The Pathankot attack early this year incidentally came within days of another reassurance from the Pakistani Prime Minister that his country will ensure that no terrorist threat emanated from his country….writes Syed Shihabudhin
Pakistan’s decision to share a terrorist attack alert can possibly reflect a tactical change but is far from enough to bridge the wide gap between action and promises.
Pakistan has been making promises to deal with anti-India terrorists for decades now but with no real action in sight. In the recent history, it was in 2004 that Pakistan made a written assurance that it will not allow any terrorists to use its soil to target India. Since then, there has only been a spike in terrorist threats from Pakistan. The most serious was the attack on Mumbai in November 2008.
The Pathankot attack early this year incidentally came within days of another reassurance from the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that his country will ensure that no terrorist threat emanated from his country.
The widely publicised tip off from Pakistan to India about a possible threat from JeM and LeT terrorists in March this year is a welcome development but is not enough to reflect true commitment on the part of the Pakistani leadership about dealing with terrorist groups and their activities.
Two things stand out from the tip off and need more elaboration. One thing is that the threat comes from terrorist groups based in Pakistan which means Pakistan has failed to contain or neutralise them despite promising to its people and the international community that it will do so. This promise is being made for the last seven or eight years now. Second, the groups named in the threat alert–JeM and LeT—are both known to be patronised by Pakistan Army.
These two facts can only mean one thing–Pakistan is shirking its responsibility of dealing with these home-bred, based terrorist groups and putting the onus on India to pre-empt or prevent the attacks. This is a clever game and must be seen through. By warning India about the possibility of a terrorist attack from their country, the Pakistani leadership is finding an easy way to escape culpability for such an event. India must not fall into this trap.
If Pakistan was serious, it would not have allowed any groups to pose any kind of threat to India or to any other country. The fact that these groups have the audacity to plan attacks from Pakistan against neighbouring countries, as borne out by the warning, shows either the failure of the leadership or their complicity.
Pakistan cannot get away by warning India about possible threats but must do everything possible to prempt such attacks. This can only be done if Pakistan were to move without any ambiguity or doubt against the terrorist groups operating out of its territory. It is not difficult to pin down both the groups and their cadres. Both live and operate from Punjab, the stronghold of the Sharif family. The younger Sharif brother, Shahbaz, is the Chief Minister of Punjab and his elder brother, the Prime Minister. It is difficult to believe that the Sharifs cannot move against the two groups which for long have been responsible for spoiling the relationship between the two neighbours.
The main stumbling block is known to all–Pakistan Army. Both these groups have survived purely on the basis of the extensive patronage they have enjoyed from Pakistan Army. These groups continue do enjoy this privilege despite terrorism engulfing Pakistan even more rapidly than other countries in the region. Despite the threat warning, there is no sign that this patron of terrorist groups has had a change of hearts. If it were so, the terrorist groups would have long ago met the fate of other “strategic assets“ which became liabilities for the army. The fact that these groups remain active and even more stronger than the past show that they are still Pakistan Army’s assets.
Unless this deep rooted and visible alliance is disrupted, between Pakistan Army and terrorist groups like LeT and JeM, merely warning India about impending threats is nothing but a ruse to escape culpability.