State Still Protecting ‘Good’ Taliban? Did They Ever Stop…

Sartaj Aziz recent statements warning about ‘blowback‘ if the state tries to tackle militancy in Pakistan gave an uncomfortable feeling of ‘deja vu’. Analysts have responded asking whether this is a return to the old policy of fighting ‘bad’ Taliban while protecting ‘good’ Taliban. Is there really any question about this?

Here is ‘Good Taliban’ after recent militant attack in Kashmir

And here is the state’s response to their attack

And here is Karachi, which is supposedly under heavy operation by Pakistan security forces

Militants from ‘banned’ Jaish-e-Mohammad openly fundraising for jihad right under Rangers noses and we are supposed to believe that there is no policy of protecting ‘Good’ Taliban?

The only thing wrong with the question about whether there is a return to the state’s policy of ‘Good’ Taliban ‘Bad’ Taliban is that for a ‘return’ one has to actually leave. The state has never given up on the jihadi proxies, and the blowback that has cost 60,000 innocent lives. But this is a small price to pay for our leaders ‘living the dream’.

DHA

Masood Azhar’s ‘Protective’ Custody

Masood Azhar in custodyQuestions were raised about the status of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar after he was picked up by security forces following Pathankot attack at the beginning of the year. Official reports claimed that authorities were cracking down on the militant group without favour as per its international obligations. However this was quickly cast into doubt when Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah clarified that Azhar was not arrested but being held in ‘protective custody’, a term usually used when the state is protecting someone who faces threats.

Questions about the authenticity of the state’s efforts against ‘good’ militants have returned following reports that Pakistan has refused a request by Indian authorities to join their Pakistani counterparts in questioning the militant leader.

India wanted to send investigators to interrogate Masood Azhar and his brother but Pakistan “politely refused” it, a senior official said.

Pakistan assured India that Islamabad was seriously investigating the case and will not hesitate to act if anyone was found guilty, the official said.

“India wants us to hand over Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed and as we have declined a number of times, they want us to at least give access to the investigators to interrogate them. We have told them it was not possible,” he added.

The refusal to allow Indian investigators to question Masood Azhar confirms for many the belief that his custody is more ‘protective’ that officials are admitting. This belief is also supported by the decision of the Pakistani official to mention Hafiz Saeed who is not even under investigation for Pathankot attack.

India has not asked for Masood Azhar to be handed over. Only they asked for their investigators to join Pakistani investigators in questioning the suspected mastermind. Pakistan’s refusal to cooperate with this request raises questions about whether the state is honestly interested in finding proof against certain elements, or whether they are actually interested in ‘protecting’ them.

The Durrani Network: What Jihadi Generals Can Get Away With

Traitor stamp

Gen Musharraf has never been known for being tight lipped. Recently, he has been speaking openly to international media and admitting that Pakistan has been supporting the Taliban and other jihadi militant groups who Army sees as a useful proxy against Indian influence in Afghanistan while also cooperating with NATO. Musharraf says that Army is not playing a double game, but then admits the obvious: It is. “Pakistan’s interest comes first,” he said. “But is this also the interest of ISAF? I don’t know.” He doesn’t know if it is in the interest of ISAF for a frontline ally to support their enemy?

Musharraf’s confirmation of Army support for Taliban is particularly important in the context of facts revealed by Wikileaks documents a few years ago. One leaked document discusses the involvement of another former General, Hamid Gul, in supporting Taliban. According to one document, “It was not known whether Hamid Gul was acting with the knowledge or consent of ISI, or whether any portions of ISI were aware of his activities.” While the knowledge or consent of secret agencies will always be difficult to prove beyond any doubt, it would be fairly naive to believe that Hamid Gul’s pro-Jihad activities were done without at least tacit approval of the Army leadership. Hamid Gul has described himself as “an ideologue of jihad“. It is increasingly apparent that he is not the only General who subscribes to this ideology.

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Defending Jamaat-ud-Dawa

Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity workers

Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity workers

When government officially banned Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2002, Amir Hafiz Saeed started calling his group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). The group kept the same leaders, members, even the same flag. To defend his actions, Hafiz Saeed’s strategy was simply to lie. In 1999, Hafiz Saeed openly talked about Lashkar-e-Taiba’s suicide attacks. Speaking to Amir Mir in 2001, Hafiz Saeed spoke as Lashkar-e-Taiba chief and said that his group’s goal was “motivating the youth to participate in jehad and using force to liberate occupied Muslim territories”. Then, when his name was added to a list of terrorists by the UN in 2008, Hafiz Saeed said “No Lashkar-e-Taiba man is in Jamaat-ud-Dawa and I have never been a chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba”. Was he lying in 1999 and 2001 or in 2008? Either way, he had to be lying at some point.

Since Lashkar-e-Taiba was forced to change its name, lying has been the cornerstone of the defense of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and it continues to this day. From one side of its mouth, the group claims that it is a welfare organisation, and from the other, it openly advocates jihad, and collects donations to support mujahideen, and organises events promoting global terrorists. The truth is that Jamaat-ud-Dawa is the jihadi version of the fake CIA vaccination campaign, using humanitarian work as a cover for its jihadi activities.

None of this is new information. Actually, it is all done under broad day light and widely reported here and in the international media. Recently, however, there appears to have been a wide spread campaign to hide the group’s true purpose, and it is not just Hafiz Saeed who is involved in the cover up.

Following new calls for shutting down the militant group, Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain defended JuD, terming it a charity. News organisations have begun filing reports that parrot claims that JuD is a “welfare group” and highlighting the group’s welfare activities while hiding or downplaying its militant activities. This has left many asking, if the state is serious about zero tolerance policy for militant groups, why the sudden PR campaign to white wash JuD’s image?

DG ISPR recently termed an insult the question whether Pakistan was capable of taking on all militants, but as long as politicians and media continue to defend Jamaat-ud-Dawa by pretending it is a welfare organisation like Edhi Foundation despite the obvious reality, what is the world supposed to think?

Salmaan Taseer memorial attack a bellwether for the nation?

Salmaan Taseer vigil

40 suspects are being held in connection with an attack against citizens who had gathered to remember slain Governor Salmaan Taseer on Sunday. An attack against a peaceful memorial should be shocking enough in itself, but there are certain details which make the event even more disheartening.

The first thing to note is that media reports that the attackers are all ‘belonging to a banned organisation’. This shows that despite lofty rhetoric about the nation finally being united against extremism and terrorism, the fact remains that banned organisations continue to operate with little disruption. Even though arrests have been made after public outcry over the incident, police were reportedly standing aside while the attack took place. It should also be noted that media has so far protected the name of the ‘banned organisation’.

More troubling, however, are the comparative numbers. According to reports, 40 militant extremists were arrested for attacking a gathering of ‘more than 35 activists of civil society’.

The number of extremists outnumbered the number of people at the vigil.

This can be attributed to a couple of factors, but neither of them bode well for the future of the country. It could be as simple as a sign that there are more extremists than tolerant moderates in the country. I am still unwilling to believe this, however. I think what is most likely is that most moderates recognize the risks inherent to standing up for their values.

Salmaan Taseer was murdered because he dared to take a stand for protecting a poor Christian woman who he believed was unjustly accused. Fatwas were issued calling for death of Sherry Rehman. Husain Haqqani received life threats from extremist groups.  Mohammad Shakil Auj, the 54-year-old dean of Islamic Studies at the prestigious University of Karachi, was declared ‘apostate’ and murdered for being too moderate in his religious views. Militants carried out operation to kill moderate columnist and TV anchor Raza Rumi. Though he survived with his life, his driver, Mustafa was not so lucky.

Army has stepped up attacks against militant groups that attack them, and those convicted of carrying out attacks against military targets are being executed. While the military looks after its own, the rest of us are left to look after ourselves.

I continue to hold onto the belief that a moderate, tolerant, ‘silent majority’ exists in this country, but I also believe that this majority does not have the security to stand up to the extremists. My fear is that this lack of security not only weakens our ability to stand up to extremists, it weakens our will to do so. If we do not do something to change this, the majority soon may not be in our favor and extremists may outnumber us not only in the streets, but in our homes, our schools, and our institutions.

If it hasn’t happened already.