States are
rational actors and whatever decision they make is based on rational thinking,
calculations, and cost-benefit analysis. The mess that the United States and
Pakistan are trying to mop up in Afghanistan was well orchestrated back in
1970s with the containment of the USSR. The CIA created Taliban in Afghanistan and
Pakistan became a centre stage of Jihadist forces. PK1 When the Cold War
was near its end in 1987, Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Azzam and Zafar Iqbal, with funding
from Al-Qaeda, established Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) with the aim of Jihad against
India to annex Indian administered Kashmir with Pakistan. Another motivator for
Lashkar-e-Taiba came when the Taliban founded The Islamic Emirate of
Afghanistan in 1996 Lashkar-e-Taiba wished to disintegrate India through
militancy the same way as the Mujahidin
did to USSR. LeT
employed shoot and scoot tactics in Indian-held Kashmir. PK2 According to the Indian
government, LeT was responsible for terrorist attacks on both the Indian parliament
in 2001 and the Mumbai attack in 2008 (26/11) that claimed 166 civilian lives. Under
the immense pressure of the United States, Pervez Musharraf banned
Lashkar-e-Taiba, but it remerged with
the new name Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD). The US Department of State proscribed JuD
by declaring it a “foreign terrorist organization” and ordered to
freeze any of its assets under US jurisdiction. The United Nations Security
Council (UNSC), as a part of UNSC Resolution 1267, also imposed sanctions on
Jamat-ud-Dawa and declared it a terrorist organization because of its alleged
links with Al-Qaeda.Despite the ban on
JuD, this organization enjoys popular support amongst Pakistanis because of its
two-pronged strategy:1.     
Policy
on KashmirPK3 2.     
Humanitarian
charity workJuD’s main face is
Hafiz Saeed, who carries a $10 million bounty and was under house arrest in
Pakistan from January to December of last year.  The
Lahore High Court released him denouncing as a threat to public safetyPK4 . Such hardcore
terrorists terrify witnesses as well as the judiciary. However, courts release
them simply because of the lack of evidence. Maulana Sufi Muhammad, chief of the
Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) that enforced Sharia law in the Malakand Division and waged war against the state
of Pakistan, was arrested in July 2009 on the charges of terrorism, sedition,
conspiracy against the state and attacking governmental installations but was
released on January 15,2018 by the Peshawar High Court because of the lack
of evidence.Hafiz Saeed stated
that “I fight the case of Kashmiris. I will gather the people from across the
country for the cause of Kashmir and we will try
to help Kashmiris get their destination of
freedom.”
The point is that if Hafiz Saeed is to fight for the cause of Kashmir then
government of Pakistan, which is a legal international entity and a member of
United Nations, should cease its efforts in Kashmir. Such militant
organizations stigmatize Pakistan’s image in the international community and
give an impression that Pakistan sponsors this militancy.PK5 Pakistan’s
former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, who waged war against
terrorist groups such as LeT, drastically changed his views about Hafiz Saeed
and his militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba, JuD and Falahi Insaniat. In an
interview to a private TV channel of Pakistan, he stoutly expressed that he supports Hafiz Saeed and his struggle in Kashmir. Musharraf’s support for JuD seems shrewd
and based on political calculations as his party is going to contest for an election
in 2018, thus he wants to amass support from politico-religious groups in PakistanPakistan’s
relations with India have experienced serious blowback in recent months on the
issue of Kulbhushan Yadav, an Indian national who was arrested in Baluchistan
over charges of terrorism and spying for India and sentenced to death by
military court in Pakistan. India took the matter to the International Court of
Justice to prevent Yadav’s death sentence. India’s standpoint was that Pakistan
may not execute Yadav until the matter is sub judice in the court. Otherwise,
it would be an open violation
of Vienna Convention and Pakistan may face immense international diplomatic
sanctions. Pakistan permitted Yadav’s family to visit him in Islamabad on humanitarian ground,
but it did not significantly improve bilateral relations. Another factor
that troubles India-Pakistan ties is the issue of Afghanistan. Pakistan’s
concerns about Indian presence in Afghanistan are seriously grave as it does
not want any anti-Pakistani government in Afghanistan. Therefore, the policy of
strategic depth shifted from
doctrine to strategy in Afghanistan. India worries that a Taliban-like
regime in Kabul may reinforce Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Kashmir based militant
groups against India.Indian Army Chief
General Bipin Rawat’s recent statement has mounted tension further as he stated
“The Indian army was ready to call for Pakistan’s ‘nuclear
bluff’ and cross the border to carry out any operation of asked by the
government”. Whereas Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif, in an interview
on Geo TV, made
a statement that “Islamabad is willing to use nuclear weapons to ensure its
survival.” Any skirmish may have the chance of escalation because diplomatic
solutions are at the backburner. Pakistan’s relations with the United States
are already shaky because of US President Donald Trump’s tough stance towards
Pakistan over the issue of militant groups based in Pakistan. Islamabad based
strategists perceive it as Indo-US
nexus to undermine Pakistan’s regional and global interests.Pakistan’s
counterterrorism policy of National Action Plan (NAP) is quite comprehensive to curb militant outfits and
their activities in Pakistan, but if the government fails to take stringent
measure against JuD, it would undermine Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts. As
a consequence, the United States may strike deep inside Pakistan by drone to
target UN-designated terrorists but may risk Pakistan-US strategic ties to an irreparable
point. Pakistan’s Air force chief already declared that they would shoot down any drone in their
airspace. On
the other hand, policy makers in Islamabad should realize that without
normalization of relations with India, Pakistan may not emerge at the world
stage as a vibrant economy because a costly arms race with India may not allow
to concentrate on other priorities of national interest including the economy,
political stability and infrastructure. Pakistan’s image at international level may drastically
improve if the government, despite all internal opposition, decides to
crackdown on militant groups indiscriminately before they grow too strong to
handle. PK6 

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