It is high time to designate Pakistan a ‘Terrorist State’ globally
Pakistan’s State-sponsored terrorism is the prime examples of a government’s support for violent non-state actors engaged in terrorism. As Pakistan cannot afford traditional warfare and the risk of nuclear war, it has chosen the easiest way—State Sponsored Terror. According to the US Counter-Terrorism Coordinator’s Office, state support for terrorism can include “funds, weapons, materials and the secure areas” for “planning and conducting operations”.
Pakistan is home to the world’s deadliest terrorist organisations like Haqqani Network, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Lashkar-e-Omar, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) Sipah-e-Sahaba Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, D-Company, and their affiliates to name a few. Who can forget American Navy Seals Operation in Abbottabad to kill Osama Bin Ladan who was sheltered there?
Pakistan has hosts on its land the above organisations to organise, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, transit, and operate in relative secrecy and security. This is happening because of its government’s support through its ISI and Army backed by political will.
“Humanity at Risk—Global Terror Threat Indicant (GTTI)” by Oxford University and Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) said, “If we look at the most dangerous terrorist groups, based on hard facts and statistics, we find that Pakistan hosts or aids majority of them. Also, there are a significant number of groups based in Afghanistan, which operate with the support of Pakistan”, the report says. Incidentally, Pakistan has persistently continued its decades long policy of using proxy groups to project its power in India, Afghanistan, Bosnia (The ISI was involved in supplying arms to the warring parties in Bosnia-Herzegovina to attack Serb), Libya, Iran, Iraq, France, Russia, Central Asian Republic’s, Poland, Czech, Slovakia, Srilanka, Syria, South East Asia Countries, Maldives, North Korea, UK, USA, Yemen to name few.
The National Security Archive at the George Washington University recently published a cache of unclassified documents which claim, “A large majority of the Haqqani Network (HQN) funding comes from the Quetta, Pakistan-based Taliban leadership”. The Haqqanis have frequently been accused of targeting Indian installations in Afghanistan. “It is by far the most lethal group, not just inside Afghanistan, but in South Asia in general,” said Ahmad Majidyar, a fellow at the Middle East Institute and an expert on Afghanistan-Pakistan security issues. The group is more like a criminal mafia group rather than an insurgent group.
In July 2009, then President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari admitted that the Pakistani Government had ‘created and nurtured’ terrorist groups to achieve its short-term foreign policy goals in the 80’s under Zia ul Haq. Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistan President, had admitted in 2016 that Pakistan supported and trained terrorist groups like LeT in 1990s to carry out militancy in Kashmir and Pakistan was in favour of religious militancy since 1979.
Further, Pakistan is able to create Yemeni terrorist network within Al-Qaeda that is operating far beyond the confines of the Arabian Peninsula. This network includes skilled bomb makers, martyrdom operatives, and senior commanders tightly ensconced with Al-Qaeda’s top leadership in the rugged terrains on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. These individuals have demonstrated their remarkable ingenuity, tech-savvy skills, and deadly precision. They have been linked to some of the most severe attacks to take place in the Afghan-Pakistani region, including the dramatic suicide bombing in late December 2009 that killed seven agents from the Central Intelligence Agency and a Jordanian intelligence officer at an Afghan forward operating base near the border with Pakistan.
As Pakistan Prime Minister was asking about the evidence of Phulwana Terror Attacks, we would do well to provide him with evidence and blood history of Pakistan. Ahmed Rashid, a noted Pakistani journalist, has accused Pakistan’s ISI of providing help to the Taliban.
Pakistan was involved in the evacuation of about 5,000 of the top leadership of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda who were encircled by NATO forces in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Kunduz airlift, which is also popularly called the “Airlift of Evil”, involved several Pakistani Air Force transport planes flying multiple sorties over a number of days.
The United Nations Organization has publicly censured Pakistan on its inability to control its Afghanistan border and to restricting the activities of Taliban leaders who have been designated by the UN as terrorists. Many consider that Pakistan has been playing both sides in the US “War on Terror”. According to an analysis published by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution in 2008, Pakistan was the worlds ‘most active’ state sponsor of terrorism including aiding groups which were considered a direct threat to the United States.
Based on communication intercepts US intelligence agencies concluded Pakistan’s ISI was behind the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008, a charge that the governments of India and Afghanistan had laid previously. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has continuously reiterated allegations that militants operating training camps in Pakistan have used it as a launch platform to attack targets in Afghanistan, urged western military allies to target extremist hideouts in neighbouring Pakistan.
At last, one can say that Pakistan has to be declared as Terror-Sponsoring State. Though India gave evidence to the horrific attack in Mumbai on 26/11, likewise, on the terror attack on Pathankot airbase, there has been no progress. So India said it would not submit any evidence to Pakistan on the role of JeM in the Pulwama terror strike and instead give all such facts to friendly nations to unmask the role of elements based in the neighbouring country in the attack.
However, India is in a dilemma like the US has repeatedly faced: What to do about the sponsorship of Islamist terrorist groups by Pakistan? Diplomacy, sanctions and targeted military strikes haven’t worked; full-scale war is unthinkable. The failure to impose accountability or establish deterrence only encourages the Pakistani military and its intelligence service to continue a policy of backing extremists across the world. But to designate Pakistan as a Terror State, and identify Azhar Mahmud which it perpetrates openly, as a global terrorist by the United Nations, can heal the wounds for now. Pakistan Government, ISI, Army has to learn; otherwise they are going to fall as they cannot go on testing others patience.
Pakistan is already in the debt trap of China and is losing its sovereignty in the eyes of the world. If Pakistan doesn’t learn its lessons on its own and withers, tukde-tukde of the country from Sindhudesh to Gilgit-Baltistan will commence soon under the weight of its own terror partners.
(The writer is an expert on International affairs)