Imran’s party admits Kashmiri jihadi forces in Pak

Pakistan’s former cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan speaks during a press conference, in Islamabad
Pakistan’s former cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan speaks during a press conference, in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s party has acknowledged “Kashmiri jihadi forces” active in Pakistan as one of key factors driving “terror and lawlessness” within the country.

The ‘Naya Pakistan Plan’, a document posted on the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf’s special website created for the May 11 polls, lists six factors in its section on internal security that “drive terror and lawlessness in varying degrees”.

These factors are “Taliban resistance movement in Afghanistan; Pakistani Taliban trying to enforce their interpretation of Shariah; Kashmiri jihadi forces working from within Pakistan; sectarian violence, particularly Shia-Sunni killings; ethnic terrorism and violence, for example in Karachi; real and perceived disenfranchisement of Balochistan”.

Though anti-India groups like the banned Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Al-Badr Mujahideen openly operate from bases and camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Pakistani political parties have for long been reluctant to acknowledge that such organizations have a presence in the country.

Most political parties usually state in their election manifestos that they will support the Kashmiri people in their movement for the right to self-determination.

They also toe the Foreign Office’s stated position that Pakistan only extends “political, moral and diplomatic support” to the Kashmiri people.

The admission in the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf document is possibly the first time a Pakistani political party has acknowledged the presence of “Kashmiri jihadi forces” within the country. . Though the issue of internal security also figures in the party’s manifesto released by Imran Khan on April 9, there is no mention of the Kashmiri jihadis in that document.

Sources told PTI that a draft of the manifesto had contained material similar to that found in the “Naya Pakistan Plan” but it was dropped after some Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leaders noticed it.

While the “Naya Pakistan Plan” document lists several steps that the party intends to take to improve the internal security situation if it comes to power, it does not state how the issue of Kashmiri jihadis will be tackled.

The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf states that if it forms the government after the May 11 general election, it will pull Pakistan out of the “US dictated war on terror” and help the US in its “exit strategy” for Afghanistan.

It further states it will hold a “stakeholders’ conference” on the lines of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to which representatives of “dissident groups” which shun violence will be invited.

The party also states that it will create a National Counter-terrorism Authority with representatives from the armed forces, Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Pakistan Rangers and police to tackle internal security issues.

Imran Khan has often been criticized by his detractors for being soft on the Taliban and other militant groups.
However, he was the only major politician to criticize the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi after a string of deadly attacks on the minority Shia community.-PTI

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