US must make Pak fulfill its promise on LeT

Farooq Ganderbali
Now that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made commitment to the President Barack Obama on taking action against global terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the US must ensure that Pakistan does fulfill the promise.
The US must therefore closely monitor the progress made on the promise of reining in the terrorist group which remains a serious threat to the global peace and order. This monitoring has become even more relevant in view of what the CIA chief John Brennan had said about Pakistan using terrorist groups to harm India and other neighbouring countries. A couple of years ago, the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had castigated Pakistan for keeping serpents in the backyard which was an obvious reference to the country’s sponsorship of terrorist groups including LeT.
Not long ago, the US officials had tapped into the conversation between the Pakistan Army chief and his officers where the former called the terrorist group, the Haqqani Network, as strategic assets. Besides, the CIA and US Army in several of its reports from the Afghanistan battlefield had reported close alliance between terrorist groups and Pakistan army and the state as a whole.
The US administration officials also would recall that during the late 90s, the administration had made up its mind to declare Pakistan a terrorist state. The evidence against Pakistan Army and the political set up in fomenting terrorism was so overwhelming that the US administration was planning to impose severe sanctions on Pakistan after declaring it a terrorist state.
There are of course countless other instances of Pakistan’s terrorist link, its duplicitous policy towards terrorists and its nuclear arms trade. The US is also aware that Pakistan, despite several commitments to the world community and to its own people on containing terrorist groups, had not done anything that would evoke confidence now. Making commitments and working diametrically opposite have been the hallmark of Pakistan’s existence. It simply cannot be trusted.
Keeping in mind this nature of Pakistan state, the Obama administration must keep a close watch on the progress made on the promise to checkmate LeT and other terrorist groups. The US must ensure that Pakistan adheres to its promise. This can be effected by linking progress on the promise with the release of aid, disbursements and weapons transfer. The US, for instance, has committed to supply a certain number of F-16s to Pakistan. This sales commitment must be tied to the action on terrorist groups.  Likewise, such conditionality can be set for aid and disbursements.
Such a commitment on the part of the Obama administration is necessary because of Pakistan’s long history of turning back on the commitment even before the ink on the news headlines dried up. Not long ago, the same Nawaz Sharif had made such a commitment to the Indian Prime Minister only to do exactly the opposite within 24 hours-Pakistan Army opened indiscriminate firing on the Line of Control and dispatched several terrorists on suicide missions to Kashmir and Punjab. His predecessor, Asif Ali Zardari had several such commitments but withdrew under pressure from the powerful Army generals.
Before Zardari, it was an Army General who made a similar commitment-President Pervez Musharraf promised to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that Pakistan would henceforth be not used by any terrorist group or for any terrorist activities targeting India. What followed the promise is history-not only did the relationship between the two countries soured but terrorist activities from Pakistan increased with ISI deciding to promote and train members of Indian Mujahideen, a new terrorist group operating within India but commanded from Karachi and Rawalpindi to cause mayhem in India.
In all likelihood, Prime Minister Sharif’s new-found courage and commitment to check LeT would have evaporated even before he landed back home. Prime Minister Sharif would of course then hide behind this excuse that he had little power to control LeT; the switch stays with Pakistan Army. But being the elected Prime Minister of his countrymen, Sharif’s excuses should be dismissed as facetious and duplicitous. If the army refuses to heed his advice, he has the power to go to the people and tell them that his country’s progress and prestige was being held hostage by the Generals. This needs to change. The US administration should also change it focus-instead of relying on the Generals alone, the civilian leadership should also be encouraged with equal zeal to make Pakistan state sever its ties to terrorist groups like LeT.
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