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Impact of militants on Indo-Pak relations

By Muhammad Ali Zoaib

Pakistan and India have passed seven decade in severe enmity and it has resulted four wars between them. The failure of both countries to solve their mutual conflicts, especially Kashmir issue, resulted in provocation of non-state actors that were created during Afghan jihad. The participation of some of these groups in Indian Kashmir increased the tension between both countries.  These actors carried on their activities without serious attention of international communities till 9/11. After these attacks, international action was started against them. In December 2001, attack on Indian Parliament took placed; Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) were stated as responsible for that. India claimed that attack was carried out under the guidance of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and India. Indian Home Minister Advani said that, Pakistan was involved in those attacks along with local based terrorist group. Indian statement and military mobilization were showing that India was going to attack Pakistan.

Pakistan condemned these attacks and put its border forces on high alert. It is important to note that this attack by non-state actors brought two nuclear states on the verge of war. Pakistan took serious steps and banned several organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) Sipa-e-Muhammad, Sipa-e-Saba, Harakat-ul-Majideen and several other sectarian organization. The banned organizations changed their name and kept on their activities for several years. They developed their social structure and participated in public services in the remote area, that were underdeveloped.  This helped them to gain public popularity and strengthen their roots in rural and underdeveloped areas. After gaining popularity, some of them organized themselves politically and are participating in elections as well.

The incident of 2008 once again stirred up the political environment of the sub-continent. India blamed Pakistani militant group Jamat-ud-dawa a decedent group of LeT responsible for sending ten militants via sea route. Here, once again India exploited the name of Pakistani Intelligence agency for that but it could not provide firm evidences. This attack changed the tone of Indian politician, diplomats and media. Some Pakistani media groups played complementary role which intensified the situation further. Later, some reports showed that the fact were different.

After Mumbai attacks, India was ready to attack Pakistan. Here International leader played their diplomatic role and kept India away from taking actions against Pakistan, because this time Pakistani forces was too much engaged in war against terrorism and diversion of their attention could be hazardous for international collation in war against terrorism.

Under international pressure, Pakistan stated trial against prescribed names of India but no firm evidences were provided by India. Hafiz Saeed and Lakhavi were named as master minds of these attacks. Pakistan acted on Indian allegations by putting Hafiz Saeed under house arrest and detained Lakhavi along with six other people in 2009. The Anti-Terrorism Court in Islamabad in December 2014 grants him bail and soon he was detained once again under “Maintenance of Public Order” legislation. Finally Lakhavi was released on April 10, 2015 and his lawyer told a foreign news agency that his client was released because of insufficient evidences.

The release of Zaiki-ur- Rehman Lakhvi by a Pakistani court produced a wave of tension in Indian politics which was expressed by India with very harsh words and it warned that this move can deteriorate its relations with Pakistan. The Indian Foreign Ministry spoke man said, “This has reinforced the perception that Pakistan has a dual policy on dealing with terrorists.” The reaction by Indian public was of special attention upon his release. On social media, Indian citizens expressed their anger and criticize Pakistani Court’s decision.

The US also expressed its grievances by saying that it was gravely concerned with the court decision. It has kept $ 10 million bounty on Hafiz Saeed’s head. Hafiz Saeed never participated in anti-US activities except organizing Dafia-e-Pakistan (DeP) movement in which several former militants commander were included along with some Politician and Military Officer. The DeP movement was formed in November 2011 after death of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a NATO raid. These groups called to block NATO supply and not to give the status of most favorite nation to India. The former government did not give this status to India but the scene changed dramatically with the arrival of new regime in India and it started firing on border which changed the mind of present government altogether.

A US columnist, Tom Rogan, blamed Pakistan Intelligence agency involvement in Lakhavi release. He further wrote, “the ISI’s pro-extremist element is flexing its muscles by releasing him. The problem, however, is that it’s not just Lakhvi on the loose. With an array of terrorist groups under its thumb — elements of the Haqqani network and the Pakistani Taliban, for two — the ISI has a terror portfolio with which to wreak havoc. And as attested by the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, the spy agency has repeatedly proven its support for groups that risk war. Lakhvi’s release is both a physical threat and a possible signal of increasing Pakistani aggression. It illustrates the looming danger in near-term India-Pakistan relations.”

In Pakistan, the judiciary is independent and it can take its decision freely. Pakistan is suffering badly because of violent militant groups. If firm evidences are provided, action against them can be taken but India has failed to provide concrete evidences in this regard. There is no room for extremists in Pakistan army and it can be seen after action taken against a Brgaider Ali’s Court Martial, along with his several junior officers, in May 2011 because of his links with some extremist elements. However it does not rule out the presence of extremist element but if it is demonstrated he will face severe consequences.

It is important to note that India is supporting anti-Pakistan religious element. It was admitted by the US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 2011, and even told that India is participating in terrorists’ activities from Afghanistan. Several reports are showing that TTP is getting financial support from India. Indian national security advisor also accepted it by saying Taliban are mercenaries and they can be used against Pakistan by giving them a lot of money and he also said that India will break Pakistan whenever it want.

It is clearly showing that there is dominant role of these non-state actors in South Asian politics and they are used as proxies. These actors are very powerful and they can wage a war in South Asia which can result in exchange of nuclear weapons that can destroy South Asia completely. South Asian states should cooperate with each other to handle these non-state actors either at the forum of SAARC or by some other agreement SCO type agreement along with other nations. If the problem of these non-state actors is resolved, it can eliminate a lot of threats to security of these South Asian Nations.

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Muhammad Ali Zoaib

Muhammad Ali Zoaib is an independent analyst of international issues. He holds Master's degree in Defense and Strategic studies from Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan. His areas of interest include nuclear politics in South Asia, Middle East, non-state actors in the Middle East and South Asia, Indian Ocean and their strategic importance; military affairs, European Union, OIC and social issues.

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