Pakistan fighting enemies or assets?
The terrorist attack on the naval base in Karachi is just the beginning. I apprehend many more such attempts to make a mockery of the Pakistani State, especially its security establishment the Taliban and Al Qaeda despise for being in cahoots with the US-led NATO forces.
Groups behind the attack apparently want to make as untenable as possible the Pakistan Army’s tactical understanding with the Americans that helped the latter treat as their own not just the Pakistani air space but also its territory, as was evident in the May 2 Abbottabad raid to take out Osama bin Laden.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rahman Malik has linked the attack to a meeting the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al Qaeda had in Waziristan to avenge Osama’s killing. They resolved at the meeting to target important personalities and military installations across Pakistan.
At the core of the Pakistani comeuppance is its establishment’s policy of categorizing terrorist groups as “assets” they’d harbor and “enemies” they’d go after. Its refusal to even-handedly fight extremism has turned Karachi and southern Punjab into hotbeds of gun-totting gangs of varied hue. Lahore anyway is the headquarters of LeT so indulgently patronized by the fauj and its intelligence arm the ISI.
In recent years, the terrorists have had the audacity to invade countless high-security installations of the Pakistan army, air force and navy, including the General Headquarters at Rawalpindi and Lahore’s Naval War College. Also at the receiving end of marauding groups have been offices of ISI and the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) besides training schools and colleges run by military, paramilitary and police forces.
While luring young men from poor families as potential fidayeen, jehadi organizations launch bomb assaults on fresh recruits to police and other security organizations. Their effort is to cripple the morale and the security infrastructure of the State that boast of nuclear weapons.
Rather than facing the challenge upfront, the establishment at times looks complacent and at times helpless, letting money flow in millions in the coffers of outfits such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Al Khidmat foundation of Jamaat e Islami. These organizations might not be openly anti-Pakistan as the TTP is. But their broader anti-India agenda isn’t in the long term good of the country.
US diplomatic cables unearthed by WikiLeaks provide graphic details of police feeling threatened by the radicals whose seminaries and other facilities are a no-go zone for law enforcers. These cables put the quantum of funding received by terror groups at nearly USD 100 million from Saudi Arabia and UAE.
It must be noted that South Punjab is known for its secular Sufi tradition clerics from Deobandi and Ahle Hadith schools are seeking to destroy through superstition-based indoctrination. Jehadi recruiters attribute poor people’s plight to worship at sufi shrines. The going rate for young men allowed to join the jehad by their parents is as high as Rs five lakh.
The Pakistani state must find ways to defuse these human bombs before they blow in its face. The only way to do that is by fighting poverty, ignorance, dogma and hatred for India. A tall order this, given the historical baggage of Indo-Pak distrust. But a dramatic gesture (of extraditing somebody like Dawood Ibrahim to India) can make it do-able. If only the Pak fauj decides to help itself, Pakistan and India— in that order.