Pakistan Must Heed America’s Warning

THE big question is: Will Pakistan heed America’s warning to take “sustained, verifiable and irreversible” action against terror groups?  The United States has gone to the extent of being very specific about its proxy war against India, warning that another terror attack on India will prove to be “extremely problematic.” The US has called upon Islamabad to especially rein in the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Taiba which have been causing bloodshed in India. The US warning has obviously come in view of the recent military actions in the wake of the terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. The tensions between India and Pakistan escalated, arousing fears of a war. The tensions have not subsided, but only been fuelled by China opposing designation of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Although there is public resentment against China for that reason, the anger is mainly directed at Pakistan whose civilian government and army are seen as promoters and protectors of the terror groups, the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Of course, India does not want escalation of tensions with Pakistan, because that would suit Pakistan, which has been pressing for international intervention for the solution of what it calls the “Kashmir dispute.” Even after launching the attack on Balakot, India maintained that it had attacked non-military targets. India let it be known to Pakistan that it did not plan a military confrontation but also a pre-emptive strike on a terror camp to eliminate the chances of another attack after Pulwama. However, as Pakistan’s interest lies in getting the world community involved in the resolution of the “Kashmir dispute” its government and army will not stop terror groups causing acts of violence in the territory of India, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir. Conscious of Pakistan’s double talk on fighting terrorism and determination to keep Kashmir in the news, the US has expressly advised the country’s leadership not to let any more terror attack happen on India. “If there is any additional terrorist attack without Pakistan having made a sustained, sincere effort against these groups, it would be extremely problematic for Pakistan and it would cause re-escalation of tensions, which is dangerous for both countries,” the US has said.

In the days following the Balakot strike Pakistan had frozen the assets of some terror groups and put some of the known terrorists under detention. It had taken administrative control of some of the JeM facilities. However, after the threat had passed, they have not taken any “irreversible and sustained” action against the terror groups that the US and the international community have asked the country to take. The trouble lies in the fact that though the terror groups openly operate in Pakistan, its government has never admitted they do. Sometimes, the truth comes out because it is too apparent, as in the case of General Shuja Pasha, former chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI who said shortly after the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 that the attack was planned by “our people” (meaning officers of the ISI). This was revealed by former Pakistani ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani in a book. Gen Pasha made the startling admission to Haqqani during his visit to Washington on December 24-25, 2008. At the end of Gen Pasha’s meetings with his CIA counterpart Gen Michael Hayden, Gen Pasha visited Haqqani at his residence. “Pasha said to me, ‘Log hamaray thay, operation hamara nahin tha’,” Haqqani wrote. Gen Pasha told Gen Hayden that “retired military officers and retired intelligence officers” of Pakistan had been involved in the planning of the Mumbai terror attack.

It is hardly surprising then that Pakistan has not pursued the men who planned the Mumbai terror attack, as that would mean exposing the role of its own government and army. Pakistan refused to pursue the case against the accused in the Pathankot case too, even though India provided all the evidence and even allowed Pakistani investigators to travel to the site of terror attack. As in the case of the Mumbai terror attack, so in the Pathankot case, vital evidence including intercepts of conversations before and during the attacks were provided to Pakistan by India that showed terror groups enjoying the patronage and support of the Pakistani military. India’s evidence pointed to Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf. Pakistan has been denying any terror groups operated from its soil when JeM and LeT have been owning the responsibility for attacks!