If Pakistan does not take strong measures against the fundamentalist forces and terror groups and their influence and power grows, it may lead to the collapse of the state. Presently, Pakistan army does not seem inclined to take action against the terror groups based in Punjab and Sind, hoping to appease them, but the hardliners among them seem in no mood to relent and attacks on government establishment continue in various parts of the country. A collapsing economy and continued political uncertainty are leading to a situation in which radical extremists are gaining influence all over the country, giving them hope to acquire more political power and eventually finding access to the nuclear weapons. Pakistan is paying a high price for nurturing and training terror groups, which are threatening its very existence as a nation state.
It is not clear whether Pakistan is allowing surprise attacks in eastern Afghanistan from its territory or is just a helpless spectator of the attacks being mounted by the Haqqani group across the borders to kill U.S. troops and Afghan forces. Most of these attacks are by car-borne suicide bombers who use well-rehearsed drills. They breach the perimeter security of the bases, and other insurgents waiting in the wings armed with suicide vests, rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns, and hand grenades storm the base. As attacks across the borders from Pakistan have killed and injured a large number of U.S.–NATO troops in the past few months, many U.S. commanders have considered launching joint U.S.–Afghan commando raids into Pakistan to hunt down the attackers. This idea according to U.S. officials comes up every couple of months but has been consistently rejected because chances of successfully rooting out the deadly Haqqani–al-Qaeda group are slim. On other hand, it will lead to an intense diplomatic blowback from Pakistan, inevitably creating more problems for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.1
LeT has been banned as a terrorist organisation by India, Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Russia and Australia. Abu Jundal has made a startling revelation that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) continues to provide intelligence help and protection to LeT leaders despite the ban.
Al-Qaeda–Haqqani terrorists have been targeted by U.S. drones successfully, but this group attacks targets in eastern Afghanistan from bases that are out of reach of drone attacks. Sending American and Afghan ground troops would be a violation of international laws and lead to serious escalation of tensions between the United States and Pakistan. The U.S. military and intelligence agencies have been urging the Pakistan army to attack the al-Qaeda–Haqqani group to hunt down the terrorists in their base areas, but the Pakistan army seems in no mood to oblige.
The United States is the only country that is actually attacking Pakistan-based terrorists at their bases, but these drone attacks are focused on those terrorist groups that are operating from the frontier areas and targeting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The other terrorist groups spread across the length and breadth of the country have remained unscathed. The drone attacks kill terrorist leaders but do not destroy their networks or their bases inside Pakistan, and the kind of war on terrorism by the United States in Pakistan has proved ineffective in dismantling terrorist organisations entrenched in Pakistan. Any plan to place boots in the frontier areas of Pakistan faces serious diplomatic and political hurdles in the United States that seem insurmountable in present political environments. The recent gesture by the U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, of offering apology for the inadvertent killing of 24 Pakistan soldiers by NATO helicopters in the frontier area and the subsequent opening of the supply routes to Afghanistan by Pakistan have cooled tempers on both sides, and there is no immediate possibility of the United States using any other means than drone attacks to root out terrorist groups operating from the frontier areas of Pakistan.2
After U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan pull out by 2014, the United States would want India to expand its role in the post-war stabilisation of the Af-Pak region, but this may not be possible as the aversion of Pakistan and the Taliban to the idea of an Indian military presence in Afghanistan remains very strong.3 The international community can, however, join forces to help in the stabilisation the Af-Pak region by helping the people to stand up and fight against the fundamentalist groups.
After the death of Osama bin Laden, there may have been disruption in the centralised control arrangements of al-Qaeda, but this has not affected its ability to plan and launch catastrophic terrorist strikes in Europe or the United States. Its affiliates, Terhrik e Taliban of Pakistan; the Haqqani Network; the LeT; al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen; al-Qaeda based in Algeria and Mali; al Shabaab of Somalia; and Boko Haram, of Nigeria, still retain their capability to attack targets and cause mass casualties.
The deportation of Abu Jundal (real name Zabiuddin Ansari) to India by Saudi Arabia opened a flood gate of information for Indian intelligence agencies as he was an important Indian link in the chain during the 26/11 LeT strike in Mumbai in 2008. He is reported to have revealed plans of LeT to resume terrorist strikes in India and the kind of network they have been able to set up within India for this purpose. Information of sleeper cells and those who are manning them has also been revealed by him, but the identity of the top LeT link in India and his counterpart in Pakistan is not yet known. LeT has been banned as a terrorist organisation by India, Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Russia and Australia. Abu Jundal has made a startling revelation that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) continues to provide intelligence help and protection to LeT leaders despite the ban.
The United States is the only country that is actually attacking Pakistan-based terrorists at their bases, but these drone attacks are focused on those terrorist groups that are operating from the frontier areas and targeting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Once more, detailed information about organisations like the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Indian Mujahidin is available. Indian intelligence agencies may be able to penetrate and destroy links with the LeT network. It is important to break the liaison between the LeT and Indian radical groups considering the objectives and ideology of LeT, which pose a manifest danger to India.
Aims and Objectives of the LeT
The LeT follows the radical Wahhabi ideology, which advocates global jihad against all infidels and moderate Muslims. Although the primary area of operations of the LeT in India is Kashmir, its main aim is the destabilisation of India and it has not confined its disruptive activities only to Jammu and Kashmir. The LeT has repeatedly claimed through its journals and websites that its main aim is to destroy the Indian republic and to annihilate Hinduism and Judaism. The LeT has declared the Hindus and the Jews to be the “enemies of Islam” and India and Israel to be the “enemies of Pakistan.” The group has defined its objectives in its manifesto, which maintains that jihad must be waged to attain its objectives, these are described as under:
- Restoring Islamic rule over all parts of India
- Waging jihad against India, Israel and the United States as they are the existential enemies of Islam
- Waging violent jihad, which is the duty of all Muslims
- Ending the persecution of Muslims
- Establishing Islam as the dominant religion in the world
- Forcing infidels to pay jizya
- Fighting for the weak and feeble against oppressors
- Taking revenge for the killing of Muslims
- Punishing enemies for violating oaths and treaties
- Defending all Muslim states and recapturing occupied Muslim territory4
The LeT trains and indoctrinates many jihadi groups at its bases, where it is advocated that:
- A caliphate must be established with one flag, one army, where Islamic religious law shariah prevails; all of Allah’s dictates must be implemented; democracy contradicts Islam.
- The caliphate may be established if possible by peaceful means; otherwise, recourse must be taken to violent means.
- All Muslims are obliged to join jihad to make Islam the world’s dominant religion.
- Global jihad must be waged to overthrow the rule of infidels such as the United States, Jews, Hindus and Christians.5
The leadership of the LeT
- Amin and supreme commander: Professor Hafiz Mohd Saeed, alias Tayazi
- Chief: Abdul Wahid Kashmiri
- Chief commander for J&K: Shahji of Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan, appointed in place of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, alias Chachaji
- Chief operational commander: Abdullah Shahad, alias Abu Anas
- Chief of communication: Formerly Zarar Shah, now Shahji, entrusted with dual charge
- Chief finance manager: Haji Mohammed Ashraf
- Spokesperson: Abdul Muntazir, alias Abdullah Ghaznavi
- Central information secretary: Yahya Mujahid
Indian extremists have been roped in by Pakistan intelligence agencies to join the LeT to create an impression in international circles that the terrorism in India is a domestic affair for which Pakistan cannot be blamed.
Action Commanders India
- Abu Muzammil
- Azam Chima
- Abu Al Qama
- Abu Samas6
Policy towards India
Hafiz Saeed has been in the forefront of jihad against India and had declared in an interview in 1999 that “the jihad is not about Kashmir only . . . fifteen years ago, people might have found it ridiculous if someone told them about the disintegration of the USSR . . . today, I announce the breakup of India. Inshallah, we will not rest until the whole (of) India is dissolved into Pakistan.”
After the Mumbai 26/11 attack launched in 2008 by the LeT, it organised a joint meeting of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and the LeT in Muzaffarabad (POK) in 2009, where it was declared that jihad was the only solution to the Kashmir conflict. Later, the LeT held a “Kashmir rally” in Lahore under a new name, Tanzeem-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir.8
The LeT poses a threat to the entire international community. It wants to “plant the flag of Islam in Washington, Tel Aviv, and New Delhi.”9 The LeT has intensified its global activities after the decentralisation of al-Qaeda. It cooperates with al-Qaeda and other militant groups in South Asia in recruiting drives, joint training programmes, tactical planning and financing for operations in Afghanistan.10 Senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah was captured in a LeT safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan, exposing the close links between the two organisations.11