For 14 years, the UN Security Council (UNSC) has shown no guts to make Pakistan punish its Armed Forces men and non-state actors who planned and executed terror operation in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. The attack killed at least 166 people including Indians, Israelis and Americans, besides destroying property worth crores of rupees. It defies logic how the worlds top powers in the UNSC fail to bring pressure on a country, which is frequently at their door with a begging bowl, to help in elimination of terrorism by punishing those who have made this a lucrative profession in the name of Islam.
At a special meeting of UNSC on Counter-Terrorism held in Mumbai last month, Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar blasted the members for failing to act against key 26/11 plotters due to political considerations. This was a clear hint at China’s defence of Pakistani terrorists who are mainly against India.
This is a political consideration which obviously is not resented by the UNSC members. It is also because of a political and economic consideration that Pakistan does not resent China equating Islam with terrorism or its efforts at de-Islamisation. China blocked a proposal for a UN ban on Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Sajjid Mir who was giving instructions from Pakistan on mobile phone about the people who should be shot dead.
India’s problem with Pakistan is that terrorist acts like the one on November 26, 2008 are planned and staged by Armed Forces with the help of non-State actors but the defence of this terror has to be done by helpless, clueless civilian government as prompted behind the stage by bosses in Armed Forces. The 26/11 terror occurred when the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had just taken over and was enthusiastic for normalisation of relations with India. The normalisation wish ended here.
That normalisation of relations with India is poison to Pakistani Armed Forces, which because of their distrust of politicians will not allow democracy to take roots in the country, needs no emphasis. They find terrorism to be the most effective weapon to keep distance from India while making the civilian government parrot for the world that Pakistan is a peace-loving country and that it is itself a victim of terrorism.
True, Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. But what terrorism? It is not external terrorism like Pakistan inflicts on India and even Iran. Pakistan suffers from terrorism it devises for foreign and domestic targets. During Gen Ziaul Haq’s time, terrorist acts in the country were connived act as Jihad for Kashmir. But sensible people opined these terrorists would ultimately recoil out the country. This proved very correct. But the Army, as represented by Gen Zia, didn’t bother. On the contrary, Gen Zia established an anti-Shia organisation by the name Sipah-i-Sahaba. The organisation killed Shias and fermented anti-Iran feelings in Pakistan. Worse, Zia made changes and additions in school books to indoctrinate young minds to have jihadi mindset. After shooting of children in the Army Public School in Peshawar by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) the then Nawaz Sharif government tried to amend school syllabus but was chickened out by Mullahs.
Thus, Pakistan is churning out thousands of young people who are eager to lay down their lives in what their handlers tell them is jihad. But it is not only madrasa or government schools alumni who are brainwashed. A research article in Newsline (Karachi) of August 2010 writes,
“More youth, especially among the relatively affluent segments of society, are embracing a greater religious identity and conservatism related to it.”
That makes Pakistan a very ideal country for world terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. In fact, as reported by Pakistani journalist Salim Shahzad in September 2014, Al Qaeda has great influence in Pakistan’s Armed Forces. Salim lost his life for this disclosure. He was beaten and drowned suspectedly by the ISI men.
Khaled Ahmed, a Pakistani authority on armed forces’ links with non-State actors, quotes, Salim in his book “Sleepwalking to Surrender: Dealing with Terrorism In Pakistan” (Penguin 2016) to say that Al Qaeda had carried out the 26/11 Mumbai attack with the help of Pakistani radicals including Ajmal Kasab and David Headley. Headley was a Pakistani Muslim settled in the US with English name to hoodwink the people.
His real name was Daud Gilani. His and Kasab’s confessions indicated the role of Pakistan’s Armed Forces in the Mumbai carnage.
Pakistan has so far ignored UNSC’s order to punish the 26/11 culprits. It has also ignored all the evidence India has supplied to it. How can Pakistan punish those who carried out its own assigned mission? Before his ouster in 2017, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had loudly protested why these guilty people were not being punished? Dawn reported this. The reporter was at once put on exit control list as punishment and the Prime Minister was widely maligned as a traitor. When India caught Kasab while shooting people during the Mumbai carnage Pakistan at once disowned him like it disowned its dead soldiers in Kargil. But Sharif insisted he was a Pakistani from Southern Punjab.
The Pakistan Army would like its terrorists to be called as Mujahidin. About one and-a-half years ago, Pakistan’s former Army Chief and President Gen Pervez Musharraf told an Indian Hindi channel that Hafiz Saeed may be a terrorist for you but for us he is a Mujahid,” he said in reply to a question “when will Pakistan hand over Saeed to India for his role in Mumbai carnage?”