Pakistan’s Ostensible Action

Pakistan has supposedly acted on terror outfits! In wake of severe international pressure, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior, Shehryar Afridi announced that 44 Pakistan-based terrorists were placed “under observation” or ‘preventive detention’. These include the Pulwama attack master-mind, Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) Chief Massod Azhar’s son Hamad Azhar and brother Mufti Abdul Raoof. Organizations like the Jamaat-ud-Da’wa (JuD) led by internationally proscribed terrorist Hafiz Saeed and the JuD’s charity organization Falah-e-Insaniyat too have been banned by Pakistan.

This appears ostensible as Pakistan has been asked to “get serious” on acting against terrorists and terror groups that function from its territory by the Paris based international watchdog on terror financing, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Pakistan has been on FATF’s ‘grey list’ since the last one and a half years. It could be placed in the ‘black list’, which would then make the country appear as an official conduit for terror financing and the repercussions could be extremely serious for Pakistan.

However, India has seen this kind of ‘seriousness’ in acting against terrorists by Pakistan earlier too. The mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack Hafeez Saeed was jailed but allowed to do his own bidding. The brain behind the Pulwama attack, Masood Azhar too was incarcerated but enjoyed privileges of being a ‘state guest’ in the Pakistani jail.

The intention to act with steadfastness has never been there from Islamabad. India provided concrete and actionable proof against the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, but the case has been derailed by Pakistan’s own machinations. Even today, the terrorists behind the heinous Mumbai attacks are roaming free in Pakistan.

Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar continue to spew venom against India; yet Pakistan has not taken any action against these terrorists. Azhar and Saeed are involved in many terrorist attacks in the sub-continent and there is solid evidence against them too. But, the jurisprudence in Pakistan, it seems looks the other way around so far these two terrorists are concerned.

The action announced on Tuesday by Pakistan needs to be analysed in this backdrop. The Indian ‘pre-emptive non-military’ air strikes on JeM camps in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Chakothi has sent a very strong and clear message to Islamabad that New Delhi’s patience is running thin. It also has been conveyed that India would not allow wanton terrorist strikes in India’s Jammu and Kashmir to derail the state’s development process.

Post-Pulwama, India has reached out to the international community to put maximum pressure on Pakistan to see that it means business this time. Islamabad has for long hoodwinked the global community. But, after the Pulwama attack, it got nobody’s backing. The international community in fact, had endorsed India’s right to defend itself from terror attacks.

The diplomatic matrix is against Pakistan. The Pakistani government knows this and has gone on an overdrive to display its intent. All the permanent five (P5) members and ten non permanent members of the UN Security Council have condemned the Pulwama attack. Even China, Pakistan’s all weather ally flayed Islamabad for the terrorist attack. Beijing even signed the UNSC statement that ‘strongly condemned the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing’.

Pakistani leadership had not expected this kind of international backlash. In order to play to its domestic audience it has embarked on a “peace offensive” and to the global community, it wants to send the message that it is seriously acting against terrorists and their organisations. But, until credible action against terrorists and their organizations emerge, these actions would be futile. Prime Minister Imran Khan should remember that now he not only faces the world’s glare but also a cold hard stare from the global community.

Script: Kaushik Roy, AIR: Strategic Affairs Analyst