The June 2010 interrogation of Mumbai attacks accused David Coleman Headley by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) provides a fascinating insight into the competitive rivalry among Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) fighters to hurts India the most by killing innocents.
Headley, a US national of Pakistani origin, recounted that it was after the success of LeT’s Abdur Rehman Hashim’s “Karachi project”, which produced Indian Mujahideen cadres on a mass scale to target India, that fellow jihadi Sajid Majid orchestrated the 26/11 attacks to show up the former. While the long awaited UN designation of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar is a step in the right direction, this move will not end terror attacks on India by Pakistan-based groups or reduce the level of violence in the Kashmir Valley.
Read: ‘Big victory,’ says PM Modi on Jaish chief Masood Azhar’s listing as global terrorist
The September 18, 2016 attack in Uri was engineered by LeT’s Hafiz Saeed even though the terror group, the individual leader and the parent organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawah, were all under UN sanctions. The US has also declared a $10-million bounty for Saeed in April 2012.
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The Uri attack came within months of the assault on Pathankot airbase, which was planned and executed by Azhar and his brothers Athar Ibrahim and Rauf Asghar. These organisations are only relevant to the Pakistani military establishment till such time that they target India. Headley’s interrogation revealed that all those from the LeT who wanted to fight US forces in Afghanistan, instead of India, were brutally dealt with by the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. Saeed and Azhar, the two arms of the ISI, have a lot in common, with their entire families, kith and kin involved in jihad against India. The madrasas, charity organisations and terror camps linked to their groups operate with impunity under the watchful eyes of the military’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Read: Will immediately enforce sanctions imposed on Jaish chief Masood Azhar, says Pak
It is only logical to predict that even if JeM goes off the radar for some time, like it did after the 2001 attack on India’s Parliament, the Pakistani establishment will prop up LeT and its proxies in the interregnum to take care of its needs against India. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown the courage to strike at the heart of terror in Pakistan with the Balakot air strike, there is a need to hold the Pakistani military and weak political leadership accountable for terrorist actions in future.
Just as India rejected again linking Azhar’s listing with the resumption of dialogue with Pakistan, as advocated by China, it needs to remove Islamabad totally from the Kashmir equation by proactively neutralising pro-Pak guns in the Kashmir Valley. Good governance cannot be possible in Kashmir with a terrorist gun to the head of innocents in the state. This can only happen if Islamabad shuts down jihadist factories in Pakistan, as the end of one Azhar will give birth to another. After all, Pakistan is home to globally designated terrorists, such as Indian-origin Dawood Ibrahim and hundreds of others listed by the 1267 Sanctions Committee and belonging to more than 46 jihadist organisations.