May 14, 2007Foreign AffairsSecurity

Of intentions and capabilities

No time is a bad time to ask Musharraf to dismantle the jihadi outfits

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

In a dramatic account of the journey of some Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives from Karachi to Mumbai, Praveen Swami reveals that Pakistani authorities might have suspended their terror campaign in India outside of Jammu & Kashmir.

Four days out on the ocean, the boat was stopped by an Indian Coast Guard patrol. The men were stopped, searched — and then allowed to go. While Araiyan and Awan thought `Abbas’ had bribed their way out of trouble, their eventual arrest suggests the Coast Guard was in fact cooperating with Indian intelligence to track the Lashkar’s sea route. No word is yet available on the other six Lashkar operatives, but it is possible the group is still under surveillance — possibly the cause of a string of recent counter-Lashkar successes in Jammu and Kashmir.

What are lessons that can be learned from the Awan-Araiyan story? On the one hand, the Lashkar’s recruitment and fundraising infrastructure seems to be intact — no surprise, given Pakistan’s refusal to act against its internationally-proscribed parent religious organisation, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

Yet, the conditions at Umm al-Qura make clear that the Lashkar is seeking to conceal the scale and size of its military activities. The precautions taken in transporting the group from Muzaffarabad to Karachi suggests the Lashkar now wishes to conceal major operations from the ISI itself. Infiltration through the Line of Control, in turn, requires some degree of cooperation from the Pakistan Army, and the Lashkar’s use of the expensive and hazardous sea route to replenish its units in Jammu and Kashmir suggests this is no longer forthcoming. Awan’s testimony to his interrogators also suggests Lashkar recruiters have been forced to operate out of sight in rural areas. [The Hindu]This is exactly what the Pakistanis would do if they wanted Indian authorities to believe that the ISIs intentions have changed. But you need not take such a distrustful perspective to believe that the terrorist capabilities still exist. And as long as they do, the threat exists. The United States, for example, has found that less than five years after Gen Musharraf’s change of intentions, the Taliban are back in strength from their safe havens across the border.

With his back to the wall on the domestic front, Musharraf may want to get India off his back for the time being. India should not cut him any slack. Further Indian support (Swami puts this across very delicately) should be made contingent on dismantling the jihadi establishment, as many of his own citizens would like him to. As for the argument that he can’t do so without risking his own survival, well, that’s another problem for him to deal with.

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