Pakistan's Emergence as the Epicentre of Terrorism
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 23 Nov , 2011

September 11 which was a monumental Islamic terror strike snapped this alignment and Osama and Omar becoming the hunted. To protect its nuclear arsenal from possible damage and to forestall India upstaging it in Afghanistan, Pakistan broke ranks with Taliban under American pressure but the ISI kept a backdoor linkage. In Pakistani assessment the Taliban were destined to return to governing Afghanistan. Through this low grade duplicity it wanted to keep the relationship warm for that day. The ISI Taliban relationship strengthened after US attention got diverted to Iraq from Afghanistan in 2003. At the same time the ISI tried to convince the US about its bonafides by getting some Al Qaeda operatives like Khalid Sheikh Mohd and Abu Zubaida arrested in Pakistan.

The ISI got into the business of reviving the Taliban, supporting their expeditions, training their cadres extensively in their camps, and protecting and harbouring the Afghan Taliban Shura, in Quetta.

The attack on the Indian Parliament on Dec 13, 2001 marked a major milestone in Pakistani terror campaign against India. The two countries could have lurched into a war but international diplomacy saved the day. The Pakistani government was compelled to ban the LeT and the JeM, the two principal terror organisations but it was just an eyewash. The ISI support to them continued without the slightest break since both these organisations had become constituents of an ISI controlled complex terror conglomerate for waging the proxy war against India. The LeT resurfaced under a new banner as the Jamat-Ud-Dawa and worked feverishly to expand its camps and train volunteers. By 2008 it counted nearly 150,000as its functional members. It also enjoyed the active support of Al Qaeda, multiplying its reach.

Pakistan’s duplicitous conduct towards the US vis-à-vis the Taliban also became more brazen. With an eye on the future the Taliban were elevated to an asset class, never to be forsaken. The ISI got into the business of reviving the Taliban, supporting their expeditions, training their cadres extensively in their camps, and protecting and harbouring the Afghan Taliban Shura, in Quetta.

This combine consisting of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Pakistani terror groups, and the clandestine support from Pakistani military and intelligence infrastructure, has given a new impetus to Islamic jihad. No single individual, but a common ideology and a common enemy list are their sources of inspiration. Their common ideology is derived from the puritanical Wahabi Salafi Islam. Their common enemies are the Christians, the Jews and the Hindus. Their theatre of operations is not just limited to the subcontinent. The ideology has spread far beyond its frontiers.

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One consequence, not anticipated in Pakistan, is that Pakistani society has itself got infected by this virus and the nation is no longer under the complete control of its executive. Vast sections of the Pashtun population and the Punjabi heartland have come under its influence. Members of the terror syndicates and the military and intelligence services have their recruiting areas in the same territories. The virus, therefore, is well entrenched in these bureaucracies, giving rise to a jihadi ethos. There have been numerous attacks on Pakistani establishments, including military and civil, in which the insiders, so affected, have had a role. Suicide bombers have been used. Pashtun belts in NWFP and FATA have openly displayed Taliban tendencies, compelling military action by Pakistan. A situation of a civil war now exists there. Nearly 25000 Pakistanis have lost their lives in such violence as compared to 8800 in Afghanistan.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Anand K Verma

Former Chief of R&AW and author of Reassessing Pakistan.

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