on a scooter, in a car or an auto. Four, Dr Abdullah wasn't at any point stopped by anyone in the area. Five, truckers have an equally good alternate route via Pantha Chowk...

Such stories emanate from Srinagar itself -- national media use local stringers for information. ToI could have checked with the army about the traffic restrictions, but, the army... can it be believed? 'Course not; only journalists can be trusted. And how reliable is the species? Take the Lashkar attack: Contrary to popular belief, the militants did not enter through the high-security main gate; they scaled the wall behind the PR office -- the only soft spot in the entire cantonment. How did the militants zero in on it...? Let me ask you: Which group of people haunted Major Purushottam's office...? That there's a fifth column working against Indian security, I've no doubt. That certain local media is cozy with militants and under suspicion, *is* a fact. That the editors in Delhi are prime dorks, is another dismal reality.

I ask again: What is the Indian Army up against? Recently, General Ved Malik spoke of an increase in Pakistani support to the terrorists active in J&K since Kargil. So also, Governor G C Saxena stated that local militants are playing a subordinate role while foreign mercenaries are in control; that the degree of Pakistan's involvement has increased and a "totally proxy war" is being waged by Pakistan: "Our security forces are fighting a war under civilian law and performing their difficult task with minimum civilian casualties."

About 80% of the 4,000 militants active in J&K are from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sudan, the majority of them belonging to the ISI-sponsored Fidayeen and Lashkar suicide squads. Even so, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, demands that Prime Minister Vajpayee liberate detained Hurriyat leaders and "discipline the army." He says, "We have to run our offices in Srinagar, Delhi and Jammu and also finance the litigation costs of the people involved in the struggle... We are getting money from agencies and people who are convinced and committed to our cause.

The pan-Islamic group which believes in the concept of universal Islamic brotherhood is also helping us." In short, the Mirwaiz admits to receiving foreign funds for militancy...

Let's take a look at the logistics of this proxy war, one launched by Pakistan as Operation Topac in 1988. Regardless of international pressures, this renegade State has doggedly pursued its single-point agenda of keeping the wound festering in Kashmir by administering liberal doses of anti-India rhetoric; indoctrinating susceptible youth with the idea of an inevitable jehad; training, arming and infiltrating terrorists; and financing the entire gamut of militancy in J&K. In 1993, Brig (retd) Imtiaz, head of the ISI's political section, developed "K-2", a long-term programme aimed at unifying and coordinating the Kashmiri and Sikh subversion efforts by bringing under one umbrella Sikh and Kashmiri extremists and Muslim zealots.

Such business requires *major* funding. Money is being raised abroad for the Kashmir "cause" and redirected to militant leaders on both sides of the LoC. In June, British security agencies deposed before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission that Islamic mercenary groups had carried out a large-scale recruitment drive among young Muslims in the UK, who had later been sent to fight in J&K, and that the Lashkar, Jamaat-e-Islami, Harkat-ul-Ansar and Hizbul Mujahideen were raising funds -- in the UK -- towards wresting J&K from India. Besides this, and the forcible fund-collection by way of zakaat (the Muslim religious tax amounting to 2.5% of one's income) from the people in J&K and PoK, separatist orgs are pumping in massive amounts of cash through front organisations in the Valley.

The ISI, Jamaat, United Jehad Council, Markaz-ul-Dawah-al-Irshad and APHC are the main organisations involved in raising funds. Apart from Hurriyat, which is the chief conduit for money-laundering, a Srinagar-based memorial trust -- a front of Jamaat -- is being used to channel funds from abroad. Markaz, with its office in Lahore, is another front-line org which solicits donations from the public. People's Conference, a political facade with links to Al Barq, is headed by Abdul Ghani Lone, who is now a member of the executive council of APHC, and has been an education minister in the Congress government. Syed Salahuddin, the "supreme commander" of Hizbul, is presently based in Muzaffarabad, PoK.

The next important source for funds is through the sale of illegal drugs, which Pakistani cottage-industry's patron saint is the ISI. As per a recent United Nations Drugs Control Programme report, about $ 2.5 billion is the annual income that accrues to the ISI from the sale of narcotics. Thus, by a conservative estimate, even if 5% to 10% of this amount is used for funding the militancy in J&K, the amount works out to a whopping $ 125 million to $ 250 million each year.

Hawala transactions from various countries is another crucial source. On November 14, the Special Operations Group of J&K police busted one such racket when it arrested Imtiaz Ahmed Bhat and Nisar Ahmed Atanger and recovered Rs 700,000 from them. Imtiaz is the son of an employee of the Srinagar Development Authority, and Nisar's father is the branch manager in the J&K Bank at Baramulla. Superintendent of Police (Operations) Manohar Singh told Greater Kashmir that Nisar had been engaged in channeling funds for the past ten years and had handled Rs 90 crore. Earlier, a hawala racket involving Rs 172 crore had been busted, out of which barely Rs 500,000 were recovered.

Other significant sources include:
* Printing of fake currency notes, mainly by the Jehad Council's printing press in Muzaffarabad, PoK. In Srinagar, Manohar Singh unearthed a racket under which Rs 6,500,000 had been distributed. (Ironically, the families of slain militants are compensated by the ISI with counterfeit notes.)
* Collection of donations in Middle Eastern and European countries under the name of "Jehad Fund."
* Extortion from traders, contractors and affluent people.
* Indirect funding -- by providing arms, ammunition, equipment, rations and clothing to militants prior to dispatching them to India, and sustaining them therein.

I've assembled this data from media accounts, from reports within the public domain, information from Kashmir old-hands, and inputs from ex-militants and dissenters I met in Srinagar. From the transactions listed below, you can get an idea of the quantum of funds being pumped in by the ISI (these are based only on transactions for which confirmed details are available). But this is just the tip of the iceberg -- more are the dealings that go undetected, like "donations" and hawala:

Transaction amount, in Rs.
Rs. 5,00,000
Bank draft sent for People's Conference and APHC
Rs. 5,50,738
Bank draft drawn on a foreign bank in London
Rs 10,50,738 ($24,436)
Rs 7,039,473 ($163,709)
Amount for Shia militant outfits in the valley
Rs. 3,91,733
Cash channeled from abroad via a Srinagar-based trust
Rs. 75,00,000
Paid by ISI to militant orgs for terrorist activities
Rs. 20,00,000
Rs. 85,00,000
Paid by ISI to Hizbul Mujahideen for distribution to militants
Rs. 25,00,000
Paid by Syed Salahuddin to activists based in Baramulla
Rs. 60,00,000
Paid by Salahuddin to activists through a Delhi-based courier
Rs. 1,00,00,000
Paid by ISI to Hizbul for families of
Rs. 50,00,000
Rs. 40,00,000
Paid by ISI to Lashkar to intensify militant activities
Rs. 1,70,00,000
Paid by ISI to Hizbul as arrears, and for purchase of winter clothing
Rs. 15,40,000
Paid by ISI to fourdivisional commanders of Hizbul outfits
Rs. 50,00,000 
Paid by Syed Salahuddin to valley-based militants 
Rs 69,431,733 ($1,614,691)
- August
Rs. 96,20,000
Paid by Syed Salahuddin to his 'deputy supreme commander' as operation money
Rs. 10,30,000
Rs 1,06,50,000 ($247,674) 

That's the magnitude of the funding. However, it's more important to understand how the ISI uses all these millions to seduce local youth and foreign mercenaries to take up arms for the "jehad" in Kashmir. Such are the details of payments made to militants and their sympathisers:

Local Militant               Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000 ($

Foreign Militant             Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 ($116 to $ 186) per month
Deceased militant's kin      Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000
($35 to $ 70) per month

Militancy-affected families  Rs 50,000 to Rs 200,000 ($ 1,163 to $ 4,651)
Guides                       Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 ($ 698 to $1,163)
Porters                      Rs 7,500 ($ 175) for ammunition box
                             Rs 20,000 ($ 465) 12 to 14 kgs per trip
Recruiter                    Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 ($ 116 to $ 465) one time
Motivator                    Rs 5,000 ($ 116) per recruit
Winter Clothing              Rs 6000 ($ 140)
Grenade Throwing             Rs 150 ($ 3)

(A recruiter enlists youths and arranges for their infiltration into India. A motivator incites youths towards militancy and delivers them to the recruiter.)

The cost of an Indian life annihilated by a grenade is $ 3. The cost of the life of a soldier is higher:

Up to the rank of Major:     Rs 7,000 ($ 163)
Lieutenant Colonel:          Rs 50,000 ($ 1,163)
Brigadier and above:         Over Rs 100,000

Foreign militants get Rs 200,000 ($ 4,651) while entering India and another Rs 500,000 ($ 11,628) on their return home after a 2-year contract period. For such a period, the militant earns an amount ranging from Rs 820,000 ($ 19,070) to Rs 892,000 ($ 20,744) -- without even carrying out any major action... What bloody "jehad"?! What goddamn "azaadi"?! It's just a money game being manipulated by Pakistan!

In his recent book, Kashmir: Unveiling the Truth, Hashim Qureshi, leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Party, wrote that while in Pakistan, he had been approached by top ISI directors to " 'Get us some young people for training from the Valley so that they could be made to fight the Indian security forces on their return'... The funds that come in the form of donations to the public relief trust run by Jamaat is spent in lavish lifestyles led by some Jamaat and other militant leaders, while the younger generation is fed to the lions... Unless the governments of US, UK and authorities in the European mainland act, the ISI would continue to finance Islamic fundamentalism and bleed Kashmir and its people."

>From the seizures made by Indian security forces since 1989, we know that the ISI has supplied arms, ammunition and equipment worth billions of dollars to mercenaries, the total value of which is *conservatively* estimated at $ 20,801,478 (Rs 894,463,550). There are large quantities still held by ISI-sponsored mercenaries, and more are waiting to be smuggled across the border.

After Kargil -- a fiasco jointly attributable to Kaiser Musharraf's army and the ISI -- fund allocations to various militant orgs have been increased to boost their sagging morale:

Organisation               Amount, in Rs/month

APHC                       200,000,000 ($ 4,651,163)
Hizbul Mujahideen          10,000,000 ($ 232,558)
Harkat-ul-Ansar            4,000,000 ($ 93,023)
Al Barq                    1,200,000 ($ 27,907)
Other groups               3,500,000 ($ 81,395)

Total                      Rs 218,700,000

It's impossible to specify the exact amount of money being pumped in by Pakistan to foment and sustain militancy, but the writing on the wall is clear: The ISI is spending billions of dollars on the proxy war in Jammu & Kashmir so as to intensify Islamic fundamentalism in the secular Indian polity -- with the ultimate aim of merging J&K with Pakistan itself.

November 16 was the deadline set by the Musharraf regime for repayment of $ 4 billion loans taken from Pakistani banks, largely by influential people, including generals. It's difficult to imagine how a nation that is neck-deep in financial debts can afford to spend such colossal amounts of money on fomenting terrorism in its neighbouring countries. Surely, this is the road to a political and economical nemesis! Certainly, it's the shortest route to Hell. For, Musharraf's problems are bound to mount, tempting him to look for a diversion externally...

When such are the odds facing the country, the Indian army should not be restrained from its legitimate security concerns by either foreign or local arm-twisting. It should NOT be demoralised by media propaganda. As Arun Shourie, speaking at a seminar on human rights, said, "The most important lesson for the security forces is: Deafen yourself and win." Hear, hear! You, too, Colonel mine...

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