Taking over Jaish seminary is not enough

Most reasonable people agree that Pakistan needs to act against all terrorist groups and individuals. Right now, the state of Pakistan must act against Jaish e Mohammad and its chief Masood Azhar.

The Pulwama attack was claimed by Jaish and the international community has accepted India’s demands that action be taken against Jaish and its leadership. Even the UN Security Council statement asked for action by Pakistan.

After initially denying that any group in Pakistan had anything to do with the Pulwama attack, it looks like the government is repeating its past policies of taking cosmetic steps simply to buy time and assuage the global community.

As an editorial in Dawn points out it was “unwise” of Pakistan to “allow” terror outfits “to operate in the past and efforts are needed to shut them down permanently.” There is a need to understand that “taking half-baked steps against violent actors is dangerous for Pakistan’s internal security, as well as its external relations. Now the elected leadership and the military establishment must take this campaign — as envisaged under NAP — to its logical conclusion by ensuring that non-state actors are not able to raise armed militias, and that those spewing hatred against other countries or spreading sectarian views are prosecuted.”

The announcement that action will be taken against Jamaat ud Dawa and that the madressah associated with Jaish-e-Mohammad in Bahawalpur has been taken over by the Punjab government is, however, not enough. “If the state has evidence of the outfit’s involvement in militancy it should present the facts and pursue the legal course so that JuD’s leadership can face justice. As has been witnessed for nearly two decades now, the state moves to ban militant outfits, but, in very little time they are back, up and running, with new names and the entire structure of violence intact. For example, in 2002 the Musharraf regime banned a host of jihadi and sectarian groups, yet this effort had little practical effect because with a mere change of nomenclature, the groups continued to peddle hate and violence, making a mockery of the proscription.”

Further, the state has also continued to “mainstream’ violent actors” and continues to “present them as legitimate religious scholars or relaunch the jihadi lashkars as political parties — have also failed to steer these groups away from violence and hate. For example, a sectarian party has been repeatedly allowed to take part in general elections, but its senior leaders have failed to cease spewing venom.”

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