It has been apparent from last December that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s parent organisation remains defiant and unfazed by the sanctions imposed upon it by the United Nations Security Council, with its leaders brushing aside the international condemnation, asserting that it would have little effect on their activities. It is becoming evident that the defiance was well-founded. On Monday, a Lahore court dismissed the First Information Reports filed reluctantly by the Pakistani authorities against JuD chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, holding that the organisation was legal and his pursuits were therefore legitimate. Just in August, the Pakistan government had told the National Assembly that the JuD was among the 25 organisations it had proscribed. It is now clear that the assertion was untrue. Global pressure had mounted on Pakistan to act against the JuD after the November carnage in Mumbai. On December 10, the UNSC imposed sanctions against the JuD, as well as four of its key leaders. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, promised his country would comply by proscribing the JuD and freezing its assets. Nothing was done. Pakistan’s investigation of the Mumbai November attack has been half-hearted. Key Lashkar operatives — among them Muzammil Bhat, the military commander who organised it — remain at large. More important, the group’s training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Punjab are still functional.
Pakistan’s reluctance to act against the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, as well as other anti-India jihadist groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammad, appears made up of two distinct elements. First, the jihadist organisations reared by Pakistan’s covert services to wage war against India have developed formidable patronage networks that include schools, seminaries, and hospitals. Few in Pakistan’s strategic establishment see reason to take on organisations which many in Pakistan see as pious patriots. Secondly, Pakistan’s military continues to believe that anti-India jihadist groups — unlike the Tehreek-e-Taliban or Lashkar-e-Jhangvi — are assets, not enemies. Neither argument is, on point of fact, sustainable. The charitable operations of jihadist groups have an unacceptable price-tag: a climate of hate and violence that has driven Pakistan to the edge of the abyss. Nor has the jihadist campaign against India delivered security to Pakistan; quite the contrary, it has further endangered internal security. Islamabad clearly needs to engage in some serious introspection. Given the Lashkar’s global reach, the world has an interest in pushing that process along — and in ensuring that the impunity the feared terrorist group enjoys in Pakistan comes to an early end.