Is exporting terror Pakistan’s national policy?

Dr Sudershan Kumar
Release of Hafiz Sayeed from house arrest just 4 days before 26/11 Mumbai attack’s 9th anniversary is symbolic of Islamabad’s hypocrisy in tackling terrorism on its own land. This is a firm sign of proximity between Pakistani army, its powerful spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Hafiz Sayeed, whom they consider their strategic asset against India. This release further substantiates the dwindling power of the civilian government and an imminent future role of radical islamists groups in parliament. The release was facilitated on the grounds of paucity of evidences even though a dossier of concrete proof was dispensed by the Government of India to Pakistan. The prime suspect of Mumbai attack and a U.N. designated global terrorist raises eyebrows about Pakistan’s sincerity in dealing with and containing terrorism. Furthermore, his release from Jail can be seen as an eye opener for the international community whom, Pakistan is hoodwinking on the issue of terrorism and dismantling of terror structures. But this is not the first time when Pakistan’s double standard in dealing/sponsoring terrorism has been divulged in front of the global community as even earlier also it has behaved in a dicey manner. Time and again Pakistan’s soft approach towards terrorism has been evident notable being the inaction against Jaish-e- Mohammed leader Maulana Masood Azhar, a main culprit behind Pathankot Airbase terror attack.Even the Americans now seemingly recognize Pakistan’s backing of terrorism where in the past, the Pakistani army and ISI dodged Americans about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, the main culprit of 9/11 attacks on USA. Pakistan was a close ally of the NATO alliance and had vowed to extend all logistic support to the NATO alliance in their offensive in Afghanistan against the dreaded terrorist but ultimately Americans traced Osama bin Laden at  Abbottabad in Pakistan and killed him then and  there under “Operation Neptune Spear” with Geronimo as the code word for Laden’s capture/death. Pakistani army and ISI have been the main facilitator and are bent upon creating disturbance through terror attacks in Afghanistan by aiding Haqqani, Taliban and Al Qaeda terror groups from its soil. Besides Pakistan has also extended support to terror groups who are carrying out terror attacks in Bangladesh. This was further confirmed when the representatives of Afghanistan and Bangladesh raised their voice in the 72nd  United Nation General Assembly session in New York against Pakistan for its support to terror groups  operative in their respective countries. Therefore, Pakistan’s endurance and it acting as a safe haven towards various terror groups forces one to think that terrorism is a state policy of the Pakistani Government. The reason why Pak army and ISI are involved in producing tribesmen, guerilla’s Mujahideen, Jahidis, and militants to export to neighbouring countries viz India Afghanistan and Bangladesh can be manifold primarily being that may be they are constrained to do so at the instance of religious hardliners, fundamentalists and others with whom the Pakistani society is plagued with. To find an answer one will have to turn the pages of seven decade old history, way back to the year of 1947 when Pakistan was born as an insecure state based on religion and  hatred towards Hindus. Therefore, Pakistan has always viewed India as an existential threat, a foe and this paranoia against India determines its policy. Therefore, in order to overcome this psycho fear Pakistani army adopted an important doctrinal shift towards guerilla warfare and ironically received training from USA which it gave with the aim of using Pak army to curtail communism.
The training incorporated the art of infiltration, preparing people’s army as a second line of defence and use of published literature to create awareness among their troops. In general, in any guerllia warfare three concepts are adopted. These include terrain, political situation of the state and the natural conditions. Therefore Pak army’s strategy has always been to adopt these tactics against its  neighbours especially India to settle issues which otherwise could have been resolved through dialogue. Hence, there are many glaring examples of  Pakistan poking its nose in the internal affairs of Afghanistan by pushing political Islamists and Islamic militia. Parallely, Pakistan had adopted the same tactics of pushing tribals, tribes men in India to capture Jammu and Kashmir in the year 1947. Their attacks were successively repulsed by valiant Indian troops pushing them back till ceasefire was declared. Again in 1965, Pak dictator General Ayub Khan adopted the same strategy of first pushing guerillas to Jammu and Kashmir to foster internal disturbance and then launched  major  offensives at Chamb sector of Jammu Division but again Pak army suffered crushing defeat at the hands of Indian security forces.Further in East Pakistan, state supported Islamist militants fought insurgents during crack down that ultimately led  to 1971 war. Besides, political scholars, experts and analysts had the view that Pak dictator General Zia ul Haq had adopted this approach of pushing terrorists in Afghanistan to fight against Soviet troops. This he did at the instance of USA, Saudi Arbia and other muslim world, who were against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. This was the time when General Zia ul Haq opened Madrasas, effectuated terror infrastructure and leaned towards fundamentalism, radicalization and fanaticism. He even went on to the extent of islamification of army and forged a close relationship between Jihadies, hardliners and army. After Soviet with drawl these Afghan missionaries and hard liners were turned towards Jammu and Kashmir to cherish his dream of capturing Jammu and Kashmir by creating unrest there.All these events laid down the path for the genesis of various terror infrastructures  like Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaishe e Mohammad (JeM) and Lashker e Taiba (LeT) which then initiated the pushing of these militants in valley for executing and propagating terror activities. Besides during this period Pakistani’s spy agency ISI extended support to Khalistan movement and various insurgent organizations who were active in Northern region of India.
Ever since Pakistan’s policy planners especially army and ISI, who have the main say and the final word in deciding Pakistani’s foreign policy for south Asia, have embraced the approach of exporting terror to its neighbours viz. India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh through nurturing terror organizations existing in Pakistan. It is also important to note that the successive Pak rulers both civilian and dictators had adopted approach of nurturing terrorism, fundamentalism and fantacism instead of development in their areas.
As a result there has not been much development in Pakistan provinces but there is a complete dominance and preponderence of hardliners and fundamentalists in Pakistani’s day to day affairs. The recent example is the resignation of Pak Law Minister Zahid Hamid at the behest of religious party Tehreek-i-Labaik ya Rasool Allah(TYLRA), whose thousands of supporters were holding protests in Islamabad and other parts since three weeks. These protests were mainly against the changes brought in Law related to the Khatm-i-Nabawwat(finally profit hood) oath in election in 2017. They alleged that his action undermines Islamic belief and is linked it to blasphemy. Pakistani government at the instance of its army succumbed to the pressure and accepted all  demands of  hardliners including the resignation of minister. This must be considered as a big win of hardliners in Pakistan’s multi ethnic society.
The author is of the view that Pak government, its army and ISI have been actively pursuing the policy of state sponsored terrorism and exporting terror to its neighbors viz. India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh  to use it as a tool to seek dominance over them rather than waging full scale war. Its nuclear umbrella further emboldens its army and ISI  to pursue the policy of exporting terror to their neighbouring countries  without realizing its intricacies and repercussions.This  approach is  leading Pakistan towards self destruction.The further radicalization of the multi ethnic Pakistani society will lead to  an evolution of volcano with hatred and violence buried underneath. If this volcano erupts , its lava will pulverise the whole society with ripples also having some impact on its immediate neighbours. Further Pakistan will face complete segregation from the world community except from China which has a colonial eye on it’s assets.
It is high time that Pakistan’s decision makers and policy planners must introspect their misdeeds and wrongdoings and where it will lead them to. They should work out a developmental plan instead for their country, which would be profitable to their younger generations instead of spending their energy in promoting terrorism, fundamentalism and fanaticism.  Other wise the international community and the world would recognise Pakistan either as a Terroriststan or a failed state.
(The author is former Director General & Special Secretary DRDO, MoD, GoI)