Pakistan Changing Stance on Terrorismby Opinion Express March 7, 2019 0 comments
The crackdown on JeM chief is in keeping with its past chicanery. We have to prime ourselves for terror attacks
Though it looks like Pakistan has cracked down on the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), arresting its chief Masood Azhar’s kin, and put Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed on a banned list because it has been cornered globally for harbouring terror bases. This, however, is another elaborate pretence and has nothing to do with India’s dossier on Pulwama or earlier terror attacks. It is clearly being done to build a convincing case in the UN and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has a hawk’s eye on terror funding, that its intent is in the right place. A FATF blacklist could jeopardise Pakistan’s attempts to secure funding by the IMF and aggravate its financial distress. First, Pakistan has taken the Jaish leaders in preventive custody, a euphemism for a state-sponsored protectorate. The hollowness rings loud with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf saying that the ISI was in touch with Masood Azhar and knew about the terror attacks in India. Second, Pakistan has not isolated Jaish in its stage-managed offensive but grouped it with Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa’ah (JuD) and other terror groups, saying its crackdown was part of a larger National Action Plan formulated after an attack on an Army school in Peshawar in 2014. Besides, it categorically said it did not want to isolate any organisation and would go by evidence, in one stroke diluting the culpability of Jaish. Third, while it banned the funding trust of the JuD, it has yet to clamp down on the Maymar Trust, associated with Al Qaeda and Jaish, which continues to generate funds for what they call welfare for children. There cannot be a real crackdown till terror assets are frozen and funding is choked. Fourth, Pakistan may take action against certain groups, even demolish the ones with baggage, but it always keeps the terror network alive in the region as old groups simply scatter and mutate with new identities. Besides, we have seen too many similar actions in the past to consider this a big turnaround in our neighbour’s strategy.
After the Mumbai attacks in 2008, the Pakistani army smashed a Lashkar training camp in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Soon after, Indian security agencies found that the Muzaffarabad camp had simply been wound up and moved to a new location in Dulai, with much more advanced facilities. Pakistan even arrested LeT’s operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and put him in Rawalpindi’s sprawling Adiala jail. However, this arrest was pure hogwash as he continued to receive full state protection and was allowed to maintain contact with his commanders from inside the jail. The US found evidence in this case, even discredited its actions but that didn’t force Pakistan to give up its chicanery. Although it has banned JuD front organisations such as the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation now, fact is they have generated enough funds so far in the name of charity for the proliferation of jihadi activities. The damage has already been done. The Pakistani government, instead of reining them in, deliberately overlooked these organisations. The Punjab provincial government donated approximately 1 million dollars to the JuD for charity work in 2010. Such fronts legitimised the terrorists’ existence within civil society. Pakistan does not want to lose its strategic hold of the region with its biggest bargaining chip, exportable terror. And for all its cosmetic de-escalation, its terror factory researches new methodologies. Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba has already warned how terrorists are now being trained to take the sea route and we are looking at a new maritime front. Simultaneously, there has been no let-up in Pakistani psy ops, with that side still claiming it has shot down a Sukhoi and forced an Indian submarine out of its waters. While India continues its diplomatic offensive, one thing is for certain. It will be high alert for our forces at all times.