As I sat watching last week’s events unfold before my eyes via satellite from Mumbai, I found myself in that dreaded but all-too-familiar place – praying that it not be Pakistani who has committed this awful act. We feel the dread coming on whenever some tragedy takes place (please don’t let it be a Pakistani) not because of any conspiracy against Pakistan. We feel the dread because we get up and read the newspaper and see Malik Ishaq laughing at us from the page, once again set free to slaughter innocent people.
Sadly, I was not at all surprised by the court’s action as courts in Punjab have a strong record of freeing terrorists. And even when they are behind bars, they are getting support from high places. No, I am not referring to any foreign hand or conspiracy by national agencies, either. I’m talking about terrorists being given taxpayer money by Punjab government.
Malik Ishaq enjoyed Punjab government’s financial assistance ever since the Sharif’s came to power in 2008, officials on condition of anonymity told The Express Tribune.
The accused terror kingpin belonging to banned Sunni outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), nominated in 44 cases in which 70 people were killed, allegedly received a monthly stipend, during imprisonment, from the Punjab government.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah confirmed the disbursement but clarified that it was given to Ishaq’s family, not him, as per orders of the court. However, upon further investigation, it was revealed that nor was there any such disbursements during former president Musharraf’s tenure, nor was there any court order pertaining to the matter.
Sri Lankans may be disgusted by this latest move of the courts, but it is our own people who will suffer the worst.
As a matter of fact, most of the major terrorist attacks carried out in Pakistan since 9/11 appear to have a common grandmother – the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or the Army of Jhangvi – an anti-Shia Sunni-Deobandi sectarian turned anti-America jehadi organisation which is currently the group of choice for hard-core Pakistani militants who are adamant to pursue their ambitious jehadi agenda. Launched in 1996 as a Sunni sectarian group, the Lashkar today has deep links with al-Qaeda and the Taliban and is considered to be the most violent terrorist organisation operating in Pakistan with the help of its lethal suicide squad. As with most Sunni sectarian and militant groups, almost the entire LeJ leadership is made up of people who have fought in Afghanistan and most of its cadre strength has been drawn from the numerous Sunni madrassas in Pakistan.
Besides receiving sanctuary from the Taliban in Afghanistan for their terrorist activities in Pakistan, the LeJ operatives used to fight alongside the Taliban militants. Being part of the broader Deoband movement, the LeJ secured considerable assistance from other Deobandi outfits.
The LeJ also has an effectual working relationship with other Deobandi religio-political and terrorist organisations at a personal level, if not at the organisational level. Also, Pakistani intelligence findings show that al-Qaeda has been involved with training of the LeJ members, and that the Lashkar militants also fought alongside the Taliban against the Northern Alliance troops in Afghanistan.
Asad Munir noted recently that the Taliban do not recognise Pakistan’s sovereign borders.
The Taliban never recognised the Durand Line, and in fact laid claims to parts of Mohmand Agency, Binshahi in Dir and Angoor Ada in South Waziristan. Pakistan, for internal security reasons, should not insist on a Taliban government in power in Afghanistan, because they export Talibanisation to Pakistan. Efforts should be made for a broad-based, friendly government in Afghanistan on the withdrawal of US forces.
Pakistan’s army is under unprecedented pressure from both inside and outside the country. The Pakistani urban middle class and media who are largely anti- US are furious at the US carrying out the operation in Abbottabad which killed Osama bin Laden, and at our armed forces’ failure to react appropriately. Internationally, the situation is not in favour of Pakistan. Most of the world perceives Pakistan as a safe haven for terrorists. In case we do not act to eliminate these sanctuaries, action by foreign forces will remain a threat.
For all the hue and cry about ‘sovereignity’, it is not CIA that is executing our security forces and releasing videos to brag about it. And the notorious LeJ hitman, paid by government Punjab and freed by the courts, tells Geo that he will continue his work of terror.
An editorial in The Australian last week says that the world’s patience is wearing very thin with regards to terrorists groups in Pakistan. The question is, when will our own?