By Ashok K Mehta
16 September 2015
Despite several examples that prove that Pakistan is the world's frontline sponsor of terrorism, religious extremism and radicalism, it has still escaped being declared a rogue state or a terrorist state
Here is a brief account of how Pakistan, the world’s frontline sponsor of terrorism, religious extremism and radicalism, has escaped being declared a rogue state or a terrorist state. Pakistani author, Shuja Nawaz, brother of former Pakistan Army Chief, General Asif Nawaz Janjua, the only Chief of Army Staff who died in harness has written that the US had threatened to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism following allegations of the involvement of Inter-Services Intelligence Chief Lieutenant General Javed Nasir in the 1993 Mumbai bombings in which 257 persons were killed and 713 wounded. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was forced to sack his hand-picked spy chief to placate the Americans.
A distinguished American counter-terrorism expert whom this writer met last week at the 15th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism at Herzliya, Israel, confided that Pakistan has spectacular credentials to occupy the lead place in any international Hall of Notoriety for its omissions and commissions on terrorism masterminded by the ISI.
At the top of the list must be the distinction of creating a non-state terrorist organisation, the Afghan Taliban, that transformed into a state entity that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
Second, Pakistan harbours 36 active terrorist organisations, four of which are on UN/US proscribed lists. 5,400 terrorists are held in detention and nearly 100 are on death row.
Third, three of the five most wanted on the US counter-terrorism list lived/live in Pakistan — the late Emir of Taliban, Mullah Omar who mysteriously died in the Islamic State captivity in 2013; Al Qaeda supremo Ayman al-Zawahiri; and the Satan of terrorism, Osama bin Laden.
Fourth, till 2014, on an average, eight out of every 10 terrorist attacks internationally have had Pakistan’s footprint or finger prints and in the case of Mumbai 2008, the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba left an RSVP.
Fifth, 54 Indian fugitives with known coordinates are in Pakistan while two Pakistani LeT terrorists — Mohammed Naveed Yakub and Shujat — were captured last month.
Sixth, Pakistan has raised country-specific terrorists groups against its neighbours Iran, Afghanistan and India. It has used terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy, finessed with ‘deniability’ on the pretext that non-state actors are not under its control.
Seventh, on nuclear proliferation, the less said the better. It’s record is one of stealing and siphoning off critical nuclear components in complicity with the European countries, its mentor China, North Korea and others in the rogues gallery. Under the discredited AQ Khan, it ran a Nuclear Walmart as America simply winked at all its transactions and bad habits. The list is unending…
Pakistan has perfected the fine art of distinguishing between good and bad terrorists. The former are strategic assets which strike against the neighbouring countries. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan are the bad guys as they attack the Pakistan Army and the ISI. Pakistan uses the good LeT to attack TTP and obtain information about other bad terrorists. It uses LeT to strike at India. It employs the US specially designated global terrorist organisation, the Haqqani network to attack Afghanistan and Indian assets there.
The US targets the Haqqani network, not the LeT or the Afghan Taliban who have killed US citizens and soldiers. The US has placed $10 million bounty on Let-Jamaat-ud-Dawa’h chief Hafiz Saeed and five million dollar on information on location of Haqqani leadership.
JuD and Haqqani (linked to Al Qaeda) are not banned in Pakistan. Rather, LeT-JuD enjoy the patronage of the Punjab Government with the Sharif brothers — Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Punjab — as chief patrons. The Punjab Government has funded JuD-linked organisations amounts of Rs8.2 crore in 2009-2010 and Rs7.98 crore in 2010-2011.
Testimonials on ISI, the deep state in its role are a state actor aiding, abetting and executing acts of terror are legend. It is the Director General of ISI whose wish and command is followed. In hardly a revelation, former DG ISI, Lieutenant General Asad Durrani, admitted to BBC earlier this year, “We kept Osama to see if we could get something from Obama”.
Pakistan Railway Minister (earlier DG ISI) Lieutenant General Javed Ashraf Qazi admitted in Parliament in March 2004, that the attack on Indian Parliament in December 2001, was carried out by Bahawalpur-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, Maulana Masood. Last month, Minister for Climate Change, Mushahid Ullah Khan claimed that ISI plotted to topple civil and military leadership during protests by Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and Tahir ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek.
The Intelligence Bureau had taped conversations of former DG ISI Lieutenant General Mohammad Zahir ul Islam, he claimed. Major General Asim Bajwa (ISI) who earned his spurs in terrorism in Nepal executing Operation Tufail in the early 1990s, now with Inter-Services Public Relations, refuted the Minister’s claim. The rivalry between IB and ISI, especially when Prime Ministers have enjoyed some autonomy is not well known. The ISI has ensured that the civilian leadership poses no threat to the military hierarchy.
Declassified cables of meetings between US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering and Pakistan leaders of the year 2000 show that the US had wanted Pakistan to go slow on cross-border terrorism. In April 2000, ISI chief Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed told Mr Pickering that “Pakistan has helped militants in Kashmir like we helped Afghans against the Soviets”. On May 26, 2000, Foreign Minister Inam-ul-Haq told Mr Pickering that he could not assure him of ending official support for infiltration.
Former Joint Chairman Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, in his written testimonial to the Congress stated “extremist organisations serving as proxies of the Government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan and US soldiers as well as civilians and the Haqqani network was acting as a strategic arm of Pakistan’s ISI”. Earlier this year, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said that Haqqani activities were “absolutely unacceptable”.
The US has paid upto $21 billion since 2001 to Pakistan for its suspect support in fighting terrorism. US officials say that we are paying Pakistan to have our soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s phony war on terrorism — operation Zarb e Azb — has been described by American scholar Christine Fair as Zarb e bakwas (nonsense).
In play in this saga of cloak and dagger, are two fatal obsessions: Pakistan’s with terrorism and US’s with Pakistan. In a roomful of Americans and others in Herzliya, to the two questions why the US does not act against Pakistan as it does against Iran and what are the red lines that will force a response, mum was the word. Thereby hangs a tale.