PoK madrasas new hotbed of terror

Pakistan’s new strategy of reviving terrorism in Kashmir involves using radical madrasas on
both sides of the border to recruit, train and launch terrorists into India. The new plan is a remake
of the old and tested proxy war of the 80s.
About thirty such madrasas are operational in Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) districts of
Muzaffarabad, Neelam Valley, Hattian Bala and Forward Kahuta. Since these districts are close
to the Indian border, it is easier for Pakistan to push newly trained terrorists into Kashmir.
Of these, about twenty seven madrasas belong to the Barelvi sect and are spread across Mirpur,
Bhimber and Kotli. This is part of the new strategy since a large number of people in this region
are Peeri-Mureedi (disciples of sufis and saints), often witnessed in the Barelvi sect of Islam.
These madrasas are funded and armed by Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI, to raise a new band
of terrorists, ideologically different from the earlier groups belonging to Deobandi groups like
Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) or Ahle-Hadit group like Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT).
An important element of this strategy is to keep different ideological groups pitted against each
other but dependent on ISI for sustenance. Hence at least four madrasas run by the Taliban and
its allies are simultaneously funded. These are old camps of the Taliban when returnees from the
Afghan battlefield were housed before being sent to Kashmir in the early 90s.
A large number of terrorists sent to these madrasas to revive terrorist training camps are
returnees from Afghanistan battlefield. They owe allegiance to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM),
Lashkar-e-Tayebba (LeT) and other outfits run by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). These groups have long
been patronised by the Pakistan Army.
There are reports of increasing influence of Jamaat-e-Islami in Kashmir, especially in Bagh and
Rawalakot where an intensive campaign has been launched to recruit young impressionable
Muslim men for becoming jihadis. After a systematic indoctrination of recruits, these men are
put through an intensive course of physical drill, swimming, arms training and mountain craft.
These courses are designed by Directorate S of ISI.
The influence of these groups in the region has become so pernicious that Ganga Choti, a famous
tourist spot of Bagh at around 12,000 feet above sea level, has become a jihadi camp site. A
checkpost, run by LeT-IS team, is stationed throughout the year to facilitate the training and
movement of terrorists across the region.
The ISI also supports several other groups of terrorists in Bagh and Rawalakot. These men
belong to a cocktail of groups like LeJ and LeT. They are tasked to become suicide bombers and
train others in the deadly craft. These groups operate openly under the guise of NGOs and
seminaries. These charity fronts are used to gather donations and camouflage terror activities.
By linking up a network of radical madrasas with the existing terrorist camp chain in PoK,
Pakistan is hoping to revive a religiously driven militancy in Kashmir, quite similar to the
strategy it adopted when it launched a proxy war against India in Kashmir in the late 80s.

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