Pakistan’s refusal to curb terrorism poses gravest threat to peace and stability in the region…writes Kamal Abdul Rahim
The Indian envoy to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin’scall to the international community to force Pakistan to prosecute terrorist groups could not have come at a more opportune time when the world was reeling from the shock of the suicide truck attack at a Christmas market in Germany.
His call to Pakistan to rein in terrorist groups operating under state patronage also follows the National Investigating Agency (NIA), India’s premier investigating agency, charging Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Masood Azhar and others for the terrorist attack in Pathankot early this year. India has demanded Pakistan to prosecute Azhar and his terrorist group which has for long been protected by Pakistan army and its intelligence service, ISI.
But Pakistan has refused to take any action and has, on top of it, persuaded its close ally, China to block India’s attempts to declare JeM a global terrorist entity and Azhar a terrorist leader.
Ambassador Akbaruddin, addressing the UN Security Council, warned Pakistan of the blowback of its policy of supporting terrorist groups. The Supreme Court of Pakistan recently estimated that Pakistan had lost at least lost $12 billion in the recent years. The estimate of opportunities lost, national honour dented and safety and security of its people compromised is immeasurable.
He made another important point which merits attention. He remarked that while the international community was generous enough to recommit itself to the peace and stability in Afghanistan, it makes little effort to contain violence spearheaded by a global terrorist entity, the Taliban which operates with the active support of Pakistan Army.
In view of the recent terrorist attacks in different countries being traced to Pakistan, both these points need to be elaborated.
Pakistan has been sponsoring and supporting various terrorist groups for decades now. Till 2007, most of these terrorists attacked external targets, mostly in India and Afghanistan. But things took a dramatic turn when the same set of proxies began to attack the military and the people of Pakistan. Within months, from a perpetrator of terrorism, Pakistan also turned into a “victim“ of terrorism. Several thousand men and women, and children, both civilians and security personnel have been killed in the terrorist attacks carried out by groups which owed their existence to Pakistan Army as well as the state policy. Despite knowing well about their own hand in the killing of their countrymen, the civilian as well as the military establishment chose to continue with their dangerous brinkmanship in supporting and protecting terrorist groups like LeT and Taliban.
Although the state has been in a constant denial of its obligations towards its people and the international community, at various times there have been cries of justice from the state’s own institutions. The most recent one has been from a panel set up by the Pakistan Supreme Court which point blank accused the government of Nawaz Sharif, and especially the Minister of Interior, of cavorting with terrorist groups.
The danger posed by the state’s perfidy to its own people is not the only problem which the international community must confront. It must realise, without further delay and ado, that Pakistan’s failure to rein in the terrorists is not only a threat to the host country but also to the entire world. Today, Pakistan is one of the epicentres of terrorism, with a fairly large constituency of terrorists living in the sovereign territory, mostly with the state patronage, and some which have gone rogue but have stayed put in the strongholds they have established over the years with considerable assistance from Pakistan Army and other state institutions.
There is enough evidence to suggest that because of the patronage and sanctuary terrorists have enjoyed over the decades in Pakistan, other groups have been encouraged to follow the path of violence and destruction in other countries as well. Pakistan has been like a lighthouse of jihad, guiding terrorists and their sympathisers to more gruesome acts of terror, as the recent events have shown in different parts of the world.
Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin’s call to the international community to sanction state sponsorships of terror becomes all the more valid at this given point of time. His argument that the international community must not only commit money and resources to protect the interests of Afghan people but must also come down heavily on the terrorist groups wrecking violence on Afghanistan. This can only be done if the sponsors of such groups are sanctioned. Pakistan, as is now well known, is the key sponsor of terrorist groups like the Taliban which have been the sole reason for the spike in terrorist violence in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.
There is no avoiding the fact that unless Pakistan is compelled to divest itself from terrorist groups, there is no hope of stemming the tide of terrorist violence in Pakistan, in the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere in the world.