TARGET INDIA: A model of a Ghauri missile in Muzaffarabad, 182 km from SrinagarFour bearded militants warm themselves at a gas heater in an Islamabad safe house. A wireless set suddenly crackles. “Our boys have entered Srinagar Airport,” a grave, distant-sounding voice announces.The voice, speaking in Urdu and broadcasting from,TARGET INDIA: A model of a Ghauri missile in Muzaffarabad, 182 km from SrinagarFour bearded militants warm themselves at a gas heater in an Islamabad safe house. A wireless set suddenly crackles. “Our boys have entered Srinagar Airport,” a grave, distant-sounding voice announces.The voice, speaking in Urdu and broadcasting from deep within India’s part of Kashmir, is detailing the progress of a suicide mission by Lashkar-e-Toiba, a ruthless, Pakistan-based militant group waging war to wrest Kashmir from India. Other militant groups in Pakistan can tune in to the same radio frequency.So can the Pakistani military. A phone in the house rings, and one of the men, all members of Lashkar-e-Toiba, answers. He is asked what’s happening. His reply: “Why don’t you find out from your side?” After hanging up, he explains the caller was a Pakistani army colonel.That scene occurred in early January. Five Lashkar operatives disguised as police officers attempted to attack the Srinagar airport that day. But Indian Army guards turned them away, and the operation was aborted. However, a second attempt a few days later succeeded, leaving six Lashkar-e-Toiba men and four policemen dead. Two civilians were killed and 12 injured.Since Kashmir erupted in 1989, India has pointed a blunt and unwavering finger at Pakistan, accusing it of fomenting the entire problem.It’s a large and cynical exaggeration: anti-Indian sentiment runs high within Kashmir, and in the first half of the 1990s, Kashmiris themselves provided the steam in the anti-Indian militant movement.They were disorganised and willing to murder, but passionate and anxious to plead their nationalist cause with the outside world.Today, however, India’s charge rings a lot truer. Despite a decade of denials – Islamabad insists it provides only moral and political support, not training or tangible aid – Pakistan is fuelling militant activity in Kashmir.advertisementOf the five main militant groups operating in Kashmir, four are based in Pakistan, where open recruiting and fundraising are commonplace. Training of militants is also done on Pakistani soil. The Pakistani military is deeply involved, especially in the smuggling of anti-Indian militants across the Line of Control.Militant groups have roots all over Pakistan, from well-equipped training centres in Muzaffarabad – the capital of Pakistan’s slice of Kashmir-and the North West Frontier Province to Lahore and Islamabad. Here is an inside look at how Pakistan runs its covert war in Kashmir:Recruiting and trainingThere are thousands of young, motivated Pakistani men anxious to join the militancy in Kashmir, which they consider a holy war. They come from all walks of life: not merely from the religious schools known as madarsas, or the far-flung, poverty-mired towns and villages, but also from Pakistan’s educated and westernised middle and upper classes.And for these highly religious volunteers, many of whom are still in their teens, there is nothing more sacred in life than achieving the status of a martyr. These are the grunts in the war. The leaders are Pakistani veterans of the Afghan war.LONG MARCH : Foreign militants on an uphill walk in south Kashmir. The fittest volunteers from the training camps cross over into India from forward posts of the Pakistani ArmyThe largest training camp in Pakistan is run by the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a wing of an Afghan mujahideen group known as Markaz Al Dawa Wal Irshad. It is set on a vast mountain clearing overlooking Muzaffarabad. Armed men guard the facility round-the-clock. There are only two structures, one an armoury, the other a kitchen. Trainees live and sleep in the open. The field is dotted with installations used to teach the fervent young – some no older than 14 – how to cross a river, climb a mountain or ambush a military convoy.The day of a trainee begins at four in the morning. After offering prayers, the militants go for exercises. A breakfast of tea and bread is at eight, followed by a full day of rigorous drills, which are interrupted only for prayers and a simple lunch, usually rice and lentils.Coursework covers how to use sidearms, sniper rifles, grenades, rocket launchers and wireless radio sets, as well as the art of constructing bombs. The teachers are Lashkar veterans of action in Kashmir and Afghanistan. Sports, music and television are forbidden.Trainees are only allowed to read prescreened newspaper articles. Training is divided into two stages. The first three-week session gives religious education and basic knowledge of how to handle firearms.Once a volunteer has passed that course, which costs the organisation about $330 (about Rs 15, 500) per trainee, he is sent to a designated city or town, often near his birthplace, to work at the group’s offices and become more involved with the organisation.When a volunteer proves himself capable, motivated and loyal, he is enrolled in a special three-month commando boot camp, which costs the group $1,700 (roughly Rs 80, 000) per student. (The money is raised from overseas groups and the Pakistani public.)advertisementIn the final weeks, recruits use live ammunition, construct actual explosives and perfect ambush techniques. The final exam lasts three days. A group of trainees, sometimes as large as 100 individuals, hikes and climbs through high-altitude, wooded terrain for three days without food or sleep.They are not allowed to slow their pace except for a few naps. At the end the hungry and thirsty survivors are given a goat, a knife and a matchbox. That’s their reward, and they have to cook and eat it in warlike conditions.Going inOnly the fittest from each graduating group are given a chance at martyrdom across the border in Kashmir. The local commander makes his choice, and the fortunate few are despatched to safe houses along the Line of Control known as “launching pads”. At this point, the Pakistani Army plays a crucial role in helping to arrange the infiltration of the militants across the Line of Control.Militants officially deny Pakistani Army involvement, but those who fought in Kashmir tell Time that the wait at the launching pad is dictated by their leaders, who are in touch with the army. “Until an unmarked vehicle turns up at your safe house,” says a veteran of Al-Badr, the first Pakistan-based militant organisation to get members across the line, “you don’t know when your number will come.”When it does, this is what happens: “The vehicle, covered from all sides, will pick up two, three or four militants according to the plan and dump them at one of the forward posts of the Pakistani Army,” the Al-Badr veteran says. “People in civvies give us arms, ammunition, food and money [Indian currency].We are asked to check our weapons. After a day or two they give us the signal to go ahead.” The next step is the most hazardous: from the Pakistani Army post, the group embarks on a three-to-seven night journey into Indian-controlled Kashmir, travelling by night, hiding during the day.The group leader wears night-vision goggles. The rest follow blindly across the mountains. There are numerous obstacles: Indian mines, tracer flares, Indian border patrols anxious to shoot at them. “But whenever such a situation arises,” says a Lashkar militant, “the Pakistani guns come to our rescue to provide cover.”Militants making the return trip go through a reverse route, ending up at a Pakistani Army base. In the 1990s, the Pakistani militants hired local guides – ethnic Kashmiris – to help them get across the mountains and into India.”On a number of occasions,” says Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, 42, the supreme commander of the Lashkar-e-Toiba militants, “they took the money and tipped off the Indians. So we trained our own manpower.”advertisementIn other words, the Pakistani militants don’t always trust the Kashmiris on whose behalf they are waging this war. The Pakistani militancy, which had its roots in the Afghan war, is now an institution unto itself.