Terrorist Hafiz Saeed at a rally in Islamabad
Following External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the UNGA where she exposed Pakistan over its doublespeak on terrorism, Islamabad has denied the charge that sponsored-terror is part of its state policy. At the United Nations General Assembly, India and Pakistan have traded charges accusing each other of sponsoring terrorism.
Despite the presence of terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Al Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Jaferia, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Al Badr, Harkat ul-Ansar, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, Jamaat ul-Fuqra and Muslim United Army on its soil, Pakistan audaciously denied giving shelter to terror groups.
Several of these groups are known to have direct patronage of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The ISI is known to train the jihadi fighters associated with these terror groups and fund their operations mainly in India and Afghanistan.
TERRORISM AS STATE POLICY OF PAKISTAN
Following the embarrassing defeat in 1971 India-Pakistan war, former Pakistan Army chief and later President of the country, General Zia ul Haq devised the proxy war strategy against India. He called it “bleed India through a thousand cuts” policy.
This became Pakistan’s state policy when Zia-ul-Haq became Dictator of Pakistan. Though he died in 1988, Pakistan executed his plans. Since then Pakistani authorities have had close links with the terror and jihadi outfits. These elements have been used as part of their foreign policy with regard to India and Afghanistan.
Experts believe that after 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, another dimension was added to it. Pakistan became a “partner” of the US in the fight against terror. But, experts say that with joining hands with the US, Pakistan began its double game. It is, now, on both sides of terrorism.
Pakistan works with the US to get billions of dollars and then uses the same money to fund its jihad-inspired terror factory. Pakistan diverts aids from the US to fund terror activities of the groups it has created and nurtured over the years. There is fear in Pakistani establishment that if they are not given patronage, the terror groups might turn rogue and inflict greater damage on the country.
Pakistan, instead, helps terror groups operating from its land to carry out their activities in India and Afghanistan. Investigation into big terror attacks like those of 26/11 Mumbai incident of 2008 and Uri attack of September last year has exposed Pakistan’s deep state. In both the cases, Pakistan has tried to slow down the pace of investigation to almost dead.
TERROR FACTORY OF PAKISTAN
Ashley J Tellis, an expert on Pakistan’s terror sponsorship and a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has categorised the terror outfits nurtured by Islamabad under five categories.
Sectarian: Terror groups like the Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Shia Tehrik-e-Jafria fall in this category. These are religiously motivated groups. Their terror acts are largely confined within Pakistan.
Anti-Indian: Groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Harakat ul-Mujahadeen are the ones which carry out terror acts in Jammu and Kashmir and rest of India. These groups are funded, trained and given directions by the Pakistani Army and the ISI. The Mumbai and Uri attacks, as per evidence collected by the Indian investigators, were carried out on the direction of the ISI and senior Pakistani Army officials.
Afghan Taliban: The terror group of Mullah Mohammad Omar was supported and aided by Pakistan’s ISI. Pakistan government was one of the few countries which recognised the Taliban government of Afghanistan.
When Indian Airlines flight 814 was hijacked in December 1999, they flew to take shelter under Afghan Taliban. Pakistan’s ISI coordinated with them at that time. The group has lost much of its strength thanks to American attacks but it continues to operate from Quetta in Pakistan with the help from the ISI.
Al-Qaeda and its affiliates: Owing sustained attacks by the US and allied forces, the Al-Qaeda’s back was broken by the end of the first decade of the 21st century. When Osama bin Laden was hunted down from Abbotabad in Pakistan, it lost its supreme leader. After Laden’s death, the group split into various factions. The factions continue to operate from Pakistan with recognisable support from the ISI.
Pakistani Taliban: This is an amalgamation of over a dozen terror outfits. This group is in conflict with the Pakistani government. However, many believe that several top leaders and senior officers in the Pakistan establishment extend support to them for their fundamental character and emphasis on sharia.
PAKISTAN’S DOUBLESPEAK ON TERROR
At the UNGA, Pakistan called India “the mother of terrorism” because India deals with terrorists – coming from the other side of the LoC – with stern hands in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi was angry over External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s comparison between the growth paths taken by India and Pakistan over last 70 years.
Sushma Swaraj said that while India produced doctors, engineers and became information technology super power, Pakistan produced terrorists and became terror factory of the world.
Earlier, India’s first secretary to UN, Eenam Gambhir called Pakistan “Terroristan” after Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi accused India of committing “brutalities” in Kashmir. Abbasi made the comment while referring to counter-terror operations by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, where Pakistan has been sending terrorists since 1989.
Inside Pakistan, the government shies away from taking action against anti-India terror outfits. In July last year, chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Lashkar-e-Taiba Hafiz Saeed led out a march of 30,000 fundamentalists in Karachi.
Hafiz Saeed openly called for violating LoC and carrying out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and across India. But, Pakistan did not take any action despite it being a signatory to counter-terror conventions of the UN.
Several ISI officers including former ISI chief Hamid Gul were seen sharing dais with Hafiz Saeed, whom former Pakistan President Parvez Musharraf described as “our hero” in a TV interview.