For the first time, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has acknowledged that some terrorists in Pakistan had fought in Kashmir while claiming that he had the army’s support for disarming them and for overtures to India.
Speaking at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, he tried to make the case that the army and the security forces were not patronising the terrorist groups and backed the crackdown while letting slip about their role in Kashmir.
He also admitted that the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed was operating in India. He said that because some of the terrorists were trained and had experience of fighting in Kashmir the police can’t handle them and the army’s help is required.
Khan said: “It was said normally that the security forces patronised the groups. We would not be disarming if the security forces were not standing behind us. You cannot disarm because the police is incapable of disarming these groups.
“They are trained, these people have experience of fighting in Afghanistan, some in Kashmir. The police cannot go after them, so it is the army that is helping us disarm all militant groups in our country.”
In a country where the military has ruled directly or from behind the scenes ensuring its hardline policies were followed and toppling elected governments there is scepticism about how far a civilian government can set the agenda.
Khan tried to dispel this notion where his elected civilian government was concerned, even in regard to India, and assert that he had the military’s backing. But he stopped short of claiming that the military establishment was under civilian control as it should be in a democracy.