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Monday, December 10, 2018
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Pak’s terrorist haven label a warning to China
Manzoor Ahmed

Once a staunch ally, the United States has finally accepted, and declared that Pakistan was one of the few countries in the world which continued to provide safe havens to terrorist groups. This is a clear warning and signal to China which claims Pakistan to be its new `staunch` ally. In fact, China is leaning on Pakistan for its economic recovery (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) and to play its devious games with responsible neighbouring nations like Bhutan and India.
For China and other countries which continue to support and protect Pakistan when it comes to the issue of terrorism would do well to pay close attention to what the US State Department has said about Pakistan in its latest report. The department specifically picked out Pakistan’s continuing support for terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), two groups which India has been insisting on being banned globally and their leaders tried for terrorist activities. China is one country which has been relentlessly protecting JeM and its leader, Masood Azhar, from being proscribed by the UN.
Highlighting Pakistan’s duplicity, the annual US State Department 'Country Report on Terrorism' stated that "Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or Haqqani, or substantially limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan, although Pakistan supported efforts to bring both groups into an Afghan-led peace process...Pakistan did not take sufficient action against other externally focused groups, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in 2016, which continued to operate, train, organise, and fundraise in Pakistan".
Citing why the US was declaring Pakistan as a safe haven for terrorist groups is the manner in which terrorist groups like the Haqqani Network, LeT and JeM operated freely in Pakistan despite declarations of taking action against terrorist groups, many of which targeted own citizens in the past few years.
The State Department pointed out that "LeT's chief Hafiz Saeed (a UN-designated terrorist) continued to address large rallies, although in February 2017, Pakistan proscribed him under relevant provisions of Schedule Four of the Anti-Terrorism Act, thus severely restricting his freedom of movement".
Much of what the US State Department reported publicly, perhaps for the first time, was known to the international community for the past few decades. But for short-sighted reasons, the US and other countries chose to ignore and deny Pakistan’s direct and implicitly role in keeping terrorist groups operating freely for strategic reasons. It was only after the number of US soldiers killed by terrorists, aided and supported by Pakistan, began to mount during the closing days of the so-called Afghan War that public opinion in the US and other western countries began to turn against Pakistan.
The incident which shocked the people in large parts of the western world and turned them against Pakistan was the `sudden ` killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the highly secure garrison town of Abbottabad in Pakistan. Though Pakistan was quick to deny any role in keeping the most wanted terrorist in the world in protective custody, as days passed it became clear to even ordinary citizens in the US and Europe that Pakistan was a treacherous ally, if not an outright enemy. In fact, many people began to believe that Pakistan was more dangerous than a direct enemy. Despite international condemnation for these acts of treachery, Pakistan did not turn around and continued to support and protect terrorist groups, now more brazenly, knowingly fully well that it was under a severe global scrutiny. The reason for this callous and criminal act was the support it drew from China which, in Pakistan, found another `North Korea` in Asia.
Now that the US has come out in public about Pakistan’s duplicity, the international community must now take the country’s leadership to task on its failure to subvert international conventions and responsibilities. China would do well to do the same, for its own long term interests. Pakistan must be made to pay for these intransigencies. These punishments could take various forms and sizes. One would be to ensure that all terrorist groups, now flourishing under the protective care of the Pakistani state, must be forced to shut down their shops, either through tightening of international financial norms and networks. Without funds, most of these groups would either die a natural death or become desiccated.
The US must convince its friends and allies on exerting pressure on Pakistan to give up this duplicitous and treacherous game or pay heavily. Saudi Arabia for instance could compel, if it so desires, Pakistan to give up this dangerous patronage which is causing immense harm not only to the people of India and Afghanistan but in Pakistan itself. More Pakistanis have died in terrorist attacks carried out terrorist groups enjoying the patronage of the Pakistani state than Indians in the last two to three years.
Specific measures should be devised and implemented to make Pakistan Army, which is central to this game of duplicity, pay for its patronage. Pakistan Army depends on international funds, weapons and support for its sustenance. Even its business interests (it runs a big business empire in Pakistan) depend on accessibility to global markets. Pakistan Army must be punished where it hurts it the most. This is one way to rid Pakistan of sponsored terrorist groups. Such measures will not only help bring stability in the region but also bring a big relief to the people of Pakistan who have been suffering at the hands of the corrupt and cruel state as well as terrorist groups.

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