The Terrorists are Talking, why aren't we?
The Jammu attacks have once again brought into sharp focus the Pakistan policy of the Indian government, and as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets with Nawaz Sharif, he is expected to bring up the Pakistan government's failure to shut down the terror groups that target India and the peace process again and again. But the real failure, not just in India and Pakistan, but around the world is the failure to recognise the changing nature of the terror that confronts them. Simply put, terrorists today are working closer than ever before, while the states they operate in are not.
Pakistan has shut its eyes for far too long to the terror that confronts it- and has mistakenly drawn a virtual triangle across its country to divide terrorists: the Lashkar e Toiba-Hizbul Mujahideen axis that targets India, the Taliban- Haqqani-Quetta shura axis that targets Afghanistan and ISAF, and the Tehreek e Taliban-Jandullah axis that targets Pakistani forces. But the cleverly formed lines that enabled the Pakistani establishment to foment trouble for its neighbours while escaping harm are now blurring.
In many instances LeT fighters recruited in South Punjab have been found fighting with Taliban in Afghanistan, with Al Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia, and the Jubhat Al Nusrah, but also helping with logistics for mass bombings inside Pakistan including the Marriott Hotel bombing. LeT frequently ties up with the anti-Sh'ia LeJ and SSP for attacks on Shi'as in Quetta and other minorities. The Taliban is now extending its reach to Karachi where the Pushtun population threatens to change the demography of Pakistan's largest city, and Taliban commanders run many extortion and kidnapping rings along with terror activities. And the TTP has claimed the lives of more than 49,000 Pakistani civilians and security forces in the past decade, and was responsible for the Peshawar church attack that massacred more than 80. As he orders a crackdown in Karachi, and mulls his government's policy of talks with the TTP, PM Nawaz Sharif must look to the growing unhappiness in his own country with all terrorists. At a 'Pugwash' conference on Kashmir in Islamabad last week, it was startling to hear from a prominent Pakistani parliamentarian who said, "Many Pakistanis now believe that aiding and abetting terror groups in Kashmir was a mistake, not just because it undermined a peaceful movement in the state, but because of what it did to Pakistan."
India too has to learn to join the dots on where the threat is coming from. It is too simplistic to link every attack near the LoC and in Jammu and Kashmir to the Pakistani army and ISI subsidiaries, without taking into account groups that target India but are also turning their guns on Pakistanis. Fidayeen attackers dressed in uniform of the kind that entered the police station and killing soldiers in Jammu closely resemble attacks in the past few years on Pakistani military installations-from the Rawalpindi GHQ, to the Mehran naval base and Kamran airforce base. All these attacks have found elements of the LeT and Taliban assisting the TTP in carrying them out- with links not only to Al-Qaeda, but to a hidden, radicalised or jehadi element within the Pakistani forces. It was these links that Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad had pointed to in his book on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, saying that these Islamist groupings, will continue to try and push India and Pakistan to war, as part of a larger plan to control Pakistan. Far from studying the links, India has never even investigated a possible Al-Qaeda role in the Mumbai attacks.
Unfortunately, it isn't just India and Pakistan that fail to join the dots on coordinated terror. Is it just a coincidence that within a week of AQ chief Ayman Al Zawahiris statement on a fresh wave of attacks that we saw a 26/11-style attack in Kenya by Somalia-based Al-Shabab militants, and an AQAP attack that killed 38 Yemeni soldiers? Ccan the US, France and the UK continue to deny that the Jihadi forces they funded and armed to overthrow Gaddafi have moved from Libya onto Mali and Somalia? The takeover of the West-funded Syrian rebellion by Al-Qaeda backed Jubhat Al Nusrah is yet another example of this failure- every country that battles terror is unwilling to see a common thread between the terrorists that attack another. After the 9/11 attacks, the world dispensed with the notion that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." More than a decade later it is time to join the dots and declare a real war on the terror that challenges all. Maybe Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has correctly identified them when he called the terrorists in Jammu not just the enemies of India, but "the enemies of peace".
(Suhasini Haidar is Foreign Affairs Editor, CNN-IBN)
More about Suhasini HaidarSuhasini Haidar is Diplomatic Editor, The Hindu. Earlier, she was a senior editor and prime time anchor for India's leading 24-hour English news channel CNN-IBN, and also hosted the signature show, 'World View with Suhasini Haidar'. Over the course of her 17-year career, Suhasini has covered the most challenging stories and conflicts from the most diverse regions including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Libya, Lebanon and Syria. In India, she has covered the external affairs beat for over a decade and her domestic assignments include in-depth reportage from Kashmir. In 2011 she won the Indian Television Academy-GR8! Award for 'Global news coverage',and the Exchange4Media 'Enba' award for best spot news reporting from Libya. In 2010, She won the NewsTelevision NT 'Best TV News Presenter' Award. Suhasini is the only journalist to have interviewed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his family, a show that won the prestigious Indian Television Academy award as 'Best Chat show' for the year.
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