May 1, 2007Foreign AffairsSecurity

Safe passage for the misunderstood

Letting terrorists go is not a good idea if they can come back

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Sardar Abdul Qayyum, former prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, recently spoke at a the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think-tank. The governments of India and Pakistan, he revealed, are discussing India providing safe passage’ for Pakistani terrorists back across the frontier. This admission of cross-border terrorism is as explicit as it can get. But it should surprise only those who took the words of Pakistani foreign office spokesmen too seriously.

Allowing a defeated enemy to escape is sometimes a good idea, especially if the enemy’s back is to the wall and only survival is at stake. There is no reason to believe, though, that this is the time for that good idea. Pakistan is hardly in the right condition to absorb returning terrorists, demobilise them and allow them to pursue a peaceful life. On the contrary, the persuasions of its principal political actors and the policies of the Musharraf regime have made professional jihadism an more-attractive career option. To grasp this, you don’t have to go much further than to listen to another part of Sardar Abdul Qayyum’s speech. The Lashkar-e-Taiba, he said, have no political motives’ and are generally a misunderstood’ lot who have stopped their activities in Pakistan.’ And no, he did not believe that there were any training camps’ in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

Over at PostGlobal, Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank narrate the story of Omar Khyam (sic), ringleader of a group of British nationals of Pakistani origin who was convicted for his role in the fertilizer bomb plot’.

Khyam told his family he was going on a brief trip to France. In fact he went to Pakistan for three months training with the Kashmiri militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba. Linking up with the group was surprisingly easy, Khyam testified that on landing in Islamabad, knowing that Kashmiri militants “had offices all over Pakistan in every major city,” he had simply told his taxi driver to “take me to the office of the mujahideen.” He was subsequently taken to a training camp in the mountains of Kashmir where he was trained on a wide range of weapons such as AK-47s and rocket propelled grenades. At the camp explosives training was also provided to the recruits by officers of ISI, the Pakistani military intelligence service. Eventually, Khyam’s concerned family tracked him down in Pakistan, sending an uncle to bring him back to the U.K.[PostGlobal]

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Walking away from a very good deal
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