JuD/LeT: Pak shows true colours again

Pakistan has reaffirmed official support to anti-India terrorist groups by not extending a presidential ordinance that put Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) on a terrorist list. By allowing the ordinance to lapse, the Pakistani government, in effect, lifted the proscription of the JuD and the FIF. Hafiz Saeed’s JuD is a front for the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which has carried out several terrorist attacks in India, including the attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, which left 166 people dead. The outfit figures in terrorist lists in India and several other countries, including the US, which has put a $10 million bounty on Saeed’s head. The LeT/JuD have been blacklisted by the United Nations, too. Still, the organisation and its various fronts have thrived in Pakistan thanks to protection from its Inter-Services Intelligence. Pakistan has put Saeed under house arrest from time-to-time, only to release him a few weeks later. These so-called arrests were in name only. It was only early this year that Pakistan, hoping to impress the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), proscribed the JuD and the FIF. It promulgated a presidential ordinance to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, to bring into its purview all organisations banned by the UN Security Council. That much overdue step has now been overturned with the Pakistan government neither extending the ordinance nor turning it into law. It is evident that the steps Pakistan takes to weaken terrorist organisations are just cosmetic measures. The FATF should take note of Pakistan’s flip-flops on acting against terror outfits.

The lifting of the ban on the JuD and FIF is not surprising given the important role that these terror outfits play in the Pakistan military’s strategy towards India. Over the past year, Pakistan took several steps to ‘mainstream’ the LeT/JuD in order to give these outfits respectability and legality in the political arena. The JuD set up an electoral wing, the Milli Muslim League, and although the Election Commission did not register the party, JuD activists were able to contest elections under the banner of the Allah-u-Akbar Tehreek. Sectarian outfits like the banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan contested, too. By allowing terrorists to contest elections without expecting them to give up terror tactics, Pakistan is giving them a public platform to voice and spread their violent views.

Pakistan’s decision to lift the ban on the JuD and the FIF must be seen in this context. It is a continuation of its strategy to give them legitimacy. Pakistan has thumbed its nose at India and the rest of the international community. The support China has extended to Pakistan’s policy to back anti-India militants has, no doubt, emboldened Pakistan to do so.

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JuD/LeT: Pak shows true colours again

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