According to the counterterror operatives, out of the 27, eight are from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. They are being trained by two instructors from Punjab, Pakistan and three from Afghanistan.
The Balakot camp of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), targeted by India in an air strike last February, is active again and currently training 27 terrorists, with the plan being to use them to launch terror attacks in India, intelligence and counterterror operatives said.
The camp, targeted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a reprisal for the suicide bombing in Pulwama by a Jaish terrorist, and also to prevent further attacks against India, is currently headed by Yusuf Azhar, kin of Maulana Masood Azhar, and is currently providing terror training to 27 extremists for launching attacks against India.
According to the counterterror operatives, out of the 27, eight are from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. They are being trained by two instructors from Punjab, Pakistan and three from Afghanistan. The operatives, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the intelligence at their disposal suggests that the training will be completed within this week, after which the terrorists will be ready for insertion into India. At the time when India launched strikes at Balakot, there were no less than 300 terrorists being trained there, according to the operatives.
The preparations for the terror offensive come even as around 40 JeM functionaries including Abdul Rauf were arrested on January 22, as part of Pakistan’s compliance with the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental agency which combats money-laundering and terror financing. Even as Rawalpindi GHQ does this, the Indian operatives say, it may also launch a full-fledged information campaign to actually project the February 26, 2019, Indian Air Force strike at Balakot as a victory for the Imran Khan regime.
According to them, the aim of such a campaign would be to boost public confidence in the political and military leadership, lift the morale of Kashmiris, counter the Indian narrative on both Balakot and Kashmir, and present India internationally as a threat to global peace and security.
The fact is that Pakistan’s terror factory is alive and kicking with no less than 32 foreign terrorists belonging to both JeM and fellow jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba being gunned down by Indian security forces from January 1, 2019, to January 31 this year. Three LeT terrorists were apprehended and no less than 102 Pakistani terrorists are still active in Kashmir valley, the Indian officials added. Available records show that out of 102, 59 belong to LeT, 37 to JeM and 6 to Hizbul Mujahideen.
Yet the Pakistani narrative is designed to establish that Balakot was a victory for Islamabad as the military shot down an Indian MiG-21 Bison fighter and captured Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The Imran Khan government is expected to use the media to propagate that Pakistan is all for peace but ready for war. The propaganda is designed to convey that the Pakistani leadership was strong as it “defeated” India in battlefield and at global forums. And it will use the wing commander’s return to substantiate its claims that it did so out of a desire for peace and from a position of strength.
The officials said that Islamabad was forced to hand over Abhinandan after India signalled its readiness to follow up with a missile strike.
Interestingly, the officials said that the Imran Khan government will also try to highlight that for the first time India was brought under international pressure over Kashmir, despite Islamabad’s continued failure to do so at the United Nations.