by Farooq Ganderbali
Pakistan’s latest crackdown on banned terror groups are merely an eyewash to placate the West and India in the wake of major terror attacks emanating from the country’s soil. Pakistan said Tuesday that Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar’s son and brother were among 44 members of the banned terror outfits taken into “preventive detention”, amid mounting pressure from India and the global community on it to rein in the terror groups operating on its soil.
Islamabad also said it is shuttering institutions that belong to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a designated terrorist group that is an alias for Lashkar-e-Taiba. The crackdown came amid tensions with India following a suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14 by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group that martyred 40 CRPF soldiers.
India recently handed over the dossier to Pakistan to take action against the JeM for the Pulwama terror attack. If the past is any guide, the efforts are merely eyewash to placate Western governments in the wake of major terror attacks emanating from Pakistani soil. That’s because Pakistan has claimed it has shut down JuD offices and detained its top leaders in the past, only to allow the offices to reopen and the leaders free months later.
Ironically, Pakistani generals and government officials routinely state that terrorist groups are not permitted to operate on Pakistani soil. Yet the JuD operates freely in Rawalpindi, the city that headquarters Pakistan’s military, the website noted. Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and its successor, JuD, has been placed under “protective custody” at least four times in the past two decades, only to be released.
Even when he was in purported custody, Saeed was free to travel and give sermons at LeT/JuD-run mosques in Lahore. Saeed’s ties to both the Pakistani state and global terrorist groups such as al Qaeda are indisputable. Pakistani state supports Saeed and his organisation, which has offices across the country. Pakistan also routinely rounds up known terrorist leaders and places them under ‘protective custody’, only to release them when foreign pressure wanes.
Dangerous jihadist commanders such as Masood Azhar (Jaish-e-Mohammed), Qari Saifullah Akhtar (Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami), and Malik Ishaq (Lashkar-e-Jhangvi) have been detained numerous times, only to be freed later. There is little reason to believe this latest ‘effort’ will be any different.
Even within Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), has questioned the Pakistan government’s action against terrorist organizations. “Militants haven’t been arrested, rather they’ve been taken into protective custody so that Indian jets don’t bomb them,” he told reporters on Wednesday. The PPP leader also accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of taking support from the banned terror organizations.
by Farooq Ganderbali