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Pakistan and the Afghanistan End Game – Part II

Pakistan’s policy of fomenting terrorism remains a major roadblock to peace with India and stability in Afghanistan, according to South Asia expert Ashley J. Tellis. Since its formation, Pakistan has employed a strategy of inciting insurrection in India. But that has failed many times over. However, the success of the jihadis in Afghanistan against the larger Soviet force in the 1980s provided Islamabad with the idea to employ terrorists across India. Of the many that fell under the umbrella of the Inter-Services Intelligence – Pakistan’s spy agency – Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the terrorist group behind the Mumbai attacks in 2008, proved the most successful. Under Pakistan’s gaze, LeT has grown into a global operation that the US now believes poses a threat nearly equal to Al Qaeda. Although Washington has predicated further aid to Pakistan contingent on Islamabad neutralizing LeT, it has yet to act on it. Pakistan still sees no reason to control LeT, believing its current strategy will tire India, tie up the US, and leave it Kabul’s kingmaker. Such a calculation could have grave consequences for South Asia and the world. – YaleGlobal

Pakistan and the Afghanistan End Game – Part II

Pakistan sees no reason to stop supporting terrorists
Ashley J. Tellis
YaleGlobal, 15 March 2010
Dreaming of the Caliphate: Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafeez Saeed, whose call for jihad against India led to many terrorist attacks, remains free

WASHINGTON: As the search for stability in Afghanistan intensifies, the threat of violence and a wider conflagration is growing. In an effort to secure a dominant position in Afghanistan and blunt India’s rise, Pakistan has mobilized militants and terrorists on both sides of its borders. While the Afghan Taliban fighting US and NATO forces continue to enjoy Pakistan’s support, Islamabad has exchanged its previous policy of supporting anti-Indian insurgencies with that of supporting terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which mounted the deadly assault on Mumbai in 2008. With tension persisting between the two South Asian rivals, this tactic not only increases the prospect of major war between New Delhi and Islamabad, but, given Lashkar’s growing reach, could have global consequences.

The disruption of the India-Pakistan peace process, which has remained frozen since the Mumbai attack, is due principally to Pakistan’s unwillingness to bring to justice the Lashkar leadership, which has enjoyed the support of the country’s powerful intelligence organization – Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). After almost two decades of punting, many Pakistanis today – academics, policy analysts, and even officials – concede that fomenting insurgencies within India has been a main component of Pakistan’s national strategy. But that late admission comes long after Pakistan’s military establishment moved to replace its failed strategy of encouraging insurgencies with the more lethal device of unleashing terrorism.

The disruption of the India-Pakistan peace process is due principally to Pakistan’s unwillingness to bring to justice the Lashkar leadership.

Since its formation in 1947, Pakistan has sought to stir up insurgencies within India. The earliest efforts in 1947-48 centered on provoking insurrections in Jammu and Kashmir in hopes that an internal rebellion would permit the seizure of this disputed state. These efforts failed miserably: through three major conflicts with India, the people of Kashmir stayed loyal to New Delhi. After Pakistan’s defeat in the 1971 war, Islamabad attempted to stoke other secessionist movements, this time not for any territorial gains but merely to avenge its humiliation. But this effort too was beaten back by the Indian state. Finally, in 1989, when the first genuinely Kashmiri uprising against New Delhi broke out, Islamabad quickly threw its support behind the insurgents who were led by the secular Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). This revolt, however, was quickly overpowered by the Indian Army by 1993 – and the defeat forced the momentous change in Islamabad’s strategy.

Flushed with confidence flowing from the success of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan during the 1980s, Pakistan sought to replicate in the east what it had managed in the west, namely, the defeat of a great power larger than itself. Using the same instruments as before – radical Islamist groups that had sprung up throughout Pakistan – Pakistan’s ISI pushed into Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in 1993 with combat-hardened aliens tasked to inflict large-scale murder and mayhem.

Through this act, Pakistan’s traditional strategy of fomenting insurgencies finally gave way to a new approach, namely, fomenting terrorism (an instrument that most Pakistanis still refuse to acknowledge). No longer would Pakistan rely on dissatisfied indigenous populations to advance Islamabad’s interests; rather, vicious bands of Islamic terrorists, most of whom had little or no connection to any existing grievances with India, would be unleashed indiscriminately to kill large numbers of civilians.

Flushed with confidence flowing from the success of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan during the 1980s, Pakistan sought to replicate in the east what it had managed in the west.

From 1996, these attacks were deliberately extended at ISI’s behest throughout India and of all the myriad terrorist organizations involved, none enjoyed greater state support than Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). LeT has now sprung to international attention because of the bloodbath in Mumbai in November 2008, but the group has been active in South Asia since 1987, first in Afghanistan and thereafter in India.

Of all the terrorist groups ISI has sponsored over the years, LeT has been especially favored because its dominant Punjabi composition matched the primary ethnicity of the Pakistani Army and ISI; and its puritanical Salafism undergirded its willingness to engage in risky military operations throughout India. Many in ISI are deeply sympathetic to LeT’s vision of recovering “lost Muslim lands” in Asia and Europe and resurrecting a universal Islamic Caliphate through the instrument of jihad.

Although Pakistani propaganda often asserts that LeT is a Kashmiri organization moved by the Kashmiri cause, it is nothing of the kind. The 3,000-odd foot soldiers who man its fighting ranks are drawn primarily from the Pakistani Punjab. Indian intelligence today estimates that LeT maintains some kind of presence in twenty-one countries worldwide with the intention of supporting or participating in what its leader Hafeez Saeed has called the perpetual “jihad against the infidels.” Consequently, LeT’s operations in and around India, which often receive the most attention, are only part of a large pastiche that has taken LeT operatives and soldiers as far afield as Australia, Canada, Chechnya, China, Eritrea, Kosovo, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and even the US.

Washington has now reached the conclusion that LeT represents a threat to America’s national interests second only to Al Qaeda and in fact exceeds the latter by many measures.

Given the organization’s vast presence, its prolific capacity to raise funds worldwide, and its ability to conduct militant activities at great distances from its home base, LeT has become ISI’s preferred instrument for its ongoing covert war with India. This includes the campaign that Pakistan is currently waging against the Indian presence in Afghanistan and against US counterinsurgency efforts in that country. Active LeT operations in Pakistan’s northwestern border areas involve close collaboration with Al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, and Jamiat al-Dawa al-Quran wal-Sunna. Thanks to these activities and others worldwide, Washington has now reached the conclusion that LeT represents a threat to America’s national interests second only to Al Qaeda and in fact exceeds the latter by many measures.

Based on this judgment, President Barack Obama has told Pakistan’s President Asif Zardari that targeting LeT would be one of his key conditions for a renewed US strategic partnership with Pakistan. Thus far, however, the Pakistani military, which still rules Pakistan even though it does not formally govern, has been non-responsive, preferring instead to emphasize the threat India supposedly poses to Pakistan – thereby implicitly justifying ISI’s continued reliance on terrorism – while demanding further US assistance. Such a demand is intended to inveigle the US into Pakistan’s relentless competition with India. The military’s dismissal of Obama’s injunctions regarding LeT are driven at least partly by its belief that all US warnings are little other than special pleading on the behalf of India.

The Pakistani military has no interest in dismantling any terrorist assets that it believes serve it well.

Since assaulting India has become a quite satisfying end in itself, the Pakistani establishment has no incentive whatsoever to interdict this group. To the degree that ISI has attempted to control LeT, it is mainly to prevent excessive embarrassment to its sponsors or serious crises leading to war. But outside of these aims, the Pakistani military has no interest in dismantling any terrorist assets that it believes serve it well.

Military leaders in Rawalpindi have thus not only failed to understand that American concerns about LeT derive fundamentally from its own growing conviction that the group’s activities worldwide make it a direct threat to the US, but they also continue to harbor the illusion that their current strategy of unleashing terrorism will enervate India, push it out of Afghanistan, and weaken US stabilization efforts there. Such a strategy is designed to make Islamabad the kingmaker in determining Kabul’s future. This too promises to become one more in the long line of cruel illusions that has gripped Pakistan since its founding.

Ashley J. Tellis is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the author of “Reconciling with the Taliban? Toward an Alternative Grand Strategy in Afghanistan.”

Rights:Copyright © 2010 Yale Center for the Study of Globalization

Comments on this Article

30 March 2010
Dear Mr. Ejaz
My sincere apologies for not checking the background of Ashley J. Tellis who I know now is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, specializing in international security, defense, and Asian strategic issues. The fact that he has an Indian background and is used by USA government and conservative think tanks as an expert on non-proliferation, U.S. national security, South Asia, India, Pakistan, and China actually proves my initial comment on his article, right.
The reason, why I normally do not check people's ethnic, cultural or religious background is the simple fact that discussions should be on the issues and not who is saying or writing. I expect educated people to be able to set aside their prejudices and national feeling on serious issues but it seems that I was wrong in wishing so.
You are right that both countries - India and Pakistan - should be sincere and open minded in dealing with each other and especially on Kashmir.
Unfortunately, Ashley J. Tellis article is so tainted that I had to react to it. What worries me the most is that in the West and in South East Asia region, it has become fashionable today to point the finger towards Pakistan for every violent action as well as automatically drag Islam and Muslim communities while talking about terrorism? It has become, kind of a sleeping pillow and a tool to demonize the other so that ones own atrocities and state terrorism is not questioned. My experience is that both western media and political elite is involved in this discourse. So it is a long haul struggle but worth keeping it up.
Kind regards
Bashy Quraishy
-Bashy Quraishy , Copenhagen
30 March 2010
29 March 2010
Mr.Quraishy.....Ashley is not a she...but a he.....a graduate from the university of you really need to do some research so you really know where the sympathies lie......and as for Mr. Surjit kohli.....there is no point even to talk to i know most of you are greatly indoctrinated by your baised media.....but i would still like to give my opinion anyways......and i think that the problem lies with both the countries.....they drag their feet on all sorts of peace initiatives.....and their establishments alongwith the rightist politicians are prisoners of a regressive mindset........india is not a holy or sacred cow.....nor is pak.....taali dunno hathoon say bajti hai......india or pak are no angels!
-Ejaz , Canada
27 March 2010
Dear Mr. Surjit Kohli
Kashmir is not an internal matter of India. It is a disputed territory according to international law, UN resolutions and even by any moral standard.
Pakistan army is not helping Indian Muslims but Kashmiri freedom fighters whose only crime is that they want to decide their own fate and India wants to keep them enslaved. Do you agree that the principle of freedom for Palestinians also applies to Kashmir’s? Kashmir’s tried wit peaceful means to bring their grievances to the attention of the world. I do wish that this problem can be sorted-out through democratic means but whom are we kidding. When India is not courageous enough to admit that there is a problem called Kashmir, which is not an Atotang of India, the struggle will remain.
The mere fact that you, Indian government and military are unable to accept this historical injustice is a proof that a solution cannot be found by peaceful means. That is why; Kashmir’s took up arms, as is the case with many other minorities in India. I am only refereeing to your own human rights personalities.
When I tell you that I am a Danish citizen, then do not be discourteous by challenging it. I do not write to be appreciated by Pakistanis or them to be proud of my arguments. I would always stand for the rights of the oppressed. I do not defend Pakistan and its army but you should also not defend an Indian official position, which is not attainable, namely subjugate millions of Kashmir’s. If Pakistan was illegally occupying a Hindu dominated area, I would also support the struggle against it. This is because of principles and not religion, culture and ethnic affiliation. I hope that you can understand it if not appreciate it.
So let us agree to disagree on this particular issue.
Kind regards
Bashy Quraishy
-Bashy Quraishy , Copenhagen
27 March 2010
It is really confusing; you ‘were born in India, lived most of your life outside Pakistan’, and now have a ‘Danish citizenship,’ but you have ‘no desire or inclination to be Pakistan’s mouthpiece.’ But Mr. Quraishy you have become a ‘mouthpiece’ of Pakistan the way you defend Pakistan and all its misdeeds in this blog, by any standard. And I strongly believe that any Pakistani national would be proud of reading this. I thank you for pointing out of my ‘ignorance’ about the gravity of ‘Indian atrocities,’ without knowing anything about my background and beliefs. As the saying goes ‘ignorance is bliss’ cannot be more befitting in your case.
I abhor and condemn all fundamentalist; Hindus and Muslims alike, ethnic cleansers and Zionists. It may be of interest to you to cite here, what I wrote way back in 2004 (22nd December) in the “Outlook” blog, in response to a piece written by our very own super-cop KPS Gill. I wrote, ‘Israel, on the other hand, is a country which has usurped Arab land and behaving like a colonial power in the twenty-first century. If the Palestinians are reacting the way they do presently, it is because of sheer desperation and they have a legitimate right to do so.’ As for Pakistan’s record is concerned, it may be of equal interest for you to know that General Zia Al-Haq, when he was a Col. Zia Al-Haq, was a member of the contingent sent out by another Pakistani dictator to throw out the PLO from Jordan, on request of King Hussain.
Pakistani army has no business to interfere in the internal matters of another country, in the mis-guided belief of helping Muslim population of India. Pakistan is not a keeper of the Muslims of the world. If the Kashmiris have some grievances, these can be sorted-out through their local leadership with the centre, through democratic means.
As for your suggestion of asking opinions of others in the case of India-Pakistan, once again, the very suggestion of yours defeats the very purpose of a blog or blogging. If Yale-Global needs some kind of advisory panel for India-Pakistan, then why not for other world conflicts like Israel-Palestine issue and so on. While I have greatest respect for Asma Jehangir and the work on human rights she has been doing, under the most difficult circumstances, I have my reservations of Arundhati Roy. Ms. Roy writes wonderfully well and with great conviction. But she has a long way to go before becoming an authority of a kind on India-Pakistan conflict. Therefore, blogs should be free of any interference. Let anyone write whatever one feels like, including the ISI and the Pakistan High Commission in the U.K.
Last but not the least, I am afraid my finger will remain in its place and will continue to accuse Pakistan and in particular its army, for its mercenary attitude. Defend your country if you will, for rightful grievances, by arms if necessary, but do not interfere in other sovereign states’ internal affairs.
-Surjit Kohli , Gurgaon, India
26 March 2010
-nomi , multan
23 March 2010
In my previous comment to Surjit Kohli,I mentioned Arundhati Roy and her description of India's occupation of Kashmir. I was very fortunate that Democracy Now, an independent TV Station in USA broadcasted on March 22, 2010 an interview with this acclaimed Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy on President Obama, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Indian atrocities in Kashmir and why Democracy is “The Biggest Scam in the World”.
Roy also talked about an alliance between Israel, USA and India and Indian jockeying for position in Afghanistan. She also talked about her journey deep into the forests of central India to report on the Maoist insurgency and how Indian army is burning villages.Her is the link.
Arundhati Roy is the voice of reason, justice and decency in the world. Her interview will open the eyes of those in the West and few in Pakistan who do not get tired of blaming Pakistan for all the problems in Afghanistan. I wish that there were more humane voices like her and Pakistani lawyer Asma Jehangir in India and Pakistan. This will help to remove many misgivings on both parts.
I would also suggest that Yale Global asks the opinions of people like Roy and Asma when covering Pakistan and India. It will give better understanding and enhance this blog's integrity.
Comments are welcome from pro-Indian lobbyists like Ms. Ashley J. Tellis.
Bashy Quraishy
-Bashy Quraishy , Copenhagen
23 March 2010
I think the author should just check a few facts out. "people of Kashmir remain loyal to India" - with objectivism at its best, Kashmir has a majority Muslim population and a Minority Hindu. The majority would like to side with Pakistan OR want their independent state, but at the time of partition it was agreed that states with majority populations in either Muslims or Hindus would be divided amongst Pakistan and India repectively.
This did not happen with Kashmir.
Aside this, whilst I heavily condemn any form of terrorism and religious racism I would like to point out that the author doesn't do well to identify that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. This is probably subjectivism at its best, but what else can we do?
We grow up with ideals of what we think are right and wrong (especially pertaining to India and Pakistan) and unless we change the way we view eachother this hatred between two of the most culturally similar countries is never going to end
-mk , Karachi, PK
23 March 2010
Dear Surjit Kohli , Gurgao, India
Part of your comment on my contribution is worth commenting but unfortunately some part of your writing concerning my private life, why I live in the West or who I represent is so prejudicial that I would not respond to that. I hope that you - being a better-informed person - would understand.
Since I have lived most of my life out side Pakistan (By the way, I am born in India), and have a Danish citizenship, I have no desire or inclination to be Pakistan’s mouthpiece or write on behalf of any special interest.
I work for the advancement of human rights and anti-discrimination policies as well as against prejudices, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. I am telling you this because you do not seem to understand the gravity of Indian atrocities in Kashmir. Instead, you are towing the official Indian line; It is all the fault of Pakistan and ISI and Pakistan military.
I expect that in dealing with international issues, one must be above local alliances. There is nothing wrong in defending one’s country but there is also something called neutrality and objectivity.
You have mentioned Pakistan sending tribal people to Kashmir, which is a fact, but you also forgot to mention how Maharaja Hari Singh unilaterally rejected the principle of partition; Muslim majority area would go to Pakistan and Hindu majority area will join Hindustan and declared that Jammu and Kashmir would be part of Bharat. Need I tell you that the area is a Muslim majority area. Pakistan and India signed UN esolutions 39 (1948) of 20 January and 47 (1948) of 21 April 1948 to hold plebiscite? Representatives of Cuba, Norway, United Kingdom and United States again tabled Resolution 80 (1950) which was adopted by the Security Council on March 14, 1950.
India has vever respected these resolutions. So much for democracy. Of course, this unlawful occupation of India was naturally challenged by Pakistan with the means it has.
It is not only my position but great Indian human rights activists like Arundhati Roy, renowned humanitarian activist Dr Binayak Sen, and a host of others have objected to Indian treatment of Kashmiri population. Vithal Mahadeo Tarkunde even wrote a book; Kashmir problem: Possible solutions, which must give the Indian policy makers a pause for thought.
Besides, the serious situation which Muslim community, particularly the young Muslim generation is confronting in India, was projected years ago, by the Hindu communal forces and since then they also have started to implement their longstanding plan.(
My opinions and assessments are based on my general knowledge and historical background of both India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the areas I work in.
Since I am proud to defend the rights of the little man in the street, I cannot sympathies with aggressors and those who oppress other people, may it be India, Pakistan or any other country.
India as a commendable democracy and a large powerful country should act accordingly and solve its outstanding problems with Pakistan, Bangla Desh, China and Sri Lanka and stop meddling in Afghanistan affairs by posting large contingents of armed forces and RAW personal. This was conveyed to India by President Barack Obama’s Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke
I am also worried by the intransigent attitudes adopted by India concerning China. According to the latest article in the Time Magazine; Coming China-India Conflict: Is War Inevitable? the situation can get out of hands and thus bring the whole region in to turmoil. This is in noone's interest.
So dear Surjit Kohli, it is utmost important that peace loving people in India as I guess you are, should stop pointing an accusing finger to smaller countries like Pakistan and see the bigger picture. The same goes for armchair western intellectuals like Ms. Tellis.
If you and others are interested in the kind of work, I do, please click:
Kind regards
Bashy Quraishy
-Bashy Quraishy , Copenhagen.
22 March 2010
Interesting read.
I have recently had coworkers killed and wounded by a group of Punjabi-speaking terrorists from across the border, and have seen other such incidents now for four years here in Afghanistan.
The continued denial by many Pakistanis that factions within their military and government support and often cooperate with terrorists is not surprising. Being a daily reader of Pakistani online media outlets, it seems glaringly obvious that much of the country lives and breathes conspiracy theories designed to construe it as a land of purity unjustly targeted by the rest of the world.
Until the population wakes from this fantasy and comes to grip with the reality resulting from years of aiding and abetting the devil, Pakistan will continue to slide into the abyss. And it's neighbors, even the world, will continue suffer as a result.
It's a shame. I work with a Pakistani engineer who is one of the most decent men I've met in a long time. I know there are more like him. God willing they will one day have enough of the lunacy and put things right.
-Jack , Khost, Afghanistan