Encouraging terror proves counterproductive for Pakistan
Terror and progress are no cousins and they don't help each other. The aims and objectives of the first will always be in conflict with the other. Also, terror does not pay in the long run. That, perhaps, is the hard lesson that Pakistan is learning now. Having encouraged terror modules on its soil and having had a complicit equation with terror figures of the world, Pakistan today is reeling under the impact of the world glare.
Even now, Pakistan media is full of reports, every day, that the Government had begun cracking down on JeD and all its associate groups and has begun arrests of the JeM cadres and leaders. This is not a new development. But, its own stand on the 'actionable evidence' provided by India against Pulwama attack bares its attitude.
Imran Khan, continues to maintain that he is ready to take action against the terror modules and terrorists if any, involved in the Pulwama, but brushes aside the proof given to him. In the face of the claims of the JeM on Pulwama attack and those about Balakot by its leadership, Imran Khan's stand pales away when he continues to be in the denial mode.
Firstly, Pakistan's move on terror modules came in the wake of the United National Security Council (Freezing and Seizure) Order, 2019 and had been issued in accordance with the provisions of Pakistan United Nations' Security Council (UNSC) Act, 1948. In Pakistan, such decisions of the UNSC are implemented through the UNSC Act, 1948.
Recently Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, said the government had taken a firm decision that there would be stern action against all militant groups. This, he said, was in accordance with the political consensus contained in the NAP (National Action Plan). This has been widely reported in Pak media.
Notable was the fact that the minister had refused to give any timeline for the operation against militant groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which has been accused of masterminding the Pulwama attack that triggered the latest crisis with India and took the nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war, and Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). Chaudhry said the timeline was something for the security forces to decide.
The National Security Committee had in its February 21 meeting “decided to accelerate action against proscribed organisations” and ordered re-imposition of ban on JuD and FIF. Prime Minister Imran Khan had on that occasion, while emphasising eradication of “militancy and extremism” from society, said the state could not be allowed to “become hostage to extremists”.
While speaking to a group of journalists at a background briefing on Sunday, a source had categorically denied that the action was in response to Indian pressure after the Pulwama incident and said the decision had been taken much before the Feb 14 attack on Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir, although it became public later.
He said the action would help deal with the issues arising out of the FATF listing. Pakistan, has come under renewed pressure at the Paris plenary last month. However, the fact is that Hafiz Saeed’s extremist groups continue to function in Pakistan despite the recent ban. It has always been so. Nothing changes in Pakistan except the nomenclature every time such a ban is imposed and a crackdown begins.
Rather, it is allowed by the Government. Not only the JuD (Jamat-ud-Dawa) and its charity arm Falah-e-Insaniyat (FIF) continue to operate in Pakistan but now they do so with changed names 0 Al Madina and Aisar Foundation. The Jamat-ud-Dawa is now Al Madina and Aisar Foundation is the new reinvented Falah-e-Insaniyat.
So what does the Pakistani government ban and seize? The announcement of a crackdown is a mere hogwash and is aimed at diverting the attention of the FATF. Pakistan's worries are multiplying by the FATF stance and the country's Finance Secretary has already warned that Pakistan risks coming under sanctions if the action plan given to the FATF was not fully implemented in full.
It only indicates that Pakistan had a real difficult time at the Paris meetings with India trying to push its demand for blacklisting it without further delay. It escaped the full wrath of the FATF as of now and continues to remain the grey list. But, it should realise the futility of sheltering those groups that the world wants to be banned.
The presence of these groups in Pakistan is detrimental to its own economy. And its intelligence and preparedness are far too greater than those of the terror modules, hence, it need not hesitate to clamp them down firmly in its own interest. At the Paris meet, it tried to present these groups as 'low risk' groups and faced the consequences. Now it has to pay the economic consequences.
Here is where China is figuring in. Its all-weather friend and ally, China is very much worried over the negative attention that Pakistan is gaining despite its CPEC and belt and road initiatives in Pakistan. It is also worried that the moment Pakistan really cracks down on the proscribed groups and those to be proscribed, the attention of the terrorists would automatically turn towards CPEC - more so if it withdraws support to Masood Azhar and allows him to be proscribed.
There is no way China could face the situation then as it would also lead to more troubles back home what with the simmering Uighir problem. Any calls from radical Islamists against China on this count would lead to a huge headache to its overseas plans. More than 10,000 Chinese are already working in the Gilgit and Baltistan region and China has also bought vast tracts of land in the area. Balochistan is a restive area. Khyber Phaktunwa through which the CPEC projects run is the hot bed of the terror groups and a training ground (this is where India has struck the other day).
If Afghanistan, Iran and Balochistan also get ready to defend their interests, China will be squeezed further. All this is certainly not in the interest of Pakistan and Imran Khan should realise it. Of course, it may not make any sense to anyone that Imran turns a reformist, because he is only a puppet in the hands of his own Army and ISI.
Terror flows through these two pipelines and those are not going to keep quiet. Terror money keeps flowing from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries and sustains them. Everywhere else it is called political will, but coming to Pakistan it is necessary that one should have a political will, an Army will and an ISI will. Too murky. Is it not so?