Editorial

Jihadist-military project at work

Wednesday’s terror strike in Udhampur by militants from Pakistan was clearly aimed at provoking India. It came barely 10 days after a police station in Gurdaspur in Punjab was attacked, again by militants from Pakistan. This time India captured one of the attackers alive — a Pakistani youth identified as Mohammad Naved. The timing of the attack, in which two Border Security Force men lost their lives, is also important. If Gurdaspur followed the India-Pakistan joint statement issued from Ufa, Russia, last month, Naved has been caught just weeks before the scheduled meeting by the National Security Advisors of both nations. It is more of a game plan than a coincidence. Certain elements in Pakistan are steadfastly opposed to any meaningful engagement between the two countries. But what is the Pakistan government doing to address this? Even if Islamabad’s position that the government is not involved in cross-border terror attacks is taken seriously, several questions remain unanswered. The first of these relate to the duality in Pakistan’s approach to terrorism. The Pakistan establishment often presents itself as a victim of terror. It is true that Tehrik-i-Taliban and other sectarian groups have targeted the people of Pakistan often and that the Pakistan Army has been fighting them in the North-West. Meanwhile on another front, the Pakistan establishment is deeply involved with the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network and anti-India jihadist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, leading to the rise of a powerful jihadist-military complex. This complex didn’t come up overnight. Using jihadists for strategic gains has been a deliberate strategy of Pakistan’s military establishment for decades. Its role in the 1980s in helping jihadists to fight the communists in Afghanistan is hardly a secret. And that strategy has proven to be counter-productive over the years. It destroyed modern Afghanistan and destabilised the entire North West of Pakistan. Does Pakistan want to repeat the same story on its eastern border?

Pakistan has to realise that it is playing a dangerous game here. If the militants are acting on their own, as the government claims, it should rein them in, rather than pretending to be helpless. If the problem is systemic, there has to be a systemic response. Islamabad cannot sit quietly while its citizens cross the border and launch attacks on India. On the other hand, New Delhi has to be alert to the dangers. If it is true that the militant who has been captured crossed the Line of Control 12 days ago, that puts the spotlight back on India’s preparedness — or the lack of it — to deal with armed militancy of a resilient kind. New Delhi should be prepared for any eventuality, while engaging Pakistan and bringing international pressure to bear on it.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 7:19:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/jihadistmilitary-project-at-work/article7509427.ece

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