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Monday, December 11, 2017
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Why China supports Pak terror groups?
China’s support for two rogue countries, North Korea and Pakistan, leaves a big blot on its international image. The Communist country is disregarding international norms and conventions to protect terrorist leaders like Masood Azhar …writes Dr Sakariya Kareem
Chinese President Xi Jinping presides over an informal leaders’ meeting of the BRICS in Hamburg, Germany (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)(mcg)
One reason why Pakistan continues to hoodwink the international community over supporting terrorist groups and in the process protect some of the most wanted terrorists is the support it draws from China.
China, which otherwise claims a moral high position on the issue of terrorism, is overeager to please and protect a state which has been supporting terrorism for decades. This is not a secret. Since China occupies a prominent position in the international arena, especially its veto power in the UN, it can play a substantial role in keeping terrorism at check; but it works the other way, jettisoning global commitments to support a rogue country, Pakistan. In fact, China’s support for two rogue countries, North Korea and Pakistan, leaves a big blot on its international image.
But, drunk on its financial clout (its military clout remains untested), China has been callously disregarding international norms and conventions to protect terrorist leaders and entities, supported and protected by Pakistan. Take for instance, the case of Masood Azhar, the chief of a notorious terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which was created by Pakistan Army to kick-start its flagging proxy war in Kashmir, in January 2000.
India has produced enough evidence to nail Azhar but Pakistan has refused to prosecute him. Interestingly, Azhar and his group, was involved in the twin assassination attempts on former Army chief and military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf. Although the military muscleman ordered a crackdown on Azhar and JeM, even he did not have the power to imprison him and prosecute him. Azhar was merely asked to go “underground“–till the global scrutiny was distracted by another terrorist incident.
Since then, Azhar and JeM’s names cropped up in several international terrorist incidents and were therefore banned by several countries. After a series of attacks in Kashmir, in the past year or so, India moved the UN to proscribe Azhar and JeM. But, despite mountains of evidence and irrefutable argument from India and other countries, China decided to counter the move on frivolous grounds. Despite India’s several efforts, supported by other countries, China refused to accept the UN resolution to proscribe the terrorist group.
This unprecedented support from China has emboldened Pakistan to the extent that it is not even pretending to rein in the terrorist groups like JeM and LeT. These groups are not only thriving on the ground but even more on the cyber highway, the new instrument of indoctrination, recruitment and fund raising, and terrorist attacks.
According to a July 2017 investigation report published by international news syndicate, Associate Press, more than 40 banned organisations were active online, find recruits and funds and calling for terrorist attacks against Pakistan’s adversaries, and minorities living inside the country. These groups are active on popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram and were using these sites to “recruit, raise money and demand a rigid Islamic system. It is also where they incite the Sunni faithful against the country’s minority Shias and extoll jihad, or holy war, in Kashmir and in Afghanistan.“
An important point made by the AP report was that despite the so-called crackdowns on the terrorist groups and their publications, both online and offline, “the banned groups active on social media operate unencumbered because several are patronized by the military, its intelligence agencies, radical religious groups and politicians looking for votes.“ The report quoted an official from the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA), tasked to counter such terrorist activities, who said: “Everyone is protecting their own terrorists. Your good guy is my bad guy and vice versa.”
There is no stopping Pakistan in its march towards becoming a terrorist state in full, given how “responsible countries“ like China continue to protect terrorist groups and their patrons. China would do well to learn a simple lesson: terrorism returns to bite the hand that feeds.
The global terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), banned in several countries and with $10 million US bounty on the head of its leader, Hafiz Saeed, has a big presence on the social media with several Facebook and Twitter accounts. The group’s online presence is more sophisticated than other groups and has claimed a larger space by using different names. But all claim the group to be a charity group committed to social work, a camouflage which it has been using to deceive the international community and divert attention from its core agenda: to wage terrorist war against India, and other countries who are opposed to the Wahhabi version of Islam.
Various media activists, including those in Pakistan like Ahmed Waqqas Goraya, believe that the extremist groups are active on the social media with the connivance of the intelligence agencies. They are tools of Pakistan Army’s “communication war” against liberal moderate voices and those who criticize the government and more particularly the military and its agencies. Goraya was picked up and tortured by ISI for criticising the military; he later fled the country. Another activist blogger was quoted in a news report as stating that “their connectivity on the ground, the mosques, madrassas and supporters translates into social media strength and they are (further) strengthened because they feel ‘no one is going to touch us“.
The lame excuse given by Pakistani authorities is that these social media outlets and websites are operated from IP addresses traced to foreign countries. The fact remains that groups like LeT and JeM today openly operate their cyber warfare units in major cities of Pakistan, most of them camouflaged as computer training centres. In fact, LeT runs several polytechnics and colleges training thousands of youngsters in computer technology, including hacking. These trained men are seen by these groups as potential instruments when time comes to galvanise the cyber to carry out attacks against countries like India.
There is no stopping Pakistan in its march towards becoming a terrorist state in full, given how “responsible countries“ like China continue to protect terrorist groups and their patrons. China would do well to learn a simple lesson: terrorism returns to bite the hand that feeds.

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