- US calls Pakistan a safe haven for terrorists
By JK Verma
New Delhi. 26 July 2017. India has always been saying so, but the world never reacted. Today United States reiterates India’s statements in its US State Department annual Country Report 2016 on terrorism, which comes as a jolt to Pakistan.
The US report which covered the events from January to December 2016 was released by State Department on July 19, clearly mentions that Pakistan is a “safe haven” of terrorists and several terrorist outfits including Lashkar-e-Taiba (L-e-T), Jaish-e-Mohammad (J-e-M) and Haqqani network operates from Pakistan. L-e-T and J-e-M carried out most of the terrorist attacks in India while Haqqani network constantly attacked US led NATO forces and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.
The report reiterated the Indian stand that India is suffering from cross-border terrorism and Pakistan based terrorist groups regularly infiltrates terrorists in the country and these outfits are involved in terrorist activities. The report also revealed that terror groups like L-e-T, J-e-M and others continued to operate training camps, organise recruitment and fund raising jamborees and Pakistan government has done nothing to control these terror outfits.
Pakistan government’s ban on terrorist outfits like L-e-T is an eyewash and the terrorist outfits continued functioning unabated with pseudo names of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (J-u-D) and Falah-i-Insaniant Foundation (F-i-F). The hard-hitting report also mentions that these terrorist outfits are so emboldened that they organise fund-raising functions all over Pakistan including in the capital. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed co-founder of L-e-T and Chief of J-u-D, who is an internationally designated terrorist and carries a reward of USD 10 million not only roams freely but also addresses large gatherings in important cities of Pakistan. In fact he receives V.I.P. treatment by the local administration and they assist him in organizing rallies and fund raising functions.
Hafiz Saeed is included in the most wanted list of National Investigation Agency (NIA) and NIA is trying for his extradition but as Saeed is the protégée of nefarious Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) there is no restriction on him. Several countries like United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Russia and Australia banned L-e-T but it has no impact on Pakistan.
Another study conducted by University of Maryland on terrorism pointed out that although in 2016 terrorists activities were carried out in 104 countries but 55 percent of terrorist attacks occurred only in five countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, India, Pakistan and Philippines. The analysts mention that out of above mentioned five countries, Pakistan trained terrorists were responsible for all terrorist activities in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan while terrorists involved in Iraq and Philippines also had some connection with Pakistan.
The report mentions that although Pakistan government has taken action against terrorists in Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) but the impact is uneven. It clearly substantiates India’s principled stand that Pakistan authorities differentiate between “good” and “bad” terrorists.
Pakistani army launched several major operations against terrorist outfits in past including Operation Al Mizan, Rah-e-Haq, Zalzala, Black Thunderstorm, Raah-e-Raast, Sher Dil, Rah-e-Nijat, Koh-e-Safaid, Khyber, Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fassad but the results of these operations were dismal as the security forces differentiated between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists. The terrorist outfits which obeys instructions of military controlled ISI comes under the category of ‘good terrorists’ and get full protection and assistance from security agencies while ‘bad terrorists’ are those are those which carryout terrorist activities against the wishes of ISI. The report also mentioned that Pakistani security forces took actions against Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but refrained from taking actions against other terrorist outfits including Haqqani network, L-e-T, J-e-M etc.
Pakistani security forces must understand that they cannot control terrorists and they may succeed in infiltrating few terrorists in neighbouring countries but large number will remain inside Pakistan and would carry out terrorist activities.
Several times Pakistan army reacts after the incident as after suicide attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Sufi shrine at Sehwan in Sindh which killed more than 88 innocent citizens including 20 children, Pakistan army launched operation ‘Radd-ul-Fasaad’ in which they killed more than 100 terrorists within days. It indicates that security forces were aware of the location of terrorists hence exterminated them so early. In fact if security forces had knowledge about hideouts of terrorists they should have eliminated them before the terrorist incident unless security forces were protecting these terrorists.
Good terrorists include Haqqani network and Taliban which carryout terrorist operations in Afghanistan. Same way L-e-T, J-e-M and J-u-D are ‘good terrorists’ as they carry out terrorist activities in India.
Pakistan which is responsible for major terrorist attacks in India and Afghanistan always blames Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies for terrorist attacks in the country. After terrorist attack on Sufi shrine in Sindh Pakistan alleged that it was the handiwork of Afghan government sponsored terrorists and they took shelter in Afghanistan. Pak army summoned Afghan embassy officials in Army Hqrs at Rawalpindi and gave a list of 76 terrorists who were allegedly hiding in Afghanistan and demanded their repatriation. Pakistan also closed borders with Afghanistan.
In fact Pakistan instead of blaming other countries should chalk out a comprehensive plan to eradicate multifarious terrorist outfits from its soil. Pakistan should also tame ISI which has become a state within-state and infiltrate terrorists in other countries.
The terrorist outfits as well as ISI are running several Madrassas in the country and these religious seminaries are producing terrorists and spreading radicalism and hatred in the country. The administration must regularize the registered as well as unregistered Madrassas and the modern education should be imparted in these religious institutions so that the students get some jobs after study.
Pakistan should stop radicalisation of the country as well as start de-radicalisation programmes. The religious preachers must counter the propaganda of terrorists as they are killing people on the name of Islam. There should be sweeping changes in the prevailing education system of the country.
Pakistan should launch poverty alleviation programmes so that deprived young persons get jobs and lead a normal life. Pakistan government should stop foreign assistance to those Madrassas which are producing terrorists.
US National Security Advisor HR McMaster also told to Pakistan authorities in his recent visit to Islamabad that Pakistan security agencies must take actions against all terrorists and should not differentiate between good and bad terrorists.
The reports also mentioned several terrorist incidents occurred at Pampore, Pathankot, Uri, Baramullah, Nagrota etc. According to Indian intelligence organisations all these terrorist activities were carried out by terrorists infiltrated or trained in Pakistan.
Although the report mentioned that there were no major changes in Indian laws but also gave reference of punitive action taken against Zakir Naik of Islamic Research Foundation. Report also appreciated demonetisation of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes as it curbed menace of counterfeit and restricted terror funding.
The first Country Report on terrorism of Trump Administration adopted a hard line on Pakistan as it emphatically mentioned that Pakistan provides safe heaven to terrorists and it is involved in abetting and assisting diverse terrorist outfits. The report also mentions that Pakistan has not done enough to contain terrorism.
Nonetheless only mentioning of Pakistan in the report is not enough unless the lone superpower takes punitive actions against the erring nations including Pakistan. The country report of 2015 also mentioned than Pakistan was assisting terrorists but no worthwhile action was taken against the aberrant country.
The Trump administration took first step by blocking the military aid of USD 350 million to Pakistan as Defence Secretary James Mattis refrained to certify that Pakistan took adequate measures against the terrorist outfits especially Haqqani network.
However it is not adequate, USA as well as other countries opposed to terrorism must take stringent actions against Pakistan which may include trade restrictions, seizing of assets, travel advisory just to name few. Trump administration including President Trump already issued hard-hitting statements, now the world at large especially India wants to see what punitive actions were taken against the state which shelters and assists the terrorists. All world including US knows that Pakistan will not amend its ways unless some drastic steps are taken against it.
In past senior President Bush threatened Pakistan that either it is with USA or against it in respect of war against terrorism and it transformed Pakistan. In fact Trump also has to be blunt and should start taking stringent actions against Pakistan.
Indian security planners should not depend much on USA as no country works for another country, hence long term planning should be made so that infiltration of terrorists can be minimized and the terrorists already entered in the country should be exterminated. Funding of terrorists should be curbed and secessionist leaders should be put behind bars. The so called human right activists should not only be exposed but if law permits must be punished.
Pakistan may try to take advantage of present India-China standoff at Doklam and although it will not be advisable for India to open two fronts but must prepare itself as much as feasible.
(Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based strategic analyst and a retired senior intelligence officer. The views in the article are solely the author’s. He can be contacted at email@example.com)