Pakistan has been cornered from several angles pressuring it to take action against the internationally designated terrorists and their funding sources.
By Amb. Anil Trigunayat (Retd)
Pakistan has mastered the art of ensuring its nuisance value in so far as its international posturing is concerned. Being an epicenter and incubator of terrorism and extremist groups Pakistani state especially its military and intelligence have not been able to shed that shameful epithet. Not that they have tried at all but on the contrary have actually, for at least four decades have continued to breed and feed the venomous terrorist groups in their blind pursuit of inflicting a thousand wounds on India- their congenital enemy. Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are the main perpetrators bringing ignominy to their country literally known as Holy (Paak) or an exalted place. Nothing could be farther than the truth or possibly the dreams of their founders. Hafiz Saeed –the international terrorist and mastermind of 26/11 attacks on India is a symptom and disease of that misguided Pakistani state-sponsored effort against India. Hafiz Saeed is no ordinary criminal, he was also able to expand his political footprint and demands the booty and extracts its pound of flash for supporting the establishment by way of freedom to operate and act his arch-enemy –India.
But today Pakistan is a mendicant whose economy has been on a downward slope for a while and it is left with no option but to beg for assistance. This has been further compounded by its desire to have military parity with India –a thriving economy with an ever-strengthening international profile and regional influence. There are no free lunches and whether it is Saudi, UAE or Qatar for that matter China or the IMF, Russians or the Americans each one has their set of demands and expectations . But globally Pakistan is expected to deliver on credible and stern action against terrorist groups operating from its soil against India, Afghanistan or Iran and elsewhere. But its hobnobbing and nurturing of Taliban has provided it some sort of an exit ramp vis a vis USA and Russia and even its benefactor China which was eventually forced to lift the technical hold against another international terrorist Masood Azhar.
Pakistan has been cornered from several angles pressuring it to take action against the internationally designated terrorists and their funding sources. Pakistan was forced to initiate action against several groups even if unwillingly but due to the deteriorating economic conditions it was left with little room for maneuvering. While it is known that the elected dispensation is Pakistan needs the nod of the army to do anything significant in the foreign policy domain the adverse impact on economy impinges directly on the army’s fortunes that controls the large part of the industrial fortunes of the country.
Hence its interest in containing the terrorist groups and individuals like Saeed. Sword of being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force and India’s continued international and bilateral pressures have provided the impetus to detain Saeed and others. More importantly, as Prime Minister Imran accompanied by General Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff will visit USA for a much sought after meeting with maverick yet unpredictable President Trump they needed an ace of spade to flag since during Pulwama and Balakot USA supported India and asked Pakistan to take credible action and come clean.
Imran would not like to be reminded and chided again by the USA since it wishes to impress upon the Americans its nuisance value in the Afghan scheme of things or for that matter in the current standoff between US and Iran. Hence detention of Hafiz Saeed provides it that safety valve. One never knows if like in the past “Shri” Hafiz Saeed will be accorded state honors during his prison term or be brought respectably under house arrest –façade they have committed masterfully not in a distant past. But arguably neither the Americans nor the international community is naïve to see one act of remorse as a concrete proof of Pakistan desisting from its second habit. It has to do much more and deliver on global and regional expectations as far as terrorism is concerned.
(Author is Distinguished Fellow, VIF. Views expressed are personal)