It is now clear that Pakistan’s continuing support of terrorists like Hafiz Saeed destroys more than peace; it changes the way people live in this region which have been affected by wars and military buildup for over seven decades now…writes Rifan Ahmed Khan
This could happen only in Pakistan – a terrorist, wanted by several countries in the world for acts of terrorism, gets a 24×7 security, the highest court of land asks for it to be withdrawn but a few days later, the state reinstates the security cordon. The terrorist mastermind, accused of plotting and executing the Mumbai attacks, among other terrorist attacks, is now free to move around the country, protected by the state security, as well as his own private army. This is the only country where a full-fledged terrorist protection programme has been in place for decades.
This comes at a time when Pakistan is supposed to defend its case in the Financial Action Task Force meeting scheduled for June this year. Pakistan was put on the watch list at the last meeting after it was found that it had failed to keep the commitments made to the group earlier. At the June meeting, the US is specifically planning to pick on Hafiz Saeed and his terrorist group, Lashkar-e-tayyeba (LeT) and grill Pakistan on actions taken against the terrorist mastermind and the terrorist group.
But Pakistan is not likely to take the global concern and criticism seriously. It knows it can get away with anything and in the absence of a global consensus on action against rogue states like Pakistan, there will be no concerted action against it. There are countries, powerful and influential, like China and Saudi Arabia, which will step in to rescue Pakistan for different reasons. Even the US, otherwise quite critical of Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, will also not the whole way to punish a country which still has some strategic value for pursuing its interests in the region.
There is no doubt that these countries, which are too eager to rescue Pakistan, should review their past actions and inactions and realise that by saving Pakistan they were endangering peace and stability of a greater arc of communities and region, and ultimately the world itself. The aftereffects are not limited to politics or strategic interests but have a far more wider and deeper impact on the world and its people. In other words, Pakistan remaining a terrorist-sponsoring state is not merely a threat to India and Afghanistan, and to its own people but also is a key destabilsing force in terms of cultural, social and environmental threats.
Let us see how. If Pakistan continues to sponsor and harbour terrorist groups, the chance of peace and stability in the region remains almost nil. This means, more than two billion people and their lives are hostage to the whims of a small section of a small country. This also keeps alive the threat of a war and a nuclear war in perpetuity, leaving people living along the borders scared to invest in human and natural resources more than what was essential to survive. These areas remain on the margins of development, leaving people either to migrate to safer places or survive on bare minimum, either way not a positive development for any country which seeks to give its people at least a reasonable semblance of peace and prosperity.
This threat of perpetual war means heavy investment in military and military hardware, both of which cause heavy drain on economies of poor countries in the region. Money which could have been rightly spent on education and health and other social welfare measures go up in buying costly military hardware and operational costs. This leaves millions without adequate medical and educational facilities, both of which have disastrous consequences for emerging economies.
Not only are wars or war-like situations a severe challenge for the people, they also cause enormous damage to the environment–trees, plants and wildlife, all of which have a direct impact on the natural cycle.
It is now clear that Pakistan’s continuing support of terrorists destroys more than peace; it changes the way people live in this region which have been affected by wars and military buildup for over seven decades now.
Are these impacts not known to Pakistan and especially its Generals? or its people? Yes, they are. But the Generals are hardly interested in the security and prosperity of the people of Pakistan, leaving others living in this highly populated region. The Generals, and opportunist and corrupt political leaders of Pakistan, have for long been using their country as a bargaining chip for personal or institutional gains. Neither the Generals or politicians have ever tried to work towards creating a liberal and progressive Pakistan, supposedly a dream nurtured by its founding fathers. The Generals wanted to rule the country without getting their hands dirty and the politicians wanted to fill up their coffers, building leisure homes in London and Switzerland, stash away millions in off-shore accounts and live a life of luxury and privilege in their poor country.
To do this, both the Generals and their civilian counterparts had to keep the people occupied by irrelevant and negative issues like radical Islam and jihad. So they nurtured and stoked the fear of a `dangerous` India and later expanded the project to make it `danger to Islam`. This helped the Generals to fatten their purses, strengthen their hold over the country and rule it without taking any responsibility. It was a win-win situation for them. The terrorists were one of the tools they used to stoke hatred and violence amongst the people, mostly against India and sometimes against Afghanistan and the US whenever it suited them.
Since terrorists like Hafiz Saeed have proved to be useful and loyal, the Generals cannot let go of them so easily, whatever the international community might say or ask. In the worst case scenario, they would merely ask Saeed and his likes to lie low, collect their monthly allowance and sow disinformation through social media and other outreach platforms. So the world might order Pakistan to behave, the Generals who control the reins may not be as willing to oblige, unless their stake in the country is threatened. This is possible only when Pakistan is declared a terrorist state and its Generals shunned.