United Jihad Council Chairman, an umbrella of many militant organizations, Syed Salahudeen, has said that thousands of militants would move across from Afghanistan to Kashmir once Nato forces are out from Afghansitan.
“The coming months and years will see a tremendous surge in mujahideen’s activities in Kashmir,” AFP reported Salahudun as saying.
“The encounter between mujahideen and Indian forces will enhance to an unprecedented level. The increase in attacks will be enormous and Indian forces will face huge losses,” he added.
Regular deadly exchanges of fire across the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) have killed 11 people since August 5 and sent tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours soaring.
The latest spate of clashes began when five Indian soldiers were killed in a raid that Delhi blamed on the Pakistani military.
The attack came shortly after Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office, promising to improve ties with India.
Pakistan flatly denied any involvement in the killings and Sharif has consistently urged restraint and dialogue to resolve the dispute, which dates back to independence from Britain in 1947.
Sharif also wants to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month, although New Delhi has since warned the violence may make this impossible.
Militants now claim they no longer need the clandestine support of the Pakistani security establishment, signalling that the conflict in Kashmir is increasingly out of Pakistan’s control.
Pakistan has also faced a bitter backlash in the form of a Taliban-led insurgency that has killed thousands of people.
“Kashmiri youths realise that they should now rely on themselves,” AFP reported Uzair Ahmed, a militant with the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen group as saying.
“The attacks on Indian forces by Kashmiri mujahideen have already been enhanced during the last three to four months… and the coming three-four years will be very difficult for the Indian forces,” he added.
“Abdul Aziz Alvi, the Kashmir head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), blacklisted as a terror organisation by the United Nations and United States, said the militants command wide support. “We, the citizens of Pakistani Kashmir, will also provide them support, whatever they require from us, because fighting to free our homeland is our basic duty,” he told AFP.
A deadly flare-up along the LoC in January halted peace talks that had only just resumed after a three-year hiatus sparked by the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which India blamed on Pakistani terrorists.
Delhi and Islamabad agreed a ceasefire in 2003 after the Pakistan army’s incursion in the Kargil sector in 1999 brought the two countries to the brink of war.
India says the number of infiltration attempts across the LoC in January to August this year doubled compared with the same period last year.
But a senior official in the Indian army’s northern command told AFP “almost all” the attempts to smuggle fighters across the LoC had been thwarted.
“It is usual during the summer months that infiltration attempts by militants increase because the mountain passes are open,” he said on condition of anonymity.
India still accuses Pakistan of providing logistical help to the fighters, though Islamabad insists it extends only moral and political support.