A former senior official in India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analyses Wing (R&AW), has said that the use of terror will remain a part of Pakistan’s foreign policy even if it warps its policies.
In an article published by The Telegraph, Anand Arni, a former special secretary, R&AW said: “For the moment, there is little to pin our hopes on any change in Pakistani policy. Its use of terror as a part of its foreign policy has been successful even if it warps its policies.”
“It cannot rectify as it simply does not know how to dismount. It will, thus, continue to use terror as part of its foreign policy until the world comes up with something more comprehensive and punitive. It is a game of deception and, unfortunately, they have become good at it”, he said while adding that hope is not policy and especially not when the Pakistani Deep State is the policy subject.
Pakistan has been on FATF’s grey list twice before (2008 to 2010 and 2012 to 2015) but is trying to avoid being blacklisted by convincing the world about its anti-terrorism actions.
As Islamabad is making all possible efforts to avoid blacklisting by the FATF, its narrative in dealing with terror groups is highly questionable.
“They have a good reason to make it look like they are cautiously reforming. They are desperately short of funds and did not want the US to block the IMF loan that was being negotiated,” Arni said in his article.
Even though Pakistan wants the world to believe that it is acting earnestly against LeT, much remains murky about what has been done, principally about the cadres – have they been rebranded or moved to other jihadi outfits?
Arni said: “The LeT is highly trained with special forces capabilities and it’s no easy matter to disarm and demobilise them. Anything that impacts on the LeT would need to be calibrated and carefully done for the Pakistan Army as it is in no position to take on such a highly trained and motivated force in an urban war in Punjab, its heartland.”
“Actually, this practice of morphing jihadi groups has long been an ISI practice, not so much with the LeT, but with other groups. The LeT has been largely free from this due to their discipline and ideological considerations – they belong to the Ahl-e-Hadith (Salafi) school and cannot easily transition elsewhere. The Ahl-e-Hadith account for only 4-5 per cent of Pakistani Sunnis,” said the former intelligence officer.
He claimed that terror outfits are aggressively operating from Pakistani soil and some of them have found an alliance in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Arni said that this time it appears that Hafiz Saeed-led JuD has begun to morph and what is worrisome is that it has now gravitated to, or at least has begun calling itself, ISIS.
He added: “Recently, a Pakistan-based correspondent for The Diplomat claimed that, in May, ‘militants affiliated with the Islamic State and LeJ were arrested in Dera Ghazi Khan and Sialkot. IS cells affiliated with Kashmir-bound Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) have been busted in Punjab in the past.’ All three, the LeT/JuD, the LeJ (Lashkar e Jhangvi) and the ISIS are Salafist.”
The former intelligence official believes that the world would face consequences if Pakistan failed to act against these terror groups.
He added: “It could be bad news for the world if Pakistan does not figure out what to do with the LeT cadres. Otherwise, it is entirely possible that they could pose a problem to the world by outsourcing their skills to the highest bidder.”
“Some three years ago, a LeT explosive expert was arrested in France and the possibility of the presence (or involvement) of former LeT cadres in incidents in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or even South-East Asia cannot be ruled out,” Arni concluded.