|VIEW: Fool me twice, shame on me ——Ali K Chishti
So rotten is our system that until recently a top jihadi got acquitted under the pretext that al Qaeda was not considered a terrorist organisation legally in Pakistan
Who are we fooling but ourselves? There is irrefutable evidence of Pakistan’s doublespeak and playing the double game; hardly anyone in the world will be fooled by it any more. Yet we persist. Let us take into account a rather glaring example. Pakistan has banned three jihadi organisations: Millat-e-Islamia (the former Sipah-e-Sahaba), Islami Tehrik-e-Pakistan (formerly Tehrik-e-Jaffria) and Khuddamul Islam (Jaish-e-Jaffria) and has put the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (formerly the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba) on a watch list. Although the so-called ‘ban’ was imposed, these organisations sent petitions to the High Court and continue their dirty business to this day. So bold is the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) — aka Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) — that after the recent floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the LeT is openly working in the area under the umbrella of the rehabilitation of flood victims and is collecting funds (the LeT/JuD has even publicly announced a ‘hotline’ for the collection of funds!) while Hafiz Saeed openly threatens destruction to the rest of the world. No matter what the state of Pakistan denies officially, these jihadis take full credit for carrying out terrorist acts in their literature and their hate-filled speeches. What is even worse is that the Punjab government gave a whopping Rs 82 million grant to the LeT. Watch out for more Kasabs. So much for the ban!
Jihadi organisations are banned under Section 11(B) of the Anti Terrorist Act, which prohibits the activities of banned outfits even if they operate under a different name. However, we all know what happens. Apparently — rather pathetically — the interior ministry categorises jihadis into three brackets: those who are wrongly accused, those who give an undertaking that, although they had links to jihadis, they would cut their connections and submit a surety bond of a certain amount as security to keep away and, finally, those who had challenged their arrests in the courts and are placed in the red category. The government, naively, let the third category — which is the most dangerous — pursue their cases in court without arresting them and since the prosecution hardly pursues cases, the jihadis come out clean due to ‘lack of evidence’. In fact, so rotten is our system that until recently a top jihadi got acquitted under the pretext that al Qaeda was not considered a terrorist organisation legally in Pakistan! If that was not enough, our previous Interior Minister Faisal Hayat announced an amnesty for all types of jihad on God knows what pretext.
And then we have the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), which is the founder of modern jihad in Pakistan. It has, unfortunately, operated as a mainstream political party within Pakistan whose members had given shelter to the likes of Sheikh Khalid of al Qaeda to Harris Jeff Thomas, a top al Qaeda member who stayed at a house owned by a former goal keeper of the Pakistan hockey team, Mr Shahid Ali Khan, whose wife was the JI’s Karachi chapter chief and a top activist for them. Only recently, one of the doctors of the JI was alleged to have been involved in the killing of Ahmedis but no serious action has been taken against him
The pattern emerging out of Islamabad has become predictable now. Whenever the UNSC, the west or an aggrieved party exerts pressure to clamp down on extremism, Islamabad is quick to offer a sop but, when the desire to dismantle their infrastructure is voiced, we see only inaction. In fact, a top cop from the interior ministry said, “Whenever there is pressure, the idea is to cool down the jihadi rhetoric as a deal while most of the jihadis are told to keep a low-profile.” And which better example to quote other than Masood Azhar of Jaish-e-Mohammed? Remember him? He is the same person who, after arriving in Pakistan after a deal struck between us and ‘strategically’ important Afghanistan, wanted to raise one million jihadis to wipe out India. The story goes that when he came to Karachi airport and was stopped by the interior ministry, none other than the Chief Secretary of Sindh and Musharraf’s personal friend, Brigadier Zaman went to receive him.
Another glory that should be written in golden ink is how we brought the three stooges, Masood Azhar, Sheikh Omar and Lakhvi from India via Kandahar (note, spiritual capital) and what havoc they brought to Pakistan. Masood Azhar went on to launch an attack on the Indian parliament, Sheikh Omar beheaded Daniel Pearl, forever ruining Karachi’s image, and Lakhvi is said to be part of the Mumbai massacre. Why did we, in the first place, give them refuge? Unfortunately, that is precisely the reason that gives folk like David Cameron a chance to accuse us; was he not right? Apparently, whenever the world-community threatens the Pakistani government, we act as if we are falling in line. But, as soon as the pressure eases, we are back to our games of running around with jihadis and playing our dirty tricks. Will we ever learn that we cannot use proxies or zombies like Ajmal Kasab to further our foreign policy designs? Who are we fooling but ourselves? Shame on us.
The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org