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Toufiq Rashid , Hindustan Times
Srinagar, September 13, 2013
Separatist leaders in Kashmir have failed to prevail upon Pakistani authorities regarding the arrest of the nephews of their colleague, Asiya Andrabi who heads the Dukhtaran-e-Millat group.  
Sources told Hindustan Times that octogenarian separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and Pakistan-based militant leader and chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, had tried to intervene in facilitating the release of Mohammad Shoaib, 18, son of Asiya's younger brother, Zia ul Haq Andrabi.

The Pakistani authorities, however, went ahead with his seven-day remand.

Islamabad police claimed to have recovered a large cache of arms and four remote control-driven toy planes laden with explosives in a raid on a house on the outskirts of the city. Sources in Indian intelligence agencies say the ammunition was meant for attacking VIPs in Pakistan.

Andrabi is the chief of an all-woman hardline separatist group -- Dukhtaran-e-Millat or daughters of the nation -- that believes in imposition of Islamic law in Kashmir.

While Pakistani authorities have been quoted by the media as saying that only Shoaib was in their custody, Asiya Andrabi believes that her other nephew Syed Irtiyaz has also been arrested. "We believe that Irtiyaz was also arrested though Pakistani authorities maintain that his whereabouts are not known," said Andrabi.

She, however, refuted reports that her sister and other female members of the family were also detained.

Confirming that senior separatist leadership was in touch with her, Andrabi told Hindustan Times that all senior leaders who are aware about her "pro-Pakistan sentiments are trying to extend support".

"Everybody, all the senior leaders, including Syed Salahuddin, tried to contact me and said they will speak to the authorities. Everybody is shocked as to how could this happen to a family like ours, who cannot even dream about harming the interests of Pakistan," she said.

"Even Pakistani authorities have called and extended support but the prevailing conditions in Pakistan are such that there are so many agencies and one agency doesn't know what the other is doing," she added.

Sources, however, revealed that it was Andrabi herself who has sought the help of Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

"Geelani Sahib told Asiya Andrabi that he will try his best but wasn't sure of the results," said the source close to Geelani.

Geelani is later believed to have spoken to Pakistan high commissioner Salman Bashir. However, when contacted, Geelani refused to comment on the issue. "I don't want to comment on the case," he said.

Even other separatist leaders are refraining from commenting on the issue. Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also refused to comment on the issue. "We have asked our people to get us the details of the case. They, however, haven't gotten back to us," he said.

Dukhtaran-e-Millat has not been involved in militancy so far, but has been supporting Kashmir's merger with Pakistan.

Andrabi's husband, Ashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Dr Qasim, has been sentenced for life for the assassination of human rights activist Hriday Nath Wanchoo in the early nineties. Factoo is a part of the hardline Hurriyat Conference led by Geelani.

Andrabi refused to believe her family can work against the interests of Pakistan.

"My family chose Pakistan over Kashmir. My sister says if her sons are involved in anything that hurts Pakistan's interests she will kill them with her own hands," she said. 

Andrabi's brother, Dr Haq had migrated to Pakistan in 1989. Shoaib, who has been arrested, was born there.

Her elder sister, Rehana, is married to Dr Mushtaq Gilani who was previously a prominent doctor in Kashmir before he moved to Saudi Arabia and later settled in Pakistan. Irtiyaz Gilani is their son.


OMARSPEAK

"The arrests are a result of Pakistan's policy of breeding terrorists. We have always said the terrorists they train to send across to Kashmir would one day turn on them and become problem for them. This arrest proves that. The only solution for Pakistan is to stop training and support that they give," said chief minister Omar Abdullah.