Friday, February 22, 2019
Even through JeM, responsible for the Pulwama terror attack, and LeT, responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, were banned by Pakistan, heads of both the terrorist groups -- Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed respectively -- roam freely in Pakistan.
Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism with a long list of outlawed terror organisations, including the latest to be banned Hafiz Saeed's Jamaat-ud-Dawa or JuD, and the country abets and aids almost half of the proscribed groups in India, according to official documents. Pakistan's National Counter Terrorism Authority or NCTA has so far declared 69 terrorist organisations as 'banned'. However, it has turned a blind eye to many other major terror groups such as the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the Al Badr operating in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), the documents state.
On Thursday, Pakistan banned the 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its front Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), amid intense global pressure to rein in the terror groups following the Pulwama terror attack that killed over 40 paramilitary soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir.According to the NCTA, a sizeable number of the organisations, declared as outlawed terror outfits by Pakistan, are based in Balochistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's Gilgit-Baltistan region and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA.Documents at India's Home Ministry state that almost half of India's total 41 banned terrorist groups are either based in Pakistan, areas under its illegal occupation or sponsored by it.
Such groups include the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Al Badr, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Commando Force and International Sikh Youth Federation.
The NCTA started declaring organisations as proscribed in 2001, by banning Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). The LeJ is based in Pakistan with limited operations in Afghanistan.The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Afghanistan), Balochistan Republican Army, Balochistan Liberation Front, Lashkar-e-Balochistan, Balochistan Liberation United Front, Tanzeem Naujawana-e-Ahle Sunnat, Gilgit, Anjuman-e-Imamia Gilgit Baltistan and Muslim Students Organization (MSO) Gilgit are among the banned organisations, as per NCTA documents.
The few others are the Abdullah Azam Brigade (Lebanon, Syria and Arabian Peninsula), East Turkemenistan Islamic Movement (Turkey, Afghanistan), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (Uzbekistan) and Islamic Jihad Union (Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Germany).
Two groups - the Ghulaman-e-Sahaba and the Maymar Trust - have been under the scanner of the Pakistan government while another, Al-Akhtar Trust, has been declared a proscribed organisation under a UN Security Council resolution.The Hafiz Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which also is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. It was declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.
Pakistan has failed to demonstrate a proper understanding on funding of terrorist groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, said the global terror finance watchdog.
A murderous attack in Kashmir rocks relationships throughout Asia.
On the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 14, a massive explosion rocked a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. At least 40 personnel belonging to the CRPF—a 300,000-strong paramilitary force under the Ministry of Home Affairs involved in law-and-order and counterterrorism duties—were killed as a suicide bomber drove an SUV reportedly loaded with about 600 pounds of explosives into their bus. Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist organization based in Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the group’s role has been confirmed by Indian officials. The assault comes weeks before India’s general elections, which are expected to be held in March and April.
The next morning, India’s Cabinet Committee on Security—consisting of the prime minister and four senior ministers—held an emergency meeting and, as a first step, announced the revocation of “most favored nation” trading status for Pakistan. India had granted this status to Pakistan in 1996, although Pakistan had never reciprocated. But this is just one of the retaliatory measures likely to be taken after the worst act of Islamist terrorism in India since the Mumbai attacks in 2008.
Culpability for the attacks is unambiguous. For decades, Islamist terrorists belonging to groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba have benefited from recruitment, financing, training, and other forms of support provided by Pakistan’s security establishment. Groups targeting India and Afghanistan continue to operate with relative impunity inside Pakistan, which has only cracked down on militancy against the Pakistani state. In Jammu and Kashmir, cross-border infiltration has been facilitated by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate—its primary external intelligence agency, run by the military—and the Pakistan Army, which provides cover in the form of artillery and gun fire across the Line of Control separating Indian- and Pakistani-held territory.
Despite the highs and lows in India-Pakistan relations over the past two decades, there is no evidence that Pakistan has made serious attempts at dismantling this terrorist infrastructure. Although the frequency ebbs and flows, cross-border infiltrations continue on a regular basis: Most of these terrorists are quickly stopped or neutralized by Indian security forces, and those attacks that have been successful—including the one at Uri in 2016—have generally benefited from negligence or a good deal of luck. Given that Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for Pulwama, and the group operates openly on its soil, Pakistan cannot rely, as it has in the past, on ambiguity and plausible deniability to deflect responsibility for this attack.
Pulwama marks an extension of recent trends concerning terrorism in India. Despite several high-profile incidents in recent years, the frequency and severity of terrorism in the country have witnessed a steady decline since 2002 and are well below the highs of the 1990s. More than 1,000 civilians were killed in terrorist attacks each year in India between 2005 and 2008. That has dropped to about 200 annually since 2015. In Jammu and Kashmir alone, civilian and security fatalities from terrorism declined—largely as a result of international pressure and improved security—from an estimated 1,700 in 2001 to 285 in 2007 and 33 in 2012. The numbers have subsequently climbed back up to 181 last year, in part as a consequence of agitations in the Kashmir Valley after July 2016 and Pakistan’s decision to try to take advantage of the situation.
The nature of terrorism in India has seen fundamental shifts over this period. Between 2000 and 2008, as violence in Jammu and Kashmir steadily declined, Islamist terrorist attacks began to occur with alarming frequency in major Indian cities. The fatalities mounted, with between 20 and 200 killed in attacks in Mumbai in 2003; New Delhi in 2005; Varanasi and Mumbai in 2006; Hyderabad in 2007; and Jaipur, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, and Mumbai in 2008. Another spate of smaller attacks occurred between 2010 and 2013 in Pune, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Hyderabad.
But since that time, the targets have shifted to primarily military and security facilities and away from major civilian and population centers. This, presumably, was intended by Pakistan to minimize international attention and censure and project such acts of terrorism as part of an unconventional military campaign. Thus, an Indian Air Force base was the target at Pathankot in January 2016, and an Indian Army post was attacked at Uri later that year. India responded to the latter incident with a series of coordinated retributive attacks across the Line of Control, which became known in India as “surgical strikes.” With an assault on the CRPF convoy, the trend continues.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan rose to power with support from the country’s powerful army. Like his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, he has attempted to internationalize the Kashmir issue, in part to cater to various domestic constituencies. If there was any expectation that Imran’s elevation might offer India the opportunity to turn a new leaf on the relationship, that will now diminish, no matter what the outcome of the forthcoming Indian general election.
But the attack also has implications for Afghanistan, where India is already nervous about a probable U.S. military drawdown. Jaish-e-Mohammed has old connections to the Taliban and al Qaeda. In 1999, Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, was released from Indian custody as part of a hostage exchange in Taliban-controlled Kandahar, following the hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft with 173 passengers and 15 crew on board. From Taliban-controlled territory, he was whisked back to Pakistan, where he returned to the business of terrorism. His organization was soon involved in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, which resulted in a massive Indian military mobilization the following year against Pakistan.
Pakistan's army has stripped a former spy chief of his pension and other benefits over a book he co-authored with his former Indian counterpart.
Maj.Durrani co-authored "Spy Chronicles," a book that documents his exploits as head of Inter-Services Intelligence from 1990 to 1992, with A.S. Daulat, the former head of India's Research and Analysis Wing, and Indian journalist Aditya Sinha. Released last year, it suggests Pakistan cooperated with the U.S. in the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Ghafoor added that two military officers are also in custody facing espionage charges. He gave no further details.