Pak Not Serious To Take Action Against Lashkar: Expert.

12 March 2009
The Indian Express

Washington DC: Observing that Pakistan has used militancy as a tool of foreign policy since 1947, a South Asian expert has said Islamabad is not serious in taking any substantive action against the leaders of the outlawed LeT, blamed for the Mumbai carnage. 'Pakistan has given rise to numerous militant groups in recent decades that operate to secure Pakistan's state interests in India and Afghanistan,' said Christine Fair, senior political scientist at Rand Corporation, a Washington-based think tank. Testifying before the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection, Fair said Pakistan has sustained numerous covert operations campaigns in Kashmir since 1947. 'Many, if not most, of these militant groups have enjoyed the specific patronage of the Pakistani state intelligence and military agencies to prosecute Islamabad's interests in India, with particular focus upon Kashmir,' she said in her testimony on 'The Mumbai Attacks: A Wake-Up Call for America's Private Sector.' With very few exceptions, Pakistan's militant groups enjoy and enjoyed and likely will enjoy state patronage, including financial, military and other assistance, Fair charged. Among these groups, LeT is the most lethal. However, LeT differs from the numerous other groups operating in Pakistan in that its ideology is actually Ahl-e-Hadith, Fair observed. The other groups are actually Deobandi, and Deobandi groups include the Afghan Taliban, Pakistan Taliban, Jaish-e-Mohammad and others. And what this means is that there are important ideological difference despite general similarity of goals, she said. 'Now, Pakistan frequently points out that it is itself a victim of terrorism, and it surely is, but I'd like to point out that the groups targeting Pakistan have been Deobandi,' she said. Asserting that LeT has never attacked a target, either state or international, within Pakistan itself, she said as of yet, there is no credible evidence linking the attack on the Sri Lankan Cricket team to LeT. 'This fact has led many analysts to believe that Lashkar has and continues to enjoy states support in various guises, despite the state's recent efforts to ban that organization - Lashkar's parent organisation, Jamaat ul Dawa,' Fair said. Not impressed by the Pakistani Government's action against LeT so far in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, Fair told Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in response to a question that the Government of Pakistan has followed a pattern in the past and the action against LeT is no different. 'Before the organization is officially proscribed, the money in the bank accounts are moved and the organisation reconstitutes under another name. The leader of the organization has not been arrested. 'He's been under house arrest. There have been a number of individuals who have been detained. Their actual account - the accounting of where they are is absolutely unclear,' she said. The Punjab State Government in Pakistan, she said took over the assets of an organization that it itself had declared to be a terrorist organisation. 'What Government that takes over the operating of enterprises associated with a terrorist organisation as opposed to shutting them down and arresting the leadership?' she said. Fair said the US need to be very forthright with the Pakistanis, both publicly if need be, but certainly privately. Over the last seven years the US has really given Pakistan a mixed message about the groups that the US thinks it should shut down. For much of the global war on terrorism, the US emphasised Al Qaeda. 'We were actually very episodic in our emphasis upongroups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, and I'm sure you know from previous testimony on the Hill, we were even ambivalent about Pakistan's efforts against the Taliban,' she said. 'So I think the first thing that we really need to do is resolve in our own discourse that groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba are not simply India's problem but they're also our problem and also Pakistan's problem,' Fair said. Prior to rejoining RAND Fair served as a political officer to the United Nations' assistance mission to Afghanistan and Kabul. Her research focuses upon the security competition between India and Pakistan, Pakistan's internal security, the causes of terrorism in South Asia, and US strategic relations with India and Pakistan.