Terror hotbed: Washington’s indictment of Islamabad reaffirms the latter’s status as regional headache

May 16, 2017
The Trump administration may have stiffed India on H-1B visas, leading to large layoffs by IT companies in India. But on the real reason for deteriorating ties between India and Pakistan the Trump administration has told like it is, stepping away from the hyphenation and waffling that often characterised previous US administrations’ approach to the subcontinent. Daniel Coats, the new administration’s director of national intelligence, offered testimony to US lawmakers that Islamabad’s continued support to terrorists and New Delhi’s growing intolerance of this was threatening regional security, which is further undermined by Pakistan’s pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons. All of these points validate India’s position that Pakistan is the source of instability in South Asia.
For far too long Pakistan has pulled the wool over the world’s eyes by claiming that it is a frontline state against terrorism. That the US treasury department announced follow-up sanctions against Pakistani terror groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, within hours of the new assessment shows growing exasperation at Islamabad’s duplicity.
If Pakistan says that it too is a victim of terror attacks – as highlighted by the recent Islamic State-claimed bombing in Balochistan targeting a Pakistani politician that killed at least 25 people – what it shows is that Pakistan’s deep state – the ISI-military complex – is losing control over the Frankenstein’s monster it has unleashed. And that is because it follows a selective, equivocal policy towards this monster: nurturing the “good” (read anti-India, anti-Afghanistan) terror groups while fighting the “bad” (read anti-Pakistan). That such a strategy is blowing up in its face is evident even in Jammu & Kashmir, where a new breed of separatism as exemplified by militant commander Zakir Bhat, touted as Burhan Wani’s successor, is threatening violence even against separatist leaders who act as Pakistan’s proxies. Bhat has clearly stated that the goal of Kashmir’s armed movement is not political but religious, and by those standards even the Pakistan establishment is too ‘secular’.
In sum, Pakistan’s Janus-faced policies fool neither terror groups nor the world. It must speedily decide which side it is on. It may look to China to ward off international isolation. However, as Beijing pushes its One Belt, One Road initiative – of which the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a showpiece element – it should know that failing to get Islamabad to crack down on terror groups will only leave Chinese infrastructure projects open to extremist attacks.
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The Times of India, May 16, 2017

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