Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
But what is the world to do if such actors operate from the territory of a state and the state is unable or unwilling to act against them, especially because they were created by its intelligence agencies in the first place, asks leading U.S. scholar Robert Kagan at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visiting the region to try and limit the fallout said even if non-state actors carried out the attacks, it would still be the Pakistani government’s responsibility to take “direct and tough action.”
[U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with Pakistan PM Yousaf Raza Gilani. Reuters photo by Mian Khursheed]
In the aftermath of the Mumbai massacre, a lot of attention has been focused on the militant Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba that has been blamed for the bloodbath. Simon Cameron-Moore, our bureau chief in Islambad, has written an interesting piece on what they've done in recent years. As a religion editor watching this story unfold, I was also curious to know how they think. What kind of religious views do they have? My Google search has turned up an interesting answer.
An article entitled "The Ideologies of South Asian Jihadi Groups" gives a very concise and complete run-down of Lashkar-e-Taiba's thinking (hat tip:Times of India). In today's context, the article's author is just as interesting as its content. An academic at the time he wrote the article in 2005, Husain Haqqani is now Pakistan's ambassador in Washington. He's been in the media quite often arguing that Islamabad did not support Lashkar-e-Taiba even if it was operating in Pakistan. Indian media arent't buying it.
By Robert Birsel and Zeeshan Haider
Pakistan’s Taliban have indignantly criticised what they said were India’s “unfounded” threats against Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai assault and they vowed to rally to the defence of the country in the event of an Indian attack.
“If they dared to attack Pakistan then, God willing, we will share the happiness and grief with all Pakistanis,” said Pakistani Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar.
“We will put the animosity and fighting with the Pakistani army behind us and the Taliban will defend their frontiers, their boundaries, their country with their weapons.
“We will defend the Line of Control in the same way as we are defending the Durand Line,” he told Reuters by telephone referring to the frontier with India in disputed Kashmir and the border with Afghanistan.
“We will show Pakistanis whether we are miscreants or defenders of the country.”
The language is deliberate, the signals unmistakable: India is turning up the heat on Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks that have killed at least 195 people, and there is no knowing where this downward spiral in ties between the uneasy neighbours will end.
Beginning with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s warning that a cost will have to be paid by neighbouring nations that allow militants to operate, to Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s direct call to Islamabad to “dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism”, there is a sharp, cold edge to the tone that you can’t miss even factoring in the immediate anger and sense of outrage the attacks have evoked across India.
As if the challenge facing President-elect Barack Obama of stabilising Afghanistan was not difficult enough, it may have just got much, much harder after the Mumbai attacks soured relations between India and Pakistan — undermining hopes of finding a regional solution to the Afghan war.
As discussed in an earlier post, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed a group outside India for the attacks which killed at least 121 people. The coordinated attacks bore the hallmarks of Pakistani-based Kashmiri militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India says was set up by Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.
An attack of the scale and sophistication unleashed on Mumbai would not be possible without months of planning, and yet it completely went below India’s intelligence radar.
Indeed, so unaware were the security agencies that even when the attacks began, the first reaction was these were probably gangland shootings that India’s financial capital is known for. So if the agencies have been so clueless about an attack so mammoth in its sweep, the question experts are beginning to ask is how safe are India’s vital assets?