Terrorism is here to stay. Yes, that’s the truth, and it’s not going
to change anytime soon. Not if the world drags its feet the way it’s
been doing since the 26/11 blasts in Mumbai, which left 180 people dead
and some 300 injured.
True, that Pakistan, acting like a recalcitrant child who refuses to
admit to its mistakes, finally made some arrests and appeared to have
cracked down on a few terror camps, but, though that was a start, it
was not enough – not nearly enough.
More, much more needs to be done if the world – and for this
conversation, that’s the U.S. and India – want to rid themselves of
A once-bitten-twice-shy India views some of the “arrests” made in
Pakistan over the past few days with a pinch of salt; Pakistan has been
known to use this tactic as a delay, arresting militants when all eyes
are on the country, releasing them when attention is focused elsewhere.
It will take much more action on Pakistan’s part to satisfy India this
Indians view the “house arrest” of Jaish-e-Mohammad’s top man
Maulana Masood Azhar, with a fair amount of skepticism. India was
forced to release Azhar back in 1999 when militants hijacked an Indian
Airlines aircraft and forced it to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan. After
a seven-day stand-off, hijackers successfully obatined Azhar’s release
in exchange for the airline’s passengers, but one hostage, who was on a
honeymoon trip, was brutally stabbed to death. Azhar’s organization has
since carried out a string of attacks against India. So, when Pakistan
says it has placed this man under “house arrest”, Indians roll their
eyes. And not for the first time.
The terror network in Pakistan is dark and murky, and not easy to
understand, but, to simplify matters, there are four main elements:
First, there are the militant groups, linked to each other in various
ways, the topmost one being the Lashkar-e-Taiba, believed to have links
with Al Qaeda.
Second, there is the Inter-Services Intelligence Pakistan’s spy
agency which has long aided, if not created, the militant groups, in an
attempt to quash dissent from religious extremists. It, too, is said to
have links with the Al Qaeda as well as the LeT. So strong are the ties
that ISI chief Hamid Gul has been named by India as the main man behind
many attacks on its soil – a charge he denies. Then we have the
Pakistani army, which seems to be involved at some level, though the
connections here are nebulous; it’s hard to figure out who is mixed up
and who is not. And lastly, there is the civilian government, which, if
not involved, is too weak to take on so many factions – religious
fundamentalists, regional sectarians, terrorists, the Army’s top brass
and the ISI.
The question then is, that if there is so much evidence against
Pakistan, then why doesn’t someone – the U.S. with its no-tolerance
approach to terror – crack down hard on this clearly wayward nation?
Americans are very much in the firing line of the militant groups.
Attacks on Americans – the journalist Daniel Pearl among them – are by
now familiar. In the Mumbai attacks, U.S. and British nationals were
singled out and shot. Moreover, it is believed that terrorists are
being trained in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and Canada to carry out
attacks in those countries.
But America needs Pakistan’s help in fighting the Taliban and Al
Qaeda in Afghanistan, a country that shares a long and remote border
with Pakistan. And the U.S. also uses Pakistan as a route for shipping
supplies to its massive air base in Bagram, Afghanistan.
And though Pakistan officially says it wants to help the U.S., there
are, as I’ve enumerated, many forces within the country that want to
sabotage that process. In addition, many militant group within the
country disapprove of America and Pakistan’s ties to that nation. Just
last week, 160 NATO vehicles, meant for the U.S. and allied forces in
Afghanistan, were set ablaze as a protest of the nation’s involvement
in western politics.
So there seems no solution, no end in sight. Terrorism – a blanket
word that we now use loosely, probably without knowing who it is we
mean anymore – is the word we now fear the most. It’s a matter of time
before those fears will once again come true.
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